i'm still here

I thought there may come a time when I would officially retire the blog; write a valedictory post and call it a day. But I never thought I would accidentally neglect to blog for a whole year at a time. I couldn't even remember my password when I sat down today! The longer it went on, the more I thought I'd need some epic story to tell when I got back, so I kept putting it off until something major happened. But the wonderful and the terrible came and went, and I realized I just didn't want to write. "Next time," I told myself. That was mostly because I had grown tired of the trolls. I had stories I wanted to tell, but it just wasn't worth the negative energy required to deal with anonymous assholes.

This blog was always about self-discovery. Initially I used it as a journal and a source for advice while coming out. Later, it was about settling into life as a gay man in LA. Once I was fully out, had a solid set of friends, and felt comfortable, there was less need to blog. I could go to my friends or my family for advice and emotional support.

The primary reason I stopped, though, was that about 2.5 years ago, everything in my life began to center around the weird, on-again-off-again relationship I was in. I just didn't want to talk about that here, so there was nothing else to say. Those of you who were longtime fans can attest to the fact that my writing got sparse and lame, and that's because the topic that was fueling my passions was off limits. I was terrified that he'd somehow find out what I was writing and it would ruin everything. I've had the highest highs and the lowest lows with him...fantastic fodder for a blog. I regret not keeping some kind of a journal during that time, because I learned so many lessons I never want to forget.

Primary among them is that I have a remarkable capacity to fool myself. Veterans of this blog will know that I truly believed I wasn't gay, notwithstanding the activity of my mind in that regard. I may have pulled the curtain back on that particular fantasy, but I was (am!) still capable of self-deception. I had myself fooled that this relationship was good for me. That we would spend our lives together. That he wouldn't hurt me the way I watched him hurt everybody else around him. That he would change for me. That he loved me in the same way that I loved him.

Needless to say, that's over now. Sorta. It's the worst kind of ending, because we don't hate each other. We still call each other best friends. We still say "I love you" before we hang up the phone. Following a few weeks of not speaking, we're back to the usual 5 times a day. It would be much easier if it had ended in dramatics, if he had hurt me in a way I simply couldn't abide. If he had made me fall out of love with him.

Quite to the contrary, it ended because he finally gave me what I wanted most: he told me that he had finally realized that he wanted to be with me forever, that he was wasting time with all these other guys he tried to date, and that he had been foolish. I told him, in no uncertain terms, that he shouldn't say that to me unless he meant it. I gave him ample opportunity to stop and think before he continued, and he continued anyway. So I took him at his word. I finally allowed myself to become completely vulnerable to him. I was willing to admit that's what I had wanted all along, and how happy I was. I allowed myself to dream openly of our future together.

And then, just as suddenly, he took it back. He said he'd spoken too soon. That he felt it in the moment, but realized later that it wasn't true. He just wanted it to go back to how it was before. But you can't un-ring a bell, can you? He and I had been on this ride before, where things get intense, where it looks like we're finally going to commit to each other, where we tiptoe-talk about the inevitability of living together, of marriage, of growing old together. And then he pulls back and hurts me. And then I forgive him, and it starts again. The difference this time is that he took away my ability to safely retreat behind the railing, to pretend I never actually meant to jump, to pretend that I'm actually happy with the status quo. He told me it was safe to jump, so I jumped. This time, it's impossible to just go back to how it was.

We both made mistakes. I should have jumped far sooner. I should have demanded that he give me what I wanted and needed, and not been willing to take what he was willing to give me. I should have walked away. But I figured what we had was better than nothing, and I was willing to wait for it to get better, because I was in love.

I was told by a doctor that love is physiologically similar to drug addiction. You have the same chemicals squirting around up there. So ending a relationship is like trying to detox. And it's not easy to do it like this, because I still get my fix 5 times a day. Every time I hear his voice, it's like an alcoholic saying "Oh, just a little drink won't hurt me. I'm in control of this. I won't let it get to me. Red wine is actually good for you, right? Anything is ok in moderation." Bullshit. The alcoholic knows it, and I know it. Bullshit.

So I yo-yo every day. I get butterflies in my stomach when I see his name on caller ID (as I have every time he's ever called me). And then I loathe myself for feeling that way. I allow myself a little bit of hope that it will all work out in the end, because that feels good in the moment. I think to myself, "Even though he took back what he said, he did say it, and he DID mean it at the time. Maybe he'll come to mean it again. He does say he loves me. So if I just wait a little longer." If I just wait. If I just wait. If I just wait. Thus, I get my fix. And I stay addicted.

And like booze for an alcoholic, my addiction to him prevents me from moving on with a healthy life. I can't date anybody else for more than a dinner or two, because I'm still in love with him. My friends and family try to smack sense into me, so I just hide my addiction. I pretend I'm talking to somebody else. I keep it a secret.

Obviously, I know what I have to do. Everybody knows it. But I can't imagine life without him. Whatever else he might have been, he IS my best friend. He has been a constant presence in my life. Nobody knows me better. Notwithstanding the fact that he doesn't love me the way I want him to, he DOES love me more than anyone else does. Turning away from him doesn't just mean I have to start over in love. It means I have to find a new best friend too.

I have to admit, part of me fantasizes that if I do cut the cord, he'll finally realize what he lost, and come after me. As it is now, he has the best of both worlds. He knows that I'm available, ready to take him back the moment he realizes he wants me. He's a lucky son-of-a-bitch. How amazing would that be, to know that the person you love the most is willing to wait around and be your backup? He gets to sow his wild oats, trying to find something better, all the while knowing that his best friend is patiently waiting to grow old with him when he's ready to admit he couldn't find anything better. I'm letting him have his cake and eat it too. If I stop, he'll come around.

But, to bring it full circle, that's just an example of my amazing capacity to fool myself. I know that won't really happen. He's young and selfish, and he won't realize what he lost until it's too late. And by "too late", I mean that if I do turn away from him, I won't do it half-assed. I will push him out of my life and my mind and my heart so completely that I will eventually stop wanting him, even if he comes back and realizes he wants me. Send in the clowns.

If I had a magic wand, I'd prefer to keep him as my best friend, but somehow turn off the love. There is nothing inherently wrong with our friendship, as such. There's nothing wrong with wanting him in my life. I just have to stop NEEDING him. I have to break the addiction. Every now and then, I feel like I've made a breakthrough. But I use the following two tests as a gut-check, and realize I'm no closer:

1) If I got a wedding announcement in the mail from him, would I be happy for him like a best friend would, or would I be devastated?

2) If he showed up at my door begging for forgiveness and professing his love (and that he actually means it this time!) would I fall for it again? Or would I tell him that ship has sailed, and close the door?

They say that it takes about half of the period of time you were in a relationship to get over it. If that's true, that's unacceptable, and I need to fast-track this. It's obviously pathetic, demeaning, and embarrassing that I'm waiting for him like this. In moments of clarity, I realize I deserve better than that. I am better than that. I'm a catch, and he never deserved me. He certainly doesn't deserve me on these terms. I can do a whole lot better, with a lot less grief.

Since our temporary falling out, I have been willing to indulge in negative thoughts about him like never before, and I realize I probably don't even really want him. He plays at being ambitious, but he's not willing to put in the sacrifice and the hustle to succeed. He tells me I work too hard, and then bemoans the fact that he's not as successful, not realizing that I'm successful because I am willing to work 16 hours a day. He seems to be incapable of taking responsibility for his own fuck-ups, always finding a way to justify blaming it on somebody else. He isn't able to defer gratification; he complains about not being able to afford his rent, and then goes out and buys fancy jeans and underwear. He shuts down when confronted with a difficult subject, instead of trying to learn from it. And eclipsing all his other faults, his selfishness is OFF THE CHARTS. In moments of clarity, I see a painful future for us. He takes advantage, and I forgive. I can imagine waking up in 30 years and realizing I wasted my chance to find somebody who treats me the way I deserve. A true partner.

But then my poor self-esteem gets the better of me. What if he is the best I'll ever do? I've never before gotten along with somebody so well. We can just sit together and BE, and enjoy it. I've never before been able to picture myself raising kids with someone. I've never before wanted to spoil somebody so completely (financially). I've never before been so consistently smitten (like I said, I still get butterflies every time he calls, just like the first time). I've never before found it so effortless to forgive someone. I've never before had an insatiable sexual appetite for one person. I have been with guys who are objectively hotter than him, but I still get bored. With him, just the smell of him gets me ready to go. Sometimes even the sound of his voice. A glimpse of his eyes, or his lips. We've done it more times than I can count, but I still dream about it. I can't imagine that ever changing, even when he loses the 6 pack and the perfect hair and the perky ass and the taught skin.

So, despite all the problems, I still hesitate. What if I had just waited a few more months? Would he have come around? I've already dedicated almost 3 years to him, so maybe I should wait just a little bit longer. I throw good money after bad.

In the end, I have to take the same advice I give everybody else. I can't force myself out of love, any more than I can force myself into love. The only thing I could do is to literally block him out, until I forget. Delete his phone number and block his Facebook account. Tell my friends and family not to ask about him. Ship all his stuff to him. Delete all the hundreds of pictures of him. Throw away the keepsakes of our relationship. I get close to pulling the trigger a couple times a week, and then chicken out. A friend told me that I will eventually get tired of the pain, and it'll be easier to do. I will hit a tipping point. We shall see.

After more than 5 years and 6 million visits, I may be back where I started, with a blog-as-journal, nobody else reading. That would be fine. If there is anybody out there, I would be curious to hear from you, so I have left the comments open. But I have far less patience than I used to. If you feel the slightest inclination to say something negative, let me just say a preemptive "go fuck yourself." I will delete it and close the comments. So please, save me the trouble. Let's make this a positive experience.