Donna Smaldone
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Tuesday / October 18 / 2011

[Guest Post] The journey to myself

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Today’s guest post comes to us from Rick Modien, who blogs here. Rick writes passionately about love, acceptance, and self-esteem as they relate to gay people. He’s graciously agreed to share his journey of growing up (and growing into) gay – as part of his self-discovery journey.
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When Donna suggested I write about how I got from where I was as a gay man (filled with self-loathing and fearful of my future) to where I am now (out to the world, partnered for nearly twenty years, and loving myself), I gave my thirty-year journey some thought, and here’s what I came up with.

Step #1:  Recognize We’re All The Same

All of our journeys to self-actualization begin by believing we’re worthy of the journey in the first place.  For years, I thought everyone was better than me – that is, everyone was worthy of taking up space on earth – except me.  But I remember one day in my late twenties when I turned a corner, literally and figuratively, and realized, for the first time, no one is better than anyone else – even those who aren’t gay.  That changed my life forever.

How did I arrive at that point?  By being conscious.  By paying attention to the people around me.  By reading biographies, memoirs, and autobiographies (which I’ve always loved).  And by watching programs on TV that helped me understand other people and their lives better.  Through learning we’re all different but equal, yet often feel marginalized in one way or another, I knew my starting place on the road to self-improvement was the same as everyone’s.

Step #2:  Help Yourself

My next step was to seek help, because I didn’t have the tools to move forward by myself.  I’m not ashamed to admit one of the most important tools in my recovery was attending one-hour therapy sessions with Oprah, five days a week, for most of the twenty-five years she had her talk show.  Through those sessions, I listened closely to how other people, who felt about themselves much the way I felt about myself, remedied their problems.  And I learned.  I learned a lot.

But I didn’t stop there.  I read.  I haunted self-help sections of bookstores and the library, and I found material that applied to me.  As well, if an expert appeared on “Oprah” or another show, whose message around self-actualization resonated with me, I studied his or her book.  Sooner or later, if you expose yourself to enough applicable and positive information, you begin to assimilate it.  You allow it to work beyond your negativity and paralysis.  And you use it to build a new life.

Step #3:  Be Gay On Your Terms

For me, the worst part about being gay… was being gay.  My perception of homosexuality came from two sources:  what those who deplored homosexuality believed it was, and what I believed it was, based on seeing and watching gay men in the community where I lived at the time.  In other words, I didn’t want to be evil, wrong, or immoral, and I didn’t want to be isolated, alone, lonely, a substance abuser, or promiscuous.

The truth is, there are different ways of being gay, and I didn’t have to be or live any of the stereotypes if I didn’t choose to.  I realized I didn’t have to compromise my beliefs, standards, or morals as a single gay man or to find a life partner.  Commitment, monogamy, and love have always been at the core of who I am as a human being, and, on my journey to self-acceptance, I remained true to myself.  That’s the source of the love and respect I have for myself now.

My sincere thanks to Donna for allowing me to guest blog for her again.

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Read more from Rick Modien on his blog:  “This Gay Relationship”

Read Rick Modien’s last Guest Post on The You EvolutionWhen being gay isn’t always so gay”

 

 

 

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