Gary, as he goes by on Scruff, sent me a text message over the weekend saying he wanted to reconnect with me. Months ago, maybe even last year, we traded messages, photos, and invites to meet for coffee until the stars finally aligned and we met at a Starbucks in South Beach. It was a pleasant meeting. We chatted, traded dating horror stories, and as is the case, Gary disappeared a few days later without an explanation. I was not his “type” he later admitted, and he didn’t want to hurt my feelings by telling me he wasn’t attracted to me. I wasn’t attracted to Gary either — not in that way; but, I did enjoy his company enough to want to hang out again. Still, going back and looking over my journal from those days, I remember how hurt I felt and how disappointed I was at being another social-app casualty.
In my mind, when I meet or come across someone from my past who has hurt me and now wants to reconnect with me, I find myself smiling kindly at them and saying, “Thank you. I’m happy now. And I want to keep things simple.”
This may sound mean and snarky. It may come across as short and unfriendly. It may hurt and disappoint the person I’m saying it to. It may even make me sound bitter, angry, and upset. But it is how I feel and where I am at this moment. This is my way to fend off the possibility of being hurt again. It is a way to build and establish boundaries — something I’m not good at doing. It is a way to honor and protect the inner child who was hurt in the past, and prevent him from being or feeling wronged again.
I know that a lot of this is a result of my own doing. I am responsible for my current situation and life choices. I admit that I have made mistakes followed by decisions that have not worked in my interest. But as I try to rewrite the scripts and thoughts that have brought me to this point, as I work on creating a new life and opportunities for myself, and as I work on drawing new, kinder men and people into my life who are supportive allies for the journey ahead, I find myself choosing who I want those people to be, and not settling — as I used to — for anyone who will give me a convenient amount of time or part of their day just so they can have a momentary distraction from their daily worries or until an opportunity for a quick fix from their loneliness appears.
I don’t want to be convenient anymore. I don’t want to be the guy people call when other offers fall through. I’m tired of having guys look over my shoulder to check out who’s walked into a room. Or be the one someone texts after 11 at night because they’re bored.
This may make me sound selfish and narrow; it may also lead me to further nights sitting alone knitting in my room or reading a book until it’s time for bed. This may yield more time alone to sit and ponder the meaning of those words and the effect they will have on the people I speak them to. But right now they bring me a certain amount of comfort I cannot ignore, and a starting point from which I can observe, heal, and work through the emotions that arise in my breast when such people and past events arise in my mind.
The phrase: “I’m happy now. I want to keep things simple,” is an elaboration of a previously held motto I used when I wished to be left alone. “Tranquilo,” was a word I used and said to someone who hurt or disappointed me. They came to me when they needed someone to hear and communicate their complaints to. They sought me only when they wanted help, and forgot me when they were enjoying themselves having fun. I was their counselor, their advisor, and their silent wall to talk to when they were at their wits end. The called and dropped their problems on my lap as I willingly listened, hoping that by providing them with the ear they needed at the moment, they could recognize in me a friend who cared and wanted to help. But the exchanges with these folk always left me feeling exhausted and depleted. More often than not, when I came home after such a meeting, I felt drained, tired and I wondered why anyone would subject himself to such emotional vampirism.
My answer was always the same: this is my way to deal with my own problems and loneliness. Taking on other people’s problems and fixing them made me feel like a friend; it made me feel like I cared and like I was a good person. Back then I believed that acting thus would make anyone who knew me want to be my friend.
This was also my way of commiserating with someone who felt as unhappy as I was. It was my way to handle a want, but not getting what I needed. It was a way to temporarily forget about the loneliness I felt and avoid the work I have to do in order to have a happy and successful future, meet and heal my Shadow-self, and perhaps, in some future, meet and enjoy the kind of friendships that have mattered and meant something to me.
I will admit I don’t think I have been the best of friends to people in my past. I admit that I may have not alway been the most loyal of friends or partner. I can see how past actions contributed to my present loneliness and isolation. I’m beginning to see how my masks have kept me from being vulnerable, accessible, and true to myself. I can understand how someone like me still does not know who he is or what he wants. I understand why I feel lonely.
But I can learn from my mistakes and attempt to not repeat them. I can take this time and return to basics. I can also do those things that bring me peace and return me to center. I can meditate and work with difficult thoughts and emotions when I sit on the cushion. I can pay attention to and identify thoughts that do not serve me. I can read and re-acquaint myself with the joys of immersing myself in a well written story. I can sing and dance again and offer those gifts back to my soul. I can get in my car and drive to landscapes and places that restore my well-being. I can write in my journal and continue to explore and discover aspects of myself that I have ignored. I can open myself to the possibility of making new friendships that will support and nourish a vulnerable but kinder and compassionate person who is in need of making a connection with others.
Yesterday, I found myself deleting two gay social-networking apps from my phone. Scruff and Daddy Hunt are gone from my iPhone’s home screen; I canceled my subscription to both services as well. For someone looking to make connections with others, that does not make a lot of sense and may appear counter-intuitive.
My reasons for doing this:
- I have not met nor made a meaningful connection with anyone using those apps.
- None of the men I am interested in meeting return the interest in meeting me.
- I am not looking to hook up with someone for sex, nor am I interested in meeting a person who is already in a relationship unless my friendship is known to all people involved.
- I have not been able to find in my area someone I would like to spend time with, let alone meet.
Instead of wasting time browsing profiles and looking at photos of men flaunting their physique or sexual prowess, I decided to delete the apps and spend time pursuing activities that are more beneficial to me.
I don’t know if any of this will work, or if the current situation will turn out to work in my favor. But I have to do something; I must get going and start moving. More than half a year has passed and I have grown complacent and bored with my situation. I want to shift and refocus on rebuilding my social life.
As a healer, I cannot heal others if I am unable to heal myself. The only way to do so is to move on and take things as they come. I must learn to be happy with who I am and what I have. I want to learn how to keep and do things simply, instead of burdening myself with busywork and distractions. I want to learn to tame my wants and look after my needs. If I don’t do this now, a year from now I will be writing about the same things I’ve been mulling over the last six months, and that is not what I intend for myself when I say I want to move on.