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Hi Everyone,
I’m Steve, a 49 year old, currently living in NYC, but who spent the previous twenty years in the Chicago area.
Anyway, having grown up with real conflicts about my identity/orientation, I spent most of my teenage years and young adulthood wishing for a relationship but not being able to find one.  Instead, I ignored my needs for intimacy and began caring for three young children who were being raised by a single parent just a few years older than me. Meanwhile, throughout my twenties, I also did a significant amount of psychotherapy, and started feeling more accepting (and acceptable), though not truly positive, about my identity.
During my mid-thirties, I had a LTR that lasted about 5 1/2 years. Because this individual had once seemed to me to be physically “out of my league” I started feeling more confident. However, our relationship ended, primarily because we didn’t always share values about religion and physical intimacy–something I wanted to keep between only us…. Anyway, that was more than decade ago, and it took me almost 20 months to truly let it go.  Then, in the years that followed, I met and became very interested in two special individuals, both of whom wanted only to be friends with me.
Then, about four years ago, I began mentoring and caring for a young man, who very much needed a safe home and a supportive family environment. As I had probably learned to do during my upbringing, I became too involved and attached to him, and I really neglected my own needs while trying to attend to his.
My work with Ken, a 12-Step group focusing on love addiction, and this workshop have all been helping me recognize that I have special qualities and value beyond my desire to love and support someone else who’s struggling. And, these days, I feel as though I have less tolerance for some of the ongoing adolescent-type issues (usually about responsibility) that the young man I support creates at home.
This week, I’m actually visiting with my folks where they spend the winters.  Although the timing isn’t as convenient as I would have liked, I’m thrilled to be here in order to connect with my folks who are getting into their mid-to-late 70s.  As it turns out, my folks made some plans for us on Thursday, and I’ve decided to keep those plans at the expense of missing our meeting.  I will miss hearing from and speaking with you all, but I will definitely listen to the recording.
Two other things.  As I mentioned to Ken, I read a quotation (from a minister in NYC) that made me think about the concept of “core gifts” as Ken describes them.  The quotation from Mary Guathier is this: “Inside the curse lies the blessing.”  Well, needless to say, that sounded to me exactly what Ken had asked us to do–to look at those important parts of ourselves that we’d previously perceived to be negative, and to find the strength/goodness/wisdom/insight etc. in them.
Well, I’m beginning to look at myself from that perspective these days, and in isolated moments, I even feel an energy or excitement starting to build deep down inside.  No, I don’t have this all worked out by any means, but I do sense the stirrings of some growth in my self-esteem, identity, and self-perception because of this work.
One other thing I thought would be worthwhile sharing with the group is a program I heard from the Leonard Lopate program from NPR radio. The broadcast (now podcast) is called “Daring Greatly” and it’s about the strength, beauty, and healing nature of being vulnerable. The ideas discussed in the 30 minute program are those of psychologist Brene Brown, and I think you may find it both interesting and meaningful.  You can listen to the program online here http://, or you may listen to her TED talk online, as well.  (I’ve not heard the talk, nor read her recent book, but I imagine they are worth listening to/reading.
Anyway, I’m glad to be sharing with you and appreciate what you’ve shared here and on the phone.
Thanks, and take good care,