Monday, February 28, 2011

Alive and, well...

Jaded & Faded

...I wish I could say that I'm well, or that I have been so busy out having fun, dating, and moving forward with my life, but that would be a bold face lie.

Truth be told, I am stuck. I am stuck in the damned mud, and have put little effort to get myself out of it. Where am I stuck? In the land of the non-living. In the land of the morbidly lonely.

I was thinking about this a lot today at work. I feel so isolated at the office. (More on that later.) I came home tonight and found that a reader, Jimmy, had left a message on my blog, basically wondering where the hell I was, or more apt, how I was. It made me smile, and laugh a bit as well.

Where I am is lost. Where I am is disconnected. Where I am is alone.

I was thinking about this at work, as I feel so "not" connected to anyone in the office. Part of the problem is that I am a floater, no not a fluffer, at least that job would have me interacting with others. Just as soon as I was developing friendships, and enjoying lots of laughs at the office, they up and moved me. Currently I'm in a unit, and floor, that is a bit more reserved. The women I work with are friendly enough, but everyone seems to keep to themselves most of the time. Also, they have worked with each other for quite some time, so they have developed strong friendships. I get the feeling that when people see me walking by, they wonder who I am, or perhaps realize that I'm just floating through the floor, so don't get too invested.

One of the things I really long for is friendships, relationships, with other men. For a social service agency, there are a significant amount of men who work there. The problem is, they don't seem too friendly. I take that back, there are a few very nice guys, who do go out of their way to say hi when we cross paths, but most don't say anything to me. Even when I say hi, or smile, I don't get much in return. What am I, the plague? The kiss of death?

It made me start to wonder why this is happening. Of course the easiest thing to turn toward is my being gay. One thing that I have realized in moving to San Diego, is that it is much more conservative than I am used to. Not that this is a surprise, but I guess I expected different. You know, when you work in a field that is filled predominately by women, you would think that the guys would reach out to each other. Not the case with me. I can't seem to get those connections made.

Driving home I was doing my usual combination of trying to sort out my life, and fight back tears. If I look at my life, and who has been there for me, it's the ladies. When Michael was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and I went looking for online support groups I turned to a brain tumor caregivers group. Now I can't say I was the only guy, there were a few that popped in and out, but I was the only one who became a regular in the group. It was me, and the hundreds of ladies. I remember searching online for a men's caregiver group, but it didn't exist. When one guy in the brain tumor online group asked about starting an off-shoot men's group, I said that I was interested, but wanted him to know that the person I was caring for was another man, not a women. I never heard back from him.

After Michael died I found myself in the same situation. I searched, and searched, trying to find a gay widowers group, which for a short time I had in San Francisco, but it ended after only eight weeks. In turning to the Internet, I came up empty handed. When I looked for a basic widowers group, no such deal. So I ventured out into cyberspace on my own, by way of this blog. Now, one of the first to embrace me was another widower blogger, turns out there are maybe three of us. But who are the ones that welcomed me into their lives, the ladies once again. God love them. I do.

This all really makes me wonder, what the fuck is wrong with me. Am I not acting like a true man? Obviously not. Now I know there are guys out there who lose their spouse, or guys at the workplace who could use a new friend, but are guys not supposed to express such needs? Once again, obviously not.

If I am honest, I need to take some responsibility here. I know that I have many insecurities. You can't grow up as a gay kid, especially a Latino (meaning male of Hispanic origin) and not feel like you don't measure up. When I think back to the Camp Widow that I attended last summer, I can share with you many great conversations I had with many of the women there, but can only recall one conversation with one of the guys. I just wonder where exactly am I supposed to fit in? If I join a widower's (meaning male) support group, they will be talking about losing their wife (meaning female.) If I try to join in on a widow's (meaning female) group, we are all talking about losing our husband (meaning male,) except I am not a woman.

This is depressing. Let's move on to dating.

Recently I have put a lot of effort into joining some online dating services. I have posted pictures and filled out every detail requested in the profile. Some guys have stopped to read my profile, but nobody is writing to me. Is it that ugly word, widower, that may be sending them running? I know that I am not an unattractive guy, so really, what could it be?

Okay, by now you are all sufficiently tired of all my moaning and complaining. I am too. If you are really frustrated with me, blame it on Jimmy, he's the one that begged me to write. Here is something I am working on. I need to stop being such a passive guy, and go out there, hit some guy over the head with my club, and drag him back to my man cave.

I recently bought myself a Kindle. Yes, yet another electronic toy. Further proof that yes, I am a man. I really needed it, as I can increase the font size so that I can actually read what is in front of me. Get some glasses you say? Fuck no. I paid a lot of money years ago for Lasik surgery, and I'll be damned if I will wear glasses again. Anyway, that wasn't the point. I have been reading a book called The Manly Art of Seduction: How to Meet, Talk To, and Become Intimate with Anyone It is written primarily for gay men, but it's a great book for men in general. At first glance, you would think the book is about how to get someone into your bed. Now maybe that is the ultimate goal for many of us, but it takes this much deeper. It is really making me look at myself, and own up to my own insecurities and fear of rejection. The book is written in a workbook fashion, and it tries to help you understand how to get a date and move it forward into intimacy, both emotional and sexual. Who doesn't want that?

Anyway, this is my current attempt to pull myself up by my bootstraps. And speaking of straps, have I shared with you how much fun a leather whip can be?


  1. As always, so much of what you write about strikes a familiar chord with me. For the past couple or so weeks, I've been feeling quite lonely - that in spite of being around friends quite a bit. For me, I think it's because March was always the time when Don and I would start get out hiking the trails as the snow melted off. We would have been out over the winter, but in spring, we were gone every minute that we weren't working. My internal clock is telling me that we should begin hitting the trails soon, but the external reality is that *we* won't be doing that. The whole thing provokes a very weird sense of discord that leaves me feeling quite alone. I haven't really figured out how to make that feeling go away. I keep very busy and push myself to do all kinds of things - but at the end of the day, being alone is still being alone and nothing changes really changes that fact.

    Interesting about the online dating thing. I have a suspicion that many of the people who frequent them are similar to those who lurk on blogs and forums - many enjoy reading profiles and might like to contact you, but they are too shy or think they might be rejected. Recently, I put up a profile on a site - but instead of saying I wanted to date, made it very clear that I was just looking for people (male or female) to go hiking and canoeing with, or out plein air painting, jamming with acoustic instruments, etc... I did actually get a handful of serious responses from people in the area where I spend summer, but just about as many from guys looking to date or for long term relationships (I'd specifically stated I did not want to date anyone, so how carefully do people actually read profiles?). As well, the stats show a ridiculous number of views of my profile - well over ten times the number who sent any kind of note. I don't really know how to interpret all of this except to say that I have my doubts about how well these sites actually work. My guess is that the best way to meet people is still the old-fashioned way -- go to the places you like to hang out, or do the stuff you enjoy doing (difficult as it is to figure that out at this time), and you'll probably start meeting people who don't care about your widow status, etc.. They might not turn out to be someone you would go out with, but they might become friends and would increase your network of friends. Btw, I did disclose my "widow" status on my online profile and it doesn't seem to have been much of a deterrent - perhaps because I'm just looking for people as friends to do stuff with. Of those who have responded, a couple actually were interested in discussing what it's like to deal with loss. I guess that, by the time you're in your fifties, others are dealing with these thoughts too.

  2. I work in a predominately female field as well and most of the time have the precise experience you described. Some male co-workers will at least return a greeting, but just as many won't. I've been doing this ten years and I have yet to exchange a single, personal conversation with a male co-worker. I have, however, always been able to make female friends at work (I seem to especially hit it off with the early fifties crowd). It's nice, but it would be good to have a close guy friend where I live (the few I have are all still in the Midwest).

    I found the same problem here. When I started looking online, there simply wasn't anyone like me out there. And of the few I found initially, only one is still actively blogging. Of course, there have been others since (and I'm glad you're one of them), but even then, it has been hard to establish a connection beyond blog comments and e-mails. It seems like a strange thing to complain about, but I agree that it would be nice to talk to someone who understands. And the interesting thing is, I don't think I would spend the whole time talking about my wife. It would simply be nice to have a friend who has been there and who is there now. I think that's why I take so much comfort in your blog. I don't write as much on mine as I would like to, but when I read yours, I can at least get a glimpse into the life of someone else who understands.

    So I think the issue is larger than your being gay, or a widower, or a gay widower. I think the issue is that men just don't know how to connect with each other on a deeper level than sports stats and water cooler chit-chat. I hope that will change for our gender as a whole in the future, and I hope in the meantime you're able to make some connections in real time.

    Hang in there,

  3. 3SF,

    Funny, last night I finally reconnected with a widower that I had been having regular phone conversations with earlier in the fall. We met through my blog, and his spouse (a man) died of the same type of tumor as mine. He also lives in the Bay Area, which is so sad, because we didn't connect until after I moved to San Diego.

    It was fun to talk to him. Of course we did talk about our deceased spouses, but mostly we compared notes about some of the irony, or "crazy" behavior we find ourselves doing, which a non widower might not get. It was really good to just let down my guard, and say out loud what is usually kept private, and laugh at myself.

    And, while I didn't mention you by name, you know that you are the one that I credit for bringing my blog to the masses. Well, at least to all my widow gal pals.

  4. bev,

    Thanks for sharing how you have approached the web-social connecting sites. I think I will rewrite my profile to focus more on new friends to do things with. Even though I have this as an option, perhaps I should give it more weight. In the end, I know that just need to get out there more, as the number of guys on the site tailored for gay men seems to be a bit limiting.

  5. It seems to be really important on this crazy grief journey to find people who we connect with, people who "get" it. I attend a Survivors of Suicide support group locally, which is invaluable because there are certain aspects of this particular kind of grief that I think are somewhat unique to suicide survivors. When I first started going, eleven months ago, there were three other widows in the group. For the past few months, I've been the only one. The rest of the group is parents who have lost children and people who have lost siblings or other relatives. I almost stopped going because the group wasn't quite meeting my need for connection anymore. We could relate on certain points, but none of those people are where I am... going to bed alone every night, waking up alone every morning, desperately lonely but afraid to try and meet anyone new. Then on what was going to be my last week at group for a while, three new widows showed up... and I decided that was a sign that I should stick around for a while.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. oops - I meant that as "even more alone" up there. Pre-tea cutting and pasting.

  8. Eh - too many typos.
    As you know, I am so not a group person. I did give it a valiant effort, but sitting in a group made me feel even more alone, more weird, like everything had so completely blown up and disappeared, and WTH am I doing in a group?

    This state can be rough for finding real kinship - I thought it was just me, but people who have moved here from Away mention it, and ask me if it "just them." Tough crowd in New England. Anyway - it does seem to be the Go Out And Do What Interests You thing. In before life, I have met a couple of good people at yoga, and in gardening classes, or beekeeping. Whatever seems like goodness to me. As I can, I am trying these things in this life now. True, I just as often still prefer my own company, but it is the effort. And, I need the activity, the engagement with something, likely more than I need the humans. Operating on the "go to places people like you would hang out, and hang out there."

  9. megan wrote: And, I need the activity, the engagement with something, likely more than I need the humans.

    That is probably the case with me too, although I do have to admit that sometimes it's nice to get together with fellow artists, musicians, paddlers, hikers, naturalists. It's nice to have someone to talk shop to, even if it's just for a few minutes. It helps to blow off the alone-ness for awhile. I am not really one to feel lonely - if I was, I couldn't do these trips or working on the wrecky old house in N.S., but it is nice to share ideas with others. I will probably be happy just being friends and nothing more, but I think it's good to have someone to pick up and take off with when the mood strikes. Megan, I think that Nova Scotia is probably a lot like Maine in that finding like-minded people may not always be easy, but I have made contact with a couple of artists and kayakers through online social networks and think that could prove to be kind of fun. I doubt I could have met them otherwise. No idea if this will be a total bust, but I figure it's worth a shot, even if it is just to discover some good spots for kayaking or whatever.

    *note to Dan: Haven't had a good thread hi-jacking in awhile! (-:

  10. hi-jack! Yeah - I don't tend to get lonely, really. I don't miss people, I miss Matt. There is an outdoor adventure club here, but I have heard it is a "meat market," plus, I don't like to be out in the woods with lots of people (what a surprise!). I'm accustomed to being - Other - than most. Just having my love be the same way - well, I don't have to describe that to you.
    Before and now, general inactivity is not good. So, an activity/engagement I choose for my own interests, first. If I meet someone good, bonus.