In my life, I’ve gone out of my way to respect other people’s boundaries. Bent over backwards even.
I generally go so far to respect other people’s boundaries that I sacrifice my own well being and sanity to keep other people comfortable.
That is not me whining and crying. That is a choice I make, based on the values I believe in.
When I do accidentally or unknowingly cross your boundaries, all you have to do is tell me so. Rest assured I will retreat and take notes, and it won’t happen again.
I am someone who has diffused so many stigmas of society in my personal life, that I can’t possibly be expected to know what each and every individual is triggered by.
I do not know what is acceptable to you, and what is not.
In my journey through life, I have seen so many different ways of being and behaving in this world.
But I am being vague. Let’s get more specific.
What set me down this line of thinking was a conversation I had earlier with a colleague and friend, a young woman of something nearly half my age.
Last night, I was experiencing this awkward phase that I shift into sometimes, where my sexual energy has built up to a point of discomfort and restlessness.
I was looking for a release, and in that pursuit I implied a question to my younger friend, with the desired intention of receiving a nude picture.
Bad idea on my part. If you’re going to attack me for it, please do so after reading the remainder of this, if you can provide me that much grace.
My intention here is not to justify my action.
My purpose here is to explain why it happened (not to justify, but to provide a passage for understanding), and to then say what I will do to prevent it from happening again with the same person or someone else.
I had my coherent but misguided reasons for making my stupid request.
For instance, I had interpreted some of our past personal communications as flirtations on her part.
Some of her actions with a group we were part of, I saw as risque and sexually inviting.
Perhaps the flimsiest or most compelling reason of them all lies in my genetics and family history.
My grandfather was in his forties when he married my nineteen year old grandmother.
I inherited my grandfather’s bushy eyebrows. I inherited a number of characteristics, both physical and behavioral, from both my grandfather and my father. Seeing the patterns of our behavior in my family is quite fascinating, because there are certain aspects of my own living that could not have possibly been picked up through socialization.
Some tendencies are embedded into our very genes.
Which sounds like the world’s most convenient excuse for anything, right?
My daddy did it, so I am chained to that fate. Anyone could blame anything on anyone related to them with that excuse.
Well, here’s where I take my stand against my heritage.
Any part of my dad, or his dad before him, and so on, that remains in me today…
I take responsibility for it now.
If it is somehow embedded into my DNA to feel an attraction to much younger women, that is not a valid excuse for me to pursue that attraction at the expense of other people’s dignity and comfort.
As I learned from the classic videogame series Metal Gear Solid, we our not enslaved to our genetic heritage. “Just make a choice to live, Snake… and then live!”
My other reasons for my flirtation with the girl nearly half my age aren’t truly defensible either, because I understand that I may have misinterpreted past signals of flirtation. Even if she did mean it as I perceived it, I should not assume that it means that the invitation is always open.
I should have been more careful.
I should have been more respectful.
I am not even going to say that I should have tested the boundary in a more gentle way,
The truth is, I should have stayed far away from even touching the perimeters of her boundaries.
Because I know better.
I can tell myself things like, “Some twenty year olds would be into this. How am I supposed to know which ones are and which ones aren’t?”
“Why is it that I hear stories of young girls getting with older guys all the time, but it never works out that way for me?”
Even to me at this point, that sounds creepy.
I am someone who doesn’t give the foggiest fart about social norms. I make my decisions based on delicate and comprehensive lines of critical thinking and analysis.
I don’t necessarily see an objective reason that a thirty-six year old man and a twenty year old girl could not share a meaningful and mature sexual connection.
But it completely depends on the individuals involved.
And in my experience, most twenty year old women are simply not prepared for that type of encounter in a way that is truly balanced and just.
There could be exceptions, but when I have a solid sense that the majority of cases lean a certain way, then my best practice is to err on the side of caution.
And so to the young woman who I repulsed, I apologize.
And to young women in the past, who I have had similar transgressions with, I apologize.
To be quite honest with you all, my ultimate folly on this arena has yet to be publicly spoken.
And to speak of it specifically would be quite a violation of privacy to people involved.
So, for their benefit, I will need to choose my words with the utmost caution and vagueness. I am not prepared to do that fully now.
However, just to put any worried minds at ease, I have never raped anyone of any age, and the types of follies I have committed here were in the sense of developing emotional bonds at inappropriate levels of intimacy in a couple cases where the girls were not mature enough to handle that, but they thought they were.
Since they thought they were ready, or I interpreted their actions or words as them seeming ready, I felt justified in my course.
Some people may hate me for that.
I have wondered if I should hate myself for it.
Instead of hating myself, I have committed myself to doing better moving forward.
If I ever come to discover that my actions have damaged younger girls more than I ever realized at the time, then I will pay whatever price is necessary to set it right.
If you reading this are a young girl who I have damaged, then please come forward to me either publicly or in private, and let me know what I may not have realized before.
If you have words to say to me that will hurt me, I accept that.
I do ask you to endeavor to understand that I have always truly tried to do my best in regards to how I treat people of all walks of life. If you can have some mercy on me for my mistakes, I’d appreciate it.
If you truly need to lash out at me, then I invite you to do so, but please try to know that these words and all my words are based on utmost respect and love and hope for healing.
Also published on Medium.