ARE EXCERPTS FROM THE STORY . . .
I dont think the word healing came to me until
I was doing research in the mid-80s from Stephen
Levine in reading one of his books on death and dying
. . . So, once I started to find it, then it was a word
that I could relate to. His definition of healing was
to revisit with awareness and compassion that
which we have withdrawn from in anger, fear, or judgment."
. . .
From that point on, healing was a word in my vocabulary
that I used, and felt like I experienced and understood.
Then I could look back and see the experiences Id
had as healing experiences. Prior to that they were
just what happened at the time, that were like, oh,
of Grief and Guilt
Grief was one of the first issues I faced. I was married
when I was 19 and my wife died of cancer when I was
21. The only time I was sober was when I dated her and
was married to her. When she died, the way I dealt with
the grief and confusion and all the feelings from that,
was that I went back to using alcohol and drugs. Without
even realizing what I was doing, thats what I
So, one of the first things that came up for me in that
healing process . . . was the grief from that, which
allowed me to begin getting closer to people at intimate
levels that I wasnt even aware that I wasnt
able to do . . .
The second issue I was faced with was coming out again.
I mean really wrestling with feeling terrible about
being gay . . . And, there was no support for that from
my gay friends . . . It was really a year of tumult,
just wrestling with who am I sexually, and how do I
feel about it? And this was after getting a jolt of
feeling good about being gay from the Advocate Experience
and everything. Then, all of a sudden, this backlash
of bad feelings came up, I guess from years of my own
internalized homophobia that was in me somewhere.
been a policeman back in my early 20s for six
years. Being gay and using a lot of drugs is what stopped
me from being a policeman. I had thirteen commendations
for outstanding police work, and I was just about to
be made detective, and it was crawling in on me. I was
almost 27 years old, and I was living with a man. Back
then, the only other two gay cops I knew of both committed
suicide, with their own guns. It was not a place to
a Personal Framework
Now, looking back, I have some grasp on healing processes
and structures, but back then, I had no clue what was
the next step. I found therapy very unfulfilling in
that regard, because I had no idea where we were going
and what the purpose was. I was in psychoanalytic psychotherapy
and I had a good therapist . . .but there was no understanding.
I was very frustrated by the fact that I didnt
know where I was going and I had no framework.
The guide, or the resource I used, was my own intuition.
It was a voice inside of me. There was all the wrestling
from the voices, feelings, and energies I had gotten
from the world over the years about what being sexually
different meant. And, after a year of allowing those
to surface and acknowledging that I had them, not knowing
what to do with them, finally, a voice inside of me
gave me the answer. Hey, who do you look at, boy?
Almost like, Lets get real! With that
came just a total release and acceptance.
Before the acceptance there was tumult, despair. Coming
into my sexual wholeness brought joy, absolutely . .
Eventually, little by little, I read as much as I could,
but I still found it difficult. So, for years Ive
been creating my own framework and my own understanding
to be able to share with other people. This is why I
write, and why I do the things I do now . . .
Whole Without Shame
From the Advocate Experience, and the little rough spot
I had after it, I really came to terms with some of
the deeper negative feelings I had in myself about being
gay. As they surfaced and I came out of that, and made
this little litmus test for myself, spirituality came
from a part of me that Ive really come to trust,
an inner voice.
From that point on, I no longer felt ashamed of being
sexually different. What has followed from that is taking
shame off of sexuality in all its dimensions. Not that
Im quite done with that, Im sure there may
be more, because I keep growing and finding all kinds
of hidden valleys and tunnels in myself. But, the more
I can take shame off a pleasurable desire, or a sexual
experience, the more whole I feel . . .
In 1983 I was diagnosed with lymphoma. It was a very
serious, very aggressive fast-growing lymphoma . . .That
began a two-year period of being seriously ill . . .
The most severe experience of extreme loneliness was
after my cancer treatment, and also after a near-death
experience that was part of my cancer treatment. I dropped
into such an immobilizing depression. It was the blackest
hole I had ever seen and it lasted for close to a year.
What I put my partner through for that year was really
terrible. I was in such pain. I was like a little old
man. I prayed that some day I would have the strength
to do the laundry. That was the prayer--that I could
just be normal enough to do the laundry . . .
During the darkest times of this depression, I couldnt
pray. The voice that would go on in my head said, Well,
if you cant pray, there is no way out of this.
I just couldnt do it. I was too debilitated to
even pray. From the minute I woke up in the morning
I couldnt wait until nighttime when I could take
the sleeping pills so I could go to sleep again. To
live through the day was torture. I had to be rushed
to the psychiatric emergency . . . As I came out of
that, and as the cancer appeared to be in remission,
and I started going back to school, I had a really deep
connection to that little story of Footprints in the
Sand. That was a time that I didnt believe there
was a God. When I couldnt pray, it felt like there
was no God. Then, when I came out of it and my cancer
went into remission, I truly felt carried . . .
I began to believe in, what I now call, invisible, or
unseen, realities. To me, all of spirituality in some
mysterious ways, is hidden in these invisible realities,
which are senior to physical realities for me now. Before
they were these strange little phenomena, but now I
trust them more. They are more important to me that
the physical realities are.
Time of Challenge
There have been so many difficult and challenging times.
Probably five, six years ago now, I had the heart attack
and triple bypass surgery . . .On some levels I was
in despair, having been through as much as Ive
been through with illness over the years, and holding
other peoples hand through illness and death.
I wasnt afraid. When it looked life threatening,
I can remember coming to terms with myself, and realizing
there was only one little piece of my life that I would
feel undone with if I went. It wasnt that significant,
so I was okay with it. But the recovery was slow and
painful, and put my partner through great discomfort,
which I had to watch.
Recovery from any serious illness or loss is a very
lonely process. No matter how resourced we are. It can
be great to have good friends, or good therapists, all
that helps by all means, but its still a lonely
process. Yet, its like creativity . . .
Im glad that I dont live in a linear world
anymore, that I can accept the contradictions and live
with them . . .Whatever my life choices are, whatever
is crystallizing inside of me, and whatever my inner
struggles, Im sure would be much worse if I didnt
have such good friends. Im blessed that I do.
But, that doesnt mean we dont have our very
I learned from a Catholic priest author, Eugene Kennedy,
a new understanding of loneliness. He defined loneliness
as a continuum in the human condition - that there
is no way to not be lonely. We are lonely to the extent
that we cant share our inner processes with another
The reality is that most of us, on some level, have
something going on that isnt even crystallized
enough to share, or that we are not prepared to share.
So, loneliness is just part of the human condition.
Ive come to accept it as such. Its okay.
That doesnt mean it feels good, but it makes sense
to me because its my experience that what he says
is correct. Im as lonely as the amount of things
that I cant share with another human being. Particularly
if I feel shameful for them and cant share them
for that reason, that just makes the loneliness worse,
and erodes my self esteem at the same time. Fortunately,
there isnt much of that in my life.
Its a daily practice of remembering that what
is, IS, and its okay. It has become easier and
easier, but a daily practice, is still practice. We
live in a culture that is so opposite than the real
issues of life, and you cant help feeling the
energy of the culture and getting caught up in it .
I saw on the Healing Bridge material, the Rilke quote
about living the question. Thats what Im
doing, Im living the question with it. What is
it all about? . . . The truth is, at the moment I dont
really know, and thats okay. Im just going
to keep living the question for now . . . I have visions
of where Id like it to go to help me move in that
direction, so I stay true to them, but Im willing
to shift to where ever the universe shifts them and
me . . .
I would define true healing as an inner feeling of openness.
My experience of healing is that its always accompanied
by an inner experience of feeling a little more whole,
of feeling a little more open to connection, to the
universe, to the trees, to people. In its simplicity,
thats the best I could say, that whenever healing
happens, so does openness.