Ignacio Labayen de Inza is a chemsex specialist advisor and works online on hook up apps giving advice on safer drug use. This month he writes about the importance of accepting our flaws and forgiving ourselves.
We all know how attractive the gay market is for those who want to make money, and to make substantial money from our community. The most important thing is to understand properly our needs and our weaknesses.
Years ago there was a lovely shop in Chueca, the gay area in Madrid, where people could buy beautiful T-shirts with nice quotes and cute drawings. All of them were gorgeous, but one of them became particularly popular, and it was so trendy that for a while you could see lots of gay men wearing it on the scene. It had a cute ladybird with little hearts instead of spots, and the quote was: “I won’t go home tonight until I fall in love”.
Clever people, that was exactly what lots of us had in the forefront of our minds every time we went out. Phones were only useful to make calls, and because magic only happens outside our comfort zone, we didn’t have many options apart from going out if we wanted something, whatever, to happen.
A very close friend of mine hadn’t been lucky regarding love, like many of us. He suffered from terrible self-esteem issues because of a difficult childhood when he never felt he was worth it. Bullied at school, not accepted at home, he was in such need of affection that he fell in love with the first man who talked to him the first time he went to a gay bar.
Unfortunately that guy wasn’t nice to him. They were together for two years, and for two years he was telling my friend hurtful things such as how lucky he was, because if he wasn’t with him… he would be alone. It made sense to him, that was what he had always heard, so when this man left him in a very nasty way, my friend only could say that it was something expected.
That experience changed him profoundly: if before he was starving of love, after breaking up with this man, replacing him became his priority. He was only living for his weekends: on Wednesdays he started to feel excited because Friday was getting closer, Thursdays were even better, and Fridays were the days when dreams could become true.
He chose his clothes carefully without realising that, no matter what he was wearing… he had always on, invisibly, that T-shirt that he never had, about his need of love and being loved.
He was always the last one of my friends to go to sleep, taking advantage of the last few minutes as much as he could. He went to bed completely drunk, terribly frustrated, but still with hope because the following night was Saturday night, and there were still some chances.
Sunday mornings were much harder, those huge hangovers were much more manageable than the loneliness and the emptiness: the whole week waiting… and there he was again, where he was every Sunday: deeply sad, totally empty.
My friend was also dating guys who he didn’t even like, thinking that maybe getting to know them better could make him feel something for them… but he always compared them to the first one, getting rid of them after a few days. In one year alone he dated 12 different men, so he got really shocked when he calculated and he said: ‘Gosh, in 10 years, that will be 120!’
So, one day something happened to him, and he called me full of tears. He never told me what, but whatever it was, it made him think that he had been wrong his whole life. He thought that his problem was about spending the rest of his life alone, but he had realised that the real problem was the idea of spending the rest of his life with himself. He always said that he was his worst enemy, and he got absolutely terrified when he saw that the idea of living with his worst enemy, until his last day, was a realistic possibility.
This made him feel terribly depressed for a while and I didn’t know how to help him. Months later he told me that he had decided to stop dating guys and he was going to focus on the relationship that he had with himself. He felt he had no choice: to end his life, or to find the way to become his own friend. He saw that he had to accept his flaws, discover any strength that he could have in order to embrace it, and mostly, he had to forgive himself.
It was shocking for me to listen to something like that from him, but it was also so inspiring and I learned so much from his journey, that it encouraged me to start my own: which I did.
He never told me what happened the day that made him change his life, but he did it, and today he has the most beautiful relationship that anyone can have with himself. If he goes out it is not because he is in search of someone; he finally could go back home… and his T-shirts have no quotes any more.