I was born into a normal family. I wasn’t abused. I wasn’t dirt poor, I didn’t grow up devoid of opportunities.
Physically I am a perfectly average man, around six feet tall, normal physique. I have all my hair still, got all my teeth and everything.
You could walk past me on the street and you wouldn’t have a clue that I’m a lonely man. You wouldn’t know I’m miserable.
You wouldn’t know I’m deathly shy, because if you talked to me, I could make some small talk, but if you never approached me, I’d never dare to speak up.
For all my life I have been so terribly scared of making mistakes, that I tried desperately to avoid making any, ever. I didn’t want to make any form of social faux pas, I didn’t want to do anything I would be ashamed of remembering.
The only times I could ever let go, was when I was intoxicated… that’s when I would feel human. It’s when I go the courage to actually make jokes, be funny, be friendly, be an actual person for a moment until I sobered up.
I’ve only approached very few women in my life with romantic intentions, and when I did, I would fail inevitably.
I did not even manage to befriend any, not really anyway… I had a female friend, once, who I drifted away from. She was married and her husband was also my friend, also briefly. He was a seaman and a great guy. We had some drinks together when both of us were in our twenties.
It now seems like a lifetime away, but I remember how I envied his life… he had a wife who was an intelligent and charming young woman, he himself was a handsome, tall, robust fellow. They had a lovely young daughter who was mildly disabled intellectually due to a lack of air at birth, but who was so sweet and wonderful and ended up largely growing over her issues.
Eventually this couple, my only two friends, moved far away. After five years of working for a foreign shipping company as an officer, my friend was able to relocate to another country where he moved his wife and daughter. We tried to meet several more times. But it never materialized. Just two days ago I received the news that my only friend has died. It’s been almost twenty-five years since we last had a beer together in his backyard… I loved that man and I miss him.
That’s my entire social life of sixty-four years right there. Besides my brother and his family, there is no one I interact with anymore. Co-workers and I were always cordial at best, distant, professional but reserved.
That’s my entire life… reserved. Controlled. Never let my emotions show.
Three decades ago my friend and I, we drank and talked of the good things in life… but we never let go of our emotions. I never shed a tear. I never gave him a manly hug. I wish I did. I wish I had shed a tear. I wish I had let go of my emotions. But I never did.
As I am writing this I am realizing that I really loved my friend. He was a great man and a wonderful man and he was sweet. He was the only one, in my life, who was truly sweet… his wife didn’t treat him right. I remember my friend would come to my apartment and bring food he had made.
He would prepare fish, meat, delicious dishes. The barbeque gatherings we had in his backyard were always wonderful. I wish on that one last night we shared in the house of his in-laws, when the other guests had left and it was just the two of us sitting there… I wish I had told him, right there and then, as he told me in tears of his father’s mistreatment of him and the rejection he felt, that I loved him. Because I realize now did I did.
I married at the age of fifty. I was a virgin when I married. And perhaps underuse of equipment causes malfunction, because I was unable to have a child with her. Which is why she decided to leave me. I understand it. I was broken, truly, and she saw it. I’ve been alone for too long to be with anyone, really.
And besides, to be completely honest, I did not love her and I am pretty sure she did not love me either. She loved the idea of me. Of what I could, in theory, have offered her. A house. Family. Stability and a future. But the family part was important, too important for her to give up on. She would have resented me had she stayed with me. So she didn’t.
I never loved my wife. She left me within two years, and I have never been with another soul since. Never tried, either. The will to try has left me long ago. The only one I think I ever truly loved was my friend. But he was a married man and he moved away to Europe.
Now I just want to die in peace. But my health is decent and I am not suicidal so I will have to wait a little while longer.
When I do, I hope I will see my friend again. I find the idea of an afterlife soothing, although I am not fully sold on it, I would love it to be true, so I could actually tell him what I have always felt and never could bring myself to say.
The fact that I never did will always haunt me forever. But if I had told him and he felt it too, what good would it have been for me to end a marriage? His daughter deserved better. She is married now and has a family. She never knew. And she never will. But now you do.
Don’t do what I did. Don’t be so scared to be yourself. Don’t be so terrified to take risks. Don’t wait endlessly for life to put something good on your path, because life won’t do any such thing.
Please do not grow old and let the years pass by uneventfully. Don’t wait for golden years to arrive without effort, without risk, without ups and downs and struggles.
I tried so hard to avoid struggles out of that crippling fear and anxiety I always felt, and it got me nowhere.
Gordon if you can read this from wherever you are now, I love you and I am sorry I was such a coward.