Thursday, February 14, 2013

Falling in Love ... With a Man

I walked down the stairs, at the bottom of which stood a tall blonde-haired man with his back to me. Could this be him? From the pictures he had sent me, he seemed to be. Then, he turned, looked up at me, and smiled. It was him. That moment was the beginning of the rest of my life.

A couple of months afterward, at the suggestion of my counselor, I began writing in a special journal as if I was writing letters to one of my daughters. I couldn't share what I was feeling at the time with her or with anyone else. Instead, I would write to her in this journal, parts of which I have since shared with her. What I write below is from that journal. I no longer have to or want to hide my feelings.

“It was only recently that I discovered what it felt like to be in love, what it felt like to fall in love. And it was and is truly wonderful. Every person should have the opportunity to feel those feelings … to be able to ‘get it’ when they listen to a love song on the radio … to feel the excitement that comes from hearing a beloved’s voice, of merely being in the same room together. Everyone should have the opportunity to experience what it feels like to hold one’s beloved, to experience the emotional, physical and spiritual pleasure that comes from being intimate with one’s beloved …

“Though I loved my ex-wife, I was – I came to later realize – never ‘in love’ with her … When I married her, I fully expected that to come, that feeling of being ‘in love’ with someone (which is different from 'loving' someone), that feeling of true emotional intimacy; but those feelings never came. In the end, our relationship could perhaps best be characterized as a ‘spiritual-temporal partnership.’ We were parties to a contract which we had entered into because we believed it was what God wanted, and we were doing our best – despite our emotional shortcomings (of both of us) - to fulfill the terms of the agreement, believing that we would be blessed for doing so. 

“But love cannot be reduced to the terms of an agreement. Love is really, in a sense, the essence of what it means to be human … and I have traveled over 50 years to find the exhilarating, revelatory, fulfilling, wonder-ful love that I have found with Mark …

“We met online through a gay dating site that no longer exists. He contacted me first, and when I looked at his profile, I couldn’t believe that someone like him was interested in someone like me. He had pictures on his profile of him skiing, cycling, swimming. He was/is very athletic, and I couldn’t believe that someone like him would be interested in someone like me …

“He invited me to lunch. I parked behind the building, then came in the back door and walked down the stairs. I could see a tall, lean, blonde-haired man at the base of the stairs, and as I approached, he turned around, looked at me, and a huge smile spread across his face. From that very moment, I was smitten …

“Over the next days and weeks, we saw each other almost every day … I fell deeply in love with Mark. I felt a connection with him that was unlike anything I had experienced in my life. I felt like I had known him for years – in some ways, forever. I felt like he was unlocking chambers of my soul that had been shut tight for decades, if not my entire life. I suppose it could be said that I felt that he was/is my soul mate.

“Which is why I found it curious that, despite the fact that I was so happy at discovering this love, I felt waves of melancholy and deep, painful sadness wash over me. I actually found it more than curious; I found it disturbing and, in some senses, frightening. I thought I had weathered rather well the coming out process and the separation; my blog had helped quite a bit in that regard. But I was taken completely by surprise by these feelings I was now having …

“What I thought was going on is that the unconditional love I was experiencing from Mark was so rich and powerful that it was triggering sadness for all the previous relationships in my life where I had not felt such love – my relationship with my parents and my relationship with my ex-wife being the prime examples …

“Of course, there was also the relationship with myself. I had imposed – unconsciously – so many conditions upon my love for myself that I had basically rendered myself unlovable … Then along came Mark who LOVED me. 

“Paradoxically, his love made me mourn, I think, everything that I had not experienced previously. But through this process of mourning, of sorting and sifting, I felt like I was coming to a self-knowledge and self-awareness that I had never before enjoyed. It was like there was this little person inside of me that was rushing from door to door in the prison that was my soul, unlocking them and flinging them open. I was free to be me, free to fall in love and free to finally be able to start loving myself.”

Happy Valentine's Day, Mark. I love you.


  1. Thank you Joseph. Your raw vulnerability never ceases to inspire me. With love and friendship, Leif

  2. What a perfect love. How incredibly fortunate to have discovered it and experienced it. You open your heart and soul with an artfulness, sharing both hurt and joy with beautiful articulation. Your gift of the word must create a new chapter for you. That of an author. To share this story with many more than your immediate circle of friends would be a wonderful gift of expression, healing, and inspiration. God bless you on your journey Joseph. I'm so grateful to know you and so treasure our friendship.

    1. Yes, I was/am the most fortunate of men, of persons. Thank you for your kinds words, Sheral. I'm grateful to know you as well and, like you, treasure our friendship. As to that new chapter ... well, maybe someday. :)