When I’m alone, I always assume I’m meant to be alone – in the same sense that people believe the butterfly effect and everyone you interact with changes you and it’s a part of your destiny. I also believe that everyone you don’t meet and every time you find yourself alone is just as ordained by the universe or God or Beyoncé. In most cases when I’m alone, I find myself writing more and entertaining my self-diagnosis of neuroticism. This time, I found myself going back into the deepest part of my mind and finding myself thinking about boys. The assholes, the cute ones, the too-nice ones, the ‘what was I thinking’ ones, the ones with great sex, the ones with great conversation, the ones I could bring home to my mom, and the ones that would be better matched with a friend. I thought and thought until I thought about why I was thinking about men of my past. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t do a bit of overthinking, so I wondered how I could have been semi-serious with so many men and still be able to find myself alone. That inspired me to delve deeper and try to figure out the common thread in these mates.
I thought about the asshole that I’m pretty sure was solely made of blood, melanin, and unrequited love. His void of emotion didn’t make me run, but made me want to fill it. Stupidly, I tried to pour so much of myself into him until I finally came to the realization that I was pouring Vitamin Water into the mouth of a terminal cancer patient. Essentially, it was too little and entirely too late. Luckily, the asshole taught me how to be an asshole, too. And for every foul word he uttered, I was able to find the bravery to separate myself from him and an excellent rebuttal that proved I could be just mean and cold as he was. Then, there was the one with great sex that I tried to talk to, but speech was not his mouth’s expertise. In between sessions I realized I was still, metaphorically speaking, intellectually horny. Then, there was the one with great conversation. He taught me that talk is extremely cheap. He could only afford free speech and didn’t have the ambition or vision to want anything more, which found me paying for meals, dates and self-help books. Then, I thought about the really nice one who my mother would love, but I had nothing in common with. I felt like I was his trophy that had engraved on it, “See! I must be interesting if I’m going on dates with this guy.” I wasn’t looking to be anyone’s pet, unless we were doing some roleplaying in the bedroom (just jokes…well, kind of).
With these sorts of thoughts replaying in my mind, it would be a shame if it was not punctuated with some type of epiphany or revelation. Luckily, it was. I was trying endlessly to fix and improve men, and though they were broken, I’m nobody’s handyman. The funny thing is, I wasn’t trying to fix and improve them in the “Iyanla, Fix My Life” sort of way. I was simply trying to mold men to be what I wanted them to be for me. I came to the realization that for the asshole, the one that’s great in bed, the one who my mother would love, and the one with the great conversation, I might be filed as “the one that was constantly trying to change them” in their portfolio of failed relationships that they look over when they find themselves alone.
Like I usually tend to do when I have life-altering, spine-tingling thoughts, I had to tell my friends. We gathered around a coffee table and I filled wine glasses and told them what I’d discovered. I told them that I might be just as broken and harmful to the men I’ve demonized in my mind as they were to me. To my delight, they all had light bulbs go off in their head, too. In a search for Mr. Right, we were all trying to create Mr. Right-For-Me instead of letting him come to us naturally. This is a bad habit for anyone to pick up in the cesspool that is love, but it’s especially bad for us gay black folks. The idea that we were basically letting every man who tiptoed into our lives know that he wasn’t good enough as he is must be detrimental to not just his well-being, but eventually our culture’s well-being. Black gay men belong to a culture saturated with the disenfranchised, the marginalized and the rejected, and I’m just a ploy to make sure the culture stays that way. Simply put, in a scary world full of rejection, I was a tool instead of a confidant.
We’re supposed to find solace and acceptance in friendships and relationships that we’ve created. So, to think that in these relationships, there’s someone still insisting you’re not good enough is horrifying.
My friends left and I found myself alone again. I knew, like I always know, that I was alone again for a reason. A thought crossed my mind that I didn’t find myself alone, but forced myself into being alone. I was alone to reflect and more so to make a promise to myself. I promised to never be the boy who comes across a man’s mind when he’s alone, like we often find ourselves, and be labeled as the one that told him that he wasn’t good enough. Now, that’s something to insert into an online dating profile.
Do you reflect on your past relationships? Are you the tool or the confidant? Let us know!