At 47, I have realized much time has been spent like Carrie Bradshaw and the girls: Chasing men who don't want me or can't or won't love me.
My entire twenties was spent coasting from one ill-fated and dead end relationship to another.
The one constant was my soul crushing, mind numbing loneliness and state of "please love me".
Spending years trying to get the wrong people to give me some kind of "act right" got very old and just plain pointless.
Telling someone you date : "this is how you act like a decent human being" is never a good sign. Most of the gay men I know have a disturbing undercurrent of loneliness that runs their lives.
When loneliness undergirds each and every decision, our capacity to make great choices is severely diminished.
Loneliness often is the result of and leads to severe depression.
Many times in the male species it reveals itself through flat out promiscuity.
Since as a culture we are not taught to recognize nor accept male depression, we are often guilty of looking the other way when a dear friend begins sexually acting out.
All the chat lines and hookup sites are filled with people looking for sex and a good time.
They might be seeking human interaction.
When I've been offered the opportunity to screw around with someone I don't know and decided instead to have a meaningful conversation with a trusted friend, I felt sated.
When I've gone for the comfortable and yet limiting sex with strangers, I've never felt wonderful.
Sexually satisfied occasionally.
But truly uplifted, changed, had my self esteem and feelings of self worth increased exponentially ?
I'm afraid not.
The dirty little secret is that we are lonely.
Whether we enter relationships we know are doomed at the start or stay in ones long after we should have left the fair (both of which I've done on more than one occasion), decisions get made based in loneliness and shear desperation.
Being a gay man in this culture is a lot of things.
This country and its culture is aggressively steeped in isolation. Many of us were isolated as children because of our "difference".
When isolation is added to an oppressed and hated culture , there is a space created that sanctions sex for any and every reason and then adopts a philosophy that won't allow for true feelings to emerge and be handled.
In a few weeks there is a convention of gay men that I will be attending.
Discussing the types of things that will be addressed (with a friend who will also be attending), I shared the thrills and possibilities created when several men of different life experiences, ages and socioeconomic backgrounds gather and exchange ideas.
At some point in the conversation (one minute into it), I was informed by my friend that he never sleeps alone at any convention.
This let me know that even at 54, he could still "pull a date" and get some dick despite this not being the point.
I could only wonder : Are you that lonely ?
With the only possible answer being, yes.
Why not make the decision to make this an opportunity to look for and demand more of yourself and your community ?
We annihilate loneliness not by denying or indulging it.
We destroy it by understanding that we have been engineered to accept this as our fate and yet this is complete nonsense.
We attack it by sharing with our friends that we are at the abyss of loneliness and ready to make the leap into ridiculous choice making and need help in making wiser decisions.
We need the types of friendships where allies recognize our blind spots(loneliness tendencies) and tell us to "knock it off" early and often.
We also have to hold ourselves responsible for our behavior.
It is easy to become and remain confused about what we're doing and why when the isolation beast seductively invites us to make that call, text or hop on the line with other lonely souls who are "just bored and want to have a look about".
Good friends who want the best for you will not leave you alone and trust that you will make great decisions.
They will give you a good swift kick in the pants until you do.
If you have these types of relationships in your life, great.
If not, start looking for and cultivating them now.
My favorite and most valued gift by the aging process is a great big case of the "Fuck Its".
At 15, 20 and even into my thirties there was a great deal of energy put into what people thought of me and adjusting my life and thinking to accommodate the ubiquitous "them".
While everyone commented on how "nice" (the original definition of this word was "dumb") and pleasant I was, there was much upset and resentment waiting to be(unleashed). Creating a false persona allowed me to keep the secret (my being gay)hidden.
Being nice and not a problem, I could live and exist happily undetected.
This thinking kept me trapped in awful relationships and heinous partnerships.
People love it when you are eager to accommodate, cosign bullshit and engage in all manner of tom foolery. When I began fighting my way out of Mr. Nice Gay mode, folks looked at me with disbelief and many feigned shock.
When a person in a relationship makes a drastic change, all parties are affected, have reactions and feelings and ultimately must make some adjustment.
Nobody wants to adjust if their needs are constantly being met.
The ability to not give a fuck is a great section of the aging process.
When I say not giving a shit, it doesn't mean being an asshole which is a role people will attempt to assign you. The not-giving- a- shit means: I will not twist myself into a pretzel in an effort to get folks to like or accept me. It also means I will not hand over my thinking , self esteem or self validation to another and hope they come up with something grand.
Whenever I've handed over the reins of my life to someone, I have never been happy with the results.
When I've co-directed an initiative, my joy increased as a result of consistent and deliberate actions. As we age, there is less tolerance for foolishness and shenanigans with people that have no grand vision for their lives and whose concern in life is getting by with the least amount of intellectual or spiritual effort.
As I've aged, I have constantly and shamelessly asked myself : Is this activity something I want to engage in or invest my energy into ?
Is this the best use of my time?
Part of the aging process deals with the comfortability and brilliance that occurs when we make a decision to be bold.
You can't be bold if your primary concern is hurting someone's feelings or what they will think of you. There is really nothing better than making choices from a well thought out and guiltless position.
Aging has forced me to spend a whole lot less time being concerned with the opinions of others and most importantly, how I look to them.
Letting go of the crazed production that is "image" is also wonderful.
If I'm tired, I rest.
If I'm pissed off, hurt or confused, I can choose how I will address these issues with my husband, friends and coworkers. Sometimes a great big box of "shut the hell up" is required.
At other times, it is important to speak out and up and opt for deliberate and swift action.
My younger self had the need to constantly and psychotically remain busy at all costs.
Brene Brown says this is the new addiction: Staying busy so that we don't have to deal with the realities/truth of our lives.
I encourage all of you to embrace growing older.
Those of us who are most affected by this need to be "nice" (gays, women and minorities) should purposely and gladly welcome the attitude and power that comes from aging, being clear and the natural outcome that this provides.
If we have spent lives of dire desperation, anxiously awaiting for someone to give us permission to dream and accomplish heart passions, then the aging process can look pretty crappy.
There is nothing to dread or lament if we have lived lives of meaning and exploration that have allowed thinking, spirituality and self knowledge to grow.
During our lives, we will meet several people. Some of these folks we will know a lifetime. Some folks will be around for a good time and then dash when the first sign of trouble presents itself.
I have had several acquaintances and very few true friends.
True friends can save your life or at least make it bearable. I have laughed often with true friends. Cried with true friends about being misunderstood, lonely or scared.
At my recent wedding, I was able to bask in the love and support of many people.
I was able to identify the ones who were there for a good time, to see the house or simply to see two men get married and kiss.
Whatever the reason people decided to attend the event, it was quite an event.
Currently, I am examining all of the relationships in my life and asking myself some serious questions.
Am I at my best in this relationship ? Is this person bringing me their best and demanding that I do the same?
Often times we find ourselves ourselves in relationships of convenience. Relationships that suck the life out of us and are welcome distractions that move us into more nothingness and wasted time and life energy.
I have had many of these and most of them have been in the context of intimate interactions.
My recent obsession with true relationships and true love (which is one in the same to me) came to a head when I married.
Want to ferret out real love : drastically change the dynamic of a well defined relationship and watch the fur fly. People feign love for another and yet no vital and powerful test of their relationship has ever occurred.
It is easy to declare love when you are never challenged.
Because we are human beings, we have shit that is most unattractive and will emerge when given the correct environment to flourish.
Try to get emotionally close to someone and everyone's abandonment and "not enoughness" will appear in some interesting guises and in people you thought you knew.
Share your darkest hour and prepare for upset, anger, dismissal and in some rare and troubling instances, outright meanness and thoughtlessness.
This is the most frightening and exciting thing about interaction with other humans.
As an individual who is always pushing towards his own and the world's evolution, it is embarrassing to admit that there have been times when my envy and jealousy allowed me to go "on the attack".
While this was not my finest hour, I have learned that no one is above attacking another if change, abandonment or scarcity is afoot.
We all fear change.
We construct relationships on predictability. Things get real wacky when people get healthy, change the game or simply change the game's rules.
Many of us are assigned labels and characteristics at birth.
Several of us carry these ridiculous and arbitrarily assigned ways of being into the world and our adult lives. As a person committed to protean and relentless growth, I am often moving from one thing to another.
I look for the next opportunity to fail and or win big.
It takes a powerful warrior friend to walk with you as you explore all that life has to offer or allow your curiosity to lead you to the scary and unpredictable. Some folks only like it when you are fucked up, confused and emotionally stuck.
Having fought my way back from homelessness, joblessness, financial disaster and abusive relationships with cute sociopaths, I have witnessed the investment people (sometimes)make in the misery of "friends".
People that I thought were friends have said awful things with the underlying tone of "stay in your place ass wipe".
These are not friends or at the very least a confused friend who would rather not have things change. We must realize that we all have the capacity to fear and fight like the dickens to prevent change. We must realize that change is inevitable and is not the problem.
How we negotiate and respond to change is the most powerful and positive response when things and people begin shifting identities.
We must learn to welcome the new and not offer punishments to anyone who has the balls to dig deep and demand more from themselves and the world. Applauding and supporting the efforts of those we claim to love is the highest honor, a true and bold testament to what we think and want for the ones we hold close.
It (true friendship) demands that we honor all commitments and not simply flap our gums about what our friendships mean to us.
At a recent all staff meeting, there were some big,scary "what if" scenarios regarding "time management".
In my personal life, someone is always in a snit because I don't pounce on my phone like a trained, coked-up seal desperate to be included in every conversation and interaction.
I often "unplug" on a regular basis because the day job is rife with problems no matter the type of interaction.
It's very popular these days to let people know how "busy" you are.
It is time we got honest about the phrase "I'm busy".
I'm busy is a very polite way of saying to another person: Who you are or What you have to offer holds no value for me.
Much like the definitive : Maybe (which according to the sublime Les Brown is really a polite no) this is a way of trying to be polite which is often code for "lying".
When someone says their busy, I go to a particular place in my mind. My mental translation states: this request is not important to you.
We all make time for things we find significant, particularly if there is some type of payoff for us.
When things are of value, we move heaven and earth to make sure whatever needs to get handled gets handled.
What people are not telling you is that they would rather be doing something else. We can take it personally or thank whomever for their honesty and commitment to having a real relationship.
The next time you ask someone to do something or you ask for a favor and someone trots out that tired chestnut, one up them with : What could I say or do so that you see the value in what I'm requesting ?
This year, I will not say: I'm busy.
I will either agree to do something and do it or graciously and unapologetically decline.
My need to explain, justify my choice or lie to save someone's feelings are a thing of the past.
My no will be a real no and my yes will be real yes.
Most of us hide behind lies to save feelings.
As I turn 47 this year,the lies are over. The masks are now coming off.
It is time to stop using "busyness" as an ineffective panacea for everything.