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An encounter with hurt and regret  [message #77262] Tue, 01 September 2020 20:38 Go to next message
Teddy is currently offline  Teddy

Really getting into it
Location: USA
Registered: October 2006
Messages: 482

We are currently traveling in our motorhome. We've no real timetable or destination in mind. We're just taking the "road less traveled" and seeing where it takes us. Currently we're in a good sized town/city, a center of commerce that serves a fairly vast area of rural farrming and ranching endeavors, extending into fairly remote regions, hours and hours away from here.

It is also a very beautiful area, on the east slope of a mountainous region with the city elevation being nearlry four thousand feet above sea level, and the mountains extending four to five thousand feett above that, so you might understand why we chose to pause here for a few weeks.

Anyhow, we're staying in a very nice RV (caravan) park which has a mix of permanent residents, vacationers, and itinerant travelers such as ourselves. We've been here a week or so already and have begun getting acquainted with the locals who live here too. 

Last evening we were sitting in our patio area when a neighbor came across to us and asked if he could sit and talk with us for awhile. Being the neighborly folk we are we readily consented. It turns out he had a definite burden on his heart and mind and needed someone like us to talk to while his wife was at work. We talked late into the evening and after he left we headed inside to get some sleep, but I couldn't sleep so I wrote.

Below is the result of my efforts. I wrote it in the first person from his perspective, basically trying to put on paper the hurt and pathos he shared with us. I tried to encourage him that he should get online and find an internet forum where he could be honest with others, that he might be surprised how many other men his age that are out there going through very similar things tot what he is. Apparently he's not an internet sort of person. Some people aren't. He says he's been online maybe twice in his life and just didn't see the necessity. 

Anyhow, I wrote this and am puttting it here for you guys to read. Maybe with the idea that some of you could write him a few encouraging lines to let him know he's not the lone ranger, because really, he seemed prettty down, and I hate for anyone to feel that down for too long. 

I'm sad this evening. No, that's not quite right. My heart is sad... and heavy. Why? Something happened today and it reminded me of things I don't dwell on a lot, but today? Yeah, I'm melancholy because... Well, because my life didn't really turn out the way I'd like it to have. 

I think that most of us who grew up when I did, us baby boomers, and who had desires for other boys and then for other men like I did... well many of us ended up repressing our true selves, our sexuality, because society told us that it just was NOT okay to be gay.  We married women and raised families, and now as the waning years of our lives are becoming more and more visible on the horizon we're faced with the terrible specter of regret.  We didn't know.  Maybe we could have, or even should have known, but we didn't. We acquiesced. We did what we were supposed to do.  

So yeah, my heart is heavy. It aches. It physically hurts, and to be honest right now I'm fighting back tears. Don't get me wrong. I do enjoy my life but there are times...  So Today...

Unlike the rural areas surrounding us, we live in a relatively liberal town, which means that, better than many places in our fair country, it is mostly okay for same sex couples to publicly demonstrate physical affection to some extent. So on the way home from work this afternoon I passed by a Subway Sandwich Shop and decided to order something. No big deal, right? I do it from time to time. This particular shop didn't have a drive-up window so I parked, put on my mask, went in, and ordered a sandwich.  

I'm a people watcher so once I'd paid for my meal I took a seat in a corner by the front window where I could watch the people out on the sidewalk as well as customers in the store. I hadn't been sitting there long when I saw a couple of teenage boys walking down the street toward me holding hands, talking, smiling, laughing, bumping shoulders, and generally just enjoying being together.  My heart thrilled at the site, not out of lust or whatever, but just because they had that wonderful freedom to be themselves, unafraid.

As they came abreast of the shop one of them pointed to the door and they changed course to come inside, donning their masks as they came through the door.  They ordered their sandwiches and sat beside each other in the next booth, properly social distanced from where I was sitting. I listened to their conversation, sometimes inane, sometimes deep and meaningful. I listened to the inflection of their voices and, without inordinate staring, watched the expressions on their faces.  It was obvious they were very much in love. 

I envied them. Not at all in a negative way, but in a wistful sort of way, wishing that "The Greatest Generation" had been more open minded about the lives and loves of their offspring so that I'd have had at least some sort of chance at the kind of relationship these boys had, instead if hiding in the shame that generation heaped upon boys and girls like me.

I recall so many missed opportunities because I was afraid to be me. I remember David, with whom I was secretly in love during high school. He was cute, exuberant about life, and fun to be around. I remember the time we were in his bedroom and started grabbing-assing and tickling each other, our hands all over each other's body. One thing led to another and suddenly it was a great deal more than just grabbing and tickling, and we both knew it. We knew the next step was physical intimacy that would lead to sexual intimacy. We both knew, and we knew the other person knew; the sexual tension was that palpable. Suddenly there was a knock on the door and we sprang apart like we'd been burned. Somehow we never talked about it and it never happened again, though there were times when we could both sense we wanted it to. We just didn't know how to get there again. We were afraid.  

I remember Bill with whom I shared an apartment in the college town close to home. We were both 19. He was average looking but cute in his own way. I had a huge crush on him, but of course was afraid to speak up or to act. I remember running into him in the hallway one evening as he was on his way to the restroom. He was wearing pink bikini briefs. I remember how sleek and sexy he looked, so cupcake-like. Today he'd be called a femboy or twink. So sexy. I remember being shocked by his pink underwear, both repulsed and desperately attracted. It only served to set my heart yearning for him even more.  Fifteen years down the road I ran into Bill's father and inquired about him. It turns out he had come out a few years previously and was currently living with his life partner somewhere in California.

Sigh... I was happy for him but, yeah... Knife to the heart with a twist...

I remember so many other young men who, as it turns out all these years later, would have been possible boyfriends or partners, if only... If only the society I lived in "othered" me. I was so afraid. Afraid of God. Afraid of the church. Afraid of my family and my pastor and-- and-- and-- fucking and! Looking back I realize I had a choice, but like so many others in my situation I didn't know that it was okay... Okay to be me.

So yeah, I'm a bit melancholy tonight wishing for things to have been different.  Wishing to have my youth back so that I could be the person God intended me to be, starting right back at the beginning of my life.

I was talking with a friend earlier and he said something that resonated with me. We were talking about those lost opportunities due to the way society dictated to us who we were and how we should be. He said, "I think of the men who I passed by and who passed by me. They are an odd haunting. Some pleasure, and some definite pain."

For far too many of us, that was our life, not because we chose it but because we didn't know we had a choice. It hurts at times. It fucking hurts! For me, I think the secret is to acknowledge the hurt, let it be exactly what it is, and just sit with it for a while, then when I'm done go on about my life and continue to live and love and celebrate the great things I have because I know that I'm truly blessed in spite of being "othered" into a life I would not have chosen for myself... If only I'd known I had a real choice in the matter.

[Updated on: Tue, 01 September 2020 20:43]

“There's no grays, only white that's got grubby. I'm surprised you don't know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That's what sin is.” - Terry Pratchett
Re: An encounter with hurt and regret  [message #77263 is a reply to message #77262] Tue, 01 September 2020 21:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message

Has no life at all
Location: UK, in Devon
Registered: February 2003
Messages: 13678

If you and he are still on the same parking spot, tell him, please, that this 68 year old man who was once a boy knows how he feels

[Updated on: Wed, 02 September 2020 06:45]

Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: An encounter with hurt and regret  [message #77264 is a reply to message #77262] Wed, 02 September 2020 17:47 Go to previous message
Bensiamin is currently offline  Bensiamin

Likes it here
Location: USA
Registered: July 2019
Messages: 363

Teddy: Well penned, and amazingly deep and insightful words on the subject!

Regret is one of those human emotions that we don't incur by choice, but typically is forced on us as a result of immediate (short term) circumstances, like saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing, then feeling badly (regret) and taking corrective action, or not. There is also long term regret that commonly is feeling badly about the way a person has spent their life. That's what you and your RV acquaintance were discussion. The key element to understand is the operative word in the last sentence, namely feeling badly.

I say that because regret can be hurtful or helpful. In the hurtful space, it's a long-lasting emotion, typically negative, and because it's associated with the past, it means the actions (or lack of them) cannot be changed. On the helpful side, understanding and sorting through one's regret leads to insight that can improve one's outlook and life in the present and the future.

There is a real caution with regret, though, and that is that it can have negative impacts because it can cause feelings of sadness, shame or remorse...in our case about how we spent our lives. Regret can lead to depression. But, it doesn't have to. It usually involves a moderate to high level of blaming ourselves for that about which we feel regret.

In terms of regret over how we spent our lives, what's really important to understand and be able to process, though, is that there are two major categories at work: those over which we had control or made decisions, and those over which we had little or no control and were imposed on us. Regret over not being able to understand and define one's true sexual identity and then live accordingly, in most cultures, is the latter. It's something almost always imposed on us through family, tribe, religion and culture, and it takes years of work to be able to understand, disengage, process and resolve those dynamics.

Here's the key point: something imposed on a person shouldn't lead to self-blame. Sadness or remorse, yes; self blame, no.

That said, there is another dynamic that is important to grasp too, in the realm of the idea that we have control of our own destiny. We can't re-do the past, but we can choose to re-shape the future. If nothing else, doing the work that leads to acknowledgement and acceptance frees our mind and spirit. It enables us not just to understand what occurred in our life and why, but it provides insight, helps achieve personal harmony and better prepares us for what is to come.

At least, that's my understanding, and I welcome all additions, comments and/or corrections!

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