Rockin the friend zone

There has been a lot of discussion lately about pick-up artists (PUA), men’s rights activists (MRA), so-called “nice guys” and the infamous “friend zone”. I keep seeing posts tagged with #notallmen and #yesallwomen. While I love lively open discussions, and I think these are very important subjects, most of the rhetoric disturbs me at the very core of my being. It’s like there is a war going on and it’s a war that can’t possible have a constructive outcome. It makes me wonder how men and women ever get together. It makes me wonder how our species has managed to reproduce. The fact that it has and continues to happen is equally disturbing because it suggests that we have a system based on power, control, manipulation and inequality… which is exactly what we have. Fighting only reinforces this kind of system and tends to benefit the dominant class. Healthy male-female relationships cannot be achieved through fighting. It seems to me that this should be obvious. This is one situation where there should be no doubt that we are in it together. We all want the same thing. I probably shouldn’t speak for everyone but I believe most people want connection, companionship, love and sex. These are things which we CANNOT get on our own. In the case of heterosexual relationship, these things require men and women working together; so why all the fighting? I’m starting to think that you are all just fucked in the head.

So I’m going to try and be a voice of reason. I’m going to try and interject some compassion and understanding into the conversation. Granted, the only perspective I feel comfortable presenting is my own but hopefully the fact that I have dated both men and women will lend some credibility to what I’m saying. Still, it is the perspective of someone who has experienced this culture as a male. My hope is that women and people who have traversed gender identity will feel comfortable adding their perspective to the conversation in the space below.

First off I want to say that I don’t know very much about pick-up artists or men’s rights activism. My take on the pick-up artist stuff is that it exists because it works. It just seems so gamey and contrived that I can’t see anything real or sustainable coming out of it. I have no interest in that. The men’s rights movement seems to have been born out of a sense of loss but I believe that it is the loss of something that was neither real nor sustainable in the first place so why should I care? I realize that is probably not the most compassionate response, and the truth is I do care, just not as much as I care about other things.

What I do know something about is the “nice guy” archetype and the “friend zone”. One could say that the friend zone has been the story of my life. It’s a pretty common story. It is the story of two people who like each other but one wants something more and the other doesn’t. It happens more often than not. I’ve been on both sides of this equation; or should I say inequality. My guess is that two people feeling the same way and wanting the same thing is so rare that we might not even recognize it when it happens. There are countless books and movies, songs and poems, of unrequited love. I’ve written at least half a dozen songs on the subject myself. In fact the first song with lyrics I ever wrote, probably thirty years ago, long before the term “friend zone” made it into mainstream consciousness, began with the line:

There goes another sunny day
Can’t believe it’s raining again
Just when I thought things were going my way
You said you’d rather just remain friends

It was a painful time in my life  but what’s sad is that the words ring just as true to me today. I continue to fall for my friends who want to be “just friends”. I know that you are not suppose to fall in love with your friends but I honestly can’t imagine falling for anyone else. How could I fall for someone that I wouldn’t want to be friends with? I don’t date in the traditional sense because I find it awkward and artificial. Perhaps one day dating will merely be considered a remnant of a patriarchal society. Also, I don’t find dating necessary to meet people. I meet people all the time and I can pretty much tell who I’m attracted to within a few minutes. I could just jump into bed with them right away, which in the past that has been my modus operandi, but I’ve learned that if I want something real and sustainable I need to get to know them, find out if I actually like them, you know… as a friend.

It’s this approach which makes the friend zone possible. It means I place a higher priority on friendship than sex and this does places me squarely in “nice guy” territory. Frankly, that pisses me off. Not that there is anything wrong with being a nice guy but it’s a stereotype and it diminishes my humanity.  It’s like dismissing the talents of a star football player because he’s a “jock”. It still takes a lot of hard work to become good at a sport even if you have an aptitude for athletics. The truth is that I can be as big of an asshole as the next guy, something anyone who has really gotten to know me and spent enough time with me will attest. My aptitude for kindness is not innate. I was not born with it. It has been forged through my experiences. It’s because I have witnessed and experienced the damage caused by power and control that I reject these things. It is only through suffering that I have come to put my faith in kindness.

I don’t recall exactly how long it took me to come up with the next line for my song but I suspect it took some soul searching. I had a lot of pain and insecurity to work through before I could come up with a compassionate, loving response.

That’s fine, just as long as we’re together
Sometimes that’s the way it should be
Lovers come, then they go and are gone forever
I can see it’s a friend that you need

In the song it appears like this response is immediate but in reality these situations tend to go more like this…

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

I snagged this comic from imgur.com where it has recieved over a million views. I think it’s brilliant! It perfectly captures a clearly painful subject in a comical and artistic manner. It was created by a young woman who goes by the name mamamantis on tumblr. She seems pretty cool, that is to say I think we have a lot of common interests. We even have the same incense burner. We could probably be great friends so I hope she doesn’t mind that I use her comic as a jumping off point to discuss my views on the friend zone / nice guy phenomenon.

I know a number of women who have posted this comic and identify with it’s righteous indignation. I can relate to the anger being felt. That feeling that you owe somebody something simply for them being nice to you. I mean, that you owe them anything beyond being nice to them. That’s totally unfair and fucked up. I’ve experienced this from the other end. I’ve had people expect something more from me simply for having sex with me. All you get for having sex with me is that you get to have sex with me. I know that might make me an asshole in some people’s eyes. I realize that sex is not just sex to some people but that’s a subject for another post. This post is about how sometimes friendship is more than just friendship.

Let’s face it, the whole construct of the “friend-zone” is a male invention. It was introduced into the lexicon by men and has been used by men to hurt and subjugate women.  Women have every reason to be pissed off about it. Still, the situation which has produced the idea of the friend-zone is the result of progress made by women. It wasn’t that long ago where the idea of unmarried men and women being “just friends” was unthinkable.  Unless we want to go back to those days we’re going to have to learn now to deal with this new situation. The culture has changed but that doesn’t mean that the people involved have. Men and women behave differently in this situation for what I believe are cultural differences but the emotions behind that behaviour are purely human.

What I see in the comic above is two people who are experiencing hurt, fear and anger. To overcome this it’s not enough to change the culture, we need to evolve as human beings. We need to open our hearts and our minds to the idea that we are all just people. We all want and need the same basic things and none of us can do it alone. We need each other. There is no one else out there to save us so we need to work together. I believe that we can heal the world, one healthy relationship at a time.

So it pains me when I see friendships devolve into hatred over hurt feelings. It pains me when I see the prospect for romance dashed by fear. I don’t know how the story between our two super heroes turned out but I would like to think that they both went home, did some soul searching and personal healing, and came to the conclusion that they really do like each other. I would hope that they would realize that their friendship is strong enough to handle a little sexual tension. I would hope that the guy would realize that friendship is not a consolation prize but is actually pretty damn awesome in it’s own right. OR maybe the woman realizes that it took a lot of guts to ask her out. She could have been more sympathetic and understanding when turning him down. Maybe he wasn’t trying to make her feel guilty but was simply feeling hurt and acted like a dumbass. It might even be possible she comes to the conclusion that this guy really does like her for who she is and isn’t just after her for her body and that is really what she wants in a romantic partner. I know that last scenario is pretty unlikely and may only happens in the movies but all of these outcomes have to be better than what usually happens.

What probably happened was the guy went back to his buddies and in a typical male showing of support they said, “Fuck that bitch! She wouldn’t know a good guy if one bit her on the ass. Now let’s get drunk!” And the woman went back to her friends who said, “Men are pigs! All they think about is sex and they will do anything to get it. Who needs ’em, let’s have a drink!” This might do wonders for the alcohol industry but it doesn’t do a damn thing for improving relationships between men and women.

When it comes to human relationships we need to think beyond the cultural narrative. Every real relationship is unique. It is a magical combination of the two people involved and only the two people involved. It stands outside of time and space. We all come to a new relationship a product of our past experiences. We all have baggage. We all have hurt. But we can’t expect the new relationship to be better if we can’t let go of the past. The goal of each relationship should be to make it the best it can be. We can only do this if we are free to be the best that we can be. We can’t do it if we are playing a role. We can do it if we are expecting the other person to fit into some preconceived mold. We can’t do it if we think of relationships as something to be boxed up and labeled.

That said, I’m going to continue to use labels and common vernacular in my writing because I’m trying to communicate an idea and people have a hard enough time understanding what the hell I’m talking about.

So guys: You need to realize that there are countless reasons why a woman might not want to date you besides being a bitch and hating nice guys. I have heard them all and even if they don’t make sense, they are valid. There is no point in arguing. There is no appropriate line of persuasion. Dating is an art of attraction, not conversion. Rejection hurts but it’s her right to reject your offer if it’s not what she wants FOR ANY REASON. You need to be prepared for this because it can go one of three ways; she can accept and you take the relationship to the next level, she declines and you remain just friends, OR one or both of you go to your dark place, act out in anger and everything goes to shit. That last one is a very real possibility and you are the only one who gets to prepare for it. Don’t be the one to fuck it up. She might react with anger. Even if it seems like all the signs are there, you are springing something on her that she might not want to hear. She’s being forced to see you in a different light and it might make her uncomfortable. She may feel lied to because in a sense you have been lying to her. If you have developed feeling for her, you have to tell her, but you don’t get to control the way she reacts. If you are prepared, you can react with the best part of your personality. If you continue to be the decent guy that she apparently thinks that you are, the relationship, whatever it may be, can continue to flourish and grow.

To the gals: If you are going to have a mature healthy relationship it is going to be with someone you consider a friend. It’s going to be with a nice guy, who just might act like an asshole sometimes. The idea that sex and friendship are mutually exclusive is bullshit. The best sex in the world is between people who love and trust each other; even if it takes a while to transfer that love and trust to the bedroom. It can be scary. There is a risk involved. The friendship will never be the same and the romance might not work out. That’s still not the end of the world. People can still be friends after having sex with each other. Sometimes clearing the sexual tension is what it takes to get to a purely platonic state. Of course if you have absolutely no romantic or sexual interest in the guy by all means, DO NOT DATE HIM. You always have the right to say no and no one can make you feel guilty about it. Now if you react like a fiery banshee and kick him in the balls, you might have something to feel guilty about. If you are a nice, attractive and friendly person it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that your guy friend might be into you. Even if you have done everything possible not to lead him on. Even if you’ve totally just been yourself and treated him like a normal human being he still might fall for you… in fact that’s kind of exactly what nice guys find really hot. I know it sucks. You just can’t win. I wish that there was a pill you could take to make you unattractive to men but so far none has been developed.

We all need to do better. It’s way too simplistic to say that all men are assholes or all women are bitches. In fact it’s pretty inappropriate to call anyone and asshole or a bitch. We are all complex individuals with many facets to our personality. Some are really amazing and some… not so much. We all fuck up. The people who try the hardest probably fuck up the most.

We need to realize that we are at a point in time where the old rules don’t apply and the new rules… well, the new rules are still being figured out. None of us really knows what’s going on and that’s a pretty unsettling feeling. The upside to all this is when we realize that we are all in it together. Having a problem where the solution is to come together rather than fight is a pretty good problem to have in my book.

That’s why I found it so disturbing when I saw this meme on my daughter’s facebook page:

There is no friend zone

I feel like it needs a response and I’m not quite sure how to do that. It’s that frustration which has led me to write this post. Perhaps my daughter just posted it because it sounds good and has a cute dog on it but I ‘m still concerned that she is identifying with what I see as a pretty destructive message. It’s not the denial of the “friend-zone” which I find harmful although I do think that the friend zone is real. People do compartmentalize their relationships in their brain and for whatever reason, some people get designated “just friends”. I do it myself all the time even although I really try to keep an open mind. What troubles me is the suggestion that kindness is not real. It troubles me that kindness is being seen as a tactic to get sex. Kindness is pretty much the opposite of manipulation. This meme looks to me like propaganda from the power and control camp as a way to discredit kindness but I actually doubt that is where it came from. It think it comes from the aforementioned confusion and a general lack of understanding about how kindness works. In a way, I find this meme encouraging because it suggests that men are practising kindness in their pursuit of sexual relationships. I think that is a good thing. The problem is not with kindness. The problem is with our expectations.

I actually feel like I’ve made a pretty good life for myself living in the “friend-zone”. I’ve been more or less single for nearly a decade now. My sex life may not be what it was in my late teens and early twenties but it’s still quite active. I also have some of the most amazing friends a guy could ask for. Almost all of my closest friends are people that I once dated or have been with sexually. Most of the people I have sex with today are my friends. I see no reason why sex, romance and friendship can’t go together. All it takes is trust. That comes from honesty and understanding… oh yeah, and kindness.

 

 

 

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Life outside my head

I haven’t really written much about what has gone on in my life since getting back from Mexico a month ago. Part of that is because not a lot has been going on. It’s winter and I haven’t been doing all that much that I consider all that exciting. A better answer is that I have been living in my head so what has been reflected in my blog has more to do with what I’ve been thinking than with what I’ve been doing. Neither are completely accurate however. The truth is I write about whatever I want to write about whenever I want to write. And even more accurate than that would be that I write whatever I write whenever I write because most of the time what comes out when I sit down at the computer is not quite what I had in mind when I decided to sit down at the computer.

For now I want to abandon the thoughts in my head and recap what I have been up to the past couple of weeks; let’s say going back to Christmas. It’s been an extremely chaotic time with the holidays and weekends and birthdays and random shit thrown in but in a way all of that is pretty run of the mill for me. I just want to capture the essence of what I’ve been up to so that I can move on. I’m expecting this to be a pretty boring post.

For starters, I’ve been spending a lot of time laying on my bed watching Netflix – mostly documentaries. Here is a boring ass list of said documentaries and historic dramas:

  • The Billionaires Tea Party – A left wing view of the Tea Party.
  • The One Percent – A billionaires view of the very wealthy.
  • Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream – A comparison between Park Avenue in Manhattan and Park Avenue in the South Bronx.
  • Surviving Progress – Our progress may be a trap.
  • Ayn Rand & the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged – The life and philosophy of one of our most popular thinkers.
  • The Secret of Nikola Tesla – One of our greatest inventors who claimed to have never invented anything.
  • Lovelace – A dramatization about one of our greatest porn stars.
  • Future by Design – The story of futurist and engineer, Jacques Fresco.
  • Escape from Suburbia – What are people going to do when we run out of oil?
  • Pedal-Driven – Mountain Bike riders work with the government to solve problems.
  • Unborn in the USA – A non-bias view of the Pro-Life movement.
  • Zeitgeist: Addendum – A non-political propaganda film worth paying attention to.
  • We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks – An interesting expose on Julian Assange.
  • Occupy Unmasked – An extremely right wing view of the Occupy Movement.
  • Better This World – A remarkable tale of left wing radicals in my home town.
  • The Big Buy: How Tom DeLay Stole Congress – A story of power and corruption in law and government.
  • Runaway Slave – The story of one man’s move beyond the race paradigm
  • Let’s Make Money – A propaganda film that should make you think
  • Color Me Kubrick – A dramatization of the life of the man who pretended to be Stanley Kubrick
  • American Addict – There is more money in pharmaceutical drugs than in street drugs.
  • Patriocracy A look at the political divide and the unspoken majority who just want to get along.
  • The People vs. George Lucas – The love/hate relationship between the man who created Star Wars and it’s fans.
  • Hungry For Change – What happens when we stop eating food and start eating drugs.

Wow… twenty-three movies in fourteen days!?! How could I have had time for anything else? Okay, I cheated a bit. That list went back to December 13th but I really wanted to get in the name Ayn Rand. I know that simply being able to tag her will give me a hit or two and I think she wants me to have that. She has given rise to a political movement that is completely counter to everything I believe in but I don’t think most of her followers really understand what she was saying. They just picked up on what they liked.

But that’s the way it goes.

People seem to like Ayn Rand because she gives them justification for being a selfish prick. I say just be who you are! If you are a selfish prick then own it. No one needs to give you permission or justification. I think she would agree with that. But then you can’t complain when all the people around you care more about their own needs than yours. Birds of a feather flock together, bitch!

If you do want another view of the future I would really recommend watching Future By Design by Jacque Fresco. Actually, I would recommend watching all of these documentaries. Some are more biased than others. Some are more opinionated but all have the potential to get you thinking and I highly recommend thinking… in moderation.

So knowing that I can’t simply live inside my head, what else have I been up to?

I went to my sister’s for Christmas. With my parents out of the country I had really hoped that I could just take the day off but when my sister decided to do something at her house I figured it was important to attend. I’m sorry that my other sister was not able to attend but that is the way it goes in my family. We are a group of very diverse people but clearly… somehow… we still love each other.

Usually I spend Christmas night at the bar commiserating with others who either don’t have family in town or just survived another awkward family diner. This year I just felt like going home.

The following night I had rehearsal for our show on Friday. The show was fun. The show was fantastic. The show was what I do.

Hexagon - 27 Dec 2013

Hexagon – 27 Dec 2013

My son’s mother’s sister, who lives in Canada, was there. I helped raise her when she was in high-school and she totally loves me. It was so wonderful to see her again. Also in the audience was a woman who used to live with me and while doing so taught me a great deal about the toxicity of anger and the fear which comes with it. It was really good to see her again after getting past all of that. I also talked with a fan who told me that he could never do what I do but by watching me on stage he feels like he was living vicariously through me. That is one of the greatest gifts I can give as a performer but the truth is, I too am living vicariously through the audience.

The day after a show is usually just a day of rest but I got tired of just sitting around. The weather was nice but I knew it was going to get really cold so I wanted to get out of the house while I still could. I had no plans but I needed a back up battery for my e-cig so I hoped on the bus and headed to Smokeless Smoking in Northeast Minneapolis. My friend works there so I got the “family” discount.

As I left the store he asked, “So, what are you going to do now?”

I said, I have no idea but there will probably be whiskey involved.”

I needed food so I headed to the Spring Street for nutrients and libations. After that I headed to the 331 Club for a beer or two. Next thing I knew there was a dance party going on and I was shit-faced wasted. A friend of mine had sent me a text to see what I was up to but I didn’t notice it until two hours later. I still wound up crashing at her place. Forgiveness it the key to happiness.

The next day was hard. My friend gave me a ride home but I still didn’t know whether I wanted to be alone. It was my daughter’s birthday and I hadn’t seen her face or heard her voice since September. I tried calling her that morning but could only leave a message. I figured it would be a good day to just be alone and do nothing. I made myself a screwdriver to ease the hangover but still having my doubts about being alone I reached out to my Facebook friends. Within thirty seconds I had a phone call from my friend at Smokeless Smoking offering to come pick me up.  I spent the day and night in the loving company of him, his partner and their son.

When his partner dropped me off the next morning I said, “Thank you so much for being there for me.”

To which I was replied, “No, it was you who were there for us.”

Seriously, this is how my life goes but I think it is how life goes when we are willing to humble ourselves to ask for help.

The next day of significance was New Years Eve. Once again I had no plans. If I could have done it I would have done nothing on New Years Eve. It’s fucking amateur night but I needed my peeps. I called a cab and headed to the Cabooze to see WookieFoot. I knew the show was sold out but I hoped that the lovelight would shine on me and I would still be able to get it. It didn’t and I was’t. Luckily there was another cab waiting so I grabbed it and headed to the 331 Club where my friends in the band Rapedoor were playing.

There was a great line up at the 331 that night and it was free but it was still my second choice because one of the bands has a tendency to get naked on stage.  Now I have no problem with nudity but as a stage gimmick it seems over played, especially for a band with so much talent. For some reason that didn’t stop me from stripping off all my clothes and prancing around totally nude when I was brought up on stage.

I got a ride home that night but I couldn’t find my keys to get in my house. Luckily the people who dropped me off knew well enough to make sure that I got in my house. It was cold enough to where I could have froze to death if I spent the night out doors. Instead I spent the night on the couch of some friends in South Minneapolis. By morning I was sober enough to find my keys and make it home.

Thursday I had a therapy appointment. I wanted to spend some time with my friend who let me crash at her place after the first 311 Club night. We actually had a nice evening snuggling on the couch watching movies until four in the morning. Unbeknownst to me this was much later than she wanted to be up. She was pretty pissed off that it had gotten so late and to be fair it was largely my fault. I was a pretty talkative movie watcher that night. Sharing two bottles of wine and a six pack of beer will do that to me… especially since I drank most of it.

She stormed off to bed and I took a cab home. There was a time when I would have had no choice but to sleep on the couch. I feel quite grateful to have the financial resources to take care of myself when these conflicts arise because they will happen… drinking or not. By the way, we are just fine now. In fact we were fine the next morning.

My plan was to go back and retrieve my van but I never got sober enough to drive. I thought that my son would be coming home that day but it turned out he wouldn’t be back until Saturday so I just kept drinking slowly throughout the day. That night I had a meeting with the full cast off Venus’ performance art project. I’m doing the music for it. The meeting was great and I’m looking forward to it but that is about all I have to say about it at this point.

After the meeting Venus drove me to the Spring Street where two of my friends where celebrating their birthdays with an incredible line up of bands in the basement. There is much more that I could say about that night but I’m really trying to keep my posts under two thousand words. Suffice it to say I wound up at the after party and a really cute boy brought me home.

We can also say that I didn’t do much the next day other than welcome home my son, who I haven’t seen since we got back from Mexico.

It wasn’t until Sunday that I managed to retrieve my van. That took walking over a mile in sub zero weather but my van still started up just fine. I spent that night at the bar with my friend; the one at who’s house my van was previously parked. Remarkably, that night went much better.

Monday I drove my son out to see his sister and step-mother. Today I went to retrieve him. It sounds like my daughter is doing fine and at the end of the day, that is all that matters to me.

Listen to me

Well that was freaking weird!

We had a lovely drive back from the Twin Ports (Duluth/Superior), talking the whole way and enjoying fall colors. The sun was shining and the air temperature was pleasant. I was eager to get home so I could get on my bike and enjoy what may be one of the last nice days of the season. I even had a great excuse. My cat needs food and litter so at the very least I thought I would bike to the pet store.

But that’s not what happened.

Once home, my energy level dropped. I had a bowl of cereal and cracked a beer but I had no motivation to do anything else. Well, almost nothing else. I did have an erection that needed tending to but I knew if I did that I would just fall asleep; which is what I did.

That’s where it got weird.

Over the next five hours I would have some of the most vivid and terrifying dreams of my life. At times I was aware that I was dreaming but I never tried to control them. As scared as I was I felt that there was a deeper message within. The dreams were a warning and even as the details fade, the message is clear.

I can’t do it all and if I try it will kill me. As I am preparing to embark on the greatest challenge of my life I have to stay focused. I can’t let anything or anyone distract me. But at the same time I can’t do it alone. Those distractions are my guide posts and my life-lines. I need to pay attention to them.

That is my conflict. In a way it has always been my conflict. I have always struggled with how to balance my future plans with the present moment. I have always struggled to balanced my inner desires with external influences.

I realize that dreams are just a way for my subconcious to talk to my conscious. I realize that it is all me. I am every character in my dreams. I realize that it is me scaring the shit out of me. But I think I have a point. I need to listen to myself and I’m telling myself to listen to you.

Cruel to be kind

She said, “Just leave the keys on the table and leave! That way if we ever talk again it won’t be some codependent sort of thing.”

That struck a nerve with me. I had been trying to resolve the issue the best I could and I’m pretty good at working through conflict. I didn’t want it to come to this. We had been in this place before, many times before, and it always ends the same. We love each other. We need each other. Not in a co-dependent sort of way, but in a family, love each other no matter what, meant for each other, don’t want to live without each other sort of way.

That’s how I felt. I didn’t want to just give up only to go through hell only to wind up right back in the most amazing friendship I have ever known. I actually didn’t think I could go through it again. I kind of felt like we had been through this enough to the point where we would never have to go through it again. I finally felt safe. I thought these kinds of fights were over. Can I do this again? I have limits. I have needs. I have to know when enough is enough.

So when she said the word, codependent, I thought, “Yeah, I don’t want to be that person.”

I put the keys on the table and left.

I do want to take a side note here and express my annoyance with the term codependent. It might be important for assessing my state of mind.

Codependent is a term that comes straight out of Alcoholics Anonymous. I’m not bashing on AA. It works for some people and I’m very grateful for that. It worked for me at one point in my life and I am very grateful for all it has tough me. My point is that codependent has a very specific meaning and it has been co-oped to refer to a number of other forms of unhealthy relationships that have nothing to do with addiction or alcohol dependence. It has also been been co-oped to refer to relationships that are not codependent at all but are actually loving interdependent healthy relationships, usually between one or more unhealthy people. By the way, I’ve never met a completely healthy person, only people who pretend to be healthy, which in my mind is pretty fucking sick. Just saying…

I am probably the epitome of what it means to NOT be codependent. If anything I am way too independent but I am trying to change that. I’m a guy who feels totally alone in the world but I think that is stupid. There are far to many lonely people for anyone to need to feel alone. When I find someone that I can connect with in a very real way I embrace that. I don’t want to lose that. I don’t think that is codependency. I think that is healthy. I think that is love.

Love takes trust. I understand that trust is not easy for everyone. I know that people doubt me sometimes. I doubt me a lot. But I never doubt my intentions. Loving me means knowing me well enough to know that I would never mean you harm. When people pull away from me because of something that I did that hurt them I can’t help but consider that there has been a loss of trust.

Before I left my friends apartment she said that she would now know that her privacy wouldn’t be violated. This concerned me. I actually don’t have much concern for privacy myself… obviously. I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I did, but I do have concern for her privacy. I asked her if she ever felt like I violated her privacy. She said that she hadn’t and I felt relieved.

I left her apartment and had a smoke on the steps before getting on my bike. Luckily, I was awake enough, sober enough, had enough energy and the weather was nice enough that that 7-8 mile bike ride home was not of life threatening concern – sometimes it is. This was not one of those nights where I was spending the night on her couch because I might die if I didn’t. This was a night where I was planning on spending the night because we really enjoy each other’s company.

So what went wrong?

I can really only speak from my perspective. I do have insight into how my friend was feeling but I don’t think that it is appropriate to speak for anyone but myself. She can comment here or with me directly if she wants. This is my space and I use it to speak my point of view.

We were leaving our final of our four venues for the evening. As we were unlocking our bikes she mentioned that she was made to feel uncomfortable by the looks she got when she was leaving. I asked if it might be her fear that was causing her to feel this way and perhaps not the actions of any individual. I told her that I was actually feeling very safe. This seemed to piss her off as she assured me that she was not afraid. I tried to clarify that I wasn’t saying she was afraid, only that her fear, which we all have, may have been coloring her perception.

Yeah, that didn’t go over very well. I wasn’t being accusatory, I was simply curious. I guess sometimes people don’t want you to ask questions, they just want you to shut the fuck up and listen. I sometimes forget that; sometimes my inquisitive mind gets the best of me.

This time it got me being called a dick. I didn’t think that was appropriate. I don’t like being called names. I told her that I didn’t think that was necessary. I’m really trying to do a better job of standing up for myself when I feel like I am being mistreated. I let a lot of things just roll off my back but I’m not sure that is always helpful.

She said, “Then stop being a dick.”

“Okay”, I though, “if that is the way you want to play…”. And I told her, “Then stop being a bitch!”

I didn’t know how I thought that would help but at this point I didn’t know what would so I figured I would play along. This was met with, “Fine, just go home and leave me alone.”

That may have been a perfectly reasonable solution. I totally could have made it home. I was pretty sure she would have made it home as well. I was more like 10 miles from home but my main concern was about her. In any case, I just felt like we were safer together so I shut the fuck up and we rode the rest of the way back to her place in silence.

Well, except for when I hit a pot hole that knocked my bike lock loose and I had to stop. She stopped too. She waited for me to get myself going again. I though that might have been a good sign that she actually cared about me. I fucking hate that I have any doubts that she actually cares about me. The fact that those thoughts even pass through my head make me feel kind of crazy.

But then I have to wrap my head around this: once we got back to her apartment I told her that what she said hurt me.

She responded, “Good, you should be hurt!”

I simply don’t understand that. I do a lot of fucked up things but I never want to be hurt anyone. I get that I do things that hurt other people but when they let me know I feel sadness, not glee. For anyone who claims to love me to want me to be hurt just confuses the fuck out of me.

As much as I love this song I have never quite understood it’s point.

Having this space to write is very helpful to me. I actually don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t just write about this. Actually, I do. I’ve been through it before and it’s not pretty.

So, I could really use your help. If you have any insight or commiseration I would love to know what other people think. I really want to know what my friend is thinking but in the meantime I want to use this time to connect with you. I think this is a very human experience and I would like it to enhance me rather than defeat me. My hope is that through my pain we can make the world a better place, together.

Fear and loathing in Minneapolis

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” – John Lennon

For most of my life I have subscribed to the philosophy put forth here by John Lennon; and for the most part I still do. There is a lot of wisdom in those words. I just can no longer treat love and fear as two sides of the same coin; two competing forces vying for our response. I can no longer view love simply as something that is good and fear as something that is bad. It’s not that black and white. Nothing is black and white. There are no absolutes, there is no certainty, there is no escape from fear. Am I absolutely certain of that? Well no, and hence I stand convinced of my doubt.

Writing this blog has been a life goal of mine for at past two years. For two years I have failed at taking that first step. For two years I have procrastinated.  For two years I have made excuses: I don’t know what I want it to be about, I don’t know what to call it, I don’t know how to set up a blog, I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money, I need a better computer and countless other arguments in my head that kept me stuck in my thoughts. For two years I have felt paralyzed, unable to take the next step in my life, because of the weight of a dream.

But that’s bullshit. I haven’t just been sitting around doing nothing. I’ve been living my life. I’ve been growing, changing, struggling and preparing myself for this day. The truth is that this blog came into existence on the absolutely first day it possible could. The truth is that getting to this day has not been a two year process. The truth is that it has been a 46 year process. Everything that has occurred in my life has been leading up to this very moment. That’s a pretty overwhelming though,t but it’s true, not just for this moment, but every moment. The present moment always arrives right on time. You can never be late for now.

So what possessed me to write a blog at all? What is the motivating factor behind this endeavour? Am I being driven by either love or fear? I would love to tell you that this is a labor of love. I would love to tell you that being a writer has been my life passion. I would love to tell you that I possess some great wisdom that needs to be shared with the world. I would love to tell you that I am so fabulous of a person everyone needs to know who I am. I would love to tell you that everything I do is motivated by love. I would love to tell you all that… but none of it would be true.

The fact is, this blog is a product of fear. To be precise, my fear of death. Well, not of literally of dying, I’ve already experienced that and I’m not really afraid of death. What I am afraid of is not living. If I’m not growing, expanding, taking risks and moving forward… well, that feels like death to me. I’ve been reading a number of blogs lately and it seems like a lot of them are born out of a period of tremendous life change: divorce, loss of a job, loss of a child, major medical diagnosis, physical injury, spiritual awakening or coming out process.

For me, it’s because I don’t know what the fuck else to do. I’ve been through my share of hell and along the way I have developed a lot of tools. I have a tremendous skill set and support system to cope with what life has thrown at me.  Still, it has only gotten me this far. I have worked through all of the issues I am aware of, I have made all the changes to my life I can and accepted those things about me which I cannot change, yet still, my life sucks. It’s time to shit or get off the pot. It’s time to forge into unknown territory or just give up. It’s time to face my fear… or die. I know, sounds pretty dramatic, but that’s how it feels to me.

I don’t think that it is an irrational fear, however. I think what I am setting out to do is pretty fucking scary.  I intend to share every aspect of myself with the entire world. I intend to share every thought, every hope, every dream, every fear, every strength, every weakness, every doubt, every secret, every opinion and every activity whether successful or utter failure with anyone who chooses to read it. Granted, I know that is impossible and there is no way I could actually share every aspect of myself so I guess in that respect the fear is irrational. But fear is fear, it doesn’t really give a shit about rationality or logic. It just is.

Regardless, I’m exposing myself, making myself vulnerable to the world; a world which can be cruel,  a world which has judged me… a world that includes my mother. So you may ask, why I would want to do this, and the answer is because it is all I have to give. For reasons I am still trying to figure out I have always wanted to be the best at something. I guess I figured if there was someone better at a particular task than I am then they should do it and I would find something else to do. Well the only thing that I have found that I do better than anyone else is BEING ME. So that is what I am going to do. That is my gift to the world. Don’t worry, I won’t be offended is you exchange it for a different size. I’ve never claimed to be one-size-fits-all.

I’m not fearless and I have not overcome my fear. What I have done is learn to love it. I embrace it. It has purpose and it deserves respect. As I have been writing my daily entries for the past two weeks I have realized that I am still experiencing fear. I am practicing cation as I am writing; not cation for my own safety so much as cation for those with whom I interact. I accept that this is part of the process and I trust that in time I will find a way to find peace with it.

It seems fitting, at this point,  that I should share my number one fear with you. My number one fear is hurting someone I love, and I love everyone. My second biggest fear is not living with honesty and integrity.  I imagine that balancing these two fears will define my life struggle.

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