15 June 2007

My First Love (The Extended Directors Cut)

I've been going through a very emotionally challenging time over the last few weeks, trying to figure out my relationship with John and where we could/should go with it. Option B became the path to go down, and ever since then I've been trying to reconcile my deep affection for him with the thoughts of never being able to be intimate with him in the way I would like to.

We spoke on the phone last week about Option B. My understanding of that option was a bit different than his. In my mind I saw it as severe separation, most likely leading to a severing of all ties. I hated that idea. It was absolutely destroying my heart and my sanity. I couldn't bear the thought of losing another friend I felt so strongly for.

Another? Yes, another. I didn't feel as strongly for him as I do for John, but he was a close second. That's where the story in this post begins.

The summer between my junior and senior years at BYU I moved into a new place. It was a house on 600 North. Specifically, the white house right next to the playground for the elementary school on about 550 East. That place as I recall was 8 bedrooms and housed 11 guys. I had one of the private shoebox sized rooms in the attic.

When I moved into the ward, I quickly became friends with a guy who lived down the street. We'll call him George. Over the summer, George and I found out that we were nearly the same person. We liked all the same things. We hung out together a ton. We became the best of friends. He was the best friend I had ever had in my life up to that point.

It may, or may not, be important to keep in mind that up to this point in my life, I had not come to terms with being gay. It was something that I kept pushed back into the dark recesses of my mind, and only let it come out when my one roommate's A&F catalog would show up. :)

George and I spent a ton of time together through the school year. We had all the same friends, so there never seemed to be a time when we weren't somehow involved in the same activities.

The summer after I graduated, I was still in Provo (I had one more general ed class to take spring quarter). George was a year younger than me, so he was still around too. That summer was just like the previous year. We hung out all the time. We did absolutely everything together. At the end of the summer the two of us went on a week-long backpacking excursion to the Uintah mountains in Northeastern Utah - my favorite place on the planet we know as Earth. It was the best camping trip I've ever been on in my life. Just me and George in the place I love the most. FYI: We hiked King's Peak.

The following week I was leaving Provo to go to graduate school on the other side of the country. I was devastated that I was going to leave my friend behind. As a token of my friendship to him (which really was a true, pure love) I spent a whole bunch of money I didn't have on getting him a gift to remember me by.

We spent as much time together as possible the last week I was there. I was getting more and more unsure of my decision for grad school as the week progressed because I didn't want to leave behind such a great friend. But, we talked a lot and made plans of how we would always stay in contact with each other. Eventually we would both be married with families and we would co-own a cabin somewhere in Utah where our families could get together every year. It was a plan!

I left Provo and drove off into the sunset. Actually, it was the sunrise since I was headed east.

In my new place, across the country, I feverishly tried to keep in touch with George. I sent him emails all the time. But something unexpected happened - George didn't respond. George, bless his heart, is very much an "out of sight, out of mind" type of person. Once I wasn't around any more, he still had all of the old gang of friends in Provo to hang out with. I quickly became a distant memory for him.

He absolutely broke my heart. And, come to think of it, that is about the time where I started to come to terms with being gay (at the ripe old age of 25). That was when I finally realized that I wasn't just great friends with this person, I loved him more than I had ever loved any person in my life. I wanted to be with him forever, and it was killing me that he had forgotten about me so quickly.

After that, I would hear from him about once a year. It was awful. I never had any closure with my relationship with him, and every time I would receive that random email, it would send my head spinning all over again. I would regurgitate all of the painful emotions that I had experienced during those first few months after leaving Provo. That was partly my own fault because I included him on my Christmas Email list. He got my life update every year, and responded in kind.

Once per year contact went on for nearly 4 years (so 4 times I guess), and by that point I had graduated and moved myself out to California. I had also purchased my first home. One day I got a phone call from George. He was just finishing grad school and wanted to move out to California to get a job. He wanted to rent my spare bedroom from me.

Like trailer trash on the Jerry Springer show running back to the guy that beat her up the previous night, I said that I would love nothing more than for us to be roommates. And a month later he moved down to the sun and surf of Huntington Beach. It was like no time had passed from when I left Provo to that day. We picked up exactly where we left off in our friendship and togetherness. He was the one that got me to start training for the triathlon that I posted about a couple of weeks ago.

The summer was amazing. George was amazing. He had been working out a bit, so he was looking mighty fine too. I loved going to the beach with him. :D

Then, the worst happened. At the end of the summer he had not found a job that he wanted to take in So Cal. The job he wanted to take was in the Phoenix area. He was moving. And I was devastated again. All of the same love that I had before was back, plus some, and it was going to happen again. We were separating.

To no one's surprise, he reverted back to his out of sight out of mind persona. We maintained spotty contact over the next few years, mostly due to him responding to my Christmas email. I went out to visit once about a year and a half ago. He had gotten married several months before. I needed to take a trip out to Mesa, and I wanted to meet his wife.

It was really hard for me. Here was this guy that I had been madly in love with for so many years, who I knew I could never have a long term marriage-style relationship with. Yet, my feelings for him were as deep as feelings can get. I loved him in every sense of the word, but was unable to ever sufficiently express that to him. He had a lovely wife and seemed genuinely happy.

Since that trip to Mesa, I have not tried to keep any more contact with him. I actually was finally successful in turning my heartache into anger. So, when he called and left me a message a few months ago, I felt no desire to call him back. I moved on. I don't want that person to be in my life any more because it brings back too much sadness.

So that's the story. That is why I hated Option B. It literally has taken 9 years to get to the point I am at now with George where the thought of him doesn't make me an emotional nutball. But, that point is a terrible one. I actually dislike someone whom I dearly loved in my life.

I don't want my relationship with John to end up like that. Spotty contact turning into grief, anguish, and eventual disdain for him. That is a horrible thought. That is why I want to find the happy middle ground between Options A and B.


Samantha said...

It is possible to find middle ground. I still visit with one with whom I had a relationship. It's different, because we're both married now and have some common ground. And we don't discuss our past. We're not extremely close emotionally, because that's playing with fire, but I can call her whenever I need to talk and we see each other a few times annually.

I suppose it depends on what you define as "middle ground". This works for us. We still have friendship and contact, but we're very careful to keep healthy boundaries intact and never do anything that would remotely endanger our standings in the church or make us unworthy of our temple recommends--in fact, being in the temple with her, knowing we're both worthy to be there, is a very sweet experience.

I wish you the best.

Original Mohomie said...

Thanks for sharing so much. I like seeing this honesty and exposition, especially for those who may not fully understand what may be going on inside many of us.

I may not have found a perfect "middle ground," but I think it's possible. I think in cases of extremely unhealthy relationships, a complete severence is necessary, but a lot of the time, you just have to set clear boundaries and stick to those, and you can make the best of the relationship.

isakson said...

I had a similar experience years ago. I had become really great friends with a guy who I really respected...and in a way, loved. We were always together doing stuff. When he went on his mission I bawled my eyes out the night of his farewell while driving back to school. But like George, if you're not there he didn't seem to care how I was doing. I was sad at first...but after time I stopped caring about him that much...in that way. Of course, I knew that nothing could ever happen because he is straight (and that was really good boundary). But it was sad to think that unless I was there I didn't mean much. Of course he probably didn't see it the way I'm describing. We're still good friends but its not the same anymore. Its hard I know...but I think you'll make it past this.

Kengo Biddles said...

I think it's possible to find the middle ground, but it may well be a mine field to get there, and that's something that you have to consider. Do an ROI; is it worth going through the minefield (and only you can decide). If it is, go. if not, don't. But then, do you really need my advice?

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with Samantha, that there is a middle ground that can be rewarding and safe. But it may not ever be entirely free of risk.

You may have your mind made up where your boundaries lie, but what of your friend's?

I suppose that there is a certain level of maturity and emotional stability that must be present in both of you in order to establish and maintain appropriate boundaries. It truly would depend on both of you to make an "option C" work.

Keep up hope.