Sunday, 20 March 2016

I was a chronic liar


We hate liars. We are taught from day one that its absolutely wrong to lie, and when we catch people lying it destroys trust and credibility.

But we all tell little lies every so often. We twist the truth a little, tell "white lies", you know the story. It's even justifiable if the truth could do more damage than a careful lie!

But I lied all my life. I lied about who I was. I lied to myself every day. I lied to my family and friends. I lied to everyone.

I felt like I had no choice, but it ate me up from the inside out. "Coming out" as gay was inconceivable. Confiding in friends wasn't even an option - even those who I had some sort of "same sex" relationship with wouldn't talk about it. We just "did it". We had to lie.

Lying is so incredibly destructive. Obviously to those around us, but even more so to ourselves. It causes us to slowly build a false reality, a dual reality. It splits us, creating cognitive dissonance. It begins the process of mental illness and for some this can end in death.

I lied to my wife (both of them). I lied to my family. It was the only thing I could do to survive. But it nearly killed me.

This is why personal integrity is so important to me now. I ached to be "integral" all my life. You can't imagine what a relief it is to have nothing to hide any more!

When I say I'm free, I really mean I'm finally living whole and with integrity. I am who I am, open and transparent. Perhaps too open sometimes, but I don't care. It's such a massive relief to tell the world that I no longer have anything to hide. I'm not lying to you any more! No more skeletons in the closet. No more fear. No more self hatred.

I'm free! Yeah, it's all relative, and I know there are still many parts of my identity and "being" I don't understand. I'm still influenced by the deep scars of the lies, and my emotions betray that far too often. But I'm free of the need to lie - about anything actually.

Life is good!!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Achievement abuse

The pressure to "achieve" is relentless.

I don't just mean, get a good job or whatever. I mean to make something of your life -  to become a "useful/normal" member of society. We are told to get over our crap - sure, take time to work through it, so long as you actually "get better" - there's only so much "compassion" we are allowed to receive before it's time to move on and get back into the system.

In christian circles especially, this is a type of subtle but powerful abuse. Yep, that's right - abuse!

We use a combination of capitalism and the "protestant work ethic" backed by the twisted dogma of religion that demands we fit in to a mould - that we all look and behave the same, allowing just enough diversity so it appears we are tolerant.

This covers every aspect of life! Our personal goals and ambitions, our work ethic, relationships, mental health, finances, politics... All are neatly framed by expectations to conform, but most importantly, to "succeed".

Our ability to conform has become the measure of our success.

We are given all the help we need as long as we can measure the results of that help in terms of becoming "functional" members of society. And for christians, that means "functional" members of church. We measure relationship with God (our validity as a christian) by how much we have achieved. This includes our level of "obedience to God", our "ministry", our "service", having the perfect family, good finances (prospering) and a great smile that shows how we have "overcome".

But what if those measures of success are totally arbitrary? What if they are actually destroying us - destroying who we really are - our true identity? What if the pressure they put on us is slowly killing us?

What if there were no expectations to be anything other than who we are, and encouraged to simply find love in ourselves and everyone else?

All cultures have inflicted this on its people in some form. Christianity excels at it, especially as it bases it all on being pleasing to God. It makes God out to be the one who wants us to achieve the right (righteous) results, and excuses this abuse of our core identity and self worth by claiming it's the way God decrees it.

We are not broken. We are not miserable sinners desperately needing some external magic God to save us. We don't need to fit any mould. We are all completely unique, and when we are given the freedom to be just that, we'll all function together in ways we never imagined!

Friday, 4 March 2016

"It's Life Jim" vs Xlibris :'(

I've been hesitant to share what happened with the publishing of my book (It's Life Jim...) because, well, just because I feel like an idiot really.

I chose to use Xlibris to publish, as they are a division of Penguin and Random House. They are well established companies, been around for a long time, and thought I couldn't go wrong.

I was wrong.

They offered an amazing selection of services to promote/market my book, all at premium prices. I was prepared to spend the money though, because I'm passionate about what I'm doing. I scraped together $4000 through donations and my own savings, for a range of services. They then offered me the deal of the century - New York Times literary section, book review, advert and radio interview for another $4000!

Too good to turn down, and a friend offered to lend me the money. But it turned out that the real price was $16,000 (four monthly payments of $4000), and the sales rep had neglected to inform me of this minor detail. Long story short. it took 6 months - yes 6 months!! - to finally sort out the mess, meanwhile we had missed the opportunity of a lifetime to promote my book through all the international media attention I received from a nasty piece of hate mail (thank you Logan Robertson).

Instead of taking a refund of the $4K, I foolishly reinvested it into another service they offered, thinking I could recoup the losses. But no... after getting a place in 4 major book-shows through the US, they informed me that to get real results I needed to be at the shows to personally promote it, and they weren't going to cover the airfares, lol.

So I got screwed over big time. Even the basic services, I've since found out, I could get for a fraction of the price if I'd researched more. I was stupid - sucked in by hype.

Sales trickled along - enough to help promote Silent Gays and keep me alive - but nothing like enough to actively promote the book, and pay back loans.

So there you have it. Go on, say it... "Jim, you're a sucker". Yes, its true!