I am a gay man. Please forgive the forthcoming bullshit cliche, but I am proud to be a gay man. Now, I could go on and on and into the typical rhetoric about how being gay isn’t who I am, it’s not my identity, it’s just a part of me, like my hair, my eyes, my skin – but everyone writes that – we’ve heard it a million times. Let’s get real.
A few years ago on Christmas, my born-again Christian parents tried to stage what I now realize was a religious intervention, by wrapping up a Bible in festive Christmas wrapping paper, then surrounding me and physically preventing me from leaving and fleeing the scene of the crime. I was terrified. Mortified. I couldn’t believe that this was …. Whoa. STOP.
STOP. IT. NOW!
This cannot be the opening paragraphs of an article about self-love and the way to get there! I wrote it this way because I want to give you the possibility that you can stop the tape of the crazy thinking mind. We can stop re-living the painful stories, the past experiences, the bitterness, the grief, the sorrow and really investigate what it is to love ourselves, instead of feeling that we’re required to navigate through all that has happened to us and all that we feel wronged for. This moment is new. Let’s begin there!
Breathe… So refreshing!
There is no writer, no blog entry, no self-help book that is going to give you the key to loving yourself. It’s not a magic “a-ha moment” where it’s suddenly fixed and we see everything differently. For some it may feel that way – but the journey back to oneself does not end. There may be the inspiring moment where we realize something big that shifts our perspective – and we think that must have been the key – it happened – I learned something great today, had a breakthrough. Where I go wrong is that I think my work is done, and not before too long I’m back at square one — feeling disheartened, empty and as if I’ve taken ten steps back from where I thought I broke through.
I must keep going. I must keep building. It is a practice, a habit. It may feel as though I’ve stumbled upon the perfect kingdom of perspective, but in actuality, every “kingdom” that I’ve attained is merely a piece of a puzzle that has no edges and no frame. It goes on for eternity and there are millions of pieces of millions of different puzzles, all floating in the same Universe; some will fit and work for you — some simply do not. Discard and continue seeking the next piece. Whatever your method may be, it must be daily. Meditation, writing daily letters to God, daily walks, breath work, yoga, working with a guru, a spiritual healer, mantras. Does it connect you? Does it elevate you, or at least begin to elevate you away from your negative thoughts and to a place of serenity and quiet mind — the fertile ground where you can actually hear the voice of your Source working, speaking through you and giving you the precious gifts of a positive new approach, inspiration or idea? If you’re on this path, you probably have many options and ideas of where to begin — but you MUST stop merely thinking, and actually begin DOING.
And can I stop “sharing” what works for me as if it’s going to work the same for everyone else? I often forget that every single one of us thinks in an entirely different way, and often times I’ve found myself sharing what I’m doing in order to seek approval from another human being who is on a completely different path. We end up commiserating, not suggesting. Not helping. I merely get to feel “better than” because I might have landed on something that has so profoundly shifted my personal view (read: PERSONAL) that somehow it feels that I can give it away and someone else will “get it” too. As well intentioned as these endeavors have felt, I’ve now learned that my ego will stop at nothing in order to get the “one up” on someone so that I feel better about myself.
To wrap this all up: it is your path. It is your life. The only way to find the way to yourself and the infinite source of love you have for yourself is to begin your search. If you take it minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, and you pay attention to what lifts your energy level and excites a new level of positive experience, then you are on the right path. It’s easy to forget to keep going, especially when, possibly for the first time, we’ve reached a new plateau overlooking a sea of troubles we’ve been drowning in.
I can promise you, however, that if you keep walking and keep looking forward, the path is infinite and it only gets better.
Eric Ruiz is a performing artist who tries to find humor in his most frustrated and difficult moments. He often rants on Twitter (@TheEricMRuiz) without thinking, then erases his tweets for fear that Big Brother will find him and hold him accountable. You might catch something that will make you laugh before he deletes it, but have no fear – something else will surely inspire another inappropriate outburst that might actually stick.