Upset About a Sad Country Song

There was some buzz today in my inbox about this openly gay country singer, Steve Grand, and his new song, linked here:

Steve Grand – All American Boy

You’ll need to watch the video for the rest of this post to make sense. See you in five minutes…

I listened to the song once, then actually watched the video. It wasn’t what I’d initially imagined. In fact, it brought back some very raw pain from my own experiences, mistaking a very close male friendship for something more, and everything that comes with finding out it’s not the same for him. The disappointment, frustration, and shame; the grief; the nagging voice insisting the friendship can never be the same; getting wound up in the struggle not to get wound up in the struggle. And in very short order, I was trapped in a well slowly filling with burning tears.

This happened at work, so the second half of my shift really, really sucked. I might have taken some time to deal with it, but I didn’t. The drive home was fretful, trying to figure it out, you know, understand what was going on between my ears. I kept asking, “what happened, and what did I make it mean?” and not knowing what to look at. I was rifling through my past like you might search for lost keys in your sock drawer. Nothing came up. How far back would I need to go to find the source of my being upset?

Not as far as I thought. Here’s what happened: I watched a music video and had a strong, unpleasant emotional response. And I made that emotional response wrong. That’s all, nothing more. Seeing that allowed me to start seeing what moments from my past were impacting me.

The night I finally told him, I was so nervous, and kept talking, and so did he. We got to my truck and I didn’t want to leave until I’d said it, and then finally I said it. “I love you.”

He lit up like a Christmas tree. He grinned from ear to ear, like he’d been waiting for it. He said, “I love you too.” We embraced. I might have cried.

I cried later.

He was supposed to fall in love with me too, I told myself. I told the world, and cursed God, and cursed fate. It’s beyond not being fair. It’s cruel. This was, I believe, the moment when atheism became possible for me. I said to everyone, “this offends my Cosmic Sense of Justice,” and it did. There is no justice, and here is proof.

He married his high school sweetheart. I actually tried looking them up last year and discovered that they’d gotten a divorce in 2009, I think. I had no idea. To think we haven’t spoken in 7 years… clearly, this still impacts me today.

So, having dredged all that up, and given it voice, it’s time to put it where it belongs. I’m upset. The upset exists in the form of an unfulfilled expectation and a thwarted intention. (Upsets frequently also include undelivered communications, but I’ve said what I needed to say, yes, really.) I intended to build a beautiful relationship; really, a marriage. A family. I expected that it would be the same for each of us. It didn’t happen, and it never will, and there is nothing I can do about it.

One of my favorite coaches told me about her son being killed in a car accident. I asked her how long it took before it was OK, and without hesitation she said it wasn’t. It would never be OK. But she accepted the grief, and could be OK with it. She welled up and reached for a tissue as she said this, and I got a glimpse into her sorrow, and her gratitude for the time she did have with him.

So tonight I had another upset: I thought I was over it, and found out I’m not. I realized that I haven’t communicated this to anyone. I may never be over it. I may always be vulnerable to the sight of unrequited love, and I may always have the same emotional response; but pain really is just a sensation, and I can accept it. And while this blog isn’t even getting read by search robots anymore, I’ve said what I needed to say.

I declare this upset complete.

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