Growing up with a father who is a Lieutenant Colonel of the US Army who also happens to be a hardcore Republican and Wall Street trader who used the word "faggot" at the dinner table wasn't exactly a warm welcome for me as I discovered my sexuality. When I first took a look at Marky Mark in those now infamous Calvin Klein ads at 12 years old and got that feeeling, I thought, fuck, this is going to be a fun ride.
It probably didn't help that my brother was beating me on the side, like a part time job, and that I had six years of intensive speech therapy for a mumble and lisp that sure as hell wasn't going anywhere quickly. Most times when I spoke, people would just mutter back "WHAT?", and so I stopped wanting to talk since it seemed like nobody was listening. Yet, I had so much to say! Even at that age, I knew my voice was to be heard; I knew all of our voices are to be heard.
What I've discovered is that one day, long ago, we were lied to. We were told that we weren't good enough, and we believed it because we were naïve, and feeling vulernable in our skin. We wanted so sincerely to be seen for all that we are, but often, people weren't willing to take a look at who that person was. It was at this same time when we started closing ourselves off and took a nose dive into fear, often burying our shame and avoiding our true identity.
We got busy fighting ourselves, so now we spend our days in competition with one another. Our energy is spent in trying to one up each other in all areas of life, and in turn, we try to one up ourselves. We never think we're enough, and we think that burying underneath things like superficiality and sex partners is going to fill in the missing answers. That's simply because we don't know where to look for the missing answers; we don't even know what questions to pose.
But, damn, do we love posing!
I know the game well. All of the revolving characters, with their ins and outs, many downs and even all those ups, had precedence in my life. The emotionally unavailable men, the vanity, and the feeling that I'm just so different than everyone so leave me alone, what you staring at boo?
It's as if we don't even know what we're staring at when we look into the mirror. We are in some way blocked, but we're not sure what that block is, so we fixate on our perfect hair and just-the-right-outfit. We seem to have forgotten what genuine love is, and when someone walks by us with a smile, it's as if they're a fucking alien, because our senses think we must be in some great danger.
We know we were born this way, and not because Lady Gaga told us so, yet we push the envelope because something inside of us feels like we shouldn't have been born.
The one thing that needs to be seen is our true self. Underneath the flash of cash and ego, resides a beating heart. It's within that heart where there is pain, there are scars, and there is a story. That story is one of survival, of strength, and a whole lot of untapped power.
What I've realized is that we can't drive the same train all of our lives. We can't continue to do what we were doing when we were younger, and we can't continually hope that we were that age again. The past is gone, and here we stand on our own two feet. We must firmly plant them onto the ground, and get out and change stations when it's time for a new take off. Yet, few of us are hearing the signal. We are ignoring the call.
We are ignoring the call to become authentic, and so we're caught in a never ending rat race. We spin in circles, wondering why we only feel great when our body is a little leaner than normal, or we just managed to shag the hottest British lad who's in town visiting and whom we met on Grindr.
We have begun to rely on constant fixes because, deep down, we need constant fixing. It ain't nice, but it's true. Sometimes honesty is a bitch -- sometimes we are too.
The way we treat our peers in the same community as we find ourselves in is shameful, because we are full of shame. We project our own feelings onto others, and judge those around us because we are judging ourselves.
We compare. We scrutinize. We front. We even throw shade. And a whole lot of it!
It's because we are living in the shade. Too many of us gay men are afraid to step into ourselves, because we believe what we were all told at some point of time; that something is wrong with us.
Now, we spend our days picking apart what's wrong in others. We jump from partner to partner, afraid of connecting authentically because we don't even know who we authentically are.
We forget that our sexual orientation doesn't make us any different; it just makes us unique. It doesn't give us a reason to treat one another like shit, but rather, should be an opportunity to treat one another with admiration and respect.
Many of us have similar wounds, and they're sure not going to be filled if we are in constant belittling of one another. How do we get over ourselves, and in turn, discover who we were truly born to be?
We get real. We become mindful. We make social groups that have some sort of positive outreach. We stop showing up for the gang bang, and instead get together twenty men who want to make healthy changes and drink green juice.
We talk it out. In that dialogue, we will discover that we are all the same; We are all one.
On top of this, we sure could implement a meditation practice or some sort of faith in a power greater than us. That definitely won't hurt. We must develop ourselves and look forward to our expansion. We must realize that we don't need to be the best or only, and we're allowed to grow every day.
It's time we make small changes, and find out the right questions to ask. When we can ask ourselves specific questions that are results oriented, we can get specific answers. These answers can lead to big breakthroughs, and help us live from our heart rather than our ego. It's time we find out what the difference is.
The reason we are here on this earth is to connect with others authentically, and share our vulnerability. It doesn't matter what's been done to us; we are not victims, we are victorious. It's time we share in our great victory and uprising.
We've got to rely on one another and bring eachother up when we are feeling down. We never know what someone is facing, or what someone has had to endure in order to stand in front of us.
Growing up with my father, I realized that on a spiritual level, I was meant to help him grow, and the way he treated me was meant to make me as strong as fucking possible.
I may not be bench-pressing 230 lbs in a cut off tank top and my muscles may not tell the story of who I am, but my love for myself does. That's what I learned to come home to every time I didn't feel as if I was enough.
When we can step away from the game, we can realize that what we have is actually meaningful. All physical items are temporary, just as all big dicks will go limp at some point in time.
Yet, the heart of our soul will continue to beat for all time. It will guide us to everything we need, including a better relationship with one another.
Wouldn't it be a relief to let go of all that striving energy, and just be? Imagine life without a fight.
Compassion can shatter the walls that keep us separated and away from the epic-ness that we could be. That we are. All we've got to do is love, which starts with ourselves. That may not come as a surprise, but what may is that I believe we shouldn't only love ourselves, but we should love ourselves so damn much where our cup runs over and spill onto every sidewalk and every where we find ourselves. Fill that cup up with your love, yo!
Are you up for the challenge? We've faced so much other shit in our lives, that I believe we can face this too. We can face our authentic selves and in turn, find our voice, so we can share it with the world. So we can share it with one another.
We are meant to be heard, and we are enough.
We are enough, and we are Our Father's Sons.
Self-help writer, spiritual coach, and healer, Garrett Paknis is the creator of JustEnlightenment.com, where he helps readers find their freedom and live a life full of purpose. He lives in downtown Manhattan, New York City. You can download his free eBook and schedule a coaching session here.