Halfway Through The Wood

 

I used to take a lot of walks.

I didn’t realize I was getting exercise, although I know now that it was actually doing wonders for me, because when I look back at pictures of myself I can see how in shape I was, despite thinking I was fat. The neighborhood where my family lived was built on this huge hill that was probably once part of a mountain or something, all of the houses lining the hill seemed simultaneously to be level and yet sliding down the hill. Our neighborhood was at the top of the hill and a little ways further around some turns. I would take my iPod out for a stroll so I could listen to whatever music I was exploring at the time. I remember walking during a cool, wet day and listening to Telepopmusik’s beautiful ambient electronic album Angel Milk, and feeling so… well, I wanted to say “at peace,” but that wouldn’t be right. I felt a lot of pain, and a lot of aching and longing, a lot of sadness, and mostly that I had so much I wanted to SAY. I wanted to write and play piano and scream and be heard, and I also desperately wanted sexual attention because I was in a stale relationship that had already lasted nearly two years longer than it should have.

When I think about me then and me now, the biggest difference is the depth of feeling. I felt so much then. Life was such a full experience, with rich textures and sounds. Most of the experience was sad, and in fact I was suffering deeply with my own mental illness, having panic attacks that were gradually driving me further and further indoors until eventually I was entirely agoraphobic and couldn’t leave my house, except to go to my boyfriend’s house, and the drive there was sometimes nightmarish. Once we got stopped by a slow-moving train and I was so visibly shaken and trying hard to breathe while I had a panic attack that my normally unattendant boyfriend rolled his eyes at me and told me the calm the hell down. He responded in this way to the majority of my suffering: a combination of annoyance and contempt. He would sometimes threaten to turn around and take me back home “if I was going to act like this.” I would look forward to seeing him all week and the first two minutes in the car with him would be wonderful, but we wouldn’t usually make it completely out of the neighborhood before he’d say something that crushed me, and all my hopes would be dashed, and I’d be deflated, and I’d settle in for a weekend of knowing I was miserable but refusing to admit it to myself because it just didn’t hurt enough yet.

But I digress.

I did a lot of walking aimlessly as an excuse to be doing something physical while listening to music. I loved experiencing the music and walking is a good way to do so, and I’d make a lot of music videos in my head, some of which I’d replayed so many times in my head that I’d added small details to until they were like their own little plays, with all the actors coming out to try out new things and add to the material. There were all these characters in my music videos, because I was always imagining myself as a musician, a real artist with real music videos and real fans who watched and discussed what I did. My music videos often featured various versions of myself interacting with each other.

I spent so much time back then fantasizing, creating, constantly creating in my mind.

When I look at who I am now versus who I was then, I guess the biggest difference is that now I feel so… drained. I mean, I was so naive and starry eyed when I was twenty-one, even though I was goddamn miserable at the time. I still had hope for this bright elaborate life that would take me to the places I dreamed of, for a future where I was far away from my family and on a tour bus playing shows or flying around the world and putting on elaborate stage shows. I don’t know where the desire to be a musician came from, because it wasn’t something I’d dreamed of as a kid, but now here it was. And it was mostly Tori Amos I was listening to at the time, because she was my newest musical interest and I was trying really hard to get into her catalog.

Eight years divide me from that time and that person, who he was. He spent so much time hoping and dreaming, there was so much still ahead of him. I guess the feelings that I’m having now, feeling a loss of that hope and even that innocence and wonder, is what you might call a quarter-life crisis, if such a thing really exists. But truly, that’s not really it.

It isn’t hard for me to pinpoint the real difference between me of the past and me of the present.

It’s the drugs, of course.

Not street drugs, not drugs like my cousins do and sell and go to prison for. Not illicit, scary drugs from a back alley. Good, safe, clean drugs that a nice respectable doctor prescribed me when I woke up one morning and found that the anxiety had gotten so bad that now the whole left side of my body, from the tingling on my scalp to the tenderness in my nipple to the weakness in the veins of my arm and on down into my feet, was numb. It’s weird because “numb” is the word I used at the time but now I think it was more “sensitive,” the whole left side of my body was really sensitive, it was easier to hurt me there, and there was this constant tingling running all up and down.

I was afraid I would have an early-in-life stroke or heart attack or seizure, afraid I might have some kind of brain tumor, and these symptoms were so strange and seemingly random. That’s when they finally gave me the medicine, and frankly I didn’t want to take it because I’d heard the word Klonopin before and never in a good context. I didn’t want to become addicted to a narcotic. But I took it, because my best friend told me the doctors know what they’re doing and I needed to take the medicine I was prescribed.

I remember where I was when I took it the first time, I was sitting at a barstool at the kitchen counter. I don’t know if I was on my computer or what, and I don’t know how long it took for it to affect me but it was very quick, and my dog was laying on the floor next to me, and I sat down next to her and petted her, and then laid down with her, and I felt so free, and I wasn’t sleepy but I knew I could fall into sleep perfectly at any moment.

In the early days they had that effect on me: my sheets were so cool, the air was so fresh, my eyes were heavy and sleeping and waking were so easy. I took them at the same time every day and I started to wake up with the sun and go to sleep with it too, and I felt so much more productive and healthy and mostly the biggest change was that I no longer had the panic attacks.

I could spend a very long time talking about my journey with antidepressants. I am not one of those people who thinks they’re evil and bad for you and that you should try something else. I tried everything else. I did the fucking breathing exercises and all they did was make me more scared. I tried meditating and doing yoga and doing reiki and projecting a fucking energy shield around myself with my mind during guided meditations and listening to Enya, I tried to be positive and to write positive and think positive, I tried not to focus on the fear, but that did not stop my body from going numb, it did not stop the panic attacks from coming, wave after wave, until living was impossible.

So I’m glad I took them, I truly am.

But.

The thing about antidepressants is that they start to sap color and sound and feeling from the world around you. The world is a bright and vibrant and terrifying place, and if you want the good stuff you have to take the bad stuff too, and the antidepressants will make the bad stuff go away but it also makes the good stuff go away too. It’s not so blatant that you realize that you don’t have depth of feeling anymore, but after a very long time, you look at who you used to be and you realize that even when you try to go for a walk and listen to music now…

…it just isn’t the same.

I am not the same.

I’m so very, very tired.

Drained, lethargic, weary. Weary is probably the best word. I’m just so over it all. I feel like I’ve seen it all and felt it all, which will probably seem silly to me if I read this back to myself in years to come. But mostly I feel like the old washed up could-have-been sitting at the table and smoking a cigarette and staring off into the distance, eyes filled with visions of what might have been.

It’s not just that none of my dreams have come true. It’s that there’s no hope of them coming true, nothing on the horizon, no real changes happening. I look at where I am and even though I still love people and have dreams and hopes and I try and I create, I don’t have that same fascination with life anymore.

I’m too weary.

It’s been a long day and I don’t want to go to sleep but it would be nice not to feel so fucking tired.

And I just can’t stop taking the medication because life would kill me. The colors and sounds and feelings would overhwlem me and I’d be unable to handle it. I live with my family, and that is not a safe place to be, and I have to have a shield projected around me at all times just to make it through the day when I’m near them. I want to leave them but then I’ll need to be reliant on myself and that’s even worse, because then I REALLY can’t afford to stop taking the medicine because I can’t afford to miss work because of a panic attack.

You see? There is no optimal solution short of hitting the lottery and having the ability to live in a comfortable house with someone I love who respects and supports me, and write and play piano all day and wonder at the fascinating minutia of life as I stare out into the rainstorm. Because right here, in real life, I’m on the ground, and I have to find a way to make it through a life that has and may still continue to consist of going to work in a job I hate and putting on a smile and pretending that I’m not miserable for hours and hours a day, coming home and eating and staring at a screen for fun, then going to sleep and either doing it again the next day or spending a day resting from how exhausting it is to do it.

I feel both envy and anger toward normal people. People who think it’s fun to go to a bar. People who make weekend plans. People who can just go anywhere and do anything without being in constant fear their own brain and body will kill them. How dare they walk around complaining about ANY problem when I can’t bare to step foot outside without enough drugs in me numbing my experience of life to the point that I can feel love but not much else. Sadness I feel, loneliness I feel, sometimes intensely. Maybe that’s why I love the feeling of loneliness, because it’s the only truly intense feeling I have left.

I got sick two weeks ago, and my sex drive disappeared. Which is ironic because I STOPPED taking the antidepressant that was lowering my sex drive. And yes, I know a lot of what I’m experiencing right now is probably due to stopping it. I’m taking a different one but still, the transition is always difficult.

I miss life before the drugs, though. I know that they’ve become so entwined with my system, like roots growing into a house that’s being built until the house is part of the tree. So I don’t know that I’ll ever have a chance to be whole. I’ve been walking on crutches so long that my legs have atrophied, and my emotions might have done the same thing and just given up. Sometimes life feels like a pale and grey facsimile of itself, and I am just a reflection, a shadow cast from the boy who walked around the block and listened to music and made music videos in his head.

I wish I could talk to him and give him a hug, tell him I love him, and that I admire him, and that I aspire to be who I remember I was when I was him.

I mostly drive now, instead of walking. I didn’t have a license then. I don’t know what driving would have been like for me. I wish I could take him for a drive.

I wish I could feel the way I did, I wish I could try it all again and do things differently, I wish I’d been born to a loving family where I’m welcome and encouraged and appreciated, I wish the cow was full of milk, I wish the house was full of gold, I wish a lot of things.

I wish I could end this with something happy. I wish I wasn’t such a miserable sod who probably depresses anyone who reads my writing. I wish that someone would love my writing and my music and help me grow and take me away into a happier world where I just know I can see all the things I’ve been waiting for.

I made it through the sickness, the black despair of lying in the hospital bed for ten hours, and the scar on my arm from the IV needle still hasn’t faded entirely. I reorganized my room today. I’m sitting in front of a television in my room in a chair that wasn’t here before. There’s a new book sitting on my bed. There are things to do tomorrow.

There’s a friend I love who I want to ask to be my boyfriend, because I’m saddened by the thought of meeting someone else. I don’t know if it’s a functional kind of love or just more dysfunction from me, because really, when have I ever understood how to treat anyone with decency, much less myself?

I feel so much shame for the person I have been and the things I’ve said and done to people and the thoughts I’ve thought at night alone and the wishes I’ve had. I feel so weary at how heavy everything is and wish I could just try again, start again from the boy who felt so much so fully. I wish I could be a good enough, sound enough, stable enough person to know what a relationship is and how to enjoy one or experience one or be a good boyfriend to someone else or a good friend or a good lover.

I believe I have so much potential, and I also believe that right now there is a foggy cloud of confusion and pain and numbness around my head that makes it hard to see anyone through the blur.

I believe I’m still worthy of love, and that I should still try anyway.

My ex-boyfriend, not the mean one I talked about at the beginning of this post, but another one from later, one who I really loved and respected but who just didn’t work out, we’ve stayed friends through the internet since we broke up three years ago. Three years together, three years apart. I made a new Facebook account and he didn’t accept my friend request. I checked Instagram and he removed me from his friends there. I sent him a message from my old account and he read but didn’t reply.

I don’t blame him and I’m not mad at him. But it hurts. It’s sad.

I’ve always wished I could just kiss him one more time, to say I’m sorry and try to fix it all, even if it can’t be fixed, but just to do it for the sake of doing it, and for the fun of it. I always hoped I would kiss him again someday.

Now I have to accept that that might not ever happen. What if I never hear his voice again for the rest of my life? When I was laying in the hospital bed, I thought only of two people: the person I love the most, and him. I made voice messages to them telling them how important they’ve been to me and how much I love them.

Does he know how much I still love him and how much I treasure every memory that touches anything related to him? That there’s never a time when I see something related to the Legend of Zelda and he doesn’t cross my mind? That I still think of him when I hear the line in Into the Woods, “Sometimes people leave you halfway through the wood.”

I love you, Nate.

I’m glad we gave it a try.

Advertisements

How To Diffuse An Argument With Your Boyfriend

“You could try being a little more considerate!” I shouted.

Garrett rolled his eyes and stood up from the couch, walking toward the kitchen. I followed, really getting steamed up.

“So you’re not going to say anything else? You’re just going to be totally quiet?” I asked.

Garrett was closing a pizza box and putting it back in the refrigerator. “Look,” he said in an angry, authoritative voice, “I’m just cranky tonight, okay? I’m sorry that I was inconsiderate!” He slammed the refrigerator door shut.

“You can be sorry,” I said, cleaning up paper plates from the counter and throwing them into the garbage, “But that doesn’t help when I’m pouring my heart out to you and you completely change the subject! And don’t try to be cute either!”

Suddenly Garrett stopped, a shaker of Parmesan cheese in his hand, and arched an eyebrow. “What did I do that was cute?” he asked in a skeptical voice.

I groaned, “Saying you’re ‘cranky,’ like a baby, trying to make it cute. You’re being an ass, is what you’re doing.”

Garrett kept his eyebrow raised and set the cheese down on the counter. He stepped closer to me, “So,” he said carefully, “You think I’m cute?”

I narrowed my eyes and bit my lip in frustration, “This is not working, you are not going to change the subject again.”

Garrett slipped his hands onto my hips. I registered a view different physical reactions to this. For one thing, I was still fuming, and it annoyed me to no end, and then on the other hand, my hips were a very sensitive spot and he knew it, and it sent a shiver up my back. “Garrett, stop it,” I said, “I’m trying to talk about something serious.”

Garrett’s anger was gone, and he pressed his forehead to mine, and said in a quiet voice, “I’m sorry baby, I was just being cranky.”

“Garrett…” I grumbled. “You are not going to charm your way out of this.”

“So you think I’m charming?” he asked with a coy smile.

My heart was beating fast, and my chest was filling with a warmth that made me even more aggravated because I really didn’t want to be feeling this right now. I was still mad at him.

“Garrett, can’t you please be serious for one second?” I asked, and I gently held him away from me by his arms.

He gave me a pouty face. God, not the pouty face. His green eyes seemed to twinkle when he did that. I didn’t know for sure if he was capable of making himself cry on command but it looked like there might be tears forming in his eyes.
“Garrett…” I sighed. He was wearing me down. This was unacceptable. “I’m trying to make an important point to you here. You have to take my feelings into consideration sometimes.”

“I know,” he said in a pitiful voice. “I’m really sorry, Tyler…”

Goddammit. I was getting hard. My zipper was tightening. Stop it, Garrett.

Garrett leaned forward and wrapped his scrawny little arms around me, pulling me in to hug him. He was the same height as I was, but so much thinner, and even though he was strong, it always amazed me when I held him in my arms how tiny he felt, how light he was. I put my arms around him too. “Garrett,” I breathed, “We are having a serious discussion.”

Garrett touched his fingertips to the scruff on my cheek and touched his nose gently to mine, “I know we are, baby,” and he leaned in and kissed me.

God, his lips were soft. And my erection was in full force. He was certainly the best kisser I’d ever had. He always started gentle, this way, a tiny kiss, and then one that was a little deeper. I found myself kissing him back. And then he slipped his tongue into my mouth and just like that, I wasn’t angry anymore. That feeling became a tingling sensation on the back of my neck and all over my head that slipped away as I touched his tongue with mine and he pulled it away, teasing me like he always did. He held me tight with his little arms. He was just a tiny bit taller than me, so when we kissed, he was leaning down ever so slightly to get to my lips. I liked it.

He had completely seized control of this situation. He began to kiss me while gentle walking me backward into the living room, and he pulled me with him onto the couch, laying on top of me. He was so light. I kept my arms wrapped around him tight, and he pressed his crotch into mine. Yep, his erection was there, bigger than mine, as always, though he never bragged about it, and he was definitely as in the mood as I was.
Suddenly the anger became something else. I whispered to him softly, “Dammit,” and bit his lip.
He giggled. So cute when he did that. It made me want to take him more than I had before. “Why you say that?” he asked with a grin.

“You can’t always get out of every situation like this, Garrett,” I said, but there was no anger in my voice.

Garrett raised his eyebrows gently and in a low voice that he reserved only for me and only when we were about to have sex, he said, “I’ll bet I can, baby.”

I lost all control at that point, and what had been an argument going on for twenty minutes suddenly became something completely different. I pulled his clothes off, whipping his tight little underwear down his legs as he unbuttoned by shirt and pulled it off of me. His lips were everywhere, kissing my nipples and biting at them, and as we lay naked, grinding against each other, ferociously making out, I found myself whimpering, giving myself over to him, and he held me tight in those arms that I loved so much, and when he reached into a table beside the couch for lube and touched me gently with it, I didn’t flinch. I was hungry for him, and when he entered me I let out a gasp of pain. He always hurt the first time he went in, so he’d take it out and add some more lube, and then try again. He always went in fine the second time.

It didn’t take long. He leaned down and kissed my face and my lips and my cheeks and my necks while he thrust into me, that little body becoming suddenly ferociously strong as he held my entire weight in his arms, thrusting into me and making me completely surrender to him. When his hand reached down to my cock, it was only another moment before I began to come, whispering in his ear that I loved him, that I belonged to him, and he released inside me, as I loved for him to do, and there was a warmth there within me that could only come from him, filling me up.

He grabbed his shirt from the floor and slipped it under my butt, and then pulled the soft blanket from the back of the couch, covering us both with it, and laid his head on my chest. I kissed his soft hair, smelling it. We had been sweating, but it was cold in the house. I liked it cold. It made it feel better when we cuddled. I held him close in my arms.

“You still mad at my, Ty?” he asked.

I smiled. “No, baby, I’m not mad.” I kissed his hair again, and he leaned up, looked at me with those perfect green eyes, and kissed my lips. I could taste my cock. I liked it. It felt so intimate, this kiss, after we were done. I squeezed him, and all the strength in his skinny little body seemed to be gone now and he sunk down onto me, and within a few minutes, he was asleep on top of me, naked, breathing gently.

I whispered into his ear that I loved him and got back a sleepy grumble that resembled “I love you too.” Trying not to move him, I reached above my head and grabbed the remote from the table by the couch, got a little more comfortable, entwined our legs together, and turned the TV on. I could feel myself getting sleepy was I wasn’t ready to fall asleep yet. I turned on the TV and leaned down to give him another kiss, scratching his head and playing with his hair and he slept on my chest. I watched TV, but I wasn’t paying attention to it. All I was thinking about was him.

It was in moments like these, together, quiet, and alone, that I felt the happiest. I gave him a gentle squeeze in his sleep, feeling his whole body on top of me, his hairy legs, his soft cock resting on my leg, his chest gently rising and falling, and his head snuggled comfortably into the corner of my chest by my armpit. I eventually turned the lamp on the table off, turned off the TV, and closed my eyes. I could have taken him to bed, but somehow this was more comfortable. In bed he could get away from me. Here he was all mine. I grinned at the thought, and when my head got swimmy, the only thing I knew was the feeling of his body against mine, and his gentle breathing, as I fell asleep.

Dream Journal: Nosebleeds and Cooking?

I don’t remember this one very well, probably because I’ve been awake for about 30 minutes and I should recorded this one when it was still fresh, but I’ll put down what I remember.

This dream involved my ex-boyfriend Jimmy. I’ve actually had a few dreams about him, and all of them stick out in my memory. I think the last time I dreamed about it him involved us living together in a kind of creepier version of his apartment, except that it was by the sea, and I think there may have been mermaids involved. There was also a raucus party, a big downhill slope like the one at his apartment, and I seem to remember being behind a curtain, or some kind of secret passage, and I was there with a guy while he was doing something important. I can’t remember what, though.

But that was the dreams from last time. This time, Jimmy and I lived in an apartment again, one of his two rommates from real life (the one I don’t like) was living there with us, and this time instead of being modeled after his real apartment, it was modeled after the apartment my grandmother lived in before she died. Almost to complete the thought of it being my grandmother’s apartment, Wheel of Fortune was on TV. The roommate was sitting on the couch, I’m pretty sure she was saying or doing something aggravating.

So I don’t remember much, except that at some point there was cooking happening, and there seemed to be multiple people in the kitchen, and I believe I was the one doing the cooking, but I can’t remember if it was Jimmy or the roommate or both who were in the kitchen with me. At another point I was in Jimmy’s bedroom with him and he was telling me that every time he’d gone to visit his parents, it had been in Cramerton, which is near where I live. So I was confused as to why he never told me so that he could come see me when he was in the area.

Really, the last thing that happened is the strangest. He sort of got a nosebleed, except it wasn’t really coming from his nose. It was running down underneath his nose, but the source was on his forehead, and what was coming out wasn’t blood, but this greenish-yellow gook. I was trying to wipe it off of him with tissues, but there was a lot and I was going through tissues. He didn’t seem to be upset at all, he was just talking to me as I was wiping the gunk off of him.