Thursday 27 October 2016

Billy Keane: Finally I'm not ashamed to say it: I've fallen hoplessly in love with a man

Published 27/01/2014 | 02:30

Billy Keane. Photo: Mark Condren
Billy Keane. Photo: Mark Condren

I'm in love with a man. This will come as a shock to those of you who know me well. I have children, four at last count, and just the one wife, but I have fallen hopelessly in love with a man. Yes, a man. A lovely man. I have known him since I was born, at a very early age. I'd love to give him a big hug. Right now. He's here with me, watching the laptop screen as I type. So why not? Go on, he says. Go on, do it. Hug him to bits. I've done it. Hugged him, that is. UUUUUUUUUUU but it feels so good.

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I have this man's permission to reveal his identity. He doesn't mind my telling and I want to shout my love out from the rooftops. I want to shout my love in a place where echoes live and reproduce. I have rubbed oil on his body. I have put my fingers through his receding hair. I sleep with him every single night. There have been intimacies. Love is all that counts.

Oh, but he's so good to me. Yes, yes, yes, I'm in love with a wonderful man and I don't care a damn what anyone says or thinks.

This is the first time I have come out. I knew all along this was the love I dared not speak. Even those closest to me were not aware of this confession. There's a daughter who reads this every Monday morning. I just cannot understand why it took so long. I should have declared my love years and years ago. I feel as if a lifetime of delights has been wasted but it's never too late. Never too late to fall in love. We are an item now.

Every day I tell him I love him and that I care for him. I forgive him his faults. There's a portrait of him in my bathroom and when I'm shaving I look at him and say 'I love you, man'. Well, every morning since I declared my love, which was only the day before yesterday. So if you add it up, tomorrow will be the third anniversary in days.

He was my first love but for many years I rejected him. Told him he wasn't good enough to be loved by me. He was hurt. There is nothing worse than not being loved by those deserving of your love.

You know from the very beginning you should treat him with respect. There's the constant nagging and gnawing away at him and his self-confidence. I was concentrating on his faults. If he did something worthy of acclaim, you just shrug it off and move on, in case he got big-headed. In case he thinks he's better than anyone else. It's an Irish thing, I think. Belittling those you love 'for their own good.'

So you drag him down. Make him small. Maybe it was because others did not see his qualities and I took their lead rather than make my own judgment. You know how it is. If 10 people tell you good stuff about you and just the one is critical, it's the bad one we remember. Our opinion is formed by a minority of negativity.

Here, in this very public forum, I want to apologise unreservedly for any hurt I may have caused to him. Yes, I was very hard on the man I love when he made mistakes. I would give out to him all night long.

Sometimes I would drive him to drink. More days I would get mad with him and he took it out on others. There were days when he found it hard to get out of bed and face the day. But did I say, 'I love you, man. Get up and carry on'? No, I did not.

Why was it I singled him out for the kind of abuse I wouldn't dream of inflicting on another human being? A word of encouragement was all that was needed. Every now and then. I never allowed him forgiveness for past indiscretions. I constantly reminded this poor man of his faults every day.

I know now, in mid-life, I should have loved him from the beginning. But he still loves me. Deep down. Self-doubt and low self-esteem kept me from accepting the love that was my dues.

I will now reveal the name of the man I love for the very first time in public.

His name is me.

Yes, it's good to love yourself. If you don't love yourself, how do you expect others to love you?

So starting today, go easy on you. Be nice to yourself. Pet yourself. Talk to yourself at work in the supportive way you would to a cherished colleague who has made a mistake. You know the way you open the door for people out of politeness? Well open the door for you. For years you have been living next door to Alice. Well you're Alice.

I'm only at this self-love two days and already I feel better. I hope I won't break it off with myself.

So go on, give yourself a big hug. Go on, you good thing. How good is that?

Irish Independent

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