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My story: Mark

My Story‘ is an ongoing series featuring previous participants of The Quest Workshop.

Mark Ward attended The Quest Workshop in December 2012…..

What brought you to The Quest Workshop?

I ‘came out’ to everyone at the age of 48 in the summer of 2011. I had spent years of living a heterosexual life peppered with some vague mumblings to a few close friends about being bisexual. In my adult life I had never had sex with a man, but had experienced two physical relationships with women in my late 20s and early 30s interspersed with long periods of celibacy. So I was ‘out’ but pretty confused and unsure ‘how’ to live my new self.

In my many searches on the Internet looking for answer to my confusion, I came upon a reference to the book “Love me as I am” and I eagerly ordered a copy. The book both resonated with me and left me with even more questions. At the end of the book was a link to The Quest website. I visited it and then without much thought or procrastination (unusual for me) I found myself booking onto a workshop. I didn’t know what it would involve or whether it would be right for me, but I knew I had to take the leap (any leap) and ‘do’ something.

What was your experience of The Quest Workshop?

MarkThe workshop was way out of my comfort zone in its intensity and emotional honesty. At the end of each day and during the follow-up week, I felt that my whole world was being turned on its head and that so many assumptions and behaviours were being challenged.

In some ways, by at last opening myself up to denied shame and guilt and by admitting to my own internalized homophobia, it could have even been seen as a dangerous time. I knew that there were risks in letting myself go to darker places that I had avoided for so long. However I made a decision early in the process to trust to it and to allow Darren, Ade and especially the other amazing men in my workshop to support me and to let me see that I was not alone.

Was it what you expected? Tell us how

I guess I had no real expectations, apart from what I had read on the website and the preparatory emails and phone calls I received beforehand. I knew that I had be prepared to ‘fully engage’ to get the most out of it. I knew that my tendency to passively observe would be strong and I sensed that I would be challenged if I did not actively engage. I had attended short workshops on personal growth before and so had some inkling of the kind of things to expect. However Darren and Ade’s skill and professionalism made this a workshop like no other. To say that it exceeded my expectations would be an understatement!

What did you get from the workshop?

A far better understanding of where I was on my journey and the powerful affirmation that I was not alone. Whatever our diverse backgrounds, life choices, experiences and stories, whenever we had come out, the workshop showed me that all gay man have been subjected similar issues of shame and have had to deal with this in ways that were both different yet at the same time uncannily alike. To feel part of a real supportive community of thoughtful, caring men was one of the most important parts of taking part in the workshop. I have made new, deep and lasting friendships.

What difference has the workshop made to your life now?

I could write an essay on what difference the workshop has made to my life. I am now so much more confident about simply being myself – not just by being honesty about my sexuality, but by being authentic in all other parts of my life. I have challenged myself in a myriad of ways – spiritually, emotionally and socially. I continue to grow as a gay man two years on from my first Quest weekend. I have attended several other Quest events formally and informally through which I have strengthened existing friendships and developed new ones. Many times I have continued to stumble and doubt and let the old patterns of behaviour creep back, but the trajectory is over all onwards and upwards. The journey will never end, but now I make it with a stronger and clearer heart.

To find out more about The Quest Workshop or to register, click here.

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