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Digital Photography VI ~ Glory Hole

Through The Glory Hole-6

Image by groovydudesdude via Flickr

 

A few years ago, I found a new “hobby” of sorts in digital photography, and the photo editing I realized I could do through various editing programs.  Starting with the most simple of editing programs, I began to turn what seemed an ordinary photos in to something quite – extraordinary. This photo, called “Glory Hole” began as an edit of photo of a television screen.

This is a re-post of this blog/photo.  Interestingly, it is the second most viewed blog on any one of my three web blog sites!

The term “glory hole” originated as a mining expression.  Obviously, the meaning has evolved over the years to one of an adult connotation. Any adult reader who doesn’t know what a glory hole is, click the link.


 

 

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Just Be Honest

 

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“Just start being honest” my ex-partner was always telling me.  “It’s not that difficult Mark, just do it.”  For a large part of my adult life, I was dishonest with the people I said I loved.  My dishonesty grew as I became more involved with my addictions to crystal methamphetamine and sex.  My behaviors began to protect and hide my addictions from those I loved most: my significant love relationships, my family and my friends.  That is what I was fooling myself to believe anyway; that I was smarter than they were and that I was fooling them that I was not in fact a drug addicted, sex addicted person.  The real me was using drugs and having promiscuous sex outside the relationship, but telling them that I was a clean and sober person, committed to our monogamous relationship as we defined it.  Lies and dishonesty ruled my life.  I was smoking crystal meth in the bathroom, while my partner at the time was in the bedroom next door.  I was creating stories and drama that would seem to support or validate my excuses or reasons to be away from home.  I thought that my partner believed I was away for some legitimate reason, so that what I could really do is meet that hook up for sex behind his back. 

 

I began to not only get high from the drug, and get off on the sex, but I was also getting something out of the lies and deceptions I was creating.  I thought my partner was fooled by my tall tales and drama.  More drugs and more sex led to more lies, tales and drama creating two lives; two worlds.  I was living two separate lives; one life that was shallow and fake and filled with dishonesty and the one I wanted my partner to believe was going on opposed by the life of drugs and sex that I was in reality living.  It was when the two lives collided that everything began falling apart around me.  My partner, who I tried to fool myself to believe, was stupid and believing in my distortions and lies was actually fully aware of every mistruth of my words and my actions.  He knew all along when I was dishonest and sadly that was most of the time. 

 

When I finally became aware that I was the only one playing my game, and that I was fooling no one but myself and that I had lost everything and everyone important to me, I was at the lowest point of my entire life. Everything was gone and everything had changed.  I was lost, alone and afraid.  Confusion and delusion had ruled my life.  Everyone I loved now seemed like those scary looking clowns.  Alone, I prayed to my god, Mother Universe, and asked, “What have I done?”

 

It was only then that I could begin rebuilding my life.  Only this time, it would be a life that is real.  What I put out to the world, the person I presented myself as, would be authentic and honest.  If I said something, I wanted people to know that my word was good enough to take to the bank.  No more distortions, lies and no more drama. 

 

What a slow process this has been.  At least it seems slow going to me.  The hardest part has been getting honest with me.  It is unbelievable that I even thought of myself as a fool enough to believe my lies.  I have spent so much time becoming aware of how I wanted myself to be, versus how I was trying to fool myself I was.  I realized there was a tremendous amount of incongruity between my authentic self and the person I was really presenting myself as.  By taking small, gradual “baby steps” I am becoming comfortable in my own skin and thereby honest with myself.  Once honest with myself, I am honest with all others in my life. 

 

No one was, is or ever will be the ignorant asses I tried to convince them they were.  Not one person I had fed my lies to was stupid.  In my awareness, it hurts to see the self-doubt that my lies created in once confident and happy people.  What do I do now?  For starters, I practice forgiving myself.  To those I hurt through my dishonesty, I validate that their suspicions were correct and that they weren’t crazy, stupid or ignorant.  I apologize for the man I was and demonstrate authentic remorse for my actions.  I make amends.  Then, I only put out what is honest.  I just become honest.  It really is that simple.  I just do it. 

 

            I write this today because there is one person in my life who means so much to me that is right now at the exact point I was when I lost everything and was brought to my knees.  I have tried many times over to make it clear that I am no fool, I am not stupid and that I have been the player of his exact same game.  He seems to be holding on to the lies and distortions much tighter than I ever was.  This may not be his time for change yet.  However I am giving to him every opportunity I wasn’t given.  I want him to know that he is safe to be honest and can disclose fully his actions without fear of my reaction or retribution.  If he chooses honesty and to be his authentic self, I know we will have a long and happy life together.  If he chooses not be authentic, and continue the lies, distortions and drama, then I must begin that arduous and painful process of ending a relationship — and that breaks my heart.   Just be honest.  It’s not that hard.  Just do it.  Baby steps. 

The Risks I Took and the Risks I Take

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The Risks I Took

“One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar.” —Helen Keller

The risks I took in my two previous relationships were profound. I look back at my behavior in each of those relationships, and I am absolutely horrified; ashamed even. I took the chance in those relationships that my partner or any other loved one would discover the truth about my promiscuity. I juggled multiple relationships; multiple lives even.

I gambled that I wouldn’t pick up a sexually transmitted disease (STD). I gambled that I wouldn’t pass on an STD to my partner.My life in those relationships was built like a house of cards. Without either of my partner’s actively investigating me, my schedules, computer histories or personal items, still found out about my activities. The data would somehow present itself to them. It would appear to them through some freak action it seemed. I may not have gone so far as to label myself as a compulsive gambler, but in retrospect, I was. I risked our very own lives for the thrill of living dangerously.

Both relationships ended similarly; the expectation they had of honesty was not respected and my behavior presented them with risks they did not choose to take.

By the time I had finally hit my own “rock bottom”, I could claim two failed suicide attempts and a hospitalization of more than a month and a half for recovery of an addiction to crystal meth. During that hospitalization I was diagnosed as being HIV+. The deadly STD had silently infected me, thrived even, within me. A viral load of close to 2 million and a CD4 count in the double digits began to make me aware that my body felt differently than it had in the past.Infections and malaise became the norm for me.Eventually, I was classified as being in “full blown AIDS” and was told by one doctor that I would be lucky to be able to live out my life for another two to four more years.

The Risks I Take Now

In my life as it is now, I am part of a relationship that allows me to channel my willingness to risk into constructive change. For the first time, I am experiencing true love and respect – both as a receiver and active giver of these feelings. I am, for the first time in my life, mastering the attainment of rigorous honesty with my present partner and loved ones; something that eluded me in the past. I can trust that what I am able to do now will help me grow; I can act and then let go of the outcome.

I try to make choices that result in the healthiest outcome possible. However, I am human and imperfect.Overall, I wake each day grateful to be happy and alive.Although in the past, it was my willingness to take risks that got me into trouble; it is this same willingness that has given me the platform from which I can grow. I am still taking risks, but these risks are now risks of love which keep me in this healthier form of life and relationship each and every day. The ghosts from my past still drift through relationships, hurting their loved ones and fooled into a shallow, misguided sense of happiness by their risky behavior. Those images are held in my mind as a touchstone to remind me of how I choose not to be. Today, I feel proud to take risks in order to enlarge my life.



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Where Is My Light?

 

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It seems as though my Light went out on or about the twenty-first of June, 2005. That was the day that my partner of 11years ended our relationship. From that day forward, and for many days thereafter, I could no longer stomach my life, or even my own existence. I wished I were dead. And with that thought in my head, a dull, constant pain in my heart began in my chest, My Light had gone out.  That bulb blew so hard, that I haven’t found a way to turn it back on again. Everything changed after my Light went out. No more jokes from me, and no more smiles either.  The way I look or the way that I live. I began hating myself so much, that all I wanted was to die. I wanted to be dead, or dying. One of the two. It didn’t matter. And then my wish came true. The first suicide attempt. Botched. The second attempt, failed. An admission to a psychiatric facility for management of my bi polar disorder and rehab for my addiction to crystal meth. I began faking my progress through treatment. I said all the right things that were expected of me by the staff at St. Luke’s.

And then I found out that I was not only HIV+, but in full-blown AIDS. At last, I was at least dying. My Light was really gone now. Everything I knew in my life began to fall apart and fell away from me. I couldn’t grasp anything that mattered to me. I couldn’t go back to the home Joel and I shared for ten years. Our pets were to be split up between us. Our furniture sent to be auctioned off. I would move in with my sister, apply for welfare assistance and hope for the day when I might be able to live independently once again. There was to be outpatient treatment, and twelve step groups. There would be no using of crystal meth, and no consuming of alcohol. I was watched as though I were an escapee from an asylum, someone on the verge of committing some terrible act of harm against society. Without my Light, I began feeling lost, alone, and afraid.

The only echoes of my previous life were those of the hurt, pain and suffering I inflicted upon those I claimed to have loved. There were dances in my head, of lies, deceit, cheating and manipulation. Without my Light, there was no life for me to love or for me to feel was worth living. How could Joel ever forgive me? I beat myself mentally until I felt that I was worthless, almost subhuman.

Then there were small sparks. An apartment. My independence. Welfare and food stamps. Friends to support me emotionally and to help me feel at least somewhat loved. A bigger spark still, I met my present partner, Christopher. Things moved quickly. We stated our love for one another the very first night that we met. He never left after that first night. We decided he would move in. This was my love at first sight experience. A glimmer of light. But not Light.

Something was wrong though with this relationship with Christopher. Our dreamy beginning suddenly turned cold and dark, as his temper flared, outbursts we eventually would call them. Physical harm. Hurtful, hateful words that still sting like a nerve pain. Without Light, life was in chaos. I couldn’t manage my life, Christopher couldn’t manage his, and neither of us could fully support the other. Our lights were shut off by the power company and for nearly three months we lived in darkness until we were evicted from that apartment. We lived in disarray. Whose fault was that? Why even bother to cast blame. Joel turned his Light upon me and I saw the way in which I was living, and it was not the way I have ever lived in the past. I could see it all, but only for a few moments. My ex-partner stretched out his arm and said he’d help me out this one time. This one time only.

A new apartment and a fresh start, but not the best choice. Close to the home I had with my ex-partner, and in my old neighborhood, but not safe. Still, life was not managed well. The car is lost, stolen, towed. Who really knows? We got caught driving it with a suspended registration and no insurance. I had to go before a judge and I still have not yet dealt with the fines. I should be filing for protection under bankruptcy. I can’t manage my money at all. And Christopher will spend it faster than I have ever imagined anyone spending money. My ex-partner remained by my side for a time, with ideas to make life manageable. He helped in many ways. His Light shining on me confused me then. I found myself fantasizing about being back in relationship with him. With every crisis in my life, I called him and was there. Shining some more of his Light so that I can see a little better than before. His shining Light revealed strange pathways of mine that appear when I make choices and decisions. I began to become aware that I wasn’t on the path that I should have been on.  Sadly, my ex-partner has completely severed all ties with Christopher and I, apparently having gotten in touch with some latent resentment and anger, for which he claims he will never be able to come to any form of forgiveness, the forgiveness from before, he says, wasn’t authentic.

Without my own Light, I feel that death is near. Surely without Light, my life shall end. I prepare for my own transition. Memorial service and the entirety of its music is selected, Last Will and Testament complete, disposition of the animals noted, Health Care Power of Attorney chosen. Now why won’t death just come? I’ve got to wait here in the dark? This isn’t even funny. I already feel so lost, alone and afraid. Christopher seems to be getting somewhat better though not really committing to taking his meds or going to therapy.

In my darkness I can’t see. Even my glasses are gone most of the time, worn by Christopher. I find a new area of discomfort in my gut. It’s vile and poisonous and comes through my darkness in the form of mean, hateful, hurtful behavior. Words that I know will cause equal pain and suffering to mine are hurled out against Christopher. And following these waves of anger grew despair and deep depression. A depression so deep that I can’t even move. Nothing looks good to me. I see no positive to my being here or my existence. My body feels as though each day, it is shutting down just a little more. I experience chest pain so severe that I have to stop and catch my breath and to rest until it subsides.

I take many, many pictures of myself. Christopher takes many as well. In these pictures I try to smile, as though I would be filled with Light, but each photo reveals a face that is contorted or in pain with each attempt. I look at these pictures and think to myself, “There is no Light living here”. I begin to edit each picture making each look even more gloomy, and dark.

With each day comes greater waves of anger and loss of self control. “I want Joel” I tell Christopher. “Joel will help me. He’ll rescue me. He always does. Joel is always there for me”. Christopher hears this many times over, and eventually begins to doubt my love for him. He believes it is Joel that I want. And if that’s the case I should go to him. But Joel has moved on. I have not. If I had my Light, maybe I could see my way clear, and move on from Joel. Or is that just an excuse to hang on to something familiar and someone who forgives and gives generously? My Light doesn’t even come on when I’m in the house we once owned together. It’s all so different and it doesn’t feel like my home any longer. All I hear are the echoes of the life we once lived there. Echoes of family gatherings and parties with friends. Of projects and crafts. And of course the things I did there that ruined the Light. Shameful, disrespectful, deceitful acts.

I miss the life that I had when I also had Light. Life was Spiritual. Life had a rhythm and a cadence. Life to me now, has a loud bullying voice that embarrasses me. Which of course I retaliate with my own viciousness that is sure to hurt. This life is filled with loss. The loss of things that was once dear and valued by me. Destroyed by someone who had no regard for their meaning and felt there would be a better use for them as an art project. The actual loss of a pet (Precious) and the impending loss of Cinder. I still grieve the loss of Pepper, Blue and CeCe. All of this is what I believe put out that once beautiful, shining, glorious Light that I had been filled with. Now, I have nothing. My writing this will certainly not please my partner. But it is the truth. I can’t go on living a life without Light. It doesn’t even matter how many days I may have left. Even if it’s just a few days of life yet to be lived, I would choose to have it filled with Light than all of this darkness.

I would like to know the steps I must take to reclaim my Light. How exactly do I get it back? Where do I begin? I wish to laugh again, and make jokes. I want a smile on my face to come naturally. I want to feel the love I have for another, and in turn the love one has for me. I want to turn to my God when I feel my Light begin to dim, to talk things out the way we used to. I want to enjoy the routine of life, and respect the entire world around me. I want to be responsible to the pets in my charge and give them the best care possible. I wish to cry less. I cry so hard that my Soul begins to hurt. And Souls aren’t supposed to hurt. I want my Light to return. It has taken much of my strength to cry out for help. But I did. I welcome feedback and feel assured that help will come. And so will my Light.


 

Hello World!

 

 

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My first blog on wordpress.com!  I am so excited to be able to share my blogs with a whole new audience.  I’ve been blogging for almost two years now on my 360 page on Yahoo!  My experience on Yahoo! has been very positive.  I started blogging on Yahoo! after my partner, Christopher created my 360 page as a surprise to me.  He did all the initial “setting up” of the page, and added as much of his own creativity as he possibly could.  I had been telling him for months how intrigued I was by the concept of blogging.  I’ve always been a conscientious one to journal on a daily basis.  For my journal, I must have the most luxurious of bound papers and I treat myself to the most expensive pen I can afford.  Journaling to me, is a release.  It’s a way for me to look back on feelings, experiences and emotions.  It’s a valuable way for me to review the lessons I’ve learned, and a chance to discern what I could have done differently in a given situation.  When I journal, I write as though no one will ever see those pages but me.  Honesty comes forth easily.

Honesty has become a theme in my life.  I haven’t always been a person of integrity or honesty.  It’s taken me a long time and its been a very difficult journey to get to the point where I am today.  My blogs are all about honesty.  My honesty.  The lessons I am learning in this life, the fears I face, about my willingness for greater spirituality in my life, about my addiction to methamphetamines, my experience with mental illness and much more.  There are individuals who may read this and find the level of honesty to which I subscribe well, unbelievable!  Unfortunately, I have either run out of chances with them to prove myself, or they are unwilling to let go of the resentments they hold on to so tightly.  To them, I shall always be “guilty until proven innocent”.   I know the commitment I make each and every day when I first get out of bed; I commit to being rigorously honest in this new day, honest in every thought, word and action.  I realize of course that I am human and prone to error, but by making this simple promise each and every day, I have grown into making honesty a habit and part of the under girding of my life.

The sharing of my honesty and my path of personal growth began on Yahoo! I quickly began making “friends” around the globe, all of whom were sharing such valuable feedback regarding my blogs.  Eventually, I realized that I was nearing 700 “hits” per day on my page!  I also began to yearn for ways to be more creative with my blogs and take my writing more seriously.  I began taking a look at my options, and none seemed better than wordpress.  Here I have an even greater audience, still from around the world, and still offering that valuable feedback.  I look forward to building a following of readers who are perhaps on the same path as I am, or maybe considering making changes in their life.  I don’t set out to change anyone with my blogs, but rather show myself for who I really am.  I’m no different than you…