I Wish I Hadn’t Sent That Picture


I want to acknowledge that I had set an intention to do the blog this morning and to sort of organize where I am with regard to the whole “year to live” thing. I’m going to bump that to tomorrow because I think there is worth and merit in it and I’m simply to tired to tackle it tonight. My excuse for why it didn’t get done this morning:

Sometimes I find myself in mental-pause. Usually in the morning, and while trying to decide what all is going on the “to do” list for the day and what from that list gets to get tackled first, my sleepy brain will just get stuck and do the biological version of the little rainbow pinwheel that sometimes spins on my Mac when it’s overwhelmed. It usually looks like: me, standing in the middle of the room in my boxers, unshaven and glassy eyed, mouth hanging slightly open, standing very still, unsure, somewhat terrified, helpless. I was there this morning. I prayed, “What should I do?” I heard, “Go to the gym.” So I threw everything in a bag and headed out the–

Then about 12 unexpected things happened including the friend who had borrowed my truck calling to tell me he had crashed into another truck in the parking deck and a person I had sex with calling to tell me they tested positive for an STD so I should go and get tested and treated (which I did) and then my foot started swelling up again so I headed to the V.A. to try to find out what the hell is going on there and I had to go to the hospital to arrange for Mom’s move from there to the rehab facility tomorrow and my day as I thought I was going to–

Fuck all that. Here’s what I don’t want to tell you: this afternoon I was having a text conversation with a buddy of mine I’ve never met in person although we’ve chatted for hours. We met through an online spiritual community. He’s a straight man with a girlfriend and I’ve been completely forthcoming with him about my sexuality. He’s a real “man’s man,” works on a tugboat, has a mad-sexy voice, and is also brilliant when it comes to literature and philosophy– basically, other than the whole sexually-attracted-to-chicks thing, the kind of guy I’d like to marry. I’m aware that (even though I have no idea what this guy looks like) I might have had a little crush on him. One of the things about– okay, when I was a kid, with a very few grateful exceptions, I didn’t have straight guy friends. That was a world that seemed completely off-limits to me and the older I got, the worse it got so by the time I was in high school, most of the straight guys were the bullies who made it very clear I was not welcome in their world. But that’s not the case any more. Most of my male friends are straight and beyond that they are straight allies to me in my overcoming the damage I suffered because of cultural homophobia. These men are strong warriors who appreciate my strengths and help me get stronger around my areas of weakness. They’re patient with me when I fuck up (like I did tonight) and they know I will be with them when they do.

Tonight, my buddy and I were talking about fitness and diet and gaining/losing weight. I sent him a (very cropped) picture of my belly– actually my lower-back fat which is the part of my body I am least fond of. This pic was cropped just below my belly button and just bellow my chin on the top of the pic. I know now that I was secretly hoping he’d compliment me on the rest of what was visible in the picture or maybe even that he’d send me a similar picture of him. God, I am so embarrassed just to admit that to you and, of course that I did it in the first place! He texted, “Dude! No pictures,” and I quickly laughed it off and went on to say “that’s the picture that I have on the refrigerator to help me avoid the late night ice cream binges.” That was a total lie but I was just desperately looking for a rationalization of why I sent it. I moved the text conversation along quickly past the awkward and uncomfortable part where I had just sent this man I’m just getting to know this really intimate picture of myself and hoped he’d just forget it. The conversation ended and I started my drive home from the hospital. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and how inappropriate it was.

When I got home, I decided to do the right thing, the uncomfortable thing and make amends. I sent him this text:

“Hey man, on the drive home I started thinking about sending you that picture of my belly fat. While I would send that to any of my straight Marine buddies so we could have a good laugh, I really don’t know you that well yet and I’m suspicious of the subtler reasons I might have sent it. I feel I owe you an amends; I’m very embarrassed and wish I hadn’t sent it. I can promise you I will never send you and unsolicited pictures of any part of me and am willing to do whatever else you feel would make this right. I respect you, I’m grateful for you support in recovery and friendship and I’m sorry for crossing what should seem an obvious boundary.”

I would have understood if he’d come back and said that he didn’t feel comfortable moving forward with our still-budding friendship but actually that’s not how it went down. He told me that he appreciated the text and that he felt like he could trust me since I commented on what I had done. He actually helped me unpack it a little more and I intend to do more writing and praying on it tomorrow. I’m still embarrassed but I have started to feel some of the shame subside as I’ve realized that it was the injured, lonely boy inside me that took over the controls for a few minutes. I can forgive him because I know what happened to him. I can love him because I know he’s not bad, he just got hurt. I can re-parent him. I can be the strong, older male who welcomes his friendship.

I’m grateful to know this guy with whom I had the text conversation and am grateful to whatever benevolent forces are advocating on my behalf for bringing such incredible people into my life, ones that don’t throw me away when I fuck up.

See y’all tomorrow.

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