Coming Out: A Hurdle Over Fear

She would wash my favorite outfit. It was a sweat-pant assemble from the mid 80’s. Folding my blue sweat bottoms and gray top with a panda bear, my Aunt Pearl sang a song with joy. I was full of laughter.

 

She would play hide and seek with me, hiding me in her pantry. And when her son, my older cousin would open the door I would explode with laughter and surprise. We were all filled with happiness. It was in her company, as a boy that I felt incredibly special. She wanted me near. She enjoyed my smile. And she loved my company. I felt like a precious gem.

Sometimes, however, coming out of the closet isn’t full of such intimate sincerity.

rom the political Huckabee-Types to the the anti-gay preachers, sexual orientation has become something divisive. The conversation around: 1) those of us who have come out, 2) the LGBTQ persons who wish to marry, and 3) our religious and political equality are spoken of as though our liberty deconstructs the foundation of societal safety. 

 

In this realm the angry rhetoric of the fearful majority will reinforce, for many, feeling safe in the hidden shadows of secrecy. The worst part of homophobia, I’m afraid, is when the fear of the heterosexists voice turns into anger and the result is an internalized fear within the closeted soul. Homophobia is truly affective when it has taught someone to hate him or herself, to hate their very innocent desire to belong.  

Some will tell the out and closeted that our desire for love is damaged. Many churches will tell us that our love is disordered. And others will say that our gender identity is misaligned or altogether disgusting.

The politicians who are enraged by marriage equality cannot understand that their voice works against the message of a better America for which they campaign. The religious leaders, who preach for unity and love, cannot understand that their fight against the LGBTQ person is the very fight against the love for which they toil to inspire.

And in the realm, many of us out LGBTQ have experienced the most horrific and petrifying conversations with our parents. Many of our parents chose to respond with anger, cutting words, and religious passages. We leave the room seriously questioning if they still love us. We’re petrified in these moments.  

Mom and Dad, when we invite you into our lives, where we expereiencs love, joy, romance, and a place that feels like an emotional home, we’re not asking for you to sign our permission slip. We’re not bulling you into compromising your morals. All we’re asking is that you love us and show a willing desire to be in our lives, no matter if that life looks differently than yours. We aren’t demanding you to celebrate, we aren’t bulling you into seeing things our way. Most deeply, all we want is to feel like your cherished child.

Many forget that their distain for or fight against the LGBTQ community is the direct shaming of the people who comprise that community. They many fail to acknowledge, that regardless of their fight we are all made for loving connectedness.

From the first moments of life, we are primed for bonding- a connection to our parent that will endure through time and space. And as we grow and sprout into reality we are forever preparing for and creating a script that will direct our relationships. At the very bottom of our core is a beckoning- we desire to abide with another. This desire sings its tune all the way through our core and flows out into our interactions.

When a straight person says that they, “…just don’t get it” I wish they would make acquaintance with their own sexuality. The straight, bi, queer, gay, and lesbian sexualities all look different in our physical context, but operate the same on the spiritual plane. When the religious leader calls the trans woman a monster, I wish he would become familiar with his own gender identity. Her femininity is, in part, the essence of his core, as well.

On the surface we might all look differently, we might behave uniquely, and we surely act within a variety. But at the core of our spectacular existence is the same fundamental beauty to belong, secure love, and offer love to another.

So for those who live in secrecy; for those who are dying to come out may I inspire you to be free.

Your gender identity is not a threat. Your sexual orientation is primarily a relational orientation to belong and create an emotional home. The attractions within your body, the energy of your gender, and the call to create relational security is divine, and I use that word purposefully.

Do not deny yourself love any longer. Do not let the voice of the angry right scare you into being small. But most importantly don’t use their voice on yourself. Refrain from the tendency to hate yourself with the condemning voice they’ve used to shame you.

Your love is beautiful. Your desire to belong is pure. Your ability to love another is a gift to those around you. You deserve not to live in the shadows of malice, fear, and persecution. But to be liberated by the messages of love, those that teach you, “I am enough. I am worth it. I have something to offer.”

On National coming out day, may you stand confident in your ability to love and compassionate as you let the love of others saturate the fabric of your soul. 

Posted on October 11, 2015 .

At Me They Shout "Faggot" - An Enemy Becomes Friend

"  “Faggot,” the bro yelled. A wave of angst, fear, and isolation washed over my body. I looked at my heterosexist neighbor in the eye. He had no remorse."

"

“Faggot,” the bro yelled. A wave of angst, fear, and isolation washed over my body. I looked at my heterosexist neighbor in the eye. He had no remorse."

A couple weeks ago I walked across the sunny street in Hollywood. I had a smile on my face and was surely glowing with happiness.

Finding my spot on the street corner was like finding my spot in an empty corner of my middle school playground. “Faggot,” the bro yelled. A wave of angst, fear, and isolation washed over my body.

I looked at my heterosexist neighbor in the eye. He had no remorse.

I could feel my anger. It rose with a tenacity that kept me preoccupied for some time. The memory of that man’s face flashed in my head like a song on repeat. In self-protection I found every reason to hate him.

I despised his scruff. I despised his ratty t-shirt. I despised the car full of men with whom he associated. I despised men. They left me hurting.

I carried these sentiments with me back to Denver. A young bro-ish type was my elevator companion. He schlepped a six-pack of beer, talked with P. Diddy swagger, and joked with his buddies in a manner that objectified women. And I found myself almost hating him. I had labeled him a familiar homophobic type.

And then I had to check myself. I was using the exact shaming tool of separateness that hurt me on someone else.

In this light, I examine the ways in which the Hispanic community, my community, experiences persecution. I also observe that as Hispanics we turn from our persecutors and continue to promote the very prejudice that left us marginalized. We speak with their hatred on our tongues.

I continuously examine the ways in which the Church demonizes the LGBTQ community. I wish the pope knew that his words perpetuate homophobia. My gay friends and I are incredibly burned by many conservative theologies. And yet I hear us, the LGBTQ community, chastising conservative Christians with the same level of judgment we have endured. We find the most heinous of terms as daggers to through back.

The worst facet is that we, the LGBTQ community, turn towards one another and continue to spread division. Gays derogate bisexuals. Gays and lesbians speak ill of one another in secret sessions. The masculine jocks cheapen the feminine.

We have literally taken the psychological need for superiority [that the heterosexist majority used to denigrate our minority position] and we’ve begun using it on ourselves. We feed our own need for superiority with the same spoon that led poison to our lips.

We’ve too easily become willing to inflict the same hurt we’ve sustained. Can we hear stories like Lance’s and refrain from hating in return?

Where will the cycle end?

It will end when we choose to feel the persecution, protect ourselves, but refrain from the inclination to judge the persecutors. Sounds a lot like the Lord’s Prayer to me.

Minorities are equally responsible in deconstructing the anatomy of prejudice. We may not have started the machine, but many of us sure do help ensure its maintenance.   

Consider: Do you embody the ability to hate another because you were first hated?

Can we, be it sexual or ethnic minorities, respond with maturity and compassion, leaving behind the retaliatory need to judge and hate?

If we can, we will inspire unity. If we can, we will demonstrate freedom from psychological superiority. If we can, we will reverse the emotional mechanisms that drive hatred, homophobia, judgment, racism, and transphobia. If we can, we will protect ourselves from embodying the very anatomy of hatred that through the first punch, that which continuously assaults equality. If we can, we will finally understand love.

Go ahead, you can call me faggot. The pain and anger in your spirit is enough punishment. Next time someone labels me with such hate, I'll try my best to respond with friendship. 

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.” – MLK JR 

Posted on September 28, 2015 .

Bisexuality Isn't Just A Thing

Isaac Archuleta iA Blog

As underarm hair started making its appearance in the reflection I saw of my 14 year-old body in the mirror, I also starting noticing a lovely girl in drama class. She was fiery and sweet. Her laughter moved my soul with sensations that realigned my stars

She had become my high school sweetheart and I had fallen in love. Her and I eventually found our way to my bedroom for our first-ever sexual rendezvous. I gave her my virginity and my covenant ring and I enjoyed every minute of it.

And then a bright-smile and muscular handed young gent walked into my booth. I was passing out toothbrushes at a community health fair. I had to ask him out.

Kissing him, my first male experience of erotica, was cosmic. I think I may have even blacked-out for a half second.

Did I enjoy his touches more than I had my high school sweetheart’s? No. Were my sexual experiences with her more meaningful than the ones I shared with him? Sure. I had loved her.

Would either of these interactions, whether full of love, lust, or passion predetermine my sexual attractions and emotional cravings forever? No, absolutely not.

Sexual orientation is never only about sex, per se. It is about love and connectedness.

“Bi-curious,” is what I circled on a form. It was my first visit to a therapist. I was so shamed. I had slept with someone before my wedding night. Needless to say, I had slept with both a woman and man. The most shameful of truths to my tale was that I enjoyed both.

Too often writers, even those who are lauded, write and speak of sexual orientation as though it is a simple attraction to one set of gonads or as though its best understood by learning about with whom one chooses to sleep. What a fallacy.

Such a rhetoric can be incredibly shaming. So let me set the record straight.

After studying human sexuality for years, learning of its complexity, and observing its fluidity among the nearly 4,000 clients with whom I’ve worked, I’ve learned 6 salient lessons:

1.     Men who are sexually active with men can also enjoy sex with women, and vice a versa.

2.     Falling in love, for many, is not predicated by they physical body, but rather the emotional connectivity.

3.     When one sleeps with men and women it doesn’t mean they are somehow afraid of commitment or compulsively hypersexual.

4.     If a bisexual person falls in love, they are equally capable of monogamy, just like the rest of society.

5.     Bisexuality is not the manifestation of relational cowardice.

6.     Bisexuality isn’t just a thing; it's a biological phenomenon in the same manner and fashion as heterosexuality.

This is confusing for many, but confusion isn’t an excuse to remain uneducated on the topic.

Maybe if we stop talking of sexual orientation as thoughts its simply an appetite we’ll start to reverence one another’s innocent cravings to belong and feel cherished.

 

Posted on September 23, 2015 .

Person of Color & Bisexual? Intersectional Man? I AM.

" As a Hispanic psychotherapist, bisexual male, and Christian theologian I understood what Janet was describing: We had to unearth the knowing of true self-acceptance from the multi-layered sediment of social power."  

"As a Hispanic psychotherapist, bisexual male, and Christian theologian I understood what Janet was describing: We had to unearth the knowing of true self-acceptance from the multi-layered sediment of social power." 

She, that powerful trans woman, walked onto the stage and her energy almost blew me away. She was shinning with not only self-assuredness, but with an integrated presence. Janet Mock clearly heard the screams of her fans, but what I observed was a woman who stood confident, not because of the cheers, but because of her own self-discovery as the I AM.

The I AM of the Old Testament was a figure that captivated my being from and early age. Around 12 years old, I made an offering out of my life. I had never declared a more fervent and sincere prayer: “Lord, I want to make you smile with the tune of my life. I give you all of me. Use me however you see fit.”

My parents taught me such sincerity. I watched my mother clean the floors of the rich on her hands and knees and saw my father work tirelessly in a factory. They toiled with passion in their hearts and gratitude on their faces. After planting a church in our home, I also began to watch my parents’ dreams come true.

Little did I know that I, too, would see my dreams come true, this of course after climbing over the mountain of shame. I would have to leave behind the world of conservative Christianity and descend upon the non-dualistic Field of Holy Union where social labels have no merit. But that would take some time.

I first had to step onto the Colorado University campus, which I approached with fear. I was an ethnic minority at the number one Whitest school in the nation. My Hispanic accent, limited vocabulary, and collectivistic ways had me feeling incredibly odd.

And when I came out as bisexual, as a junior in college, I could feel my grasp on normalcy slipping. No façade could slow my imminent fall. Below was nothing but waters of isolation and marginalization.

It took me many years of dedication to realize that I had something to offer the heterosexist world. I had to remain assiduous to learn that I could make an impact on the White lives for whom my mother cleaned.

And there it was as plain as day, standing before me in a white pencil skirt and black chiffon top; the I AM in Janet Mock affirming the I AM in me. As a Hispanic psychotherapist, bisexual male, and Christian theologian I understood what Janet was describing: We had to unearth the knowing of true self-acceptance from the multi-layered sediment of social power. 

Money seems to make our world flow. Power seems to keep our world contained. And the majority surely has a powerful voice. But when we discover the I AM that lives within in the intersection of mind, body, spirit we also identify that we are never more powerful then when we are simply ourselves- and this is the appropriation of the I AM.

It is easy for any of us to adopt the socially constructed scripts for dominance, power, or success. But what makes us most like the Divine is the melody of our character when it lacks self-importance, the innocence of our heart when its comfortable with beauty, and the joyous sound of laughter when intimate reciprocity is achieved.

Janet Mock and I don’t have anything special to offer when we try to muscle our way to the top. We can easily cover the intersections of racism, homophobia, and sexism with our cunning words and extensive platforms. We may even make a dent.

But what truly creates a lasting influence is when we model for one another the True I AM of our God-given packaging without need for affirmation, likes, tallies, or praise. It is the power to be fearlessly vulnerable, especially when people are looking. 

I can recognize the I AM within Janet Mock. It is the same I Am within me.

I AM truly yours and I AM is truly mine. 


I Am the I AM

 "How is it that you can see ruin in another version of love?

That authenticity scares you to the core?

That God’s intended diversity leaves you fearful and hungry to be above?

 

How is it that the truth of one person's soul registers as a painful atrocity?

That one woman’s fight to express God depletes your reservoir of faith?

That another man’s colored design makes you think he's one failed monstrosity?

 

Maybe you have no ears to hear and no eyes to see?

That maybe, to you, your faithlessness sounds more like alliance?

That maybe your comfort in one position limits your ability to actually God’s essence be?

 

If so, than you and I are the same. We are all limited in hue and view.

But as one walks down the street before your judging eyes, may you take pause to challenge the lesson you learned in that pew.

 

May you find the freedom to love yourself, so that when you see the I AM in another you say, “Hello sister I AM” or “Hello brother Me Too.”

May you be countercultural and courageously recognize the I AM even in the shadows that scare you." - iA 

Posted on September 17, 2015 .

Where is Our Empathy?

Those that know me well understand that I am a person of passion and strong conviction. I try to bridle my dogmatic opinions and harness them so as to remain open to truth, the process of learning, and the notion that I am wrong on many occasions.

Feeding my own selfish appetite for progress and education as an activist for the LGBTQ community, I swallowed articles and footage of online debates to the early hours of the morning. Falling asleep with passion in my heart and rage in my body I recounted one-liners from a debate that took place in early July. As an online spectator of the debate, I practiced my responses to the biased hostess of the panel and the two members who profited from her quick ability to shut any voice of diversity down.

I could see happiness pouring from the body language from the three people on stage who thought felt as though they were winning- two conservative Christian thinkers and one powerful moderator who was too comfortable shutting down good ideas.

Waking up this morning all I could hear was my response to the bigotry and (in my mind) narrow-mindedness that I witnessed in that YouTube video.

And then after seeing three clients I stumbled upon another video, this one more tragic than any I’ve seen: the shootings, during a live televised interview, of a Virginian TV crew.

Why such hate? How is it that we can achieve such dark evil? We all can.

I can blame the moderator for publically shaming a dear friend. I can blame a theologian doctorate for derogating my fellow activist. I can blame the gun control laws. I can blame my own need for justice, the very need that had me rehearsing protection and anger all morning long.

Are the emotions that circle in my body really all that differentiated from those that swelled within the gunman?

Trump occupies our news and with him all of our personal opinions. #BlackLivesMatter saturates our walls and streams of posts. Wars and civil unrest befalls numerous countries in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

But can we really empathize with one another? Do we really watch our own internal behaviors to ensure that we aren’t part of the same machine?

I am quickly tiring from a version of empathy that can only produce a two-second thought of, “Wow, that poor soul.” It leaves me feeling detached and callous.

What would it look like if we took the time to truly understand that pain of those Black lives that matter so much? Are we truly able to image what it must feel like to feel anxious and hatred at the sight of a police officer? What it feels like to for a black school-aged boy to walk down the street with the hyperawareness and a body under surveillance that ensures he keep his hands in his pockets?

Are we able to understand or at least pretend for a moment that we have to endure the worry of finding food, shelter, and petrol to keep our gaslight ablaze because we are in a civil war over coal?

Can we find the courage to dream about the fear of living in prison because it's a crime to be gay in Uganda? The gut wrenching pain it feels to find yourself encaged, not because of what you have done with your body, but because you simply love?

Today I will stop rehearsing my script of protection and anger. I will empathize with that passionate debate hostess, because she feels like she is protecting the Christian Church; and what a noble goal. I will try my hardest to understand the lives of my Black neighbors who walk my street in fear. I will find the courage to understand the lives of those around me.

I can sit in my office with a Starbucks and a master’s degree. I can practice another dialogue of anger and ruin- for another person’s opinion and their aim. I can also sit and acknowledge that we are all hurting. That hurt echoes in the discreet moments when we plot our own comeback or ways of protecting with anger and malice.

Can we shift our hurt into camaraderie? Can we see our pain as signage that leads to true empathy that leaves us uncomfortable and confused? I sure do hope so. We need it more than ever. 

Posted on September 15, 2015 .

Call Me Caitlyn

Call me Caitlyn,” is a very courageous statement to make, and it sounds very purple to me. What I mean is Caitlyn Jenner demonstrates the image of God with tenacity, much like Bonaventure described.

Bonaventure, a 13th century mystic, described our creation with a tambour that feels like the effervescence of a vital harp. Using gorgeous language, Bonaventure claims that the best name for Jesus is “Word.” Jesus, according to Bonaventure, started out as a mental word, or thought, in God’s consciousness (Delio, 2013).

I find this incredibly fascinating— the idea that Jesus and humanity all originated as an initial thought of God’s creativity. We are just like the onset of a precious painting, a mere creative idea that will inevitably become a fixture to adorn the halls of some prestigious museum.

God’s created child stands like a prism, an intermediary, to the created world. God is the bright, pure light shining through his child, Jesus. As the light passes through Jesus, we have a multihued expression of the essence of God, one astonishing rainbow of demonstrations. In other words, Bonaventure would say that creation is one massive display of God’s creativity through Christ (Delio, 2013).  

In this way, I find it impossible to think that God is male in form. Sure, we read God as Father, a label we’ve used with the guise of our current dualistic and binary-induced systems of rhetoric. However entrenched in this myopic impression, I have to believe that if we are all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), then God must embody both maleness and femaleness. God very well may be genderless. What a beautiful thought.

I simply cannot put a blue hat upon my understanding of God. Here, then, I find it imperative to emphasize the soul beyond the paint of the soul’s housing.

Others, however, find it overly commodious to think in terms of either blue or pink. We want to feel comfortable. We want our intellectual boundaries to extend far outside of our physical and cognitive world so that we have plenty of room in which to stuff our own version of truth.

Basically we want to afford a sense of peace in our self-derived/-defined comfort. Some need God to be blue in order to feel comfortable in their own expressions of gender. Many will prematurely assume that being transgender is choice much like deciding which job to take. 

Examining the transgender disposition cannot be entirely understood with the notion that God mistakenly put a female soul in a male body. From a clinical perspective, the transgender disposition is much MUCH more complex than that. 

So I ask, what if we really live in a world wherein gender is purple, where blue and pink could not nor should not be separated? What if God is better represented as purple more than blue with the potential of creating pink? In this light, I would say that my female counterparts are just as much the essence of God and not merely some offshoot of “his” creative capacity.

Many can easily comprehend God’s purple reality, the very world of diversity in which men are unreservedly emotive and woman are freely assertive; or the paradigm wherein we can respect the essence of one’s soul even because it has developed inside a physical body too dissimilar.

Others, however, will fight against their own God-inspired androgyny. They will try to pull the pink from the blue as though they can separate one frequency of light from another despite its originating prism, Christ.  

Diversity continues to be a struggle for humankind as we’ve see in the gay wedding that was bombarded and its guest detained. The purple version of love is even attacked in far-off countries like Kyrgyzstan it seems.  

When we are able to embrace the purple hue, the paradigm wherein we have no need for distinct categories to place God’s creative output and no need to limit the expression of God’s creative design of gender, we will be able to fully understand the complexity of God’s essence.

In other words, we cannot love the diversity of another if we cannot first understand how to love the full complexity of our own being.

One of my students at a local seminary asked one profound question. As he asked it from his evangelically rooted seat, he aimed to make a dashing point: God is concerned with the presentation of our bodies more than the preservation of our souls. Thankfully, his question backfired on him. What he realized is that God is concerned with our entire whole, not just the exhibit we make out of our bodies. He asked the following:

“Do we try to change the soul of the person to match the body or do we change the body of the person to match the soul?”

Inasmuch, “Call me Caitlyn” isn’t a statement of ruin or hopelessness. It is evidence of her embrace of the God within her. Essentially, she has learned the value and beauty of “created in God’s image” and the sweet song it makes when she expresses her body to match her [God given] soul. She has learned to see that God and herself can be one beautiful purple ray of light that finds a perfect spot within the multi-hued array of God as Rainbow.  

Yes. Yes, I will call you Caitlyn. Caitlyn is an inspiration for all to continue discovering their entirety as God’s created purple children.  

Delio, I. 2013. Simply Bonaventure: 2nd Edition. Hyde Park, NY: New City Press. 

 

Posted on September 15, 2015 .

#LoveMustWin

Many Christian look at a gay or bisexual person and all they see is a confusing specimen who displays his or her moral depravity with behaviors of the body.

Sexual orientation, however, is very different than sexual conduct. Sexual conduct is the physical actions we commit with our bodies.

Sexual orientation is the combination of neurological, physiological, and emotional mechanisms that occurs in an involuntary process. No one choose to whom they would be attracted, and only become sexually stimulated by that gender because they promised themselves they would be.

Preferences, including sexual ones, develop without our permission.                                                                                                                        

Sexual orientation is a product of our bodies that points us to love and connectedness, a union that is celebrated with the act of sex. This is true of all sexual orientations not just heterosexuality.

Most of us get stuck here, though. What did God have planned for our sex lives before the fall? We may never know with empirical data that registers p<.05. Many of us, however, believe with the certainty of faith that God is Love is always pleased with union between any two people. 

Because the God of Union is the God called “God is Love,” I will refer to God as Love.

The Trinity shares their essences, Love, flawlessly: three parts living in communion with self-giving and goodness so perfectly that they are one being (Delio, 2001). We, as humans, were created to mimic that type of Love (Balswick, King, and Reimer, 2005).

Sure, we can make sexual orientation all about sexual conduct, especially for the gay or bisexual person. But if people who judge or appraise the sexual minority as though they are only a list of sexual practices, making out of them a morally deprived person, they fail to recognize that the LGBTQ sexual orientations are primarily about demonstrating Love, as well.  

The gay or bisexual’s Love is equally rooted in self-giving and goodness like the Trinity. We are all created in the image of Love. Therefore, Love cannot be sinful in one person and righteous in another.

Categorizing the sexual minority as a list of behaviors is an inaccurate view that discredits their Loving essence.

On the day when #LoveMustWin, may we all take one step closer to seeing one another as vessels of Love, not sexual practices. In doing so, we will “…come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16)

Nothing can separate us from Love (Romans 8:39); no height, no depth, and especially no sexual orientation. In other words, Love can never be extracted from our essence because it is our essence, no matter who you Love.

We all deserve to celebrate our Loving essence, even in marriage. So on this decisive day, may Love be with the Supreme Court.

(These ideas are written about in Isaac’s book that will be released in early 2016.) 

Posted on September 15, 2015 .

50 Shades of Sex: How The Mind-Body Creates the Orgasm

That darn white leather couch. It holds so many stories. Often times, when people find out what I do for a living, they ask if it’s hard to hear all the tragic stories and people complaining all day long. “Never,” I tell them. Especially when it comes to helping victims of trauma.

Childhood sexual trauma leaves massive questions, feelings of guilt, and entrenched painful scripts throbbing in our core.

Unfortunately, childhood sexual trauma isn’t the only aspect of human life that can distort sex. Anger, criticism, and feeling unsafe can also strip sex of its reparative power.

When I listen to clients talk about sex, how uncomfortable it can be, and how much fun it used to be, I always hear the salient undertone of safety, or lack thereof.

Safety is a massive part of sex. You see, sex involves two parts of our central nervous system: 1) the parasympathetic and 2) sympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system. To make it easy, I’ll call the parasympathetic branch the “relaxing phase” and the sympathetic branch the “amp up phase.”

While you engage in sensual play before sex you’ll need the relax phase to calm your body down, so it’s ready for climax. If the body isn’t able to relax, the amp up phase can’t kick on. And you need the amp up phase to take you uphill where excitement, stimulation, and orgasm live.

In order to let the first mechanism, the relaxation phase, do its job you’ll have to feel safe. If feelings of being unsafe are present, the amp up phase will activate prematurely.

You see, the amp up phase and the infamous fight-flight-or-freeze response are the same thing.  

So if you are feeling unsafe with your partner, either because of the slightest criticism, because of a memory that plagues your life, because your mind can’t shut off, or because you don’t feel emotionally secure with your partner, the wonderful spillover effects of the relaxation phase will never get to be yours. The fight-flight-or-freeze response (or “amp up phase”) will hijack the moment to protect you- firing your anger center.

And then you will stumble onto familiar ground. You’ll find the sneaky snake of ambivalence sitting in your heart, mind, and body: “I want to enjoy your body and experience pleasure, but I am not safe with you. Stand down solider.”

In the moment when ambivalence flares and your fight-flight-or-freeze center turns on, you’ll: 1) shutdown, confusing your partner into a haze of perceived rejection, or 2) go through with sex, feeling as though your partner is taking advantage of your body.

If your fight-flight-or-freeze mechanism (sympathetic response) turns on, your body will be uninterested or incapable of becoming excited and/or reaching climax.

If you find yourself in this position, aim for safety, not from your partner, but within your partner (a.k.a. emotional intimacy). And don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Protect your heart. Protect your body. Protect your relationship. Be safe. 

Posted on September 15, 2015 .

I'll Stay, But I'm Leaving You

He cheats and rationalizes, “She don’t have to know.”

Over dinner there’s an attractive someone sitting across the restaurant. She compulsively wants to know him, even though her partner sits right next to her.

She made a minimal commitment: “I’m only in this until…” And until “then” she swallows a lot of compromise. After years of secretly swallowing she becomes bitter.

We talk a lot about “commitment issues,” as though it's the diagnosis of anyone who doesn’t want to make things work. I understand the commitment phobic to be nothing more than those who fear emotional intimacy.

Often times anxiety surrounding emotional intimacy is confusing.

We can have someone so dashingly exquisite asking for our hand and still feel the most intrusive anxiety. Simply put, anxiety is the body’s way of protecting itself from its biggest fears: intimacy (a.k.a. vulnerability) and abandonment (a.k.a. rejection).

In addition, without emotional intimacy ambivalence will block the development of your relationships. Ambivalence says, “I really want to be connected to you, but I can’t work myself through my fear, so just put up with getting half of me.”

Ambivalence will have you creating intensity by working more hours, by scanning for a “better” partner, by reaching for another height of satisfaction, or by becoming emotionally dependent on substances.

As a means of counteracting ambivalence, we have to get up and over the fears of rejection, the fear of being abandoned, the fear of loosing our identity and dreams, or even the fear that we won’t make a good partner.

In other words, we have to trust that emotional intimacy as the catalyst that onsets the production of the very things we want: safety and fulfillment.

Emotional intimacy sounds like this:

I am afraid that you will leave me. I’m not good enough for you.
Talking about emotions scares me; can you help me work on this?
During sex I worry that you don’t like my body, so I try to hide.
Terror sometimes overwhelms me when it feels like you are emotionally 700 feet away.
I miss you. I just have to see you tonight and I’m coming over with a bottle of wine.
What’s the antidote to sustained ambivalence?

Figure out what makes you so afraid. Share this with your partner. If they are trustworthy, mature, and willing to do the work, you’re going to have to take responsibility for your fear.

Again, get up and over your fear  and land in the place where you practice trusting safety.  

If your partner isn’t willing to do the work, well then the writing is on the wall. You might want to take this as a sign that your partner can’t offer sustainable emotional safety.

Ambivalence via fear of emotional intimacy can be a life-long agent that keeps you arrested. Either push through your fear or settle for half-fulfilling relationships, resentful partners, and a whole lot of emptiness.

No one has commitment issues, we’re all just afraid of being truly safe.

Posted on September 15, 2015 .

I Love My Job...I Hate My Job

He was a fresh out of he fellowship with a doctorate. He sat on my white leather sofa as he told me of his new dream job. He spent 10 years of graduate training to get this job, but now he hated it. “It just isn’t what I thought it would be,” he would tell me. 

After investigating what this job felt like, it was clear that my client’s dream job provoked his insecurities. All day long he felt like one huge failure.

When coworkers would critique his novice attempts, it felt like he was letting everyone down. When he would return home for solace and respite he was consumed with regret, thinking of situations he could’ve handled better.

My client spent years speculating that this dream job would feel like the pinnacle of satisfaction. And when his job subtly provoked his fear and insecurity instead, he began thinking this just wasn’t the right fit.

He talked about searching for a deeper sense of purpose, as though this job just wasn’t enough. “I need to reach another height,” he would tell me.

When we feel ambivalence about our job we’ll love it and hate it simultaneously. We’ll think there is something better that will make us feel “truly satisfied.”

Instead of searching for the bigger and better, you might want to ensure you’re not running to another job that will only poke at the same insecurities or the same deprived areas of self-knowing.

My first question would be, “What are your triggers?” Are you responding to aspects of your job with hopelessness, feelings of inferiority, worthlessness, or the pangs of regret?

If so, identify what you confront that helps these emotions turn on. Once you know what your experiencing internally that sours your job, you’ll have a lot more information about how to move forward.

For some feeling purposeful might mean tackling your insecurities or feelings of being invisible. For others, a new job might just be the trick.

Don’t settle for a job that makes you feel safe in your reality, but empty in power. If you need to flap your wings and expand your self-concept, don’t let fear keep you “safe.” Respect yourself and trust your power. You can create more safety than any job could ever provide.

After working through my client’s self-doubt and self-deprecating way of relating to himself, he found his passion once again. It was his dream job after all.

We don’t need to keep climbing the latter to actualize our potential- we just need to understand what might get in the way. Insecurity, fear, regret, and hopelessness are good road signs that some shift (either internal or external) needs to happen.

Remember you are not a product to sell; you’re a gift with an offering to leave behind. 

Posted on September 15, 2015 .