dark darkness loneliness mystery

I knew, well I know a guy that I’m going to call “Brett” that I met back in college. I say I knew him because we went our separate ways a while ago. Brett showed up back in my life about a year ago and before that I saw him about a week before I got married back in 2009. The time before that was several years before that time.

Brett is a good guy, at least on the surface. At first glance he’s fit, put together, intelligent, and knowledgeable about many things, especially women. Just ask him and he’ll tell you how big of a lady killer he was.

The thing is, I got to see Brett “in action” with the ladies, and while I’ll admit that he was a good looking guy, he had no game other than his looks. He wouldn’t approach, he would hang around and would only deal with women who approached him. Don’t get me wrong, he would end up getting laid more often than not, but hearing him talk and then seeing him in action were two different things.

Brett was very image conscious. He was very concerned about how he looked to others. His dress was cutting edge, his hair and beard were on point, and he definitely knew about scent and style. And yet his car was a disaster and his house was a complete mess. Much like his actual life. He was definitely a “style over substance” kind of guy.

Back then I just figured that like most people, Brett wanted to be liked and he cared about the opinions of others. I think we all go through that to one degree or another. But as the years went on and I got to know him better I realized that his concern with his image went way deeper than him just wanting people to like him.

Brett was an imposter and he was terrified that people would find out and that they would expose him. He was afraid that once people got to know him, they would know the truth about him.

The truth was that Brett wasn’t this “masculine guy” who had his shit together and knew what he was doing. The truth was Brett was a scared shitless 10 year old boy locked inside the body of a grown man. The truth was he had no idea how to get women, but he wanted you to think that he did. The truth was that he would latch on to whatever woman chose him and he would ultimately send them running with his clingy behavior. I know this because I watched it go down in real time for years. His lack of self awareness was amazing to behold.

I want you to understand that while I’m criticizing Brett, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t like him, because I did. He was a great guy and he generally meant well. The problem for me though was I couldn’t take him seriously.

My friend Vince once said to me, “A Man’s true nature will be revealed when he is either under stress or is under attack.” Or as Rollo Tomassi put it, “Pay attention to their behavior, not what they say.”

Back when I hung around Brett, I hadn’t met Vince and I had no idea who Rollo Tomassi is or was. But the lesson was there even when I was younger. Without really knowing or understanding what was going on, I was paying attention to Brett’s behavior and realizing that what he said and what he did didn’t match up. He wasn’t “practicing what he was preaching.”

This last time that I ran into Brett and we got caught up with all the niceties and whatnot, I realized that even though he was 47 years old, nothing had really changed. He was still running around doing what he had been doing when we were back in our 20’s and 30’s. He was still spouting off things and then doing the complete opposite of what he was talking about. He was still very concerned about his image because he was still living a lie. The thing was, he knew that I knew the truth because I had seen it with my own eyes, and I think it scared him. I think he was worried that I was going to “out him” and tell the world that he was a fraud.

I wouldn’t have done that though because there was no need for me to do that. Anyone who got to know Brett over time realized he was talking a good game but that things ended up not adding up. Brett would end up “outing himself” over time.

Instead of being honest with himself and accepting who he really was, or actually doing the work to fix or improve himself to become what he said he was, and what he aspired to be, he would just double down on his words and would cut people out that knew the truth, if they didn’t cut him out beforehand.

Instead of facing adversity he would cut ties and run. Instead of bringing things up at the beginning that made him uncomfortable and working through them, Brett would suck it in and let shit stew until he couldn’t handle it anymore. Then he would whip himself into a frenzy and ultimately issue ultimatums, when in reality he was done. Brett’s behavior wasn’t uncommon unfortunately. Most of the women that I’ve dealt with in my life do this stuff. They are conflict avoidant, passive-aggressive, and tend to run from their problems instead of dealing with them head on. Feminized men do this too and that’s what I realize that Brett is or was. He’s a feminized man.

I still like him, like I said earlier. I just can’t take him seriously when I know that what he says and what he does are two completely different things. Basically whatever he has told me is bullshit when compared to his behavior. You can lie with words, but it’s damn near impossible to lie with actions.

I had to cut loose from him though because I can’t take him seriously. The most valuable commodity in my life is my time. It’s the one commodity that I can never get more of and I’ll never get time back. I don’t want to waste my time.

The saddest thing to me though is that Brett is miserable. He’s miserable with the road he has chose. He’s miserable with the things that he has done and with what he has said. I think on some level he knows that he’s LARPing and living a lie and it’s slowly killing him. I know where his choices and his behaviors will ultimately end up taking him if he continues doing what he’s been doing and it’s a road of self isolation since his behavior is one of avoidance and it may ultimately end up with him looking down the barrel of a gun or looking up at a rope hanging from rafter.

While conflict isn’t generally pleasant, not all conflict is inherently bad. It is better to face adversity head on and deal with it when something comes up instead of keeping your mouth shut and putting everything in a pressure cooker until you are either poisoned from your own feelings or until you explode and then the damage is done with nothing left to salvage from it. Once you go down the road of conflict avoidance, it’ll become easier and easier to turn away and run away instead of facing things that make you uncomfortable. Over enough time, you’ll end up isolating yourself from those that actually care and would like to help and you’ll end up miserable in your life because you aren’t being authentic and you aren’t living a life that you choose. You’ll be living someone else’s life and making decisions and choices out of fear and avoidance instead of what actually works for you.

I can say all of this with some authority because I have experienced this first hand and I too was worried about my image, my “brand of me” that I projected out to others. I was terrified that people would find out that I was in fact an imposter and in order to keep the “boat from rocking” I would “go along to get along” until I couldn’t stand it anymore. Then I would retreat while issuing ultimatums instead of actually owning my shit. It got me to a point that I had almost no one I could count on, because they couldn’t count on me, and it got me my own isolation. It was a lonely and dark place and it lead me to considering eating a shotgun shell. And that was what lead to my divorce and me taking my life back into my own hands and being willing to face my issues head on, as unpleasant as those issues were.

Seeing Brett was like looking into a mirror. I was uncomfortable with him because I saw me. Now I’m just a little sad for Brett because he’s still doing the same old behaviors because he’s too scared to make a real genuine change, because a real genuine change is actually hard, sometimes painful, definitely uncomfortable, and requires you to “rock the boat,” and face adversity head on. It requires you to own your shit. It requires you to take responsibility for your life instead of asking others what to do. It requires you to realize that you don’t have all the answers and that you are going to screw things up and make mistakes. It requires you to drop the perfection that is running around inside your head.

I hope Brett figures it out, I really do. The optimist in me thinks he will, but the realist in me says, “Dude, he’s a 48 year old man now, and he’s still doing the same shit he was doing over 20 years ago. He’s probably not going to change.” And that’s the part that sucks. He probably won’t change because what he is doing actually works for him even though he’s absolutely miserable.

Then again, I’m not his keeper. I’m not his savior. I’m not going to set myself on fire to keep him warm. I can be there and hand him a damp cloth to wipe the soot off of his face when he’s done burning, or I can hand him a match and another gallon of gasoline and let him set himself back on fire.

He gets to burn.

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