June 21, 2022

Darren Sage reveals a sexual assault and how it has effected all of his relationships

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While we don't talk about this much, the percentage of gay men that have been sexually abused or assaulted is very high.  My guest, Darren Sage, shares losing his virginity at age 24, when his boyfriend plied him with alcohol and forced himself on Darren.  That trauma has had a lasting effect on Darren's ability to engage in sex or any type of relationship, romantic or plutonic.  Darren and I unpack how the coping mechanisms that once helped him survive, now keep him isolated and lonely.  He identifies his progress and admits that he is still in the midst of recovering from this trauma.

Darren is a health enthusiast and teaches fitness classes at a local gym, in his spare time.

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Coach Maddox  0:03  
Hello, Darrin sage, and welcome to the authentic gay man Podcast. I'm happy to have you here all the way from across the pond

Darren Sage  0:11  
dating date across the waves in knots as in New York, where we go 1000s of miles away.

Coach Maddox  0:20  
Well, it's good to have you here. I'm excited to hear your story.

Darren Sage  0:24  
Thank you, sir. I have been listening to your podcasts so far. And when I thought the opportunity might present itself to appeal to celebrate, I'd like to do this. So thank you for this.

Coach Maddox  0:38  
Beautiful, beautiful. Glad to have you here. Darren. So before we jump into our main topic, uh, well, let me just say that Darren and I don't know each other very well, we have been kind of peripherally around each other, and the one of the, you know, online, virtual gay groups. I think actually, right now is our first time to actually speak, we've had some exchanges back and forth, and messages and emails, but this is our first time to speak. So we don't know each other well, but we have been around each other in the group. Darren is in administrative work, and in his free time, he is a health enthusiast and teaches classes at a local gym. And he sounds like he really loves that. So Darren, tell me, what does it mean to you to be an authentic gay man? How would you define that?

Darren Sage  1:42  
I think for me, the authentic a man is, is the ability to proudly wear your heart on your sleeve. Promote me, regardless of what anybody else thinks, while everybody else assumes where everybody else, you know, whatever, whatever, it's about you and you knowing that that's your heart on your sleeve, and you're happy to share the world.

Coach Maddox  2:09  
Beautiful, I love it, the many definitions that have personal definitions that have come across and this has been Truly amazing. And that's another beautiful one. I love it. So with that, let's dive into our main topic. And the question of the day is what has been the biggest challenge in your life that you had gone through or are continuing to go through

Darren Sage  2:37  
um, the biggest challenge of my life has been to understand what it is to be a gay man. I think that as I've been out, as it worsens, are a few months before my 21st birthday. Well, let's face it when you're 22 on everything shiny and everything's brilliant and everything's crazy and, and art for the PERT first, possibly three years of coming out, I was a virgin. And I had not had the cherry popped as it were so. So I found myself in a situation with somebody who was older than me. And I found him attractive and he was funny and and, well, I found myself in a situation which since then, I've found quite damaging visually because I found myself while I was out with this person, and they showered supplied me with enough alcohol in order to stop me from being a human being to to the world to better the to be practically a blow up doll. And on that for on that first occasion. I went from being a virgin to no longer being a virgin and found the whole experience hideous. Horrendous animalistic, there wasn't. It wasn't what I wanted. And so I found myself I sold went into shock. And I thought that was my problem. And that person who I was never supposedly dating I also felt it was my problem. And so I found myself obligated to undertake that particular activity again. Because, as I say, I thought it was a wrap of my heart. And the situation happened again and realized that no, this is not what I wanted. This is not this is not, this is not what I wanted at all. And I'm basically well, over a period of a few weeks shut down. Here. I pushed that person aware, he was busy going around telling everyone in our local gear pub that I was in preterm, I was there was something wrong with me it is on the other. And obviously, that compelled the issue because I was portrayed as some sort of damaged goods, and there's something terribly wrong with me, blah, blah, blah. And for and then basically, I pushed him out of my life, and, and subsequently, I suppose, since I've avoided internet situations, pretty much ever since.

Coach Maddox  6:22  
So Darren, I have a question for you. Oftentimes, when we go through what an experience that traumatizes this has, as you're describing, we apply a meaning to that. And oftentimes, the meaning will come in, in three layers, it will make it mean something about us, will make it mean something about people and oftentimes will make it means something about the world. So I'd like to unpack that. Was there something that you internalized about that experience where you made made it mean something about you?

Darren Sage  7:03  
Um, well, I suppose I had a romantic notion of what the situation would look like if that particular situation was going to happen. And it was going to be from a place of love. So that it was more of a, there was more of a heartfelt connection, where the situation I found myself in was physicality and animalistic. And as a result, I felt like I'd been conned. I'd been shortchanged, I agree, I've missed out on on what I thought was going to be a loving and intimate situation.

Coach Maddox  7:51  
And not only once but twice. 

Darren Sage  7:54  
Well, I think possibly there might have been three or four times and, and just because I want you to I, as I say, I thought it was about me. And so I was trying to get over myself by saying no, it's not about you. You just got on the wrong headspace, blah, blah, blah. But unfortunately, it was safe to speak became I just shut down even further.

Coach Maddox  8:23  
Well, and if you were going to after, after that experience, if you were going to put that in an I am statement. What would that be?

Darren Sage  8:35  
Awesome. Maybe not so much now, but definitely, for a good number of years afterwards. I am scared. Because there were certain things that should have happened, that didn't happen. I mean, there was no protection used. So there was that. I mean, I've seen subsequently felt, you know, everything's fine. But that, you know, there was almost like a delayed shot when I realized it took me a while to get to the point where I when I had, you know, HIV and Hep C and all of the things that are tested to make sure everything was fine. But it took me a while to sort of unpick that to realize that I could have been in a much much worse situation because of the because of the because of the position I was putting in so I could have been HIV positive I could have had all sorts of nasties given to me and and it was that that made me angry out to the individual because that was never considered that was never even that was ever even thought about. So there was also a great deal of anger to the person who were involved.

Coach Maddox  9:53  
So you felt angry towards him. What did you feel about yourself?

Darren Sage  10:00  
I'm stupid. And I just thought I was just so irresponsible to myself that I over ruled common sense. Because I happen to like somebody, I was prepared to put myself in a situation which I've since found out that I'm not happy with

Coach Maddox  10:27  
where I was. And I can I can relate that Darren and I know that there's listeners out there right now that are hearing this that can relate to what you're saying, we probably have all compromised our values and done things that weren't really right for us for a variety of different reasons, you know, and oftentimes the wrong reasons.

Darren Sage  10:49  
Very much. So. It was, I mean, as I say, this, I just felt it took me a long time to speak to friends about it, because of the I mean, they took an instant dislike to this other person anyway, so But unfortunately, you have to, you can't live your life vicariously via other people's viewpoints. Just wish on that occasion I had, because of the subsequent shutdown that I've sort of enjoyed ever since.

Coach Maddox  11:21  
So how did this play out in your dating and relationship life? What did this look like?

Darren Sage  11:30  
Didn't sorry, it did, but it was very, it was very guarded. I didn't want to find myself in the I mean, there was never, you know, there was never any sort of there were occasional one night stands, which went terribly wrong, and I regressed in my head when I ever got into a situation where things looked like they were going that way. I found myself back to where I was when I was 24 straight back. So I shut down and the other person might have had that thrills, but I didn't get mine. Because I was too busy. regressing back to situations that helped me fall. So it was like, yeah, just sort of things like so it didn't really and so as this is where the oxbow lakes sort of feeling, you know, I, you know, I was part of the mainstream but then the river meanders and kicked me off and, and I put myself in our Explorer lane, because it took me away from the stream. It took me away from the possibilities and the chances that I might find myself feeling awkward and uncomfortable again, and and so I stopped it from happening. I just didn't I didn't really put myself in the way

Coach Maddox  13:03  
how did this affect your your ability to be in relationships?

Darren Sage  13:09  
It was, it was the down maybe it was a were just like just stopped everything. So I ended up trying to overcompensate in other ways. So I ended up almost becoming like a, an asexual being, for all intents and purposes to to excel. But I just became this Well, I suppose a wall of noise. And that kept the people away. That sort of kept me safe. It kept me from not feeling threatened. It kept me in control.

Coach Maddox  13:49  
So you're describing coping or defense mechanisms?

Darren Sage  13:54  
Yes. So I that was it. It was it was that was a lack of control I found so.

Coach Maddox  14:04  
So when you talk about a wall of noise. Tell me a little bit more about what that looks like. I kind of want the draw, draw a picture for our listeners as to how that how you were showing up in life in that wall of noise that protected you and kept people away from you.

Darren Sage  14:24  
I described myself as a showman. And as much as I would appear on stage and I would be daft stupid, noisy, possibly drunk. Sometimes. We'll just became something much larger than life almost. And I described what what I wanted. What I really, really wanted was somebody to come up on stage and peek behind the curtain. It was a bit like the Wizard of Oz. You know the scene where stiletto pulls back the curtain and realizes it's not this massive head will scary and frightening Dorothy and the lion and the Scarecrow to death. It's actually a little old man playing with these buttons and winding these wheels. And that's what I, that's what I really wanted to happen. I wanted somebody to go live, we see this noise, what's behind the curtain? So that's what it was. I also wanted to know well, but for all intents and purposes, I was off putting, being vulgar, rude, daft, and so on. A lot of people seem to like it. Well, then then probably then he got us as time's going, Oh, it's only Darren. And then and then it sort of becomes expected. And then when it becomes expected? Oh, that's not good enough. I don't want you to expect that. And then you sort of say, well, what are they? What are they looking at? That what what what do they see when they see this? They just see me and not me. They just see this sort of me, the dancing sort of me rather than the person who was desperate to be freed.

Coach Maddox  16:31  
So there was a part of this was that was about pushing people away the ball of noise as you describe it. But you were pushing people away in a manner that created a lot of attention.

Darren Sage  16:46  
Yeah, contradictory. But it was not. It was not the intention. It was not the I wanted people to Well, I wanted people to prize to peel the curtain away. But a lot of people were just so sort of off put by the wall of noise that they didn't.

Coach Maddox  17:06  
So note, no one ever stepped in and pulled the curtain back. Hmm.

Darren Sage  17:11  
Not really not. Not in a way not. No. railer I think about No, not really at all. They just sort of took me at face value and never looked behind.

Coach Maddox  17:28  
Well, are we pulling the curtain back today?

Darren Sage  17:35  
The curtains been pulled back slowly. As of late, I mean, unfortunately, what with COVID and lockdowns and everything like that, you know, the opportunity to, to put yourself in. We're not harm's way, but in the way of, you know, me, getting over me. And being who I really am sort of sort of went on the way in the deep freeze for a while. But obviously things have sort of freed up a little bit now. So it was it's an it was this, it was almost this golden opportunity to speak about who I really am, as opposed to the show man that I wanted this podcast to happen. So yes, is the answer to your question.

Coach Maddox  18:28  
So if you pull the the mask off the show man mask with all of the noise, the wall of noise if you pull that off and set that aside? What's behind that when we peek behind the curtain? Who is Darren?

Darren Sage  18:47  
Darren is somebody who has immense capability to live somebody I love everybody and he's always there to help is always there to what they want let anybody he doesn't want to get anyone left behind. It doesn't want he just wants to be known for being more than just the show man. He wants to be he wants to feel part of something as opposed to fending off everybody.

Coach Maddox  19:39  
If you were going to be known for something other than the showman, what would you like for that to be? What would you like to be known for? That would feel more like really you and your core.

Darren Sage  19:57  
Line unforgettable is a word that comes to mind. And I don't necessarily mean in, in the in, in Mark capacities, and then just what people see is more about what people feel when they are with me.

Coach Maddox  20:23  
Well, what would you like for people to feel when they're with you that they feel special considered important? Love? And how did the wall of noise stand in the way of that?

Darren Sage  20:43  
Because it was, it was a bit like a giant save colander, some sort of filter. So my, my mindset was, if you can get past the wall of noise, there may be a Jew. special consideration, shall we say, I noticed some sort of the it was a locking the door to but if they didn't get past the wall of noise, and maybe they weren't worthy.

Coach Maddox  21:24  
Okay, so I want to step back for a moment and unpack the coping mechanism or defense mechanism, whichever the case may be, or both. What do you see was the, you know, when we put those mechanisms in place, they're always to provide us with something. Could be could be lots of things. But what what did the wall of noise and the showmanship what did that? What did that mechanism provide to you? What was the thing you were most wanting to get from that?

Darren Sage  22:04  
Well, it was it meant I was in control. I ha, it was it was controlled. It was I, I knew the parameters that I was working within. And me ensuring that it was a it was it was that it was it was just me seeking control. It was so that I didn't have to worry about trust, or oh, it was it was a block. And whilst it was, it was, don't get too, don't get too familiar. Because you don't know what you're becoming familiar of. You rarely see, you know, there was only like, there was this person. And you think that you know this person, because they happen to be a wall of noise. But you don't know what's going on behind the curtain. And you have to sort of there has to be a certain degree of her curiosity is some sort of persistence to get past the wall of noise. And so it was this it was about owl choose who comes behind the curtain?

Coach Maddox  23:35  
And was that in an effort to be safe? Was that that control? It was it was wanting to create a safe space for yourself?

Darren Sage  23:44  
Massively? Absolutely.

Coach Maddox  23:47  
And how well how well did it work?

Darren Sage  23:51  
It was very efficient. I mean, it has been since the situation there's been three relationships of any duration since one was with an alcoholic. They and the other two subsequently were of people much younger than me. And funnily enough, I met one of the axes today. Prior to this meeting, what happened was I ended up finding that my needs were pushed backwards. The alcoholic. Well, he was he was perfectly fine. He wasn't like he needed to drink every day. But when he did drink, he was he never knew when to stop and then became a well it just became a hassle. Excuse My French but yeah, well, that was a lot of issues that he had with his father and so that anyway, and the subsequent other two were with people in which quite a bit younger than me, and I ended up falling into a sort of almost parental role. And that again, I was being pushed through taken place. And there were a few incidents, while sales relationships were going on that made me realize that, yeah, I'm not getting what I want from this, this is not an equal relationship. This is me dealing with somebody else's drama. And so I show up, and it became about them. And as a result, I almost it was almost i Then I just receded into the background until my point of view now was rendered, no, there was no point being there, because I didn't really feature

Coach Maddox  25:45  
I'm seeing a little bit of a pattern here, I want to give it a voice and you tell me if I'm on to anything, you can tell me tell me that I'm, I'm not or I am. But I'm feeling a little bit of a pattern here. You know, in the very early stages of our conversation, I asked you what you made that experience the sexual assault mean about you. And you you had a hard time kind of getting there, you never really landed on anything with clarity, but which is okay, you know, this is all about exploration. As you describe these other relationships, one with the alcoholic, and then the two younger ones, and not getting what you wanted. I'm, I'm wondering I'm, I'm empathic leave and intuitively kind of hearing this theme of maybe you, you know, that that meaning that you may have applied when you had that experience at 24? Was I this is all I deserve. I don't deserve better than this. That's that's kind of something that's kind of coming through is that resonate with you at all?

Darren Sage  26:58  
That situation when I was 24 was about I mean, initially, obviously, there was a bit of there was a lot of you know, as a trauma and shock about it, but yeah, there is there hasn't there is a an overriding feeling of there must be more than this. And you know, that whether it comes to the sexual assaults, the you know, the fact that my experiences where I have been combed, I am not getting what I want from this. And subsequently, yeah, the relationships since I've come away feeling shortchanged. And that they the snapping point is, I need to do more for myself here than what I'm allowing to happen.

Coach Maddox  27:57  
So it is there. Once again, starting to see kind of a little bit of a theme here. What just what came up for me you just said is I'm shortchanged. Is that kind of something that plays out in your life you in your varying different relationships, not just the romantic ones, but does it show up? Friendships as well, you end up feeling shortchanged

Darren Sage  28:23  
one of my one of my when I was a child, I'll never forget that. One of the things I used to say all the time was it's not fair. And I used to say that about practically everything. And my mother used to always turn around and say to her, well, life's not fair. And it is it's it's a feeling of it's not fair. This isn't fair. This is an A that is the it's not fair theory. And even though I don't state it, it's almost like yeah, this isn't fair.

Coach Maddox  29:07  
Yeah. You remember I said it comes in three, three layers. I am they are and life is. Yeah. And you just said that the life is unfair. More Life isn't fair, same, same, same thing. Let's back up for a minute. And I think maybe you have a little better understanding of what what I'm looking at here. You if you could put the I know you said at one point, I am afraid but when I say you made them, we apply a meaning we make it mean something about us. Does that make sense? You had this term horrific experience at 24. And it traumatized you and we naturally as human beings, we apply that meaning we apply a meaning to us. What that experience means about me is

Darren Sage  30:02  
Hi, this is why I deserve.

Coach Maddox  30:05  
I don't know, you tell me. But it was a

Darren Sage  30:09  
well as it was, it's what I deserved. It was the I felt as I said it was, it was like the feeling of being shortchanged that sort of, is this a? Is this what I have to do? Is this what is what I expect? If, you know is what I expected? No, it wasn't what it is how I'm supposed to is, you know, there was almost like a, almost like a question of, to PetSmart small point was, am I actually gay? You know, there was almost like that, that was some sort of, it sort of took me into it turned me inside out mentally as I, I don't know what I don't know how to be. What's almost expected of me? I don't know, I don't know what that looks like, how does that How am I going to function if something now you are almost at the time, you sort of considered sort of fundamental, isn't working out for you, you know, you just, it's sort of your turn, you've turned your world upside down, because you don't know quite where to place yourself anymore. So

Coach Maddox  31:25  
well, it makes perfect sense and is in a, in a community where we play such high value on sex. And that part's not working for you, that would bring about a lot of angst.

Darren Sage  31:39  
So the best way for me to deal with it was to shoot that doll. Don't don't, you know, shoot it for now. It can't be It can't be something you can reopen for now. It's, it's, it's full of pain, mistrust, you know, a lack of consideration just and stop it just just don't go there. Just closed that door. So, um,

Coach Maddox  32:08  
so we've got two of the three now Darren, the I Am was I don't deserve any better than this. And the the life is unfair. What is the they? Now in your particular situation? This involved a gay man. So sometimes we will, you know, do this broad thing where we say, wow, you know, I had a situation in my life that was not as severe as what you're describing, I was not sexually assaulted. But I was just taken advantage of when I came out at around 24. And in my first year of being out, there were multiple men and that first year that first 12 months, multiple men that used abused took advantage of me, I was a very naive 24 year old. And there was this point where the the they, you know, the I did the I Am, you know, I don't belong. I don't I don't fit in. That was my I am. The day was gay men are unsafe, gay men are not safe. And then the world is I don't know if I've really even unpacked that. I don't know that that came up for me at the time. I'd have to think about that. But I spent the better part of, well, 40 years, clinging on to the gay men are not safe. And that was what created all of my social masks that kept them at a distance. Does that making sense? Yes, definitely. how that how that plays out? You know, I keep kind of going back to this because it's a critical piece right here. You had this traumatic experience. And it isn't always the experience that alters our life so dramatically. It's the meaning that we applied to the experience versus events that changes our life.

Darren Sage  34:24  
Yeah, I suppose in that way as I react to it in a way that if I'm thinking about they was almost out they don't deserve me. So it fit into the narrative of

Coach Maddox  34:41  
but that's still about you.

Darren Sage  34:44  
I suppose. Yeah. It's

Coach Maddox  34:46  
still about you. They don't deserve

Darren Sage  34:48  
I suppose it is very similar to you in the sense of the reason why I'm pushing them away is because of they are safe, they are going to They use you and abuse you and do what they want from you.

Coach Maddox  35:06  
Now did so did you imply apply that to people in general? Or did you apply that to a specific group of people?

Darren Sage  35:12  
Well, no, because they still got there, they still got the show. Even if in my head, the people that were getting the show were possibly people I was interested in. So it became it became, it became the thing that puts people brought people to ours and push others away. So I found myself sort of pushing them possibly pushing my people away that I wanted to pull towards, but because I was too busy going into default, sort of wall of noise mode. I didn't believe it.

Coach Maddox  35:50  
So in other words, what I think what I'm maybe hearing you tell me if this is right, the people that you were most attracted to, were the ones that also felt so unsafe, because you were attracted to them, just like you had been attracted to the man who plied you with alcohol and took advantage of you.

Darren Sage  36:08  
Yeah. There were there were the people that were still very capable of putting me in that position again. And so

Coach Maddox  36:17  
if you if you weren't attracted to them, then there wasn't any big risk that you'd be put in that position?

Darren Sage  36:22  
Exactly. There was no, there was even though there were I remember instances where I would develop crushes on people, and I kept my mouth shut, I've never put myself in a situation where they ever found out or if they did find out, it was after I'd dealt with it, process it put it away, and sort of said, almost like a by the way, comment through whoever it was, oh, by the way, you know, sort of thing to which it was I process it and dealt with it my head? It was news to them. And, you know, there was occasions rather to answer well, I can't If I only knew that. And using well to each render walking away and feeling blown stoned, and sort of, you know, sort of opportunity lost, because I was scared to let the opportunity how

Coach Maddox  37:25  
it makes perfect sense. I get it. So So I want to circle back for a minute. We talked about one point about what what you got positive out of the defense mechanism or the coping mechanism. And that was that you know, it created space, give you a sense of insulation, a little bit of safety, right? Yes. So those coping mechanisms, defense mechanisms, also had a cost. Yes. Can you identify what the cost was?

Darren Sage  38:00  
Well, as I mentioned, the lack of opportunity to relearn to re experience a situation which I experienced them to bad circumstances. So the opportunity to sort of lay new tarmac down and sort of put the old me to bed.

Coach Maddox  38:31  
It just kept kept you kind of in a holding pattern.

Darren Sage  38:34  
Yeah, interest interest. And never grew. I never grew cost the situation. I was always stuck in a in a situation, which now I 48 feels irrelevant, but it's still there. It's like,

Coach Maddox  38:52  
oh, no, it's not irrelevant. i It is still there. I and I want to repeat what you just said it that because this is really powerful. I want the listeners to just really hear this. It stunted your growth, it stopped you from growing. That you know, there are many things in our lives that stop us from growing and trauma can certainly be one of them. Addiction, substance abuse, you know, there's been studies that have absolutely substantiated that when we get involved in some kind of addiction that our emotional the our AQ our emotional intelligence stops, we stop growing. And we don't start growing again until we've gotten to the other side of that. So a person who started with substance abuse at age 15. And at 40 finally gets free of this substance gets clean They're picking up where they left off on at age 15. That's where their emotional maturity is that of a 15 year old. And so you're describing something very, very similar in that you're very aware that all of this experience the trauma, stunted your emotional growth. And it's still playing a role in your existence in your life. How does this? How does this? I mean, we know we know how it played out back then. But today, here we are in 2022. And you told me that you are in your upper 40s. This was age 24, you're your upper 40s. Now, how is this affecting and playing out in your life? Now?

Darren Sage  40:58  
Well, it's I've been trying to create opportunities to grow, as it were. I suppose for the past few years, I've never got quite past the first couple of days, it's all gone a bit quiet, or somesuch. So I'm, I'm looking for opportunities to grow. I'm trying to create the opportunities. Because I need some other input.

Coach Maddox  41:38  
What do you think needs to happen? In order for you to do that you're setting aside something that you want to move towards? You know, yes. You just clearly stated a desire to grow to move on. But with with anything, like trauma that you've been through, there is there's probably more than one thing, there's some things that are standing in your way, what some of that you may not even be fully aware of yet. But what are you aware of now that, you know, you're standing in your way of that moving on that you're talking about?

Darren Sage  42:17  
What a defense mechanism is to grow? Oh, mellowed massively is oh, I and that's put into bed, our process of continuing to put to bed fear of a scenario that now feels well, it does feel far removed to where I was when I was 24.

Coach Maddox  42:55  
Well, yes, yes, it does probably feel far removed. Because that much time has passed. I think it's important to, to call out that our coping mechanisms, or defense mechanisms. We put these after a trauma, we put these in place for a very specific purpose, and it's usually for our own survival. Yeah, bottom line, you know, you can call it a lot of things but bottom line, it's almost always for our survival. And it works for a period of time. It keeps us alive, it keeps us surviving. But then there is a point where that coping mechanism or defense mechanism begins to do the opposite of what it was designed to do. It becomes a detriment and it blocks us and it holds us back. So I hear you say that you are clear now that the the that coping mechanism has to go it's time to put it to rest it's no longer serving you the way it did when you first created it. What will enable you to be able to put that coping mechanism down there's something that you're going to need in order to be able to do that. Do you know what that is?

Darren Sage  44:37  
So for me it's always like it's been like a is about drawing a line in the sand and and to be aware that I have him control of who I am without having to be anybody else but who I am.

I can say no. To anybody, I can say, Yeah, my problem is I need to start saying yes to some people as well.

Coach Maddox  45:22  
That's a beautiful observation, Darren.

Darren Sage  45:24  
So it's knowing that I don't need to be quite the personality that I portray myself to be, you know, order to attract attention or interest or, or sort of, be fearful I become an irrelevance, or a nobody or an asexual being, as I say that the unnamed is after understand that I have these needs. And I have to how and to constantly put them to the back or put them in some sort of box to hide in a cupboard somewhere, is to do myself a disservice. And I've been doing myself a disservice for 20 years. And the situation that, as you say, those defenses are those defense mechanisms that are put in place. There may have been, they've been very, very effective. But the problem is, is so effective of pushing everyone away as well, that you want to pull near, as well as you can away the people that you want to keep away. So I've got to do or die, almost, I've got to do it, I'll die or if that and that's theirs, there's no there's no sort of gray area, there's just gonna be me.

Coach Maddox  46:55  
Well, the defense mechanism is a one size fits all. That's the problem. Yeah, it's a blanket application, when we have that defense or coping mechanism, it's across the board. And while it served its purpose. Now, you're right, it's pushing everybody away. And there are people that you will, there will always be people that you wish to push away. And there will always be people that you don't want to push away and you want to draw in. But the coping mechanism isn't flexible like that. It pushes everybody away. So what kind of mechanism could you put in place that would allow you to create that sense of safety that you need when someone doesn't feel safe. But then at the same time, allow somebody that you want to draw in a little bit closer to you to be able to draw them in closer and let them see the you without the social masks?

Darren Sage  48:05  
I think his personal awareness, my awareness of self. And that I need to know and it's it's been aware of when I feel like the curtains are being closed and the person's been thrust on. I just need to be aware of me. Me Me not not me, which

is sort of fine to be dumb just need to be me as I need to not be exaggerated me. I just need to be who I am. And it's not that I'm afraid to talk about all of the things that I've happened in my life. It's just that I have no fear. I have no fear of telling that to anybody. And that's I have no issue with that. And I realize

Coach Maddox  49:13  
that could be part of the coping mechanism.

Darren Sage  49:17  
I just tell everyone that oh, this happened.

Coach Maddox  49:20  
That could be a way that you push people away is by putting that story out there maybe too blatantly or too quickly. Possibly. Does that make sense? I mean, you you could unconsciously be using your story to scare people away.

Darren Sage  49:37  
Yeah, so Yeah, cuz Oh, here he comes. He's he's the one with baggage I'd steer clear of that one because Obama blossoms and I can see how that would be hinderance

Coach Maddox  49:52  
you know, there's nothing wrong with short showing sharing your story, but sometimes we have to look the thing that we're doing Feeling it's, it's less about that sometimes we have to look underneath at the motivation that's driving it. If the motive if you're sharing your story, because you want this other person that you're drawn to, to understand you and know a little bit more about you, you want them to say, you know, that's, that's a motivation that serves you if you're telling that exact same story, and the motivation is to push them away. So it's not about the story. It's about the motivation and why you're telling the story and how you're telling the story into who you're telling the story to.

Darren Sage  50:43  
Make sense? Yes. Because you can see how that would be. Oh, no, no, I'm not I can't bother with dealing with all of that, and how they just walk away from that.

Coach Maddox  50:54  
Back Back to my own story, where, at age 24, I determined that gay men were unsafe, and I, I implied that meeting like it was a blanket to all gay men. Now that had a huge cost. And I won't go into that you can imagine what the cost on it was. And when I realized what that cost me, I cried uncontrollably for days. But what I realized the big mistake was that blanket thing that we apply to things never works. It is it screws from the get go, it never works. Are there men out there that are unsafe? Or they're gay men that are unsafe? Absolutely. Are there gay men out there that are safe? Absolutely. So that one size fits all blanket can't work. It can't work, it doesn't work. Now, I look at gaming on an individual basis. And in that self awareness that you referred to a few minutes ago, I go and check in with that knowing part of myself. And I ask, is this person somebody that I feel safe enough with to be vulnerable? And sometimes the answer is no. In which case, I don't, sometimes the answer is yes. Example, I had a date last week. And first time we were going to meet we had had a zoom, a couple of zooms. First time we're meeting in person. We're going to meet at a restaurant for a meal. Well, my car was in the shop and I thought my car was going to get out of the shop and time for me to go to this dinner. And the car didn't make it. And I thought okay, well, I'll just Uber. You know, I reached out to my date. And I said, I my car didn't, I didn't get my car back like I thought it was going to. So I'm going to be obering to meet you. I'm very punctual person, I just want you to know that in case I'm not punctual. It's because I can't control what time over gets there. You know, you call him and it is what it is. And he texts back and he says, would you like for me to pick you up? Now I don't know this man. We've had two zoom calls. I don't know him. And I I stopped for a minute I received the text. Would you like me to pick you up? And I went inside for a minute and I said, you know to myself? Does that feel safe? Does that feel okay? And I got this intuitive clear? Yes, that feels safe. And I responded and said, What a lovely offer. Yes, I would love for you to pick me up. Here's my address. And he picked me up. But that awareness and isolating it to one person, not a whole group of people, not a whole you know, is this person safe? Or is he not safe?

Darren Sage  54:08  
When I when I went on, I was on a It was back in November and I met with somebody who I met through Tinder. So I met him we went for some food and it was all very lovely. And I felt safe. I didn't have any issues now we we parted company. There was a case and whatnot. And we met again at the early part of December and I did feel very I felt Do you know what this could be a thing and falsely well then happened is he faded away. He there was a lot of attempts to meter. There was a lot of you know, and I realize it was an afterthought Oh, it's just a thing or it's just a thing and then it didn't happen. It's three or four times, I'm going to redo she's getting a bit silly now. So I challenged him on the, it was a third of January, because I've been trying to hold December to try and move for a third time. And I thought, I don't want to be and I felt like I was becoming a nag. Because I just thought there was, there was something about it that I can, you know, this feels like a thing. But then it wasn't. And I actually I called it on the third January, and he said, Oh, yeah, I don't think I'm ready for a relationship under ready. My head is not in the right place, blah, blah, blah, so and so. And then I find out about about two weeks, three weeks after that, he seen somebody else. And I just thought, well, there was a swear word developed there. But when I got it, I thought I thought you were something because he was only a couple of years younger than me. So he's going to be solid, he's going to have his life in our in heading order. And I mean, okay, that's very big assumption on my part. But he felt like he was, you know, in his head was in order, and he was fine. And then to find out from another party, that another person, actually somebody who works with him, that is actually seeing somebody else. So I thought

Coach Maddox  56:16  
you know, there's a lot of ways to look at that there. And a lot of people would say, well, he's a liar.

Darren Sage  56:20  
Well, yeah, I must admit, when I found out, I messaged him, I messaged him with his last message to me about him not being ready. And I said, so a lot, so much that you're not being ready. I hope you wouldn't, Paul a very happy, because that was a person who's apparently dating so. But there's an awful there. And there is that sort of fear that, you know, I've defaulted into that. Old game and I are out there to hurt you.

Coach Maddox  56:52  
Well, and you know, it's possible that what I mean, I always try to put myself in the other person's shoes. And for a lot of people, it is just almost impossible to say, you're not for me, or I'm not interested in you. So they make up a story and say, I'm not ready. I'm not into a relationship. It's this, this, we try to say people's feelings and what we actually often do in the trying to save their feelings, we actually hurt their feelings. And that's kind of a, I don't know, that's the American way. I don't know what happens over there on the other side of the pond, but here, that's a pretty big thing. We're trying to be gentle and not hurt your feelings. So we'll just make all kinds of shit up. So we don't have to tell you. I'm just not interested in

Darren Sage  57:40  
you. I see. I'm quite a bit I can be quite well honest, but not brutally honest. And said, this isn't a thing for me. Your lovely, your lovely bought. And I You're lovely, but I only see you as a friend. For myself, but and I would rather have the honesty.

Coach Maddox  58:05  
I would too. But I'm amazed at how many times they've been honest. And it was not received well. I had a guy go off on me one time when I said, I don't think we're a match. I jumped out I'm not feeling like we're a match went off on you don't know me? How could you possibly know that it was. And, you know, I just feel it. I'm very intuitive. And I just feel it. So let's, let's circle back, because we need to start to kind of wrap things I would like to know, in all of what you've shared and your experience, and you're still in process here, you don't have resolution, you still are in the thick of this. You have, you know, work to do? What would be the golden nugget that you would share with the listener? What have you learned or what have you seen? that you think would be a value to just from your experience to share? Even though you're still in processing? You're not into the other side? What have you gotten clear on or learned that you could share with the listener?

Darren Sage  59:20  
I suppose that not everyone's out there to hurt you.

Coach Maddox  59:26  

Darren Sage  59:28  
They're not and unfortunately, the way that people work is sometimes that they forget the other. Well, that doesn't mean they're intentionally wanting to hear you.

Coach Maddox  59:40  
It's just me said Darren.

Darren Sage  59:43  
And it's it's I don't Yeah, what happened happened and yeah, I wish it hasn't but but it also there's these It also means that I learn something i Well, I'm not a terrible person as a result. I mean, if that if that had gone if it had gone any other way, I mean, who knows what might have happened? happened? I mean, I might have been a terrible person. Yes. And

Coach Maddox  1:00:26  
I think it's beautiful that you realize that, you know, oftentimes we don't want to relive our trauma. But oftentimes, our trauma brings us our biggest gifts.

Darren Sage  1:00:36  
I'm not saying you know, because it's not. Yeah, it's, it's, it seems, you know, odd. I don't even though the situation happened. And don't get me wrong, the person doesn't know. I felt like this. That was never even a conversation that I ever had with that person, how I felt, whether it's before or since, you know, they don't know. So I don't I, I think he was doing what I suppose he thought term. Good. society expects you to have him.

Coach Maddox  1:01:15  
You know, that's all we most of us. Have. We just we get up. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, I think I'll go out into the world and do my shittiest job today. Yeah, we don't we don't do that. You know, we're muddling through like everybody else. And sometimes. You know, we don't we muddle through, not so so well, but it's in that moment, all we have sometimes. Well, I love what you shared. I love what you have learned. I want to encourage you, my brother to do the work around this that's necessary. You know, I

Darren Sage  1:01:54  
so fast in 1000 steps.

Coach Maddox  1:01:57  
You know, I heard Brene Brown say something yesterday that I was listening to an audiobook and she said something about when we can be with something, we can move beyond it. In order to move beyond something we have to be willing to be with it.

Darren Sage  1:02:21  
I think for me the thing that I tell you that even though I'm not a religious person I don't hate that person. As a result, I hate to say I didn't I don't like the situation, but I hope they are well and that they're happy. And and I mean, okay, this parliament I wanted me to, for him to learn a lesson from this as well and say that, you know, you really can't be doing that.

Coach Maddox  1:02:54  
And you don't know that he didn't learn a lesson. Possibly. Yeah,

Darren Sage  1:02:57  
I I suppose I wanted to give the opportunity to, for him to learn that lesson from me. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Okay, so ASA. Whatever will be will be so. Yeah, I'm not I'm not here to deadhead them. But I'm done with that. I have no time to hear that person. Ah, I've no time and no energy to hear that person.

Coach Maddox  1:03:25  
Well, I'm glad you freed yourself at that very much. Darren, very glad you freed yourself with that. So, thank you so much for sharing your story. So vulnerably How about some rapid fire questions? Are you ready?

Darren Sage  1:03:41  
No. No, but go for your life.

Coach Maddox  1:03:48  
All right. Number one, what are you most afraid of?

Darren Sage  1:03:54  
I worry myself in a weird way. Because because I know what I'm capable of. And I'm I used to be frightened I would be used in a bad way. But that's a really good question. Why am I asked ya. Right? I know this, the one that this this is this is ironic considering of being alone. God says despite all I do and all I how I how I behave. The most thing I'm frightened to death of it being alone.

Coach Maddox  1:04:40  
Well in what you're describing there is is precisely how it works. Our our coping mechanism actually brings about the thing that we've been trying to protect ourselves from. So well said and and I I applaud your courage for speaking that out loud. Number two, if you could go back in time and say anything to the younger you at whatever age you choose to visit that younger you What would you tell him

Darren Sage  1:05:22  
they will be all right. That will be fine. That everything will be fine. not to overthink everything. Not to second guess everything. Not to control everything. Everything will be fine.

Coach Maddox  1:05:44  
You're speaking like inner child work right now you get that right. Yeah, that's what the little boy that lives inside of you needs to hear most. Yeah. Yeah. Beautiful. Aaron and final question. What has been the best moment of your life thus far? Oh.

Darren Sage  1:06:16  
Weirdly, even though I've not seen him as much as I would like, is seeing my nephew for the first time to see a small life just on the outset, just on the get go with no of the hinderance that life event you unfortunately will possibly pile upon him. That is free, it is not free of all the worries and the stress is free to do what he likes. A and the sheer innocence of it all the sheer. You know, it's like everything, you know, everything's brand new, seen for the first time experience for the first time. And I envy him that's a very new to me in a situation where I could just go all the way and start fresh.

Coach Maddox  1:07:12  
But I'm also hearing you're not saying it in so many words, but I'm hearing that he's inspiring you.

Darren Sage  1:07:19  
Yeah. I'm so looking forward to when he becomes inquisitive and wants to know everything because I'm full of random information. So I'm, I'm ready for the inquisitive, the awkward questions, the silly questions, silly, all of the things that children do, because I don't have any children. You know, I was still looking forward. Because my family is complicated as to I want to have three children, one of four children, three of us are gay. So I've got a sister who's a lesbian, my next brother downs, gay. My youngest brother is central and he's married and they've got a boy and it's like, I've got children in my life. And I've been so looking forward to unfortunate the lockdowns and the pandemics have been, you know, a hinderance but that's what I was wanting to be to do experience that alongside him.

Coach Maddox  1:08:14  
You know, Darren, I want to reflect something back to you. Your energy as you speak about these children is through the roof, your energy just shifted in a manner that I'm getting this real strong intuitive hit that there's something here for you something more than maybe just having nieces and nephews. Oh, yeah, there's something here that you you you may be actually landing on some life purpose right now is it's about

Darren Sage  1:08:47  
because the one thing about the fear of being alone is because you don't get to experience those things that you want to do on your own as well as you do when he was somebody else. And it could be my nephew, it might be my brothers or my sister, it might be my parents. Or it could be a partner. And it's it's that it's that that I want. That's the one thing the thing that makes life worth living.

Coach Maddox  1:09:17  
Well do you are you getting what I'm saying about this could be touching on some potential life purpose for you. That may not be about a relationship. I mean, it could be but it's

Darren Sage  1:09:27  
about guidance, guardianship holding one's hand through the battlefield that is life that that would

Coach Maddox  1:09:39  
be worth exploring my brother because because your energy just really lit up in a manner that I've not seen it light up and that's very telling,

Darren Sage  1:09:49  
which is well I get that hit almost when I'm teaching at the gym, because that's, you know, that's also the you know, the adrenaline's going crazy You know, because obviously you're you've got an audience which is, which is almost where I found my event. Rather than putting on the show to everybody. I get to put on a show to a specific amount of people and have a purpose for doing that. I'm getting paid for it as well.

Coach Maddox  1:10:15  
So it sounds to me like maybe maybe the administrative work isn't isn't

Darren Sage  1:10:26  
being played, I just need to do something about it before I would have life.

Coach Maddox  1:10:32  
It was fun to see your energy soar like that. And to see you light up I can feel I can feel the energy of passion. So thank thank you for sharing that very much. So there's one thing Darren that I want to leave you with. Thank you for I want to say first of all, thank you for coming on today and being a guest being vulnerable, sharing your story, unpacking it, and it's been awesome to have you it's been my pleasure. And the one thing that I want to leave with you is I want to tell you that Darren you indeed are an authentic gay man.

Darren Sage  1:11:04  
And thank you, sir, I've I second guessed you too early. And watching you in these podcasts has been quite an inspiration. You have been that very, very comfortable chair.

Coach Maddox  1:11:21  
Thank you. Thank you very much. That means a lot. You're welcome.

Darren J SageProfile Photo

Darren J Sage

A highly opinionated 'say it like it is' 40-something loon...

Darren is a gay man living in York, UK (about halfway between London and Edinburgh - the eldest of 4 children, three of which are gay. He has spent almost half his life trying to come to terms with series of sexual interactions with someone 8 years older than him, where he was either plied with drink in order for sex to happen, or was obliged to perform sexual acts for fear of losing the person he thought he loved.

As a result, Darren shut down emotionally - avoiding intimacy due to that breach of trust and has learned the art of being a fortress - putting on a show of noise, being over the top and trying to be liked by everyone as a means to deflect any attention whilst burying the real Darren deep within himself.

Who were these people supposed to like? And who took a dislike to the person on show when maybe they would have liked the person buried underneath?

Only in the past 5 years, has Darren realized that this is unsustainable. So, with counseling to address the issues of the past obtained and attended to, he's not afraid of his past - it's made him into the person he is today.

Yes, he might not be everybody's cup of tea, but then not everyone likes tea. This single acknowledgement means that there's no need for "the show".

Darren has worked in a variety of office environments - he currently works providing emergency road transport for the railway network in the UK. He's also found an outlet for that energy he spent getting people to like him - he teaches Spin and Body Pump classes at a local gym.

When he's not working or teaching, he spends time with his family - he seeks his Mother weekly, taking her for lunch, as well as catching up with his siblings and his nephew, who's 18 months old. with his friends and family. Darren is a keen cyclist, swimmer and all-round gym attender but also enjoys walks in the countryside which are minutes away from his home.

He is also valued highly by his friends for his insightful views and keenness to help those that can't see a way forward.

Because York is a small city (pop. 210k), he is well known in the gay community and does help out with Pride events which take place in the city in June.

He is an authentic gay man that needs to understand that not every day is a stage to perform - even actors have days off.