Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My younger self

This excellent idea for a meme came from Blobby's Blog, Tuesday, May 3rd, who got it from Erik Rubright who got it from Sunday Stealing

1. Depending on your age, go back 10, 15, 20, or even more years.
2. Tell us how many years back you have traveled and why.
3. Pretend you have met yourself during that era, and tell us where you are.

4. You only have one "date" with this former self.
5. Answer these questions. 


Background Information: Numerous online friends have commented about how "together" or "serene" I seem to be throughout my coming out as a gay man, the breakdown of my marriage and the tearing-apart of my family.

I would not want anyone to think that this has been easy!!!    I can put all this into perspective only because I have survived a far more devastating crisis in my life.  By comparison, my present drama is 'tiny taters.'  I was very hesitant about posting about my experience as a young cancer patient as it is so highly personal. The life lessons I learned were profound and have affected every aspect of my life since then.

Okay, as we start, what year is it and how old are you?
I was 20 years old, 25 years ago in 1986.  I had just been diagnosed with a  very aggressive form of cancer.  Throughout the next year, the cancer metastasized and was described as a "massive involvement."   I would end up having numerous recurrences, radical surgeries, about four months of horrible treatments and every diagnostic test known to mankind.  At the major, big-city cancer centre where I was being treated, my doctors told me that they had never had a patient with my type of advanced cancer  who actually survived in the long term.  (ie:  they considered me to be terminally ill)

1. Would your younger self recognize you when you first meet?
Maybe not.  Now, I'm over 25 pounds heavier* and with a face that's a lot more worn-out.  Prior to my cancer, I was a fresh-faced blonde twink.... just a boy, really.   *You've seen  pics of me at present;  just imagine how skinny I was!

2. Would your younger self be surprised to discover what you are doing job wise?
Yes!   I was painfully shy at the time and could hardly conduct a one-on-one conversation.  I would never have imagined that I would be speaking in front of large groups of people daily and loving it.

3. What piece of fashion advice would you give your younger self?
Stop wearing your old clothes from grade 10 and 11 and get some 'big boy' clothes!  Try to find some clothes that fit;  you have a fantastic, lean body so you should make the most of it.

4. What do you think your younger self is most going to want to know?
  • That I would live to see my 21st birthday.   It seemed an utter impossibility, then.
  • That I would celebrate every birthday as a precious gift and that I would regard being allowed to grow older as a blessing.
  • That I would graduate from university, have a successful career, get married, have and raise children and live to be middle-aged.
  • That twenty years later, I would regard my cancer experience as the best thing that ever happened to me.  I was extremely lucky to be so gravely ill at 21.  Unlike an older person, my character was still malleable enough to be profoundly improved without me becoming embittered.  Unlike a child, I was mature enough to fully appreciate the life-changing nature of the experience.  (a therapist explained this to me)  Unlike an older cancer patient,  I would be able to benefit from this life-changing attitude for many decades to come.
  • That surviving a life-threatening illness would be the largest factor in shaping the my character and my attitudes towards how I live my life.  It taught me that except your health and the health of your family, there is NOTHING that is worth getting stressed-out about;  everything else will work itself out. 
  • That after twenty-five years, I still think about my cancer experience every single day but in a positive way.

5. How would you answer your younger self's question?
What is the question?  My answer to everything is usually "Yes!"  I would tell him that life is wonderful and to seize every opportunity; say "yes" to every adventure and reasonable invitation which comes your way.

6. What would probably be the best thing to tell your younger self?
  • I would tell him that he is an extremely handsome young guy with a perfect body.  I didn't figure this out until decades later... at which point, sadly, I was not nearly so handsome.
  • I would not tell him, "You are gay!!".   I would ensure that he understood that there was a spectrum of sexuality from 100% straight and 100% gay and  wherever you were on that spectrum, it was all okay.   
  • I would tell my younger self that his journey was meant to include getting married to a gorgeous, voluptuous woman (think Jayne Mansfield), being passionately in love with her (including physically) for many years, conceiving and then giving birth to and raising wonderful children.  I am now on a quite a different and exciting journey but nothing will ever top the adventure of those early years.
  • I would tell him that one's sexuality and attitudes towards it evolve constantly throughout your life and that is okay, too.
  • I would tell him that in less than 15 years, Canada would grant full marriage rights to same-sex couples and full protections in every aspect of life.

7. What is something that you probably wouldn't tell your younger self?
I probably wouldn't tell him about all the pain and distress I caused my wife by coming out as gay in middle age and splitting apart my family.  The dread of anticipating my present family crisis would have been terrible for a young person to have to live with.

8. What do you think will most surprise your younger self about you?
  • That I am still alive in middle age.  Despite the usual middle-aged health complaints and aches / pains, it would be a surprise to find out than I'm generally very fit and healthy.
  • That I am very happy right at this moment, despite the major life crisis my family is going through. 
  • That I can be extremely sexy and an outrageous flirt, given the right audience.

9. What do you think will least surprise your younger self?
That my core values are exactly the same.  I am the same calm, thoughtful, well-planned and highly responsible person who looks after his family and can always be counted on to do the right thing.

10. At this point in your life, would your younger self like to run into "you" from the future?
Yes!!  I know I'd serve as an excellent role model for my younger self.  I am a very good person to talk to as I'm an excellent listener and offer thoughtful, intelligent observations.  I also can be very funny and, at times, outrageous.


  1. Wow Buddy, this was truly revealing. Congratulations! I'm really happy you beat the beast. You say you are really happy at the point in your life. Let me tell you, it shows! In all your postings, in all your pics, it's very apparent you are happy, and that's making the rest of us happy for you :-)

    I think I may have to borrow this meme...

  2. first pix - HAWT HAWT HAWT!

    I too am a cancer survivor; 22 years on 6/21/11. and, like you, it colors my thinking, the way I conduct my life, the way I don't let stupid things get to me. I was 35 when I was diagnosed with a common woman's cancer; but it's not easy at ANY age to be told you are going to die.



  3. Cubby: thanks for commenting and for your on-going support! Yes, I'm generally a very happy person. Even if I'm in difficult situation beyond my control, I force myself to focus on something in the present moment to be happy about. This might be my little dog, sunshine or even some wind in the trees.

    Yes, it was an interesting meme; I knew exactly what I wanted to tell my "younger self", no thinking required!

  4. anne marie: thanks! Blog whore that I am, I never miss an opportunity to show off my favourite part of my body; my legs.

    Thanks for sharing your story of being a cancer survivor! That explains your wonderful attitude towards life that shines through your e-mails and comments on blogs. As a 20-year-old cancer survivor, I found I had a special bond, an understanding with other survivors even if they were many decades older than me.

  5. There's alot of honesty here! Thanks for sound like you have a second whim on life - being more of yourself - a gay sexy persona that you can share - it's almost therapeutic despite all you are going through!

    This meme is probably just up your alley :)

  6. Quite thought provoking! I had a dream the other night and you were in it (no, it wasn't THAT kind of dream) and you were blond. And now I find out that you are/were a blond (did your hair darken as you got older? Has it gone grey? Are you bald now? I know, I ask a lot of personal questions!).

    I've gone very grey. I don't even see it when I look in the mirror, but in photos, wow.

  7. SteveA: yes, many of my gay bloggers friends have commented on how "therapeutic" blogging is; being forced to think about tough issues etc. It's been a valuable process for me, that's for sure.

    WCS: You dream was a "dry" one, I hope! LOL!! I went from being a redhead (very young), to strawberry blonde then white blonde. Now, my hair is receding a bit and darker but still might be described as "blonde" especially in summer. No grey yet, except lots in my beard.

  8. Cubby took my words; you are very forthcoming and we are honored so to hear it.

  9. Thanks for commenting, Cubby and Ur-spo! Also, thank you to the others who commented (anne marie, WCS and I forget who else, whose comments were sadly deleted during the Blogger downtime)


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