The shadow of romantic love has yet to darken my doorstep for very long. Although I've been open to it most of my life, I've learned through therapy and other avenues that my fear of intimacy at times has blurred my vision of who may be ideal for me. As stated in the Medium.com article by Vanessa Smith Bennett, "I was forced to look at my own barometer of knowing someone or something was worthy of committing to..."
However, when it comes to friendships, I can say I've been very fortunate. Although only a few have lasted through the seasons, most of my platonic connections have been healthy ones. Even during those periods when I wasn't in the healthiest of spaces. For me, my close friendships really do feel like family, akin to a bond with a favorite aunt or cousin.
One of my most treasured friends has been in my life since we were high school seniors in Glendale, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. He's seen me at my best and at my worst. He's seen me navigate my way through decades, hairstyles and at times questionable style choices. He's also forgiven me for actions I committed when I was at my darkest. When I believed that I needed to inflict harm on others in order to feel better about myself. He's one of my examples of honesty, unconditional love and support.
In 1998, after several years of just existing in Los Angeles, the pain from my self-delusion helped me to stop running from myself, and step onto the path of self-acceptance. One of the things I had to do was accept being gay. Thankfully, I fell into a group of individuals who guided me through embracing this part of myself. Several of these friends are still in my life today. Through their examples I've learned that as a productive member of society, I can be flamboyant and fabulous too. When it feels right for me.
Which brings me to where I'm at now, here in Stockholm, Sweden. When I returned last October, my plan revolved solely around finding information and resources, as they related to my professional life. What I neglected to jot down was the need to also forge friendships. But as the saying goes, "God did for me what I couldn't do for myself." And so over time some new acquaintances have become good friends. As I wrote in a blogpost this past April, "My heart has begun to plant roots here in Stockholm."
I don't know what the future holds for me here in Sweden. To have admitted something like this a year ago, wedged into my compact work cubicle in Los Angeles, would have been tantamount to me saying I was steering a boat without a rudder. But I know this isn't true. I came here with a plan. However, because life is not a scripted television series, adjustments have needed to be made. And through these alterations my faith in my Higher Power has grown, and encouraged me to deepen my faith in myself.
There have been moments these past nine months when I've returned to believing I have to do this on my own. Fortunately, my friends here and in the U.S. have reminded me that I can reach out to them and say, "Hey, guess what? I'm scared and I don't know what to do." Just as importantly, I must remember to return the gift and say, "Thank you. And how are you doing?"