Posts Tagged anxiety

The Next Chapter

Two years ago, I started this blog. I began writing because I felt alone. I knew there had to be other gay men out there who were looking for the same thing I was, and I wanted a way to connect with them.

grindrAt the time, I just ended my first gay relationship, and I found myself in very unchartered waters. I was already out to close friends, but not publicly. Because I had so few gay friends and a strong aversion to gay bars, I had to find a mate digitally. I began serial dating, at one point going on four dates in four days — And thus, One Gay At A Time was born.

Since the beginning, I have gone on MANY dates and put myself in many situations well outside my comfort zone. I have not only grown more comfortable in my own skin, but I’ve also grown up as a gay man. I got all the hookups out of my system and began searching for a meaningful, long-term relationship.

This blog began as an open forum diary of the daily occurrences I encountered navigating the gay world. I told my side of the story honestly in hopes that others out there would be able to relate, comment and most importantly, realize they are not alone.

The time has come for the next chapter of my life and for this blog. For quite some time I’ve been blogging about CK (aka Clark Kent or Superman). You’ve gotten to know him through my eyes in the early stages of our relationship. It’s been some time since I’ve blogged, and I apologize for leaving you, my readers in the lurch. I do not mean to abandon the small community I’ve worked so hard to foster, but I’ve been struggling with the next chapter of the blog.

When I first told CK about the blog, he was very open to and even grew excited about the idea of my writing our relationship. Over time, as you could probably understand, his excitement waned, and we began to argue about the content of the blog.

I had to make a choice between the blog and my man. It’s quite obvious which I chose. As a result, I will no longer be blogging about the specifics of my relationship with CK. However, in lieu of continuing to finish our story in a daily dairy format, let me catch you up on what has happened since July. Here are some of the highlights…

In July, CK joined my family for our annual beach vacation. While I went for the entire week, he only joined us for a few days. It was the first time we’d spent an extended period of time apart, and with my trust/cheating baggage, it was a true test of my sanity. I was thrilled and relieved when he finally arrived. It was also nice that he would finally get to spend some real-time getting to know my parents.

In early August, I traveled to Miami, CK’s birthplace to surprise his family with a visit to celebrate the birthdays of his two beautiful nephews (turning 1 and 2 only a week apart). I felt incredibly special taking this trip with CK. I was meeting his ENTIRE extended family. Before this point, I’d only met his mother. I was welcomed into the family with open arms and came to grow strong bonds with them over just a handful of days. This was unchartered territory for both of us, as I’d never been brought home to meet the family by anyone other than my high school girlfriend, and he’d never brought a man home to meet everyone before. It could not have worked out better!

Around Labor Day, CK and I went on week-long vacation to the Hamptons with 15 of my friends and family. While there, our relationship grew very strained. I felt he was trying too hard to impress my friends. I wanted him to be himself so all of them would come to love the man I knew, not the man I felt he was trying to be for them. By the end of the week, I reached my breaking point. I was so stressed out from organizing the vacation and ensuring everyone was happy that I made myself miserable, and I took it out on the person closest to me. In the penultimate moment of the trip, one night we not only exchanged words but also fists and shoves, as my closest friends and sister witnessed the lowest moment of our relationship.

It took a lot of time for CK and I to figure things out. This wasn’t the first time our relationship reached physicality, but I hoped it was the last. It also took a long time for things to return to normal between CK, me and my circle of friends. My sister wasn’t speaking to me for over a month and my friends had semi-ostracized me from typical gatherings. I burned a lot of bridges on that trip, and I am still working to rebuild them today. You can expect to read about my experiences and feelings dealing with issues such as physical violence in a relationship as one of the topics I will cover in coming posts.

In September, CK and I found an apartment in Hoboken to call our own. We moved in together in the midst of Hurricane Sandy’s wake on November 2. Although the experience of moving immediately following a hurricane is incredibly overwhelming, we are both stronger as a result of the experience. In my experience, moving in with a lover is unlike sharing a space with any other. You’ll certainly be reading about my experiences and the things I’ve learned from this experience as well.

After Sandy exhausted my last modicum of energy, I decided I was too tired to shave my upper lip. CK and I both decided to raise awareness and funds to fight prostate cancer by growing mustaches for Movember. I proudly raised over $500 for charity as a result of my stache, and I was thrilled when we both shaved them off — We both looked like pedophiles.

For the first time in my life, I had someone to take home to meet my family for Thanksgiving. Before venturing home, I sent my extended maternal family an email to get the awkwardness out of the way. You’ll be pleased to know my family welcomed him with open arms. I imagine coming out to extended family creates a lot of anxiety for man, as it did for me, so I hope sharing my experiences will encourage more to share the truth with the ones they love.

When I returned to Hoboken after Thanksgiving, preparations began immediately for what would have been my Sixth Annual Holiday Bash. This year, it became Our First Annual Holiday Bash. I finally had someone to share the hosting duties with, making it extra special.

Although CK and I spent Christmas apart, after all the festivities with my family, I hopped on a flight down to Miami to spend the rest of the holiday season and New Years Eve with my man and his family. CK’s sister and brother-in-law planned a trip with their two boys to Disney World for two days. After a little persuading, I convinced CK we should join them. I preferred Disney to a raucous gay party any day, and it was truly magical to see Disney World through the eyes of a two-year-old.

In February, CK and I took a romantic trip to Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY. Although it seems we can’t go anywhere without having some kind of quarrel like an old married couple, the trip was amazing and couldn’t have come at a better time. We went ice skating, snow shoeing, swimming, hiking, and much more. It was a perfect escape for both of us to get out of the city and away from the bustle of it all after the holidays.

In between, there have been countless brunches, parties, trips, nights out, Broadway shows, fights… Oh yea, and plenty of sex — Can’t forget the sex! Overall, things have been going well for us. You have good days and bad days, but you have to realize the bad days are just there so you appreciate the good ones all the more. I am thrilled to announce, this past Saturday, CK and I celebrated our one-year anniversary at the restaurant we went to on our first date, Frankies Spuntino 570. Although we waited nearly an hour, the evening was perfect, and I look forward to many more years together.

Although I won’t be detailing the specifics of my relationship going forward, I hope to share with you what I have learned along the way. It’s not easy being in a relationship, but then again, the things that are worth it never really are.

To my most dedicated readers who haven’t let me lack of posting stop them from commenting words of support on my blog, thank you. You are what has motivated me to get back into this once again. I feel like many of you have integrated my writing into your daily routines, and I have left you with your morning coffee in hand and no reading material. You will not see the frequency of posts you may have grown accustomed in the past, but I still hope you find time in your lives for One Gay At A Time.

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We Kiss, We Make Up

When last I wrote about my budding relationship with Clark Kent and myself, we had gotten well past the honeymoon stage. We were trying to maintain a relationship across state lines, and it wasn’t easy. That being said, we were still seeing a lot of each other, and I started to wonder if maybe it was too much. I often wondered, maybe there is such a thing as too much of a good thing…

We needed to find balance, and that wasn’t going to be easy. We’d been dating four short months, but, in reality, it felt like we’d been dating for close to a year, even though we were still figuring things out.

That Thursday night, my old roommate was gathering with friends at the new waterfront biergarten in Hoboken for drinks to celebrate his birthday (which I was unaware of until deep into the night). I mentioned it to CK and asked him to join me when he finished work. He agreed, but he had to work later.

When I arrived, I didn’t know too many of my old roommate’s friends in attendance. I began texting and calling other friends to join us. P and S both responded, “On my way.”

As you can imagine, it takes a lot of time to write a blog, so I was utilizing my free time during the day at work to accomplish this. Apparently, my boss took notice to my poor use of free time since he wasn’t seeing any productivity coming from my time between projects. (Perhaps you can understand why I have been neglecting this blog for the past few months).

Blogger

This is relevant because I was also coming off a really rough day at work. I received my review that morning, and it was not positive. My only saving grace was a preemptive strike made a few weeks earlier.

I noticed an opportunity to take over our social media duties (which were being completely neglected) and asked my boss if I could take them on. During my review, when he pointed out my poor utilization of free time, I countered with the argument, “That’s why I approached you about taking on the social media duties.” I thought maybe I’d saved my a$$. He countered with, “I only wish you’d come to me about it three years earlier.” I was defeated.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, I learned later that day we’d be merging with another company. So, on top of a bad review, I was petrified of being labeled a redundancy. Two weeks earlier, my career looked to be shaping up. I was taking on a new role, and finding early success. My experience with this blog and other social media was really paying off. Now, it looked as if my whole world could be crumbling around me.

A majority of it was out of my hands at that point. All I could do was put my nose to the grindstone for the coming weeks. But, on a Thursday night, I needed to forget. That meant I needed more than a few stiff drinks!

I drank beer after beer while mingling with old friends and some new ones. I was having quite a good time, but I was missing CK. I was texting with him back and forth discussing his arrival.

When he finally arrived, I was thrilled to see him. He could be comfort after a rough day, and I was finally properly lubricated enough to have a good time and forget about work, enjoying a night out with my man and friends.

CK grabbed a beer and immediately dove right into the conversation with all of us. I was chatting with S’s roommate, and the discussion quickly changed to his tattoos and body piercings. CK was a bit fascinated by tattoos at that time. He detailed for me the elaborate tattoos he was dreaming of getting.

S’s roommate was very much Mr. Machismo. I wasn’t sure how comfortable he was with the whole “gay thing.” There was just something about his attitude and the way he carried himself that I didn’t think he’d be too comfortable. I never formally came out to him, as I’d only met him a handful of times, but I assumed S clued him in. I was very pleasantly surprised just how cool he was with the whole “gay thing.” He turned out to be quite a laid back guy. It just goes to show you can’t judge a book by its cover.

The two quickly formed a bond. At some point in the conversation, the roommate started talking about his anxiety over having to fly the next. CK took it upon himself to aid in this situation.

Immediately, I was unhappy. My mood shifted abruptly. I shut down. I’ll never quite understand why I react in this way to these types of situations. I think it stems from striving to suppress my feelings at the moment so I don’t create a scene in public. The deeper question is why do I become so enraged in the first place?

This time, CK wasn’t exactly participating. He wasn’t doing anything wrong, however, aiding and abetting someone else’s wrongdoing was equally as bad in my mind. He was enabling behavior he knew I was opposed to. I wasn’t just feeling anger. I was scared. I was afraid I was going to lose him. We’d had this discussion time and time again. If we continued to have the conversation, eventually, he would be faced with an ultimate decision, and there was a chance I would be a casualty of that decision. All of my emotions tied back to this very thought. I was afraid in the end he wouldn’t choose me, and as a result, I would have to choose me. I’d have to say goodbye for my own sanity, facing my greatest fear in life, being alone, on top of losing a man I loved. Obviously, I never wanted it to come to that.

I managed to suppress this anger and feeling of betrayal. My mind was jumping back to all the other times we discussed this very topic. This was only exacerbated because I’d written the blog post about our night at Matinee that afternoon. One of those very conversations was fresh in my mind.

I managed to suppress all this until we walked in the door of my apartment, and then I unleashed. I told him how unacceptable his behavior was, and he was completely dumbfounded. He had no idea why I could be so enraged.

Angry BedOf course this only fed my fury. Had he forgotten all these other times we’d discussed this? Was I living a broken record? We argued extensively about this, and CK threatened to leave multiple times, making it to the door a handful of times.

We finally had a breakthrough at some point when he either feigned to understand my stance, or what I was so vehemently explaining finally sunk in.

We argued a lot about a lot of small things —Things I felt were very important. He felt I was trying to change him. I wasn’t. Honestly! I loved him. I just felt he needed to grow up in some aspects of his life. A person needs to adapt and evolve when entering a relationship, and I still wasn’t sure he was putting in the effort. I wasn’t trying to mold him into my ideal mate. I didn’t have a preconceived notion of who he should be. But, I felt there were some sacrifices he’d need to make to make me happy.

Perhaps I was the one who needed to change. In reality, we both needed to. Only time would tell if we could come to consensus on these types of issues.

Regardless, after fighting, we kissed and made up. Well, we more than made up. This was all followed by a lively romp in the sack. It was so incredible, we both finished at the same time for the first time. As we showered, we discussed our epic make-up sex. “And don’t think you can start picking fights with me just so we can have make-up sex buster,” I punctuated. We both had a good laugh.

No matter how much we fought, at the end of the day, I loved him. He made me happy. I loved that no matter how many times we fought, we always found a way to make up. I wanted to grow old with him, but the key word in that phrase for us would be grow…

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An Evening Matinee, Pt. 2

The party was in full swing. Matinee had a huge turnout, and some of my suspicions were already confirmed. I was in for a long night.

As the evening progressed, CK ran into a handful of people he knew. I was very leery of many of these people because I assumed the majority were previous hookups and fellow circuit party enthusiasts. My guard was up. No one was going to make a move on my man without me having more than a few words to say. One previous hookup in particular was starting to weird me out. I would catch him staring at CK across the crowd, which turned me into a guard dog. I wasn’t going to let CK out of my sight.

I still had a lot of anxiety after he told me he didn’t go to the last circuit party because he wasn’t sure what might happen. It was honest, but it didn’t exactly instill confidence in me. I wasn’t holding it against him, because after all, he was forthcoming. But, that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to be hypersensitive.

Speaking of infidelity, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of one of the newlyweds I’d met earlier in the night with his tongue down another man’s throat. I scanned the crowd for his husband, and he too was sucking face. My heart sank a little. I was so thrilled to have met a gay married couple because it is something I long for. But, judgment aside, after witnessing their definition of marriage, it brought the idea I would never find a man who shared my own definition of marriage back to the surface.

Since Hip was still recovering from hip replacement surgery, he needed periodic breaks from all the dancing. I can’t tell you how happy I was to have him there. Every time he took a break from the dance floor, I joined him. I needed a break as much as he did. While we stood on the sidelines, I complained, “When is this lozenge going to kick in!?” We chuckled a bit while watching CK search the crowd to try to find us until I finally got his attention.

Hip wasn’t the only other guy I knew there. I’d been texting with my ex, Broadway, who I am still friendly with. We rarely see each other anymore, but when we do, it’s completely platonic. I learned he’d be attending, so I suggested we at least take a minute to say hi. I also wanted to introduce him to CK so they could both put a face to the name. We managed to find each other in the crowd over the phone and exchanged a hug. He introduced me to the guy he was there with, and I introduced him to CK. It felt a little forced for some reason, so I didn’t dwell on the conversation, and we said goodbye.

As the night continued, I began to feel the effects of my lozenge. I was very happy because I mellowed me out. I was in a good state from there on out. That is until others in the group pulled out some of the stronger vices. It was my first time witnessing this. I don’t feel I’ve lead a sheltered life, but my friends and I just never put ourselves in those situations. I felt quite uncomfortable. A big part of that is the unknown — I knew very little about it. Another part of it stems from resentment. I feel a sense of, “Am I not enough that you feel the need to heighten the experience?”

I tried to turn a blind eye to it and get on with my night. CK really wanted to be there, and he really wanted me to have a good time. I wanted to give him that. I wanted him to see me enjoying myself, so that’s what I did. I worried about the things I could control and tried to forget the rest.

We danced and danced and danced. We had a really great time dancing. Natasha Bedingfield performed, and I even saw my favorite Twitter couple, @AustinWilde and @AnthyRomero. I pointed them out to CK, and he suggested I go say hi. I put myself in their shoes and refrained. They were there to have a good time, just as I was, and I didn’t want to bother them.

Another round of substances made a pass through the group, and once again, I was feeling on edge. This time I wasn’t as good at hiding my lack of comfort. CK was really good about checking in with me to make sure I was alright and having a good time. When I told him how my lozenge made me feel great, he chuckled and gave me a kiss.

The night was coming to a close. Sure, it was stressful as all hell, and when it was over, I felt incredibly relieved. Relieved and exhausted. It takes so much out of you to be so anxious for so long. But, looking back, I did have fun. After experiencing that and XL the night before, the next go around would be far less stressful. I would a least know what to expect. People began making their way back to the ferry to hit up more club parties in Manhattan. Before we left, CK and I snapped a few romantic pictures with the city skyline in the background. This part was easy. I could stop worrying and finally let myself be engulfed by the love I shared with CK. In the end, that was what mattered. When he was happy, I was happy. This was something he’d been looking forward to for months, and I hoped I delivered.

While we were away from the crowd, CK pulled me in to discuss our plans for the remainder of the night. Originally, we discussed going to Work (Peter Rauhofer was spinning) at Roseland, but to my surprise, he suggested another plan. “Baby, tonight’s been amazing! And I know Work’s gonna be off the hook, but if you’re game, I think we should go to a really exclusive after-party. Getting on the guest list is nearly impossible, but we’re on it.” Without another beat, he said, “Let’s go back to my place and make love till the sun rises. Words cannot express how welcome those words were.

When pointed out how I felt bad abandoning Hip, I suggested we get back to him. Of course, I was thrilled to learn he met an aussieMan on the dance floor who took quite a shining to him. They were having a great time together, and I couldn’t have been happier. While I loved having Hip there, I worried he felt like a third wheel with CK and I. That doesn’t go to say he should have. I loved having him there. To be honest, I don’t think I would have made it through the night without him. He is an amazing guy, and he really deserves an amazing man to make him happy. It also just so happened the aussieMan had an extra ticket to Work, so Hip became his plus one.

We all rode the ferry and the subway together until we reached Hell’s Kitchen. After an exchange of hugs, we parted ways. CK and I walked home blissfully hand-in-hand. CK may get a little bent out of shape when I say this, but that was my favorite part of the night. I was always happiest when it was just the two of us. True, we are both social beings and love being surrounded by people, but there’s nothing quite like some quality time with my man! I really did love him!

When we got home, we were both quite exhausted, however, we weren’t too exhausted to take advantage of each other before dozing off. But, that’s another story for another day…

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An Evening Matinee, Pt. 1

CK and I had a fun afternoon promoting the circuit party we were attending that evening. When we got back to CK’s apartment, CK, Hip and I relaxed listening to music and chatting before getting ready, however we didn’t have all that much time before we needed to go to Governor’s Island for Matinee.

I watched from the sidelines while CK and Hip played dress up. My work in that arena was done. I had to decide what I was wearing the day before when I packed my bag for the weekend. I witnessed CK try on roughly 30 different permutations of outfits before he finally got every detail just the way he wanted. Meanwhile, I was stressing about how I could make my outfit gay enough so I wouldn’t stand out but normal enough to feel comfortable in my own skin. Hip didn’t have much work to do either. Originally, he wasn’t planning to go, so he pretty much had the clothes on his back with a few embellishments from CK.

I wasn’t thrilled with the shirt I originally chose, and the shirt I got from promoting seemed like it would work out well for me. Apparently, CK had the same thought. We were worried we’d look like twins, but Hip assured us it was cute. After carving up his own t-shirt, he insisted on taking a scissor to mine, but I asked him not to. He surmised that he had better judgment than I did, but I stood my ground. I wanted to go to this thing feeling like myself. I wasn’t going to change that just for some event.

Sure, I was trying to fit in, but I wanted to maintain some level of individuality. Of course, since I was already on edge, this started an unnecessary argument. I was shutting down. He was making me feel even more anxious about the night, and that was the last thing I needed. Things got pretty heated until he realized what was going on. I was going to add a few more cuts in my shirt, but I wasn’t going to wear the strands of fabric he turned his into.

We finally settled on attire and were headed to the bar knowing drinks would be expensive at Matinee. I wasn’t thrilled with POSH, the location choice, as Broadway always called it Poor Old Sad Homos. I didn’t want to hang out with a bunch of creepy old ‘mos, but I’d never been so I didn’t really protest. We had a quick round of drinks before venturing to Governor’s island.

We walked across the island of Manhattan until we found the right subway stop to get us downtown to the ferry. My anxiety was getting to me, and on the way to get cash from the ATM, CK and I had a small breakdown. He pulled me aside to make sure we were cool before we got on the ferry while Hip made himself scarce. He managed to reassure me everything was going to be all right, and we were going to have a great time. I kinda needed that to snap me out of it. I was getting into my head once again, causing all kinds of problems. Sometimes a vivid imagination can be a curse. After that, things were better, and CK and I were actually talking to Hip about how we discussed what a marriage between the two of us might be like, such as the wedding party. Hip was thrilled to hear he would be included in this.

After a quick ferry ride, we were there. We made our way through the line and posed for a picture as we entered the party. When I noticed a Grindr Pride sign, I insisted CK and I snap a picture in front of it. We’d been joking about contacting them to do a testimonial like eHarmony commercials.

This was it. I was making my circuit party debut. As we came around the bend, the festivities came into view. It was a sea of shirtless men. I may sound stupid for saying this (and I wasn’t the only one to think this), but when CK told me it was a “water park,” I was expecting a lot more water. I wasn’t expecting water slides or anything, but I wasn’t expecting the entire party to be on sand and dry land.

The first thing we did was head to the bar to get a drink, and boy did I need it. Of course, as we predicted, the drinks were not cheap. I immediately wished I brought more cash. While I knew there were be an abundance of illicit substances, I wasn’t planning to participate. (I’m probably going to come across like a complete goodie-two-shoes here). I was, however, planning to get pretty hammered to loosen me up. I wasn’t going to be closed-minded, and if I felt comfortable partaking, I would. That being said, I’d never done anything other than pot before, and I was already out of my element. I thought one anxiety-causing experience at a time was plenty.

Alcohol wasn’t going to be the only thing to get me through the night. My friend D supplied me with a lozenge from a medical facility in San Francisco after his last trip there. I didn’t quite have any use for it until that night. I thought it would be the perfect thing to mellow me out. He told me all the hang-ups, but the benefits seriously outweighed any of the possible negative effects.

I unwrapped my lozenge and waited for it to kick in. D told me to suck on half, and save the other half for later, especially since it was my first time, but half way through, I wasn’t feeling a thing. I kept sucking on it until there was nothing left.

In the meantime, I was dancing and trying to have a good time with Hip and CK. We met a lot of new people, including one couple that recently wed. I was thrilled to hear that, as they were the first married gay couple I’d met in person, but I’ll circle back to them later.

While CK and I were dancing, a cute young blond boy came up and started dancing with us. It was plain to see he was feeling some sort of high. CK was facing me, and the boy came up and started dancing up on his backside. I wasn’t thrilled with this, and my heart started pounding out of my chest. I tried to be cool and remain calm. I don’t know why I get so worked up about these things, but it’s like a trigger. CK wanted to open my mind and suggested I get in the center. I would later learn, he thought I might enjoy being the center of attention like that, however I explained to him that was the last thing I wanted. It started off innocent enough, but then the guy began thrusting himself against CK’s backside, and I nearly lost it. I wasn’t going to go off on the kid or anything, however, I wanted it to stop. I wanted it to stop NOW! I think CK got the hint from my face and gently shuffled the kid away. Minutes later, the kid came up behind me and started dancing against my backside, but I turned around and politely shook my head no and said, “Sorry.” I could see it in his eyes — This kid was in another world.

It was then I knew I was in for a long night. I wasn’t necessarily worried what CK would do. I was more worried what others would do with him. I had a feeling our definitions of what was acceptable differed. I was petrified of witnessing something he thought was innocent, and I thought unacceptable. Everyone was in an altered state, just as I suspected, and I wasn’t exactly from the “anything goes” camp many of the other attendees were a part of. I needed to find a way to calm down, or I was going to drive myself clinically insane…

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Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself

It had arrived. Although this would be my third year “participating,” I was legitimately scared. I wasn’t sure why it was so scary, but honestly, I was petrified for so many reasons.

My first interaction with Pride Weekend was a mistake. I was making my way to Governor’s Island for a polo match with my family when we found ourselves “stuck” in the parade route. The following year was the first year I was out when the weekend came around. It wasn’t pleasant as I witnessed my relationship crumble before my eyes like an out-of-body experience. I missed the parade that year, but I got a sampling of the other aspects of the festivities.

My fear was grounded mainly in the unknown. While I am a gay man, I do not participate in the typical gay culture. I’ve never been a big fan of gay clubs and what goes on there. I come from a background of a traditional relationship. In the gay world, that is like finding a diamond in the rough. The clubs seem to be the antithesis of this. They are a hot-bed of drugs, promiscuity and raunchy behavior. I know all gay men who go to bars don’t fit into this stereotype, but this stereotype is founded in truth. While I’ve been to a handful of gay clubs, and my comfort level was rising, I still had no idea what to expect. Never before had I been to a circuit party. I was venturing into the abyss, and this caused me incredible anxiety.

While I have learned to let go of the men in my past, I still carry the scars of my relationship with them. They’ve all hurt or used me in some way, shape or form. My biggest fear in life is being alone, and this fear is fed by thoughts of cheating, which is birthed from my baggage. The idea of CK with another man broke my heart. I had clear definitions of cheating, but there were worse things floating through my imagination — Like cheating in a form I feel is unfaithful, but the offender does not.

My relationship with CK was building a great foundation, however, the cement was still wet. We were only dating two months and ten days — Very young for any relationship. In the first month, I had strong suspicions I wasn’t the only man entering his bed. Things didn’t always line up and some of the clear indications were there, however, our relationship was still just forming. I knew there would be a transition period. While he told me he was only interested in me, and I was the only man entering his bed, I was aware how we met. I was also aware of his intentions before we even met through his first major slip-up on Grindr. I couldn’t expect monogamy from the first night — That wasn’t realistic.

While I was fairly understanding and looked the other way early on, I was not going to tolerate infidelity as our relationship progressed and strengthened. For starters, my heart wouldn’t be able to handle the pain, and lastly, it wasn’t safe for my health. I needed to trust him to be faithful. Outside the heartbreak, frankly, we were having unprotected sex. We’d been tested, but there are no guarantees. I trusted him with my life, literally, and if he was sleeping with other men, he was treating my life carelessly.

I sincerely had a feeling his intentions had evolved, but I couldn’t be sure how he would react when faced with temptation. I hoped I was the only man for him. As a result, I was petrified for the life of our relationship. I’d watched my relationship with N publicly combust the previous year, and I didn’t want a repeat.

I’m sure many of you reading think I am overreacting. It’s just a party… It’s just a parade… It’s just a weekend… Well, not to me. To me, it was a litmus test for the strength of my love for CK. I didn’t want that love to be tested, and I didn’t want to have to make a decision that could end my relationship with CK. He was my Superman. He was my world. If I lost him, my world would come crumbling down.

We had plans to go to a huge party at XL Friday night, Matinée circuit party Saturday, and the parade Sunday afternoon. I was venturing into this unknown abyss with faith and hope I could persevere. The thought of CK dropping X and losing control of his inhibitions with some other guy caused me great pain and panic attacks. The idea of another man’s hand groping his package caused me panic attacks. Picturing him dancing shirtless against another shirtless man caused me panic attacks. Every time these scenarios and many others entered my brain, my heart rate would increase drastically, I would start to sweat, and I would get light-headed.

All this added up to me being petrified and frustrated. When I asked CK what clothes I should pack to bring to his apartment for the weekend, and I didn’t get any cooperation or help. It all became overwhelming. To begin with, this wasn’t something I was looking forward to, and his lack of cooperation made me lose my sh*t. “Okay Babe. I’ll talk to you in the morning. Have fun tonight!” I said on the verge of tears as I hung up the phone on him.

I think that was the wake-up call CK needed. I don’t think he fully understood how much anxiety this all created for me. I voiced my frustrations for weeks leading up to Pride Weekend. I told him I was going out of my comfort zone, but I was willing to do it as long as I got some hand-holding. I needed help to get over this. It was just another fun weekend for him, but it was a big deal to me.

After a few minutes, he called me back. We discussed things a little more rationally, and CK’s tone changed. He finally realized I was struggling and tossed out the life-preserver. Now that I knew I had him in my corner, I was a little more relaxed, however, I still wasn’t completely comfortable. It was going to be a long, stressful and exhausting weekend both physically and emotionally. I bit down then and there, and braced for impact as I packed my bag and walked out the door.

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High Anxiety

After my amazingly awful date with CK, we went home and went to bed. Waking up the next day with him in my bed was my true heaven. Not a day went by I didn’t appreciate waking up next to him, whether in his bed or my own. We were growing inseparable, however, that night we would spend apart.

When we woke, we couldn’t keep our hands off each other. Since we didn’t have sex the night before when we got home, we were both particularly horny. Our sex was becoming so much more than sex. We started making love. We started becoming one. This was something completely new to me. I have had sex with more than a handful of guys, but I never felt the connection CK and I have in the bedroom. We share a strong unbreakable bond as a couple, but when we’re making love, it feels like we could move mountains.

We spent the morning being lazy. That night, I was taking my roommate to J’s wedding. I’d planned to take her before I even met CK. Part of me wanted to pull her aside and ask if she minded if I took CK instead, but another part of me wasn’t sure I was ready for that. I wanted to be ready for that, but it was a big step. Just thinking about it, I could feel the eyes of the people around the room watching us — The two ‘mos dancing up a storm. I know I shouldn’t care about that. I know I need to get used to that, but I wasn’t quite sure I was ready yet.

We watched a few episodes of Game of Thrones while I got ready for the wedding. When the time came for me to head out with my roommate, I had a conversation with CK about his plans for the night. He was planning to hit up a circuit party. I was incredibly uneasy about this. I’d never been, but from the pictures and the stories I’d heard from others, as well as from CK’s own mouth, I was very apprehensive about the whole idea. I trusted CK, but then again, I didn’t. We’d only known each other two short months. Who’s to say he wouldn’t pop X and grind up on some guy all night? Who’s to say he wouldn’t fool around with said guy in the bathroom? Who’s to say he wouldn’t go home with said guy? We were growing very close, but I had no idea how CK would react to the temptations placed in front of him. All these thoughts, and many more, were swarming in my head. But, in spite of all this, I tried to be cool. I had to learn to trust CK. My baggage was not his fault. I would never tell him I didn’t want him to go without me. Hell, I didn’t even want to go myself, even if I was available. It would purely be his decision, however, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be a nervous wreck about the whole thing.

When the time came to say goodbye, I simply gave him some parting words gently expressing my concern. “Behave tonight,” I added. “What does that mean?” he asked. I simply just repeated myself. He knew what it meant, but he wanted me to prescribe for him exactly where the line was drawn. The thought of him in another man’s arms made my heart palpitate and beat uncontrollably. It gave me incredible anxiety to picture him sweaty and shirtless with his tongue in another man’s mouth. I wouldn’t be there to hold him back, and my imagination was running wild to fill in the blanks. Because of this, and because I didn’t want to seem psycho to him, he would have to define behaving. It didn’t instill confidence in my mind when he asked me “Well, what exactly is naughty?” If he had to ask, there was a good chance he’d cross the threshold of my comfort zone. I feared for the life of my relationship with CK. I was jealous of faceless men, and he hadn’t even walked in the door.

When I commit to a relationship, I commit fully to it. There are no other guys for me. That doesn’t go to say I don’t notice/admire a hot guy walking by, but I won’t ever act on my admiration. I won’t smile at him or wink. I’ll simply admire him as a gorgeous specimen of a man. I have had my transgressions in the past, but I have learned from these mistakes. I have committed to my man, and he is who I am with. This is incredibly frustrating because I have a very traditional view of a relationship, and the majority of other gay men have quite the opposite. To many of them, boyfriend just means the guy the spend more of their time with than the other guys they see/have sex with. I digress…

Between my regret of not taking him and his going to what I equate to a rave without me, I was an anxious nervous wreck. I kissed him goodbye as we dropped him off at the PATH to head back into the city. My roommate and I sped off to the wedding location and arrived just in time.

It was a gorgeous ceremony and the reception was a blast! I nearly cried watching J tear up as his gorgeous bride walked up the aisle. I pictured myself in his shoes with CK coming to meet my arm and knew I would be a complete mess. I tear up now just writing about it. There were parallels between this wedding and my relationship with CK as well. It was a marriage between a white bread dude and a Puerto Rican fireball (CK is Cuban). For instance, the ceremony was bilingual, as I imagine a ceremony between CK and I would be.

After one of the toasts, I even sent CK a text saying “Te amo con todo mi corazón.” (I love you with all my heart). I was really missing him and wished he was by my side.

When the time came to head home from the wedding, I said my goodbyes and reveled in the love and joy I witnessed between J and his wife. I hoped I would get to the blissful place they were someday. In the car on the way to the hotel, I called CK. I figured he’d already be at the circuit party or wasted or high, but I needed to try. As the phone rang, all my anxiety rose back to the surface. I certainly was not prepared for what was about to happen next…

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A Pointless Cancellation

When Smiles and I spoke on the phone Sunday night on his way home from a party in Connecticut, I asked him to come to my apartment for a special dinner Monday night. He told me he had to work, but he was going to leave early and we’d just eat a little later. I told him this was perfect since it would take some time to cook the roast after work.

I’d told Smiles about my standing rib roast before, and he didn’t quite get what it was. I explained to him the similarity of it what one might be served at a carving station at a wedding reception. He got a clearer picture, but it still wasn’t crystal clear.

I had a rib roast in my freezer with our name on it. I finally had a chance to cook it for us, and he was on-board. I was excited. It was a plan.

Monday morning, before work, I took the roast out of the freezer to thaw for that night. I planned out the accoutrements as well. I was very excited for our romantic night. It’d been a while since we spent time together. I wanted a night of beef, wine, couch, and bed. The thought sounded spectacular to me!

What excited me even more was the idea of my sanity back. I planned to ask Smiles that night where we stood. I didn’t need a title. I didn’t need to be his boyfriend. I just wanted to know where his head was at.

I know I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but that’s what my inner dialogue is. I get fixated on something, and it exhausts me until I get some closure on the issue.

Much to my chagrin, at 1:00 that afternoon, Smiles sent me a text with some bad news. “Looks like I have people coming tonight so I’m not going to be able to sneak out. I don’t think dinner at 11:00 would be the bet. Do you want to have an early dinner here in the city before he show?” Very disappointed, I agreed with a “Sure.”

I was p*ssed. It wasn’t his fault, but I was a little crushed since I was taking so much care to plan out the evening, and it all went to sh*t. He suggested we do it another night, but came up with a consolation prize. He suggested I come over to his apartment for dinner instead before the screening. I begrudgingly agreed to the idea since it’d been so long since I’d seen him, and I sent my roommate a text asking him to put the roast back in the freezer.

When I finished work, I made my way downtown to his apartment. When I arrived, I was shocked to be received with a nice big kiss. Maybe he missed me. Maybe I wasn’t just a seat warmer in this relationship. There was actually emotion behind that kiss. I was happy.

I was a little anxious because I was still planning to ask him where we stood that evening.

He told me he had food in the fridge to make and suggested we cook that instead of going out for dinner. He preferred that since he wasn’t feeling well, and he was exhausted. It made no difference to me. Asking him my question in the privacy of his apartment sounded like such a better idea than in a restaurant anyway.

I ended up cooking the pork chops and asparagus for the two of us since Smiles wasn’t quite himself. We sat and ate — Him at his computer chair working while he ate and me on the couch. Not nearly the romantic meal I planned for the evening. When we finished, I helped him clean up and put the leftovers away. He started getting ready for the rest of his night, and we talked about my plans. He asked if I was planning to spend the night. “Well, I guess the first question I should ask is if you were planning to come to the screening tonight,” he added.

This was the first I was hearing this. I was quite open to the idea, but I told him, “I have nothing for work tomorrow. You were supposed to be coming out to Hoboken, remember.” “Right,” he responded. I reminded him I’d seen the movie twice now, but if he wanted company, I would come with him. I asked if he actually watches the movie, or if he does other things during the film. He told me he usually watches most of it. Things remained unsettled as he made his way over to the couch to take a quick nap on me.

That was my opportunity to ask him my burning question. Every moment I tried to open my mouth, I froze. Nothing would come out. I was suddenly transported back to when I sat on the couch trying to tell my parents I was gay. The anxiety was making my heart pound out of my chest. I tried over and over to ask him, but I couldn’t muster the courage. I’m not sure what I was afraid of, but it was driving me insane.

After a half hour of this, it was time for him to get up. I asked him if he wanted me to sleep over, or did he want to get some rest alone. We made a final decision. It was better he get some uninterrupted rest that night since he was so exhausted as much as I wanted to spend the night with him. He told me, “It’s very sweet of you to offer to see the film again to spend the night with me.” I liked hearing that. He recognized the sacrifice I was willing to make to spend time with him.

With that, I said goodbye, and he made his way to the screening while I made my way to the PATH — Without my answer.

I was so p*ssed at myself for getting so worked up about a stupid question. What was wrong with me?! Obviously, I needed someone to talk to. I tried Boston, my therapist. I needed him to talk me off the ledge and help me make sense of the situation. I couldn’t do it on my own. We talked it over for over a half hour and he convinced me I had no choice but to blatantly ask him where we stood. We even helped me nail down the phrasing.

When I got to the other side of the tunnel in Hoboken, I got a text from Smiles telling me he was on his way home. His friends never showed. My blood was boiling. We cancelled our dinner plans for NOTHING. I still had no closure on where I stood with Smiles. It certainly was going to be a toss-n-turn kinda night…

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