Have you ever been caught in a real-life rat maze where every alley and path you take leads to a dead end? And as you search for a way out, you begin to panic with fear of being trapped and hopelessly caught?
I have. It happened several years ago in Venice, Italy. I was with my wife and it was very late at night and we needed to pick up our ferry taxi in a really remote and dark end of the city away from all of the tourist centers. Usually, I have a great sense of direction and know where I am or a sense of my bearings to work my way through a strange place without getting lost. But in this maze of back alleys and canals and buildings so tightly compacted together without any monuments, I couldn't find my bearings. And every turn we took led to seeing sex acts and drug deals and darkness, and the feelings of uncomfortable panic began to settle over us. It was one of the darkest, anxious moments of my life that I will never forget. The panic set in because it was so late into the early morning hours that we knew we were going to miss the last ferry and we would be stuck for the rest of the night. We were in a perpetual dead end to no where, and all we could do was to work our way back to where we recognized some landmark to then change our direction onto the correct path. Though I didn't feel we had the time to backtrack, we had to in order to go forward.
I am really beginning to feel this anxious moment inside me of the walls and dead ends of my life coming in on me and I have no time to backtrack and start over. I am feeling like I'm searching for a path that does not exist. And maybe I shouldn't even be looking for the path, but my heart still aches for the search.
Without sounding too emo or pathetic, I am lonely. There is no one in my ward, neighborhood, or working environment that gets me excited to be with. My whole life has been spent looking for guys that get my heart beating. At times, these guys have filled my life with hope and joy, friendship and excitement.
I have described in this blog, relationships with certain young men, who are now young married men who are gone and have moved on with their lives, who I see maybe once a year - and the occasional emails and chats, though warmly embraced and exciting for a time, are no longer enough. The rekindled bromance of my dear Italian brother, though passionate and loving, is disconnected for the most part due to the distance of half a world.
In my working environment, I have a clientele that does not fit the bill. Not that I'm actively looking, but there aren't real relationships beyond business, and that is the way it should be.
In my ward, there is currently no one. I have brethren who "love me" in that brotherly way, and would do anything for me if I simply asked, and would rally around me in a moment's notice to lend their support, but nothing more. And I want and long for more...
Even in the blogosphere, I've met wonderful, amazing, intelligent and beautiful people, but my connections have been short-circuited, and that is mostly due to my feelings of inadequacy and inappropriateness as I have done this clandestinely, secretly and dishonestly.
I realize that I should be looking no further than my own home, my own marriage. Most of the time, that works well, and we're happy together and making things work in true love and companionship, while at other times, as recent as Monday, I find my wife crying in her pillow and rushing to the bathroom to weep openly under the hope that I didn't hear or notice her broken heart and pain that she still feels. And if I do reach out too much, then my motives are viewed as as suspect instead of honest feelings. It's the quintessential no-win situation.
I need better connections. I need connections in the flesh (and not in the cyberspace) that are real and engaging and honest. How can I have these connections and relationships in my life when I am not honest with who I am and where I am? How do I reach out to new circles when my life is becoming more isolated, insulated and cloaked?
Even the dear relationships I have kindled and rekindled through the years are always the wrong guy in the wrong place where we can't really move forward together due to other circumstances. So, if I'm always looking for something I can't have, and if I still want to have what I don't have while still living with what I don't want but have, where is there any hope of finding someone to love?
Ned talked about his TMIL (the man I love) in his ward. I commented: "Man... I really need to get a new TMIL who is closer in vicinity to me. My TMILs are all somewhere else and not physically in my neighborhood anymore. Though there are emails and chats, it just isn't the same as a hug, or simply standing next to him."
And a followup comment:
"There is no one in my ward, neighborhood or blogosphere that shows me love in the way I want. I used to have it, but it's gone. I'd like to talk about it, but I've "broken bread" with many in this community and in the end it's all emptiness..."
I've envied the connections of others in this community, particularly reading about the "Matis firesides" and the "Scott and Sarah gigs". I'm not in a position to go to these events, even though I want to. And I wonder, even if I did, would it just be me continuing a lifelong pattern of looking in all the wrong places for connections that won't fill the void inside me in the end? And can that void be filled by anyone as long as I'm conflicted inside regarding what I want?
I hope this doesn't come across as being harsh or mean-spirited or hurtful, particularly to those of you I consider to be dear personal friends that I truly cherish and love. I don't mean to offend and I'm not sure this will be taken in the spirit it is intended - but I'm just feeling like every path and choice and connection out there before me leads to another anxious dead end.