15 December 2009

I Am a Cautionary Tale

I recently wrote about what might go through the minds of younger guys when someone of my ripe old age shows an interest in being friends. In a related online conversation with one such younger guy whom I shall not name, he expounded to me what's going on in his head. In this particular case, most of my suspicions were confirmed, such as him being defensive since I had expressed that I had somewhat of a mancrush and him not really knowing what to do with that, feeling no such thing in return. I had suspected as much, and I thanked him for his honesty. It's good to know where you stand with people, even if it's not where you might prefer to stand.

I was inclined to clarify that when I talk about that kind of crush potential or the sort of mancrush I felt towards him, I really don't mean I'm interested in getting into someone's pants or even that I expect to develop "romantic feelings" for them, but it usually just means I find them unusually endearing and am interested in their thoughts and journey and have a kind of playful urge to coax them out of their defensiveness, even though I almost never actually try to do that. When people state their boundaries, I try to respect those, maybe to a fault. But that doesn't mean I won't tease a little here and there. *wink* Oh shoot, that probably doesn't help with their defensiveness. *grin* Ah well, let them be defensive. As I told him, I don't think I have the energy for that degree of delicacy with relative moho newbies anymore. I'd rather let them do their thing, figure their stuff out or simmer down, and whenever they're more stable or settled or secure, if our paths intersect, and both parties are interested in being friends, maybe we will be. If not, good journey to them. Part of me wants to be there to answer questions or offer support in whatever direction they choose (more to help them think deliberately instead of acting sporadically than to imply I agree with their decision) rather than leaving them to a bunch of inexplicably erratic, seemingly dually-minded mohos who seem to believe one thing intellectually or at least proclaim they do but apparently base their decisions on the emotions of the moment or repeatedly seek secret opportunities for deviation from what they preach. But let's be honest: if they want my opinion, they'll ask for it, and who am I to think I'm about to "rescue" anyone from stupid role models, if that's even what they are?

But the main point that stood out to me in this brief conversation was a painful, bitter truth: I am, to him (and, presumably, many others), an example of one of the things they most fear--still being undecided or conflicted about what to do with it all (not to mention single) at my ripe old age. He said that by my age, he really hopes he'll have decided one way or another and be happily living his life with a companion, whichever way he chooses. Oh, it cut me to the core! The pain! The agony! OK, so I actually totally identified with it, and all I could do is furl my brow for a moment in wounded consternation, then nod and shrug understandingly with a resigned chuckle.

When I first joined an online discussion group consisting mostly of Evergreener types, I read some posts from 50-60-year-olds still lamenting their porn or "self abuse" habits, or the loss of their family due to cheating, and I thought, "Oh, hay-ul no, I do NOT want to be THAT in 30 or 40 years. Please tell me there's more ahead than crying myself to sleep after all that time." I withdrew and didn't read for months, until I had a chance to process more on my own and come back with a steadier perspective. When I returned, I was able to see that their future needn't be mine, that they had a much later start dealing with everything and were maybe just as new to the "struggle" as I was, that they likely had much different social and generational challenges than I do today, etc. And it was OK. I figured there was a chance I might still not know what to do with it all, or I might not have all the answers, but I hoped to be more resolved by then, and I was pretty sure it needn't be a heavy weight on me all the time, and it hasn't been.

I have to admit, however, to myself and to everyone, that I am not at a point most people hope to be at by my age. I don't have a career. I don't have a companion. I have no children. I don't own a home. I am a single guy who hasn't committed to finding a same-sex partner and isn't keen on dating the chickadees. I'm not convinced a same-sex companionship would be fulfilling, I would love to have my own children, I'd much prefer not fight society my whole life in defending a "lifestyle", I kind of wish I wanted to marry a great woman and raise a family, I'm not sure if my companion, male or female, should be active LDS or agnostic LDS or not LDS at all because I don't know what I want to be for sure, I'm trying to figure out which of my interests I want to make a career of...I'm friggin' all over the place. But...I'm used to it. I don't mind it most of the time. And I try not to define myself by what I haven't accomplished or don't have, despite what others tell me I should be or should have. Despite some occasional keen awareness of those things I don't have, I'm OK with me. I like me. I'm not perfect, but I'm OK, and I have something to share and contribute in most settings.

I wish everyone else were comfortable with me as I am, but not everyone is, so when I get this sense that someone is really bothered by my ambiguity or lack of set-in-stone goals and direction, I'd just as soon not bother them, and I lose interest in keeping them close. Defense mechanism? Maybe. Rational measure to reduce unnecessary clutter and stress in my life? I think so. It's not a pattern, just an occasional response.

To most people, I may be a nice guy, or a good guy, or respectable in many ways, but I also am a cautionary tale, an example of what not to become, a frightful product of spiritual apathy and religious inaction or a tragic casualty of the guilt-ridden emotional clutches of organized religion! But I like me alright, and I am figuring things out as I go. I don't apologize for my non-traditional state of being or my supposed lack of direction. I'm a work in progress, and I feel like I'm progressing in ways that matter to me, but it's mostly undetected to the casual observer or even perceived as digression to the observer who adheres to a certain perspective. I guess that's OK. I may look back and wonder how I ever dealt with being where I am now. One day, I may have a home and a family and look back, glad I am not in the sorry state I'm in now. I may look back and consider it a dark time of weak faith and lost perspective. I may look back and see it as an awakening. Who knows? But for now, I feel OK. It is what it is, and amid the lack of conclusion and the conflict I have a lot of happiness.

And that very fact--that it feels fine--may be a red flag to those of you who never want to be where I am at all, let alone be where I am and thinking it's OK. I have to chuckle a little to myself to realize that. How scary to be like me and not have a problem with it, right? I get that. I really do. I guess I can't describe it, and I'll give up trying to defend it. I really do understand if my existence or presence is a source of discomfort. It's my turn to be that person to someone else after others were that person to me. To each of you in my life, I invite you to try to just love me for me, support my efforts you think are positive in the best way you know how, try not to cry for me when I'm not crying for myself, trust that I'm doing the best I know how, trust that I'm not constantly and secretly lamenting my sorry state, and offer constructive feedback and support as requested or if you think it necessary to keep me from ruining my life. I'll try to listen patiently and consider it. But I'm not perfect either, so we'll both need some patience and longsuffering to deal with each other's perceived foibles and frustrating traits.

Now, off to the gym to maintain whatever youth I may have left. *wink*


Bravone said...

Interesting self introspection. I have a friend, who believe it or not, is even younger than you. At times he too seems 'all over the place,' not exactly sure what he wants. However, I feel much the same toward him that I do to you. I trust you.

I trust that, although I may not always understand or agree with you, you know what is best for you, and ultimately will arrive at your desired destination.

Continue to enjoy the journey.

EJ said...

You talk a lot. Or type a lot. Whatever. Other than that... I'd tap~

Daniel said...

You have got to get out of Utah.

Original Mohomie said...

Bravone, thanks so much. I enjoy talking with you, too.

EJ, lol, thanks? :-)

Dan, ha, true as that may be, I'm curious as to your motivations for writing that in this particular context. Care to elaborate? Either privately or publicly would be OK with me. I have a response to why I think you might be saying that, but I don't want to be presumptuous. :-)

Jon said...

I agree, you have a lot to contribute. I think it's interesting that "having it figured out" means choosing either to marry a woman or be in a relationship with another man, like those are the only two options. It seems like either way the goal is to be with someone and I don't get why the goal can't be emotional health and wholeness and then let the other cards fall where they may. I like people like you who don't follow well traveled paths.