Welcome to The QuestConflab. What is a Conflab? It’s pretty simple really, Conflab is another term for an ‘informal discussion’.
Every fortnight, Ade and Darren, founders of The Quest, discuss and explore a different theme. The theme of this Conflab is – “I’m fine, I don’t need any help”
Darren: Something I have been thinking about a lot is that as very young children we learned to be self sufficient in response to finding ourselves ‘different’ from others and not getting acknowledgement and support. This led me to thinking that this often gets in the way of us asking for help and certainly showing our vulnerability in front of others. It may also be the reason that many gay men find the prospect of the work we do as very daunting
Ade: When you say them ‘finding the prospect of doing the work daunting’, do you mean – doing the work by being with other gay men or simply them doing the inner work and facing their demons? I for one, think both apply. There are a number of gay men that I have spoken to who tell me things like – I don’t trust other gay men and I don’t like being with other gay men. And in terms of doing the work, I guess that ties in with what we discussed when we had our conflab on ‘talking a new language‘.
Darren: Yes it is both. For me I find it very difficult asking for help or even recognizing I need it when is so obviously do. I have got so used to taking care of myself that it doesn’t occur to me that I may need anyone else. Sometimes it just doesn’t register! So I think the same is true for others. When guys hear about our workshops I’m sure many think ‘well I don’t need that kind of thing, I’m fine on my own’
Ade: I’m not sure that’s just a ‘gay’ thing. I think it is a male thing. I’m sure many of my straight male friends and in fact many of my straight female friends tell me that ‘their men’ are like that. I think as gay men, not only are we having to navigate what it means to be gay, we also have to navigate being male. So, for some that sense of asking can feel even more daunting. That sense of ‘I’m different’ or ‘I am not enough’ or ‘I am damaged’ etc can feel compounded if we were to then ask for help.
Darren: And the experience is that I struggle. In fact ‘struggle’ is such an ingrained experience of life for me that I sometimes think experiences are not as important or valid if there is no struggle. That’s really messed up! So when things are going well or I get help that makes moving through things easier I have to consciously start to tell myself ‘this is good’ ‘you do deserve things to be easier’ ‘it’s ok’ but it still feels quite alien!
Ade: Oh dear! I feel that where I am in my life I now feel that if there is ‘struggle’, then I am not on the right path, as I now believe that Life needs to feel effortless – this does not mean that there will be no challenges or that everything will go as I plan, it simply means that if there is ‘struggle’ or a ‘blockage’ then I need to pause, inquire and recalibrate… and then do something different. I can certainly relate to the issue of being reluctant to ask for help. For me, sometimes asking for help triggers an old scar of feeling ‘not worth and not good enough’ and therefore an old belief for me would be – if I ask, I am simply confirming that I am not worthy… and asking for me, would trigger shame… does not happen as often as it used to… I am gradually learning that the more I ask, the more I heal….
Darren: That’s why I love working for you- you don’t bring ‘struggle’ to the table! I’m managing it and I’m aware that I can go there if I’m not careful. There’s something about trust for me here. I say to myself that I can trust that things will emerge without struggle and I have plenty of evidence that can happen. With the men we work with I love the fact that they turn up and are prepared to be vulnerable- that is so inspiring and encouraging for me. For me that represents a break from the straight jacket of self-sufficiency. We are all inter dependent and I think that we are encouraged to think that is a bad thing whereas I see it as a perfectly natural part of being human.
Ade: Yes, it’s great that we have that safe space where gay men can come together and do this exploration of their inner and deeper questions. When I look back at my adolescence and young adulthood, it felt like it was full of struggle and no ease… I guess somewhere along the line, I came to know that that did not work for me and at the same time simply flee when struggle comes up. I think its a fine balance, navigating struggle and ease – by that I mean not fleeing or clinging to either, but simply allowing both to come and go, just like clouds.
Darren: I love the idea of clouds! So gentle and poetic! What I love about the space we create for gay men is that they find a way of being there for each other- helping, supporting, encouraging without the predominant agenda of sex that often accompanies a lot of gay men’s interactions. In essence we are learning how to be human beings with each other rather than just sexual beings
Ade: Indeed. When we set up The Quest, we talked about transforming the relationships gay men have with themselves, others and the world they inhabit, and that really speaks to what you say. Creating a space where gay men come home to themselves and that allows them to be with other gay men. In that setting they can be vulnerable and strong, without judgment or shame. They can come to trust themselves and each other again.
Darren: Exactly. It always touches and moves me. I love being in those spaces, in those conversations. I know that when gay men experience that they don’t really want to go back to the other way of being- so we move forward and we build and we create a very different community as a consequence. It’s so exciting!!!
Ade: It is exciting and its an ongoing and unfolding process…. I find that as I become more comfortable at being and expressing Me, I am able to be more Myself with others…
Darren: Absolutely. Well, I guess that wraps it up for me- any other thoughts?
Ade: Guess, we’ll leave other thoughts for our next Conflab…….. Look forward to hearing what others think….