Guess who’s year older today? Me! lol Forty five years old and still going strong.
Funny, in a lot of ways I don’t feel 45. I’ve always felt young for my age so that really isn’t a surprise. I thought I would have grown into it by now though. haha In other ways, I definitely feel 45. After my last rant about my back, I’m clearly not as spry as a I used to be. My body, against my best wishes, is starting to show its age. The grey that used to be just in my hair has taken over my beard and is encroaching on my chest. Is it normal for grey hairs to travel down the torso as one ages? I always thought it started at the bottom and worked its way up? My wrinkles are a little deeper and a little larger in number. Anyway, I don’t mind my age. I certainly don’t resent it. I know a lot of gay men start missing their youth to the point of distraction around this time. Not me. Sure, I wish my body was still younger but aging is part of the human condition. I like my wrinkles and grey hair. And unlike some, I don’t feel inferior or less relevant as an aging gay man.
But let’s face it, much of our original culture revolved around being young and attractive.1 Actually, it’s even simpler than that. It revolves around sexual attraction. In that regard, when you delve past the differences, straight men really aren’t that far removed. I realize I’m generalizing here. I’m not attempting to marginalize all of us into one category. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, a lot of guys around my age and older grew up fighting for an identity as well as being accepted. Of course, also being men into other men, sex and sexuality was a big part of our emerging culture. Sadly, many of us developed coping-mechanisms to compensate for our struggles. Many of those coping-mechanisms became wide spread and part of our culture over time. But being part of our culture doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy for us. On a tangent, it isn’t surprising really. We had to overcome stereotypes that portrayed us as weak and inferior on top of fighting to find acceptance in society. Our ‘culture’ grew out of abandonment, rejection, and an underlying need to belong. And mixed in with all of that was fear, anger, loneliness, and desire. The sexual freedom became a trap many of us couldn’t escape.
For myself, I was very insecure as a young man. I found my validation thru sex. And without realizing it, it became a very compulsive habit. It was a fix for a need I could never satisfy. It became a viscious circle and I consider myself very fortunate to not only have discovered this in myself but also be able to overcome it. A success due in no small part to my blogging. And most surprisingly of all, I found strength in myself.2 That strength allowed me to let go of detrimental coping-mechanisms and move on. I can tick off a list of areas in my life where I found the most growth. Realizing my self-worth should come from within instead of how I was perceived by others was one of them. Frankly, I see gay men all the time who have yet to realize this. You can’t overcome what you don’t see as a problem. They often just grow bitter with age over what they perceive to have lost and resent it. Or more astutely, they resent those who still have it.
So here I sit a 45 years old. My life isn’t perfect and neither am I. But I like my life and who I am. I have regrets but they are overshadowed by my accomplishments. I still look forward to my future. In the best of ironies, when I was younger I never thought I’d live to be very old. Now I find myself looking forward to old age.