Questions asked about A Letter Goodbye Answered/rated not for content but personal
The following interview, as well as "A Letter Goodbye" , has been part of a healing process for me. The events described herein, and therein, are true as are the emotions. I ask that as you read either or both, you keep that in mind.
Until today, I have had access to this item restricted to only people I trust and know have read the letter first. In fact, I highly recommend that you be sure to read that first anyway.
If you decide to leave an R&R, please be kind in your wording as this is still a sensitive situation for me. But publicly listing it like this is a necessary step.
One more thing to note for you. None of the colored text has been edited since opening this interview to a more public audience.
Thank you for your interest in reading this. I pray that, if you have ever had an unrequited love that ended on bad or uncertain notes, no matter what your orientation is, that you may find something in here to help you with coming to terms with your own situation if you have not already.
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Little Miss Leigh-Lee had set up a survey ("Invalid Item" ) to do research for a character in a book she is writing. Instead of filling out the survey, I sent her a link to "A Letter Goodbye" , something I wrote expressing my feelings for someone whom I loved, and still love, but was never able to tell him about. I felt this would for the most part answer the questions she asked in her survey.
Perhaps it did, but she still had more questions, especially as they related to my specific situation.This item is basically an interview of her questions and my answers. If more questions are asked later, I will add them here.
Be aware, gentle reader, that this item is open for Ratings that require Reviews. If you want to make any comments besides grammar or spelling corrections, . I also ask that your R&R be kept private, not public. Many of the stories I tell below, I've never told to anyone before. Some I've told to only a select few, a mere handful of people. One... there is one story which I have refused to even tell to myself -- until now. Leigh may have been doing research, which I applaud her for. For me, this is a step in the healing process to be able to move on in life. An acceptance of my failures and responsibility towards a friendship lost.
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What was the situation when you met this guy?
I had moved from one state to another to be closer to family. At the invitation of my cousin and his wife, I moved in with them for a while as I looked for a new job and resettle myself. I was hired at a fast food restaurant where I met Albert1 and Brian, his best friend since junior high school. As we worked together, the three of us and everyone else on the shift, our friendships and teamwork built until we became one of the best and fastest closing teams within the corporate stores on the east coast.
One night during the first couple of weeks of my employment, our team went to Brian's house for a bonfire and party after the store was closed. We figured there would be enough time for those who had to work the next day to sober up sufficiently. I had never been a big drinker, but I was certainly a social drinker who hadn't yet found my safe limits.
When I realized I had had way more than enough at about one in the morning, I asked if there was somewhere I could lie down for a bit. Brian offered the living room couch. Albert advised to leave one foot hanging off the couch and planted on the floor. He wouldn't explain why. He just smiled imp-like.
I went into the house and laid down but I didn't follow Albert's advice - not immediately at any rate. For the first minute, I was alright. But then I began to feel as if the whole room was spinning. At this point, moving my foot quickly wasn't much of a problem though I think my leg did wave in the air like a conductor's baton for a moment before I found the floor. When I did, finally land, the spinning of the room slowed significantly to a level where I could close my eyes and rest.
About an hour later, my stomach felt as though it wanted to revolt because of my binging. Weakly I stood up and walked from the living room, through the kitchen and into the bathroom. In the kitchen, Albert was talking with Brian's sister, Callie. I remember him looking up at me and, with a look of sympathy mixed with humor, said,"Dude, you look green."
After a bout of the dry heaves, I found my way back to the living room and the couch. Someone had put an aluminum dutch oven out for me, which I, fortunately, didn't need. In the morning when I woke up on Brian's couch, I saw Albert curled up in one of the chairs. I remember thinking how adorable he looked, but nothing more beyond that. I was just grateful that he hadn't left after I crashed. He was looking out for his 'green' friend and making sure I had a way home.
I realized that this man, Albert, was special. But at this time, our relationship was simply one of a growing admiration and barely budding friendship. We barely knew each other save for our work ethics... and drinking limits. Still, here is where it began.
The feelings that you felt for him, was it those that made you come to the reality that you were gay?
No. I classify three levels of "being gay": 1)knowing you are gay; 2)understanding you are gay; 3) accepting you are gay. A bit of clarification is needed here before I continue.
1)Knowing you are gay: At this point you may be acting out what is most pleasurable for you, but you refuse to acknowledge the truth of it. Most of the times the refusal is because of personal or religious beliefs that causes guilt when you act out on the feelings.
2)Understanding you are gay: You don't feel the guilt that you once did. Instead, you realize that these attractions and pleasures are not unnatural. You have no control over them. And ultimately there is nothing wrong with that. You may acknowledge to yourself that this is just the way you are, BUT you are not "out" to anyone except those with whom you are sexually involved with. Otherwise you are still in denial.
3)Accepting you are gay: When you tell that first person, outside of your small active circle, that you are (or think you are) gay, is where acceptance begins. The more your acceptance of yourself grows, the more people you tell or don't mind knowing. This one is, for many, a continual growth process. For some people, many of today's out youth for example, they just step right out into this level once they have an inkling about their orientation.
At the time of my life when I met Albert, I was still in the second classification. I had known I was gay since I was probably nine years old. At age 15 I had told my mother that I thought I was gay, but was sent to a psychiatrist because of it. From then on, any feelings I had in regards to being gay, I repressed as much as I could. But a growing teenage boy doesn't always have control of his sexual responses. I enjoyed gym class, but hated having to take showers afterward with all the other boys. I was already called "fag" and "queer" at the time. I didn't want to give the boys any physically visible evidence that it might be true.
When I went off to college (a conservative Christian school), those fears followed me into the all boys dorms. I was able to safely have some relief magazines (fitness or men's clothing catalogs) in my dorm room. But that was all. I left that college after two years. I always said the reason was because of price increases every semester since I first attended. However, as I now look back, I think another part of the reason is when I found out two of our top football players were immediately expelled having been caught "in the act" during my last semester.
Before I met Albert, I had had several boyfriends. But the only people who I acknowledged my orientation to was the people in my "brotherhood of sisters". This was my transition into stage two, mentioned above. When I moved to Albert's state, I thought I'd be able to make a clean start where the only people who knew me to any degree were the few family members there. In a way, I guess I reverted back to stage one at that point. I even dated a girl to 'prove' to myself that I wasn't gay even though we never did anything sexually. I was "saving myself for after marriage".
When I recognized my special attraction to Albert was the day I made the statement mentioned in the letter. "I think I'm addicted to you. I can't seem to be around you enough and really miss you when you're not around."2 Actually, I left off a line in that quote. The quote really started: "(Albert), you're like a drug to me and..."
I had thought about this one day as I walked from Brian's house, where I had moved to, to the restaurant where we all still worked. I spent at least half of the time formulating and rewording it until it was perfect. When we took our lunch break outside that day is when I told him. I refused to even think of the word love at that point. I just knew he meant more to me than anyone else I had ever known save for family and God.
Was he gay?
Heh, no. Very much hetero. At least as far as I could tell. I remember going over to his house one day. He still lived with his parents. He had been somewhat successful in life out on his own, but his father had emphysema and he returned home to help his mother take care of him. Anyway, his parents were out for the day at a relatives and he had a girl over. He had sent her upstairs before opening the door and still he let me in. Albert invited me to make myself comfortable and watch television or grab something to eat, then he went upstairs and had sex. He had no compunction about my knowing what he was doing. I always wondered why he would do that. When he was upstairs with her, did he think of me? Never asked, will never know.
All I do know for certain is that he was never shy around me with things that might otherwise be embarrassing between two straight guys if the other guy knew it. His level of trust, concern and - for lack of a better word - love that he showed for me was beyond anything I had heard of between two straight men and I didn't know what to make of it or how to take it. So I did my best not to acknowledge it. Was he bi? Perhaps, never asked, will never know.
Is he gay now?
The last I had heard, he had married a woman within six months of my leaving the state. I've not heard anything about or from him since then, even though I have tried to find him. But I've since met many men who were married before coming out gay. Did he get married because I was out of his reach? Did he really love this woman he married, who he met after I left? I know that because the one time I talked to his mother, she told me. Whether it is/was a "lavender marriage" or real one, I'll never know unless we meet again.
Did he make you happy?
Did he make me happy? Now there is a question.
I would have to say 'yes'. It didn't matter what my situation was or what I said or did, he was supportive of me. He saw me, I think, as someone really special, important, and he wanted to see me happy. He helped me feel good about myself, my talents, my abilities. Don't get the wrong idea, this wasn't a one sided relationship, just a one sided question. I was just as supportive of him and I think I made him happy just to be around me as well. I feel confident in saying that because we had both admitted to each other to being comfortable around each other even if there was nothing to say.
When we worked at the restaurant, we often had good spirited competitions to see who had the best times at everything: close-down and cleanup of the salad bar, the grill area, service times at the register. If it was something we were both qualified to do, we competed in it. He excelled at grilling the burgers, I at building the sandwiches; he at cleaning the dining room, I at the kitchen (sink area);the race for the salad bar continued for months (we were down to slicing a second or two off of each other's times, but when I cut 30 seconds off on one shift, he conceded the contest and I was named "Douglas Christ Superbar" [the middle name is another story for another time]).
When he had to re-shingle the roof, he asked me to help. When I indicated I didn't know how, he took the time to teach me. Those were two great days that we spent on the rooftop. We had timed competitions to see who could lay the most shingle. (He usually won those as he could drive a nail in one hit.) We both signed up for a mixed bowling league. We competed all the way through that, too. He ended up with the best overall average between the two of us, but I took the most improved average for the season for the league - an honor I only won on the last tournament game of the season we were that close. I only beat him by 1/2 pin.
One other story here. One of his favorite phrases (and he had many) was "Duck!" And when he said it, you had better duck or risk being hit in the head by whatever he was throwing. As his birthday approached, I went shopping for a present for him. I finally found the perfect gift and devised the best way to give it to him.
I went to his house a little before noon and his mother let me in. Up in his room, I woke him up and gave him a large wrapped box. When he opened the box he found a piece of paper at the bottom with the word "DUCK!" on it. He didn't. I hit him square in the head with an over-sized plush duck. He nearly flew out of bed laughing to tackle me (I had stayed in the doorway), but he quickly realized that he was in his *ahem* birthday suit and settled back covered only to the waist rolling with laughter and invited me fully in. We laughed and talked for a long time like that: him nude under the covers, me clothed sitting on the edge of his futon bed. When his mother called for lunch, I excused myself and went downstairs while he got dressed to come down.
Did he make me happy? Yes.
Or was it traumatizing?
I guess you could say that birthday incident was traumatizing on some level. Oh, you mean the bar incident, right? If so, I couldn't see it at the time. I felt guilty about not saying what was actually on my mind. I felt horrid lying to him about a truth I knew deep down. But I never saw the incident as traumatizing - at least not for several more years. Otherwise, the only traumatizing time between us that we both recognized immediately was the last day we saw each other. I'm not ready yet to talk about that, but I will before this interview is over.
How long did you remain friends after the incident3?
That was the beginning of the end, I think. Something indefinable was broken that night that could only be fixed it could be recognized. Neither of us knew what 'it' was though. Our friendship continued all the way to the end of my time in the state. (Again, more about that later.) Our friendship continued to grow, if slightly stunted from what it had been and most certainly from what it might have been.
After he turned away when I said 'No', we had another shot of Jack, let the conversation slide, and, turning and noticing five girls on the dance floor behind us, toasted "to liquid courage", jumped over the railing and joined the dancers for a couple of songs. A couple more drinks later (yes, my tolerance for alcohol had increased significantly since the bonfire) we called it a night at the bar but spent the next couple hours just driving around and talking.
The question and answer that was in this location, I have moved to the bottom of the page for personal reasons, the primary one being answered in a note to Leigh that heads it.
Do you ever regret not going back and talking to him about it?
I told you in my first response letter to you when you sent these questions to me that I would have no regrets. I said that I would not be who I am or know the people I know or love now. I probably would never have again set foot in Texas.
But faced with the question and the truth in my heart, I have to say yes. If there is anything I regret having done or not having done at any point in my life, it is getting out of his car that night after the bowling league end-of-season party. It is not forcing him to listen to me and hear me out. It is not making him face me as I asked for his forgiveness for lying that night in the bar. It is to fear his reaction to a hidden but honest part of myself and withholding it from him. It is not asking him for the help I needed and instead ran away to my relatives and asking them for. To ask if he and his family would accept me into their house and help me find the way back onto my feet. To trust him as he had already proven he was worthy of.
Yes, there is regret. And there always will be, even if I could see him again and tell him all this. No matter the response, my regret then would be that I hadn't said the truth earlier.
What would you say if you saw him sitting in a bar by himself tomorrow?
I would like to think that I would be able to go right up to him and find that everything was past - done and over. But the breaking of trust is not a simple thing to ever forgive. And for both of us, not an easy thing to repair and earn back.
I think, truth be told, I would wait in a corner - or near the pool table (his choice of bar always has a pool table) - and wait for him to recognize me, though the waiting would kill me. I'm the one that broke the trust and should be the one to approach him, but, even though I am in stage three (acceptance), fear of his reaction would still keep me from immediately saying anything.
The way I see the conversation going once one of us approached the other, would be benign general conversation talking about what has been going on, though I would be focusing only on my work history and straight friends or keeping it focused on him. Wanting to tell him, would be ever in the front of my mind though.
I would probably wait and see if we could be comfortable around each other again first before I broached the subject. Give him the opportunity to believe that I would be willing to tell the truth. Telling him that I am gay would probably be the easiest and first thing I would tell him, maybe even on the first day. Avoiding that subject would be hard for me to do now with the groups that I belong to and some of the things that I have in my apartment.
I want to believe that once I get past that single point, it would be easy for me to explain the rest. I would pray that it would be easy for me to explain the rest. I would pray he hadn't had any tequila before that moment. I would pray that he would reach out with his hand to my shoulder and say he forgives me.
Where it would go from there (and even at that point) may only be fantasy.
Even though you now have a partner etc, would you explain to him what was happening?
My "new boyfriend" (mentioned in the letter) and I have since broken up, though we remain friends. If he, Albert, somehow managed to read this letter and he asked me about it, I would certainly tell him what was going on at the time that I wrote it. I learned, in the hardest way I can think of, how not telling him the truth affects us and our relationship. If I could somehow restore the friendship, even if there was no possibility of romance between us, I would do nothing to jeopardize it. I would tell him. If I was dating or otherwise involved with someone else, I would still tell Albert. My partner would know about him. Part of the lessons learned about telling the truth.
And would this give you closure, or stir up a whole lot of unpleasant emotions?
Honestly, I'm not sure. My hope is that in coming clean with Albert, after explaining why I answered and acted as I did both that night and during my last week there, would at least understand why.
But, other than fear of how he would (and ultimately did act the last time we saw each other), I have no reason for saying and not saying what I did. He had more than earned my respect and trust and I his. When I didn't act on that trust and respect, that is what finally brought the relationship to the bitter end that it did. I would offer no excuses, only reasons, and pray that he would accept it as such and understand.
What happens then, after I lay myself open before him....
Leigh, I held off on answering this next question until the last. When you read my answer, I think you'll see why. You'll see where I had to stop for a long time before I could see well enough to add this note and the last few lines in the answer.
There were several times while writing these answers that I almost used "Albert's" real name, but not so often nor as desirable as during this answer. It does me a disservice to not call him by name, but I think it would be more of a disservice to him to use his name in something like this without his permission.
Why did you leave the state? Was it for work, or did your feelings facilitate the driving force behind it?
At one point Albert told me that if I ever needed anything from him, I only had to ask. Let me start there. One night at a party at David's (another friend) house, I had begun to follow my instincts regarding drinking so that I wouldn't get as drunk as I did at the bonfire. Albert, as long as he was single, would drink as he wanted to. I do admit that he had a much higher tolerance than I did. It was a topic we had talked about several times before.
On this night, however, he went a bit overboard and disappeared from the party. I went looking for him and found him around back of the apartment's building sitting on the back steps. He was nearly as bad off as I had been at the bonfire. I walked up and started talking to him, causal conversation. In that way, I showed him my concern for his present state. When he asked that I leave because he didn't want me to see him in that condition, I instead sat down on the step next to him and placed my arm around his shoulder. Despite my squeamishness at various bodily fluids, I stayed with him through his nausea and vomiting keeping him company and calm throughout. I owed it to him for the care he's shown me when I was drunk. I did it simply because I cared.
I think at that point we both understood that we loved each other with a love beyond friendship or family. As long as it never spoke its name, we were both fine with it. This was before that night at the bar. I think this may be why he asked the question then. I now wonder whether, if he had asked me that question anywhere else other than a bar, if I would have answered the same. If the setting were more intimate, as it was on those stairs, if I would have told him the truth.
During a New Year's party at the same friend's house, I had sequestered myself into David's bedroom as the stroke of midnight approached. Albert eventually found me and asked why I wasn't out with everyone else. I told him that it was my habit to ring in the year alone with a silent toast. He gave me an ultimatum then which surprised me, but made sense to me coming from him as it did. Join him and our friends outside, or disassociate myself from him and walk home. Harsh? No. He knew what it would take to get me out and become social. He knew what buttons to push and he pushed them without fear that I would make any other choice than the one I did. I joined him and our friends and never regretted making that decision or ever held the ultimatum against him. That was how he showed his love. And I knew that.
I lost the temp job I was holding (I left the restaurant a few months before for reasons I won't go into) which led to problems at Brian's house where I was staying. From there I moved in with David and his wife for a couple of weeks. And when that time ran out and I could not still find a job, I ran away to my aunt and uncle's house for help.
Albert knew I knew that I could have asked him for a place to stay and the help I needed. I could have asked him for anything on this earth that was his to give (and a few that weren't). But he wouldn't press me or offer. He wanted it to be my decision to ask, as it had always been between us. I never did. My last night in the state was our bowling league's end-of-season party where awards and prizes would be handed out. Alfred came and took me to and from the party. When he dropped me off, I tried to say goodbye. But he turned away. I didn't see them, but I think he had tears in his eyes. He said nothing. He left in silence. He wouldn't even shake my hand.
By not asking him for help when I needed it, I betrayed him and his trust.
By not answering me before the car door closed, he broke my heart.
Together we had killed each other and died. Two men died that night. One drove off, the other flew away. The car door was the coffin lid that closed eternally sealing one off from the other.
"Albert". Forgive me? Please?
God! How I want to find him right now! I need him to know my truth, the truth, no matter the end outcome! Despite what I wrote in the above answers! I'd rather have him hate me for the truth than despise me for the lie and fear and broken trust. At least we'd have been honest with each other one last time.
At least we'd have had a one last time.