On Seeking Safe Haven

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I’ve spent most of my sixty-five years of life looking for a person, doctrine,  or organization that I could build my life around. I started out looking to my parents to fulfill this role. I found early on that I could depend upon my father to provide us with shelter, clothing, food, and the luxuries of upper middle class Anglo life, but that he was largely unavailable emotionally and could not protect me from my abusive older brother. My mother I found I could depend upon to provide me with delicious meals, delightful books, affection, and consolation, except when her alcoholism and borderline personality disorder symptoms turned her manipulative, vindictive, and sexually abusive.

For years I felt torn between the two of them, and my ambivalence took an odd turn.

Mother put pressure on me to choose her over my father, which—let’s be frank—it wasn’t hard to do, given his loud, gritted-teeth complaints, self-isolation, and demands for absolute obedience. But I liked the fact that he was a writer, and I think I sensed his self-loathing, and I identified with him more than I liked to admit at the time. Now in the bedroom they shared, my father slept on the left side of the bed, my mother on the right. So at night I felt torn. If I slept on the left side of my bed, would I be symbolically choosing my father over my mother? If I slept on the right side of my bed, would I be symbolically choosing my mother over my father? So I compromised: I taught myself to sleep flat on my back, a habit I tend to follow to this day.

Once I entered adolescence, I more or less gave up trying to find refuge in my parents’ world and I sought refuge in my private dream world of comic books, science fiction, fantasy, mythology, and chaste fantasies of joining Robin Hood’s band of Merry Men, or being adopted as innocent school mascot by my brother Anthony’s Air Force Academy classmates. When I became aware of my homosexuality, I began fantasizing about finding a Mister Right, the perfect man who, in exchange for my exclusive devotion and access to my body, would console, protect, and give shape and direction to the rest of my life.

The problem was that, owing to incest trauma, I felt sex was dirty—not just homosexuality, but all sex. I got this feeling from my mother. So I decided that I did not want to be sexual at all. After my father’s sudden death in early 1971, I sought out the sexuality-free surrogate family I’d always fantasized about: I became a celibate Fundamentalist Christian for seven years.

The people with whom I worshiped were good people, genuinely trying to live by Jesus’s teachings of love and forgiveness. Although my self-betrayal ate away at me, the love and acceptance they showed me had a healing effect on me. They gave me a refuge from the storm of my life. But in the end I left the church, and Fundamentalism, in large part because I felt I had been putting on an act. Though I was indeed celibate for most of the seven years I was with them, I now know the difference between celibacy, born of lifestyle conviction, and sexual anorexia born of abuse trauma. And I was not the only one who left. Several years ago I discovered that the pastor of the last church I attended had been gay, and had committed suicide because he had not been able to reconcile his faith with his physicality.

All this took place many decades ago. Today, at 65 years old, five feet seven inches tall, and 290 pounds, I am far from healed; I like to joke that I have more issues than National Geographic. But I have a renewed faith in Divine Love, from Whose womb I was born and to Whose womb I shall return, and for Whom my homosexuality is a natural species variation, not a monstrosity or a curse worthy of damnation. And I have been fortunate in meeting numerous fellow travelers, straight, gay, in between, and undecided, whose kindness has consistently reached out to me in dark times.

So if you are tempted to give up who you are to get love, don’t give in to that temptation. Start asking for help, and keep on asking until you start getting it. It can and does get better, but only if you refuse to let your abusers win. •

Affirmations

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You are safe.

You are worth loving.

You are moving towards greater and greater security and prosperity.

You deserve love and peace and plenty.

Your Higher Power will never forsake you, including after death.

You have the right to say NO to those who ask you for help, love, or attention.

The healthier you get, the stronger and safer you will be.

You will see your loved ones again some day.

You can comfort yourself.

You are safe.

To Know That One Already Has

gleeTo Know That One Already Has is the tenth and most creative level of consciousness available to beings in physical reality.  It is a divine state of sureness in which one knows that one possesses everything one needs, has needed, and will ever need to overflow with happiness, safety, and joy. I know it is possible to experience such a level of consciousness while still in physical reality because I experienced such a state once, during a vision that came to me while I was working as office assistant to an environmental lawyer (see my blog entitled “To Love”). In this vision I felt suspended in a sea of light which knew me utterly, supported me without question, and desired nothing from me. At that instant I felt safe for the first time in my life, and I burst into tears of relief. At that instant, I knew that I already possessed everything I needed for happiness and joy. I felt complete.

It was not a state in which I was able to remain. I was and am still too bound up with my force, threat, and blame wounds to do that. But I know that, having experienced once, the consciousness of my completeness remains within me available to me again when I am ready for it.

Since I had this experience I have run into other people who have had it, too. Some of them have experienced it while on drugs; others, in meditation. Many religions report mystics,  saints, and devotees experiencing such states of completion, and record the ecstasies that arise from the experience of such states.

The state of knowing that one already has is, I believe, our true state. It is a deep state of rest. And that is why some mystics, saints, and devotees can demonstrate, while still in the physical body, acts of divine compassion and apparent self-sacrifice. I say “apparent” because, when one has achieved awareness of one’s essential completeness and safety, one knows, deep down in one’s core, that food, clothing, status, money, physical possessions, even the body itself, are not who one really is. They are accompaniments, adornments, temporarily useful perhaps, but ultimately releasable because I recognize the real me already possesses—and always will possess—deepest, eternal safety within the Divine Heart of Love.

Self-sacrifice that arises from the consciousness That One Already Has is very different from self-sacrifice that arises from force, threat, or blame. Force, threat, and blame triggered self-sacrifice is an act of violence against the self, a decision to deny oneself what one needs for happiness and joy so that others will prosper instead. And such self-sacrifice is invariably accompanied by buried resentment. Psychologists sometimes call a pattern of resentful self-sacrifice “codependency“: an addictive pattern of denying myself what I need in hopes that my giving to another will prompt him or her to give me what I need.

And so the cycle of self-examination continues, leading me back again and again to the necessity To Accept With Intent To Learn, so that I might Understand Physically, Understand Spiritually, Give myself what I need, and ultimately Know That I Already Have everything I require for happiness and joy: Love Itself, Who is eternal, changeless, undiminishable, and intensely, supremely personal.