Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Redefinition of Me

Over the past three or four years, I've journeyed through my insecurities - facing them head on and allowing myself to look in the mirror and being okay with the man I see. I remember times when it was so hard to do that.

I found so many reasons why I couldn't love and accept myself. But I wanted to. I wanted to be able to look in the mirror and smile at myself. I wanted to be able to see my own reflection - to see what I looked like being happy. And so I began to walk forward - taking steps of growth, taking moments of introspection, taking the time to confront the guy I avoided - me.

In order to figure out who I am, I had to figure out who I was . . . .

Years ago, I wasn't happy with the person I had become. I felt ugly - i couldn't change my face. I felt physically unattractive and overweight - i couldn't change my size. I hated the fact that I was gay - i couldn't change my sexuality, as much as i wanted to at the time. There were even times when I was bitter towards my faith - i couldn't change the fact that i really did love and believe in Jesus but people told me that it was in conflict with my sexuality and so I couldn't fully be or live both. I wasn't happy that I was Filipino - i couldn't change my ethnicity. I wasn't even happy with my middle name - it was given to me, my dad's middle name (and our relationship was strained for so many years). I hated being (and feeling) alone - I wouldn't even date me! There were things about myself that I didn't like. There were things that I had done in my past that I sorely (and still) regret. I've had my share of mistakes.

Rest assured, I will not be running for political office!

How do I get to the point of realizing that I'm not so bad a person? Thinking of all the good that I've done, doesn't necessarily cancel out the bad or the insecurities. I guess, for me, it started with a choice - to take a step of faith - embrace the risk that comes in loving me like God was loving me.

So the journey began and I discovered that not only was there life "out" there, but there was also life "in" there - in me. I missed appreciating my teenage years. I missed enjoying my 20's. I am now 30 years old and I don't want to go through another decade of being handcuffed by fear - the fear of social opinion, the fear of religious persecution, the fear of self-condemnation.

It's exciting to see changes in what I like as I've grown more comfortable with the person I am. On more and more occasions, i've found myself physically attracted to an asian person whereas before I never thought i'd ever see a cute asian. I attribute this to my process of learning to be okay with the fact that I'm asian - (and as some say, a cute filipino - hehe).

As I've chosen to live a physically fit and healthy lifestyle, I've also grown to be okay with my size. I am blessed and fortunate enough to not have a medical condition that effects my ability to lose weight. So I exercise regularly and I eat reasonably (most of the time) without torturing myself with guilt or a starvation diet. I can actually enjoy eating!

I'm not only okay with being gay - I like the fact that i'm gay. um, sort of. But yeah, i hated that about myself so much in the past. Now, i not only accept it, i live it. What does that mean? I don't fully know. But "I" get to decide what that means. I can choose to redefine what that means for my life. Perhaps the mainstream church, the media, and the gay community itself have their own stereotypes or perspectives of what a "gay lifestyle" looks like. But i'm okay with me being a gay individual within the gay community - both different and similar.

I'm okay with being a Christian. I don't feel the need to apologize for that or to explain the context of why I feel like I can be both gay and Christian. I'm not a Christian because I'm gay. I'm a Christian because I believe and have accepted Jesus as my Christ, my Messiah, my Savior, my Lord. Because this is my reality, i don't have to live under the Christian culture of isolating myself in a para-world where everything "in" is clean and everything "out" is dirty. I chose to no longer live a life of following the religious routines of a spectator faith. I have chosen to live out my faith as a lifestyle "out" there - no longer constrained by traditional view, but explored as I walk this out with my God. I do not believe that I'm following my own spirituality but rather Jesus' spirituality. I'm okay with that.

I'm okay with my middle name. Dean. I never used to like it because it was my dad's middle name. Now, I like it because it is my dad's middle name. Our relationship with each other has improved over the years. We can both tell each other that we love each other. We both accept each other. I've chosen to forgive him of the things that he couldn't help or control. He was the best dad that he knew how to be. I chose to give him some slack. I decided that our current relationship didn't need to be defined by my past hurts. And in this process of growth, I discovered that I'm proud to share his name - middle and last name. I am my father's son.

I'm not okay with being single, but I would date me. (ha, that sounds so conceited but please keep in mind the context of what i've been saying here). I'm not content with flying solo so i'm willing to make the effort in getting to know people more intimately. What rules apply in regards to sex? I know what i used to think. But that came from a place of 2 decades of theory and not much actual sexual experience. My thoughts and opinion evolve as I try to sort it out. The truth is that I don't know what i think about sex. I've got a good head on my shoulders so i think i can figure it out. I don't necessarily think sex needs to be part of the dating equation. I do know that I value substance in a relationship and that's what i'm looking for so i'm apt to not allow my hormones to rule this process. But i'm okay with wanting to get to know people as more than friends - without the lust and without the obsession. Isn't that fair?

As for my past mistakes, I can't change them. I can only grow from them. I'd even hesitate from wishing they didn't happen. So much of my life would be different had I not made those mistakes. Would I be willing to give up the life that I have now in order to have the life I could have had if I didn't make those mistakes? I'm not sure. But I can't live like that. I can't live in the past. Past regrets have anchored me. I'm choosing to set sail.

So let's go! "Life moves on" is no longer a cliche - it's my reality. My journey continues and I live fresh in discovering what's in store because I know that whatever comes will continue to shape and redefine me. I'm okay with that.


Angel said...

:) You've come a long way!

Peterson Toscano said...

It is wonderful that as we grow to embrace ourselves with confidence, society witnesses our freedom from shame and in turn sees us in a clearer light. As we grow comfortable with ourselves, all those who know us grow more embracing of us as a community.

Good work you are doing inside and out.

Christine said...

Yeah! What Peterson said! ;)

Suzanne said...

Wow! I'm really moved by your self-acceptance, and the process it took to get there. "Amen Brother!"

Steve said...

Hi Eric,

Dude, you're in great shape! Both inside and outside. I love reading about your progress because it contains so many lessons for me, too.

But hey, is your profile there on the left margin of the page out of date? Like it says, "I'm gay ... sort of." It's OK, I know how hard it is to keep a Website up to date....


Eric said...

Thanks for all your support and encouragement everyone! =)

"Dude, you're in great shape! Both inside and outside."

Thanks Steve, you're sweet! As for my side profile, the actual page there (when a person clicks "more") on the "About Me" post indicates an update to my journey (at the bottom of that post) which talks about how I feel like I've reconciled my faith and sexuality.

I decided not to change the left side because there are still so many people coming to Two World Collision who haven't reconciled things and are on this essential journey. We all have our own journey to walk but i'm hoping that seeing how I started mine will help others in theirs.

Thanks again, everyone! You are all so awesome!

Dario said...

I love reading about you and all of the experiences you've been through! You are so smart and a true advocate! I believe in you and the beautifulness you are!I'm glad you want to date yourself, because I'm sure other guys would want to as well! It is said, "You need to love yourself before others love you!"
Thanks for sharing!

God Bless!
Kisses and Best Wishes!

Jayson said...

I imagine how it must have felt like when you decided to forget about the past and love --your dad, yourself. It’s always liberating when we align our thoughts, actions with the Lord’s, isn’t it? It shows that we love Him more when we love others and ourselves. I truly appreciate your writings, Eric. You’re very passionate and genuine.