Losing my looks

Joey Garcia

I’m a 40-year-old gay male who would like to be in a serious relationship, but I’m in a rut. I was a nerdy kid who blossomed after high school. I became a model for a few years and led a satisfying life. During my early 20s, I also had two relationships with older men for whom I was more of a trophy than a partner. In my late 20s, I suffered some professional setbacks, started losing my looks and became less outgoing. I’ve been wearing a hair weave for about 10 years, have a so-so career and still pass for a younger man. I get hit on when I do go out or when people see my ad online, but I think I’m stuck on what I used to have versus what I have to offer now. I’m lonely. I can’t seem to rally myself to venture out more often to meet people in person. I’m unsure if it’s because I’m afraid of rejection. I never thought I’d mention this problem to anyone, but after reading your column for several months, I respect your realistic advice. Do you have an objective opinion for me?

Yes. You are loved just as you are. You are loveable right now and always. Make this your mantra. Use it as a guide through the moments when you succumb to the lie that your value is based on your physical appearance. Remember that true spirituality moves in opposition to the culture. If the culture values youth, spirituality celebrates maturity. As we age, it’s normal to grieve a bit for what is lost, but it is vital to be aware of what is present. The latter allows us to age gracefully (walking with what is) instead of awkwardly (resisting reality). In your case, the natural process of aging has illuminated unnaturally low self-esteem. When our sense of self is built on the superficial—our appearance, home, automobile or the social status of our romantic partner—we are living a lie. None of this provides security or identity, and that becomes obvious when it is all stripped away. It’s time now to recognize your true identity. You are a child of God. Find and nurture the person behind the roles and belongings. In time, you will come to value the true beauty of who you are.

I’ve tried many ways to find spiritual peace. Lately, it seems what may work best is just meditative breathing. Why is that? I’m afraid to trust it, so I don’t do it very often.

Meditative breathing is a pure form of connection with the source of life. It may be easy to distrust because our minds tend to distrust anything that is simple and free. Continuing this practice faithfully may require you to give up a lie. For example, if you begin to live continually with inner peace, you might have to admit that you are “good enough” or “worthy.” You’d have to let go of whatever self-defeating thought plagues you.

It’s also typical in religious training to discover suddenly that a discipline or practice no longer produces what it once offered. Consider this tale from the Zen Stories to Tell Your Neighbors Web site: A student went to his meditation teacher and said, “My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted, my legs ache, and I’m constantly falling asleep!”

“It will pass,” said the teacher.

A week later, the student returned. “My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware! So peaceful! So alive!”

“It will pass,” said the teacher.

Meditation of the week
“Human fear is the last vestige of the natural man before he accepts God’s grace,” says spiritual writer Randy Becton. What must be released from you before you can accept God’s grace?

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