Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Two maps

Isn’t life the strangest thing?  We literally pop into this world kicking and screaming without having been asked to be born.  We’re just thrown here, unsolicited.  Those who have been here longer greet us and help us by taking care of our physical needs, especially in the beginning, and then slowly teach us how to survive in this body and place.  We’re brainwashed by society and our school system.  We’re brainwashed to not question.  Eventually, some, a minority maybe begin to question why.  Why are we here?  What am I supposed to do during my sojourn?  What’s the whole point?  Religion was created to try to answer these questions but it slowly became corrupted by the very thing that it was trying to protect us from.  It has been corrupted by the greed and pursuit of power of the human ego.  As soon as a person thinks that he is right and that the other is wrong we are missing the whole point.  I have been asking myself many of these questions lately and to be honest I often feel like I don’t fit into this world anymore.  Maybe it’s easier to not question and simply to conform?  I envy the robots sometimes, those who simply do as they’re told…

Society teaches us about fairness.  The concept is good in protecting those who cannot defend themselves but it creates this erroneous belief in our ego which causes so much suffering.  Life isn’t meant to be fair.  Maybe life is more about kindness and compassion?  Maybe life is more about helping those in need instead of a selfish pursuit of outside expansion trying to impress others?
It came to me a few weeks ago as I struggled playing this relentless Type 1 Game that I will be grieving Adele’s Type 1 Diabetes until I die.  I will never be over it.  I will never be OK with it.  Deep-down I know that life isn’t fair, but when your child suffers simply because of being dealt a bad hand of cards, it can be a hard pill to swallow.  I know that it could always be worse and that there are always more things to be grateful for rather than things wrong when we stop to quiet the mind and look around long enough, but whenever my mind goes into that place of unfairness, of self-pity and I notice others who seem to thrive effortlessly around me I suffer deeply.

Aside from fairness, we are also brainwashed by society to believe another lie, that your current circumstances are the result of your hard work, that people get what they deserve, that if you put in enough effort that you can achieve anything that you set your mind to.  That’s bullshit.  Yes I did need to put some effort into graduating from school and university, but if I’m honest, the life that I have now would simply not exist if I had not been blessed with a brain capable of learning and remembering what our educational system deemed important as well as having been born into a well-off Canadian family who could afford my education.  These 2 things and many others have absolutely nothing to do with hard work.  I was simply lucky.  Think about that the next time you judge the homeless person sleeping on the street asking you if you can spare some change.  Unlike me, most of them had no chance from the beginning. 

After close to 16 years of playing this Type 1 game I’m beginning to understand how this chronic disease is really a series of traumas starting with the doctor’s words “for the rest of your life or until a cure is found”.  I’m starting to think that the 2nd part is really just added to soften the blow.  The needles are the first heartbreak, especially when it affects young children.  Then you realize that the fear of the physical pain of each injection is most often worse than the momentary pinch of the needle piercing the skin.

The next jab is that you begin to realize that when the doctors told you that “it is chronic, but it can be controlled” that they forgot to mention how difficult controlling it would actually be.  Type 1 Diabetes is one of the only diseases where the patient decides the medicine dosage many times every single day where 2 drops will kill you in a few hours, a half-drop will kill you in years and 1 drop just about right to keep your blood glucose within a safe range.  The list of things that affect blood glucose is so exhaustive that the task can quickly become overwhelming, impossible really given the unlimited number of outside factors that always come into play.  This is why Diabetes Burnout is so prevalent.  It’s a humanly impossible task to ask of someone and it will eventually take its toll in some form often breaking our spirit and physical being.  It’s a 24-7 deal with no vacations whatsoever and such vigilance will all too often eventually leave your health in ruins. 

You can just hope that your head is still above water if or when the next bomb drops and the long term complications rear their ugly face.  Type 1 gaming is so relentless, a chronic condition with no closure.  It’s basically a never-ending marathon.  There is no remission and no outgrowing it, just constant worry hoping that you will grow old with the best possible outcome which is minimal long-term complications.  That’s our reality behind closed doors even if from the outside many Type 1 gamers make this invisible disease look easy.

We all carry our emotional trauma in layers.  After having peeled off a rather large layer with all of the work that I have done as a sexual abuse survivor, and trying to now be who I needed when I was younger, it is now time to continue to work on the Type 1 Diabetes layer which I realize that I have never really mourned.  I just didn’t have time in the beginning; it was simply a matter of survival.  Working through our shit isn’t about eliminating our suffering.  It is mostly writing the narrative of our life events which brings us more clarity.  It is about understanding how you have been molded into you.  And for some reason this understanding helps make our suffering more bearable.

Even if I don’t show it on the outside, my injured brain is also always there to remind me that it still needs special attention.  Every once in a while throughout the day, it gives me a nudge with a subtle physical symptom that I now know comes up to the surface to guide me.  I can get bummed out when I focus on how things just aren’t the same as they once were, but that’s just part of what the symptoms are trying to teach me.  Riding my bike is still part of my therapy.  But it still always has to be at my own pace on my terms.  As soon as I try to rush, a symptom will show up telling me to settle down.  I don’t really miss racing anymore.  It’s like I’m not angry enough nowadays.  I’m actually very uninterested in anything competitive right now.  I’m not saying that working towards “winning” or being better than others is not something worth doing.  It’s just that I know for sure that it’s not what I’m supposed to be doing right now.  And that my concussion symptoms will certainly persist as long as I am at risk of even considering trying to race again “just for fun”.

There are two maps that we all unconsciously live by.  The first one is based on what we were taught, on what’s in our mind, the result of our brainwashing.  The second is the universal one that we’re born with, and it lives in our hearts.   When in doubt, the second one is always right.  I have been mindfully trying to follow the second map, letting it guide me, trying so hard to stay out of my head and resist the pull of the first map.  Which map have you been following?

Monday, April 9, 2018

Hey Coach... The revealing footnotes

I have been thinking about how life is really just about being subjected to one trauma after another with intermittent periods of joy and mundane periods in between.  Each trauma causes a gash.  Some are only but a scratch, others very deep.  Society doesn’t foster the healing of these wounds.  It is more interested in a quick fix, a swift resolution so we learn to not deal with them and just shove them under the carpet.  Even in the case of the death of a loved one it’s considered acceptable, healthy even to show your emotions during the wake and funeral but society expects you to be done with it after the body or ashes are laid to rest.  Emotions at work aren’t good for business and emotions in public tend to make everyone very uncomfortable.  We talk about mental health a lot but it’s just words.  Until we get comfortable opening up to our emotions and giving room to let them flow freely it’ll still all just be talk.  Eventually we can become quite raw, bleeding profusely on the inside from so many unhealed cuts.  At that point it’s almost overwhelming trying to heal the mess but it’s really never too late.  And once the main lesions are healed, the others get the extra blood flow that they need, the healing process gains momentum and you begin to feel more and more free.  

After my Hey Coach… post last week, I have been going through a whirlwind of emotions.  I have been feeling so very vulnerable like in that dream where you realize that you are naked in a public place and you try to hide.  Did you already have such a dream?  Pretty sure it’s a common dream?  But for me the past few days, instead of trying to run and hide I decide to just look up and then I notice that everyone else is naked also.  That is what healing feels like for me.  It’s noticing that we all feel naked and afraid deep down, but realizing that we don’t need to hide. 

The tears that have been flowing these past days are not the tears of a 50 year old man.  They are tears from the teenage boy who couldn’t shed them 35 years ago.  They are tears from the teenage boy who is finally being hugged so very tightly by every single one of you who have shown me support.  My inner child has come up to the surface this past week finally able to fully feel his pain.  The only way to freedom from pain is through it.  Thank you for accompanying me on this journey.  

I realized this week that I have kept this secret for so long mostly because the teenage boy inside of me was afraid of rejection.  At his age, the only thing that matters is acceptance.  Teenagers spend all of their time trying to gain acceptance and belonging.  Thank you for making me and my inner child feel accepted even as a survivor.  I know that this doesn’t really make sense, but remember that the logic is that of a young teenage boy.   In a very strange way the past few days were almost like I was attending my own funeral, reading the comments and messages of respect, love and support from friends and even strangers.  Your words were so very humbling.  Like at a funeral, each note brought a tear to my eye releasing so much pain and anger as it trickled down my cheek.  It was the agony that was dying but it is my soul that can now finally rest in a certain peace.   You often hear stories of people confessing their secrets on their death beds in order to free themselves before passing.  I just couldn’t wait until I was on my death bed.

The Hey Coach… post took over a year to get written but in reality it has been like 35 years in the making.  The final version was the 5th or 6th time that it had been written, each version becoming softer as the pain and anger left me.  In some way I kindof feel like I didn’t write it, that I was just the scribe writing the words down, the thoughts coming to me from my emotional heart, communicated in streams mostly on solo bike rides or during yoga.  All that I had to do was listen to the truth that was being funneled out to the world through me.  I've known that the letter needed to be written a long time ago but my psychologist insisted that I wait until the end of the healing steps to see if I still felt the need to share it. As my therapy continued, I still continued to feel like I had to tell my story because keeping it a secret still felt like I had done something wrong, that I had something to hide.

I choose a written letter posted online.  In a way it was a cowardly way to do it because I could hide behind the written words, behind an online avatar.  A vlog (video) would have been more personal but I know for sure that I did not have the guts or the ability to keep my shit together on video.  Writing comes more naturally to me and was the best way for me to ease into raising my hand and speaking up.

I choose to keep Mr BMX Coach anonymous because the post wasn’t written for him.  It was written for me.  In many ways my intentions were very self-serving.  It was written as a personal pain and anger purge so that Mr BMX Coach can no longer continue to hurt me.  Mr BMX Coach is simply a character in MY narrative.  I did not keep Mr BMX Coach anonymous in order to protect him.  I chose to keep him anonymous because I wanted the post to be about what I was feeling and not a jab at getting back at him, at getting even which would have come from a place of anger.  The whole point was to purge the hate inside of me.  We cannot beat hate with more hate.  Only love can beat hate.

I do understand that there is a difference between someone who is gay and a molester.  The teenager inside of me still has a very messed up understanding of this difference because his view is shadowed by his traumatic experience.  Like I said, the adult in me does understand the difference and I apologize if I made any of my gay friends feel like they had to point out that gay is not the same as molester.  Sorry if my post came out like that.

To my family, I apologize if sharing my story the way that I did came out as me airing our dirty laundry in a public forum.  We talked about it beforehand, but I’m still sorry if this made you feel uncomfortable or vulnerable.  I’m really not sure if you felt this way once I pulled the trigger but if you did I’m sorry.  It was just what I had to do.  I was just too sick and tired of living this lie.

I am a human being. I am no better than you because I shared my story.  And in a way I don’t want this to be a boost to my ego making me think that I am better than Mr BMX Coach.  It’s not about deciding who wins.  It’s about healing.  We’re all in this together, walking each other home.


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Hey coach...

Up until now, literally only a handful of people knew this about me.  Because of this, I guess you can call it one of my secrets, a skeleton in my closet.  Secrets are always there, lies that we tell ourselves, constantly weighing in on us.  They are a lie because they are the opposite of what it means to be real and honest since you have made the decision to keep them hidden.  And a lie is like the very first cancer cell or the first speck of rust on your car.  It’s easy to not notice it at first, but in time it becomes heavier and heavier, growing until it reaches a point where it infects all aspects of your life.  I believe that our lies and secrets can and will eventually make us physically sick and/or have a major psychological impact on our life.  Health is not just exercising and eating the right food, it always has to be in balance with our psyche, our emotions.  I’ve known this for a long time now and know that it’s time to open myself up and come clean.  I believe that we are meant to live an authentic life.  Living with authenticity means freedom.  But authenticity isn’t about half truths.  It’s an all or nothing deal and I am tired of living a half-life.

I am a sexual abuse survivor.  I’ve always known that what happened to me wasn’t my fault.  But I was still uncomfortable talking about it.  Actually, I have done a whole lot of work in the past year before reaching this point and finally deciding to share my secret.  I didn’t do anything wrong and by keeping it a secret it makes me feel like I did.

Over 35 years ago, a relationship that had started two years earlier escalated to physical acts of sexual abuse towards me.  As a young teenage boy I had always felt a certain eeriness towards my BMX coach, but my love for the sport always caused me to push aside my intuition.  Growing up there was really only hockey and a bit of baseball and soccer that people cared about but I never really felt like I fit in those sports.  Then all of that changed when you approached me and my friends Mr BMX coach to help us finish building the track that we had started in an old pit and organize a real BMX race.  I was so happy to finally have an adult-lead, organized infrastructure around “my” cycling sport that gave me the chance to shine, to be someone, to be me, to practice what I loved.  From that point on, all I wanted to do was ride and race my bike. Looking back, you certainly felt this Mr BMX coach and used it for your own gain.  As the sport grew locally in the next few years so did your influence on me Mr BMX coach.  You took me to bigger races including the Eastern Canadian championships in Quebec.  At the time it was a dream come true for me but I now realize what you really had in mind with that trip.

You are now openly gay Mr BMX coach, but at the time you had a girlfriend and told me to never tell anyone about your acts towards me and that it was normal for straight guys to occasionally have sexual experiences with other guys and that it didn’t mean that they were gay.  You needed to tell me this, since it was in the early 1980s, a time when being gay was not only uncool, but something that had to be hidden, something that could get you beat up, something that was considered a sin, especially in a small catholic town like the one where I grew up.  I was young, green, immature and very confused.  You were an adult and you should have known better than to take advantage of or violate a minor like me.  For so very long I wanted to tell you to fuck off but very slowly that urge has now slowly began to subside.

I am lucky in the sense that the whole thing only lasted a few months before I told my parents and stopped having any contact with you from that point on.  But the very intense and uncomfortable feelings associated with the whole experience were never dealt with.  At the time, as a young teenage boy, I didn’t know how to handle all of these overwhelming feelings so I just brushed them off and stuffed them deep down as best as I could.  I thought that time would make everything better and enable me to forget.  That’s what society kept telling me, that time would heal all wounds.  And I had managed to convince myself that I was doing fine with all of this until my concussion in 2016 which seems to have brought everything back up to the surface.  Maybe that was the whole reason for hitting my head?  I believe that the universe’s wisdom works in strange ways in guiding us to healing and wholeness.  Our job is to pay attention.

Looking back, I now realize that I was never was OK with the abuse since the feelings always lingered even if they were buried, locked up deep inside.  Most times these feelings were inactive or asleep in the background, but then certain things or events would bring them up every once in a while.  And when they did, I tried my best to stuff them back in.  I lived in a constant unconscious state of unease, frustration and had periods of being quite angry especially when I was a young adult which made me reckless at times.  My deep hatred towards you Mr BMX coach overflowed into everything.  And it made me so very angry at life.  I used to fantasize about beating the crap out of you, but could never act on these feelings since I really am not a violent person.  These feelings really didn’t align with my true personality which really made me feel even worse.  I was living a half-life, trying to look happy on the outside but I still had this beast living inside of me, dormant at times, but always there ready to rear its ugly head and really stir up my emotions.  Because of this, I found ways to tame this beast, but it was usually by taking it out on myself through unconscious self- punishment.  It was like I constantly needed to prove my masculinity, my heterosexuality, my toughness and prove that I was a “real man”.  Physical suffering seemed to be the best way to avoid feeling the feelings.  I worked relentlessly in creating an outer image as a hardened bike racer constantly trying to prove my worth.  I thought that building a rigid exterior was the way to protect myself from these painful feelings and it did seem to be working but I was also blocking out all of the important people in my life in the process while still keeping these toxic feelings locked up inside of me, rotting away at my soul.  

As a young teenager, I did not have the tools and/or knowledge to deal with all that I was feeling.  But I am no longer that young teenage boy anymore.  And now the feelings don’t seem to be as scary as they once were.  They can be very unpleasant, unbearable even when I let them come up, but the more that I sit with them and talk openly about them, the more they dissipate and the more that I feel free.  The best thing about being broken is that you get to put the pieces back together better than they were before.  I understand this work as ongoing but I am honestly beginning to feel a noticeable shift inside of me.  The abuse had caused me to close so very tight and now I feel like I’m beginning to re-open.

I am writing it for me Mr BMX Coach, not for you.  I mostly don’t wish you any harm any more.  It’s not my job to make you pay for what you did or to get even.  Karma takes care of that.  In that sense, I guess you could say that I simply hope that you have or will seek the help that you need and wish you well.  I forgive you.  I’m not saying that I agree with what you did or am saying that it was OK but I am forgiving you in order to free myself of this pain and move on.  

To all of my gay friends, I apologize if I unconsciously made you feel like I didn’t like you because you are gay.  If I did make you feel this way, it was simply a misplaced hatred towards Mr BMX coach who really messed up my concept of what being gay meant.  Again, if I made you feel rejected or not accepted in any way because of your sexual orientation, I apologize.  I am not gay and it really doesn’t matter to me if you are attracted to men or women.  I love you because you are a good human.  It is that simple.

To all of the young boys that Mr BMX coach came in contact with after my traumatic experience, if any of you went through the same thing that I did, I apologize for not coming forward thus preventing Mr BMX coach to continue to be involved in activities and organizations involving young boys.  Again, I’m sorry.

To live an authentic life, to be whole is to accept it all because that’s what we are.  We are all of it, the pleasant and the unpleasant.  To really accept something and to be healed is to be comfortable sharing and being completely open about it all.  No more lies, no more fake masks and facades, completely transparent and vulnerable.  I am working hard trying to hopefully one day reach this point.  

Here is a follow-up to this post:  https://thetype1game.blogspot.ca/2018/04/hey-coach-revealing-footnotes.html 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Happily swerving out of control

For the longest time, for as long as I can remember, whenever I became anxious or stressed about something, I always asked myself the following question:  “What’s the worst that can happen?”  I’m not sure if I learned this worst case scenario question from my parents or if it’s common knowledge that I picked up growing up?  But even as an adult, I still ask myself the question regularly.  I’m nervous for a presentation or meeting.  What’s the worst that can happen?  My mind could go blank and I could totally embarrass myself.  People listening may not buy into what I’m saying and think that I am an idiot.  For every single thing that makes us nervous, anxious or scares us there are almost an unlimited number of answers to the question.  And arguably the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen in any given circumstance is that it could kill me.  Arguably, the absolute worst case scenario anytime is that I could die.

If like me you also believe this to be true, that the absolute worst thing that could happen in any situation is that you could die, then the absolute worst thing that could happen is also the ONLY thing that is 100% certain to eventually happen.  Think about that for a minute.  The worst case scenario at any given time is the only thing that is certain in our life.  That in itself should wake us up…  

I have been thinking about death a lot lately.  If death is the only thing that is 100% certain, shouldn’t we be spending more time getting ready for it compared to all of the “what ifs” that we spend so much time trying to prepare for just in case they happen?  Most of our time is spent preparing for an unpromised future, getting an education, moving up the corporate ladder, accumulating stuff, exercising and eating the right foods (or thinking that we should exercise and eat the right foods), saving money for retirement, all considered to be short term suffering for long term gain. We spend so much time working towards our “goals” like we’re told to since apparently these“goals” are of the upmost importance so we comply because we’ve been brainwashed.  We have been conditioned to believe that we are in control and that salvation is in the future as long as we keep working at it and never give up.  What we are actually doing is spending all of our time and energy preparing for what our ego would LIKE to happen.  But eventually we all realize that things don’t always go like we had planned and envisioned.  And whenever that happens we suffer.

Like it or not death is a certainty.  It’s part of the deal.  It’s also as natural as being born.  Whatever you are doing at any time during any day, someone has died doing that exact same thing.  Even if I do every single thing right, with the best intentions, working so very hard towards reaching my “goals”, all it takes is for one of my cells to go sideways or a split second in the wrong place at the wrong time and it’s all done in an instant.  When I was younger I was terrified of death.  My young child mind was afraid of the physical pain that I would need to endure for everything to end in the absolute worst case scenario.  Another big part of my fear was the unknown aspect of the after-life, the rest of it was that I felt like death was such a taboo subject that made everyone, including myself, very uncomfortable and because of that it must be something extremely bad.  I’m not really afraid to die anymore.  I’m not ready to go yet, I like it here, but I’m not afraid of passing when my time comes.  It feels safe for some reason now.

I believe that regular contemplation of our mortality actually helps us live a better and happier life.  I find myself more and more appreciating the impermanence of certain moments of peace and love in my life.  I think to myself “if I live long enough, someday I will remember and miss the experience of this very moment”.  And when I do I just pause a little longer to really take it in.  This is such a simple thing that makes such a big difference.  It’s the difference between true happiness and temporary pleasure.  For so very long I lived at a very fast pace, always worried that I didn’t have enough time, trying to check off as many things off of my bucket list.  But now I am beginning to realize that life isn’t a race, that the best that life has to offer is in the mundane, day to day moments like laughing from the bottom of your heart during a family discussion about nothing really on a Tuesday night after supper sitting at home at the kitchen table.  That’s the good stuff right there.  And too often we don’t take the time to appreciate it as it should.  We just brush it off because we think that happiness is in the big stuff, the bucket list content.

Most of us, including myself, just don’t get it.  We just don’t get that this is all temporary, that life on the physical plane is really but a fleeting illusion, that our time here is so very brief, that our interactions with the energies in this world are but a very short-term project, that all of this is impermanent.  We’re all dying.  Some faster than others.  I am beginning to understand that freedom is just a matter of letting go.  Letting go of expectations.  Letting go of thinking that we need to do something big before our number comes up.  Letting go of control.  The irony in this is that we were never in control to begin with.  Control is a myth, an illusion that our mind believes to be true.  If we’re honest with ourselves, deep-down in our gut we know that we’re not the ones in control and that really scares us.  Society likes the fact that we are unconsciously afraid because it ensures that we keep looking outside ourselves for salvation and security.  Being afraid makes us ideal consumers.  Being afraid also makes us controllable.  Society thrives under fear.  That’s why wars and serious diseases are so profitable.

The greatest lesson in Type 1 gaming is in relinquishing control.  Type 1 Diabetes is really a constant reminder that life isn’t under control and death is always lingering.  Every single time insulin is injected, the gamer’s life is saved.  And this is on your mind 24-7.  Resisting it consumes you.  They tell us that Type 1 Diabetes can be controlled with insulin but I don’t think that control is the best term to use.  To me being in control of my car means driving safely in my lane.  The blood sugar control that synthetic insulin gives Type 1 gamers is closer to my car swerving all over the place, crossing the yellow line, on the shoulder just barely avoiding crashing into the ditch and that’s on a good day.

I know that Type 1 Diabetes came into my life to teach me to let go of control.  The day that Adele was diagnosed, I vowed to be the perfect pseudo-pancreas for as long as she was in my care.  I vowed to control Type 1 Diabetes perfectly.  Letting go of this has been so very difficult for me, especially now that Adele is maturing into adulthood.  It feels like it’s slowly killing me.  But I need to surrender to it.  I need to surrender through my own healing.  On the most basic level, living is really but a continuous series of suffering trauma and healing from it.  Our only purpose is to heal.  Everything else falls into place from there.  Of that I am now sure.