I can honestly say,
without any guilt, or remorse, or feeling of dishonesty; at complete peace with the statement; without reservation and without malice; and not feeling ashamed at all,
that I have never done anything to try to hurt anyone that I love; that I have never targeted anyone about whom I care with bad intentions; that I have never tried to cause pain or to seek revenge; that I have never intended to destroy or to harm;
that in all cases in which people feel that they have sensed such things from me, it was in truth merely me trying to save myself; trying to survive like any person or ape or fish;
I don’t know how to protect my own needs, other than to protect them, how to draw a line without drawing a line, how to describe a feeling without describing a feeling;
I grew up with women; I know only women; I have been called a woman; I only feel comfortable with women; and all I seem to do is hurt and be hurt by women, who always let themselves depend on me of all people to be just that measure more understanding than I actually can be, thinking me to be a father rather than a person, a brother rather than a soul;
It is my right to feel sorry for myself if I hurt, and to protect myself if I am in danger; It is my right, the same as it is anyone else’s;
I am not a priest or a father, a savoir or a friend; I am just a man, lonely as any, needy as any — a good man, a kind man, a gentle man, a man who will give the shirt off my back or the tongue from my throat when asked;
So please don’t ask unless you really need them, because **I will give them** without a second thought and hurt forever afterward for having done so.
and don’t be shocked at — or at least don’t resent — my shivering, or be angry at my convulsions and my bleeding —
it is you, after all, who asked, no matter how cynically you decide to rationalize about my gullability and immaturity afterward.
And for God’s sake, if you don’t need them, please spare me and just don’t ask; there is nothing more painful than realizing that you have given up your shirt and your tongue thinking that both were needed, only to realize that they have been little more than unserious folly for bored, mischevious fairies only too happy to then gamble them away in the company of rogues, whom they prefer, anyway.
(And no, I cannot stop this business of giving so much that I ultimately have to stop unexpectedly and protect myself from destruction; I am and always will be, for the rest of my days, powerless to refuse anything at all when asked by those about whom I care, and I wouldn’t have it any other **fucking** way.)
In short, I have always been a shoulder to cry on; but when I have tried to cry on shoulders in return, they have inevitably run, amused and annoyed and “smothered,” taking lightly the expectation for equitable exchange that I so took for granted.
Time and time again, I have rearranged my days and my weeks, my dollars and my bed, to be there at a moments notice when a crying voice found its way to my phone, when a face with smudged makeup knocked on my door. All of these moments have taken their toll; it isn’t easy, and it isn’t without its consequences — but I generally don’t complain about them. “No,” I say, “it’s okay, that’s what I’m here for. I’ll always be here for you.”
And I always will, for all of you, to take your calls at four in the morning or drive two hundred miles to fix a flat, even if it ruins my week, ends my job, destroys my finances. I have never turned any loved one down who asked me for help, no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the cost. **Ever.**
And for that, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard the words “thank you.” I’ve been called wonderful, special, great, unique, not like anyone else, understanding, amazing, and any number of other words. But when I have come to the phone crying, or when I have knocked on a door, I’ve never met anything other than resistance, annoyance, the suggestion that I come back in a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a week, or a month. I expect too much, I’ve been told, though others invariably come to expect it from me.
And, they tell me, it’s not a matter of exchange — I should give only what I can give without expecting anything in return; if there is the slightest chance that I will resent it if I find myself to be the one in need who asks of anyone else and receives nothing, then I should simply not give in the first place — keep to myself and ask of nothing in return.
If I am not prepared to be Christ himself, they seem to suggest, then I shouldn’t ever agree to help at all.
I am tired of being blamed, above and beyond all else. I’m tired of being told by everyone that I’ve ever been there for, by everyone I’ve heard cry while I sat on the phone for hours with them, that I’m childish, needy, selfish, oppressive, immature, silly, uncouth, unadult. I was good enough for you when you needed me. Why can’t you be the same?
I will die young, and no-one will do anything but blame me for it for not having thought of myself more often.