Sunday, November 7, 2010

Before Re-Entering Monk Mode

I realize that I have written posts before about writing in this blog more...and failed. I always would forget or just get too busy. I don't really care what my excuses are, but now I find myself doing the same thing with a sense of urgency. I have to start writing again because I have lost myself. That's right, I have lost myself. This is something considering the ample time that I have spent in introspection and seeking myself.
However, since my departure from Baylor University (Sic 'Em Bears) I have lost my sense of self, regained it, and lost it again. The initial loss was due to a crisis in faith, finding myself outside of what I had found to be true unable to fully participate, and dealing with feelings from past relationships and the mistakes I made therein. I had to fully push from my mind my first love--those of you who know me well should know who she is--and get over the fact that I was not completely stable upon entering the relationship that had ended just after the end of school. I made mistakes, and did not take the greatest care. Though, honestly, she was just as much to blame because she had no sense of self. I thought I had found who she was; but, like always, I found I was mistaken. I have noticed a tendency, perhaps out of loneliness, to give woman I have interest in or have interest in me, what I call, the "benefit of being awesome." I fall into "love," more accurately "like," quickly and tend to rush the relationship. I push for intimacy that it takes years to build. An intimacy, I might add, that I seem to have found with an old friend who is--by a cruel twist of fate or what have you--unavailable due to circumstances beyond both of our control (she's not taken and I'm not taken, but the geography is daunting and she still has to finish undergrad). Such is life. In any case, I rush things and chase girls away. I know it's partly due to my severe abandonment issues. I am afraid or assume that whomever I am with is going to leave me for their own dubious reasons and try to get as close as possible before the inevitable happens (the aforementioned awesome person is an exception of course).
Also, though it happened a few times in undergrad, the questioning of my sexual orientation has come up far more frequently. This is really funny, in a non "ha-ha" way, because I know--for a fact--that in my younger years I always liked girls. I wanted to find ways to hang around them etc. I do not believe it was necessarily sexual at the time, though of course it developed into that later with puberty. In any case, I've always considered my self heterosexual and behaved as such. Anyone who knew me in undergrad and high school well would attest to this. I have always been odd, for various reasons, but I never attributed this to sexuality and those who really know me haven't either. I know this fact: I want a wife and children. I do not wish to date or "marry" a man. Whatever the case, the point here is that--actually--other people's opinions of me are something I take very seriously. I am also not always able to reconcile what they think of me and what I have known of myself for ages. I probably know too much of myself and often think I have become, in many ways, rather akin to Dostoevsky's Underground Man. I enjoy my illnesses in some perverse fashion and find it hard to take action. In actuality, part of this is simply I have a temperament that naturally tends towards the easy route. This does not mean I do not have a strong will, it just means my will often pushes towards that which is most diplomatic, easier, or leads to less conflict. Growing up, this meant (and still means) clamming up when aggressively asked questions or unnecessarily and excessively punished by my father. I am the kind that takes injustice and does not complain except internally or in written form that my "oppressors" may or may not ever see. I'm silent. This extends to the deepest parts of myself and feelings as well. In a romantic relationship, this tends to turn into over sharing due to aforementioned reasons. I bring up whatever strong feelings I have way to early, and push too hard. Anyway. My natural tendencies have combined to make it difficult for me to make explicit stands. I tend to take people at face value and be to trusting with certain things. I trust their perceptions and doubt my own. I doubt my own, even though I have taken time to know myself. I doubt my own because I do not believe in myself. Why? I'm not sure, but I know that growing up I took a lot of hits to my self-esteem and faith in myself. This is in regards to normal life stuff though; as far as school was concerned I lost motivation and felt unchallenged. Eventually my grades fell. I'm trying to get that part of myself back too.
So, people's opinions of me were of too much importance (I believe it is healthy to care what people think because I believe in morals and an order. It is far more unhealthy to not care at all. It leads to smelling bad and various social ills. After all, someone thinking you smell can inspire you to shower.) and people's opinions were really starting to bug me. I had not found a way to reconcile or trust in myself in regards to myself. It seems like everyone was expecting me to come out of the closet. A closet, I felt I was never in being hetero and all. It is an exaggeration to say this, but there have been a few episodes that have come about mostly due to my foolishness and some of the people I have surrounded myself with. I won't name names, but there were many instances where I really began to question myself. Here are two examples: Some of my first parties in Denton consisted in a friend of mine trying to get me drunk enough to let this boy do things with me. This is a boy who I think is a cool guy--weird, but cool. I've also never been attracted to him sexually. He's hit on me off and on, in jest and not in jest. His girlfriend has too...anyway. Anyway, it bothered me that I was the person that supposedly would do such things and the person to pick out to get drunk for such things. It was not the boy's was my new friend's fault. It was also a dick move. Instance two, I was accosted by a drunk as lesbian chick who tried to convince me to come out for 15 minutes. She told me my friends would be okay with it (which I already knew) and then tried to convince me to make out with her to prove my heterosexuality. Even considering I initially wanted to make out with her prior to the discovery of her preference and this conversation (I was hella drunk), this was the dumbest proposition I had ever heard. What good is making out with a lesbian? Oh, and once this friend of mine I attempted to seduce in one of my darkest times told me I kissed like a woman. A DEFINITE FIRST, and also something that made me raise my eyebrows at her with skepticism. After all, how did she know?
Anyway, this pressure was building. People were expecting something from me that I had never felt was a part of me. I'm weird and probably have some girlish mannerisms at times, but I'm still a heterosexual man. I just happened to respect and wish to emulate my mother more than my father because he and I steadily became estranged over the years. I can only speculate that I came to associate his more manly qualities with bad things, and thus settled on my mother. I doubt there was a thought that was exactly like this, but I did come to think for a while that I was a bad boy and that my dad liked girls better and wished I was a girl. I like to dress well, and I am finally able to after years of that not being so, and learned how to dress from my dad. It was before we became really estranged when I was taught these things, so they stuck better. In any case, I like to look fly. I also spent time for many years coming up with a style of my own. This apparently is gay. I had no clue. I was who I was and I am who I am currently. However, sometimes when people keep saying the same thing you can begin to believe it. There was another factor though.
PORN. That's right, I said it. PORN. I was introduced to it when I was about 12 and just really starting puberty. It was also a time of great turmoil, like it is for lots of kids. However, my turmoil was different and I will not go into now. I will say that there were spiritual, emotional, familial, and racial issues and pressures that were hitting me at this time. This is the time when I was forced to move to Texas and there were just way more problems that I handled internally and not always well. Anyway, people think porn is harmless but it is not as innocuous as we want to think. It is, in fact, addictive and very difficult to actually quit. Also, it's content is, obviously, sexual in nature and has to have some bearing on your sexuality. Initially, I just liked lesbian porn with occasional girl-on-girl strap on work. I wanted to be the only dick around (whether or not they theoretically wanted me there). However, it would not stop here. We have to recognize that the porn one starts on rarely stays the porn that continues to get one off. Your porn choices tend to change over time as what once gave you a thrill gives you less of one. I am a prime instance of this. I now look at porn I initially thought incredibly gross. I look at things I never thought I would. This holds true for plenty of people though, of course, not everyone. This attests to porn's addictive nature and that combined with the chemicals in the brain that occur during orgasm make it a formidable appointment.
The truth is, I feel that porn has made women not the only viable options with me. It's pushed my actual sexual being into an attraction to men. It is not the sole reason, but it certainly does not help. I've noticed a tendency to think differently if I've been binging on porn. That combined with not enough Church makes me lose myself. I become someone I've never been, and I do not like it.
Recently, I got out of a three month long relationship with a person I have since decided may be crazy. The relationship completely drained me and lead to a deep depression where I did not attend to my spiritual and emotional needs very well. I ended up sleeping with two women (at different times), the first women I had been with since my first love. I doubled my sexual output after 3 years of being mostly celibate (there was dry humping sometimes). I have never been that free with my body (minus a short stint in high school when I was being more crazy and trying to pretend I was fearless. Ask North Theatre kids about strip poker). And it baffled me and made me wonder how I could have fallen as I have.
Anyway, the point here is that I have lost myself and need to regain that sense of self that so many have complimented me on for much of my life. To do this, I'm going into monk mode. I wrote a note in facebook about this (monk mode), so I will just say that I will be deactivating my facebook, periodically blocking, spending a lot of time in prayer, and occasionally going out to see people. it must be occasionally because I know that I need a lot of alone time with my temperament anyway. So...this is the start. Pray with me.


  1. Zaire, I read through your blog posts.

    Prepare for tough love. I say the following things only out of love, but with urgency and conviction. It is not necessarily pretty.

    You are not a bisexual. You fucked up your own psychology with (1) porn, (2) bad friends with stupid ideas, (3) a perversion of the desire to be unique, and, (4) being an overly sexual attention whore. Bisexuality is not fundamental to who you are, it is a product of the damage you have done to your Self, which is the image of God.

  2. Some things I think you need to do:
    (1) Stop making excuses. Yeah, life can have sucky periods. Your dad was a punk, having to move as a kid isn't fun, you have self-esteem issues, etc, etc etc. It doesn't matter. Remember your Sartre: you are condemned to radical freedom and you are responsible for who you are and what you do. Making excuses is bad faith. I think this is a vitally important lesson for everyone to learn, especially for Christians. This also animates a number of my other thoughts.

    (2) Stop complimenting yourself. "I have a great sense of humor," "I'm really good at winging it," "I'm really good at basketball." It doesn't impress anybody or even make them believe what you are saying In fact, it probably just annoys them and makes them think you are arrogant (which is not incompatible with having self-esteem issues; in fact, it may well be that most arrogant people have self-esteem issues). Maybe you think you need to do this to shore up your flagging self-esteem, but you will never overcome self-esteem problems unless you stop doing this. You have to recognize that this shit by and large doesn't matter. Not how smart you are, nor how well you can play guitar or basketball, not even how well you can wing it or how great you are in the sack. These things are fleeting, pale glories which are lost with the wind. They do not define who you are as a person.

  3. (3) Recognize that your personhood is founded on the reality of God. You are worthwhile because you are a creation of God. He may have given you certain talents you ought to use for His glory, but you do not deserve credit for those talents... He gave them to you, after all. If you can recognize this, then than you can start to break the hold public opinion or attention has on you, as you can start to realize where the foundation of validation and meaning come from and the emptiness of these competing "sources."

    (4) Surround yourself with good influences. Being friends with immoral people is only for those blessed with the strength not to become like them. Yes, you may say that you are trying to be a Christian light to them, but if you end up getting drunk with them and making out with a guy it is WORSE that you know them than if they had never met you. You are in fact a scandalon on their journey to Christ, and you shame Him with your witness. Thus, if you cannot prove to yourself that you can keep a cool head while with these people, you need to seek out better influences with whom to keep company (and I think from your own testimony, you are not yet ready to be friends with immoral people).

    (5) Stop making excuses (again!) and exceptions! Nuance is for the morally refined, and before you can become morally refined, you must become morally experienced. If you cannot develop habits of morality, you cannot successfully navigate exceptions. (i.e., though on a diet, it may not be contrary to the spirit and the goal of the diet to have one donut now and again; but if having that donut causes you to stop dieting, if you are unable to handle the freedom of the donut, you ought not to tempt yourself in the first place, and keep to a more severe code).

  4. If you stop complimenting yourself, stop making excuses, stop obsessing about what others think, and stop worrying about your self-esteem problems, I think that you will begin to have significantly better "self-esteem" if it can even be called that. I think you will begin to see the truth of who you are (a child of God) and what you are (an Image of God) and you will generally feel better as a result. Trust me, I had to struggle with much of the same shit, but the mind is a powerful thing and directing what you think about is a powerful tool.

    Force yourself to cease complimenting yourself, and you will slowly stop feeling the need to compliment yourself. Allow yourself to appear vulnerable or flawed before other people, without quickly trying to point out that you are only flawed because you don't try hard (here's a hint I learned too late to help in high school, but managed to get it before I left college: saying shit like, "I could've gotten good grades but just didn't try hard" is (a) unfalsifiable, therefore pointless, (b) bad faith, (c) annoying, and (d) vicious, as in, the product of a vice). I coulda been a contender is only what people who never actually become contenders say, and its bullshit.

  5. In regards to complimenting myself, it's really more of an attempt to remember there are positive things about myself. When I was young I took humility in the wrong way and became self-effacing as a guard against boasting. I am simply trying to reverse that. In times where I do talk trash in basketball or whatever, it's usually trying to get in someone's head. I actually didn't start doing that until college. Most other "confident" statements were pretty much bravado. I haven't believed in any abilities I have seriously for a while. I just kind of did things and tried not to think about it. Unfortunately, I have always needed more affirmation than tough love. I'm actually, naturally kind of like that. (Phlegmatic Temperament) I think it just got way out of control. It reached a level of ridiculousness. I don't like that about myself, and I need to change it.

  6. I agree with your note on the bisexual thing completely. It is, after all, a recent development. It has to be the result of how I've been living my life and the various influences I happen to surround myself with. I think i actually say in this blog that porn has a lot to do with what is going on right now.
    Yes, I am an overly sexual attention whore. Part of that is natural tendency making me susceptible and part of that is my choice to continue viewing porn and getting further entrenched in it. Also, I have far less influence from good Catholics/other Christians than I have in the past. I realize that I'm not in the best environment for my spiritual health.
    In regards to 3, I do know most of that deep down. I also realized that by becoming steadily more lukewarm and uncaring I have squandered a lot of my gifts. I am constantly reminding myself that, actually, I should be doing far better than I am doing. Because I tend to pick up things quickly, I tend to drop practicing them quickly. I'm not disciplined, not naturally and never learned to be. I'm very all-over-the-place in general and have too many interests to choose from. I'm not good at staying on task and keeping at something for a long time through sometimes fear of failure and sometimes being distracted by other fun things. I'm also very much like my temperament test says I am. I'm more motivated by positive prodding than being yelled at or receiving tough love. I can take instruction and carry out tasks, but I do need encouragement. This is pretty much infantile, I know, but that is how I am at base. I can take criticism but I need encouragement to be coupled with it. Once again, this has gotten out of control and is one of the reasons I'm taking all this time alone.

  7. In response to 4, my head was much cooler when I initially met the people I currently hangout with. I was better able to handle their differing views because mine were sure, even before I officially got into the Church. Also, most of this has started happening in the past few months after I drained myself with what now appears to be a pointless relationship. Then came the first sex I had had post Adrien and a slip way downward. I was not attending mass often, hadn't confessed in ages, and had no other friends to balance out the strong opinions of my other friends. My own strength was wavering, and here we are now. I had no real doubts until these past couple of months (since october and for a while at that new years party). I was usually cool with just declining that I was gay and leave it at that. But, then I was finding that it was happening far more frequently. It really started to get to me, which it shouldn't have, but I was clearly not in a place to handle that, as I have let it affect me as it had. I was starting to wonder what it was about me that gave people this opinion of me. Granted, it shouldn't have mattered because most of these people have not known me long or hardly at all. But, it did. That's my fault.
    Before October the worst I did while drinking was say some offhand comments about being depressed and wanting to off myself (mostly in jest, since I was actually depressed. I haven't actually considered suicide since late middle school early high school and it was only for a second then.) and falling asleep. I made out with one girl and spurned the advances of one of the most persistent dudes ever (he's still after me, though I continue to rebuff him and say I don't like him that way). So, it is literally just now a lot of this is happening. I knew I was wavering, because I had sex and had vowed not to give up my body again until marriage. I had two one-night-stands! I never had done that. yes, making-out has happened more than a few times, but I always had a line. I toed it a couple of times at baylor, but nothing as far as I went those two nights. After that, I should have realized. But, I kept running bullheaded. I certainly didn't exult in those sins, I felt failure there for sure, but was almost glad to feel something again. I hadn't for a month at that point. Anyway, my real point here is that I'm listening and trying.

  8. Matt, thank you for posting that very last comment. I needed to hear that.