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Regrets?

07/15/2010

Yeah, I’ve had a few. And unlike Old Blue Eyes, I’ll mention them.

In the bio I wrote for the About Me link, I closed by saying that I had no regrets. In the big picture, that’s entirely true. My life and my coming-out journey have played out in ways that I certainly couldn’t have predicted, and often didn’t understand until later. But looking back from where I am today, I have no reason for regret.

However, one incident that occurred after I came out, has provoked serious regret. It’s been a lesson to me – painful! – but one I needed to learn before moving on.

I have a friend – at least I hope he is still my friend, though we haven’t communicated in quite some time – who I used to meet for drinks and/or dinner pretty regularly. When I came out to him, he told me he had long wondered about his own orientation, though he had never acted on his questions. Over the course of the next year or more, we talked about all sorts of things, but a frequent topic was my journey outward. Sometimes he shared thoughts about himself as they developed. For reasons of his own, he determined he would not explore his sexuality further until certain things in his life changed – changes he was actively working to make happen.

One night at my house, I had tossed back a couple too many. In conversation, I veered toward pushy on the subject of his needing to choose and move forward. Then, as my friend was leaving, I pushed a little harder. Big hug. And a kiss – right on the lips. It would have been completely within bounds with a gay man in a gay context, but this was a man unsure of his sexuality and unready to explore it further. What I did was completely unacceptable – and I knew it immediately. I apologized. He replied saying that he was alright, but wished I’d back off a little. The next morning I emailed a more detailed, and very much heartfelt apology, along with a promise to behave like a gentleman. It was all perfectly pleasant – and that was it. We haven’t been in touch since.

Regrets? You bet!

I regret the loss of a friend. This guy was good company and I miss him.

I regret putting my friend – who had taken something of a risk in being honest with me – into such an uncomfortable position. For lack of a more sophisticated word, this was just plain mean. No excuse for it whatsoever.

I regret the possibility of having slowed down or derailed this man from finding answers to his questions. If that’s the case, I have done serious damage to another human being. Not exactly the kind of ethic I want to live!

Lessons? Here’s the big one: the journey outward is totally individual. There is no set path. There are no rules about the right way or the wrong way. And there is no right or wrong destination. I landed in the right place – and I am so happy to be here – but that doesn’t necessarily make it the right place for everyone.

As we all know, coming out can be a lonely path, and my job as a man who’s made the journey is to offer companionship and help along the way – as needed and wanted. It is most decidedly not my job to push, pull or otherwise forcibly “assist” someone who I think may be moving slowly, or in the wrong direction or not at all.

And another lesson: human relationships – of all sorts – are precious, and when we do something to damage or lose one, everyone loses.

I hope this estrangement from my friend is not permanent. If it is, I hope he can believe that I wish him well. And that my regrets have arrived bearing life-changing lessons.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. 07/16/2010 5:22 AM

    I-yi-yi, I can see why you regret this. And yet, I sense from reading your post that you just wanted to share your enthusiasm for the relief of finally being who you are. Your friend just wasn’t ready. I can relate to this in so many ways, and this is what I love about your blog–your outward journey serves as a microcosm for what the rest of us go through in other areas of life. Thanks for being so honest.

    • 07/16/2010 10:52 AM

      Thanks for reading and saying nice things.

      This one was harder to write than most of the others, but I think I needed to get it written and out of my system.

      I’m glad you picked up on the subtext of enthusiasm and relief – so much that I want to share it with everybody, even if they don’t want it. I wanted to be more explicit about this, but as you know, I write looooong. And one has to keep these posts relatively brief because no one – including moi – wants to read looooong.

      So, I have another post coming about relief and enthusiasm and how to share – or not share.

  2. 07/16/2010 1:40 PM

    I’ll read you when you write looooong any day! Looking forward to the next post.

    • 07/16/2010 2:14 PM

      Coming on Tuesday. It’s about cleaning out closets. Pun not intended.

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