The thing about what I was describing last week is that I have all the answers. I know how to go into these situations and feel confident, be myself, make a success of it. I’ve been around for too long for there to be any mystery. In four days I will be ten years sober, and I have the resources I need to lead a good life. But I keep getting in my own way. It’s too easy to get in my own way because I’ve done it all my life. I give into the child’s fear because I am a normal human being that prefers to act on instinct rather than reason.
I can go to my aunt’s house in Surrey and have a great time despite the fears inside. I can ask someone I like out on a date despite the immense doubts that it will go well. To do anything challenging I have to do it with the feelings going on all the while. The feelings may never cease. I found out the answer twelve years ago when I looked on someone’s book shelf and saw a book titled ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway’. The sentiment can seem over positive and cloying, but it’s still accurate to my situation today.
And so I must move on. The choice in front of me is the same as it ever was: take risks to get what I want in life, or remain stagnant. There’s no middle way. I won’t find myself in an intimate relationship with someone by accident. It will happen by my conscious actions alone.
All I’ve read about psychology and all I’ve experienced in therapy has brought me to the over-arching conclusion that my feelings are not facts, they are relics from the past. On a daily basis they can seem as factual as the colour of the sky or the position of my nose on my face, when I’m tired and I have a lot going on and logical questioning is a stretch too far. A couple of weeks ago these were the factual reasons why I could never meet someone and form a loving relationship:
- I’ve had a bad case of acne for the past five years – who’d be attracted to that?
- I have tummy problems that mean I can’t stop passing wind at night
- I still live with my mother
- I don’t enjoy penetrative sex and I find it nearly impossible to orgasm in the presence of another person
Today I see that they are personal beliefs I came to a long time ago, beliefs that I can choose to buy into. I’m aware that in the future they will seem like facts again, whenever times are challenging. Maybe I should have a note on the desk in my room that just says: “feelings not facts”.
With all this in mind I still have no idea when or if the intimate relationship I’m seeking will form. But the future is not mine to guess at. I think I can serve myself better by focusing on now, on what’s in front of me.
I’ve started a new novel: my fourth attempt at one in recovery. I think I can say that my autobiography is finally finished, and that I’m ready to move on to a new project. It’s going to be about what I know, the life of an introverted gay man in London who struggles with addictions and relationships. I’ve decided to try and write as if it doesn’t matter how ‘good’ it is, because I will never know what ‘good’ is and this struggle to achieve it must be what has always held me back with writing. After years of trying to be someone else in my writing – to be a ‘good’ writer – I’m finally just writing as myself, saying what I want to say. And how liberating that has been.
I’m also on a diet. I’ve given up sugar (again) because of this spare tyre around my midriff that refuses to disappear. When I tell people that I’m aiming to lose weight they invariably look at me and laugh: to most people I look thin and therefore couldn’t possibly be on a diet. They don’t seem to realise how well some shirts can hide a big belly. A few years ago I had a flat tummy that I took for granted; how I miss it now!
P and I exchanged emails again last week after a two week silence. To sum up, he accepts my need to be on a ‘break’ from him. We’ve talked as much as we can about our political differences – he’s never going to see things from my point of view and I will never see things from his. It’s at the point where we are beyond politics. I’ve realised that the problem in our relationship is about much more than that. In my last email to him I hinted at the real issue as I see it – this lack of authenticity between us, the fact that we can’t have honest conversations face to face because he constantly without realising does this devil’s advocate thing and replies to any opinion with a “yeah, but”. He didn’t really address that point, instead just said he’s happy to wait until I’m ready to see him again.
I probably won’t see him again until September. I have no inclination to go through the motions of another social visit at the moment, even though we’re technically on good terms again. We’ll go to France in September because it’s paid for and non-refundable, and we’ll try and have as much independent time there as we can. I don’t think P really wants time to himself in his heart, but I think he’s willing to try it again for my sake. I’m determined not to be in his constant company for five days again. After the holiday, I suspect our relationship won’t ever be the same, and we may not see each other any more. I will have to be honest with him when the time comes, if that’s what I really want.