You know, I've been involved in this online community of struggling folks for about five years, and in that time I've developed some very close bonds. They are, in essence, the closest bonds that I have with anyone outside of my immediate family. This was especially true after joining an accountability group on Facebook, where I was able to "meet" several people I had known on my blog for years, and attach names and faces to situations and personalities that I already knew about in writing. These online friendships led to real-life ones, and I visited several of these people while on a road trip this past summer. In fact, I don't think I would be in Baltimore at all if it wasn't for the fact that the closest of these friends was a student here, and encouraged me to apply to the school I now attend. In short, these have been some very important friendships to me, but I'll also admit that these friendships have been extremely challenging in the past. I don't think it's unfair to say that I go out of my way to please people, and like I've said on this blog, I've had a lifelong obsession with finding a place to belong.
Well, when I first found this online community, and especially when I joined the Facebook group two years ago, I felt I had finally found my place to belong. Unfortunately, my views at the time were rather liberal and unorthodox, and the fact that I have a pretty polemic, abrasive personality meant I was in conflict with folks quite a lot. As tough as I tried to appear, this was pretty much torture to me. Here was my place to belong, and yet I felt like a constant outsider because I didn't go to Exodus conferences, I didn't really buy into a lot of the theories about orientation causation or change and my political views were more libertarian than the standard religious conservative's. So I argued a lot, and if anyone reading this ever got into an argument with me back then, they know that I could get extremely passionate. I still can, really. Why, just the other day I was talking to a friend online, who got tired with the argument and signed off quickly. I kept calling him and calling him after that, until he eventually blocked my number. We've since reconciled and I definitely know that my behavior was out of line, but it's just an example that serves to illustrate this point: I totally realize I can be a lot to handle sometimes.
I am still human, though, and I do think that I have put in a lot of time and effort into these relationships. Frankly, I've put in more time and effort into online relationships and my own introspective, reflective writing than I have to bonds in the real world. Of course, I still have a lot of friends and acquaintances in "real life." I think I can be fairly affable in person, although I'm a little eccentric and not above being awkward. But like I said a few posts ago, I'm a writer. I see myself and think of myself as a writer, and even if I'm not a good writer, even if I'm never published or successful in that particular field, the fact remains that I express myself best through the words that I write, not the ones that I say. Therefore, the people who know me best are those who know my writing. Short of reading all the short stories, unfinished novels, journal entries and other notes I've compiled over the years, the best way to get to know who I am as a person is to simply read both my old blog and this current one, and also to talk to me through e-mails, Facebook messages and chats. You'll get to know me better than you would if you knew me in person, where I think I can be very polite and presentable, but not much else.
The odd thing is that, over the course of the past few years, I changed a lot about myself. Oh, sure, I'm still a lot to handle, but my views on issues really did change. I'm not going to say I'm totally a fan of Exodus, but my position has moderated extremely from where it once was, mainly because I've come to know people who are actually involved in Exodus. In essence, I've become a lot more conservative than I once was. I don't know why, exactly. Examining motivations like this is pretty difficult, if not totally impossible, but I know that I used to share a lot of anxieties with people, telling them that I felt like an outsider in the group because of my more liberal views. I do think that, although I think conservatism is pretty logically consistent anyway, I wouldn't have sought to change myself if I wasn't seeking after approval and acceptance from friends.
That's why the recent situations with several friends who have gotten boyfriends have been so difficult. I felt like I made myself a conservative just to win their friendship, and I went through so many arguments, tantrums, anxieties, etc. Just when I felt like everything was going swell, I feel like I've been rejected again. I'm back to square one, because they're all liberal and I'm the one holding onto conservatism. That's just really hard. I usually try to write a little more clearly, but what else is there to say? It's hard. I changed a lot about myself for other people, even moving to another city for other people, and now I'm left without them. Oh, sure, many may say we're still friends, although others have made it clear that we're not, but the fact remains that the personal renovations I did to myself have now, well, seemed to have been for absolutely nothing. I don't think anyone consciously asked me to change myself, nor do I think anyone consciously used me, but that's how I feel: Spent and used. And I'm very tired. I know I'll get up tomorrow, and things will keep going, and writing this out tonight has helped a little. But, man, I'm just really, really tired. And I'm trying to figure out why I'm still fighting like I do.