My complete coming out story

I’ve written about parts of this in other posting here on this blog, but I haven’t put the whole story together.

gay & disabled

I first came out to myself where I really admitted to myself that I preferred guys over girls. I hated myself. I tried to pray it away – God, how I tried. I cried and prayed. I did everything I could think of hoping I would change. I did not want to be any more different than I already was. I think this was one of the reasons why my downward spiral began.

High school was okay, I wasn’t teased or anything like that it was fine. I had a handful of friends, but I still felt like I was always on the outside. I grew up in the projects and I know that if it came out that I was gay; it wouldn’t have been good for me. It was different times. It was the mid-1970s. It was never mentioned, but it was known to be frowned upon. I grew up Catholic, so you can imagine what that was like. So, I kept quiet with things being what they were. Still, I had good friends; not a lot of friends, but I kept the key aspect of my life private. I didn’t tell anyone. Not even my closest friends. My disability avoided a lot of unanswered questions.

For a lot of my life, I remained celibate. I never dated; although, I did start to fall for one or two guys over the years, with one who “scared me straight” for quite a while. He was older. We never told each other outright, but the feelings and the flirting were there. He invited me over one night and I am sure that the only reason nothing happened was because he was waiting for me to make the first move something I wasn’t ready to do at that time.

When I was in my late twenties, I was ready to come out. My brother beat me to it. My parents soon asked me if I was gay, but he came out because he was sick and I didn’t want to cause any further worry, so I said, “No.” I should have said, “Yes,” and gotten it over with. I am a hundred percent sure that my parents would have been cool with it (the way they dealt with my brother leads me to believe my parents would have been okay with it).

When I moved away and eventually came out. It was freeing. Imagine the one thing you don’t want others to know about you and then imagine it getting out to everyone. At first, you think, “That’s it, no one will like me now,” but it is also freeing. Everyone knows. You’ve reached the point where either they do accept or they do not. Those who don’t; well, one has to wonder… Doesn’t one?

Anyway, that’s it in a nutshell is my full coming out story.
—Robert Confiant 18 September 2018

Depression and life

I just listened to a TEDx talk on suicide and life. Once upon a time, I could not do this.
I am told quite often that I am a strong person. They say this because I have dealt with having a disability, so well. And if I am honest, in some ways they are correct. I am a person who happens to have Cerebral Palsy. Back when I was younger, I didn’t let my dis-ablity stop me from doing what I wanted to do. My dis-ability (sic) is not who I am. I am not defined by my dis-ability. I live with it. To me, it is not brave, nor heroic, nor anything special. I have always had a bum leg. I don’t know any different, so this is my “normal.”

Somewhere on this path of life, I lost my confidence. I stopped believing in myself. I developed a low self-esteem about myself. My depression resulted because I believed that I couldn’t do anything. I was told, by kindly meaning professionals, that I couldn’t do this, or I couldn’t do that. I don’t blame them for what resulted. It just I took their statements to be realistic about my career choices to heart. I felt that I couldn’t do anything. It’s strange, how my all or nothing attitude played a factor even back then. I am an “All or nothing” kind of guy. I don’t like to admit it, but I still am. The result is that I suffered from depression in my late teens and early twenties. The fact that I was gay didn’t help. I was closeted, gay young man who grew up in the projects. I was supposed to be tough. I was also a strict Catholic and these two aspects were “polar opposites” in their views. I still joke about going to hell (I don’t believe it, but I still joke about it). So really, my depression stemmed from my lack of confidence in myself and the loathing I felt about being different. I gave up. I stopped living and I couldn’t see a good future for myself. I was depressed.

After I hit rock bottom, I went to counselling and I sought out help. I wasn’t working because of the recession at the time and because I felt I couldn’t do anything with me having a dis-ability. I got work eventually after I went on some job training course. It helped boost my confidence again. I later returned to school to upgrade my skills. The success I found there also contributed to my confidence boost. Step-by-step, I began to snap out of my depression and my confidence returned. It was a slow process, but one that built a strong foundation on which I could stand upon.

Today, this is all history. I have had my bouts of depression, but I have figured out tricks to help me snap out of it. My depression now stems from Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD). With this realization, I find that my depression is manageable, if I caught it. Sometimes it can be a week before I realize I am in a state of depression. When I finally do come to realize this, I do the opposite of what I feel I want to do. Namely, I go out, instead of staying in; I socialize, instead of shutting myself out. For me, this doing opposite works. I also purchased a light for the winter months. It helps.

I am at a good place. I can’t say I never get depressed, but when I do, I can deal with it. For the most part, I am happy with my life. I no longer worry about the past, and I don’t fret about the future. I stay in the now. This was another issue back then, I couldn’t stay in the now.

Most of the time, I am that strong person I appear to be, but sometimes I am not. For those times I am not, I work on it. Over all though, life is good.

For those of you who are struggling. I am reposting this image:

Mental health continuum-mobile

Get to know the signs and if you are in any phase other than healthy, seek help. There is no shame in asking for help. We all need a hand up occasionally.

My life may not always be exactly what I want, or I wish for, but it is a good life. I have my health. I have a good family, partner and friends who are always there for me, and a decent job. A hobby that I love – writing, contrary to what our income obsessive materialistic society wishes to sell us, these are what truly matter.

Peace and love.
—Robert Confiant 15 September 2018

Old Photos, memories and life

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My cousin (of all people) sent me a few old photos of her family with my mom, my mom and dad with some of mom’s extended family, a picture of me at fourteen, and one of my aunt and her nanny.

I don’t have many old pictures. I have managed to scrape up a handful to two, but that’s it (For my family and cousins reading this, if you have some, please scan them in if you can and forward them It would be greatly appreciated).

It’s strange that as one ages family history becomes important (This is particularly important for family health history as my doctor keeps asking me if so and so runs in the family).

One of the set of pictures I have is of my older brother. He was good to me. He taught me how to ride a bike, which provided an easier and faster method of getting around (rather than walking that is). I gave me some independence because I didn’t need a ride as often. He gave me my one and only driver’s lesson. It was too bad he moved so far away. I might have learned to drive a car if he hadn’t and that would have provided more independence.

When I first moved to British Columbia, people asked me all the time if I have been here, or there… I always replied, “No.” I didn’t want to bother anyone to take me. It wasn’t until I met my partner that I saw some of BC outside of Metro Vancouver, well except Victoria and one or two camping outings.

Anyway, the picture made me think of my family. Unfortunately, we aren’t as close knit as we were when mom was alive. She was the glue that held everyone together. It is not all her, people move on with their lives, but she always pushed the importance of family because her mother died while she was a toddler. It has been quite some time since my brother, father and mother passed away. Some days, not too often, but some days I miss them. “What I would give,” I think, to be able to talk to them again and get some sage advice from my parents. Alas, this isn’t possible, so I offer this advice to others out in cyberspace who have not experienced this loss yet, “Treasure your family and friends.” As mom always quoted me, “You can pick your friends, but you cannot pick your family. Your friends may come and go, but your family you are stuck with.”

As a gay man living, so far from the original nest, my friends have become my extended family. I treasure my family, and I am sorry to admit this, but we don’t always talk to each other as much as we should. Unfortunately, this sentiment has occurred with my friends as well, but I still value our friendship nonetheless.

Life is strange sometimes. In the future, I will have to try harder to stay in touch with those I care about. You should too.

—Robert Confiant 21 August 2018

 

PS: This blog post kind of side stepped there fire a bit, but I am not going to edit myself (well, except for grammar lol). It has been my experience that some topics need discussion, and need to come into the light, even if this discussion is just with oneself.

Pivotal points, forks in the road

I had lunch with two co-workers last Thursday, one was leaving at the end of this week to pursue other avenues, and she wanted to get together before I left on vacation.

We got to discussing life, new beginnings and life choices. I told the two younger ladies what I have learned about life changes, which is this: There are pivotal points in one’s life where a decision is so important that it can change the course of one’s life dramatically. I explained that there are four, or five, points in my lifetime where a decision if made differently, would have altered my life completely.

fork in a road

One such choice would have been a co-worker I knew from my first full-time job at Ad-Scan. I believed, with hindsight, that he loved me and he wanted to be with me. If we had moved in together as roommates as he suggested, then I would have come out a lot sooner than I did. I would have built a life around us.

Another choice was to dropping out of college, the return to get my OAC/Grade 13 before attending university. If I had remained in college, I would have different friends and a career as a lab technician, and I would have built a life around this scenario.

About the same time as university, I met a certain co-worker. It was because of her that I moved to Vancouver. If we had never met at the bookstore those summer months, then I would never have thought of moving to Vancouver. I would have built a life in Toronto, I am not sure what that life could have been, but I guess I would be in IT somewhere living close to work, or still at home with my brother.

Another was when the co-worker mentioned previously (just above) passed away, I got pretty home sick once and I was tempted to give it all up, but my sister talked me out of it stating I had a good career with a pension and good benefits, I also built a life here and I had friends here. It would be a shame to just throw it all away and to have to restart all over again.

Lastly, if I had never met my partner online, or he did not answer my ad, then I would have had a different life than the one I currently have. Perhaps, I may have even moved back to the Toronto area.

We all have pivotal moments in our lives. Points so critical, these forks in the road, that a decision one way, or another, leads to an alternate life existence.

I have the advantage of age and hindsight. I know my pivotal life points, these forks in the road. There are only five, but they lead me to where I am today.
—Robert Confiant 23 July 2018

Those were the days

Those were the days
And what a time was had
Sitting around the kitchen table
A-heeing and a-hawing to those Blue Grass lyrics
Dad singing and strumming
With the boys by his side.

jammin

Those were the days
The music flowed
Them hurting songs
Made you want to sing along
Picking and strumming those Country hits.

Those were the days
What a time we had
Dancing the night away
Weekend in
And weekend out
We partied all weekend long.

Those were the days
Those were the times
The music’s done
The old man’s gone
And the boys moved on.

Those were the days…
—Robert Confiant 16 July 2018

My father and weekends

dawn1

I am writing a verse (I just whip it up, but it still needs work, so I haven’t posted it yet). It got me thinking about those days of yesteryear and my dad.

My father lived for the weekend. He hated work day mornings. I remember my sister warning me not to say anything to anyone the first time I had to get up to work with my father, my brother and my sister (As I was one of those cheery people in the morning and they were not). But come the weekend my father was up with the birds.

I don’t think he wanted to miss anything come the weekends. Often times, he would organize social gatherings with lots of homemade music. He would invite his brother and a few of his friends to play and sing a song or two (or more). Sometimes, these parties would start one day and continue well into the next.

What good times; what great memories.
—Robert Confiant 16 July 2018

It’s not the same

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We have taken to watch old 1970’s and 1980’s television shows (My partner records them). Most of them are unwatchable. Wonder Woman is guaranteed to put my partner to sleep. Lots of other shows, I just cannot sit through. The odd one for example, WKRP in Cincinnati, is tolerable. For the most part, it holds up.

If sports weren’t on, we watch home some TV.  (Sports got priority in our house, go HNIC on CBC). Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s most sitcoms were home some. We watched most of the popular ones. “Classic TV,” they call them now. As a strong Catholic family, this was important (Well, Archie Bunker might have been pushing it and The Jefferson’s). This changed of course as we aged with shows, such as, Hill Street Blues and the like.

Memories of family time, they make me miss the past some times, but its mom and dad that I miss the most. If your parents are still alive, you should treasure them while they are still present.

Classic TV re-runs watching has taught me that one really cannot go back. It just isn’t the same.
—Robert Confiant 12 July 2018