Monday, September 22, 2008

Longing fingers...


Over the course of the last few months, my friendly bromances have dissolved as they've transitioned into the world of marital bliss. After all, who needs a best buddy, best confidant, or best mentor when you've got a wife, right? Though it's to be expected, and rightfully so, it still is painful and lonely on this other end. I know they are still very dear friends, but it never will be the same.


Out of the blue, (it's been a few months now) "Tim" showed up with his wife at church yesterday and came to my class. I had a hard time thinking. My heart beat irregularly and I don't think I was breathing properly. I couldn't look at him directly without wanting to burst into tears. So, I didn't really make eye contact as I once did. I didn't hug him as I had. I got caught up in other conversations at the end of the lesson and as the corner of my eye caught him slipping out, I grabbed his arm and let it slip down through my fingers... I thought it was okay as we'd connect after Sacrament Meeting. After the block, I saw he and his bride coming toward me. Our eyes met and I freaked out inside. They were stopped by another couple and my inside wiggles were interrupted by a brother who asked me to assist in giving a sister a blessing... Of course I said "yes", instead of saying "No, I can't right now... Can't you see that I've got to have my bromance hug and kiss with Tim?" As I slipped up the aisle passing them and the other couple, trying not to make eye contact or a "Beck" spectacle scene, he unexpectantly grabbed my arm from behind. I jumped with joy at his strong touch, though I didn't stop and my arm slipped down through his fingers.


By the time I resurfaced, he was gone!


Our bromancing hugs have turned into "longing fingers" slipping down outstretched arms. What's next - a wedding announcement of his son two decades from now?


I know that relationships change over time. Situations and people evolve. We aren't static creatures - we are dynamic and ever changing. But, knowing that doesn't ease the longing that I still feel, still crave, still need.


In the last post, JGW points out the following about my pathetic situation:


What is unique to your situation is the wondering, "What if??" What if I had explored this aspect of myself? Would I be happier? Would my relationship be better?

And I think that's why you keep pushing these boundaries... You're still wondering. You still haven't answered that killer question to your satisfaction. Once you have answered it, the boundary testing will be done.


I can't help but wonder the "what ifs" between me and these bromances. I can't help but wonder what it would be like had I explored this aspect of myself. I can't help but long for knowing that answer.


Because of my boundaries, I never have explored these options, and I've sought for answers at a "safe" and "controlled" distance; i.e. 1) with a mission friend who became a lover that was inevitably a continent away and I allowed to die of AIDS, 2) with many a missionary in the MTC who saw me as teacher instead of brotherly lover, 3) with several much younger dear men who viewed me as an older brother, confidant, and mentor of sorts - the sage advice giver and comforter, never an equal romance seeker, and now 4) a waiter flirtation on a cruise ship on the verge of "sexual harassment" taking advantage of my elite or "superior" position of authority - talk about desperation.


And as such, I know and have come to learn nothing about my quest for personal satisfaction of the "what if" questions. I am left longing, wondering, questioning, and thus still desiring to push the boundaries to see if I can "know" without really knowing.


I attended a wedding reception of a dear friend's son over the weekend. It was beautiful. When I came to the reception, I was very curious about my friend's other son, who is gay. How was he to be treated? Where would he fit in? Would he have his partner there? How would they be assimilated as a couple? Earlier in the day at the temple, he obviously wasn't there - excluded symbolically and literally from the "eternal family unit". At the reception, however, he (whose honor and namesake this blog is) was there with his partner, both dressed in the family wedding garb in seamless harmony and unity with all other siblings, spouses and partners. It brought such peace and relief...


but then, as I sat and observed the couple, I couldn't help but wonder "what if?" and "are they happy?" and "what if that were me?" The longing to know returned. I wanted to corner them and interview them and ask them these deeply desired questions, but I couldn't. It wasn't the time or place to have a therapy session with closeted "Uncle Beck".


So, while everyone else blogs and stews over gay marriage, Proposition 8, and the Church, I'm still here, still wondering, still placing my ill-advised, inappropriate and immature attachments to the wrong relations. I'm a slow learner. I've got my heart with my wife and I should be emotionally hers and hers alone. But, this weekend still shows how slow I learn... I'm still longing.
How do I get out of this self-destructive cycle?


And...


Anyone up for a new bromance? I'm available... Be advised, that to qualify for a bromance with Beck you must:
1) Be at least 20 years younger than me.
2) Be really cute.
3) Be either engaged to be married or be a waiter.
4) Be very open to the idea of guy-to-guy affection, but hopelessly straight.
If you meet ANY of the above criteria, please call: 1-800-555-BECK.

17 comments:

Kengo Biddles said...

Oh, Beck. I sure love you. I think that this passing connection with Tim is something that you can maintain over time. Maybe you can do guys nights out with him while your wives do a gal's night out--if your wife is amenable, or likes his wife.

There are ways around it, and in the meantime, don't despair!

Abelard Enigma said...

I'm not sure I completely agree with the "what if scenario" theory. I think you already know the outcome of "what if" - you wouldn't be married, likely wouldn't be a father, and you wouldn't be a member of the church. Would you be happy? Would you be wondering "what if you had remained gay celibate?" - well, that's a topic for another blog post. :)

I think there is a sense of trying to experience a gay relationship vicariously. Not so much in wondering "what if" - more like 'wanting your cake and eat it too'. I speak from experience as it describes me as well.

It's like enjoying the smell of a good cigar or brewing coffee. There are some active Mormon's who enjoy these olfactory sensations but would never cross the line to actually try them.

Is it wrong? I think it depends on how far you take it. To simply enjoy the occasional whiff of a good cigar or a cup of joe then no, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. If you find yourself hanging out at cigar stores and starbucks then yeah, you're probably taking it too far and you need to make a decision as to what side of the fence you really want to be on.

Beck said...

KENGO: I love you, too, even though you're a worry-wort. I know that Tim and I will reconnect at some point - it's just interesting to note how it's changed.

I'm not in despair as I'm just longing for it to always be the way it was - even though I know it can't be, and what once was was never as "real" as I feel it was. Does that make sense?

Now, a guys' night out? I like that idea. Now convince my wife and his that that would be a great idea.

Beck said...

ABE: Yes, I already know the "what if" answer, and yet, I still long to know what it would be like on the other side, and that does lead to my pattern of behavior where I push the limits or boundaries I've set for myself - and that's what JGW was addressing.

Am I longing for the barrier breaking experience? Will that finally make me happy? No, I'm not... but I'm longing for a solution to my constant craving for something more, something male-to-male that I don't have, and I find those opportunities, experiences, now sadly disappearing with no pending replacements. And I'm still here longing for the wrong kind of relationship.

I'm not seeking a gay-to-gay relationship - that would be too risky, too real, too mature, too much of a possibility. I'm still seeking the non-sexual, safe-but-deceptive kind (where I'm the deceiver, not letting the counterpart know my true longings or intentions - the role that I am sooo good at playing - and in the process (though at times genuine and sincere) I'm subtly abusive and manipulative as my motives are hidden and subdued). That is what's wrong with the cycle. Because I don't come to any knowledge or conclusion (as JGW suggests), I will keep repeating the pattern, over and over again... thus I continue to blog, for I still haven't learned my lesson.

Of course I want my "cake-and-eat-it-too". Who doesn't? That's my life story. I'm a gay guy in a straight marriage with a wife and kids that I love, with a belief system that I truly believe in, all of which keep me very well anchored and committed, and yet, I want that bromance at every turn, at every glance, even at every finger-longing lingering second at Church. I'm not running off to the symbolic Starbucks or cigar shops of the gay lifestyle, as you suggest, to find my pound of flesh, and so, should I be applauded? But, just because I'm not doesn't make what I'm doing anything to be proud of. I want platonic boyfriends to use and touch and feed my attraction and longing needs - but only to a point where it is still safe from crossing that always present line.

Don't you find this a bit pathetic? Where's the progress along this road?

It ain't coming any time soon, because I will always long for more than the finger grasp, and I will always wonder "what if". And sooner or later, everyone reading this will finally give up on Beck's road to nowhere.

Philip said...

Beck,

Oh yeah, the constant craving. It took me a long time to understand that what I called "yearning for I know not what" had to do with my need for intimacy with another man. Sex for me is a relatively small part of intimacy albeit an important part.

I had always thought my marriage needed fixing but instead there was something missing. I tried for years to improve my marriage before finally realizing I was only capable of real closeness, intimacy with another man.

Could you find your way to have a close friendship without deception? Are you out enough to form an open and honest relationship with another gay or bi man maybe one that's married?

I have had close but platonic friendships with other gay/bi men but I found those friendships difficult to come by. Even the successful ones were often frustrating for a variety of reasons. But even though I was not too successful, I think they helped a great deal and I would have been much worse off without them.

One thing I would do different if I had to do it over again is that I would try to have not just one but several friendships at a time with varying degrees of closeness with straight, as well as, gay/bi men.

Regards,
Philip

robert said...

I suggest a massage from a man, Beck...seriously. It is a good compromise and its an appointment and not a date. MTs are very generous in spirit and will not attempt to make you feel uncomfortable. They also do not mind if you become er, excited, as most men do at some point during the massage. I was trained in the field and practiced for a few years when I was younger. About half of the men I served were in similar situations to you. They used massage as a stress release for both their physical and emotional health. Its a thought.

Beck said...

PHILIP: Your insights are always gratefully appreciated.

Yes, I agree with your assessment of your own longings when you say: " "yearning for I know not what" had to do with my need for intimacy with another man. Sex for me is a relatively small part of intimacy albeit an important part."

The intimacy is the important part for me. Yes, I am out to a few men, most of them fellow MOHOs in MOMs. No offense to them, but the intimacy I lack, miss, or am longing for cannot be provided by them. For some reason, my pattern has shown that I seek it from other sources, and always the wrong sources that can't fully reciprocate - again the safety factor.

Your encouragement to make more links with a variety of men who know the truth about me may be good, but I'll have to think more about that.

Beck said...

ROBERT: Interesting that you would suggest a "massage" as a possible solution to my longing needs. I've had another friend suggest the very same thing. He swears by it as a professional way to get the needs of touch and intimacy addressed in a safe manner.

Part of my problem with this is my lack of self-esteem when it comes to my body image. Body image has always been a problem of mine. I've always felt very inferior to other men when it comes to the lacking in physical attributes of my body. (That's why I'm finally trying to do something about it and am working on some simple weight training for the first time in my life!) I'm very self-conscious that I'm too skinny, not very muscular and kind of ugly to look at. I know you'll say that if a MT is truly a professional, these issues aren't a problem.

Yet, for me to get to that comfort level to even have another man touch me in that manner, I'll need to overcome those inhibitions.

And yet, the idea is intriguing, and having an, er... excitement manifestation doesn't really bother me.

Of course, to have the full affect, is there a way to confirm what the MT looks like? :) Sorry, I shouldn't have implied that. I'm so shallow.

How does one go about assessing who to select as a MT, particularly one who is "very generous in spirit and will not attempt to make (me) feel uncomfortable." ?

And do you really feel that having a complete stranger massaging my body in a professional manner will lead to less longing for male intimacy?

Silver said...

Beck,

I like this massage idea. I've ventured out a few times in this area and can say from experience that it really does help.

If you get serious I can offer some references.

Actually my best massages are from a woman. She knows I'm Gay and is very considerate and non-judgmental. She has given better massage than the men I've visited. I like an aggressive, deep massage. I feel sooooo good after I see her!

It has been very good for my tension level.

If you haven't tried it, I think you will be amazed how much it can help the longings.

Beck said...

That makes it two votes for massage therapy! I guess I need to look into this some more. But, still my own issues of inferior body image need to be addressed in some way to get me to do it...

But, I'm liking the idea. I don't know about a woman being the MT, though. Though she might offer a "deeper and relaxing" massage, I feel it would be more therapeutic in other aspects if it were a man. No?

MoHoHawaii said...

I think the massage idea is good: 1) it will help you get over your body image issues, 2) it will feel good and release stress and 3) you will like being touched by a man.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record (for those of us who still remember what they are!), MOMs are all about accommodation and compromise. You and your wife both have to find your way. Some of this will be separate, some of this will be together as a couple.

Beck said...

Now it's 3 votes for a massage! I see a trend.

Do I hear 4?

I guess I need to check this MT gig out some more.

Yes, MOHOH, I am old enough to know what's a broken record, and for this record, keep playing your tune as I need CONSTANT reminders that accommodation is the name of the game!

Abelard Enigma said...

OK, I guess I'll be the lone dissenter here on the massage thing. I have a daughter currently going to school learning to become a massage therapist; so, I know a little about it.

Do you realize that a full body massage requires you to strip down butt naked where you are covered only by a sheet? In some cases, only a towel covers the private parts.

Now imagine yourself lying there naked, and those strong masculine hands massaging your body - literally from the top of your head to your toes - working out the knots in your muscles. Are you going to find it relaxing? Or exciting? If the latter then don't do it!

Personally, I have found it to be very awkward when I've allowed my daughter to practice her massage techniques on me. But, I think it would be even more awkward if it were a guy - particularly if it were a guy I found attractive.

If you seriously want to try out a massage then I strongly urge you to try it with a female massage therapist first - perhaps an older woman, missing a few teeth and smelling of some old lady perfume. Use that as a baseline before going to a male massage therapist. If you are able to maintain the same reaction regardless of the gender of the massage therapist then go for it.

Dichotomy said...

:)

Abe: I think that's the whole point. Massage was suggested as a way to experience male touch (assuming or implying some level of physical arousal or excitement, I think) in a fairly innocent environment that has no potential to turn into something that it shouldn't.

(Robert's original suggestion specifically said "They [the massage therapists] also do not mind if you become er, excited, as most men do at some point during the massage." so I assume that it's understood that this is supposed to by a physically pleasurable experience)

I think any MT would consider your comfort extremely important, and would not require you to get any more naked than you're comfortable getting (I think the phrase is usually "disrobe to your level of comfort"), but I also think that if you weren't naked you'd be missing out on all the benefits of a massage (whether the MT was male or female) as well as the benefits of a male MT.

(Not that I'm an expert. I've only had two massages in my life, and both times the therapist was female. But I think it sounds like a great idea. So here's vote #4)

Beck said...

It now stands 4 to 1. I should put this on one of those nifty polls that Abe used to do, but of course, I'm lost in the 19th century (or so I've been told).

But, yes, my point of this post was to have male-to-male contact. If an attractive male MT is one solution to achieve this safely, I do not know. But, how is that to be satisfied with a large old female MT named "Helga" in a 1960s' white nursing uniform wearing smelly old lady perfume?

Abelard Enigma said...

how is that to be satisfied with a large old female MT named "Helga" in a 1960s' white nursing uniform wearing smelly old lady perfume?

That's to establish a baseline so that you can judge how much of your reaction is from the actual massage and how much is from the person giving the massage.

I just think that if you discover you enjoy having a male MT too much then you'll be treading into dangerous territory. And, I love you and respect you, which is why I'm telling you my concerns. What kind of a friend would I be if I decided to just keep my mouth shut (or my fingers tied, in this case) :)

Beck said...

Of course you love me! I'm too lovable not to be loved! :)

And of course I want your fingers not to be tied... so maybe a really ugly guy with missing teeth, a bad combover, offensive body odor and slotchy hair - would that satisfy you? :)

I'm not after your vote here... I just find my "longing fingers" post has taken this intriguing turn.