It’s only with hindsight that you see how you attract recurring trauma over and over again until you can resolve it once and for all.
I didn’t allow myself my first love until I was 21 years old. I am a proud gay man but it wasn’t always that way...
As a small child I loved animals and nature. I would spend hours laying on the grass watching small insects, feeding chickens and feeling the joy of the natural world. I always knew that I wanted to work with animals, use this deep connection I had to help them in some way. When anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up it was either a veterinarian or a priest. Little did I know that the journey to create a life around spirituality and nature was not going to be so simple.
At 7 years old my focus was thrown out of peace in a family dramatically consumed with sadness and grief. I became overwhelmed with protecting my parents from any further trouble, trouble that they experienced as a result of my older siblings’ choices.
I am the youngest of 5, with twin brothers 11 years older than me. One of the twins met a girl and when they were 18, they got engaged. Something went down between the two families and it exploded like a Shakespearean tragedy. Family meetings were called to try to clean it up – I remember the sense of unease and intense adult eyes, communicating something of weight.
Within all this drama, my brother was asked by his fiance to choose between our family and hers. One evening, my brother came home and announced he had chosen her. That night he moved out and we were cut off.
I watched my parents crumble. Family unity is everything for a Maltese family. Dad lost his best friend – the child so close to him, I lost one of my closest siblings – we all lost. My brother did what he needed to do to keep his relationship together and some time later we heard through the grapevine that they had got married and had children. This was a time before Facebook, so we relied on minimum scraps of information we would hear rarely.
The sudden disappearance of my brother affected my family’s health and dramatically impacted all our lives. Both my parents struggled and as a child, this weighty sadness washed our home and so many hours of my life were put on hold in a waiting zone. For months after school I would go sit in my parent’s bedroom looking out the window, hoping for my brother to come back.
Then one weekend, his twin brother threw another spanner in the works by coming out in grand style. He hit the back pages of the Sunday paper at a gay and lesbian festival wearing a gold g-string and covered in glitter. Shortly after he too excommunicated himself from us for some years. My very religious parents were thrown again as they faced a huge amount of criticism from family, society and church in a time when homosexuality was the devil’s work.
My parents felt that they couldn’t go out and do their normal grocery shopping without facing judgment from friends and family – they thought the world saw them as ‘bad’ Catholics. Relatives and friends would come to the door crying or grieving the loss of both boys and I became the victim of years of school bullying as a result. Our house was egged, I was thrown in dumpsters, locked in classrooms, punched and spat on. Such ugly years. There was an insinuation that Mum and Dad were bad parents, not tough enough to have control and management over their children.
It’s amazing how far the world has evolved in just 16 years. People are not just straight or gay, but a wider understanding of human sexuality is now normal. As I became a teenager I knew that I had feelings of being attracted to men but at the same time I knew that I couldn’t add more pain to my parent’s lot. I had no one to talk to. I also believed the heavy Catholic story of homosexuality being evil and so suppressed and denied my natural sexuality.
At the age of 20 I started to talk with friends about how conflicted I was feeling. To admit out loud that I was gay took an enormous weight off my shoulders. I finally felt free to walk – no longer a slave to expectation or religiosity. Though it took some time my family warmed to me being gay. It wasn't too long after that, that my beautiful gay brother came back into the family, after his partner helped heal the rift. I think my coming out made it easier for my parents to accept us all as we were.
I am super proud of my brother, he is profoundly himself and is a real role model for the LGBT community, the face of gay sexual health for the past 10 years now. He's an awesome human being.
I have a deep and loving connection to a gentle spirituality now, but I had to release from the guilt energy that the traditional Church had over those of us who are not your standard heterosexual human. I had to accept that I was loveable and valued just as I was.
I completed a Bachelor of Science, but always knew I wanted to become a vet. I loved watching David Attenborough as a child. I felt he was one of the only people I could actually understand. His mannerisms and gentle presence around creatures and animals held a sublime gift - he taught us humans to feel the purpose of nature, how through connection and presence you could respect animal communication rather than expecting animals to simply entertain.
Yoga came into my life right before I found my first relationship. It helped me heal from losing a close uncle of mine. I was constantly wondering how my uncle could display such loving happiness even as he lay there sick and aware he was dying. I sat with him, young strong and healthy but deeply miserable, disconnected to life.
At one yoga class, the tears came. There was something in the gentle space of the room where I let go of all the pain I was carrying. Instead of holding a rock of discomfort and fear of my true nature deep within me I breathed life into it and allowed it to process through my body. To me yoga is so much more than a set of instructions to realign the spine – it is deep release and connection on so many levels. Later I would find the dancing fluidity and athletic grace of pole fitness and that also brought much healing to my mind, body and heart.
I met Dave*(not his real name) when I was 21, he was a philosopher, and we had the most incredible conversations. He taught me to communicate in more of an abstract way – a way so different from the black and white modality I had lived and walked. He taught me about being myself, embracing the moment and making the most of life. I will always be grateful to him for that.
Our love lasted about a year when all of a sudden he stopped communicating with me– went ghost.
I found myself in extraordinary pain, unsettled, rattled and confused. After about 6 months of this nagging anguish, I awoke one morning knowing I had to heal this – make the pain stop. I sent him a lengthy email – asking for a conversation, something, anything to heal and complete the connection we had shared. It took him two and a half years to reply with a one-line message. The pain of silence was a pain I knew well.
I completed an Honours degree in animal science, all the while hoping to get a place in vet school. I was finally offered a place far from home. I knew this was something I needed to do in my life in that moment – stop putting my life on hold waiting for my ex partner to explain why he had disappeared. I cut from Melbourne and become brand new.
At vet school I learned a great deal about acceptance of myself despite the odds. The campus was oriented towards your classic Aussie male rugby and beer culture. At a mid degree awards evening I was voted the student ‘most likely to become a stripper’. I pushed through heavy discrimination for being gay and kept on. I grew my hair and threw a charity event where I shaved my head in the middle of campus to donate my hair and raise money for children with alopecia. Something strong and powerful landed in me with that head shave.
I had to take a break from school to redo one of my subjects and came back to Melbourne. I reached out to my long lost brother and something deeply healed as I was finally able to express my emotions that I couldn’t unlock for more than 18 years. It felt good to share how this experience had hurt me and impacted my ability to trust others for so long. This began a reconciliation with the whole family
By releasing that weight, I could see that I had created connections and relationships in my life that would end in disappearance to somehow resolve this early loss, to choose something other than just being stuck in that never ending waiting grief I had felt when I was a child.
Having that old pain story complete allowed me to explore more joy in my life and connect deeper on a spiritual level. And it was only then, at 27, I was able to attract my beautiful partner into my life, Benjamin. A fellow healer and very supportive, genuine, wise and loving soul, it amazed me that I had to heal so much within in order to make room for him to appear. The universe brought us together when we least expected it, just a couple of days before Valentine's Day. We help eachother evolve and grow into the best versions of ourselves.
I think it is more common than we realize as humans for us to recreate recurring chaos or trauma. Something within asks for the same painful experience over and over again in order to understand how we can handle it in a more powerful way.
That is why so many people attract the same kind of partner just in a different body, the same conflicts to find another way of walking through. Once you see the same drama playing out, you can use your insight to be really good at healing it and helping others. I have learned through my experience of cruel silence in my life to now use my words with those I love gently and lovingly to find a solution in the toughest of times.
One of the most powerful statements that I have found to help heal an impasse between people is to say the words “I am on your side- let’s find a way together.” When someone feels there is no way out other than war with the person they are arguing with, no one wins. All of us desire to be heard and understood just as we are.
I have accepted myself as a deeply intuitive and creative human. I like and accept my abstract nature. What I have learned is that no matter what anyone says, however others are threatened by your energy, whether it is family, society or anyone else, you have to follow your heart and be authentically you. There is great power in grace. Breathe into any discomfort, have hope and act from a place of unconditional and unlimited love and respect. When you do all of this you evolve into who you are meant to be, fulfilling your life purpose.