A few weeks ago, I judged myself for my former crush on AWLOB (attractive writer labor organizer boy), the queer Asian organizer I pined for from December 2018 to mid-June 2020. Long story short, he messaged me through this blog, we began an intense email conversation, then started and stopped that convo as he broke up with his boyfriend of five years (December 2018), told me he felt attracted to me (January 2019), then began seeing other guys even before getting over his boyfriend (apparently throughout 2019 to 2020). I ended my desire for him in June 2020 after I sent him a pretty mean email about how he hurt my feelings.
Over the past few weeks, I have thought to myself, Thomas, how the heck did you not know this guy was garbage from the beginning? I felt so foolish because I saw all the signs: he confessed his attraction to me right before and right after he broke up with his boyfriend, he refused to have a basic phone call or video conversation even though he initiated our connection, and he literally told me that he uses accomplishments, awards, and sex to compensate for low self-worth. Yet I still pursued him because I found his passion for social justice and his
deep, sexy voice attractive. I wasted so much brain space and even so many posts on this blog thinking about this guy who never intended to follow through with me anyway.
The other day, I went on a second date with a guy where all my feelings about AWLOB made sense. This guy, who I will call Taco, felt nice: he had interesting thoughts about his biracial identity and whether Black people should feel guilty for pursuing wealth under capitalism, he wanted to help create a more equitable society through enacting wealth redistribution and universal healthcare, and he chased me, which I enjoyed because I like getting chased. While we cuddled on my bed after starting and stopping the movie Capital, I thought to myself though: omg, Thomas, this guy is definitely not the one for you, he doesn’t excite you the same way AWLOB did. 15 minutes later I texted him to call off our connection and sat down on my couch to write this blog post.
Through my dissatisfaction with Taco, I re-recognized the reasons why I developed my intense crush on AWLOB in the first place. Yes, AWLOB ended up disappointing the heck out of me, and at the same time, he sent a beautiful and vulnerable first message to me through my blog. Through his writing, I could tell that he cared so much about social justice, that he lived and breathed it through both his words and his actions. Also, once again, he had a deep and sexy voice
which I discovered through googling and finding a YouTube video of him speaking about his immigrant family, like honestly I am still a little disappointed I could never hear that voice speaking to me directly ugh why did he have to avoid actually communicating with me because of his deeply-rooted emotional issues. When I remember these features that stirred my attraction toward AWLOB, I feel a little softer toward myself and my mistake of investing in him.
A couple of weeks ago I had a trauma dream that involved failing to clean up a mess in my childhood home and my mother yelling at me as a result. This nightmare reminded me that I could not afford to make mistakes as a child, because my mother would then emotionally abuse me for hours on end. After talking about this theme of mistakes with my therapist, I recognize now though that it is okay to make mistakes, that I am human and that even though I always strive for excellence, I may fall short of that goal sometimes. Unlike a decade ago, mistakes will not elicit my mother’s rage; rather, I can meet those mistakes with self-compassion and a gentle yet firm plan for improvement.
I remind myself too that I learned from my mistake with AWLOB. Before meeting him, I assumed that if a guy is into writing and reads good books, cares about social justice enough to organize with marginalized communities, and can say kind things, that he will ultimately treat me well or be in a place to continue pursuing me at some point. I know now, though, that emotional availability and healthy communication are emotional availability and healthy communication – no amount of writing, organizing, or flattering words will replace those things.
While my feminist foremothers had warned me about the dangers of abusive and mediocre men, before AWLOB I do not think I had read anything about how men who present as leftist can also hurt you. So I am writing this here in the hopes that it may help someone else, that someone else reading this will not make the same mistake I did. Perhaps one day I will meet a better version of AWLOB – a queer man of color who is passionate about social justice, who pursues me, and who has his emotional life together. If not, though, I’m already thriving off of my self-love and my friends’ love, and no man can take that away from me.
What are some life lessons you learned through experience? How do you practice self-compassion and kindness when navigating mistakes you have made, while also committing to growth and improvement? General reactions or feelings to this post? Until next time!