Way To Go Jason Collins!

It’s takes a lot to come out of the closet and admit openly one’s sexuality for anyone. But for an active NBA center to do just that must take an extra amount of huge courage and faith. Washington Wizards basketball star Jason Collins did just this the other day by admitting to the press that he was gay and in the process, became the first openly gay active athlete to ever do so.

I find that pretty amazing. I’m sure there are plenty of other professional athletes who are gay but are afraid to have others find out so they remain in the closet living double lives. I know all about that.

For all of my college years and about 6 months of post-collegiate years I did my best to conceal my attractions to men. I joined a fraternity because I thought that was the masculine thing to do. I was always dating at least one woman even if it was just for show. I rarely went past first base with any of them. I drank and got drunk quite often because it dulled down my sexual attractions. I stayed away from people who were already out of the closet and openly gay for fear of what others might think if I was around them. And at times, I even made fun of those people. It was a terrible way to be living but it kept me away for a period of time from what Jason Collins is now having to deal with like I am.

For as much as there is a lot more pro-gay support today, there still is quite a lot of backlash. Look at Mike Wallace from the Miami Dolphins who said he was repulsed by the idea a man was with another man when there were so many beautiful women around. And then there was ESPN announcer Chris Broussard who used Christianity and the Bible to bash Jason and declare what just about every evangelical church is doing today towards gays and lesbians….stating it’s immoral and a sin in God’s eyes.

For some like myself, I hid in the shadows for years. I didn’t want to have to deal with the negativity that might have come from others. I came out back in the summer of 1995 when things weren’t accepted as much as they are now. I lost a best friend because of his Christian views. I lost several other friends because of their religious upbringings. I had at times people calling me a “fag” or a “homo”. Even worse, I endured the fear constantly of being beat up. It’s a little different today for openly gay individuals but even still, too many religious people, especially in the United States, are still holding out that God says being gay is wrong. I’ve already come to the acceptance in my life that God brought me here as a gay man and that it’s my purpose to still show love to all these negative and racially biased people.

So for all the Mike Wallace’s and Chris Broussard’s, I send peace, forgiveness, and love and pray that God will enlighten you and help you accept God creates all people in different ways including being gay and that it’s not a sin . And for all the Jason Collin’s who are still hiding in the shadows, take a step in his direction and realize the more that all of us step out of fear, the more acceptance will come into this world for all of us.

God loves everyone and being gay isn’t a sin. The only thing to fear with coming out is fear itself and God can help anyone facing that to overcome it.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

What Happens When You Compare Your Current Relationship To One From The Past?

New relationships can be quite troubling especially when one or both of the people in it keep comparing each other to past flames. Recently I had to have a discussion with my partner about this very issue as he was doing just that by comparing me to a person he had dated just before meeting me.

I’ve had three long term relationships in my life that have lasted at least two years or more and quite a few others of shorter durations. Each of them had their positive qualities throughout but all of them also had many negative ones as well. Unfortunately, until I figured out that I was carrying the downside of those relationships into the ones that were following it, they all continued to crumble around me, one after another.

It’s really not fair for either person in a couple to bring past relationship baggage onto their current one. It undermines any growth that can happen as they try to become closer to each other. It creates anger and resentments between them. And it fuels arguments that destroy the foundation their relationship was built upon in the first place.

I’m guilty of this and have been doing a massive amount of work in my current relationship to prevent this from happening again. I’ve had a lot of tumultuous relationships in my past. I’ve dated active alcoholics and drug addicts, mentally and emotionally abusive people, and many who had serious issues with spending money wastefully. What I never realized were how much of each of those people were only mirrors for myself to the negative behaviors I still held within. Instead of working on my own issues, I cited them out in the people I dated manifesting arguments in the process and comparing them to the past people I dated who had the same traits. Eventually because of this, my own behaviors sabotaged yet another relationship leaving me single all over again.

Now when I see a behavior that really bothers me in my partner, I look at myself and into my past and see if there is something I am hiding from, holding onto, or not wiling or wanting to let go of. In every case, there always is.

Just because a past partner had no money management abilities doesn’t mean that if my current partner overdrafts his bank account once or twice that it’s going to be that same type of relationship. Just because a past partner was angry all the time and abusive doesn’t mean that if my current partner comes home from work one day and lashes out that it’s going to be just like before. And so on and so forth. In any of these cases when trouble arises now, I look at myself and ask where my part was in all of it. I ask questions such as whether I pushed my partner to spend money they didn’t have or whether I did any behaviors that were selfish and self-centered that provoked the anger? What I learned in doing this was gaining the knowledge that the demise of all of my former relationships were as much my own fault as it was with the people I had dated. I had contributed to the negativity in every case with my own behaviors. The biggest realization though that has come to me in the past year of my life on why I had been in so many previous relationships is that God had been left out of them.

I do not believe any relationship can survive without having God at the center of it. After the initial happy romance phase is over and the real work begins to keep it going, trying to hold it together with control and self-will always failed for me. Personalities took over. The inevitable would then happen with me comparing each of them to someone in the past I dated that I felt they were now becoming. What was really happening was the real me was emerging in the relationship. The one that was broken before I got into the relationship that had never healed. The one that still had past demons within me being carried forward over and over and over again. The one that jumped from person to person experiencing only the short periods of time where the oogly-googly occurred and then leaving when that period was over.

The moral of all of this is that my success in any new relationship needed me to face myself and cut all the cords of attachment I still held onto from my negative past. My success with a partner was also dependent on me remembering the positive things I gained and learned in all of those past relationships. I had to forgive each of them and myself for all of the negative things that had happened throughout it. And most importantly, my success with any partner needed me to ask God each and every day to remain at the center of it, guiding it away from control and self-will, and into only where God sees it heading.

I now have over a year with my current partner. So far it’s the best one I’ve ever had. I thank God for that and I’m glad to realize now how much I can’t hold onto or compare any of my past relationships to my current one if I want it to last. I also realize now that anytime I find myself getting angry over anything with him and find myself comparing him in my head to someone from my past, that its probably an area of my life that still needs healing and I go to God in prayer to resolve it. It always comes back to something within me that was still broken and thankfully, through my prayer, God always leads me to healing it.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Spiritual Experiences Are All Around Us

In 12 Step Recovery the words “spiritual experience” come up often. Over time since the origins of any of the recovery programs, it was found that to be removed from the throngs of any addiction that one would have to have a transformative spiritual experience to relieve a person of their obsession.

It sounds quite lofty doesn’t it?

It’s really not.

Spiritual experiences are quite simple actually. For some reason though, most people assume when they hear those words that an example of them is something of biblical proportions. Having a spiritual experience doesn’t necessarily mean the seas are going to part or the angels are going to sing for an individual. In my case, the first spiritual experience I can remember in my life was on June 10th, 1995 when I had finally grown tired of running from my own sexuality identity and immersing myself in alcohol and drugs. On that day, I cried out in a very simple prayer in my bathroom no less, and said, “God, Please help me”. And God did. In those moments after that prayer, the desire to drink, drug, and even smoke cigarettes left me for good. The only feelings I can remember all these years later from that moment were ones of being calm and peaceful after I had said the prayer. It’s been almost 18 years since that day and with all that time passing, my perception of what a spiritual experience is, has changed dramatically.

Do I have some great definition now for what one is? Not really. But I hopefully can tell in a better way through many examples of ones I’ve had so far in this life since that first one. Here are just some of them in no particular order of importance.

1. Seeing a double rainbow as a storm passes and the sun re-emerges.

2. Watching the sun rise or set over the ocean.

3. Having someone tell me that the words I spoke changed their life for the better forever.

4. Holding someone’s hand or placing an arm around them in support as they cry tears of sorrow.

5. Seeing a newborn baby’s first smile.

6. Hearing someone say they love me.

7. Getting a strong hug from someone I really care about.

8. Having my hand shaken at a recovery meeting and told warmly that they’re glad I’m there.

9. Making an honest and humble amends to someone and being fully forgiven by them.

10. Holding hands with my partner during an intimate moment.

11. Seeing any baby animal being nuzzled by its’ mother.

12. Swimming in the Caribbean and being surrounded by a coral reef and brightly colored tropical fish.

13. Crying during my prayers to God.

14. Being alone on top of a mountain peak with miles and miles of visibility.

15. Warming my hands over a crackling fire under the stars.

16. Receiving a card from anyone that writes a personal message of warmth and kindness.

17. Seeing flowers and trees beginning to bloom after a long, harsh, winter.

18. Having a total random stranger do something nice for me and vice versa.

19. Drinking an ice cold glass of water on a sizzling hot day.

20. Taking a hot bubble bath on a frigid cold day.

21. Going to the drive-in on a warm summer night and watching a movie on a big screen outside with my partner.

22. Hearing a song on the radio that moves me to tears.

23. Seeing any movie that opens me up to cry.

24. Being with my sister and her kids after long periods of absence.

25. Asking God to guide me completely for the day no matter where it may take me.

Spiritual experiences are happening all the time. They are happening right now as you are reading this. They are happening with each breath you’re taking. They are happening in every given moment, of every single day for all of us.

For me, the simplest way I can put it is that when my heart moves with any feeling of love and warmth, I know now I’m having a spiritual experience. Along the way, God has helped me to see something really important about all of this too.

When enough of these spiritual experiences have happened in my life, I have received a spiritual awakening. And when enough of these spiritual awakenings have happened in my life, I have become more aware that every moment can be a spiritual experience and every day can be a spiritual awakening.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson