On Christmas day, I received a wonderful gift from a reader in Cape Town, South Africa.
After reading a post I wrote here in July 2011, titled "Sex and Validation," he wrote the following:
Loved the article you wrote.
"Is this enough? I am a man. I need to be loved. I need to love myself. I need to feel strong and to cry. I need to feel alive and to grieve my losses. I need to know that there is someone in this world who truly loves me. I need to love someone. I need a safe, stable and committed home. Truth is, I need all these things much more than I need great sex [from The Velvet Rage, by Alan Downs, Ph.D., p.p. 22-23]."
That part to me was so amazing. It's exactly what I am trying to do, what is a major cause of my depression and promiscuity (which also involves drinking).
I have read "The Velvet Rage" and loved every bit of it. The problem is, where is the advice? How do you turn that into something good? How do you love yourself, etc.…
For the benefit of those who don't want to go looking for what I wrote to him, I've pulled it out and captured it below. It's more or less a summary of what I've been writing about here for nearly two years, in literally hundreds of posts (which I invite you to have a look at).
My hope is that, if you feel the same way the above reader does, you'll take something from this that's helpful to you. Often, all we need to do is read a few keys words, or hear something familiar but stated in a slightly different way, that prompts us to make a small change to the way we see ourselves, to our routines, that sets us on potentially new and better paths.
My prayer for all of you who want to love and be loved, and who want to be in a meaningful, committed, and monogamous relationship, is that 2013 will bring you exactly that.
But I also pray you'll heed my advice:
In terms of where is the advice that may help you get what you most want (love and a committed relationship), if I may be so bold, many of the posts I've written here (particularly since January 2011) will help you do just that.
But you must remember one thing: you cannot make a relationship come to you. In the end, you have no control over anything or anyone else. All you have control over is yourself, but that's all you need. It's from there that all of us obtain what we most want–if we are strong and patient and self-aware.
You are already ahead of many gay men, who are blind to the connection between homosexuality, self-loathing, promiscuity, substance abuse…and the love of a wonderful man. They are all related to and affect each other.
So my recommendation is–and has always been–to work on yourself. Understand, accept, and like who you are. Be your own best boyfriend. Don't wait for someone else to fulfill your life, to bring you everything you think you'll gain by being in love and in a relationship.
Love yourself. Go about your life being the best you you can be. If you don't like who you are, appreciate being with yourself, enjoy your own company, why should anyone else?
Keep your eyes and ears open. Be ready to take advantage of an opportunity that comes your way. Don't be timid; don't hold back. But don't live for it, either. Live for being all you were meant to be.
There are no guarantees. You may never have the love you want from another man. On the other hand, you may. But there's no reason why you can't be the love of your own life, why the relationship you have with yourself can't be enough.
When you get to this place, other men will see it in you. They'll see the peaceful, confident way you pass through the world. And rather than be needy and attract people to you who you don't want in your life, and who you'd never have a successful relationship with anyway, you'll attract the kind you want, those who will be the best for you, who will be able to love you the way you want, and need, to be loved.
You need to take a leap of faith here and believe what I say. It wasn't until I started down the path of liking, even loving, myself, for exactly who I am, that I was blessed to meet Chris, who I've now been with for over twenty years.
You can do it, too. Just don't go looking for it. It will come when you're ready. Your job is to make sure you're ready. The work you do on yourself will be the best time and effort you've ever spent. Who better to invest in than you? Trust me. I know what I'm talking about.
Read any or all of the posts I've written here on self-esteem. Read my Thoughts for the Day, many of which are about learning to see yourself differently. Read as many self-help books as you can get your hands on. Seek counselling, if you can afford it (although you don't need it, as I didn't, if you're willing to do the work yourself).
But never forget: The only thing holding you back from learning how to love yourself…is you. How you see yourself. What you feel you deserve. Believing in your heart you're as good and as worthy as anyone else.
Because you are. We are all human beings, and, in terms of worthiness, we are all equal–gay, straight, whatever. You must come to know this. It is the key.
All the very best, and I pray you realize just how special and important you truly are.