Wednesday, September 21, 2005

When Validation Comes...

So, this is my La-La Life.

It's a Saturday afternoon, and I'm walking around the Hollywood & Highland shopping complex while I'm waiting to have my car washed and detailed down the street (you know us Los Angelenos--we don't do anything ourselves!) when I decide to call my mother to pass the time. I'm not quite sure what is up with us on this particular day, but somehow, conversation just comes freely to us--a rarity in my normally non-communicative family. And somehow, my mother and I stumble upon the subject of sex. I have half a notion to tell her that my day job is working as an associate editor at AVN Online, but I really don't wanna push my luck. I do, however, manage to defend pornography, claiming that the problem lies not with those who capture sexuality on film, but with the puritanical and archaic views that the American government has shoved down our throats for the past several centuries. "There's so much guilt and shame surrounding sexuality," I tell her, to which, amazingly, she agrees. Then she says, "Well, it's nice to finally talk about this with you. I don't know why it's taken us so long to talk openly about sex."

And somehow, from somewhere deep inside me, I find the strength and confidence to say, "Well, Mom, if you must know, it's because you and Dad didn't exactly make it easy on me growing up. I remember all the times you pointed out gay people on the streets and said how digusting that was, and how you would disown me if I turned out to be gay--which you told me when I was eight." And then, a miracle: my mother didn't get angry or defensive. Suddenly, she said, "Oh, my God, I had no idea you felt that way. I am so sorry, and I regret it."

And here I am, standing outside of Hot Topic, a cheesy corporate-based punk rock store in the middle of the Hollywood tourist's district as hundreds of people mill around me, and I start to tear up. "Well, Mom, I really appreciate you saying that, because I've honestly waited all my life to hear those words from you," I finally responded. "I always felt like I'd failed you and dad by not being the son you wanted. I felt like I was a huge disappoinment to you."

"God, no," Mom said. "I honestly never knew you felt this way. I wish you'd said something a long time ago." If I'd replied right away, I would have said, "Well, so do I."

The truth is, for most of my life, I have always felt like I was this little 8-year-old boy who felt like his mother never loved him, and, looking back on most of my life choices and experiences, it's easy to see why certain things have happened to me: because I've never honestly known what it's like to be truly loved by someone, unconditionally, and it's the one thing I've been searching for all my life. In all the relationships I've pursued, I've always been the "needy one," the guy with the emotional baggage who chose guys who weren't emotionally available becuase I was setting myself up for failure and disappointment--the only things I'd really ever known in my life. I mean, really, is it any wonder that I'm still single?

Suddenly, at 34, things are changing. It began last year, when I had a whirlwind affair with an unattainable porn star who I fell head over heels in love with. And, though it didn't work out between us, I do know without any uncertainty that he and I bonded in a way that I've never bonded with anyone before or since. It's one of the reasons why I still count him among my closest friends, even though I rarely see him these days. I finally learned to love someone unconditionally--knowing that I was not going to get the outcome I really wanted. But what I did end up with is equally special in its own right, and the experience I shared with him has taught me so much about my pattern with men and the ways in which I've (not) loved those men.

In the months since "T" and I broke off our romantic entanglement, I have felt my life shifting. I've taken on a new sensibility, a new outlook, and gained a new confidence that I never knew I had before. He taught me that, God bless his tender soul. I think it's what has given me the courage to not only put F#ckhead Ryan out of my head (honestly, I haven't thought about him for well over a week now, except in fleeting, passing moments) and move past him, but to finally open up to my mother and be able to say the things I've always wanted to say to her.

When my conversation with my mother was over, I hung up the phone and looked around, half expecting the sky to be a different shade of blue, or expecting the sun to be a different hue of yellow. Of course, the world looked the same. Everthing didn't just fall into place and become easy like I'd thought it would. And now that I've finally received the "validation" from my mother that I've been seeking all my life, I realize the onus is now on me (though, in all honesty, it always has been) to live my life solely for myself and for the things that make me happy. There are no more excuses for making bad decisions (except, perhaps, sheer habit--or, of course, simple stupidity and/or stubbornness)--no more reasons that I can't do the things in life that I really want to do. There is no one holding me back anymore but myself. There never really was.

Hmmm, maybe this is growing up after all.


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