Because I am gay it feels like people don't expect me to follow tradition.
When my husband and I got married, we had a beautiful and intimate wedding ceremony with friends and family, and live music by our friend Stephen Bishop. We said our vows, made a lifelong commitment to each other, and put wedding bands on each other's hands. Sounds pretty traditional to me.
We got married about six weeks after same-sex marriages were legalized in all 50 states. We are one of very few same-sex couples who are married in this country. And yes, we have an age difference. Also, I am an immigrant. Obviously our life situation is pretty unique, and I have to say that I am grateful for all the support our friends have shown us.
I know there will always be some toxic people trying to destroy everything around them, and we've had our fair share of those people - none of them are part of our life anymore. Some of our 'friends' have actually tried to come between us as a couple. Is this something most newlywed couples experience, or are we just that irresistible?
When people hear that I am married to a man, it seems like a lot of people automatically think that we are not exclusive, have multiple sex partners, live in an open relationship, are polyamorous - call it what you want, but please don't make any assumptions about other people's love lives, just because of their sexuality. We are monogamous, and have only been with each other ever since we first met, but we also feel no need to judge people who are polyamorous while in a relationship.
Families come in all forms, there is no longer a template for what is absolutely right or wrong. It is the strength of that particular family's love and respect for one another that creates the foundation that warrants calling them a family. Whether they got married in the right church, or have any minority backgrounds, is completely irrelevant. Love is universal.
Social taboos and norms are not only being questioned, but they are being challenged, and thus reshaping society as a whole. Despite what people might think, and the adversities that one experiences on a daily basis, at the end of the day, I am proud not to be 'normal'.
I love my family - my nuclear family is me and my husband, and our cats. And who knows about the future, maybe even children.
I know that haters and trolls come with the territory, but that doesn't make it okay.
Yesterday I publicly confronted a person who harassed both my husband and myself. She was using ageist and homophobic rhetoric, and refused to back down when I contacted her. The reason I went public (with her already public comments) is that she attacked my husband, and I won't let anyone hurt him.
When trolls are exposed to daylight they usually disappear. I'm hoping that goes for this one as well. She's exposed, and I want to thank all these people below who graciously showed their support on a post on Facebook where I shared what happened:
I am sure some people think I should have taken the high road and just ignored the cruel harassment: directly making fun of the age difference between me and my husband. I cannot sit quietly and watch when someone repeatedly goes after my husband.
Had she stopped her repeated attacks, and perhaps apologized, or at least have taken down her cruel comments on a few Facebook pictures, I would have deleted my post and considered this an event of the past.
Screenshots of the harassment below, with Norwegian translations:
Izeta Keres: "You remove that post of my fucking facebook right now. You have no right to shame me for saying my opinion. I have followed you since blogg.no and I said that you have destroyed yourself with botox, you were pretty before. Gives you no right to shame someone." and: "Shame on you, who do you think you are?"
Here's my response:
"I am so sorry that you’re just incapable of giving a sincere apology. I’d be happy to take the post down, but considering your continued harassment to me and my husband, and you posting this on a public forum, I am considering reporting you to the police, so unless you can learn some manners fast, I suggest you back off. Thanks, and have a good day."
If you don't stand up for what you believe in, you stand for nothing at all.
People sometimes ask me for recommendations for therapists, and at the same time reveal to me that they have their struggles. These are generally people who are successful and seem happy. These conversations are kept private, and I usually don't hear these individuals ever mention therapy again. If only they would share their experiences with others, it would help getting rid of the stigma associated with psychotherapy - something I think most people would benefit from.
Despite the taboos associated with psychotherapy, there seems to be a glorification of therapy in entertainment media. I'm thinking about TV-housewives and other reality stars. Often times the people depicted in these shows seem like living stereotypes, literally putting on a show for us.
But I do think when these people talk openly about going to therapy, it does remove some of the stigma associated with therapy, even though most people probably can't relate to the lifestyle and struggles of the TV-housewives.
There is also a clear aversion to psychotherapy in American society. It feels like it is an inherited and ancient belief that many Americans have picked up from their parents. Even being associated with someone who sees a psychologist can be too touchy for some people.
But the proof is in the pudding: psychotherapy is effective and helps people live better lives.
We need to get past these obstacles, and rather move forward and perhaps just think of therapy as what it actually is: an in-depth, private, one-on-one conversation between you and a professional listener, who has spent around 10 years in higher education to learn the skills necessary to give you good advice.
Psychotherapy is just another word for decompressing, or having someone to talk to, to help you figure out the things that are hard in life.
If we stopped labeling everything as 'mental health this' and 'mental health that', which in my opinion tends to often come with negative connotations, and just refer to it all as health care, maybe it would be easier for some people to seek the help they need.
Our minds and bodies are so connected, the divide between mental and physical health doesn't have to be there, at least not in the way it is right now.
I am not ashamed of having been in and out of therapy for most of my life. I had different struggles at age 14 and age 19 than I do now, but life is full of tough transitional periods, and new challenges will continue to arise the longer you live. Why not get professional help so you can figure out the solution to your problems faster, and end up living a happier life?
As a follow up to this article, I will share what a therapy session usually is like for me, and also some advice as to how to get the best health care in both America and in Norway.
If you wish to share your story anonymously on my blog,
you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I just got my hair done by my husband, check out his salon:
I went to therapy this morning, and finally took the time to take some new photos of myself.
Jewelry is vintage, silver belt is vintage, distressed pants from Barney's, shirt by Levi's.
My husband Phil is absolutely OCD about keeping our home looking lovely, and he redecorates so often that I never quite know what to expect when I come home from a long day. Today, he changed up the family room and dining room. He's so creative and talented, I'm in awe. I lost my gracious drawing room this time, but he replaced it with a formal dining room. His creativity doesn't stop when he gets home from work.
My husband is the best thing that ever happened to me, we have so much in common, and despite our obvious age difference, we're so in love, and when people have spent just one minute with us together, they know that we are the real deal.
To all you bored housewives on gossip websites: we're sad for those of you who actually take time out of your lives to speculate in our age differences. I must say it was intriguing to see that some people think of me as a gold digger, simply because I am married to a successful man who is older than me, and that we live in Los Angeles. I couldn't care less about this kind of harmless gossip, but I hope to remove some taboos associated with the widespread ageism in our society.
If this was a heterosexual relationship, nobody would think twice about a successful mature male being married to a younger female. It is really only heterosexual white males who can do anything they want without being judged for it. We've gotten to the place where we just laugh at it, and as Phil says "when they stop talking, then we'll start worrying."
Happy Sunday y'all.
I am feeling a little anxious blogging again. I managed to receive death threats within 24 hours of posting this - but I will not be intimidated from expressing myself and my thoughts.
So, here's another blog post. Enjoy!
I honestly feel kind of clueless right now, so I thought maybe by looking through some of my photos, I would get some idea of how my year has been. It was a year filled with so much joy, love, and travel - but also with accidents, pain, weight gain, and many hours stuck in traffic. Not too bad, but I'm having high hopes for the future.
I'll leave you with this.
Exactly one week ago, I turned 25.
I usually spend my birthdays freaking out about getting older, without having accomplished anything in my life, and that I'm slowly and steadily heading towards the grave as an unaccomplished man, remembered by no one.
I guess many of us feel like that at times. That we're simply not good enough, don't work hard enough to achieve our goals, and that we waste too much time being zombies in front of a screen -- or simply the feeling of wasting your entire life, without ever feeling good enough about yourself to do anything to change the situation for the better.
But you're wrong.
I have those thoughts quite a lot. And yes, I do spend quite a lot of time worrying. My own insecurities are perhaps also my biggest enemy.
I am now graduating from California State University, Northridge, in less than four weeks.
If you had asked me just six months ago, a year ago, five years ago, if I thought I would ever finish college, and walk out with a diploma -- a major in Journalism and a minor in Art History, I would have simply said that I can't see anything good for myself in the future. That I am simply not good enough to ever accomplish anything of value.
I was wrong.
I kept on fighting. I still do. Every day.
I am literally fighting my way through college, trying to overpower the paralyzing and terrifying effects of daily panic attacks and post traumatic stress disorder.
The anxiety beast has beaten me down, but I have always dragged myself up, and am still standing firmly on my two feet. Despite living with anxiety, I am graduating from college six months early(!).
Pause for applause.
Right now I am the subject of a video documentary, to be released sometime this summer. It is being made by students in the Journalism department, and even though it touches on raw emotions, I am proud to say that I am gradually becoming more and more comfortable with myself -- my body, my personality, and everything in between.
It is still weird and uncomfortable to watch myself on video, hear my voice on speakers, even though I spent most of my teenage years in the media's spotlight.
If you are one of those people who sometimes, or perhaps constantly, beat yourself down, telling yourself that you are not good enough, or that you seem like a total idiot to the rest of the world, I can tell you that the only person who can change that is you.
It truly does get better with time, but life is never going to be perfect. Sometimes I take one huge step forward, only to be knocked down and take two steps back. I try to learn from those experiences, and next time around, I'm taking two steps forward, and I'm not looking back.
Show the world how good you are. Be kind to yourself. Make yourself smile at least once a day!
I have missed writing like this so much. I've just been paralyzed by anxiety, and been too insecure to write anything, let alone publish anything. But lately I've had some truly great professors in the Journalism department at CSUN who have applauded my writing, and they keep telling me that I'm a strong writer. I'm choosing to believe them.
Life is still a challenge, and will probably continue to be one big challenge, until life isn't there anymore. Life is complex, you can't have the good without the bad.
You can't feel true happiness without feeling sad sometimes. Life is a balanced contrast of good and bad, and we have the power to shape our own future, as long as we keep looking forward.
I think I am mastering how to handle my own fuck-ups, and how to love myself. I think the key is to find out what makes you happy, what gives you energy, and perhaps more importantly: figure out who loves you unconditionally, and keep them around.
And hey, if you make a mistake, even one that seems so huge that it seems like you can never get past it -- just know that every day that you are alive and breathing, you are doing something right.
What makes me happy:
- Spending time with my husband, laughing, cuddling, or just holding hands.
- Spending time with my kitties, seeing them thrive and being the happiest kitties ever.
- My family and my friends, thank you for always being there for me, even when I can't be there for you.
- That feeling I get when I have turned in a really good piece of writing, and my professor gives me positive and uplifting feedback.
- Music - it always heals me, helps me process a bad day, and it helps me relax and come out of my shell.
- Champagne - I am a firm believer in the antidepressant effects that champagne has on a person's mental health. Bubbles make me burst with bubbly happiness.
- Flowers - I love their beauty and the divine scent, they just bring me pure happiness, and something to live for.
- The beautiful sunsets in California make me feel like I'm in total awe every single time. I can just stare at it, smiling to myself, and being grateful for being alive -- because I get to experience something so special. The small things in life are what really matters, and showing appreciation for those things makes life worth living.
- Walks on the beach. There is something humbling about looking at the pristine beauty and insane vastness of the ocean, ideally in a quiet spot, in good company.
Cheers, Sweetie Darlings!
I'm Lars, born and raised in Norway, living the dream in California.