Just Keep Trying

I’ve never been very successful at keeping journals. Every time I start one, I do maybe three entries and forget about it entirely. There are so many times when I think to myself “I should talk about this on my blog,” because my blog is essentially a journal. I don’t have any kind of audience to speak of, so there’s no reason I can’t just talk about what’s going on in my life, but I always pressure myself to write blog posts that feel like “articles,” and are well-written and thoughtful, rather than just journal.

I usually also include a foreward paragraph like that one every time I DO something like a journal entry. So much has happened in my life that I HAVEN’T chronicled on my blog. Sometimes I want to talk about it but I don’t know where to begin, or what to say.

My life in the past year has gone in directions I didn’t ever foresee. In fact, my life really has been a roller coaster for about the last five years. I suppose I don’t like “Where do you see yourself in five years” questions, but I really couldn’t begin to guess, to tell the truth. So many times I’ve thought to myself, “What would it be like if I could flash forward a few months into the future and see what I’d be donig right now?” And then a few months later I’ll remember that I thought that, and realize I’m doing exactly what I was doing three months ago.

So, my life has simultaneously been a roller coaster, and at a stale standstill. Big changes happen, they stay that way for a long time. I guess it goes back to when my family moved to Georgia, and I, being shackled with an anxiety disorder that it made it difficult to the point of impossibility to get out on my own (not to mention my suffocating and abusive family), went along with them. I lived in their back yard in a camper for something like a year. I tried to move out and live with a friend from work, but this required me to get a second job, and I just couldn’t handle the stress of working two jobs at once. I didn’t have my anxiety medication anymore during this time either. I did find a job I enjoyed though, at Pottery Barn, and I did well there. I liked the relaxed atmosphere, I enjoyed coming into work, I felt that I had a good grasp on what I was doing, and it was a fun excuse to wear dress shirts and ties (as soon as I figured out how to tie a tie, I discovered that I love them).

It was during this time that I made an account on a dating site called OK Cupid. Online dating hasn’t done much for me in the way of successful relationships, in fact any boyfriends I’ve made through online dating, I’ve ended up having mostly bad experiences with, if not quick hook-ups. I have difficulty saying “no” in general, and it’s shocking to me to realize that even though I stopped keeping track of the people I’ve had sex with (and I have done that before, there was a list), the number is probably something like 21 people now, and that’s full-on penetration sex, if we include all manner of fooling around and foreplay, the number is probably double. But it’s unbelievable to me to think that I can have that much sexual experience and not often truly enjoyed it. In fact, as time has gone on, I’ve come to enjoy sex less and less (partially due to my several anxiety disorders and vitamin deficiencies, I think).

And so it was that I met Nathan. I’ve talked before in more detail about the way Nathan and I met, so I guess I won’t go into that right now, but we met, and we became boyfriends. I was nervous from the start, as I have been with all relationships. Two months later, my family decided to move back home and out of Georgia, and I opted to go and stay with Nathan and his family. Something like six months later, Nathan and I were having no luck at all finding jobs, we were in a cramped space, we were bored, hungry, and generally frustrated. I got my homophobic mother to finally agree to allowing Nathan to come with me if I moved back in with her (though we were forced to sleep in separate rooms, and I’m sorry, I don’t care what you say, that was cruel. If we had been a straight couple I KNOW that it wouldn’t have been an issue, but if you were to use my mother’s reasoning of ‘I don’t want my daughter to see two people shacking up together in a bedroom’ [and my sister didn’t give one fuck, believe me I asked] then it would still be ludacris because he and I couldn’t get married even if we wanted to).

We found jobs, and eventually moved in with a person I’d met working at a bookstore (Books-A-Million, for the curious). We lived there for something like two years (or at least I did), and when we reached the two-and-a-half year mark of our relationship, I knew that the relationship was an unhealthy mess and it was ripping me up. We weren’t good for one another, and even though we got along easily, there were just too many differences. I think on some level, we never truly understood each other. Finally, I quit. When I quit, it was sad, for both of us. On some level I wanted desperately to cheat on him with a guy we both knew, and I’d done some things that may have crossed the cheating line, or at least stepped up to it, before I broke up with Nathan.

After Nathan and I broke up, he moved back home to Georgia. I expected to feel free, unburdened, like myself, uninhibited and able to do whatever I wanted in life. I did feel those things, but I also felt a crushing sorrow that would come at random intervals and take the wind out of me. I made video journals talking to Nathan that he’s never seen, and I found myself crying night after night as I lay in bed alone, watching comforting ASMR boyfriend roleplays on Youtube to try and feel less lonely. I spent a lot of time driving around, listening to music and audiobooks. Sometimes at night I’d get in my truck, put on some music, and just drive to nowhere in particular, and cry. Or I’d cry in my bed. Or anywhere else, I guess. Eventually I wasn’t able to continue living where I was, and I convinced my mom to let me move back in with her.

I was there maybe a month before things turned ugly. I met a guy online, two guys in fact, who were in a relationship. They had been looking for a third boyfriend to be in a polyamorous relationship with, and the guy they’d been talking to wasn’t really working out, he lived far away and was kind of an asshole. When they met me, we were all sure I was the perfect fit. The usual worries that plague me when I get into any kind of relationship were there, but I somehow seemed not to be harmed by them so much this time. I thought that maybe I’d finally found the kind of relationship that worked for me, one where I had freedom, one where that wasn’t so much in the way of boundaries. We had sexual chemistry, we shared interests, and for the first time in my life, I had a boyfriend (two in fact) who made me laugh. I’d never experienced a relationship that was filled with laughter. With Nathan it was mostly contented silence. We did laugh about things, but not at all the way the three of us did, myself and my new boyfriends. Meanwhile, my mom told me to get out of her house, and I was back in the camper again, in her back yard. Now, that may not sound all that bad, but she and her husband also thought it appropriate to tell me to figure out what to do on my own when it came to food, which was a real problem because my mother was my employer, and she fired me. Some people online stepped in and helped me have some money with which to buy food and stay in a hotel on one occasion. Eventually the two boyfriends found an apartment, but there was something of a catch: that guy they’d been seeing before me, well, they’d stayed friends with him, and they still wanted to find a place to live with him. It might be an awkward situation, but the four of us would all have a home, and maybe we could all get along. We even floated the idea of all four of us being in a polyamorous relationship. When I met the guy and he turned out to be awful, that plan didn’t work out so well.

So, their ex-phone-boyfriend put his name down so they could get an apartment, and the three of us moved in (ex-phone-boyfriend was still staying in another state). The first couple of weeks in our new home were great. One of us was working, the other hasn’t worked an honest day in his life, and as for me, I was mostly relaxing. We watched TV together and played video games, we had sex every day, it was fun. Then ex-phone-boyfriend showed up and things all went to hell. One of my boyfriends had lost interest in me very quickly, the other was still showing interest but was cheating with weirdo ex-phone-boyfriend. So our relationship ended, and then things were turned around because the three of THEM decided to get together. I was definitely the odd person out now, and after getting into a physical fight with one of my two ex’s, and having a crying, screaming emotional breakdown in which I threw our electronics around the room, tried to slit my wrists, and just generally lost it, they wanted me out.

So I ended up back with my family. It went alright for a couple of months, but more and more, my depression was worsening. At this point I’d been back on my antidepressants for a while now, but I wasn’t so sure they were working anymore. In fact, I was feeling increasingly suicidal. I began to think about the song I might like to have playing on a loop when I was found after killing myself. How? I’m not sure. I think the prevailant idea in my mind was to jump off a bridge, and I had a spot picked out, but I’m not sure I would have died from jumping off that bridge, just been seriously injured and possibly bled to death slowly. Besides, I’ve never had a threshhold for pain. But I just became more and more tired of being alive.

I loved music. I loved writing, and reading, and I loved video games, and being obsessive about my interests, and being a nerd. I enjoyed being around people and having friends, I loved being close to people, having my arms around someone, friend or otherwise, I loved having free and fun sex with friends. I wanted to do all these things. I wanted to play piano and sing, and I wanted to write novels. But it was becoming more and more clear that I was just never going to get out of the situation I was in. I was living with my family, my mother was controlling, suffocating, abusive, angry, religious, hateful, homophobic, racist, and ignorant. But there was nowhere else to go anymore. And I wasn’t going to find any place anytime soon. My health got worse. I kept gaining weight until I was 250 pounds. I learned from my doctor that I had sleep apnea, a Vitamin D deficiency, a severe deficiency in testosterone, along with my normal anxiety, social fears, panic attacks, and agoraphobia. Working for my mother cleaning houses wasn’t making me any kind of money, and I couldn’t afford tesotsterone injections and expensive medicine forever. Eventually I’d run out of insurance. And then there was the fact that I’d never started college. Not going to college is the one regret that’s stayed with me for years and years. I’ve just wanted to be surrounded by people, to be learning, to be in a place where it’s okay to think and speak and express yourself and where there are people to play with, to talk with, to have sex with. But I never got to experience that.

There were so many things I wanted. And I was more and more sure that those were things that I’d just never have. I decided to stop trying, I guess. I stopped putting effort into life. I cried a lot. I listened to sad music. Every day I was insulted, attacked, and hurt by my mother. She was starting to abuse my sister too, emotionally and verbally. I felt so incredibly alone. And no matter how alone I felt, there was nothing I could do, no one I could go to. I went to my ex-boyfirends’ apartment a few times, but every time I just ended up feeling more empty.

My mom kept kicking me out. She’d tell me she wanted me out of the house one day, fire me the next, and then three days later it would be as though nothing happened. This cycle kept repeating itself.

Then of course there was the moment I had an awful realization. It’s something I don’t want to type here. I don’t want there to be a record of it. But I realized something awful about myself, something that made me ashamed, made me feel sick, and hopeless. Something that brought with it guilt and shame that I carried around with me everywhere I went. I told my therapist, during one of the few visits I got to have before the money became too much. He was very calm, didn’t judge me, talked to me about how we might deal with it.

It’s haunted me for so long. Saying it out loud made me feel better, but it also made it real.

I’m not going to tell you what it is. Maybe one day. Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to write it down, to post it on a blog, to let everyone know. But I’m tired of being thought of as a freak. I already have so much going against me, I just can’t bare to tell everyone.

But there is a part of me that wants terrible things, and it’s something I can’t control, and something that scares me, and something that makes me feel very ashamed. And this contributed, I think, to my growing feeling of complete unease about everything.

I stopped caring. I would wake up. Play online. Eat. Go to sleep. Wake up again. Play video games. Eat. Drive around. Read a book. Eat. Go to sleep. Somewhere in between all of that I’d try and masturbate. Sometimes I went to my ex’s house and we had sex. Sometimes I hooked up with guys from the internet. I always left feeling worse inside than I had before.

My mother told me to get out. I don’t know how many times she’d done it. I tried talking to friends. One of them was sympathetic, and caring, and offered me a couch to sleep on, but he lived a very long way away. I couldn’t drive to his house even if I wanted to. And even if I did, what next? I had no way of making it on my own eight hours from where I was living.

This friend, he told his husband about what was going on with me, and about my mom and the way she treats me. They told me they wanted to help. They were serious. And so was I. My mother was in the process of moving, and wanted me to help with a lot of the heavy lifting, something that’s difficult for me for a number of reasons, one of those being that my various deficiencies make it very difficult for me to do manual labor. I didn’t care anymore what she wanted. I stopped caring. I’d spent years and years hating her. I loved my mother when I was a child, but I’ve spent more time in my life hating my mother than I ever did loving her.

I bought a train ticket. I packed what I could fit into two suitcases and a carry-on bag. I told my family. My mother screamed, she acted like a bitch, she hurt my feelings. She told me I’d never make it, that these strangers would abandon me, that I’d be out on my own in the cold, that I’d be (her word) destitute, and that I would fail. As with every other moment in my life, she told me that I would fail. I didn’t care. I could stay with her and die, or I could leave and try to live.

I chose to accept the help that was offered. All I’d wanted for years and years was for someone to truly offer to help. And it wasn’t just a couch that I needed, it was a lot of help.

Robert and Zack did more than I could have ever possibly asked for. They spent so much money taking me to dinner with them when they went out, buying me nice clothes from the thrift store so I would have something to work and go to interviews in, finding me places to put in applications and go to interviews, lending me their car, and then buying a third car that would ostensibly be my vehicle, as well as adding me to their insurance. Robert even put me on the same diet as himself, and offered to take me to the gym with him. They became my friends. I love them both.

I’m here. I live in Delaware now, with Zack and Robert. I’m on the couch in the living room right now, with my elbow resting on one of their three dogs. Zack’s across from me on another couch, playing on the internet. They’re taking me with them to a Thanksgiving dinner today.

They saved my life.

They gave me a life.

I’m scared, every day. The anxiety returned when I finally found a job, once again at a bookstore. The anxiety of going to work has been eating me alive. I dread getting up in the morning to go to work, I dread being there, I have mild to severe anxiety attacks constantly. It’s been this way for the past week. Tomorrow is so-called “Black Friday,” the biggest shopping day of the year, and the most stressful for anyone working in retail. I’ll be there bright and early as throngs of customers come through to be rang up and sent out the door. I’m scared. I’m scared every morning before I go to work, and when I come home, I’m scared that the day will be over too soon and it will be time to go to sleep, and then get up and go to work again. I’m scared constantly, and plagued by anxiety. But I’m surviving. I’m trying. I’m tampering with the dosage on my medicine (but not abusing it, by the way), and trying my best to be positive.

I’m scared, and I have been very scared, but it’s going to be okay, and I’m going to be okay. I’m going to get through this initial period of anxiety, the combined anxiety of being in a new place (despite what has mostly been excitement about being in a new place) and working again in retail (where I honestly didn’t want to end up, even if being in a bookstore is the kind of retail environment I would probably prefer). Maybe I’ll still be able to find some kind of office desk job, which believe me would be a welcome reprieve from the crowds of retail. But I’m trying. I’m not giving up. Every day, I’m thinking of ideas for what to write, I’m listening to music, I’m having fun, and I’m experiencing friendship with Zack and Robert. I’m sleeping better (still need to use my damn CPAP machine, though).

Things are tough right now. I feel bad for having so much anxiety, because after all that Zack and Robert have done for me, I should be feeling elated. I feel like letting them know how much I’ve been dealing with panic attacks and anxiety is kind of like spitting on all that they’ve done to make me comfortable here and all that they’ve done to help me succeed. They don’t feel that way, I know, but still, I’m scared. I just want to stop feeling so scared. I want to overcome this anxiety, and be happy. I want to work toward my goals.

Maybe I should make it a goal to find myself an office job, and stay here in retail until I do find one. Maybe that would help. I don’t know. Things have been unpredictable since Nathan and I broke up, and I never would have really guessed what would happen and exactly where I would end up. But I survived all of that darkness and fear, that longing to stop existing just to escape from the pain, and now I have a new demon to fight, new anxiety to overcome, but I can do it, and I will.

I’ll just keep trying.

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