Joy Bandits (a.k.a The things We Tell Ourselves)

For much of our lives we seek joy in our relationships. Pre-puberty our friendships and our families are the center of our universe and we are content as long as someone reads us a story at bedtime, shares snack time with us in the afternoon, and our playmates seek us when we hide.

During and after puberty, these are still priorities in some way or another, yet we begin to feel the yearning for something deeper; for someone to connect with even if we don’t share our toys or DNA. This is when loyalty and commitment become the brass rings in our lives.

…and this is when the fabric of our conversations changes. We begin to say that “Love is hard to find.” We begin to say that “loyalty is a lost art.” We begin to say that “love hurts” and “friends come and go.” 

I REFUSE to believe any of this. I may groove to those words when they’re lying on top of a dope beat or a soulful fiddle, but I don’t believe any of it really.

Still, in the midst of my most recent and traumatic season of “Things fall apart,” I wonder if I’m intentionally and recklessly naive. Yet I still hold tightly to the idea that we all want the best for ourselves and one another, especially in our relationships; and we’re just all doing the best we can.

Many of my friends have complimented me on my lack of general bitterness.

They’ve said how proud they are of me for being strong.

They’ve commented on my general lack of “F*@k ‘em all” and “Dudes ain’t S#*t” comments.

They’ve mentioned that it’s okay if I’m angry, and been skeptical of how little negative energy I’m feeling/sharing with them.

The issue is this: I see bad men, and people in general, as exceptions. I am genuinely surprised and sometimes shocked by people who behave badly, specifically folks in romantic relationships.

I always have been.

I don’t believe most folks cheat. I’ve known very few cheaters in my liftetime.

I don’t believe most folks are insanely insecure or jealous. I’ve known very few folks who let their insecurities run them in all the years I’ve had close male friends.

I don’t believe that most folks are afraid to commit. I’ve known folks, men and women alike, that have looked forward to their wedding day and their future wife and children for much of their post-puberty years my entire life. [This may be skewed by the fact that I was raised and came of age deeply embedded in Christian, Southern and West Indian cultures – separately and in their sum totality]

…and before you question my perspective…If thirty some odd years was enough for Martin Lutha tha Kang and Jesus then I feel comfortable using “my entire life” is a valid temporal context for drawing these conclusions about commitment.

Allow me to bust some fences for a moment. [I’m about to be heteronormative for a moment, but indulge me because the point is universal]

I don’t know any dudes with commitment issues. I know that sounds crazy. It is the opposite of everything that makes our social world spin.

I know guys that aren’t interested.

I know guys that aren’t financially prepared.

I know guys that are working on their insecurities.

I know guys that are waiting to hear from God about the one they already love.

I even know guys who are intentionally taking a hiatus from serious relationships because some aspect of their world has recently fallen apart.

There are some that don’t believe in marriage, yet they do believe in commitment, monogamy and family. I do not know any guy that has an aversion to commitment.

This could be for one of two reasons:

1)      I don’t really understand men and so my guy friends are admitting their commitment-phobia yet it is done in coded by mandate of man-law and my XX DNA configuration can’t detect it.

2)      I don’t actually understand what commitment issues are.

As lovers of men, when things fall apart we often reach for that dominant gender narrative that men are men and afraid of a good thing tying them down, even when they know it’s a good thing. But what if they aren’t? …if men aren’t afraid of commitment what will those of us who love men use as the scapegoat now….?

How do these types of negative depictions of those we desire closeness with damage OUR ability to create spaces of joy and grace? 

2 thoughts on “Joy Bandits (a.k.a The things We Tell Ourselves)

  1. Stay naive (if that’s what you are). I was introduced to my astrological sign the other day by a friend and it stated, “No matter how many romantic mistakes he makes, the ram is sure his true love or soul mate is just around the next dream.” Going through my own “things fall apart” situation, I’m still in love with the idea of being in love.

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