Friday, September 19, 2014

Ugh!

Ugh. Matty and I are both under the weather today. I think Matty is a little more under than I am, but it looks like we both caught something that hopefully will work its ways through soon.

So, we're keeping this short today. Hope every one is doing well.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Finding my own voice

"No family is perfect, right? Families are made up of imperfect individuals and when those imperfect individuals get together, well... imperfect things happen."

That little bit of wisdom is a paraphrase from my counselor. I've been talking to him lately about how different stuff from my childhood pops up in my relationship with Matty. I guess I should explain that rather strange-sounding statement.

Matty and I have a pretty strong relationship. We try to deal with issues when they happen rather than let them pile up because if we do that, they all come out at once and explode all over the place. Well, "explode" is probably not the best word because that sounds a little dramatic and violent and there's nothing violent about our relationship. At all. But if we let a bunch of things build up, then it can get messy when it all comes out at once.

My parents had a tendency to let things build up between them and, man, I can remember it not being a pretty picture when all those things came out at once. And then you add my dad's drinking on top of that? Not a pretty picture. 

So, back to the original point about how stuff from my childhood comes out in my relationship with Matty. My mom never liked to do anything to ever rock the boat with my dad. And looking back I can understand on one level why that might have been a good thing. My dad could be very overpowering and there was no reasoning with him sometimes. So it was futile for my mom to try and deal with issues when they got to the boiling point.

Well, anytime Matty and I need to talk through a particular problem, I always get nervous inside and, like my mom, try not to rock the boat. Any kind of tension makes me nervous. But see, the problem with that is this. Matty is not my dad. Every single issue we've had to discuss gets worked out. Or over some time, we get it worked out. Yeah, sometimes the tension level goes up a little higher than I like, but nothing bad ever happens and we stay with it until we get where we need to.

I know all this. We've been through this process enough times that I can trust it. 

But... every single time we need to discuss an issue that has some emotion connected to it, I revert back to my mom's strategy. I always start out trying not to rock the boat. Trying to keep the peace. And this solves nothing and actually makes the issue even harder to deal with because it frustrates Matty and then I start getting lost in what to do and that frustrates me.

But, I'm learning how to stop playing out my parent's patterns. I know logically Matty is not my dad (not by a LONG shot), and I know logically there's no reason for me to not just say what's on my mind, but it's hard. It's kind of like there's this automatic knee-jerk reaction happening, and I have to keep myself grounded while we work through things.

It's getting better, thank God. It seems like it's all getting a little easier to manage and I seem to be discovering "Bradley's voice" instead of "Mom's voice" when we need to sort through things. It's all about finding and using my own voice instead of hearing and following my mom's voice. 

I don't know if you guys ever have to stay on top of this kind of thing in your relationship, but man, it can be draining to do. I'm trying really hard to do what the quote up there says about how I have to change what's going on within me before I can change what's going on around me (meaning our relationship).

Part of growing up, I guess. It's hard, but I'm getting there.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My best self

 
I recently joined an online support group for adults living with ADHD. That's where I found this quote. This is the first time I've joined a group for other adults who have ADHD and I'm learning a lot. 

I think there's a lot of wisdom in this quote for anyone who has spent serious time trying to come to terms with any kind of self-hate. I'm not going to write a whole post on where our self-hate comes from because I guess it varies from person to person. 

So today I'm just sending out this short message as a reminder to myself of the work I've done over the years to discover my Best Self. None of us is perfect, least of all me. I'm not always prompt in returning emails -- I'm not always the best friend in living up to my part of some friendships -- I let people down -- I get easily frustrated over little things sometimes -- I can be a huge emotional drain when somebody is trying to help me sort through extremely intense feelings.

Whether it's my ADHD, or some more growing up I need to continue doing, or whatever, I continue to try and do my best. I hit the mark sometime. I miss the mark sometimes. But I keep trying.

I have my good points -- I have my bad points. I use to think I was more bad than good. That's changing now. Writing openly here about all the challenges I face has helped. I rarely (if ever) mentioned my ADHD, and now I talk about it openly (both online and in my everyday life) and can even see it as one of my strengths. One of the guys in the online support group told me he sees it as one of his Super Powers. I liked that. That really helped.

I guess it's true what they say about how we're all a work-in-progress. I'm not even trying to be perfect, because that's impossible. I'm just trying to keep myself on the path to being my Best Self as much as I can. And I suppose for right now that counts for a lot.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Music, vibrates in the memory

Thank you, Kari, for thinking of me
when you saw this!
Kari found this picture right after I wrote about my dad giving me my grandfather's guitar.

When I read the words, I immediately thought of my grandfather. I still clearly remember him playing his guitar when I was a little kid. I always remember how important it was to be quiet when he played for me. It was almost like he was giving me a little part of him when he played. And even though my grandfather is no longer here, I can still hear the sounds of his music.

And yes, "Music, when soft voices die, Vibrates in the memory."

 
Music, When Soft Voices Die
Percey Bysshe Shelley
 
Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory;
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.
Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heap'd for the belov├Ęd's bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Be still my heart. Nah, keep going!

Just an update on my writing project. 

Okay, so I always know I have to spend time at the beginning of any project just organizing myself. Like having a quiet external work space with minimal distractions. But even that has it's challenges because once I get my quiet space set up, there's this internal thing going on inside my brain that is coming up with all kinds of ideas about what I want to accomplish.

So once I have the quiet physical space set up, I then have to spend time setting up some quiet space inside my brain because I have so many ideas going in every direction. I've come to just accept that this is my process and actually kind of like it. Unlike years past, I know how to work with this now.

On Friday when Brad and I took the day off to clean the house and do other projects, I worked out a plan with him where I would get a couple of "fun breaks" in between things. So one of those fun things was going to the local public library because they have a HUGE Children's section. 

Boy was that an active space! Little kids running all over the place, being excited about different books they found, showing them to other kids, showing them to their parents. I swear their excitement was infectious. And, of course, it made my brain think about how I now want to be a Children's Librarian! LOL Be still my heart. You don't have to get attached to every single exciting idea that pops in your head! :)

I talked to one of the librarians there to see if they could help me locate children's books (fiction) on the topic of ADHD. Man, was this lady so helpful! She did a search and came up with all kinds of things. And then I told her I was writing a children's book for kids with ADHD and she said she had a nephew with ADHD and she shared a few things about that.

And then she did another search and located tons of resources for parents and teachers and spouses who work with, or live with, someone with ADHD. And she helped me narrow down my search and told me how I could access the Boston Public Library!

So I feel like I'm on track at this beginning stage. But, man, I'd LOVE being a Children's Librarian! Be still my heart! :) One thing at a time. 

As I was leaving the library to go home, there was this little girl who must have been about four years old sitting down squarely in the middle of the narrow sidewalk going out to the parking lot. And she had her big picture book opened up in her lap and was reading out loud in a fairly dramatic voice. The adult with her (father?) was trying to get her to move to the side so people could get by, and I guess at first she thought he was telling her to stop reading because she looked up at him and said in another fairly loud voice, "But I need to read this story!"

It was so cute to watch. The father was also so good with her. Instead of making her stop reading so they could go home, he got her to move over to the side so people could get by. When she realized this, she just looked around, said, "Oh. Okay." -- and moved to the side and kept reading!

Anyway, see how the narrative in this post is a little all over the place? I'm writing this a little late at night after my med is working its way out of my system. I started off talking about how I organize my external space, then how I organize my internal space, then how I went to the Library to check our their resources. 

Then how I started talking about how I'd like to be a Children's Librarian, then a little cute story about that little girl. I'm leaving it like it is because in the past I would have gotten totally frustrated with myself for letting things get a little out of control. I would have gone back and edited it until it was in a more organized and formal presentation. And I guess that has it's place, but man, that's so boring to me! :)

Oh well. I count this as progress that I'm leaving it like it is. That's my brain and I'll get my book project under control in it's own time. The last thing I want to happen right now is to force things into a neat and tidy box. At this point, I sorta like all the colors in my brain and all the neat directions those colors are going right now. Kind of like the graphic I posted up there.

Be still my heart! Nah, keep going!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sundays with Sam: Saying goodbye and hello

Hello again, every one! This is Sleepy Sam-I-Am writing this late on Saturday night. This is probably going to be a short post because I decided to postpone the one I've been working on during the week and just write out some thoughts I'm having right now.

I say I am sleepy because I have spent the day at Brad and Matty's house. They did a lot of house cleaning on Friday, and today (Saturday) I went over there to visit them while Rick (my BOYFRIEND) is helping a friend work on his car.

You guys might remember that their guest bedroom is where I would stay when ever I went over there to visit and spend the night. They originally told me I could always come stay with them if I ever needed a break from my parents, or if I worried about my safety because of what was going on at my home. And then some times I would be over there visiting and maybe watching a movie with them and they would invite me to just spend the night instead of driving all the way back home.

They even named the guest bedroom, "Sam's Room" and that made me happy. Brad helped me pick out some posters I could put on the wall so it would feel like my home-away-from-home. Some of the posters required me to use nails so I could hang them up, so there were some small nail holes in the wall.

One of the two rooms they planned to paint was my room. See? I still think of it as "my" room. But now that I have a place of my own, I need to say "goodbye" to it. That might sound weird saying goodbye to a room, but if you think about it, that room was my safe place, and it was also my happy place because Brad and Matty wanted me to always feel comfortable coming over there whenever I wanted to visit them.

So when I was over there earlier today, I told them I would like to spackle the holes and then paint the room the color they selected. I felt it was the least I could do to sort of pay them back, or maybe pay them back is not the right expression, but more like return the favor, I guess. It would also give me a chance to just spend some time in there and remember how safe and comfortable I always felt in my home-away-from-home.

I could tell Brad and Matty had some kind of feelings going on because they kept coming back to chat with me, which I really appreciated. I was able to tell them Thank You for every thing the room represented to me. Brad said he felt bad that they were painting the room and changing it around, but I told him it made me happy in a way because it meant I had moved on to a new phase in my life now that I had my own place. And both of them said I would always be welcomed there, no matter what.

I admit it did sort of make me sad but I think that is a good thing, you know? It means that room was really important to me because the guys called it "Sam's Room" and there was a lot of love that went into doing this for me. And I am only saying Goodbye to the room, NOT to the love that made them do this.

So I was spackling the small holes and waited for that to dry, and then painted the walls this really nice shade of blue. The guys kept saying they wanted to help, which I appreciated, but I sort of felt this was some thing I wanted to do by myself. And I think I did a pretty good job if I do say so!

And now I have my own place which I am very proud of. It's like this new place is a new chapter in my life because it represents me moving on, and that is some thing to be proud of. That is what the sign up there means to me. I have to move on to the next chapter as scary as it might seem at times. That is what life is all about, I guess. Moving on to the next thing.

So thank you, Brad and Matty, for letting me into your lives. And even though I am saying good bye to my room there, I will NEVER EVER say good bye to you. I may have put some little holes in your wall, but you have filled some very big holes in my life. I am a stronger person now and it feels scary and good that I can go on to the next chapter in my life. Love you both. Forever and Ever.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Roosevelts


I swear Ken Burns should hire me as his publicist! I've seen almost all his films and some of them I go back and see multiple times.

Remember the last film he produced? I was so excited when he announced The Address, because it dealt with kids who had ADHD and other neurological challenges. And I've seen that one at least three times now. 

And look what happened to me afterwards. I was so overloaded with passion I even wrote a post about it (An episode of overload). But wait. It didn't stop there. I couldn't stop thinking about it and decided to make an announcement.

Well, Ken Burns's latest film is The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. And it starts tomorrow night on our PBS station. Here's a link you can use to see if it's going to be on a station in your area: PBS Station Finder.

It's a seven part, fourteen hour film and I can't wait. I know virtually nothing about Theodore, a lot about Franklin, and a moderate amount about Eleanor. There's so much about American History I love, so I'm psyched about this new film.

Unlike The Address, which inspired me to get interested in writing a children's book(s) on ADHD, I just hope watching this one doesn't inspire me to run for political office. I mean there's seriously only ONE person who can turn this country around and get it going in the right direction... but I seriously just don't have time! LOL

Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Playing catch up

Matty and I both got the day off today so we're devoting most of the day to getting caught up on some projects around the house. Things we normally don't have time to do during the week.
 
Even though that's not an actual pic of Matty above, he gave me permission to mention that this is what he'd be like before his meds kick in! LOL He hates housework with a passion but has discovered various strategies to help make it a little more fun for him. He always likes to turn up the music and dance around to burn off some energy to make it more fun. And I always have to make sure the lamps and other breakable objects are in a safe place!
 
We're also going to be spending some time painting a couple of rooms (or at least getting started), and then we're meeting up with some friends later in the afternoon for a little R & R.
 
Depending on how we feel in the evening, we might see if some friends might like to join us for dinner and drinks at a restaurant. It would certainly be nice for me to be the diner instead of the server for a change! LOL
 
Anyway, hope everyone has a nice Friday.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

My large identities


I've been doing some thinking lately about all the different ways I think about myself. 

Like Walt Whitman says in one of his poems, "...I am large, I contain multitudes."

But what is my "core identity"? And what are all the different variations of my core identity?

Let's see........ 

I am male.

I am gay.

I am a son.

I am a boyfriend.

I am a friend.

Oh man. I could go on and on and on.......

And then there are all the different variations of those identities.....

I am a particular variation of "male." Not all males share the same core identity, right?

I am a particular variation of "gay." Not all gay people share the same core identity, right?

Again, I could go on and on and on....

This is what you get when you take a sociology class! We talk about what happens to individual identity in a group setting. We don't necessarily lose our "core identity" when we're part of a group, but we tap into all different variations of our core identity and adopt those that are best suited to a group we want to be part of.

Okay, so much for today's lecture on sociology! Let me share what all this means to me on a personal level.

I HATE being limited by others in how I am "suppose" to be defined. And even more than that, I HATE how I sometimes limit myself when I try to define myself in a "fixed" way.

Take being male. I resent and resist our culture defining for me what it means to be male. And I equally resent and resist my efforts to sometimes make myself fit into a particular definition of "masculinity." I reserve for myself the right to define what being "male" means to me. 

Take being gay. I resent and resist our culture (and all the different sub-cultures) defining for me what it means to be gay. And I equally resent and resist my efforts to sometimes make myself fit into a particular definition of what it means to be gay. I reserve for myself the right to define what being "gay" means to me.

If you were to see a picture of me, one of the first things you'd notice is I have a "softer" versus a more "rugged" masculine look. And you know what? I LOVE that about my looks. I didn't always like it because I thought it made me look "less of a man." I also LOVE wearing makeup sometimes. Think that makes me less of a man? Too bad.

I also have a more "slim" look. I'm not all buffed up with highly defined abs that are hard as steel. I've been called a sissy, a fag, a twink, and worse. All those words are used to "punish" me for not agreeing to "fit in."

See? That's how powerful the influence of the group (culture) has on us. That awful pressure to make you HATE anything that is outside the norms of the group. It's all about conformity and fitting in. So screw that. Oh wait. I mean, SCREW THAT! Ahhhh, that made me feel better, thank you very much. You see, the ONLY one who gets the right to define my  masculinity is ME

So you know what? The only one who gets to decide whether or how I want to fit in is ME. Don't like that? Boo Hoo. Too bad for you. YOU miss out on getting to know me as a unique individual with value second to none.

And that is how I'm slowly beginning to define myself to myself. A unique individual with value second to none. Like Walt Whitman says in the quote up there, "...I am large, I contain multitudes." And I want to be part of a world where I might contradict myself sometimes -- or I might contradict some of your definitions. 

Yep, I am large. I contain multitudes. And I can fashion those multitudes with makeup if I want. I can fashion those multitudes with softness or hardness if I want. They are my multitudes after all, and I claim every one of them as my own.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Remember

Nothing specific is prompting me to think in these terms, but sometimes I do go into some self-doubt about a number of things. Just wanted to put this out here mainly as a reminder to myself for when I hear that little voice in my head saying, "You're not trying hard enough."
 
 
I always want to be -- 
 
-- the best boyfriend.
 
-- the best Server at the restaurant.
 
-- the best friend.
 
-- the best student in school.
 
Sometimes I feel like I don't always measure up.
 
Sometimes I feel like I'm not good enough.
 
Sometimes I feel like I don't try hard enough.
 
 
This is a reminder to myself:
 
I am not perfect, but I show up to life. 
 
I am committed to living up to my responsibilities.
 
I am committed to trying my hardest.
 
I am committed to learning from my mistakes.
 
 
As long as I do these things, I am enough.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Be excited! Slow down!

This project I've undertaken to write a children's book for kids with ADHD means a LOT to me! There are some days I can't stop thinking about it and my brain is rushing from one idea to the other and it's all I want to talk about with other people!

I talked to my mom who knows some people who have written children's books (one is local) and she's introducing me to them. Looks like I might even get to meet the local author at some point and pick her brain. The others might be resources for me to correspond with.

And then there's all the online resources I've discovered lately on topics all the way from titles that have already been published related to children's books on this subject, to author forums, to publishing tips, to marketing strategies, etc!

And then there's the Independent Study I'm doing as one of my credits and everything has to be totally organized to fit in an academic format.

And then there's........ On man! So much!

This is going to be a real test for me. Well, not a test in terms of whether I "pass" or "fail." But a test of being able to apply all the things I've learned over the years about how my brain works to make it run efficiently.

About a year ago, I was talking to the doctor who prescribes my meds and was telling him all the things in life I want to accomplish. Man, my list was a mile long! I remember him saying something to me I've never forgotten. And I'm making a meme of what he said so I can see it in black and white. What he said was: "The way to speed up what you want to do, is to slow down."

I LOVE paradoxes like this. It's almost like a puzzle and a challenge for my brain. And for me, there's so much truth in this one. I can speed things up by slowing things down.

I think I'm going to start a Project Journal to keep up with various life lessons I'm getting out of doing this. It might even be something I can refer to in writing my acceptance speech when I'm notified by the Swedish Academy to come pick up the Nobel Prize in Literature! LOL!! Totally kidding there. I'm not having grandiose delusions. Yet! LOL!

So for now, I'm trying to find the balance between being totally excited and having my feet firmly planted on the ground! Can you tell I'm excited? As long as my feet are on the ground, I'm in good shape.

Monday, September 8, 2014

"Good Job"

I wanted to share something I'm letting myself feel proud of. I haven't written a whole lot about my family -- my mom, my dad, my two brothers. I decided today to share a little more because it's key to understanding this thing I'm letting myself be proud of.

I come from a family of high achievers. Or maybe I should capitalize that. I come from a family of High Achievers. Both my parents have advanced degrees and are accomplished professionals in their field. My older brother, Tony, is close to completing graduate studies with an advanced degree in a field where he has an extremely bright future. My younger brother, Nick, doesn't plan on an advanced degree, but he's getting some highly specialized training that will open so many doors career-wise.

Me? I'm basically a blue-collar worker specializing right now in carpentry as part of a large construction and contracting company. When I was a kid, I went through a brief period where I wanted to follow in my dad's footsteps and study medicine. But I've basically always wanted to get into some kind of manual work where I didn't have to work in an office and could work with my hands. I've never regretted my decision and it pleases me to no end that I have the talent and skill to do this type of work -- work I enjoy to no end. 

I took a year off between high school and college to get my foot in the door in this trade and also to start saving every single penny I could. I have worked my way up the ranks, both in gaining the respect of my bosses and co-workers, and respect for the quality of my work. I'm very proud of my accomplishments, though I often downplay this.

My family is also very proud of me, though there is this voice inside my head that says I am the one in the family who hasn't accomplished much compared to everyone else. My mom and dad always ask about my work and are always genuinely interested in what I do. They both have said how proud they are of me. My older brother, Tony, admires how accomplished I am in my work. My younger brother, Nick? He and I have always had this competitive streak in our relationship, but we're really close to each other and I know without a doubt he admires the work I do and looks up to me.

So feeling I don't measure up to my entire family's accomplishments is all in my head. My family has been nothing but supportive of what I do. I'm aware that it's never a good idea to compare oneself to others. And I'm also aware that my value as a person is not connected to the type of work I do. Still, that voice is there. I'm working on it.

So I thought it would be worthwhile to mention something that happened last week. Something that felt like a game changer in how I see myself in this regard.

Over a year ago I was given some supervisory responsibilities. That means my boss trusts me. It also means he values the quality of my actual carpentry skills. Fairly recently he gave me an additional responsibility by taking me out occasionally when we bid for new jobs. He's grooming me to grow with the company. I get nothing but praise from him (except for a few incidents when my meds weren't working right in the past and I was a little more hyper than I needed to be).

Well, last week he got a complaint from this homeowner on a job I'm not part of. The customer called him and complained that the quality of the work was shoddy. My boss told the customer he was sending one of his "senior men" to come over and talk with them about it and get the problem corrected since he would be out of town for the next three days.

Guess who the "senior man" was? Me. 

He told me to go over and talk to the homeowner and see what was going on and to inspect the quality of the work and then to call him about it. When I got there the customer showed me the work and they were absolutely right. There were some problems with mismeasurements and joint gaps and a few other things. Before calling my boss I told the customer there were clearly problems with the quality and I would feel the exact same way they did about it. It was really unacceptable work and I ventured to say this to them because I knew if my boss saw this, he would feel the same way.

So I called him, reviewed everything, sent him pictures, and told him what I had said to the customer. He completely agreed with my assessment. Then do you know what he said next? "Stay there, organize the guys, map out a plan, and make this right. This job will not be complete until the customer says she satisfied."

I sort of surprised myself in how I organized a fairly complex plan in my head (something that's hard for me to do quickly with all the ADHD challenges i have), assigned work orders to the crew, helped them out, and consulted with the homeowner every step of the way. She was very pleased and actually said she initially expected the work to take a lot longer. I thanked her, took some pics, sent them to my boss, and he was very pleased. He's not a man of many words, so after he asked a bunch of questions asking if I did this, that, and the other, he said, "Good job, Matt. Really good job."

I was on a high the rest of the day and I'm still riding riding the high even now. It felt like a real game changer in some kind of way. Yeah, my boss trusted me, the work crew handled my directions well, the homeowner was pleased, but the major significance of this for me is that I can give myself credit for a job well done. Being trusted by my boss, working under pressure, making my brain organize itself in developing a complex plan, and executing it with the quality I expect from myself -- this is HUGE for me.

I told my family about all this, along with some friends, and everybody was really proud and excited for me. And everyone I told knows all the issues I've had over the years with my self-esteem and self-confidence because of my ADHD. 

But the biggest praise of all came from someone totally unexpected. Someone who has always had a lot of doubts about me being a success in life. Someone who has always just been waiting for me to prove that I'm not capable of very much and has been waiting for me to fail. That someone is me. I've gone back over every single step I took to tackle this assignment, and my verdict was the same I got from my boss: "Good job, Matt. Really good job."

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sundays with Sam: Meeting his family

Hi again every one! Happy Sunday. It's me, Sam! But Rick, my BOYFRIEND, is not sitting by my side like last week while I type this. But you can still wave at me and I'll wave back but I just won't get a kiss from him when this happens! LOL But I will still enjoy waving at you and seeing you wave back!

So are you ready and totally EXCITED to hear the news about how my Labor Day with RICK went? You know, the one where I got to meet a lot of his extended family for the very first time! Like I said, this was a BIG deal for Rick (and for me) because after coming out to his entire family, he told them he even had a BOYFRIEND and he (that's me) was coming to the Labor Day BBQ!!!!

You might remember how nervous I was feeling about all this, right? I mean I was really excited in one way because anything and anyone important to RICK is important to me. But I was also nervous to be around so many people I didn't know. But the second reason is a little more difficult to explain but I'll try to lay it out:

Okay. So until fairly recently I have lived my entire life in the closet. Except for a few extremely close friends (Brad and Matty included), I have had to make sure no one found out I was gay. If you've read my past posts about this, you'll know it was often extremely dangerous for me to let any one know this fact.

Even now in my life, I am coming out to more and more people. Mainly people I know through Rick. And the people in the GLBT counseling group I am in. But that is about it. I am not ready to come out to any body in my circle of friends yet. You know no idea the extreme level of panic and anxiety I feel when I even think about telling some one I am gay. I've seen how certain people talk about gay people and I've heard some of the most degrading and filthy and disgusting things you can imagine. And don't even get me started with all the pure hate I have heard coming from people.

Anyway. Like I said last week, I was really anxious about being around so many people. And in the back of my mind (okay, in the FRONT of my mind!), I knew every single person I would see there would automatically know I was gay. It's not that I am ashamed of being gay because I'm not. At least not now. I use to be very ashamed and hated this fact. But I have done some major work in getting through this issue, thanks to my counseling group and all the talks I have had with Brad over the years. And now I have you guys I can turn to if I start hating on my self.

But anyway, I guess what I am trying to say is that there is a BIG difference (at least to me) between deciding to come out to some one after giving it a LOT of thought because you want that specific person to know you better, and walking into a room full of people who already know ahead of time that you are gay. -- WOW. That was a long sentence. I hope every one at least took a breath in the middle of it!! LOL

See the difference? Those are two totally different things and make you have totally different emotions. When you come out to one specific person, you have already given it a LOT of thought and at least you know the person and probably have some idea of how they might react. But in this situation with going to the BBQ at Rick's, every one already knows this fact and inside my head I am thinking, "I don't even know these people and they already know some thing extremely important about me."

The thing that made this not as overwhelming as it could be is that Rick had already assured me that nobody would have a negative reaction. That helped, in addition to the fact that he had already said he would stay be my side the entire time no matter what. But it was still very hard. I finally got comfortable after a while because every one treated me very nice. Still, I kept feeling self-conscious but I guess that is to be expected.

Remember when I told you about going up to New Hampshire with Rick to visit his cousin and their family? They had a little boy who really took to me and kept begging me to play with him almost the whole time. Well, at the Labor Day BBQ, there were some little kids there and after a short while they kept talking to me and showing me things they had with them, like toys and games. I enjoyed that a lot. What is it about little kids that make them want to play with me? I have never spent any time with kids but wow, they seem to head straight to me! LOL And every one there enjoyed watching how the kids were crawling all over me and giggling like, well, giggling like little kids!! LOL!! And all that started making me giggle, too.

I guess my main point here is that it made me so happy to realize that these little kids did more that they realized in making me relax and enjoy my self. The parents kept trying to make the kids stop bothering me, but I said I was enjoying it a lot. And then I realized some thing! I started talking to the adults after that. I still haven't figured out how it worked like that, but I guess as long as I was centering my attention on the little kids, they helped my take my mind off all my anxiety. And then I was able to start relaxing more.

But I also have to say some thing about Rick's role in all this. He never left my side the whole time and would take me around and introduce me to every one. And it was kind of funny to watch how the women would hug me and the men would shake my hand. And how every single person would smile at me like they were happy to meet me. WOW. Like EVERY SINGLE PERSON in this family would smile when they met me! That was almost too much to take in!

And then people would start asking me about my work and all kinds of questions like that. After a while I started relaxing a lot more. And then it got a little too much for me and I asked Rick if it would be okay if we went some where to be alone for a minute. He looked concerned for me and took my hand (TOOK MY HAND in front of his whole family!!! and NO BODY batted an eye!!! which was SO awesome!!!) and we went out side for a while.

He did not even have to ask what I was feeling but just held me and kept saying, "They love you. I'm so happy you're here." And while he held me he was saying things like he knew this was really hard for me and started telling all kinds of loving things. I apologized for him having to stick by my side the whole time and said he it was fun watching me play with the kids and he didn't want to leave my side because he might miss some thing.

Hey Rick. I know you are reading this but I want to say some thing to you and I want to share this with every one reading this: Like that sign up there says, I had a MILLION things on my mind at the BBQ, and just like you never left my side, I want you to know you made this a happy time for me because YOU never left my mind the whole time. And even more important, every single day you NEVER leave my heart. Love you.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Weekend plans

If you're ever in Boston and have any kind of interest in contemporary art, you need to check out the Institute of Contemporary Art located on the waterfront just minutes from downtown Boston.

That's were Matty and I, along with four or five friends, will be this afternoon. In addition to a spectacular view of the Inner Harbor, the exhibits are always really interesting. There's another contemporary art museum in western Mass called Mass MoCA (Mass Museum of Contemporary Art), and we've been there, too.

What kind of plans does everyone have for this weekend? Hope your weekend is nice!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Oh I forgot

In the excitement of telling you about my dad giving me my grandfather's guitar last Sunday -- and him hugging me for the very first time I can ever remember -- I forgot to tell you about going the BBQ at Matty's parents on Monday (Labor Day).

I decided to take the guitar with us because I'm so proud of it. I had seen a guitar in Matty's younger brother's bedroom but I'd never seen him play it, so I wanted to show him. 

Well, when we got there, everybody sort of crowded around me when they saw it. I was beaming because it was getting a lot of oohhs and aahs and everybody wanted hear about why I brought a guitar.

All I told them at first was that it originally belonged to my grandfather and my dad had just passed it along to me now. They thought the guitar was beautiful and asked if I was learning how to play it. So we chatted about that a while.

Then a little later in the afternoon, I was in the kitchen refilling one of the ice chests to bring outside. While I was putting more ice in the chest, Matty's dad came in the kitchen and said he really loved the guitar and was asking some questions about it. We chatted a few minutes and then for some reason I started getting a little teary and his dad saw and asked if I was okay. I said, "Yeah. It just reminds me of my grandfather." Then he said, "Was he someone special to you?" And just like that, I lost my voice and could only nod Yes.

So then he said he'd help me take the ice chest outside and told me he'd love to hear about my grandfather sometime. So a little later that afternoon he came in the living room where I was and sat down next to me while I was strumming out some chords. I showed him what I'd learned and let him try it out.

And then, without any prompting, I started telling him about my grandfather. It was easy to talk about it since I was showing him the neck, the frets, the tuning pegs, and so forth.

This is probably not making a whole lot of sense, but it really meant a lot to me that Matty's dad wanted to spend some one-on-one time with me, learning a little about the guitar and hearing some about my grandfather. I was able to tell him some stories without crying and it also meant a lot that he asked me questions about my grandfather.

I guess the whole point of this is to say I'm still feeling a little overwhelmed with all the meaning behind my own dad hugging me, giving me my grandfather's guitar, and then Matty's dad spending some time with me and wanting to know more about my past.

When we were driving back home, I asked Matty if he had told his family anything about the guitar or what's been happening with my dad, and he said no. I then just sat back in the seat, closed my eyes, and let myself feel the joy going on in my heart.

Family. That word is taking on some new meaning for me now. I can't stop thinking about this new relationship developing between me and my own dad. And all the memories of my relationship with my grandfather. And now letting Matty's dad know me a little better.

It's nice, you know? Feeling cared for like this. Really nice.