My creative nonfiction class is over, and my writing project is slowly starting to emerge from the star nursery of invention. I’m gradually starting to put bits and pieces of my history together as more memories emerge from my childhood and young adult years that I forgot about. So it’s been a useful process.
Many of those memories I buried because they were too unpleasant and turbulent to think about, but it’s good to revisit them now as an adult, with a broader and more knowing perspective. The ultimate goal is to develop about fourteen essays on the themes of survival, acceptance, all around the dual journeys of coming out gay and atheist. From various reactions so far it sounds like a marketable story, but who knows.
Hell, who knows if I’m even good enough of a writer to tackle it…
The other big piece of news is that, as of a month ago today, I’m a single man again. This last relationship lasted for just about eight months. I’m feeling good about the split overall. It was the right decision and call to make, but it was still hard, and I’ve still felt like shit over it.
There were a couple of challenges to the relationship to begin with. One, he lives about an hour north of the Twin Cities, and for most of our relationship he didn’t have a car so every weekend I drove up to see him. He did get a car a few months before we broke up, but there was something wrong with the brakes or something and he didn’t feel safe driving it.
Another challenge was fibromyalgia. In case you’re not familiar, fibromyalgia is widespread chronic pain that’s usually accompanied by fatigue, trouble sleeping, and joint stiffness. During the summer when he was able to spend time outside he was mostly fine, but when any kind of weather shift happened he’d be knocked out flat. So once winter came along he was in a rough state.
As Esther Perel says in the TED Talk below, “There is no caretaking in desire. Caretaking is . . . a powerful anti-aphrodisiac. I have yet to see somebody who is so turned on by somebody who needs them. Wanting them is one thing. Needing them is a shutdown.”
I enjoy how she summarized responses she got from people talking about their lovers: “I am most drawn to my partner when I see him in the studio; when she is onstage; when he is in his element; when she’s doing something she’s passionate about; when I see him at a party and other people are really drawn to him; when I see her hold court. Basically, when I look at my partner radiant and confident, [it’s] probably the biggest turn-on across the board.”
With Jay, I so rarely got to see him in his element, or see him passionate about anything. When he was passionate, it was about sustainability or something that had to do with the outdoors or systems thinking. Which is great, but not something that got me excited.
Once we started getting serious, he started talking about marriage and moving in together. (Mind you, this is after about four months. Big red flag.) I was on the fence about whether or not I was ready to commit, but given my attachment issues, I wanted to give our relationship a chance and see if the feelings followed. (They didn’t.) My mistake was not being more honest about that.
When we talked about where we wanted to live, the primary factor he was considering was staying out of the urban circle of the Cities – as close to rural as possible. Since he was the one with fibromyalgia, his needs apparently outweighed mine. His argument was that since I plan to be a writer, I could work from anywhere.
A couple months later he was talking about moving to a dryer, warmer climate. I said that I wasn’t too keen on moving to the middle of nowhere, as it’s in the middle of nowhere and far from culture and resources. He dismissed that, saying that I need to be less reliant on stores and start growing my own food, and that I don’t need culture as much as I think I do.
So I was initially attracted to Jay because of his passion for the environment and the fact that he’s an unabashed nerd and a Whovian, like I am. And he’s an attractive guy. But the more our relationship progressed, the less we really seemed to have in common. There was also the fact that he never really wanted to do anything with my friends, or meet the people in my life who are important to me, even though I’d met most of his friends and family.
My biggest regret is letting it go on for as long as it did, and not listening to myself that it wasn’t the right relationship for either of us. Truth be told, I was afraid of being single again, because this time I’d be single, gay, and thirty. And I didn’t want to be alone.
What it comes down to for me is less about age, and more about the fact that I don’t feel desirable. I feel awkward, crippled by my fundamentalist Christian upbringing, mangled by my inability to flirt with guys I like, and hugely undermined by my brain, which usually makes me feel old and weird around the guys I’ve dated. In reality, they’re probably just not very interesting and consequently not right for me.
I also feel like a failure for still being single at my age. Most of my friends are paired off, and have been with their partners for years. So I wonder what’s wrong with me that I haven’t found someone.
Truth is, I’m just not good with uncertainty. Or being alone with myself.