Terry McHale shares his story of having highly religious parents and how unauthentically he lived his young life in order to survive. Being who he really was...was anything but safe. Even though he was well liked and respected in school, there was a painful emptiness because he was not able to be himself. That emptiness led him to attempt suicide, while in college. This turned out to be a defining moment in his life and the road from shame to authenticity has been a long and challenging journey. A vivid dream in 2020 turned everything on its head and changed the trajectory of Terry's life, for the better. He talks about how gripping fear had held him back for so long. And, once he finally fully came out, he realized that it was much bigger and more scary in his mind than it ever was in reality. If you have ever felt like you can't go on, this episode will shed some warm light on your situation.
Terry is a licensed massage therapist and in his free time he leads video connection calls as a volunteer for an online group for gay men.
Coach Maddox 0:03
So Terry McHale, welcome to the podcast, I'm so glad to have you as a guest, and I can't wait to hear where our conversation goes.
Terry McHale 0:11
I'm looking forward to it. You don't know what's gonna happen, but that's okay.
Coach Maddox 0:18
That's okay. That's the best part of it. All right, well, I'll just lead off with the same question that I always do how we get the ball rolling here. And that is, what does it mean to you, particularly you to be an authentic gay man.
Terry McHale 0:34
And authentic gay man is, you know, it's just is all about just living, whoever you are, and whatever you are, whatever that means to you, because each person is different. But you are at peace with yourself, because you really, truly just being you, and not trying to be somebody else, or be something that somebody expects you to be. And that brings a lot of peace, a lot of power, and also brings a lot of energy around the people around you. I think being your true self being vulnerable, being real, just really built a nice feeling to who you attract in your life, and in all what you're accomplished. Because when you're in that groove, everything flows so much smoother. And you just end even though you might not get this other thing that you think the world was, you get what you want. And what really is you instead of the trappings that other people, you know, sort of create for you. And I think that's the best part is because everything's just flow smoothly, a lot of the kinks get taken out, you don't find so many problems in your life, because you're just being real, and you're being yourself.
Coach Maddox 1:44
I agree completely. And I think when we step into that place of authenticity attracts a totally different kind of person than it does when we're doing otherwise. And I find in my life, it attracts the kind of people that I really want to attract.
Terry McHale 2:00
Yeah, I mean, it really the type of we have fun with and you're just enjoy spending time with, no matter what you're doing, whether or not it's picking out each coat or something on each other's toes or something, it's just more fun, because you're dealing with someone that you really connect to.
Coach Maddox 2:14
Exactly. Well in a previous brief conversation that you and I had, because we haven't talked a whole lot. Well, and I do want to back up a minute and just tell the audience that Terry and I have known each other for about a almost a year, almost a year. And we met in a large online gay group. And where is, as you've heard me say before, many of the guests that are coming on the podcast are men that I have met in this big gay group that we were a part of. And honestly, we probably only had maybe a few one on one conversations, not a lot, most of our interaction has been in groups. So even though we've known each other for a year, I wouldn't say we really know each other all that well. And so I'm looking forward to this conversation, because it's a beautiful way to get to know you a little bit better and, and find out a little bit about what makes you tick, I suspect, based on you know, the little bit of of interaction that we've had, that we probably have a lot in common. Yeah, but in that. So the so the audience knows, Terry does some facilitation and leads some gay calls and groups from time to time. He also is a licensed massage therapist in the state of Florida. And yes, in a previous conversation, you mentioned that you had had your own challenges, you know, coming from a time as most of us as gay men had when we couldn't be open and honest about who we were we couldn't be authentic, we had to live that lie and be invisible and show up as representing ourselves totally is something that we're not, I would love for you to dive into that part of the story and, and what that was like for you and how you navigated that and how you went from that to where you are now.
Terry McHale 4:21
Well, that's that's a good story. It's because it's part of my past so I I still feel it, and I'm aware of it, but it's not real like it used to be. So growing up, you know, I had to I knew I was gay, but I was not you know what people think of like as a gay man. I was a sports guy. I did. I'd wholesome all different types of athletics. I was, you know, well, like I was a big nerd. And I I was a first four year letter minute for varsity soccer High school I went to so, but the whole time I knew I was gay. And I knew I had to play this part. My, I always say my advantage I have, being a big nerd is none of my other friends were dating girls. So I didn't have to growing up. But I was aware of the pressure that was expected from me. My father was very good about telling me that if you you know, if you are gay, or if you certain things you did in your life, were wrong, you were going to hell. And he brought that up a lot is religious is. And so I knew that if I was did these things, I was going to hell, at least that's what I believed at that point. And so more and more as I couldn't deny who I was and what I liked, and who that I wanted to be with men, it became really obvious that I was going to go to hell. And so in college, I finally got one day, I was watching a movie called snowman and Falcon. And it was teased to drug dealer guys that were best friends. And, and they were like this really close bond between these two guys, even though they were drug dealers. And I thought I can never have that I can never be open enough to have a friendship with anybody and connect with them. Because I'm gay, and I'm going to go to hell. So I decided to take a bunch of pills and try to kill myself. I woke up in the hospital because apparently didn't take enough pills. And I was wandering around the dorm asking for more pills. I don't remember any of that. But I tried to kill myself because I thought if I'm gonna go to hell am I gonna get there early. And I didn't want to keep suffering with everything that I dealt with. And, you know, out of surviving match, you know, I mean, the fact that I was wandering around this dorm, talking to people asking for drugs, made me realize that there was some bigger purpose in my life. And as I continued to, you know, explore that purpose in my life, I became much more aware of the fact that I was meant to be to help people and to heal people and to make people better. And that's one of the reasons I became a massage therapist. But, you know, I was trying to heal myself, you know, and I figure if I learned how to heal others, I'd learned how to heal myself.
Coach Maddox 7:29
Terry, I want to back up for just a minute, I kind of want to know, when you woke up in the hospital and realize that you weren't dead, that your attempt to take your own life ahead had not come to fruition? What What was the first thing that came to your mind?
Terry McHale 7:49
Though, the first thing I would say I was, I was really stoned out of my head. I, I was just, I was embarrassed. I even though there weren't people there, in my mind, I saw these people, they're like looking at me saying, Oh, my God, look what he did. And,
Coach Maddox 8:09
and so am I hearing you, I don't want to put words in your mouth. But am I hearing that there was a lot of shame associated with having attempted suicide? Yes. I mean, I think, you know, I think it would be of real value to kind of get an understanding of how you navigated that shame how you, because I'm, I know now because we have our brief conversation and your openness with it right now that you, you, you're no longer experience, I'm assuming you no longer experience, that sense of shame about this. So you've come full circle. And I think that our listeners would really, you know, there's gotta be people out there that are in a in a bad place. And, and they might get a lot of value out of knowing how you went from feeling that intense sense of shame right after the fact, to where you are now where you freed yourself of that?
Terry McHale 9:04
Well, when I was there. I had a lot of shame, a lot of anger, a lot of a lot of different things. But to be honest, I didn't know what those emotions were. I'd spent so many years, not being emotional. I learned I wanted to be Spock, I want to be a Vulcan. I wanted to have no emotions and just be logical, because then it wouldn't, it wouldn't matter. Nothing would be like I'm a robot. And that was that was huge for me. So one of the big things was I started having having to learn how to feel my feelings and understanding what they meant and that they my first therapist after I did that, she just kept saying, What are you feeling? And I said, I don't know. I don't I don't know how to identify feelings. It was it was like someone to turn off that knowledge and if pain and happiness and anger, all of them were the same feeling. They were all like numb. They were all like, together. So I would have this smile on my face. But in my head, I wasn't feeling anything.
Coach Maddox 10:17
Well, I think this is gold. Because in my conversations with people, I'm amazed how many people don't feel feelings or don't know how to if they do have them don't know how to identify what they're feeling. So how did you figure that out? How did you figure out what it was that you were actually feeling and be able to identify the individual feelings?
Terry McHale 10:37
It took a while. I mean, you know it. When you were, at least for me, when I was going through things that was words that I would use, that helped me identify the what I was actually feeling like, I've also learned that words of power, and I think, you know, so using certain words, really tells who you really are not what you're what they're saying. So, for example, the word fun. You know, you think people that's like happy, right? Well, for me, it was, was, oh, whenever I had to do something horrible, it's like, oh, I got to go have some fun. So fun took on this meaning of pain and obligation. And so I actually literally had to take that word, scrub it down, get rid of the attachment to being painful, to start appreciating the word fun, and enjoying it. Literally, I had to stop on a regular basis and think, What am I feeling? What is this feeling about? And some of it, I talked to therapists, because I mean, there was times that I was not that I was unaware of my feelings where it was just like there were so it was. So it's like, not knowing what the color green looks like, and then seeing green and saying, I know, that looks familiar, but I don't know what that is. And that was sort of how a lot of the feelings were they were there. And I remember them as a kid having those feelings. And so I had a start, I did a lot of meditation, a lot of stuff to identify the feelings from when I was younger, before I had all these limits put on myself. And it really helped you go back and think that made me happy. What did I feel like? What did I think at that point? And so meditation, going back to identifying what the feelings were to say, Okay, this is how I'm feeling now. And being okay with being any of the feelings because one thing I've really learned is, all feelings have a place in my life, anger, happiness, upset, all of them, are telling me something and giving me clues. So now that I understand that being angry is okay. I mean, I used to say angry wood, that I would want to hold it in and throw it inside, because that wasn't good. But anger is okay.
Coach Maddox 13:07
It's what we do with anger. Sometimes that can be bad, but the anger itself is not bad.
Terry McHale 13:15
Right? Your body's telling you something your mind's telling you something you need to be paid pay attention to.
Coach Maddox 13:21
And I think it's worthwhile to, you know, really touched, you just said that you had to embrace all of your feelings. And I think it's important to point out here that, you know, we don't get to cherry pick, you know, you either are open to your feeling feelings, or you're close to feeling your feelings, there's no oh, I only want to feel joy and happiness. I don't want to feel sadness, depression, anger, it does not work that way, the door is either open, or the door is closed. If you cut yourself off to some feelings, you actually have cut yourself off to all feelings. Psychology has substantiated that at this point, and those of us that have delved into this can validate that yes, you cannot cherry pick,
Terry McHale 14:03
right? And the more you try to fight your own feelings, the more you have this internal conflict, at least for me, because you're fighting what is real. And what is authentic, is this is my feeling. And embrace it and be okay with it. And be vulnerable with it because you'll create real connection with people when you're real. Not when Oh, I'm okay. I'm sure that doesn't, that doesn't connect with people connecting with people is, you know, you did that that pissed me off. I was really upset when you did that. You know, and I'd like to talk about it. But you know, don't scream at them. Just be there and feel that emotion but let it go through you and process it and become part of who you are. And then let it go. Don't sit in it. That's what I've learned.
Coach Maddox 14:50
So you went through this stage of allowing yourself that it's you there's a progression. The first stage I'm assuming was just allow allowing yourself to have the feelings to feel the feelings. It's a mishmash and you don't know what's going on. And then the second step, the stage is to label and identify what those feelings are, so you can understand the information that they're trying to give you. And then beyond that, the third stage is to begin to express and share your emotions about those feelings with those that you care about those around you, those that you want to connect with. So talk a little bit more about the learning to express how that was for you.
Terry McHale 15:37
You know, I, I always always grew up with expression was a bad thing expressing them, you shouldn't express anger, you shouldn't Express unhappiness, sadness, men, especially are not supposed to be weak and express or cry. I didn't, I was a big crier until now. I, you know, the biggest part that I had to learn was, people want to connect with you. I'll give you an example. I had, I was in this group. And I was talking about work. And it was a very deep, gut wrenching, kind of like, training, where we were really delving into who we were as people, and I just kept focused on train and work, and I didn't focus on me. And so finally, when I started focusing on my relationships, and being a gay man, they're like, that's what we're missing, we felt like we didn't know you. And, you know, that's the way it is, is, if you don't present all of you to whoever you're trying to connect to, you never will connect, there's always going to be that wall. Because if you've put up a wall that I cannot talk about this, I cannot be this way, there's always going to be a wall between you and that other person or whoever you're trying to connect you. But in the end, you find the walls prevent you from just being you and being happy, because the people that really want to be around you, and who you are, as a real person won't show up until you that real person. And, you know, because then they are, the energy attracts that the hardest part for me in getting there was just realizing that it was okay to be myself. I mean, I have had people in my life I've been really, you know, Stan offers to and not always been stoic or whatever. And when I was real with them, one or two things happen, they either decided that that wasn't it, or they became much closer friends and majority of time became much closer friends, because I finally said something that connected to the energy and the emotion of what I was going through.
Coach Maddox 17:51
You know, the beautiful thing about authenticity, Terry is that when we get fully authentic, it's a natural polarizer. You know, the minute you show up authentic, it does one of two things, it either sends the other person screaming and running in the opposite direction, because your authenticity is makes them very uncomfortable. Or it makes them want to come and sit right next to you. And personally, I've learned to really capitalize on that, you know, I feel like when I step into that real me that authenticity, it sends those people running and screaming, which then makes more room for the people that want to come and sit right next to me. You know, I think that as gay men, oftentimes we are afraid to come out, we're afraid to share who we really are for fear that we'll be rejected. But the number one point that people fail to see here is that if you don't share who you are, that is rejection. You know, there's there's only a possibility that you'll get rejected. If you share yourself, there's also a possibility that you won't get rejected that you'll be fully accepted. But when we don't share ourselves for that fear of rejection, then we live actually, as if we had been rejected. We're in other words, we're pre determining, and we're doing the rejecting ourselves. Now, some people would say yes, but it always feels better for me to reject myself that it does for somebody else to reject me. I'm not sure I'm fully buying that. But, you know,
Terry McHale 19:32
well, it works. It is in the end, when you create a connection with somebody based on a false sense. You're never going to be able to sustain that. Because in the end, you're going to want to go back to expressing and being yourself because you're going to feel bad about your situation. I mean, I was in a relationship. I was totally not me. And I felt bad about it. I felt bad about me. I was not happy. And it was all because I base my relationship on, here's what I'm supposed to be. And I became that person. And then when I decided I couldn't be that person anymore, and I wanted to be me, boom, it exploded. But two things happened. One, it ended. We're still friends, but it ended. And two, I am so much happier. And I've created a group of friends that I just adore, who like me, as the authentic may not be, you know, you know, I have like, people watch me dance. I am a crazy dancer. And then I love dancing. But they my, my old group of friends always like you're like really controlled. And like when I dance, I'm not in any of that. Like, I've never seen you like that. And that's because I always felt like I had to be, you know, in that space of being okay and quiet and just, you know, calm, but that's not me. So
Coach Maddox 20:59
when when when we're showing up being who we think someone else will like, or others will accept. That's a performance, that's a production. And that takes an insane amount of energy. I mean, I've walked that path. With my first three relationships, I showed up as Superman man, I had it all together, I was, you know, and you can only keep that going for so long. And then one day, it just crashes and burns, you know, you run out of energy, you just can't perform any longer. I can remember partner number one, about two years after we met when I could no longer keep the performance up. And it just began to crumble all around me. He said to me, Wow, you're, you're not the man that I fell in love with? And I said, No, you're right, he does not exist.
Terry McHale 21:52
You know, never did.
Coach Maddox 21:55
Terry McHale 21:59
Well, and that's the one thing that I become very confident and very comfortable. And it's the fact that I am the most important person really in, in my relationship. And the other person is the most important person in their relationship. Because you don't honor this first, you can honor the relationship. And you know, and that's huge. When people get to the point where they honor themselves inside a relationship. And they don't change because of the relationship. You know, I see when people are in relationships, they're on a journey together, and they go in and out because they don't have the exact same path. And they never were meant to. And so when you're on your path, and you have someone journeying near you, that's amazing. But there's never going to be the same person the exact same journey, and they never should be. And you got to honor your journey and be open about your journey and who you are and what you're going through. Especially as gay men, we've learned so much to be chameleons, and get used to adjusting the people so that they are comfortable. You know, you can't do that in relationship and be happy.
Coach Maddox 23:06
Well, and that is a big portion. I mean, the whole purpose for this podcast is to create this safe space for two men to step more into their authenticity. Because I personally believe that the vast majority of our collective challenges as gay men are centered around this particular topic. I think this inability to be authentic is driving our suicide rate. It's driving our loneliness and isolation. It's driving our drug abuse. It's it's driving everything that ails us as gay men. We are so tuned into being you know, the best you know, if you're if you're a gym guy, you're gonna have the buffest body in the gym if you're, we go into the work environment and and there's nothing wrong with excelling or achieving. But a lot of our overachieving is a result of trying to validate and prove that we are enough that we are worthy. And that's a a hole that can never be filled.
Terry McHale 24:28
Now, we have to realize we are enough because so I have this story. And this is a dream I have and I want I think it's the perfect thing to add. And right here. I once had a dream and in the dream I wasn't feeling enough. I was feeling weird and left out and different. And I'm going to use the word God didn't identify itself that way but stuck to me and said, I need you to be you. And he called me up in the sky and showed the earth and the earth became a big jigsaw puzzle. And in in the big jigsaw puzzle, be pointed to responses. That's a spot you need. And there was an open spot in the jigsaw puzzle and it became a puzzle piece, I said, I need you to finish that spot be that spot, because that is what completes the picture. And I know you can't be any other piece, you have to be that one because I need you to be that. And that was so empowering. Because in my in that dream, it made me feel like this is who I'm supposed to be, I truly need to be Terry McHale, whatever that means, and whoever I feel like I am in any moment, because that's what's going to make the picture fall. And that's what's going to make things flow the way that's supposed to flow. And if people took up who they really were, and just did did that the puzzles would fit together and we'd have a complete picture. And that would make things flow so much smoother.
Coach Maddox 25:52
How long ago was that dream? If you had to guess what year was that dream?
Terry McHale 25:57
Dream happened in 2020?
Coach Maddox 26:00
Oh, so it's fresh.
Terry McHale 26:02
Coach Maddox 26:03
It's only been a little over a year ago.
Terry McHale 26:06
Coach Maddox 26:09
I love that. I mean, you truly were, you know, whatever people believe in God higher power. You are, you know, Supreme Being source universe, you were touched by that higher power.
Terry McHale 26:26
Yeah, I mean, it was it was a I woke up and I, it was one of the first times of my life, I felt PFPs. In, in everything. And it was it was just such a powerful moment. Because I had been getting there and getting there and getting there and feeling like I was touching it. But then that dream just sort of solidified for me saying, You are exactly where you're supposed to be. Thank you keep going, be that person be yourself.
Coach Maddox 26:54
So it sounds like you internalize that. So once you internalize the gist of that dream, the meaning that the message that you received, how did that manifest itself in the external world? How did you show up? And what did you do differently?
Terry McHale 27:13
Well, when I started, when I that manifested it, I started to take care of my diet, it was much more functional in my workouts and how I was interacting with people who I was choosing to interact with. Because I mean, I realized that I need to interact with the people that I'm supposed to interact with, not the people I think I should interact with. And it really helped me see the world in a different way. Because I get drawn to people. And I'm like, wow, why am I drawn that people? I don't really care if something say saying I need to talk to this person, and I go up and talk to people. Hey, you know, how are you today? I'm Terry. And it's confidence that I love and throw some people off because I'm like, wow, you just write my face. And he's telling me everything about himself without any barriers. And you'd be amazed how many men just crumble when you say you when you're real. I've had men tell me all sorts of stuff that they say they never tell other men. Just because I was so authentic. They like they felt like they had to be too. And I think that's great because it gives them the space to be authentic to when you are that way
Coach Maddox 28:27
you you gave them permission, but you also in in that vulnerability, create a safe space. And that's one of the things that most of us have lacked throughout our lives as gay men, we have lacked safe space. And so when we find safe space, it's like we hit the jackpot. You know, I'm being intuitively prompted right now to kind of speak to this, this conversation about living for so long and authentically thinking that's what we had to do to be accepted and how I want to touch on how this relates to our mental health. You know, mental health is not something that we talk about very much in gay social settings. And I've been studying this and listening to some podcasts lately and realizing that we need to really see mental health with the same eyes that we see physical health you know with with physical health, we don't question it you know, if we are health conscious, we eat right we watch our diet, we go to the gym or we get some form of exercise. We do things that are we go to the doctor, we have checkups. We do these things that are about our physical health and well being and our mental health and well being should be exactly the same. They are exactly the same. If you're going to be mentally well you got to Do that the equivalent of all the same things that you do to be physically well, whatever that would look like maybe that's seeing a therapist, maybe that is doing personal growth work, or there's reading, self help books or self awareness books. But I think we need to start realizing that they're the same. They're we're treating them like they're two different animals, and they're not
Terry McHale 30:35
well, and many times, you know, they are they go together. I mean, because your physical and your mental affect each other. And I, my big thing is that, you know, I have a lot of Pete, I know, a lot of people that are really great shape, but they have great shape. Because it physically have to look well, because other people will judge them, they think if they don't work certain way. And it's like, that's not mental health, that in their physical health is not reflected in the mental health, because they're doing drugs and doing stuff to achieve that, look. You know, I think when you start work, taking the mental part, the physical part goes along. But it's, it's it really how it starts up here. Because, you know, this doesn't get healthy. By itself, it's got to start up in here, it starts in here, your mental emotional health really brings your body health.
Coach Maddox 31:34
Well, it does, they're very connected. But you know, when we think about health, we don't just eat our physical health, we don't just eat healthy once we eat healthy on an ongoing basis, we don't just exercise, you go to the gym, once, it has to happen all the time. It's like taking a bath or brushing your teeth. You know, it's it's it has to be an ongoing thing. And mental health is the same way. You can't just go see a therapist for two or three sessions and think, okay, I'm good. Now, you know, it, I'm not saying you have to see a therapist for the rest of your life, I'm saying that there are things that you need to do. For me, part of my mental health is meditating. And I do that with as much commitment and devotion as I do my exercise routines and managing my diet, I take supplementation, very specific supplementation. And there are equivalents of that in the mental health arena. You know, for me, I walk every day. And yes, that is physical exercise. But that walk every day is like this sacred space for me, it all kinds of magical stuff happens on that walk, I walk about five to seven miles a day. And it is it hits two birds with one stone, I get some exercise, but I also have a chance to really, really, you know, be in a space where you know, when you're walking, you can't really do a lot of other stuff. So sometimes I listen to inspirational things like podcast, sometimes I just walk in silence, and create this space for inspiration to come from the universe. And it does, but that's all that falls into the the you know, the topic of mental health and well being. And we got to start, you know, giving that as much energy as we give our physical health and well being.
Terry McHale 33:40
Right. And it the other side of it is the simple fact that, you know, as much as we hated this thing as a kid, you know, birds of a feather flock together, you know, you are suddenly pick up traits from the people you're around whether or not it's good or bad, you're going to pick him up, if you're going to go around a bunch of people that are doing things that you don't consider, okay? And you're just around them all the time, you got to start picking up behaviors and attitudes. It's fun to have people who travel back home and they used to be from the south. And they come back and start having to draw ready because I've been there for a while. And you know, pick you pick up behaviors when you're around people. And you know, so look at your round too, because a lot of your behaviors are going to base on this is what I think life is these are the people I'm hanging out with. These are people I'm spending my energy on, you know, what are they doing? What are they accomplishing who they you know, who are they in the world? Because in the end, you are like the people you're out to? I always joke with people and there was like three gating rules when I for dating. One is you know, find out who the people are in the family is because you're going to they're going to pick rules from their family to find out their meet their friends because they will be like their friends because that's who they hang Now, you know, and three, watch how they do. Watch how they treat people who do service for you, you know, like, waiters, waitresses and stuff like that. Because eventually that's how they'll see you is you're doing a service for them. How are they going to treat you? But it all but all this is how their environment is, this is what it's around them. And look at that if someone is always got this constant drama going on around them, they're feeding it in some way, even if they're not aware of it, they're feeding it. Yes. And, and it's interesting to like, have that conversation with people, because it forces you to start taking some personal responsibility and realizing you're part of whatever's going on.
Coach Maddox 35:43
Yes, yes, you're right about the drama, they're feeding it. But also, if they are drawn to that there's something that they are getting out of the drama, it's feeding them as well. So, Terry, I'd like to hear after the dream you had, and you began to really lean into a more authentic Terry How did that affect your mental health and well being.
Terry McHale 36:13
So when I was growing up, I told you about trying to kill myself, I still had that energy around me. And, you know, whenever something would go bad, I would think, you know, I could just kill myself. And that lasted until I started this growth. Because I never felt good enough. I there was always that little demon saying, well, just kill yourself. It gets too hard. And so it's been recent, you know, that that reason? 2020 when it finally is finally it's gone. It was it was always like, this shadow was hanging over me. Like, like, I was almost had like an ER my shoulder. Oh, God, those logs, you know, and now, he was not there anymore. I no longer feel like I have to like, think wow, what's gonna, what when's the other shoe gonna drop. I expect great things to happen in my life. And I attract people that bring those great things in my life. And that is been huge. I've started really exploring lots of new things in my life, I'm not afraid of trying new things. I'm doing square dancing, which I freaking love. And, but I started doing travel and stuff like that in places I've never been, just because I feel free to if I want to experience it, I can. I don't feel like, you know, not worthy of it. I feel like I'm worthy of anything that I go after. And I want to do. So it's really opened up my mind to a greater possibility of who Terry can be. And I really, truly have become a much more broad, happy person. And it's always amazing to me that people are like, you know, come up to me and say, Well, you know, what's your secret? You know, I'm like, my, my secret is, I am Terry. And that's all I ever get have to be. And that's all I ever want to be. I don't want to be anybody else. And I'm happy being me. Wherever I'm at. I can move forward and back. But I'm still me. And I'm happy with even the parts I some people might not look at and say, well, that's the best, but it's me. And so I'm happy with that darkened, Shadow darkened. Like that's all me. And that's got to be part of it. So you gotta love it all good or bad.
Coach Maddox 38:49
So if you could give the listeners a couple of tips on how they might lean into being more authentic. What would those tips be?
Terry McHale 39:06
Go with your first gut instinct sometimes don't, don't second guess yourself. If something if something's telling you to do it, do it, see what happens. Generally, your gut is your, your, your own your real self saying, hey, I want to do that. Or I need to do that I need to experience it. So listen to your gut. And don't second guess yourself. One, find out what true joy feels like to you, you know, true expression. You know, whether that is you know, music triggers that for me. And when I hear music, I close my eyes and I'm in the music and I and I'm expressing and I feel it that allows me to like Express so much more. So find a way to really open up that expression. And for me, it's music and for is as scary as it is to be yourself. The reward But on the other side is much bigger than the scariness ahead of time. So just be real.
Coach Maddox 40:07
And you know, isn't it interesting how we spent so much of our life thinking that it was so scary, and we were so afraid to just be ourselves? And then when we finally did it, we look back and we go, what the hell? What was the big deal here? I mean, we build it up in our mind to be this gigantic, fire breathing dragon, when it actually turns out to be a pretty meek, mild, little mouse.
Terry McHale 40:37
Yeah. And I'll tell you the story of coming out to my mom, because it was funny. I had all this energy. And all this time, I came out to my mom and I said, Mom, I'm gay. And she says, Oh, it's the 90s. Because what do you want to eat? Right? Don't you have any questions or that? No, but what do you want to eat? Oh, my spaghetti was okay. That was my entire coming out to my mom. What do you want? You know, it's the 90s. It's all she said. What do you want to eat? And I'm like, I've worked so long to tell my mom and my other months of energy to like, be confident. And she's like, Oh, it's the 90s?
Coach Maddox 41:22
Don't you suspect what she was really saying was? Oh, honey, I've known since you were a little boy.
Terry McHale 41:29
No, I mean, I, I mean, it's still me. I mean, and I think people that really get you know, long time before you ever tell them, you know, and I think that it's just a matter of, sometimes they have their own energy block, because they don't want to see you that way. Until you you show up. And then they need that they need that to release it to. And you being free. And being yourself is a gift you give to other too. And I really, I mean, I can't say enough about the fact that me being real authentic, opens up the possibility for other people to be real and authentic. It's, it's huge.
Coach Maddox 42:09
Yes, it does. I have come to believe that. You know, I talk a lot about vulnerability as well, I see that. I believe that authenticity and vulnerability are two separate things. But they are like either twins or first cousins. There's an overlap. They're very similar. They go hand in hand. They need to be married, but they are two separate things. But I do believe that when we can step into true vulnerability that it opens doors, builds bridges and clears pathways in a way that nothing else can. The way vulnerability can do that.
Terry McHale 42:51
And I totally agree. I did a coming out video of myself. National Coming Out Day in 2019. I was supposed to put it inside a group. Instead I played it on my own page. My personal page. All of my did you do that
Coach Maddox 43:12
by accident? Or Was that intentional? It was by accident. You came out to the whole world on Facebook by accident. Yes. You know what, there was no accident.
Terry McHale 43:20
No, it was no accident because just this is what but all these people I saw like a super religious person get on I'm like, oh, fuck, you know they're on. And to a tee. Everyone was supportive. We love you. You've always been such an amazing guy. We never knew you were going through the struggles we wish you had told us and you know, we love you. You're a great person. And that was all these great people all these people that I went to college with in high school with that didn't know anything about that. Were supportive and it was like talking about a weight off my shoulder even though I didn't mean to do it. Once I realized I was in the wrong place. I just kept doing it. And well in it, but it was rewarding is all geared up to
Coach Maddox 44:09
the important thing here is for the I want to really point out to our listeners that that really heavy burden, we choose to take that burden on we build it up in our minds to the point that it is a huge burden. Now I'm not saying that you can't come out and have a rough go have it because a lot of us have had a pretty rough go of it. But rarely is the go of it as hard as we have made it out to be in our minds. We have off alized it and we've decorated like the ultimate New Year's Eve party. It's just
Terry McHale 44:50
Yeah. And in ultimately being yourself being authentic being real. Is brings so much peace And so much freeing, and just like suddenly you took off all those weights carried around in your shoulders all those years?
Coach Maddox 45:07
Yes, absolutely. I did not realize that you had only fully come out in 2019.
Terry McHale 45:13
I mean, everybody in my life knew at 20 2019. But no one like a lot of my past it No, because I didn't I mean, I didn't see a reason to tell them I didn't see the purpose. And
Coach Maddox 45:25
obviously, the universe saw purpose and you tell them.
Terry McHale 45:29
And it was it was cool to see all my it's, I mean, I played soccer since I was small, and I was rather good, and brother in a competitive place. So all these people that were my soccer buddies, all saw this. And they all supported me. It was really great. And, and while if people did delete me, I don't know, I didn't care. I felt it
Coach Maddox 45:53
for what a beautiful story, Terry, you know, to have all of those people from your past rally and love and support and acceptance. But the one thing that you just said is really powerful. And that is at that point, you no longer cared. You know, there's a saying that says the people that matter, don't care, and the people that care probably don't matter. And we would all be better off if we could really take that to heart.
Terry McHale 46:22
Right when other people that that
Coach Maddox 46:26
mattered really did care. beautiful story.
Terry McHale 46:31
It was it was a great thing that happened in scary when it happened. But I'm very happy that I did it.
Coach Maddox 46:37
Yeah, I can't even imagine the the feeling that you must have felt in the moment that you realize that you accidentally posted that on your profile, rather than in the the private group that had to be a moment of complete tear.
Terry McHale 46:52
And it was live. I was doing it live as I saw people pop up on my thing, oh, that's even bigger. And I was like, like, I'm just gonna keep doing this. I mean, I was live. And, you know, I was like, why am I so afraid? Everybody I know, knows in my basic life, but my old, my old? My past does not. And I've been told I had a couple of my soccer friends that reached out to me and said, you know, you will always just like this amazing guy, and the fact that you're gay house me, I have no respect for you. And you know, and respect and a more open mind about gays because I didn't, I didn't think that someone like you could be gay. And so it was it was a it was a new view, a way of opening up people's eyes to, and I was just like, wow, that's cool. You know, because I that was totally not a reason I did it. But it was great side benefit that they gained something out of my just being real.
Coach Maddox 48:03
And, you know, I personally believe that one of the most powerful forms of activism for us as gay men, is to just live our life, honestly, and openly. That's more powerful than any kind of other activism. You take politics, and just if we live our lives openly, and honestly, it's hard to beat that.
Terry McHale 48:30
Yeah, and because in the end, you'll have, you'll enjoy life a lot more, you'll be a lot more fulfilled. And people will stop thinking that we're some sort of hidden culture, because it scares people when they don't see it. But when they see it, one of the big things that happened with you know, like, the, the gay weddings and gay marriage, you know, when that became a issue people had to choose and how to take aside how to think about it. And when they did, people like why don't see why they can't get married, the majority of the people did, because it doesn't matter. And that's the part that we have to be at once we're there or visible, we're real to people. They, they learn, you know, like, wow, that's a person I, in my mind, those you know, like a man would look different or be different. And this is my friend, this is my father. This is my son, this is bla bla bla bla whoever it is. You touch someone and you made them things, think about things. And I think that's the biggest we can give up by being real and being open. Doesn't have people to touch point for people to say, This is what a gay man can be.
Coach Maddox 49:40
They find out that we're human beings just like them. That when we're happy, we laugh and when we're sad, we're Cry, cry and if you cut us we bleed and that Blood is red just like everybody else's.
Terry McHale 49:54
Unless you're walking which is blue. Mr. Vulcan it's blue.
Coach Maddox 49:59
sad for me. One tricky to another. I love it. Well, anything else you'd like to add?
Terry McHale 50:06
No, I just I just happy for the platform to talk to people. And I love this conversation. And if anybody listening to this has questions or wants to talk, I mean, my contact is in the biography because I would love. I love this conversation. I love talking to people about what it means to just be real. And I appreciate you Maddox for bringing this this up so people can have this conversation.
Coach Maddox 50:34
Well, and I appreciate your your openness and honesty and all that you've brought to the table today. So before we wrap up, let's take a moment and step into some rapid fire questions. Our answers? So how many close gay male friends do you have right now? And I'm talking about the men who you could bare your soul to four. Beautiful. And are those four men that came about? Since your dream? Yes. Are those men that you had prior?
Terry McHale 51:13
They're all in the last year?
Coach Maddox 51:15
Wow. I'm glad I asked that question. Okay, yeah. So last few years. Yes. What is the thing that you clearly need to take action on an effort to be even more authentic as a gay man?
Terry McHale 51:32
Well, to be honest, I don't really know that what but my current focus is just focusing on taking care of me as a human being. As a body. I've really focused on the energy part of that now I'm focusing on the nutritional part of it. So
Coach Maddox 51:53
it's an excellent answer, taking care of you first. You know, then you've got more to give the rest of the world.
Terry McHale 52:01
Yep, you go much more present. When you're in a great place for yourself.
Coach Maddox 52:06
You know, when our own tank is full, we have so much more to give those around us. Yes. And I always point out, you know, in every airplane, they say, put your oxygen mask on first before you help others. That's a metaphor for life. It is. And final question. What is your superpower?
Terry McHale 52:27
Oh, that's really simple. Being vulnerable is my superpower.
Coach Maddox 52:33
All right. All right. That's my superpower. I don't know if you can take that.
Terry McHale 52:39
Well, I mean, it I'm joking. I love it. I'll tell you another thing. I tend to take concepts that are really vague and make them very palatable for anybody. So something that is high class here, I can bring it down and make it palatable to other people, so everybody can understand it. So that's, that's something I'm really gifted with to be able to, like make things make sense to people, no matter what their context. So so
Coach Maddox 53:09
you're, in essence, a unique form of a translator. Yes, I love that. I love that. Well. The last thing I want to say to you is Terry, Terry McHale, you indeed are an authentic gay man.
Terry McHale 53:29
Thank you for work hard at that.
Coach Maddox 53:31
Yes. And it shows. Thank you so much for this.
Terry McHale 53:35
Thank you. I'm glad I got to be here with you today.
Dancer, healer, lover of life and new experiences
I have been a licensed massage therapist for 30+ years because I wanted to help others. I found through helping others, I ended up helping myself. I went through many different struggles, but my main one was feeling worthy of happiness and joy. Being real and honest was very hard, because that would mean I would have to accept all of me. After an attempt to move on to the next life, I began searching inwards and realized that being myself and truly vulnerable was the only way I could be truly happy. As I explored that, I found that not only did I change my life, I helped others change theirs just by being myself. That is what I continue to do, be myself so others can see it is powerful to be vulnerable and authentic.