They say the first step is to accept that you have a problem. So here I am. Accepting it.
I am the abnormal one. Not them. Not him. Not you. OK, maybe you. But, definitely me too.
All of the Ex talk lately got me thinking about a few of my own. Well, aside from Only Child and Naval A-Hole, the rest of them are just minor footnotes. But they are Exes nonetheless. One guy in particular, Allman, always pops up fondly in my memories. I wrote about him here.
He was a fundamentally sweet person. Smart too. But he hid that from most people beneath his long, blonde hair, porkchop side burns, goatee, and a constant haze of pot smoke. For the 20-year-old me screwed up me, he was just what I was looking for. We had a unique bond, probably because we both lost our fathers at a young age. I enjoyed his calm, mellowness (likely pot-induced). It helped take the edge off my still untreated anxiety and depression. I fed off of it actually.
But a relationship of any consequence we did not have. He was a blank wall against which I could throw all my bullshit, and it would just slide down and fall to the floor with little consequence. And yet we had affection for one another. Simple, sweet affection. Our relationship was not all that sexual – more sweetness – and no one else really understood. I liked that. It made it feel a lot more special than it really was.
I’ve always kind of wondered what happened to him. Last I heard he moved back to his rural hometown in California and was playing guitar all day in a house he shared with a bunch of other slacker/hippies. When you asked him what he did for a living he would proudly and succinctly say, “I’m retired.” He was 25.
Ten years later (or about three days ago) I found him on our college alumni site and sent an email just for the hell of it. I just got his reply sitting here in my hotel room (I’m away on business). He is married, with two children and owns his own financial advising company in his hometown. The link he sent me to his website included a picture of him and his Leave It To Beaver-appearing family. He’s got short hair (a receding hairline actually) and looks and sounds happy and normal. Oh my God.
That seals it. It’s me. I’m the abnormal one. It’s one thing to see your well-adjusted Exes make these steps. Fine, I expected that. But it is now official that all those other Exes that I thought were at least a little more fucked up than I was have managed to pull off the “normal” life. It feels like I’m the last one standing. So who’s fucked up now?
I know, you are going to hit the comments section to tell me that “normal” is relative. That life is not a competition. That just because you are married and/or have children doesn’t mean you are happy, normal and well adjusted. Blah, blah. You’re probably right. But the fact is that this is what I keep telling myself I want out of life. Not a fancy career. Not fame. Not a shrine in my honor. A family.
And I still don’t have it. I get close, or I find imposters (and yes I’m increasingly paranoid that Wine Guy is yet another imposter leading me down the primrose path). But it never actually happens. I’m sure I have SOMETHING to do with that.
Whatever fucked up thing I’m doing is putting me in this position of not getting what I supposedly want.
Maybe I don’t want it but I’m too fucked up to notice?
Or maybe I do want it but I’m so fucked up that I only pick guys that won’t give it to me?
Or maybe I really do want it but I’m so fucked up that the perfectly normal guys I pick get scared off?
Get it? It’s me.
Not Allman. Not Only Child. Not Naval A-Hole (OK, maybe it was Naval A-hole in that scenario). Not any of the other unsuspecting guys that have crossed my fucked up path.
I’m worn out. So I’ve admitted the problem. Now what?
(Yes, yes. The shrink appointment is already on the books for early October. I scheduled it a week or two ago. I must have known something big was coming.)