So here’s the deal.
There’s a lot of truly awful shit leading the news these days, and a very large percentage of it has to do with (white) Men Doing Bad Things™.
As a whitish man of middle years (pending), I benefit mightily from unearned privilege. Quite a bit of me is white, old, male, and entirely cisgendered. As cheat codes go, I’ve got the winning hand, and there’s not a lot I can do to fold it.
But I’m no paragon. I’m just this guy. I’ve hurt many people in my rise to mediocrity, be they strangers, friends, or confidantes. And despite my best efforts, I’m likely to harm more in my rise to above average.
I say this not to garner sympathy for past bad actions, or future mis-steps. I say this, because it needs to be said, and acknowledged.
I’m the fucking problem.
I’m the nice-ish guy who can go too far if left unchallenged. I’m kept (mostly) in check by sobriety and guilt, and removing either opens us all up to sadness.
Case in point.
Once upon a time, I was almost famous.
I used my unearned privilege to press attentions on women and men who did not accept them, sometimes even after being warned away. On occasion I took the normal bonds of a relationship a step too far and emerged unscathed.
Admittedly, this was during decades when I was mostly blurry, drinking away my pain and taking life as it came to me. But that’s not an excuse, or even an explanation. It’s just a statement of fact. I was a drunk. And at times a nasty one.
I’d like to think I’ve changed since then, but deep down, that younger me is still inside this semi-wizened shell, leading me to believe that at my core I am not a nice guy.
I’m the other guy, and that’s a fucking problem I can’t unfuck.
This is not an apology, because one is neither possible nor permissible. I did those things. I can’t undo them. This is an acknowledgment. This is me baring my chest for the knives.
Because when I said you’d better come for me when I’m the problem, I meant it. And on numerous occasions in the last 25 or so years, the problem has been me.
I’ve treated my romantic partners badly. I’ve taken advantage of my friends for my own advantage. I’ve presumed relationships that did not exist.
I’ve fucked up. I’ll probably continue to do so, even though I believe I’ve got a handle on my worst self.
I first wrote this confession two years ago. I edited it last year, and I’m posting it today, on my personal web page that bears my legal name.
I’m not apologizing for who I am, or who I was. The a-word I use is ASHAMED.
I’m trying. Every day I’m trying. And on a lot of those days I see men and women around me fail the challenge.
I’ve failed the challenge.
But I still try.
If I have wronged you, I am deeply, truly ashamed. It doesn’t matter what I think transpired. It doesn’t matter if I believe my actions were not malicious. If I think, or thought, that there was nothing wrong with my behavior(s).
It matters how you perceived them, how I made you feel uncomfortable, how you were ashamed of what I’d done.
It’s not your fault. It was never your fault. It was mine.
And that is a thing I >can< be sorry for, and mean it.
No comments, please. No support for who you think I am. Just read what I’ve written, and read it again.
Because I’m watching me. And you should be too.