Friday, December 23, 2005

Appreciating My Eric

I would like to be clear, I know I am a fruit fly(1). I have long been like bees to honey with gay men. I have had a few gay men (both closeted and non-closeted) that have been my best most intimate friends. I have shared with these people and given them pieces of me very few people have gotten. I like the role of confidant, emotional intellectual, emotional support and fun time friend. However, I am starting to notice the effect the role has had on my social life. I mean if you hang out with mostly gay men, you really won't to have the space to meet the straight ones. Up until now, I think that's been okay with me.

I've been working on my issues for a hot second. I'm a pretty self-aware girl and I've actively sought ways to heal. There has been enough work for me to acknowledge the daddy, self-esteem, trust, safety and sexual issues attached with my inability to actively seek a healthy long (or short) term relationship. I have been scared and running since about the teen years from the possibility of men who would want me back.

It isn't enough anymore you know? I didn't contextualize this until very recently. I was walking through the Mission on the phone with my Eric. Feeling how good it felt to love him the way I do now rather than the way I used to. It was my first time out walking in the Mission since the assault. Eric didn't know this, he didn't know that in summoning all the courage I could find to step out of the car that day. He was the refuge I sought to keep me strong to make life normal again. It was just a casual conversation but something about having him on the phone provided me the safety I needed to regain my ability to have command of my surroundings. Being reflected to myself trough Eric's eyes has always rocked the house.

Eric was my first love you see, at 15, I just knew he should be mine. He was the first guy to (and he still does from time to time) look at me like the sun rises and sets in my eyes. He was the first guy I ever found I could talk to till all hours of the night. We pondered the universe, the Spice Girls and our friends. We laughed a lot and I often got caught on the phone long after curfew. I knew we had the chemistry every couple should have. He was my first kiss. Sitting next to him made my stomach flip-flop AND I still could confide in him like no other. To be quite honest, I haven't known love like that since.

My love for him lasted for many years. At varying levels really, not one consistent stream of in love, but most definitely notable. While I was in Spain for 6 months we called each other every couple of weeks. Emailed all the time. When I returned I think I felt a certain certainty that he would realize how horrible having been away from me for six months was, and we would become the couple we were always meant to be. I can still remember my first night home, sitting with him and my friends in my childhood bedroom, my head on his lap, his stroking my hair.

I remember the feeling of him having his head lying on my stomach the night that he told me he was gay. "Karla, I think I like boys." I have never processed so many emotions at once. The bottom had dropped out from under me, but I still wanted him to feel supported and loved through what I know was going to be a difficult process. I shut off a piece of myself that night to be there for him. I spent the night asking him all sorts of questions. "Have you kissed a boy yet?" "How did it make you feel?" "Are you happy?" Assuring him all the while, we would get through this together.

I left his house in the morning, got in the car and started to drive away. It was about two blocks later I fell apart. I was sobbing, tears and snot coming down my face. I was crying so hard I had to pull over the car on the side of the road. I mourned the relationship that I had wanted to bad and that I knew would never be. He had even left a door open for me, he thought he could be bisexual, he might just be experimenting, but he knew he was attracted to men. But knowing him as I did, loving him as I did, I knew it was only going to take some time before he got comfortable with himself. I knew then he would be happy in ways I would never have been able to provide. I knew that day, it was over.

I got home, called a friend, devastated, I told him Eric had come out. Then got off the phone because my tears were blocking my ability to communicate anything rationally. I cried for days. It was good crying too. The kind you go into the shower to hide.

When people ask me whether or not I knew, I don't quite know how to give a response they'll understand. I did. I mean how can you love someone that much and NOT know. I knew in the same way parents know. The "No, that can't be true." way. The "But he loves me, I just know it. We can be happy if he just tried." kind of way.

I appreciate so much what Eric gave me. He allowed me to realize that people don't have to just "give love a chance", they deserve to be overwhelmed by it in ways they can't help but express. Embarrassedly enough, I have to say, for a few months after he came out, I still hoped he would kiss me. Tell me I was enough. It took quite some time before I let go of the safety of that fantasy. When I did, it changed many things for me. I was 20.

Four, almost five years later, I found myself in a similar, but different situation with another person I deeply cared for. Except this time I found myself feeling relief that they had found themself. Relief that I would see this person truly satisfied and in love one day. I knew the moment they said something that my years of friendship had been spent hoping for this person to find love, not find my love.

Walking through the Mission with Eric on the phone, with the easy banter of years of intimacy, I felt free. Free because, at last, I get to enjoy him for who he is and not what he can or cannot provide for me. I no longer need him, I just want him around. Because I am a complete person for having loved him and having survived it. And for the first time in years I am starting to want things for myself and not the people around me.

This all bring me back to my original realization. I have spent a lot of time on the happiness of other people. I love them and I tend to do this with people I love. It allows me a safe distance from the kinds of leaps that I would have to make for myself. In part I think I wanted (and still struggle wanting) people to love me and figure doing things for them will help them care. Its not a conscious thing, but I know now that I'm not just the nice deeds I do. I am wonderful for a slew of reasons that I could enumerate for you but I won't. Its enough that I know.

I'm not going to front, I'm still working on all this. But I'm ready to find a man who can love me the way I deserve to be loved. Who will look at me and realize how fantastic I am. Who wants to rip off my clothes to feel as close to me as he can, not as a way of denying who he is. I want to parachute into it and feel fear yo. I'm ready, and that's a nice place to be for the new year. Thank you Eric, for playing such a large role in getting me there.

(1) Fruit Fly - term used for women who have lots of gay friends. Also known as Fag Hag. However, I have never been and will never be a hag of anything.

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