Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I Still Haven't Found...

...what I'm looking for, exactly.

Because I don't know what I'm looking for.

And therein lies my problem.

Or, maybe not.

As I have come to accept that I am cautiously entering the dating pool because I am becoming more social, it's bound to happen. Some handsome man will ask me out, I'll say yes, and he's going to look at me across a table, or turn to me while we're driving to our destination and ask or, horror of horrors, at some point text me that inevitable question, "What exactly are you looking for?"

While my first impulse is to reply, "Winning lottery numbers!" I don't think that's what he meant. Yet, I should have an answer ready. And if I don't know what I am looking for- husband, boyfriend, friend-withOUT-benefits, hookup- why should he bother sticking around? Unless he doesn't know either and then we could continue looking for whatever it is we're looking for and possibly find it, or maybe not find it in each other, even if we do ultimately figure out whatever it was we were looking for in the first place. But, then one of us could find it, and the other might not, and that's a whole other scenario. And that's the peril of dating. Someone usually ends up getting hurt.

I mean I am ultimately looking for a husband. I think. There are times when I wake up and want to cuddle, or talk, or make him breakfast in bed and then make him my breakfast in bed. And there are times, I don't. There are times I enjoy being alone. I think all that just makes me human.

I am a typical gay male in a few respects. I mean I'm emotionally and physically attracted to men, I worship Cher, I have artistic sensibilities, and like many gay men I have several friends in my life, who are mostly straight women. I am atypical in that I lack a close circle of gay male friends who live relatively close enough to see on a semi-regular basis, if only to see a movie, grab a cup of coffee, and discuss our horrible dates from the last few weeks, or to celebrate the successful ones and ask our friends to keep us grounded in reality and be our sounding board; "What do you think he meant by that?" or "Should I keep or dump him?"

I must say I do have gay male friends I can share with, however 50-60 miles away is hardly local, even by Los Angeles standards, and few of them are single, let alone single and at mid-life. To a gay person, this family of friends who understands the nuances of our gayselves is crucial to our survival. Who else would understand the rejection we often feel by our blood family? The sting of discrimination often hurled at us? The celebration when the courts rule in our favor? The elation when we feel we are finally beginning to start feeling equal to the heteros? And finally accepting the beauty in that feeling?

I guess what I'm looking for now is that family. A family of brothers I can relate to. But, as I search for that band of brothers, I am also keeping my eye open for that someone special who makes me look forward to tomorrow, which also complicates the answer that question.

Because as I am trying to sort out what I generally want in a husband, I'm also sorting out where Prospective Date fits on that scale and/or seeing if he even falls on the I-really-like-you-as-a-friend-but-just-not-that-way list.

Yet, if I were to answer Prospective Date's question, by saying I am looking for "friends" that's an immediate shutdown and limits possibilities and can lead to misunderstandings. I learned that lesson the hard way.

To say, "I'm open to possibilities" suggests I'm open to anything; friends, friends-with-benefits, f**kbuddy, boyfriends, husbands, whatever. It comes off as vague, desperate and maybe even uncaring.

Is there any good answer to that question?

I think it depends on what my intuition says about him and about me at the moment when he asks. While I may believe life brings people into our lives to teach us lessons about ourselves, and there's something for me to learn in this particular encounter, if I were to reply with something like, "I want to see what life lesson I can learn about myself from our meeting," I could come off as snooty, not-down-to-earth or very selfish.

For right now, while I am searching for that band of brothers with the underlying hope that one of those brothers might emerge as possible boyfriend/husband material, I think I'll just respond with, "I'm looking to meet guys and just see what happens. I have no set agenda." To me, that's open, honest, and it's where I am on my path. And I think it invites more conversation.

Then I'll just sit back and enjoy the journey.

(And hopefully a very enjoyable view!)


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Seven Become Nine

In a previous post, My Magnificent Seven, I described my awakening to the path of Shamanism and discovering my seven Spirit Guides; Bear, Ferret, Sparrow, Stag, Swan, Lion, and Snake. 

As I understand it, Spirit Guides do not necessarily need to be animals, in fact, they usually aren't. Spirit Guides usually manifest themselves as ordinary people, or perhaps famous ones. I've read posts by people who believe Jesus Christ, or Buddha, is their Guide. One musician I met even said his guide was Beethoven. The fact that mine have all been animals is indeed interesting.

What mine are more commonly referred to is Power Animals, or Totems, which are a type of Spirit Guide, just in the form of an animal, though some people say there is a difference. Some believe the Spirit Guides are with you for life, the Power Animals may change once you have learned their lesson.

In my class, we held a ceremony to call forth Spirit Guides, and that's when I met Lion and Snake. The following week, we called forth Power Animals. 

Mine is Bat.

Bats are nocturnal; they live in darkness, yet maneuver easily through it. The darkness represents my fears of moving forward in my new life, and as Bat can move through the darkness, I can move through my fears, maybe not with the relative ease as Bat can, but I can get through them. Bats live in colonies, which again signals my need to socialize more. Bat also signifies change and transformation, and I'm not talking of the vampiric kind!  According to some practitioners, Bat signifies the death of part of my old life for the rebirth of my new one. (I sense an echo of Snake and Swan here!)

Bats are also pollinators in the desert and rainforest, teaching me to be open to the new ideas pollinating in my life, again reinforcing the birth of a new me.

In many cultures, Bat is seen as a symbol of good luck and good fortune in life.

Sometimes, a Spirit Guide or Power Animal may recognize their charge might need a lesson the Guide is not able to teach and may bring another Guide who can. In the Power Animal ceremony, Bat led me to Jaguar. I believe Bat was trying to reinforce to me that I can move through my fears by bringing me to Jaguar, also a nocturnal animal who moves with ease through the darkness on instinct. I should trust my instincts as I move through my darkness, overlapping Ferret's lesson of being observant and trusting my intuition. Yet, Jaguars are solitary animals, so I must be cautious not to over-socialize and not take time for myself. Balance is the key.

Jaguars are also known to reside in caves near water. Caves have often symbolized 'going within, retreating.' Water often represents the emotions. I'm being told to go within to heal my emotions from my past, in order to move forward. And here I feel Jaguar echoing Bear telling me to 'hibernate' to find the answers to my questions within myself in order to heal and to move forward.

In Mayan culture, the jaguar was the supreme animal of his domain, being he was the top predator. He ruled the Earth and all who walked upon Her. They revered Jaguar as a very powerful entity of the rainforest. His strong and powerful body could carry him for miles in his quest for food, also teaching me to pace myself in all areas of my life; work, personal growth, writing, dating, socializing. If I do, I will achieve my goals.


As I have said before, these messages resonate so deeply with me. I understand exactly what they mean and how they apply to me at this juncture of my life.

With so many of them to work with, at times I feel like a ruddy zookeeper!

But, it's a zoo I'm very grateful to keep.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Post-"date"

In my prior post, "Did I Just Have a Date?" I described an afternoon where I was meeting a guy who contacted me via a social group, not an on-line dating or hookup site, on a whale watching cruise that he had suggested. I wasn't sure if it was a date or not. It did not go well.

After I'd left my "date," (I'm using that term for lack of a better word), and headed down to the bow to try and get some photos, (and check out other guys), I did find only one other guy I found interesting who wasn't draping himself across a boyfriend, or in the midst of an established group of friends. He also appeared to be young, maybe late twenties/early thirties; not necessarily what I'm physically attracted to, but I was longing for conversation and he seemed to be a nice guy, though painfully shy. Seemingly Single Guy was with a couple of older gentlemen who were trying very hard to find their cute, young friend a husband. Old queens make the most interesting yentas. Oy!

The yentas attracted the attention of Mr. Perfectly Coiffed (beard and all). Mr. Coiffed might have been 30 at the oldest, every blond hair in place-including the facial ones, perfectly white pants (for a ship?), muscle shirt and jacket-vest. Okay, I'm coming off a bit judgmental. But, we're whale watching, not posing at the local bar. All right, so maybe he was going out after the trip and couldn't get home to change. I'll go with that. Actually, there was an email from the organizer the day before saying he'd reserved some tables at Hamburger Mary's, a local gay restaurant in Long Beach for after the whale watching trip. But, still, the majority of the guys were just in nice jeans and a t-shirt. 

Seemingly Single also attracted the attention of another man, a bearish man in perhaps in his late thirties/early forties. Bearish Man stood in the doorway eying Seemingly Single who was trying to participate in a conversation between Mr. Coiffed and his Yenta Godfather who actually was interested in Mr. Coiffed's accidental career of Interior Designer to the stars due to his work as a set designer. 

I kept waiting for a break in the conversation to talk to Seemingly Single. At last the break came, "Did I hear you say you were a California Native?" I asked. 

"Yes. Two siblings were born in the Central Valley and another sibling and I were born in the Bay Area." 

"I was born in the Bay Area, and both parents and one grandparent were also born in California." 

"Oh." 

Silence. 

As the ship was now docking and I got to talk to Seemingly Single for what seemed like a nanosecond, Yenta asked Seemingly Single loud enough for all to hear, "We'll see you at Hamburger Mary's?" 

"Yes," he answered shyly.

As I had an hour drive home, and I had a headache that was now late into it's second day, I decided to find a Starbucks and then head home. Having located the closest Starbucks, (apps are indeed helpful!) I ordered my latte and as I was getting into my car, a little voice whispered in my ear, "Go to Hamburger Mary's. Talk to Seemingly Single."

And, as I'm trying to live in the moment and trust my instincts/Spirit Guides, I decided to go.

I eventually found the restaurant, then the group, and eventually a seat, ironically, next to Bearish Man, who was seated at a table next to Seemingly Single's table, with only the space between the tables separating Seemingly and Bearish. Also, at my table were another young man and a friend of his. I introduced myself and more idle chitchat ensued. We kept trying to flag down a waiter for a drink and a menu. Eventually, they both appeared, orders were taken and we settled in to wait for said drinks and food. 

The local chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were holding a memorial fundraiser for one of their dearly departed members. (Something tells me she departs frequently so the order can hold a fundraiser.) The DJ was playing great music from the eighties, the Sisters were putting on a great show, and some conversation was flowing. Sort of. It seems since the guy seated opposite me had brought a friend with him to keep him company, that left Bearish Man and me to talk. I'd ask questions and he'd answer. And that was it. He seemed too interested in the music, I guess, as he was practically dancing in his seat, and loving every other song.

Oh, well. I tried.

And, I look at it like this;
  • I had an adventure,
  • I learned that I like it when people ask me questions in return,
  • I took a few risks (and survived),
  • I had fun. And perhaps that's the most important.
Oh, I also learned Dramamine and beer don't mix well.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Did I Just Have a Date?

I may have actually had a possible blind date. But, I'm not sure.
 
I'm serious.

I don't know if it was or not.

I belong to a social organization called MeetUp.

Through MeetUp, people can organize smaller groups based on interests as varied or specific as they want. If someone wants to organize a group for Jane Austen lovers or Gay Left-Handed Aquarian Pomeranian owners, they can. Then the leader of the group schedules events around the focus of the group. And those who can attend, meet up and socialize. 

Anyway, I belong to a couple of MeetUp groups, some with an LGBT focus, some not. 

I received an email from a guy with a question about an event I had suggested for the Gay Photographers' group I belong to. 

He also sent a second email about an event a separate LGBT-oriented social club that he belonged to was hosting and he thought it would be another great opportunity to take some great photos; whale watching.

I replied and thanked him for sharing it with me, and said I'd check it out.

And then I did what any normal hot-blooded gay male would do; I checked out his profiles on MeetUp and the other club.  Between his two profiles, I gathered that he was young, I would say, about 25. He was Asian, and a classical musician.  He was looking for friends and networking.  Not a lot to go on.

He replied and asked me to seriously consider going as he was and it would be nice to know someone on the boat.

But, wait. We hadn't met, yet. Red flags, bells, sirens and whistles all started going off in my head......

Yet, what did I have to lose? At the very least, I'd be out of the house, probably see some whales, and have a nice afternoon. So, I applied to join this new club, was approved and then bought my ticket. I emailed him, said I was going and got a one word reply, "Yay!" All this took place the week before the trip. As the day approached, the organizer announced there might be 40 people attending, then it grew to 50. 

I hadn't been around so many gay men at once in a long time, especially without an escape hatch. I'd be trapped in my anxiety on a boat with a young Asian man seemingly interested in me solely based on my profile photo. 

Where's my Xanax?

I went ahead and went, even though I was in the second day of a headache, a possible low grade migraine, brought on by anxiety and other stressors.

So, I'm sitting on the boat, trying to find this guy which, statistically, shouldn't be hard to do, but I wanted to be sure as there were a few Asian men on the boat. None of them seemed to match the photo I was looking at on my phone, though I suspected I had spotted him behind the over-sized sunglasses. I checked my email and there was one from him with his phone number.

I dialed. The man I was looking at answered. 

"Hi, I'm here on the boat and I think I've spotted you," I said.

We hung up, I walked over and we exchanged pleasantries. 

"How could you not know it was me? I'm the only Asian on the boat." 

"No, there are a couple of others, and I wanted to be sure I introduced myself to the right guy." 

"Okay," he said, laughing a bit too dramatically. 

It went screechingly downhill from there. He was older than I was expecting. I'd now put him in is mid- to late 30s as he had a few gray hairs and heavy crows' feet. He had a heavy accent so what I could hear between the wind and the conversations going on around us was difficult to understand.  The conversation became somewhat forced as he sometimes didn't always return the question; he'd answer mine but not ask any of his own. I felt I was serving aces in a tennis match, nothing was being returned.  And we still had two hours left on this two-and-a-half-hour excursion.  How many trips to the head could I make?
 
Two young women, not attending with our group, were seated near him, okay, near us, and we seemed to become a foursome. One of them wanted a group picture and "Quick, Jeff! Get in here!" and suddenly I was pulled into this group shot with Asian Guy and these two young women. 

After a few more moments of alternating stony silence and stilted conversation, I just went to the lower deck to the bow. I promptly got splashed as we were heading into the wind and crested a wave. As there was more sun on the lower deck, I chose to remain below to dry off. (And check out the other men while there.)
 
I remained below until the ship docked some fifteen minutes later, and it wasn't until I was off the deck and in my car I saw a text message of the picture of the four of us, and a message wondering where I'd gone, as "we can't find you." We? He'd enlisted the two women in a search party? 
 
And one last message, "Did I say something to offended (sic) you?" 

So, was that a date? No one ever said the 'd' word? Maybe it was. After all, he asked me to consider an event, so we could meet, kind of like an online meeting. But, neither organization was designed for online dating. So, does it count as a date?

Well, anyway, it was an adventure and we saw five baby gray whales, and one even breached! 
 
Damn, my camera wasn't ready!

To explore MeetUp in your area, click here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

My Magnificent Seven


I have said seven is a powerful cosmic number. For me anyway. We hear of the seven deadly sins, the seven wonders of the Ancient World. I could go on but this post would be seven pages long.

I have always loved animals. As a young boy I would read about them, study them, want all kinds of them as pets, from orcas to tigers. We usually ended up with dogs, cats, plus the occasional aquarium or parakeet. Nothing exotic.

In third grade in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, I first studied the Native American cultures, focusing on the Great Plains, the Southwest, and the Pacific Northwest. I was intrigued by their life, their culture, and their Spirituality.

About twenty years ago, I had a vision where a bear and a ferret appeared to me. Upon further investigation/meditation I felt this was a pull towards Shamanism, the indigenous art of tuning in to Nature to heal oneself and others. As I began my investigation into Shamanism, I believed it was the right path for me, as I felt I had outgrown religion, it was no longer serving me any purpose. I consulted a Native American elder who gave me instructions on how to begin to open up to the Ancent Ways. He confirmed that Bear and Ferret were indeed here to help guide me on my path. Each had a lesson for me: Bear teaches me to find the answers to my questions within myself. I have the answers, I must hibernate, go within myself to find them; Ferret teaches me to be observant to the world and situations around me. Ferrets are cunning and have acute senses reminding me to be open to all of mine, including intuition to better understand myself and the world around me.

Life, marriage and divorce got in the way and I didn't keep to my studies. 

Lately, I have become more and more convinced that Shamanism is exactly the path for me.

According to some Native American traditions, you may have seven Spirit Guides, or totems, walking with you: one for each of the four directions -North, East, South, West; and one each for Above, Below, and Within. 

Some traditions say you may have nine, the seven I mentioned above and one on the left side, the other on the right.
In a counseling session using guided meditation, I noticed a male sparrow flitting back and forth between Bear, walking on my left, and Ferret, scampering around on my right. Sparrow became my third totem (Within) and teaches me to sing my song, to be myself, to honor my self-worth and that I am a survivor.  

In a workshop I took on Shamanic journeys, I shared my vision with the leader who said he saw a swan around me. I was open to the idea and later had an experience where I connected with Swan. Swan teaches me to honor the grace and inner beauty of all around me including my own, and to honor and accept the healing, evolution and transformation going on in my life. Swan also is a totem to honor one's own self-esteem. (Does the story of the Ugly Ducking sound familiar?) And on an interesting side note, Swans mate for life.

Following the workshop, I enrolled in a class on the foundations of Shamanism the leader was teaching and one session would be where we would get a Spirit Guide. Since I now had four, I wasn't sure what to expect: would I continue to bond with the four I had, or strengthen my bond with Swan, my newest? Or, knowing I could possibly have seven, would I meet another? 

I was not expecting what happened.

After a brief discussion on Spirit Guides, the teacher began the ceremony for the calling of the Guides. First, he secured the room, cleansing it of negative energy, while getting us into a relaxed meditative state. I went to the meadow where I first met Bear and Ferret in my original vision. They were there off in the distance, Sparrow flitting between them. A stag was walking around the meadow. I had met a stag in another guided meditation, but as he didn't appear with Bear and Ferret, I took it as a one time lesson, rather than another Guide: be gentle with myself, because I am learning as I walk along my path, I am bound to make a mistake or two. No big deal. Stop punishing myself. And being that it is a stag, I am to honor my masculine energies; as Deer, in general, teaches us to be gentle and compassionate toward others, it does not lessen me as a man to be gentle and compassionate. 

In the second part of the ceremony, the calling of the protection and Guardians, I suddenly felt warm and protected and had the sensation of being wrapped in wings made of white feathers. I looked up and saw Swan taking her place Above.  A small sensation in my back told me Stag had taken up his position Behind me. 

The teacher started the actual calling of the Guides, so more could still happen.

As I focused on a closed door in my mind, I felt peaceful. It opened and a male lion walked through. He walked toward me and began nuzzling me as a cat would. He turned around and took up a position in Front of me. As the teacher began to close the ceremony, my feet began to tingle and I looked down to see an anaconda Below me.
 Lion teaches me to trust my feminine energies of creativity, intuition and imagination. As lions spend time relaxing, and work when they need to, I need to take more time to relax and work when necessary. In ancient Egypt, a lion cub represented the rising sun, the dawn of a new day or era: the rising of a new me, my true self is rising to the surface. Lions can also represent courage, perhaps I need courage to be myself? My true self? And as lions are the only cat that has lives in social groups, perhaps that is part of Lion's message; I need to socialize more.

Snakes shed their skin to slough off the old to start anew. I am shedding old habits and behavior patterns to start my new life. Snakes are often misunderstood today. In ancient cultures, they were often revered. Isn't a snake or two on the Caduceus, the ancient symbol for medicine and healing? As an anaconda is a type of constrictor, I am being constricted by something and need to uncover what it is. Perhaps I am constricting myself by not being as open and honest with my emotions, and what I truly want in life. Or, my internalized homophobia is constricting me from truly accepting, enjoying and appreciating my authentic gay self.

Every one of these messages has so deeply resonated with me, I am more convinced I need to further my practice and studies.

And to honor and strengthen my bond with my Guides.

My very own Magnificent Seven.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Demons, Karma and Sex

A recent conversation left me feeling all out of sorts. 

Really out of sorts.

I can suffer from General Anxiety Disorder, and insomnia, both of which can then trigger my angina and vertigo, and then also feed each other. Coupled with a couple of very stressful weeks at work, the timing and topic of this conversation sent me into an emotional tailspin and then the vertigo and insomnia reared their ugly heads, which kept me up at night feeding the anxiety because of the fatigue. Toss in some angina and I was a real mess.

It was suggested to me I wasn't being completely honest with myself about being in a particular place for the reason I stated, that I may have actually had secondary motives.

And that's what did it. 

In certain circumstances, I can understand people having subconscious secondary motives for choices they make. Recently, I went out to a gay bar to simply "get out of the house." It was also suggested I went there to find a boyfriend, or at least a possible hookup. That may be partly true. Well, the boyfriend part, anyway. I have admitted to wanting to meet men and perhaps begin dating. Yet, I have written ad nauseum about the possibility of finding the quality of man I'm looking for in a bar; it's like shopping for Tiffany's at a K-Mart. It ain't likely to happen. Possible, yes; probable, no. Having twice settled for less that what I deserve, and being utterly miserable later on in the relationships, I'm much more gun shy, especially in bars where the idea of just a hookup is on most peoples' agendas. 

Not necessarily on mine.

However, in the situation I'd mentioned above, I went to a wildlife reserve, a place I'd been before to walk and take some photographs.  This time, I went in order to meditate and to spiritually connect with nature. Yet this place is also known for attracting lewd behavior. Signs are posted warning that the area is patrolled by plainclothes policemen. Because I knew the signs were there, because of my prior visits, it was suggested I went there this time to possibly hookup. And not being honest with myself about that. I was using my spirituality as a cover up.

After the initial anger over having my motives questioned subsided, I reflected on the idea. Had I gone there knowing what I knew in the hopes of a quickie in the bushes or at my home up the street? My gut reaction was a knee jerking "BullFuckingShit, no!" 

And then I began to ask myself what will it take for me to take that particular step? To just hookup.

The answer came to me in a flash: karma. 

Many gay men and women have some form of internalized homophobia from growing up in today's world. They may not admit it, or even be aware of it. Our churches tell us we're evil and sinful, our families might reject us, we live in fear of maybe losing our jobs, our relationships aren't treated equally. And therefore, many of us lessen our self-esteem and self-worth because of it. Times are indeed changing and maybe the next generation of LGBTQ people won't suffer as many others have and still do.

I know I suffer from some form of it.

Everyone, gay or straight, suffers from some battle of some sort. We do not know what battle scars others have. Having been down the road of cheap, meaningless sex for the sake trying to find a boyfriend, and acceptance from others, and often with men I wasn't even attracted to, I ended up feeling empty, hollow, and hating myself.

I've come too far to risk backsliding into that demon-filled abyss once again. I'm afraid I wouldn't make it back out.

So, where does karma fit in?

I may not be one for quick, anonymous sex with a total stranger in park bushes. Or five minutes after just meeting in a bar or some other location. I need time to develop some connection with him, even if the encounter may be for a night. 

I may not understand someone else's life choices, they are who they are, just as I am who I am. If they are comfortable with their choices and where they may be, that's their life; but having been down that road of self-hatred due to cheap, meaningless sex, I cannot add to someone else's own possible negative self-image by using them for my own cheap thrills. I realize we all make our own choices, and possibly adding to someone's possible negative self-image is not one I choose to make. Even if he wants me to.

After all, it's my karma.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Gay Oedipus Complex?


Sigmund Freud proposed the theory of the Oedipus complex as a stage in the psychosexual development of children. It occurs around 3-6 years of age where the child wants to sexually possess the opposite-sex parent. As psychologists, and Lady Gaga, are now advancing the belief gay people are Born This Way, it stands to reason that gay children would have the opposite type of Oedipus complex; they would want to sexually possess their same-sex parent. While some may argue children of the 3-6 year old range may not be sexually aware enough to possess a parent, it could also manifest itself in simply wanting to spend time with that parent while excluding the other. 

With the mixed messages gay men have received while growing up, especially from our fathers or the father figure in our lives, this could explain why many gay men have had strained or difficult relationships with their fathers; religion and other homophobic beliefs notwithstanding.

Well, maybe at least it explains mine. And my dating conundrums. 

When I meet a new man I'm interested in, either as a friend or a potential boyfriend, I get attached quickly. Perhaps too quickly. I want to know what's going on, what's he thinking, does he like me, too? When he doesn't reply to my text/email/phone call, I know he has rejected me. Either that, or he's in a hospital, lying in a ditch somewhere, or worse, he's dead!

And I ask myself, why? Why do I do that? After all, we only met for coffee, and I'm picking out china patterns before we've even had sex, which is a whole other can of worms I am afraid to open right now.

As I've met some really nice men in the three years since my divorce,  many of these encounters sent me all in a tizzy because I found myself interested in him and thought he was interested, too. As it turns out, he was interested, but usually in a third person,  so we could only be friends. Okay, that's fine. I could always use more friends.

But, I would go through all the same emotions, as if we were dating. Which we weren't, and weren't going to. Yet, I wanted to pursue the friendship with the same fervor as if we were. Well, he said he hoped to see me soon, he enjoyed his time with me, but since he hasn't called, he obviously didn't mean what he said. Oh my god, he's dead!

And I ask myself why? Why do I set myself up for this?

It's simple.

I am lonely. The loneliness has raised its ugly head. When I feel there is a connection, however strong or weak it may be, I want to see the friendship/relationship flourish, and immediately. And when it doesn't move the way I want/need it to, I feel rejected. 

And then I ask myself why? Why do I feel rejected? What's wrong with me? What did I do? But, what if I did nothing? Except maybe come on too strong too fast.

And I ask myself why? Why is this so familiar?

The answer finally came to me. 

My father.

My parents divorced when I was five, right in the middle of the Gay Oedipus Complex. I should be over it by now. The fifty-six year old is, kind of, but the five year old isn't. The ten year old isn't. The sixteen year old is angry because father wasn't around and the stepfather couldn't (wouldn't?) connect with him. The sixteen year old gave up waiting for the father to at least send a birthday card. Yet, our moving around all over the country didn't help the father stay in touch with the little boy. It wasn't entirely the father's fault, but excuses don't always help young children understand. Or heal.

While I have come to believe everything happens for a reason, and while my parents had their reasons for the divorce, I have become an innocent victim of the circumstances surrounding it. It was not my fault, but now I am bearing the burden of that injured child. Now that I have identified this part of my shadow, it is up to me to find the light to help manage it. 

And the only way I can think of is to embrace the loneliness, to embrace the fear of rejection-either as boyfriend or platonic friend, and to accept the fact that I truly didn't do anything to chase my father away; just as I may not have done anything in particular to chase those men away. I just need to remind the little boy, especially when a new man enters our life, that whatever happens, we both will be just fine. In time.

And for the men who reject me, either as a friend or boyfriend, they are missing out on one hell of an amazing man and a great friend.