Thursday, March 12, 2009

Everywhere a dead end...



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.



13 comments:

Ezra said...

It's hard to find your place in this world.

I don't think that you've been looking in the wrong places, they just seem wrong because they haven't produced a result you want.

We've all got a lot of work to do.

Beck said...

I know my place. I've done my duty and have remained in my place, and the end result? I don't like the place I'm in. But, I don't fit in any other place either. All paths lead to a dead end.

Jay said...

I remember feeling that way for a long time - like there was nowhere I belonged. I think I have found my place and it feels good. Good luck finding yours

MoHoHawaii said...

In a word... therapy.

For you, for your wife, for you both as a couple. There's no point in being stuck. Counseling can get you unstuck. Having your wife cry into her pillow and sob in the bathroom is no way for her to live.

Counseling is scary because it implies change. It will either bring you closer together as a couple, or it will just highlight the irreconcilable. That's the risk you take.

At mid-century you and your wife are not that old. You both have many, many years ahead of you. Is stasis even possible?

No matter what happens, know that many of us out here in blogland are rooting for you both.

Ned said...

I agree on several points. I have also felt dead ended at times. Once it was so bad I didn't think I had any option but taking my own life. Fortunately I got help and was eventually able to envision more constructive ways to cope and move forward.

Ezra says you can be in the right spot but not have the results you seek. So true in my experience. Jay remembers not feeling a sense of belonging for a long time, me too on that one. MoHoHawaii endorses therapy. I can tell you I wouldn't be alive today without it. So on top of these ideas I'll throw in one more: bibliotherapy. It's inexpensive and sometimes remarkably effective.

Beck I will pray for you. I will ask our Father in Heaven to bless you now and in the hours and days ahead that you might feel His devine love, and our love, your wife's love, your children's love, the love of those you have mentored, and the love you have cast upon the waters these many years. I want to believe that we are also in your prayers, and I do believe our collective and individual prayers are more powerful than we sometimes think.

Beck said...

JAY: Thanks for commenting. I'm glad for you that you have found your place. And thanks for the good wishes - I need all the luck I can get. Any suggestion of how to find it?

MOHOH: Yes, I know. And yes, it is scary, particularly if it leads to the outcome that a part of me may want and a major part of me does NOT want.

I am touched by your continuing to root me and my wife on. I would have thought by now you'd have grown tired of my saga and the ups and downs and lack of progress. I can't tell you how much it means to me to know you're still out there cheering! Thanks.

Beck said...

NED: I want to clarify that I do not feel suicidal in any way. I still enjoy my life and have lots to look forward to. I count my blessings often and realize that I'm not yet as Job.

I have a great wife and a great family, a good career and good friends. I am loved and cared for by many. Needless to say, it would be totally disingenuous of me to say that I am alone in this world.

That said, I feel lonely. I feel something deep inside of me missing. I feel the need for a companionship that I cannot have. Those deep and dear companionships I have experienced and continue to experience mean the world to me. I cherish them and savor their joy they bring me.

But in the end, these relationships are not enough, or are too distant, or are coming to an end. And that is a profoundly sad thing. And it brings on the feelings of never being able to reach the point of having those feelings and relationships again and in the way that I desire them. The prospects are limited and as time goes by, the become even more restricted to the point of non-existence. And that feels like a dead end.

I've tried to have it both ways. I've tried to have marriage and relationships (even if they've been of the bromancing type) and in the end, I feel empty inside. I've cheated her and hurt her in the process and I've robbed her of her "best years". I've never found what I was looking for and am now facing the reality that I will never find what I am looking for.

This is the dispair I feel. It isn't one of how awful and unfair my life has been - it hasn't been awful or unfair. It has been wonderful and very fair and as I've stated, it has been very blessed. And has MOHOH has stated, there are many good years and decades ahead of me as well.

It just feels like those years, as they advance, will become years of unfulfilled dreams, unsatisfied passions, unknown realities of authenticity, and in the process, I will never know who I am.

Philip told me that I've gone beyond the "why" question, and am working on the "how" and "what" questions, but I'm not facing the "who" question. Who am I? Who is this man who still desires to feel and know and understand the joys of a relationship and connection with another man?

And so, as it seems right now, I am at a dead end. I can't see how to get out without turning around.

Thanks for your prayers. Thanks for your faith in prayer and in me. That means a lot. I believe in the power of prayer as well. I feel unworthy of your prayers. So many more are truly suffering and are needing our attention more than my pathetic self-pity.

P.S. Do you have any bibliotherapy you can recommend for one such as I?

Ned said...

Thanks so much for the clarification that you're not suicidal. Regarding bibliotherapy the first thing you can do is go to your own bookshelf and pull out one of your old friends and see if there's something new ready to leap off the page. :)

I like both the motion picture and PBS portrayals of this guy. And I relate to this review of a book that's helped me a great deal. I'd also get myself into an actual brick and mortar library. Librarians have good ideas and there's something healing about just walking among the stacks and thinking how there's a real life author with challenges and ideas behind each of the thousands of books there.

Sean said...

Beck,

I remember when I first entered the blogosphere and had met a few people and I still was unsure where I belonged. I had this feeling for a very long time. I eventually realized that my place was where my heart is--my passions. In those passions, I have found amazing friends and family who love me and who are always there for me. They call me and want to be around me. You may not find what you are looking for in the blogosphere... I know that for me that I have made good friends here, but it seems to hinge on the fact that we are gay. With these other friends, it's completely different. I feel like I belong with them and not just because we share common interests or who we are attracted to. It's something that I can't really describe.

You might try joining a club or a group that brings out your passions. I have joined a book club and I really enjoy that. I have also got some friends who come swimming with me and that's always fun. I also serve at an old folks home that has introduced me to some amazing elderly people and people with whom I serve. From these similar activities, I have found people I really belong with.

I know you love photography. Maybe you should try to join a photography club or something. Do it with your wife to show that you want her involved in your life. Another idea would be start a new hobby with your wife that has a group or a club associated with it so the both of you can get some socializing and together time.

I have found that you can be lonely all you want and it will get you nowhere in life. You have to be proactive to get out of your loneliness because it isn't magically going to go away with the swish of a wand and the right incantation.

I love you man and I hope you find a place where you belong that is full of happiness! :)

Sean

Beck said...

SEAN: You are such a great example of what you say here. You are upbeat, active and outgoing and confident. You are not even half my age and you know who you are and where you are going. You are an inspiration. I envy your vision.

I need to expand my circles and meet new people. I need to do more things with my wife and do things she wants to do. The pressures of work and providing for the family always seems to take priority. She loves gardening. I think I'll go plant a tree for her this afternoon.

I can do all these things. But, how I connect with men still leaves a void, an unsatisfied want, a longing wish for something more. I can hold on and make this life more than I am and embrace my wife and embrace my passions (yes, I love photography!) - but how does all that fit into my head for my need for embracing my passion of a significant male presense in my life? Is it not just a substitute? Yes, it's better than sitting here as an emo in loneliness and frustration, but it still doesn't fill the emptiness.

I don't mean for any of these questions to be answered... But you give me much to ponder and I am grateful and feel a bit better today.

Beck said...

SEAN: After reading your latest post on "crushes", I realize it exemplifies what I'm seeking right now to fill this void... a good ol' "crush" on someone. My crushes have given me that extra something to make life a bit more enjoyable and full of passion.

Anyone know of someone who's open to be "crushed" on?

Sarah (Serendipity) said...

Beck,

Sorry I am so slow to comment on this. I've been meaning to do so for a while, but life is so busy and I kind of forgot.

You already know my opinion, that your wife needs support like you have here in the blogosphere to get her through this. I understand why you don't want her reading your blog (and of course you know my opinion on that) but I do see your point of view as well. I, too, have noticed how other bloggers have disappeared when they let their wives in on their blogs.

But isn't there some other way we can get you two down a path of better communication and get her some people to talk to? Therapy is not a bad idea.

I had another idea: since you know Bravone from something other than blogging, why don't you start there. Find a time when you and Bravone and wives can get together and start to talk about things. (His wife is AWESOME!) Then when you are ready, you can do the same with Scott and I, only you can tell her that you know us through Bravone instead of through blogging.

When I think of what your wife might have been going through for the last 3 years, it scares me to death, and it makes me wonder if the situation might be more urgent than you realize.

Let us know how we can help.

Beck said...

SARAH: Thanks for thinking and remembering to comment about this.

Funny you bring up Bravone... he and I have discussed this very scenario in the way that it can lead to other options without exposing my blog and changing it to something less than it is now for me as a resource... and we've discussed how that can lead to opening up to you as well.

So, discussions lead to schemes and possibilities which lead to action.

Thanks again for your continued concern. Don't give up on me and thanks for your desire to reach out to her.