Originally published at Jim Corbett 3.0. You can comment here or there.
Today marks the tenth anniversary of when my partner Kevin West and I invited a young man by the name of Chad Grimm into our relationship. This invitation came after a year or so of a blurring between the boundaries of friends and lovers. We were young… We were fearless… We didn’t care much for convention.
A decade later… We’re middle-aged…. We’re still fearless…. We don’t even know what conventional means now.
So what’s changed in a decade?
Everything… and nothing…
And *THAT* is part of the reason why after the midlife crisis trigger of seeing my dad off the planet I crawled up my own ass so far that the only hope of ever getting out would be to move forward, aim for the throat and puke myself out… preferably in front of a mirror and just stand there and look at myself.
So here I am. Soaked to the bone from my own emotional entrails… looking… trying to recognize myself… it’s been a while.
Prior to the trigger, the emotional geometry of our triad relationship had shifted. Kevin and I had morphed into bitchy spouses. Our contrast when harnessed and thrown at a project is profound. Without a focus this energy turned into regular conflict and bickering. Our physical and romantic connection suffered as a result. Meanwhile our individual connections to Chad stayed intact.
This is where our unconventional situation would present new, albeit mind-fuck-worthy, challenges. Were Kevin and I in the traditional two-person model we would have simply had an amicable parting of ways citing great chemistry on many levels but not enough to keep us in close quarters (without constantly trying to kill each other). But we didn’t… We couldn’t… We both were bound together by what could arguably be called the most reliable, easy-going, gentle, wonderful man on this planet.
So like two magnets of opposite poles we started orbiting Chad… Staying out of eachother’s way – but this had detrimental side effects, namely:
1. The build up of unarticulated resentment.
2. Chad, though being in a 1200 square foot house with two other grown men, feeling completely alone as Kevin and I would subconsciously separate and stay occupied in our own spaces.
This disharmony would just start to break through to the surface right around the time my father received his final and deadly diagnosis. At that point all bets were off and as I prepared for one of the biggest trials life’s thrown at me – I had to put everything on hold. Everything. For the next year and a half I did what needed to be done: care for and comfort the man responsible for my existence during his demise.
Dad would be freed from illness in December of 2008 leaving me shell shocked for months. But as soon as the ringing in my ears started to subside, the noise from everything else I’d shelved before started to become audible… louder… deafening.
This triggered a depression backlash of wicked proportion. By April I’d picked up cigarettes again. I couldn’t focus… I seriously began to think I was loosing it. I’d continue this spiral until June which marked the ten year anniversary of Kevin and I when I called a family conference to talk… to say what needed to be said.
We agreed that we had indeed turned into sparing rather than romantic partners and asked: “why *ARE* we mimicking our parents?” We’d never obeyed convention before – why were we living in the hetero psychic booby trap of “bitter, old married couple?”
I reasoned… pleaded… that I wanted to refocus on what was right between Kevin and I… and if that meant a redefining as “friends who share a common lover” – then so be it. Kin is kin – and these two guys who I’ve just trudged through hell with were – if at the very least…. “Family”.
Here’s where we get to the curve-ball in the story that sent me the rest of the way up my own asshole where I dropped my flashlight and let go for the guide rope.
For years now I’d been checking and restraining my predisposed sexual and romantic appetite… Even with the newly relaxed boundaries, the customary bear-culture casual approach to sexual encounters left me feeling like shit rather than sated. Funny if you think about it… for big boys – the stereotype sexually eats Chinese. You’re just hungry again 3 hours later.
I’d actually learned this in my late twenties…. The best sex is connected sex. If I don’t really know you, (and like you), I’ll just wind up feeling gross later.
The universe provides… Sometimes too well and ill timed.
I’d run into charming ginger-bearded bloke on FaceBook who happened to not only live in Saint Louis. I introduced myself with a coy “CURTSEY” on his wall and immediately threw him at Kevin who shared some interests with the guy. When I reflect back on my actions now – I was totally setting up a chess move – calculating that if i threw some sexual distraction at Kevin, it would free up some of the limited resource which was Chad for me.
Shortly there after and a week after “the big talk”, Chad and I would leave for a two-week trip to London during which Kevin and the outsider would meet, hit it off as friends and casually have some fun.
MOOO ha ha ha ha ha! My manipulative bullshit seemed to have worked!
We returned from the UK to stories of the nice, cute guy from FaceBook we had to meet… and we would… the following week.
And that’s where all my clever planning backfired right in my face.
The bait and I clicked… hard…
This newcomer was a late bloomer. Through in his mid-thirties, he’d just come out after suppressing his sexual identity through his adult life.
Our click became a deafening bang when we discovered that our natural chemistry served as a release valve for our pent up aggression. We became lovers. A few months later while laying in eachother’s arms we’d stare at each other and nearly simultaneously start a half-constructed, mumbled sentence: “I…. ur… think I luhhh….”, catch ourselves and again nearly in unison chuckle-gasp and could just say… “yeah… Wooah.”
We were feeling something a lot more than the by now established kick-ass, completely depraved sexual chemistry we were enjoying. <strike>We were</strike> I was falling in love…
Right about here is where I drop the flashlight and start making a series of mistakes which wind up hurting EVERYONE (new and old) in my life and has lead me to where I am now… standing here puke covered and wondering who that mess is in the mirror.
My freakishly wise friend Rico on recap I think nailed it on the head… “Jim… you never stop moving.” And that’s precisely what I did… or more like what I didn’t do… STOP and let my family of eight years adjust to the productive realizations we’d just made. We never had the chance to even find out if the triangle’s new shape would work.
**addendum way after the fact** –
Rico also spoke these words which I let fall on deaf ears:
“Jim.. He’s not the one.”
Instead I’d successfully distracted myself from completing the task-at-hand by opening up and falling in love with someone who was not interested in (let alone equipped for) becoming part of a polygon.
By this time I’m long-gone up my own asshole… my paralysis and confusion threw up obstacles between the outsider and what was his first love. First loves are rough. We all remember our first. The intensity… The newness of it all… The sheer mass of predisposed notions of what you “think” it’s supposed to be like.
Shakespeare couldn’t have concocted a more tragic set-up. The outsider perceived my inaction as an unwillingness to let go. I couldn’t… You can’t let go of what you’re not sure what you’re holding onto.
This lover and I would go through several revs of splitting up and getting back together again. Each time we’d return to each other’s arms both frustrated and relieved at the sheer power of what I thought was a connection.
Confusion and doubt are the STDs of the soul… Wow they’re catchy. By late 2010 the unconquered obstacles due to my own confusion had spread to my lover… he began to drift and seek what he perceived as missing with “us”…. with others.
Sensing this and helplessly in love I went into overdrive throwing attention at the outsider at the expense of everything…. Everything…. My work… finances… friends… family… as well as my connection to Chad.
Instead of caring for a dying parent – I was now caring for a dying love affair.
All this energy that could have shored up and resolved the new shape of “Jim, Chad and Kevin” making room for transitional change like new love – or negate change completely through compromise and perspective shifts.
The outsider and my relationship would implode in late January… Our love overrun with confusion and doubt. We agreed to split and promised to try and figure out “what” we can be to each other…
It all became a ball of confusion and inaction – all fueled by the fear of loosing my family.
So what am I left with?
An unrequited lover with whom I have a profound and terrifyingly unique bond to.
A new re-found friend and true confidant in a good man by the name of Kevin West.
And a banged up angel of a man named Chad Grimm who’s been the captive punching bag in the middle .
And me standing here covered in goo from slowly turning myself inside out.
The best relationships are those held together by bonds – not binds. I’d rather have my closest ”whatevers” or “whatever” stand beside me … not because they’re chained there by promises, expectations, property, fear, etc.
Love will arrange things how they’re meant be as soon as we unbind everything.
I’ve been under this rats nest of unresolved crap that has just been causing more messes… (next up! ”All about Dad’s House” – film at 11).
To my friends… my family Chad & Kevin… I’m so sorry…. I appreciate you more than I’ll ever be able to express.
Happy Anniversary 3@10