The other night I was invited to speak at the Gay and Married Men’s Association. I was feeling intrepid about speaking as I consider myself more as a writer, plus I’m a little shy in groups.
In preparing for the night, I thought about my own experience at GAMMA in Melbourne and how helpful it had been when I was first coming out. It’s a safe group to air concerns, feelings, grievances and successes.
During the course of the evening we came to talking about good and bad, right and wrong. I shared with the group that I sought professional counselling when I came out.
I’ve always admitted proudly that I have had help. I’ve even used success stories of mine to suggest to others that it may help them.
So we were talking about ‘bad and wrong’ things and I used a term Dr Jim had used with me. He’d say softly, “John, there is no right and wrong, only choice and consequence”.
Dr Jim’s statement has landed me in some hot water as well as kept me in abeyance from trouble. I’ve occasionally taken his words literally and lived moments of abandon, however, the key message is not choosing to judge a result of your actions as right or wrong — the connotations alone are damaging enough.
The concept that every choice you make has a real consequence is something that you can very much live with on a daily basis.
Seeking approval, not allowing yourself to make mistakes and being too hard on yourself are some of the other gems Dr Jim gave away all those years ago.
I’ll happily admit that I didn’t pass the shrink test immediately. It took nearly a year to get strong enough to think without support, but it’s taken several years, and I know I’m still not done yet, to continue to learn and grow.
There is support out there, it’s actually in abundance. Use it, there is so much in so little words. Reaching out to your local GP can be a start, talking to a friend, attending a group meeting or even writing to columnists helps.
You have a choice in asking for help. The consequence is you’ll be met with open arms and the warm support you’ve probably yearned for, for a very long time.