Two Vacations

3 Sep

I know I haven’t blogged about my recent meeting with MileHighJoe1, our trip to a gay sports bar, and all that has happened because of it. But I want to write first about the meeting in Vegas of stevedoog, TitusWild, samgsea, whoami2you, Morphotonkey, TheGaySub and me while it’s still fresh in my mind.

We all went there not knowing what to expect. I know my family expected me to end up in pieces in a suitcase out in the desert somewhere. But we all brushed aside thoughts of an international conspiracy and took a leap of faith.

In a way though, was it such a big leap? We have been talking with each other for months. Know a lot about each other. Things that most other people don’t know. We’ve tweeted and blogged and skyped about the good and bad that’s happened to us. Gotten advice and support as we’ve changed our lives and our thinking in so many ways. The most interesting thing about meeting everyone was that with all the little things that make us different we all seemed to share one characteristic. We all wanted to make sure everyone was having a good time. This lead to some pretty indecisive moments, but it also showed empathy for others, a desire for everyone to be happy. I think that’s something a lot of closeted guys share. A real appreciation of how uncomfortable and unhappy we can be inside.

I need to say that I’m so glad I went. It’s one of the best vacations I’ve ever taken. In many ways it was like other vacations. Running around with great people seeing the sites and doing things, but there was a big difference. We didn’t have to hide looking at guys on the street and could talk about it. I even talked about the guy I’m seeing, in public, without whispering. I knew my friends didn’t care and I didn’t care about what the people on the street were thinking about me. That is a huge deal for me. I’ve always been preoccupied, no, obsessed, with what strangers may be thinking. Bill used to say it reminded him of the Cheap Trick song “Dream Police”. I had to present the perfect image to the world, or at least a non-controversial image. For the first time I really didn’t care. I was happy with who I was and the people I was with. There was no need to change myself to meet anyone’s expectations.

Even our first meetings face to face weren’t awkward. Within minutes we were talking and laughing like we’d been friends for ages. As the days sped by I found myself wishing that we had more time. There was so much to do, so much to say, and not enough time regardless of how early we woke or how late we stayed up. I hope we do it again. I’d sign up in a minute. To all the guys who couldn’t come or were interested but didn’t pursue it, go next time. You won’t regret it, you’ll have a good time, guaranteed, ask any of us who went.

Now this vacation had 2 parts. After the craziness and freedom of Vegas I spent a few days on Martha’s Vineyard with my nephew, my best friend and his sons. We’ve been taking this “guys vacation” for 10 years. It’s very important to the kids, and we get to relive a little of our college days, except with money.

What I find interesting and actually somewhat disheartening, is the difference in me from one vacation to the other. For all the openness and freedom that came out in Vegas there was an equal amount of self-analysis, restraint and caution in MV.

I found myself thinking about how it looked, 2 guys, and 3 kids referring to us as dad and uncle. Not that we weren’t really just uncle and dad but I was reverting to my old self. Like “gay” was tattooed on my forehead. I found I was making a point of bringing up his wife or Joeys mom when we were in public. I’d like to say it was so people wouldn’t get the wrong impression about him, but I don’t think it crossed his mind. It was strictly about my lack of comfort possibly being seen as gay that close to home. Why else would I wear T’s instead of tanks and take out my earing.
I even went back and changed into more “conservative” clothes. At a beach resort in summer, really!
I thought I was over that, but I guess I’m not. Maybe it was like the swinging of a pendulum. Maybe I felt guilty cause I’ve mused about him and me being a family over the years. Could be I was just doing what I had always done. But now I was struggling with conforming. I had a recent experience that created such a stark contrast I was conscious of how much I change to conform to other people’s perceptions, and wasn’t happy with it.

For a week I had been in the habit of acting completely naturally. Maybe I should have known this was coming. I was home 1 day before leaving again and I almost said to my dad that I wished I had more time so I could go into town and see my boyfriend. I caught myself, but wow. If I had let that slip there would be no hiding from anyone anymore.(there is news on that front but I need to save that for the next post)

I don’t know what I’m going to do with this information. That I’m much more repressed at home that I ever thought I was. But I do know that going to Vegas was a watershed event in how I see myself and how I want to be, outwardly as well as inward. Just being. It almost seems too self centered. But maybe I haven’t been self centered enough..at least in this. Being free to be myself and expect it’s more than good enough for the people around me. Everyone else, they don’t matter….cept maybe in the voting booth.

Well, that’s my take on how I felt and dealt with recent events. Hopefully it was one more step forward.

Random thoughts on friendship.

14 Jun

I worked on this for months and when I finally finished I lost it so here I go trying to remember all that I had written. It may be a little disjointed and rambling but most of my posts and thoughts are anyway. I was pretty happy with how well I was able to express myself so I hope I can do justice to the original.

During these past months lots of different subjects have come up that I didn’t expect to have to deal with. Things that had always been in the back of my mind, that I kept locked away because I would have to deal with coming out to really understand them. The biggest has been how I’ve dealt with friendship. My desire for friends and fear of letting them get too close. The line between friendship and infatuation I’ve straddled with some guys. Then there are twitter friendships. Something that’s been a topic of discussion recently.

Being on twitter has brought into focus how detached I had always been with most friends. For the first time I was talking with guys who said all the things that I had been thinking but never dared to say out loud to anyone. I would have never thought that there was a place like this out there. Guys who are just as scared and unsure as me, who care, are eager to support you, willing to share their thoughts and experiences. It’s hard to believe that you could feel so attached to people you never met but I do. I’m happy when something goes well for them, worry when they seem depressed, interested in the everyday things in their lives. I’m looking forward to meeting some this summer and creating some shared memories.

It’s very addictive too. Surprisingly so. It seems to fill a hole in my life I never knew existed. You’ll all come to understand this as time goes on but as your friends marry and have kids you fall further and further out of touch. Even those you stay in contact with are too busy to get together often. I find that even though I may be busy I can spend days at a time alone. But having tweeps, you’re never really alone. I can be home, drinking, watching tv but I’m also hanging out with a bunch of guys who are as close as my PC. It’s become one of the first things I check in the morning and last I check at night. It may often appear I’m not on line but even if I’m not tweeting, I’m usually checking in to see what everyone is up to. It’s almost a full time job now, one that I actually enjoy and look forward to. I may joke about it but I do sometimes feel that work is interfering with my twitter time.

Recently I’ve seen some tweets asking whether any of us are there for the long haul. In a place like twitter, where you can disappear with just a few clicks of a mouse, are twitter friends real friends? Will they stand the test of time and distance? I have thought about that a lot. Particularly at the beginning when I tweeted very little and was worried about what I revealed and who was listening. Since then I’ve spoken with a few guys about this and have gotten a range of answers. Some think we’re there for a purpose, supporting each other as we discover who we are, tell our friends and families and start to live openly. That once we’ve come out and begun to live as gay men there won’t be a reason to maintain the friendships, at least not in the same way. Others can’t see how we couldn’t remain friends. After sharing the most closely held secret we have, advising and giving each other the strength to face it. Being there through the fear, pain and joy. I’ve learned to never say never but how could you not stay friends with someone who’s been with you through all that. I suppose time will tell.

I always felt the saying “you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends” had a special meaning for me. I have a large extended family and have not always gotten along with them. In fact, there are some that I would have nothing to do with if we weren’t related. I’ve never had what I considered “normal” friendships. When I was young there were only a couple “parent approved” guys I was allowed to play with. I wasn’t encouraged to make friends, in fact it was discouraged. This wasn’t a hardship at the time. I had plenty of sisters to play with and I never really liked the guys in school. Seeing how so many of them turned out it was probably for the best. By the time I got to Jr High I began to feel the need to grow beyond my family. To have connections to people in the wider world. Even though I didn’t particularly like them, I wanted a place in the pecking order amongst my classmates, to be part of the social group.

In High School I didn’t make friends till sophomore year. There were guys (an all-boys school) that I talked about classwork with but no one I would see outside that setting. When we moved to our new house I decided to take a chance and try to make friends with the guys in the neighborhood. From all my previous experiences I expected to be disliked. Still have that expectation in the back of my mind even today. Making friends was something I wasn’t well prepared for. I was and still am to some extent, socially inept. I grew up talking mostly current events and politics with adults. Speaking when spoken to, giving my opinion when asked. Amongst peers that wasn’t how it worked. I didn’t speak sports, cars or music. I was expected to be an active participant, ask questions, change subjects, offer opinions. Some of you may have noticed that until you get to know me I tend to deal in facts, not so much my own thoughts.

In time I developed friendships with a small group of neighborhood guys. They took the time to get to know me and I knew they were making more of an effort than most. I think they knew I was different even if I didn’t realize it myself, yet that didn’t stop them from being my friends. We were very close. We shared hopes and dreams, fears and regrets. Yet I did something I have always thought was the worst thing one person could do to another, I dropped them as friends for my own selfish reasons. I knew that at some point they would question who I really was. I don’t think it would have made any difference to them, in fact I’m sure it wouldn’t but I couldn’t face that. I was going to protect myself no matter who I hurt. Self-imposed isolation I could accept, at least it was on my terms, my decision. I still remember how I’d look away when I saw them calling to me as I drove by. All the times they asked my parents or sisters where I was and for me to call them. I don’t think I will ever really forgive myself for that. But this was my escape, my form of denial. If I start out fresh, with none of the old baggage, maybe I’ll be the person I’m expected to be. Live the life I’m expected to live. These were the first friends I left behind but they weren’t the last. I’ve tried to never be that close to a friend ever again.

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Well throughout college and work I met lots of people and inevitably left them behind. Each time I’d start out thinking I’d learned enough about relationships and that I was ready to find a girl I was comfortable with and live life like everyone else. Remember, most of my friends married the girl they dated in High School. But in the end, when I failed miserably, I’d convince myself I wasn’t ready. Maybe I was a late bloomer and just needed another fresh start. Really though I didn’t want to face the truth and more importantly facing that others knew the truth and what their reaction would be.

Through all of this there was one friend who was always there. Yet now that I’ve come out to him and some of my family I find that I sometimes think that maybe, after 30 years, it’s time to end that friendship. I can’t see myself doing it but I do feel that way from time to time.

Something has happened that I never expected. I’m no longer as comfortable with the people I’ve come out to. It’s nothing they’ve said or done, it’s something inside me.

I’ve always censored the things I say. Most people think that I’m just a quiet person, that I will sit in a group and not really engage in the conversation much. Maybe that has become true over time but actually there is a conversation going on in my head. Comments and wisecracks that I think about, deciding if I should say them. Usually by the time I’ve decided, the moment has passed. It was so ingrained I never gave it a thought, but lately I have. I blame twitter and Skype for that. I’ve become so comfortable saying exactly what I am thinking there. That there is nothing wrong with what I’m thinking.

I first noticed it about a month ago. My best friend was over and we were watching Star Trek. I was about to make a comment about Chris Pine. I thought for a second and stopped. I’d never commented on a guy to him or anyone else before, except online. What could he say other than uh huh? Would he be uncomfortable? He still comments on girls we see and I agree or join in as I always have. Should I expect the same from him? But wouldn’t it be halfhearted, just as my responses to him are?

Since then I’ve noticed it more and more with everyone. Yet it seems so much more annoying with those who know. I’m just being my old self and I understand they’re not treating me any differently but I really am not the same person. There’s a part of me that’s surfacing, has surfaced, that is different from who they know. Is any of this talk, straight or gay, off limits? Should it be?

The more I think about it the more I realize I can’t just have straight friends, go to straight places and expect that I’ll find someone I’ll fall in love with and share my life with. I need to explore a world I’ve been taught to be fearful of. But I know it’s the right thing for me to do. And if I’ve learned anything over these past few months it’s that there are guys like me out there looking for the same thing. It really makes so much sense. Everything that’s happened these last month’s proves it. But it still begs the question, do I sensor myself or avoid the topic to some extent with my straight friends? Is this a part of me I should share with just like minded friends? Can I still be friends with my straight friends? I don’t know the answers yet but it’s put a new wrinkle in my current friendships I hadn’t expected.

Thinking about all this has made me realized that there were some friends in my life where my feelings went beyond friendship to infatuation. Have you ever met someone that you really hit it off with? You knew they were straight and you were closeted, but you still found them attractive and your personalities just clicked. You try harder to make the friendship work. Go out of your way to be available to hang out. Develop an interest in a sport or some activity that they like so you have more in common. There have been maybe 3 or 4 guys in my life that I’ve felt that way about. Where I’ve changed myself to be more like someone they would want to be friends with. I seem to do that with all friends. Become the stoner, jock, punk, nerd or preppy I think they would find a more appealing friend, to the point I don’t really know who I am or what I like anymore, but with these few the effort was so much more. It’s been both a blessing and a curse. A blessing that there was someone I felt that way about and who returned those feelings in a fashion. A curse that I knew to them we were just really good close friends and that there would never be more to our relationship.

I’ve been thinking about why I felt that way. Why I invested so much emotionally in them. I know I liked them but why weren’t we just really close friends? There seems to be many reasons for it. I believe the most important is proximity or availability. If you’re in the closet there usually aren’t any like-minded guys in your circle and if you do know any, having feelings for them could cause you to slip up, to out yourself. You may not really have any stronger feelings toward one straight friend than another but being attracted to one and knowing they are straight is “safe”. You can let your emotions and imagination run wild knowing that nothing will happen, your secret remains safe. This was as close to a real boyfriend as you were going to get. The need for that level of emotional closeness is so easily transferred to someone you are already close to. It will find an outlet.

So if there was someone who met those needs, would I still be as emotionally close to those guys but as best friends? Would I still love them, but in a different way. Would I still love Bill like a brother if I had a partner who was the love of my life? It’s a difficult question about the human need for companionship and how you make do with what you have if other avenues seem closed to you. And now, if I do actually find someone, will there be a demonstrable change in these relationships? Will I feel any sense of loss or a distance between us, like falling out of love? Will I subconsciously create distance?

This brings me back full circle to twitter again. This may be unique to our particular group but I think that most of us don’t have any gay friends or at least none who knew we were gay. I know I came into this a little rattled, defense down, with all the friendship baggage described above. I didn’t know what I wanted or expected from it. Yet through our mutual need to talk about something we’ve never talked about, to see if there was anyone who understood or felt the same way, I know I began to develop friendships, my first gay friends. There are times when conversations are really rolling along I want to say let’s meet at x bar for a beer, like we’re in neighboring towns. Then I remember that we’re thousands of miles apart. If we lived closer, I want to believe we would be the group of friends we envision having irl. We’d meet up after work, hang out on weekends, go the beach, plan concerts, ballgames and getaways. If only it could be.

I’ve said things to some tweeps that I firmly believed I was the only one to think or believe and found that in fact I wasn’t the only one. What an indescribable feeling that is, to suddenly find that you’re not the only one. To be comfortable enough to say something that you had always assumed was a little “deviant” for lack of a better word. Then to find out you’re not and you’re off on a conversation you never thought you’d have. Two guys being completely honest about stuff you always assumed would shock people. What a feeling of validation and acceptance. Isn’t that what friendship is all about?

Don’t know if I should admit this but it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’ve developed minor infatuations for a couple of the guys and through conversations found that, again, I’m not the only one. It’s not really unexpected when you think about it. The conversations and things we’ve shared I never expected to share with anyone other than a partner. Maybe that’s part of the process, learning to open up to someone else the way you would with a guy you’ve been dating for a while and have developed real feelings for. The conversations are similar to ones I’ve had with straight friends. Though, being gay oriented, it’s uncharted territory and not surprising I’d transfer those feelings to the guy I’m confiding in so closely. This brings me back to my original comment about twitter friends. By all the measurements I can think of, other than proximity, they really are real friends.

Second thoughts?

8 Jan

Where to begin. I’m not sure when it started. Maybe it was always there. The old fears and obstacles were reasserting themselves. They had been pushed aside for months, longer than I would have ever thought possible, but now they’re back and want to know one thing. What the HELL have you done!!!

Can I take it back? How? I’m crafty. I can figure out a plausible way to turn this around. The girls won’t say anything, they’re trustworthy, that’s why I told them in the first place. Kevin won’t say anything. If enough time passes before he sees Bill again I won’t have to worry about it coming up with him. What have I done! I spent years building a cover and in a moment of emotional weakness I started dismantling it.

You know,… you’re not really safe while they live. Ok now… don’t go getting all dramatic on me. I think you’ve watched “The Godfather” too many times. Be realistic!

This can work. Leave everything as it is. Stop telling people, stop being honest, revert to the old responses. Let time pass. I haven’t changed how I live. The change so far has been in my mind, I can change back. Yes, I can do that. Just lock it away, I’ve done it before with things that are painful or counter to how I think the world should be.

Yes, I can do that. Continue to live, in the world but apart, truth, hopes and dreams locked in my mind. Never being comfortable because I’d have to be ready to lie if necessary, or at least not be completely truthful. Run through that list of responses you’ve come up with to answer the same questions you’ve heard for years. Sure… I can do this. Maybe.

I don’t know. Can I go back? How good it felt when I told Kevin. We were so drunk, the conversation was so frank, so wide ranging. And nothing is different, except he knows. Tara telling me she just wants me to be happy. My email to Lucy and her long email back. Others telling me I seemed different, more engaged with everything around me. It did feel good. A sense of air and light. Everything seemed brighter, hopeful. I did feel a weight had lifted. I was actually breathing deeper, standing more erect, looking ahead and not down. Can I deliberately walk back into that closet, close the door and stay there, alone, with my thoughts in the dark?

Is there another answer, another way maybe? I’ve always assumed this was an all or nothing venture. Maybe I can cut a peep hole in the door. A way to look out and let some people look in. This could be tricky. Much harder to manage. It would be more than just keeping quiet, it would be an actual life. Concrete actions and real people who would have to be hidden. Start by searching out other closeted guys nearby. I’ve seen the ads on Craiglist, bios on other sites and chatrooms,”In shape closeted guy age___ looking for similar to hang out, friendship, possibly more”. That just seems so sordid. But would it be very different if I were out, meeting someone online? Probably not. Just my perception of dishonesty and something clandestine.

Could it work? Could I have a secret life? Up till now no one knew. If I take these steps I lose control. A little more with each person, email, phonecall, meeting. More ways to be exposed but not on my terms. I’d still have to hide. Live alone, attend christenings, weddings, funerals alone. I couldn’t appear to be involved or too close to anyone. Is that what I want really or do I want more?

Why do I want more? Why? Why do I feel so strongly about it now. Why not 20 years ago, 10, 5. Why do I still feel this need to change gnawing at me, an urgency to act. Is it the feeling of being honest with people? I can’t forget that sense of relief and peace that came with telling someone. It did feel like nothing I’d ever experienced. Am I addicted to that feeling? If I hadn’t experienced that would it be easy to accept going back to my safe, predictable life.

Do I have it in me to push the doubts aside again? Even having told those people, it’s still secret. I’d have to tell a lot more for that not to be and that’s not the real test. The test is how I react in front of new people, when a situation requires me to give some sort of indication. I failed recently and that weighs heavily on my mind.

My trainers been engaging in more personal small talk lately. It’s understandable after all this time. When he asked me if I was dating and we talked about girls in general, I was truthful but not honest. If I was honest I would have talked about girls I’ve been with but let him know I’m bi. Instead I left him with the impression I was straight. Is this a situation where you do let the impression stand? Is there such a thing? Now he’s talking to me about the girls he was with the past weekend. I was giving him advise on how to date three girls that are one degree of separation from each other. I don’t mind the advise but he thinks I’m straight and it’s eating away at me. I was comfortable talking with him before, now I feel a little dread about where the conversation could go. Would it have been so difficult to say? I don’t really know him. I don’t know what his attitude would be. Would I be outing myself to the staff at the gym. We know each other by name and talk all the time since I’m a “regular”. Would that change? Is this another way for it to get back to Bill before I have the nerve to tell him myself? A month ago I would have pushed past all that, not allowed it to influence me, been proud of myself for my truthfulness and courage. But now I’m analyzing my actions and consequences again. Letting my imagination come up with all kinds of negative outcomes. If I go forward will I eventually have to correct this.

What about all this acceptance I’ve been beginning to assume I’ll get from my family and friends? I am pretty sure that the most important people in my life will accept this if I tell them. Peripheral people will probably be indifferent. But accepting me saying it isn’t the same as being comfortable with me bringing my boyfriend to one of the family parties. Isn’t that kind of where this is going? How to explain that to an eight year old. They’ll have to deal with that. Will it force a conversation that don’t want to have? My fault.

I don’t know what to do, what I want. I wish I was straight. I wish I lived in a society where this wasn’t an issue. Why do I have to deal with this! At least I’ve had a chance to talk some of this out with guys who understand. Funny thing is, other than some occasional innuendo, it’s just guys talking about run of the mill, everyday stuff. But it reminds me every day how I wish things actually were.

So I’m having second thoughts. The new year is here and part of me thinks I need to take another step. Something big. Something concrete. Really take the steps to make this year end with me in a much different place than it began. Then I think, Absolutely Not! Too many issues, problems, questions. So I’m back where I began, conflicted. I need to stop thinking. Let this develop in it’s own way, if it’s going to happen at all. I told people spontaneously, because it felt right. I need to trust in that. Be open to the possibility and I’ll take advantage of those moments when they happen. I need to trust in that. No plan, no answers, no …

Posts started but not finished.

2 Jan

I’ve been away from this blog for a long time. After trying to explain my life and how I got here I didn’t really have a coherent plan for moving forward with expressing myself or moving forward at all. I’ve been reading the different posts put out by so many of you and have finally come to realize that I don’t need a plan. It’s more importiant to just start writing. Talk about the conversations going on in my head, changes taking place in my life. I’ve spent yesterday compiling a couple of unfinished blogs into one long post. Kind of clearing the slate for the new year. Forgive me if it seems long and disjointed.

I’ve been coming out to people in fits and starts. Only 3 so far and not in the order I had originally planned. Drunk confessions seems to be my modus operandi. The whole process of comming out is very strange anyway. Unless your obvious, the world at large assumes your straight. Where do you draw the line on who needs to or should know? I understand family and close friends but I don’t intend to make it part of my introduction to everyone I meet. From those experiences I’m starting to believe that I don’t need to come out to everybody. At least not just for the sake of coming out. It seems like such a daunting task I’m going to handle it this way. There are those I want to tell for different reasons but the rest, I have a “need to know” attitude right now. I haven’t been shying away from making comments that could out me, that I never would have before, and thats fine. It’s really no ones business and I’m not going to make it something I need to talk about. There are a few more people I want to tell but then I’m just going to live my life. I’ts more importiant that I live and act as I see fit. Time will take care of everyone else who’s in a position to question or that matters. I’m not afraid of it anymore, just a little nervous. So I guess the planners big plan is to be myself, don’t lie and fly by the seat of my pants.

I haven’t spoken about coming out to my boss. It’s been over a month since I did this and I still can’t quite wrap my head around it. He was one of the last people I wanted to tell but ended up being my third. I don’t know why I told him. I just had this uncontrollable urge.

I’ve known Kevin for about 8 years. 3 years before he became my boss we worked together on a joint project for our departments and started going out after work for drinks. We’d go to clubs and bars on the weekend. I’d crash at his place. Weekend parties at his parents house on the Cape. Even after he was married we’d go out for guys dinners. Needless to say, he’s very importiant to me professionally and personally. Ruining this is the last thing I want to do.

The guys at work decided we’d go out to a Bruins game one night. I had a half day so I met Kev at the office and we headed off to meet the others at the beer works. We only had a half hour before the game so we sucked down a couple of Guinness and headed in.

We had a couple more there and when it was over we needed to decide if I was taking him home. Boston transportation shuts down about 2 hours before the bars and clubs so if you miss your train or the T shuts down your left with cabs.

I didn’t have to work the next day so it was fine and we walked back across town stopping at Beacon Hill Pub for a couple on the way. While we were there, being gay, or gayness in general came up in conversation some how. We were sitting at the bar, surrounded by people and I said “What if I told you I was gay?” He said “It wouldn’t matter to him.” “I’m probably bi but I definitely lean to men” was my reply. He told me he always suspected. We talked more there and on the way home. Mostly about why he suspected. I was interested in this crack in my well constructed fascade. It was a very surreal experience. We weren’t whispering. Anyone standing near us could hear. For some reason I didn’t care and the stoning I expected for speaking like that out loud in public never happened. On the ride home he told me “I love you Joey, you know that, right” over and over and that this meant nothing to our friendship. We were both a little buzzed. Well, we reached his place, got out of the car, hugged and I left. Since then nothing has changed. He still points out girls on the street, confides in me about his marriage, puts his hand on my shoulder and leans in when we’re checking something on the computer. That’s what I’m having a hard time with. I hoped nothing would change but I really expected that it would. It’s my biggest fear about the guys finding out and at least with him it didn’t materialize. I’m trying to reorient my thinking. I need to start giving my friends more credit. Maybe this isn’t going to change how they treat or react to me.

A few of you who have commented or contacted me have been worried that my blog is dwelling on regrets and I need to be happy again. The regret was kind of deliberate. I needed to give voice to them. Regrets can be paralyzing if you don’t face them, accept them and move on.

You all know from my blog that I retired from life for about 10 years. Shut down emotionally, let myself go physically, withdrew from social activities. I’ve talked with a couple of you that have DM’d or emailed me but I wanted to let everyone know there have been changes over the past couple of months. Although I’m not completely out and am just starting to explore how to try and meet someone, I’m starting to turn back into my old self again and that feels really good.

I’m back in the gym and I expect I’ll be back in shape by May. I’ve arranged a few drunken nights out with my brother in laws, nephews and friends. I’ve signed on to chaperone my niece’s high school trip to Costa Rica in Feb. 2013. I’m running a 3mi obstacle course race in June with my best friend and his son. One of my nephews asked me to stand up with his brother as best man when he gets married this July. Maybe I’m biting off more than I should but it seems so much more like the real me than how I’ve been living.

I credit finding all you kindred souls on Twitter with a lot of this. I’ve noticed a quiet change in how I feel about myself over these months. I’m more confident, less worried about saying or do something that might “out” me. Being able to be myself with you guys for the first time, to not worry about being judged for what I’m thinking or feeling. You all make me realize I am “normal”. That I’m good enough as I am, there’s nothing “wrong” with me. There’s even been a real physical change. For years, really decades, I’ve only been able to sleep for 1-2 hours at a time. I’d get up 3-4 times a night, walk around for a few minutes and go back to sleep. I always assumed I was just a light sleeper. But now I know there was something more going on in my subconcious. I realized the other day that I’ve been sleeping straight through the night these last few months, ever since I started blogging and talking on Twitter. I just want you all to know that having a safe place filled with good supportive people has made a big difference for me.

I wish I had more time to spend on Twitter. I want to engage more. I’ve learned that I’m not really intruding on a conversation. The whole nature of this is to invite everyone to join in. I do find it hard to catch up on tweets and follow conversations that are in progress. I’m pretty computer illiterate but I do catch on quickly so if there’s a trick to this someone DM me, I’d really appreciate the help. I want to be more a part of this and sometimes feel I’m letting down those who’ve reached out to me by not being as active as I’d like.

Here are a few things that have been on my mind lately. Observations and questions about this new life I’m embarking on. It seems in many ways so different from the life I’ve lead and I am having a difficult time adjusting my way of thinking and reacting to the new reality.

One thing that’s been bothering me lately is the whole idea of becoming part of a minority, becoming part of a new community. Dam it, I like the community I’m part of now. I just want to be accepted there for who I am. I never liked the idea of everyone pigeonholing themselves into some nice convienient box, separate from everyone else. I always thought the whole point of all the civil rights movements I’ve seen in my life was to be inclusive, not to categorize and separate people. I don’t want to be defined by this. I feel like Moses accepting his heritage, going from a prince of Egypt to a slave of Egypt in seconds and I don’t like it. Maybe it’s something I have to learn to accept but I really don’t see how. It goes against what I always believed the world should be.

Another thing is the prospect of losing my status as a guy, my masculinity. I don’t want to be considered less of a man by other men and one of the girls by women. I haven’t changed! People are so used to defining relationships using male and female roles. Is that even a valid way to look at it? Some of the guys I’ve talked to here, they still consider themselves men. They want an equal, another man like themselves who likes guy stuff, a best friend, but more. Maybe it’s a closeted guy thing, I don’t know. I just think about the Sacred Band of Thebes. They were an elite ancient Greek fighting force. All gay couples and considered some of the toughest warriors of their time. Is there a place for a straight-gay man in our society or do we need to create another box to put us in?

I’ve also been exploring dating sites, discussion boards, stuff like that just to get a feel for whats out there. It all seems very predatory, an existance without purpose other than sex. I don’t see any limits, any sense of decorum. It’s very disheartening. Maybe it isn’t any different than straight guys who rack up girls. I knew lots of them, hell I tried to be one for a while. I understand straight guys dating lots of women looking for “the one”. So much of what I’ve seen turns that upside down. I can understand the pursuit looking for the ultimate goal, trying to find “the one”, but not as a life goal in and of itself. It’s just as shallow whether your straight or gay. Maybe I haven’t seen enough yet but it bothers me.

The other day my trainer brought up dating. I’ve been seeing him for a few months and expected that we’d start having more personal conversations but it caught me by surprise and I’m sad to say I reverted back to my old responses. I was honest, but not truthful. No I’m not dating right now. No, I never married but did think about asking someone once. All true, but really only half the story. I’m not sure if he needs to know but this was my first opportunity to be honest with someone and I panicked. I’m trying to justify it by saying that there are other people who go there that I need to tell first, like my best friend. But really, either I’m out or I’m not. Being honest in that situation would push me a little further out. It would make it easier and more likely I’ll talk to people I want to tell and more probable that those I don’t intend to talk to will find out in time. Regardless, I feel like I failed a test and am not happy with myself about it.

Well, that’s about it for my ramblings. I look forward to hearing any advise, comments or questions anyone may have and thanks again for helping me along this journey.

10 dead years

20 Oct

Time moves on. Everyone was raising kids, working, involved in the day to day of being husbands and fathers. I was still twisting in the wind. Being active was a good way to keep from thinking about how I had been standing still for years. In most respects my life hadn’t changed since high school. I was working, single and not dating, and still believing that I could fix myself if I tried hard enough.

I don’t function well alone. I’m not used to it. Growing up I never went anywhere alone. In high school and college I was always with friends. Suddenly I had a lot of alone time. Friends would say how great it must be to have so much time to myself. To do what I wanted without regard to anyone elses schedule. To be able to just sit and have peace and quiet. For me that’s torture. Alone with my thoughts is the last place I should be.

Bill used to call them the little men, the dream police, like the Cheap Trick song. Endless conversations going on in my head analyzing why things went wrong in the past. How I would change them in the future. What are my flaws and how do I fix them. “People like you” he’d say, “why do you think they wouldn’t?” I’d always say I didn’t know and agree with him. But deep down I think I knew, even if I didn’t admit it to myself. Because I have been lying to them. Not just a lie but a carefully crafted well thought out deception. In addition, the person the lie was sheilding may not be someone they want in their lives.

My apartment was always just a place to sleep and keep my stuff. If I wasn’t at a friends I was at a relatives. Even now after an hour or so I need to call or see someone to keep from pacing and thinking. I needed to find a way to come to grips with not having a girlfriend and still being so interested in guys. Now I wasn’t even whoring around with Bill. That’s when I made the decision to not think on it any more. That life was as good as it’s going to get and I have to accept it and stop thinking I could have more.

With that decided I settled into a routine. Lots of extra time at work. Repairs to the family home on weekends, vacations and holidays. Drinking in front of the TV till bed during the workweek.

As time went on I stopped calling Bill, going to his house, going out at all with anyone. I began skipping family events, stopped exercising. My mind still dwelled on why I couldn’t find a girl. I couldn’t accept I was gay, there had to be another reason.

Then dad became ill and had to retire. He wasn’t ready. Years of paying for weddings, helping people with down payments, college. God knows what he spent on me in cars and insurance alone, and I was definitely one of the least expensive of the kids. They wanted to stay in the home they raised their family in. I continued doing repairs, trying to cut their expenses.

Long story short, I eventually moved back and assumed the utility bills. It was a little more than rent but it’s a great house and it is home. Besides, I was alone, pretty much a hermit, it made sense. At least I wouldn’t be alone with my thoughts anymore. I had the whole 3rd floor to myself. Spent a couple of weeks splitting a bedroom and running the pipes and drains from the cellar so I’d have a bathoom up there. It was almost like my apartment but I still had family just down stairs.

When I did see my friends they’d always seem so surprised. I had always been active. I used to spend most of my spare time outside, in the woods, biking, hiking, looking for the next thrill. Now I was going to just age gracefully. I remember about a year or so ago Bill telling me he was really worried about me. That I seemed to have just given up and that if I died he’d never have another friend again. He kept asking me what was wrong, why I was doing this. I knew but couldn’t tell him. I just said there’s nothing wrong and it was just time to slow down and be middle aged like everyone else. Even my boss, a really good friend and drinking buddy long before we began woking together, began asking me what was up. He knows about my escapades with Bill and how active I always was. I gave the same simple answer. Someday I need to tell him about me when I figure out how.

This past spring a kid, one of my employees, who has since gone back to school, began having conversations with me about politics, school, friends. He was so interesting. I was definitely attracted to him but I knew he was straight. He reminded me of myself a long time ago. He didn’t understand why I had withdrawn from life. Eventually convinced me I should start doing things again. I looked at my life and decided I’d try. I still thought I could be straight so I would bang my head against that wall again.

This pretty much brings me full circle. Back to the point where I first ran into Randy’s videos and eventually that one that turned my life upside down, not that it wasn’t a screwed up mess anyway with all the deceit and lying to myself.

I don’t know where this will lead me. I feel like I’ve come a long way already. Being able to admit the truth to myself, you who are reading this, and some of my family. I need to learn what to do. How to move into circles I know nothing about. I also know there are some people in my family I dread coming out to. Not my parents so much,though I may just leave it unspoken with them, but a couple of the girls. Both are gossips and will love calling everyone they know to spread the news. I expect they’ll be climbing over each other to see who can get to my parents first to probe for reactions. One is just maliceous, the other is maliceous and a homophobe.

Well enough for now. I guess I’ll probably start blogging random thoughts, stories, questions, observation in the future just trying to figure things out.

Notes from 10/15-16 weekend

17 Oct

I need to interrupt my story cause I got big news this weekend. I’m going to be a great uncle. My niece and her fiancee (both 24) are expecting. I love the guy, he’s one of my drinking, Nascar and hiking buddies. Along with my youngest sisters husband(32), we’re like the 3 musketeers. Whenever we’re together everyone assumes we’re up to no good or at least something the sisterhood would disapprove of.

We’re going out Friday to a movie and drinks with another nephew(21) and a future nephew(23). Of course, we will be up to no good. They want to take the 21yr old to his first strip club.

Just the thought brought back stressfilled memories. Now, I’ve been to more strip clubs in more places than I can count. Some are better than others, but where they plan on going, it’s not even good, just convienent and if I had a dollar for every fight, shooting or stabbing that took place there during my lifetime…. That’s just the icing on the stress cake though. Now I have to put on my game face.

Every time Bill and I went away, every bachelor party, every college birthday, just cause there was a free afternoon.
I was never completely at ease in one. Over time, I became more comfortable but often I felt that somehow the girls knew I wasn’t that interested. It’s such a chore and I don’t really want to go through it after these last few weeks, but I will.

Part of me wants to just tell them to chip in and I’ll get him laid. He’d be happy, they could drink at a good hotel bar downtown, I’d avoid the stress and my carefully constructed rep would be furthered. A couple of these guys know about my hidden straight life remember.

Wait a minute. Just realized this.
So I’m hiding my secret gay feelings by carefully exposing parts of my secret straight sexlife that was secretly used to get closer to my straight best friend in sexual situations.
That’s genius but nothing to be proud of. I need to think on that.

I know I’ll live through it. Maybe I’ll bum a ridalyn off my boss or Bill. Always good when it’s necessary to be social, keep focused, and remove stress.

This group is one of the last I want to talk to. Not that I’m very worried about their reactions but I know that there will be a change in perception. There will be a bachelor party soon. I’m best man for another nephew(27) this summer. I’ll have to plan his. It’s all just…Akward.

So I’m going. I’ll psyche myself up and be who they expect me to be. Who I am really, except that I’m not as into it as they are or they think I am.

Post college, shouldn’t write this.

14 Oct

This is a very hard part to write about because I have to talk about more than just me. I feel like I’m betraying a trust that I hold very dear.

Life went on pretty much the same for a while. I tried dating services and fix ups but it was never…comfortable. I was raised believing you found the right girl and got married. If she’s not right, keep looking. Almost everyone I knew married the girl they met when they were 16 – 18. I just hadn’t met her yet. Then 2 events happened that really shook me.

First, my nephew died. 6 days old. I was holding him the day before. It was preventable too, just wasn’t caught. I still remember getting the call at work that Monday morning. Well, I had been questioning religion for a while and this pretty much ended my belief in any religion as a doctrine. I still tried to believe in God but the tenents, NO!

A few months later the 2nd shoe fell. Bill confessed to me having a 2yr affair with a girl we knew. He needed to confess and I am the only one he trusts. I spent thousands in cell phone calls hearing every detail and keeping him from suicide. Going with him when he stalked her so he wouldn’t do anything stupid. Stopping him from telling his wife. Now my belief in societal boundaries was blown away.

I was always very proper and reserved around Boston but now a side of me came out that Bill refers to as “Miami Joe” because it generally only shows itself when we’re away from home.

Alright, I’m gonna get laid. Why should I wait, it’s not a big deal. Maybe then I won’t be so shy and nervous with girls. So I found a hooker and did it. It was…ok. At least it was done. I wasn’t a virgin. But deep inside I was torn. I loved Bill and he had cheated but not with me. How could I feel that way.

Eventually life returned to a sort of normalcy. Bill had waited to have kids and they traveled all the time. I’d go from time to time and now we were biking Holland. One of my sisters came just so we’d be paired off but actually it had a purpose. The girls got along and that gave us a chance to go to the red light district.

I had told him about the hooker. We have no secrets, but one. Being gas and a match, he started researching sex in Holland. I went along cause, how could I not. It was legal there, I was single and unattached and he knew my sexual history. Well we convinced the girls we were going to look at a WWII site and they went shopping. We went shopping too. Thing is, in the end, I talked him into doing it too. Before the affair, he had only been with his wife and had waited for marriage. Now I had deliberately got him to cheat just so we could share the experience of having sex together, or at least at the same time. How could I do that to my best friend.

Well, that was the start of a slide into debauchery that I had started in him and was using to prove to myself I wasn’t attracted to men. We got on line and explored the world of escorts.

We travelled together a lot. Won’t go into it, but business allowed us to be in Miami 5 or 6 times a year and a few conferences in other cities.

For me that was a great time. It was the closest I would get to actually having sex with him. 2,3 girls at a time, us and 1 girl. We’d watch each other, join in if we felt like it, we’d film for gods sake and critique the performance later. He snuck 2 into my room that cuffed me to the bed while I was sleeping to fulfill a rape fantasy for my birthday. A “who could cum the most in an hour contest”. I won,4 with 5 min to spare. I did enjoy it and there was 1 girl that I had a connection with and saw for years. She was imaginative, like 10 yrs younger and a perfect ass, go figure. I was seriously considering trying to take another step with her but she moved back to Bogata, we’re still in touch. But still, I’d look at guys on the street, dream of Bill, watch gay porn on line. Why not straight porn?

Bill loved to keep stats and pics. He stopped with me after 200, him at 300. God knows where we ended up when the demands of life caused us to slow and then stop. How could I not be straight!
When he goes on vacation now I get a package to be destroyed if something happens to him. I give him a similar package, but mine also contains a letter telling him how I feel.
How can I tell him I’m at least bi or probably gay.

There’s a handful of guys who know what I’ve done. I’m very close to them and I think I told them so they wouldn’t wonder about me. Some brother in laws and nephews, my boss. They are people I hang out with and do things with, my friends. How can I come out to them? It’s confusing and terrifyng at the same time, what I’ve done to hide.

Well, only one more period to write about to bring me up to present day. My decision to “retire from life” and age gracefully. Another big mistake and waste of years.

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