100 Days Project

Karma: Buddhism for Assholes

This is a project that's been on my backburner for about two years. So I'm writing everyday for the next 100. In the process I hope to find my way back to my voice, back to my life and back to my practice.
Here's to shaking off Asshole 2.0.

Small detour today. Back to the chest thumping about religion tomorrow. (Though I just saw in the calendar how far behind I am. Egads, must get to it.

(Did I say small? This tale goes on forever.)

Where to start? A few years ago I met a boy named Adam and was terribly smitten with him. So hot and smart and liberal and creative and ... everything. He seemed to like me too, but it just never happened. We'd go out, we'd have fun, we'd go our separate ways. He would call me several weeks or months later and apologize and beg my forgiveness and insist he would get his shit together. At first I believed him, but less so as time wore on. 

I finally gave it one more big shot. Even - and only somewhat jokingly - made him sign a contract to keep things moving. He had to call or email within 30 days or he'd be kicked to the curb for good. 

I believe it took him six weeks. But I held firm and went to pretty decent lengths to make sure he couldn't get ahold of me. I knew if he did, I'd fall for his apologies and promises for the millionth time. It just seemed he didn't like me enough. And that I wasn't good enough or cute enough or something enough for him to get it together. (More on this history another time as well. It cuts deep.)

He insisted he was pretty crazy about me. That he was worried I wouldn't like him if I got to know him better. That he just couldn't get it together even though he really wanted to. I had a more black-and-white approach. You are in or you are out.

Having to hear about this for the millionth time, a friend (surely exhausted about the subject) finally said: "It doesn't matter if he likes you or not. He can't do it." I don't think I ever really understood how right she was. For me - with a lot of history - I was either good enough or I wasn't. And obviously, here, I wasn't.

Cut to several years later. (I'm wandering a little, but I'll get there.)

I'm in a club standing on a speaker (again, another time). Look down and this just incredible-looking guy was smiling up at me. If I could describe my dream boy to a sketch artist - here he was. So impossibly good looking that I got a strange form of confidence (which I don't really lack, generally anyway). 

"How YOU doin'?" He motioned me over. We talked for about two minutes. "I'm gonna bounce, I'll text you." "Sure. (Whatever.)"

He texts me a bit later and I demured - I don't care how pretty some boy is, I'm not about to go chasing him around the city, purely a safety issue. He was from out of town, but he'd holler at me later. 

Sure. (Whatever.)

The thing is, he did. He called me all the time. I didn't return his calls. I pegged him as a player - from out of town to boot - so Whatever. He was smart, well traveled, NOT a player, liberal. He was great. And cool. Had a million friends, close to his family. Just really great.

But I could not. get it. together. 

He even came to town (mostly to see me, but I didn't really know this until later) and I blew him off. There's a little more to it than that, but I'm also honest enough to admit that ultimately I blew him off.

This pissed him off. It was the final straw. But we sort of kept in contact. Happy birthdays were wished on Facebook every so often. Sometimes we'd even talk a little. He had a bit of a health crisis and I was pretty much the only one he told. I finally told him about mine. But this is more proof of how great he was (open emotionally) and how I was a guarded asshole. 

The pattern would resume. He'd call. I wouldn't. I'd even had pep talks with myself. "Just call." "Yes, I'll call tomorrow." I didn't. He'd call. "Just pick up the phone." I didn't.

Off and on for four years.

Until a few weeks ago. I never really put that much thought into my shitty behavior. I just wouldn't answer the phone. I wouldn't call him. I didn't even really know why. I just couldn't do it. 

Here's a rundown of the last 20 days: Happy birthday. Thanks, you're a flake. I am not - I have health issues. Call me soon so we can talk. I call. He calls back. I wait a few days and text. He calls. He texts. He calls. I text. He calls.

You feeling where this is going? I'm still being an asshole. How much work can one person do? From 3,000 miles away no less. I hope I'm setting the stage well enough here. I hope you're sort of hating me. And wanting to punch me in the head.

It was the second night in a row he'd called after being out - 3a or so his time. Finally finally finally, I force myself to just answer the fucking phone. He'd been drinking, but certainly wasn't drunk. About a half hour of how much he's liked me. Not really sexually, just LIKED me. That I've been a shitty friend. I don't know - it went on for a long time and most of it still seems like a dream because it hadn't occurred to me that my acting out actually upset him. Even affected him at all.

In my present state of mindfulness and shit, it finally hit me. I am Adam. Here's this person who was great, wasn't asking anything of me, was open and warm and SEES me. And I can't get my shit together enough to answer a fucking voicemail. 

I am Adam.

I look back at the original Adam and see it all differently. I get now that he did like me. That for some reason it just knocked him back. Wanted it to happen, but just kept getting in the way of it. I don't think he saw how much it hurt me. How much I liked him and didn't understand what the problem was. 

My first text was, "I'm sorry I've been a shitty friend." 

Now I look back at Adam differently. Especially in the context of some other things going on in my life now. I'm not sure I could have done anything to help him get out of his way. But at least it's one more notch in my I WAS GOOD ENOUGH bedpost (-equivalent). 

I feel like so much less of an asshole than I did a few days ago. I might even call first next time. Mindfulness can yield some great results.

(PS: This boy, the pretty one, I've never had a nickname for him. Every single other guy in my very long life has had a nickname. It's funny that even in writing this out, I can't think of one for him. He's so fucking dreamy, he's really above it.)

Day 21:

I Am Adam.