Her comment said, “If he is the one you followed, really, what is the harm?” Man the question threw me for a loop. What is the harm? Why did I get so worked up about the events yesterday? What’s the worst thing that could happen? The question really had me thinking. What was I so afraid of? Did I really have a reason to be scared? Well, yes and no.
My reaction was, in no small part, an instinctive reaction based on historical data. As a child, particularly one who is not popular among your peers, expressing feelings for someone who doesn’t reciprocate can be quite detrimental. The likely outcome is that the person will treat you differently. The worst case scenario is much worse. I grew up in a family, a culture, a time where vulnerability was not considered admirable. I couldn’t begin to list the number of times that my own vulnerability has gotten me hurt rather than serve some better purpose.
Because I’m discovering myself at a more advanced age than most, I’m going through a process that most people my age have already experienced; learning to be comfortable and confident with who I am and not to worry what other people think of that. I went home last night and thought about the events of yesterday, and the question that was posed to me, “What is the harm?” It seemed like a ludicrous question when I first read it (sorry Jody) and yet, I didn’t have an answer for it.
I was scared. I guess that’s about as obvious as the rather large nose on my face, but it’s true. I was scared. I am scared. I am scared for people who do not understand and accept me the way I am to know the truth. I’m scared that I always pick the wrong guys, guys who are straight and don’t know how to simply accept it as a compliment. I’m scared that I’ll pick the right guy and actually have to fully come face to face with who I am and I’m scared that I won’t ever actually get the chance.
I’m afraid of being hurt, not just emotionally, though that, too, is a real fear, but I’m afraid of being hurt physically.
A thousand possibilities ran through my head yesterday when I realized that it was possible Jesse was reading what I’d written about him. I imagined him sending me a hateful message on Twitter, or leaving a nasty comment on my blog. I imagined him calling my boss and telling him what he’s seen, or asking to be put through to me before unleashing a hell storm of vitriol against me. I imagined him making threats and making good on them…
I imagined him sitting around his computer at the fire house talking about me with the other guys, pulling up my blog again and again and reading the highlights (whatever they may be), pointing and laughing.
Not that I had any reason to think, based on what I’d seen of his personality, that he would do any of these things, but you see, I had broken the seal on my safety zone. No longer was I hiding in my corner juggling my thoughts and feelings like so many balls, hoping no one would notice.
But I went home last night and I realized something. I live in a culture and a time when the likelihood is, if my Fire Fighter did see my blog and discover what I was thinking? And if we presume that it does not go both ways? Well, the chances are much greater in this culture and in this time that his reaction would be to simply say that he appreciates the compliment, but does not reciprocate my feelings. And that really would be OK.