December 28, 2009

Looking back, looking forward.

I need to start being honest about something. This last year’s been pretty rough. As long as I’ve been the me I remember, I’ve told myself that I could make it through anything, alone if need be—that no matter what happened, I could always remain stable and centered, grounded by logic and rationalism. I didn’t need help because I had to be there for people for when they struggled. On most fronts, I succeeded. But I lost a few things along the way.

For example, the ability to ably express emotion to others (caffeine-fueled excitement doesn’t count). Gone. I’m sure an event or two has slipped my mind, but since the middle of May or so, the most I could do in the presence of others was look mildly distraught and deep in thought. Whatever the cause, it resulted in me just kind of having an excess of sadness I needed to deal with whenever others weren’t around, which was unfortunate and, in a word, inconvenient. But that’s just kind of how emotions are.

My ex and I broke up in January—he was my first—and since then I’ve been even more self-indulgent with my introspection than usual. I’ve experimented a lot with the various friendships in my life—admittedly, and shamefully, sometimes to the detriment of kindness, friendship, and my better judgment. I wanted to foster true connections and conversations and, well, love. But I’ve been so focused on the process I’ve forgotten the purpose.

The questions were many: do I work better alone or with someone else? What role do I want my friends to play in my life? What makes a friendship successful? Do friendships necessarily obey certain constraints of such things as time spent together, shared interests, and shared experiences? Or, rather, is it something intangible that draws us together? Romance, too, as well as intimacy, raised their own series of questions.

All in all, it’s been a pretty eventful, if somewhat unusual, year. It has seen the majority of my coming out process, brief flurries of romance (probably ill-advised, though I don’t do regrets), lots of ambiguity and mixed signals. If I had to pick one word to classify the year, I think it would be lonely. Much of the time, I felt like some sort of social scientist, observing and classifying behaviors and patterns without truly being a part of the systems I study. It’s been a year of sadness and disappointment. Hopefully next year I’ll do better.

What I came here to write, though, was about all the time I’ve been spending with my family and what I’ve seen. In a word, love. I think I’ve fallen completely in love with my nephews, just as will surely happen with their yet-unborn siblings. The love and care I’ve seen from their parents—my siblings in particular—has created some sort of empathic response. I feel joy and anguish with them, and just tonight I was finally able to cast myself into my brother’s place and feel the intense love and responsibility of fatherhood. There’s a certain powerlessness to it too. Or at least, that’s what I felt in my brother’s place. It was entirely magical and I could simply feel how life-changing a birth is. At the same time, a felt a certain separation, as though these were emotions I wasn’t exactly intended for.

I’m expressing myself quite poorly, and I’m sorry for that. I’ll give it one more go:

I have decided, for good, that I think I am here on this planet to learn how to love (it should be obvious I am not talking about romance nor, necessarily, intimacy). Sometimes I forget that, sometimes for as long as a year at a time. I understand that questions need not have answers and that stories need not have endings, and time will continue to make me more comfortable with this. Despite a rocky year, seeing the familial love in our household this winter break has reinvigorated my hope for myself and for the world. If only for a moment, I feel like I’m back again, hopeful and whole, ready for the coming year, wherever it leads me. Like I said, I don’t do regrets.


  1. That was very introspective and vulnerable Matt. Thanks for sharing

  2. Your post made me cry. Not sad cry, not happy cry...odd your post resonated with me, but I don't exactly know why cry.