Category Archives: connection

You Are In Integrity

“You are in integrity when the life you live is an authentic expression of who you are.” — Alan Cohen

 

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I Am Being Looked After

 

I Will Continue to Fulfill My Commitments to Peace and Grace

 

“Can such thing be, and overcome us like a summer’s cloud, without our special wonder?” — William Shakespeare

 

To overcome my feeling of being lost, alone and afraid; overwhelmed by the challenges I now face, I am going through my “tool belt” of coping mechanisms that I have added along life’s way.  To reclaim my ability to take part again in life, I have discovered that I must reclaim the gift of commitment.  I have many personal commitments: living life fully and authentically, my growing spirituality, working on my special relationships with my closest friends and sharing my experiences of personal discovery and growth through my writing.  I have come to realize that it is a moment of wonder when we have something in our lives that requires the best we have to give.

During times of doubt or struggle, I find myself questioning what I’ve gotten myself into. But an activity or a person to which we give ourselves wholly and freely is evidence of a force greater than ourselves at work in our life.  I believe my commitments are something the Universe has asked me to do and I know absolutely and without a doubt that the Universe will help me take care of meeting all of them.

Money, support and the energy and enthusiasm needed will come as well and at the perfect time.  Although it may seem that things may not be going my way, I can trust that the Universe is giving to me all that I need so that my lessons can be learned and tasks can be accomplished.  This knowledge and belief helps to keep my spirits up.  Each day I have before me a wonderful opportunity to fulfill my commitments in peace and grace.  I am being looked after.


 

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In Love v. Being “In Love”

Loving v. Being in Love”

Someone said to me this morning that he believes it to be true, that people can be in love, but not “in” love. Now this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this belief stated. So, I wanted to venture off to do some research of my own on this “Loving versus “Being in Love” concept. I would have said being in love is the single most wonderful and important thing. It’s an arbiter of chemistry. However, I have found that like some, it may be argued that being in love is a short-lived sensation that is not sustainable. Perhaps loving and respecting someone are more important.

Being in love is short-lived:

At times I wonder if the sensation of being in love is a chemical imprinting phenomenon perhaps even exclusive to heterosexuals. The coveting, jealousy and exclusiveness might stem from the nature driven side of sex for reproduction; the desire to perpetuate ones offspring at the exclusion of competitors.

In our society, the traditional heterosexual marriage model is the only socially supported model for establishing and maintaining long-term sexual and affectional relationships among gays and lesbians. This model has never been really appropriate or functional for same sex relationships. Although many same-sex couples still try to adapt the marriage model in one form or another, most now avoid relationships that completely conform to it in favor of relationships in which roles are not so rigidly formulated by gender role stereotypes.

Naturally, this movement away from the marriage pattern, along with the realities of same-gender relationships, makes for differences between gay and non-gay partnerships. There are also differences between kinds of relationship characteristics typical of gay male and lesbian couples because of differences between genders and the ways men and women are socialized. These differences create different problems and raise different issues. In spite of these differences, however, there are some general relationship issues that are common to both gay and non-gay couples.

Same-sex relationships are similar to opposite-sex relationships in that they are both built on love, mutual caring, and trust, communication is an essential element to the continuing success of the relationship, and both must negotiate roles, rules, and expectations. One of the biggest differences between gay and non-gay relationships, however, is that same-sex relationships lack roles models.

This may sound unromantic but I think questioning the basis for behavior is at times important to evolve either into or beyond a state. All that you say resonates to be sure, yet too often have I seen madly passionate in-love individual’s burn out of their passions. “Quick to light, quickly to burn” I believe the old adage goes… And with it yes- the pain and fear…

Be assured I am not at all questioning our desire to feel in love; we all have this aspiration. I question only for myself, since my partner has communicated to me on several occasions that this kind of passion has changed for me and with it the feeling of being in love. I agree love and respect – are a given. Now rapture for someone must extend to a sense of great potential for that person as an individual and as a partner. Coveting and jealousy have evolved into deep feelings of contentment of knowing that you are watchful of and watched by someone. I can’t quite approximate the sensation with language but I am aware of the rare quality of a person from whom I seek to give and receive that type of attention; their vision and affection becomes integral to one’s evolution, not simply supportive of it. I recall the time when my last partner and I met, and those weeks and months in the beginning of our relationship that he and I were unable to make even simple eye contact with one another because the rapture, the overwhelming brilliance and joy seemed blinding. We could not look at each other without seeing a future- and yet, has that feeling not lasted? Was it meant to? Are all states of “being in love” eventually replaced by a deep mutual love, respect, affection, and (if lucky) persistent attraction.

Being in love is foundational:

Without a doubt, love and respect are centrally important. Without respect and trust you have nothing, maybe just some hormones.

However, there’s something Freud called ‘the over-valuation of the love object,’ and I think that’s essential. That’s the phenomenon of believing your love object is incredibly special, even if rationally you know that all people are imperfect. Your beloved’s eyes shine brighter, their remarks are cleverer, their smile is truer, their insights are more insightful, their comfort more comforting – generally that the world is a better place simply because they, apart from all others, are in it. Your life is a better and finer thing because that person is sharing it with you.

You have to feel that no substitute is possible because of the ineffable uniqueness and specialness of your loved one. And that feeling of eminence is partly delusional, and partly based on the lock-and-key-like fit of two unique yet compatible personalities coming together as they deepen their mutual understanding over time. To me, that set of feelings is “being-in-love,” and I believe no relationship can survive without. Without that feeling, you’re constantly aware that the world is full of adequate substitutes. I also believe that this sort of being-in-love is not short-lived but foundational, even if it goes through fluctuations and phases.

Love, however, is by comparison a relatively non-relational way of caring for someone: it means that you care about and are committed to someone else’s happiness and well-being around equally to your own, and are willing to put in work toward achieving that. This sort of love is altruistic and relatively selfless but it doesn’t draw you to someone and make you want to inhabit a private or exclusive sphere. That love you could have for a mother and a brother and humanity in general. It’s non-possessory. Does that make it a ‘better’ sort of love, higher, more virtuous? Perhaps, but also more tepid & impersonal, and lacking in any compelling sense of why you give love and effort to one person and not another.

In-love love is exclusionary, jealous, protective, devoted, involved, inspiring, and covetous (among other things). The flip side of being in love is the potential for real hurt and loss. And nearly everyone becomes more loss-averse and risk averse over time, as well as – more detrimentally – more self-protective and resilient. There are benefits, yet it means one build walls on all sides. So over time there’s a gap between one’s conceptual view of being-in-love and one’s ability to do it – or, really, to allow it.

The fact that it becomes harder or rarer doesn’t make it less real or less important.

Conclusion
As I get more experienced I find myself willing to compromise less and less. I know what works for me and even more so what does not. As for love, I have never been as hurt as when I have been in love. Similarly, I have never unintentionally hurt someone as much as when that person was in love with me and I was not (despite wanting to be). For that, I cannot apologize enough. Despite my outward rationality and coldness, I am a romantic at heart. And, as an eternal optimist, I continue to believe in the archetypal importance of being in love.

 

Hugging and Holding

 

“I’d never seen men hold each other.  I thought the only thing they were allowed to do was shake hands or fight.”  —Rita Mae Brown

Like many men, I grew up without knowing the warmth of lovingly touching one another.  Some of us had fathers who trapped themselves in a stereotypical male role, afraid to hold us and show their love for us.  We may have learned to be independent, competitive, and even separate.  We often fall into awkwardness and isolation.  As men especially, we become afraid to reach out, hug, and hold someone of our own sex. So many of us, whether male or female, have lost touch with ourselves and with others.  We have been alone far too long.

One result when pursuing personal growth is the awareness and beginning of healthy and proper holding of one another and giving hugs.  At first, we may find it embarrassing and keep our distance.  As we learn to loosen up and reach out, we look forward to the warmth and strength that comes from giving and receiving a friendly, caring hug.  It is good to learn to touch in a fearless and nonsexual way.  I am glad to be in touch with other people through hugging and holding.

Something Happened For the First Time in My Adult Life ~ A Commitment to Monogamy

 

Something has happened in my thinking for the first time in my adult life. Those who know me well will agree that this “happening” is revelation for me, if not a miracle:

I went to bed last night hours before my partner Christopher; one of those artist traits where an idea must be completed to his satisfaction on canvas or else his mind won’t rest. After sleeping for what seemed like a full night, I looked at the clock. I had only been sleeping a little over two hours. I noticed I was freezing. “He has the A/C turned to the 60’s I thought to myself”. With a still sleepy voice, I called out, “Christopher.” My voice was so faint and I knew he was on the opposite end of the house. Little did I expect that he’d even hear me? I laid there and pulled the down comforter over me. Just then, in walks Christopher, “Yes Baby?” “I’m cold” I told him”, still softly. “Would you like me to warm you up? I’ll have to get naked you know. “Yes.” I still muttered.

As he crawled into bed with me beneath our luxurious comforter, I soon felt the heat radiating from his body. Once I was warm enough, I pulled my arm out from under the comforter and stroked his handsome face. Soon, we began making love. Not just a routine kind of love-making; this was very different. We found ourselves becoming so intimate with one another and so passionate; our faces were lit by our bright smiles and our eyes locked in to one another’s. As our demonstration of love to one another continued and grew even further in its intensity, I began thinking to myself, “God, no other man knows me like this to even come close to making me feel this good” and, “I love him so differently than anyone else in my life”. And Christopher said, “Baby, you are so right for me. I love you deeply”. I responded to him by saying, “Baby, there is no other man for me but you”. Our kisses, just as they have in the past, sealed our commitment to one another. Our love making met each other’s needs so completely and naturally.

My mind continued its course of thoughts like, “This is it. He is so much “the one” for me. I have no doubts. Even with all of the challenges we face, nothing can erode the foundation of true love that we have for one another. He so longs for monogamy. I believe I can now give it freely, authentically, and honestly to him”.

Later, in the shower these feelings still lingered and I thought to myself, “I have never given myself so completely to someone, nor have I had anyone match my giving so equally in return. Tonight Christopher helped me get to a place where no one has ever been successful before”. I planned to tell him this and from the shower walked up behind him as he sat on the computer going through email messages.

“It says here I can make $3,000 a month selling candles, Baby” he said.

“Christopher I need to share something really important with you” I said as I grabbed his big hand into my own two hands. “Tonight, you helped me with something and with your help, together I feel like we went somewhere in intimacy where we have never been before. At least, I never have been in my entire adult life”.

There was enough familiarity with certain key words in what I was saying that changed his look of concern to his big beautiful smile. “Christopher, I felt monogamy. I don’t know exactly how; I’m going to sort more of this out in the morning, but I know I felt it. And baby, right now what I’m feeling is the need to say to you that I am ready to be monogamous. With you. No one has ever made me feel so secure, so attractive, so loved, so cherished as you. And I have never felt the need to make another man feel these same things from me before. At least not all of them in one package. You are the only man I want. This is what I want – monogamy.”

He pulled me into his lap and kissed me so deeply. We cried tears filled with all kinds of happiness and relief and the elimination of regrets. I felt free! I mean, I felt as though tightness was removed from my chest. My face seemed to be engaged in an endless smile. Christopher said, “It sounds to me like you need your inhaler and I’m going to go get it for you and bring us back something cold to drink. Now you crawl back into bed Baby, and I’ll be right back”. After sharing our cherry Kool Aid, I found my spot for my head on his chest; it’s a spot that nestles my head just perfectly. And we fell into a deep sleep in each other’s arms.

This morning, I woke up to thinking of what happened last night and smiled as I stretched and pulled a kitten off Christopher’s neck and kissed him “good morning.” As he sat up I said, “I still feel exactly the same way Christopher.” He looked at me and smiled (a rarity when he first wakes up) and said, “I’m glad. Me too, Baby”. Already, our morning is off to a much different start than the many that have come before. A gentler and more relaxed kind of activity, while we take care of our animals, we call it the morning “chores.”

I logged on to write my blog, and our dearest friend (well really we consider him to be like family to us); Matt IM’d me which made him the very first person I could tell about my “happening”. He was thrilled and gave so much wonderful feedback. As I get ready to post this blog, I know that there is going to be something different about today. Something lighter, brighter and definitely will be full of love. Thank you Christopher and I must say “thank you” to my Self, as I know it took the two of us to create beauty. For the first time, and at the age of 46, Mark feels a sense of monogamy – a need for it. And is ready to give this gift to my partner. The only man who could help me get here.

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