Wednesday, February 11, 2015

When Enough Is Enough


Picture this if you will…

You’re hanging out with your group of friends of ten plus years and everything is peachy keen. You guys have been together since freshman year in college. You’ve witnessed each other’s greatest achievements, celebrating with the appropriate amount of liquor (plentiful) and gut-splitting barbs about the next conquests for you all on the horizon. You’ve also seen each other at your lowest point imaginable, consoling the next man with tough advice and even more of the finest liquor you could get your hands on. In short, you and your boys are a single unit. You are a “team.”

Now, factor in your deep dark secret you’ve kept from the group, that secret being that you are bisexual/gay. You are enslaved to this secret’s power because you feel that if it gets out, the camaraderie you’ve built for ten plus years will crumble quicker than a dried up cake of mud. Loyalties you thought were solidified in stone will liquefy rapidly before evaporating into thin air. Keep in mind that this entire outcome is the product of your vividly, fearful imagination, despite the hateful slurs and homophobic remarks that your friends have slung, yourself included.

But despite trying to hide, one ‘friend’ decides to make a mockery out of you and you let him. This presents the first crack within the solidity of the group. However, you’re the sole witness of this festering fissure. It is blissfully ambivalent to everyone else.

Then once the walls of shame began to crumble and your love for yourself becomes more prevalent, rather than trying to “fit in,” you mold your ‘secret’ into a shield of sorts. You don’t throw your sexuality in anyone’s face, but you don’t shy away from the question if asked directly and respectfully. Your friends accept it. They’re happy for you. You’re happy. But there are still… cracks. You can still see them. Sense them. They are staring at everyone’s face, but again, for the sake of the group’s cohesion no one says anything; no matter how much your skin continually crawls when you’re in their presence. No matter how far the fracture continues to splinter.

But you’re out and proud. Your friends accept you. So you determine that your feelings of isolation and ostracism among your boys is, again, a product of your imagination and has firmly attached itself to your psyche like a leech, refusing to let go. In other words, you blame yourself for your own discomfort. Again.

Then the sideway jabs from that one ‘friend,’ who is now your ‘associate,’ which you increasingly can’t seem to ignore. The jabs are deliberately disrespectful, but not directly confrontational. Subtle enough to mask their true intent to the others but designed well enough to explode on impact in your face. A back and forth pattern starts to grow, and it becomes tired after the first two runs.

You are grown, in your early thirties, and ready to finally live your life the way God intended you to. And you are simply over it.

So what do you do? What can you do?

There comes a time when a choice has to be made in your life where the ramifications will have a defining ripple effect from that moment forward. For so long, not only had I tried to avoid this inevitable crossroad, but I also steered clear from even mulling it over in simple, hypothetical scenarios in my head. I had even stooped so low as lying to myself about what was blatantly playing out in front of me for so many years, ignoring that ominous feeling that I was no longer welcome at the table of which I had been a part of for ten plus years. At least for one person.

So after all that time it comes down to a simple decision: Stand my ground, or just walk away.

Stand my ground… or simply walk away.

Both scenarios have their pros, but they also have just as many cons. For instance, what am I willing to throw away by taking up either option? Will I make a drastic mistake that I can’t take back? Like hurting those who didn’t go out of their way to tear me down? Or will it end in someone getting hurt emotionally and, unfortunately, physically?

And this is where my dilemma gets complicated, because it involves my best friends for over a decade. They have been supportive of my coming out process and haven’t treated me any differently. They’re like brothers, more than my actual flesh and blood brother. They’ve taught me a lot that others were too busy to teach. Simply put, they are my family.

But sometimes-even family can harm you without even knowing it, and in this case, it’s their silence that’s deafening. With that said, I don’t want to throw them away due to some idiot’s imaginary vendetta against me that is childish at best. I can fight my own battles, and despite wanting some semblance of support from them other than looking the other way, I can hold my own… by walking away.

Although I don’t want to walk away every time we meet up, because that could give a false sense of cowardice on my part, which is far from the statement I want to convey to everyone “involved.” This is where picking my battles comes into play, because despite their muted expressions whenever this former friend of mine decides to play “school yard bully,” I’m pretty sure they’re just as fed up with the bullshit just as much as I am. It’s just not their battle to say anything about it.

And finally, this is where this whole spiel comes down to: what exactly will be the breaking point, and where will it take place? Two of my friends are getting married this August, both a week a part from each other. This will be the next gathering for us and it will be the first time all of us have been in the same room with each other. I don’t want anything to ruin these joyous occasions, but I also need to be prepared for the worst. I pray that the ‘festering fissure’ that has been getting more infected with each confrontation doesn’t decide to pop at these weddings; leaving a mess that would take decades to possibly clean up. Hopefully, “walking away” will work and everyone will have a good time.

But at this point, walking away feels like applying a cheap band-aid to an empty eye socket.

What would you do in this situation? Stand and fight? Or walk away?



MARK O. ESTES
Male Media Mind