#121: For Zack

meandzack

Hi Zack

It’s about 9:30 at night, I’m sitting in the office on my new laptop. Jake is on the floor next to the chair. I’ve had kind of a weird day. I went out to find something to eat this afternoon and I ate a frosty from Wendy’s, and due to being diabetic I learned the hard way just how bad of an idea that was. I’m probably lucky that I’ve just had a headache, and the constant feeling that my ears are popping.

What I’ve done all day to occupy myself is very similar to what I did when I first got here, almost one year ago. I’m going through my music collection, and adding to it from your CD collection. When I first moved here I was stunned at how many CDs you had, because I was convinced I was the only person who still had a collection of CDs. I imported way more of your music than I ever actually got around to listening to, though I have discovered quite a lot of new artists since meeting you.

The day we met has been on my mind today. I guess I didn’t notice until just now, but it’s probably related to a dream I had last night. Last night I dreamt that I was walking into the train station again, and seeing you waiting for me, holding a book (I can’t remember the name but it was a mystery crime novel you got from the library). I don’t remember much of the dream, just the vague notion that I was there again, and I KNEW that I was there for the second time, and I thought to myself, “I have to make this work this time. I have to do this again, and make sure to keep my job, so that I don’t have to go back to my mom’s house.”

Hold on, I’m not trying to make you feel guilty, just stay with me here. I’ve been thinking about how I felt that day, when I met you in that train station. The first thing that struck me was how cute you were, and I instantly had a crush on you. In fact I was really infatuated with you for the first couple of months that I was here. On that first day, we didn’t talk very much. We didn’t know what to say. You didn’t know how to start the conversation and I was so overwhelmed that this was ACTUALLY happening, that I didn’t know what to think. I remember us walking to the parking garage and loading my bags into the car, and I remember the drive on the highway. We were listening to one of the rock stations on Satellite radio. It was the first time I’d heard Stitched Up Heart. I know we eventually started talking, I just don’t remember much of what it was about. I remember poking you. Partially it was to get a conversation started and partially it was just because I wanted to touch you.

I remember when we pulled into the garage for the first time. I remember that you told me to wait while you brought the dogs out to meet me. While you were inside the house I noticed a snow shovel on the wall. I kind of smiled, because I realized that we actually lived in a place where real snowfall was something to be prepared for, because I’ve lived in the south my whole life and it’s never been much of an issue. It also struck me that I was suddenly in “the north,” and even though it’s debatable whether or not Delaware is considered to be a northern state, I was so relieved to have some distance between myself and the south. The place I grew up, where people had thick accents and chewed tobacco and churches littered every corner, and you got funny looks for doing anything even slightly atypical. A place where I had to keep my head down and avoid eye contact.

I remember when the dogs rushed out into the garage and jumped into the trunk of Robert’s car, sitting on my luggage. I remember when I first walked into the house I was so impressed with how spacious the house was. I don’t remember much else about that first day, except for Robert coming home and how I didn’t really know him as well as you, so I wasn’t sure what to say. He seemed a little more serious than you, and I think I might have been a little afraid of him. I found him intimidating for some reason, but it was probably just because he’s a little more reserved.

I don’t remember much else about the first day here. But I have all sorts of memories about the first few months. I remember that something happened which I didn’t expect. I kept having these emotional breakdowns, and I didn’t know why. I would go off at any little thing and just start crying, I took any excuse to dramatically storm out of the room and run into my room crying. Every time, you followed me. You held me. You promised me it was alright now. That I never had to go back. I told you how afraid I was that you guys would get tired of me and send me back. You promised me that wouldn’t happen.

Stop it, don’t start feeling guilty again. I’m really not trying to guilt trip you here. I’m just telling you what I remember.

I remember getting a job at Barnes and Noble and being so excited, and I remember the horror as my excitement turned to anxiety and I started having panic attacks at work, and before work. I had trouble going to sleep, sometimes trouble eating. On Thanksgiving I couldn’t concentrate all day, and I ended up walking outside and sitting on the porch, eventually just laying down on my back and trying to breathe. I realized that working at Barnes and Noble was too stressful for me, that I needed to find something else, that I needed some kind of office job. I remember the immense relief when they fired me a few days later. I really was upset about it, I was being genuine when I told you I was upset, and it was because I didn’t want to disappoint you. But I was very relieved that it was over, and that I could crawl back into bed where it was safe, that I didn’t have to go back there, to a place where I felt like I was in chains.

I remember the excitement of getting hired at Avalanche, and how proud you both were of me. One of my favorite memories is when we were setting up the Christmas tree in the living room, and we baked Christmas cookies while we were watching the Simpsons. I often go back to that memory when I need to feel stable and safe, and have hope for the future. I remind myself that there can be more times like that night, and I can feel as safe as I did then. I remember getting used to the routine of driving to and from work every day, and truthfully I never got used to working 45 hours a week. It was so MUCH, even if I wasn’t doing very much work. I had never had that kind of responsibility before, even if it was an easy responsibility.

I think if I tried to describe all of my memories from all the trips we took to meet the other people from the Patreon group, I’d be rambling on for pages and pages about it. But my favorite thing was always the beginning. I love road trips. I love them even more with friends. I’ve had so few opportunities to go on road trips with friends. I love stopping at the gas station at the beginning, getting supplies, choosing CDs to listen to on the trip, I even love falling asleep while you’re driving. I love listening to you sing while your favorite music plays, even if some of the heavier metal is kind of indiscernible to me.

I felt safe. I have always been safe with you.

It got harder when I quit Avalanche. Looking back, it’s such a big regret of mine. Because at the time I genuinely thought that I could make it without that job. I wish I had understood then how important it was for me to have that job, for me to have something full-time, and I wish I knew then that office stress was MUCH easier to manage than retail stress. I wish they had hired me back when I applied again, and when I called and called. I’ve probably called them at least once every month or so. No matter how many times I call the managers, none of them pick up their phones. I even left one of them a handwritten note at the front desk once, but never got a call back. I tried texting my old manager but he stopped responding. There was just no hope of getting the job back. And yeah, it wasn’t the best office job. I wish I would have immediately set my sights on finding another office job, or going to a temp agency or something.

I wish a lot of things. But it did feel good to leave Avalanche. And it did feel good to start working at Staples. Admittedly the feeling didn’t last very long. I remember the stress building and building, becoming worse with each failed attempt at a job. I tried working at two stores for Staples and I still didn’t have enough money, I tried working full time at the pawn shop and I was absolutely miserable. I moved back to my mom’s house and I missed my family so much, my real family, you and Robert and the dogs, and the sloths. You welcomed me back.

Letting me come back means more to me than you can realize. Even if it only lasted a couple of months, the fact that you welcomed me back home when I asked, that’s something important. It shows me, looking back on it, that you weren’t afraid to take another chance on me. That you were willing to put yourself out on a limb for me.

This recent job hunt didn’t work out much either. I got the job at Target and hated it, but I tried not to complain to vocally, because I didn’t want to upset you guys. I know how tight money was getting, I know that I was becoming a burden on you. I know that in one year I’ve paid rent maybe three or four times.

I just want you to know that I never intentionally used you or Robert. I never TRIED to live off of you. I will admit that there were many times when I knew the two of you would be forgiving, and that you probably wouldn’t make me leave if I fucked up, so I didn’t always make the best choices because I knew you could be counted on to pick up the slack. That was abusing your kindness and your trust, and I’m sorry. I truly am. I guess I didn’t realize how fucked it up was that I did that until just now. But please understand that I wasn’t trying to live off of you, to be a leech. I just knew that if I failed or gave up, there was a good chance you guys would take care of me in the interim of a few weeks while I searched for something new. I fell into a pattern, and it was an unhealthy one. I started using you in the same way I’ve used other people: my family, and at least four ex-boyfriends that I can think of immediately. I have always trusted other people to take care of me when I can’t take care of myself.

I told you earlier today that I’ve come to the realization that I seem to need to be parented. It happens in relationships and in friendships. I need for someone else to be in control, and to have a steady grip on things, someone I can rely on. I think this is because of how unreliable my own parents have been. One of my biggest fears when I was a teenager being shuffled from house to house was that I didn’t know where I would lay my head down the next night, and I felt that the reason was because I had a mother who didn’t, or couldn’t, love me.

And that’s really the thing. You saved me. Robert saved me too, but it was you who took the first step, you who reached out to me, you who listened, and you who suggested that I might be able to stay in your guest bedroom. You asked Robert. You paid for SO much. You bought me food, and you bought me a car, you got me set up, you put me on my feet, and you hugged me and held me whenever I cried and told you I was afraid.

You promised I would never have to go back.

And I’m not going back.

That’s the thing. Right now, because of the situation, I’ll need to move in with my mom for a short while. I’m hoping it will be only a few months before I figure something else out. But I’m still not going back.

I’m never going back again, to the place I was when you met me. I’m never going back to being that terrified boy, who had no one in the world he could trust. I’m never going  back to that place of desperation and fear.

Because I have a home now. Because I have love now.

Because I have a FAMILY now.

You made good on your promise, Zack. I never have to go back to where I was when we met. I never have to go back to being afraid that there’s no one in the world who cares about my well being. I never have to worry that I can’t have a loving family who cares about my thoughts, my feelings, my voice, and who encourages my talent and my future.

No matter where I go, you are a part of me now. No one can take that away from me. Not my mother. Not my father. No distance can stop the way I feel about you and Robert, and no distance can stop this house and this atmosphere from being my home.

I wish I didn’t have to go to my mom’s house, and I know you do too. I’m afraid. I’m not so much afraid of what she’ll do (I have plenty of experience deflecting her vitriol), the thing I’m most afraid of is that I might, unforgivably, for even a moment, forget you, or forget how I feel being here, forget my home, forget the love I have here. I fear that I might give in to despair for just a moment and forget how many people love me, and how many people encourage me and want the best for me. And the truth is, a large part of that is because of you. The sloths have opened their hearts to me because they’re wonderful people, but if not for your bold act of kindness, with no expectation of reward or returned favor, I wouldn’t have gotten to meet them, at least not when I did. I wouldn’t have had this year with you.

It’s funny, so much terrible stuff has happened in the world in the past year. I always pause when I see people saying things like “I just want 2016 to be over,” and believe me I identify with them and I’ve said it myself. But truthfully, despite all the trials I’ve faced over the past year, I’m glad that it was here, with you, and with Robert. I’m glad that I had you to come home to. I’m glad that I had you to show my music, my writing, and my ideas to. I’m glad that you listened to me ramble about my interests, and that you shared your interests with me. I’m glad that you cared about me, that you guarded me ferociously when you found out about my blood test results and came to the doctor’s office with me to help me make sure I understood my diagnosis and what to do next. I’m glad that you took me with you to so many place, to concerts, to gatherings, to meet your family.

I went through a period earlier this year when I felt suicidal. I think a big part of that had to with how much suicidal stuff I was surrounding myself with: I was getting really involved in Emilie Autumn’s art, which has a lot of examination of suicide, the mythology and morality questions surrounding it, and I think I wanted to identify with her, as someone who was suicidal, because it helped me to feel that I had an identity to be proud of, even if that identity was a mental illness. I know you’ve worried about me hurting myself. I can’t say that I’ve honestly not considered hurting myself, but I know that I’ve not really come close to TRYING anything. Just basically sunk into the depression and daydreamed about it. I guess I want you to know that I’m sorry if I scared you with my talk of being suicidal, and also that I don’t want you to be scared that I’ll try to hurt myself if I go to my mom’s house.

I promise, if I hit rock bottom, if I lose all hope, I’ll call you. And if you don’t answer I’ll wait until you do. And if absolutely nothing works, I’ll sell my video games and drive here with the gas money before I try and hurt myself. But just so you know, I really don’t think I’m going to hurt myself.

I wish it weren’t my mom’s house. And it is upsetting in many ways. But the thing that really makes me sad, is losing this. I know that I’m not REALLY losing it, I’m not losing the fact that I have a home and a family, I’m not losing the love I feel for you and Robert, or the trust I have in the two of you, or the way either of you feel about me. But it will be a change. It’s hard to imagine I won’t allow some feeling of dread that I’ve turned back the clock sink into me when I’m in South Carolina. But I know that I can overcome those feelings because I have you here, and I have Robert, and I have the sloths.

I’ll miss Jake a lot. I’ll miss having him in bed with me every night. I tried to sleep with Butterscotch in my bed before but her fur is really thick so petting her makes my hands feel icky. It’s not her fault. Just, Jake is easier to sleep with. I like to cuddle with him. I feel safe and comforted having Jake near me, and I think he feels the same. I’ve never really bonded with a dog the way I have with Jake. I’ll miss Roxxi too, and Apollo. Apollo is finally starting to warm up to me as much as he does to you. Roxxi’s started following me around a lot more in the last few months too. I hope they’ll be okay. I hope they won’t be too upset that I’m not here. It breaks my heart to imagine Jake laying on my bed in the guest bedroom, wondering when I’ll come home.

I hope that I come back here some day. I know that might sound kind of unexpected, but I hope it happens. I hope I’m able to get some kind of job, like being a writer or something that I can do online, where I’m able to do it from anywhere, and I can come back. I’m not asking for that to be on the table, I know you would need time to think about that, and besides I know you need the relief of getting back to saving money and time to get adjusted to me not being here. But I hope it will happen. It’s a wish, deep in my heart, a little secret, that one day I can come home, when I’m ready, and when I’m able. I hope sooner than later.

I’m scared. I’m excited about the drive. Like I said, I love car trips. I’ve been burning CDs all day. I’ve been getting ready. I’ve been borrowing your music. And I’ve been getting ready this past year, and borrowing from you. I asked you, and you helped me.

You can’t possibly ever understand what you’ve given me, Zack.

I may not have actually killed myself if I hadn’t come here. But I would have kept dying. I was dying then. And when you rescued me, I was pulled out of an ocean, and when you’re saved from drowning, the first thing you do is cough and pant and gasp for air, and it hurts. But it’s a good thing. It’s how you come back to breathing, and to being alive.

Thank you for making me alive.

There’s a song called Being Alive, it’s a Stephen Sondheim song from the musical Company. Whenever Nathan and I broke up, I spent a lot of time listening to songs from musicals, especially Into the Woods. But Bernadette Peters sang the song on one of her albums, and it’s a beautiful song. And it has these lyrics that I used to sing along to, and I would sing them out into the universe, hoping someone would hear them and answer me:

“Somebody hold me too close, somebody hurt me too deep
Somebody sit in my chair, and ruin my sleep
And make me aware of being alive
Somebody need me too much, somebody know me too well
Somebody pull me up short, and put me through hell,
And give me support for being alive
Make me alive, make me alive
Make me confused, mock me with praise
Let me be used, vary my days
But alone is alone, not alive
Somebody crowd me with love, somebody force me to care
Somebody make me come through, I’ll always be there, as frightened as you
To help us survive
Being alive”

Thank you for being the one who answered the call I sent out into the world. Thank you for saving me. Thank you for giving me the love I had lost when Nathan left, and for being the first person in my entire life to give me real, functional love, built on trust, with no anger and baggage and fear.

Thank you for being my friend when I needed, my lover when I needed, my brother when I needed, and my parent when I needed. Thank you for being everything for me. Thank you.

Thank you for making me alive.

It hurts to be alive. But that’s part of what makes it special.

I’m going to miss being here, and I’m going to miss you so much every day. I know I’ll see you again, and I know I’ll talk to you and be in touch with you. But the actual “touch” part, I’ll miss that. I’ll miss hugging you before I go to bed every night. I’ll even miss when you get mad at me. I’ll miss everything about this place, and you, and the dogs, and Robert, and staying up late playing video games, and going to the store in the middle of the night and coming back in to be greeted by Jake slapping his tail against the wall, and listening to podcasts all night, and driving to Wawa, and ordering pizza, and watching the Simpsons, and baking cookies at Christmas, and laughing about Family Guy jokes, and ranting about religion and atheism, and everything, everything, everything.

I will carry you with me into the next chapter. I will be frightened. But I will be safe, deep inside, knowing that I have a home. And you are my home, Zack. Wherever you and Robert are, that’s where I’m safe.

And all I ever wanted was to be safe.

You gave me everything I ever wanted.

I love you.

#108: 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.

#107: There Are Three Sexy Pictures In This Post

Before we begin, check out this sexy picture of Pan I found on Google Image Search. Yowza.

Fairy Tale. It’s the name of the novel that’s been brewing inside me for about three years now, the novel that I attempted to start last year, gave up on 50,000 words in to try and redesign the plot, and which I’ve spent months and months outlining, outlining again, and picking apart. I’ve added completely new characters and taken them out before they even had a chance to be written down, I’ve changed the setting, the character’s names, I’ve tried to merge Fairy Tale with another story, then decided not to, then tried to do it again, all without writing very much of it down. I find myself with probably half a novel’s worth of concept material and unfinished scenes, but very little in the way of a serious book. I’m not even ready to look over the 21 chapters I wrote for the first draft of the novel, because I know that the “action” scenes are terribly written, the plot is confusing and ill-explained, and there’s a serious lack of direction.

In fact, that’s the main issue with Fairy Tale, there’s never been any direction. Even the title is vague. I thought it was clever before, but I’ve also considered going with The Fairy’s Awakening or something else; I decided to call it Fairy Tale before I even added a fairy to the story, and then I was upset because my plot resembled Final Fantasy and Bravely Default too much. In fact, every time I get inspired and add something new to this story, I feel like a fraud, pulling too much material from someone else. At heart I’m kind of a fanfiction writer, I love having my own characters, but it’s so much easier to put them in someone else’s setting, someone else’s world. And Fairy Tale even has it’s own word, vague and somewhat shapeless though it is, but I’m not good at describing it.

The truth is, I believe I’m a good writer, but I’m not good enough yet. I’ll know when I’m good enough. But when I put down the first draft of Fairy Tale, I decided to step back from it, take some time, think some more about where I wanted to go. What I ended up doing was coming up with practically an entirely new plot, and now at this point I don’t even know which version of the story (of which there are about seven to ten completely different outlines) to start with. But I realized something: I’ve written a lot of conceptual material for this novel, and probably more concept scenes than the actual first draft itself. I’d even decided to just let the first draft go, start all over, and rewrite what needed to be rewritten. But that’s just… not fulfilling to me. In fact, a few days ago I felt sure that I was ready to finally start on this story again, from scratch, and then the next day I woke up and suddenly my desire to write this story was gone. There was just too much. I’d thrown in so many ideas that the entire story was just as vague and devoid of true meaning as it had been when I’d first imagined it.

Ultimately, I wanted to tell an adventure story about magic. Magic was always the central focus. There were a lot of themes and messages I wanted to get across: Lucas has a terrible relationship with his father, Chancellor Elliot Varner, and I based that relationship on how I feel about my own father, who is abusive and distant. Bronwen appeared in my story and I didn’t even realize that she was transgender at first. Imogen and her adopted mother appeared in the story when I was still Pagan, before I became an atheist, or at least something close to an atheist. Lucas is in love with his straight best friend, an experience that I believe is probably very common for young gay people. Drosselmeyer is the leader of a corrupt religious organization that mimics the Catholic Church and worships a deity called the Unknown God (a phrase borrowed from Gregory Maguire’s ‘Unnamed God’ from Wicked). A character called Dexter who’s been a part of the story for a long time but has rarely ever shown up in any scene I’ve written was raised in an aristocratic family but hated wealth and power, fell in love with his adopted brother who he didn’t yet realize was a transgender female.

These are all great places to explore themes about love, about boundaries and whether they’re appropriate, about the power people exert over others, and about being honest with yourself about who you are. I don’t think there are nearly enough gay characters, much less gay heroes, in all of fiction, much less written fiction, and even less in fantasy, which is still mostly dominated by a straight-male perspective, despite it’s penchant for outlandish geekery and misfit-acceptance. But there isn’t REALLY a central story. It’s just an adventure. I’ve been asked over and over again what this book is about, and the truth is I don’t know. If so many elements of this story are so easy for me to pick up, throw out, and replace with something new, then maybe there isn’t really a glue holding all of this together. I’ve managed to throw in every single idea for a story I’ve had, and what I’ve gotten is a stew that’s made up of too many ingredients and I just don’t know where to go, this story has no direction at all.

So I’m at a weird place. Part of me wants to just drop Fairy Tale and start on something completely new, then come back to Fairy Tale when I’m a better writer and I can find some sense of direction for this book. Maybe I’ll do that. Another part of me thinks that it’s better to have a crappy draft that is FINISHED than a brilliant scene that is unfinished, and that I should just pick up where I left off on the first draft, and worry about rewriting and changing things later. I may do that too. All I know is that I’ve got to choose SOME course of action, because now even I’ve lost my direction.

And now for an abrupt change of topic. Check out sexy Bolin!
I need to blog more, because I’ve spent literally YEARS wanting to talk about what’s going on in my life here on my blog and just not doing it. So I’m going to talk about what’s going on in my life right now, and I may even keep peppering in random pictures of sexy men.
First of all, I started doing video blogs, and so far there are two. It’s about time for a third. In the first, I discuss the fact that I may not actually really feel all that male after all, and I certainly don’t feel like “man” is a pronoun I would ever want used to describe me. It’s possible that I’m closer to agender than anything, but I still feel a bit male. That’s why I’ve always liked the term “boy,” and why I don’t feel odd wearing gender nonconforming clothes and why I loathe gender roles. In the second video blog, I sob about how upsetting it is to live with depression.
I’ve had anxiety and depression for years now, and I’m currently switching to a new antidepressant (or should I say, my DOCTOR is putting me on a new antidepressant). So far I’m hopeful. However, on the one hand, the new antidepressant is helping me feel a little more positive (despite constant mood swings, feelings of hopelessness, dread and uselessness), but I remember that a couple of months ago I tried quitting my antidepressants cold turkey and I was amazed at how much I FELT everything. I hadn’t realized how numb I’d been for so long. Now that I’m on my meds again, I feel numb again. I can still feel things, but in general the thing I really feel most of all in a need for love, and an overwhleming loneliness.
I’m making changes in my life. I’ve started walking. That seems small, but it isn’t. I’ve done a bad job for the past week at sticking to my new walking plan, but I got back on it today. Whenever I feel bored, or I want to to do something, usually I pick up a video game, or get online, but I’m trying to go for a walk whenever I feel that way. It isn’t always a brisk semi-jog, sometimes it’s just a walk. But it’s something, and today I walked a mile and a half and I’m proud of myself for it. I’ve also quit soda. Now, I’ve slipped up the past few days because I’ve drank soda a few times, but it was usually because there just wasn’t much else to drink, and I didn’t even really enjoy it that much. In general, I’ve quit soda, and I think that alone has caused me to lose weight.
And I have lost weight. I weighed 250 pounds give-or-take for about a year, and I’m down to 237 pounds if I remember correctly from the scale at the doctor’s office (which, oddly, weighed me lower than all of the household scales I’ve stepped on at different houses, but since it’s at the doctor’s office, I’m giving this one credence, nevermind the fact that it has the lowest weight). I am beginning to FEEL healthier. I’ve gone through all of my clothes and boxed up the ones I’m too big for. I’m not going to keep staring at clothes I can’t fit into, or suffer the indignity of putting on a shirt only to see that it clings so tightly to my body that it’ll never fit, and then whipping it off in a rage as shirt after shirt do exactly the same thing. I’m also trying to eat better things. Though I’ve been pretty bad this past week, I’m avoiding fast food in general, and trying to eat things like fruit and nuts, and maybe not so much bread, which I was surprised to learn isn’t really good for you. I’m drinking water or juice, and having tea at night. Hot tea, with a teabag, not sweet iced-tea which is what “tea” is generally shorthand for in the south.
I’m trying to avoid getting online. I’ve gone a day or two without really looking at my computer. That’s a huge step for me. I even put my computer in the office area so that I can only use it when I have a need to, and not waste time with it. I’ve been more productive about cleaning around the house. And most importantly I made a resume and I’ve submitted a couple of job applications. The first place I applied to is something that I believe is akin to a call center, and I think I would enjoy working in an office, sitting at a desk in front of a computer, rather than standing all day in retail or, god forbid, working in food service. I have a phone interview with the company in a few days, I’m hoping it goes well. I’m going to try getting a job or two, and I’m also going to finish applying for college.
There have been some other circumstances as well. I live with my family and my mother may be involved in a deal that will include my sister and I each receiving some money to help us go to school, and a really nice camper for me to stay in that my mom assures me will be HER property and not her husbands, so he won’t have the authority to kick me out of his house anymore. Interesting for her to say that, because it’s always been HER whose told me that I have to go, but whatever, it sounds like a good deal for the moment, and my goal is to get myself a small apartment, to work, to go to school, and to continue bettering myself. Read more, write more, exercise more, use my brain more. Things that used to entertain me like inanely grinding for levels in an RPG for hours and hours don’t do it for me anymore, I’d prefer to listen to a podcast or an audiobook, have my brain working. I don’t enjoy comedy on some shows like Family Guy or American Dad as much as I used to because I’ve become used to things that make me think.
I think, in a general sense, I’m getting better. I feel like I’ve made a real change in how I approach things. I need to get bed soon because I’m going to be up early tomorrow to go clean a couple of houses, which has been my job for a year or more now. I’m glad to have finally gotten some of this down. Let me go find another sexy picture to round out this post with.

I was very torn about which sexy Dylan O’Brien picture or GIF to end with, but this one shows off his eyes, so we’ll go with that.

#71: Moving On and Moving Forward

I have a lot of news! Firstly, I have moved further South. Yeah, it wasn’t my favorite course of action either, but as I’m back living with my family, and my family decided to move to Georgia, I really had no choice but to come along. I was a little bitter about it at first, but I’ve adjusted fairly quickly, and after all, I have always dreamt of getting out of North Carolina. Granted, I didn’t want to go deeper into the deep South, but Georgia’s a beautiful state and luckily we seem to be very near civilization. The redneckery does seem to be at the level I expected, but luckily I don’t actually know, nor plan on knowing, the people up the street who have four flags draped over their front porch (all various forms of American and Confederate, as is to be expected), or indeed our rowdy drunken neighbors. I am content to while my hours away in my room, which is located in a camper in the backyard.

Yeah, you can probably see why I was not too into this move at first, but to my surprise, the RV is quite cozy, and I can listen to music, watch movies, or really do anything, as loud as I want, any time of the day or night. It is quite like having my own place. In a rebellious-son-in-the-back-yard kind of way. And I keep the dog outside with me at night, so at to protect me from unmentionables like wayward confederates and, of course, the various creatures of the night.In exciting musical news, Florence + the Machine have FINALLY released information about the upcoming album, and we’ve been treated to a beautiful new single, What the Water Gave Me. This song, along with Bedroom Hymns, has been floating around YouTube for a bit with recordings of live performances, but here we have the real thing: complete with Florence’s customary vocal acrobatics, choirs, harps, and strings. Due to a combination of not having my own computer with which to keep a music library organized (you have NO idea how badly I want my iTunes back) and not having a debit card on file, I have not yet been able to buy the single, but it will happen.

And now we get to the even bigger news I touched on, the new album!  Florence’s second album is either still as of yet untitled or the title simply has not been revealed, nor has the cover art, but the release date however, has been confirmed as November 7, and the new album is available for pre-order in Florence’s official store. Also, to my elation, there’s a two disc DIGIPAK (squeal!!) deluxe edition, featuring a second disc with B-Sides, remixes, and previously unreleased material, and as a bonus for ordering from the official store, a poster! I cannot properly convey how excited I am about all of these things.

As it turns out, Autumn 2011 is a good season for music, because in addition to Florence’s new album, we’re going to be treated to new albums from some other great artists as well: Evanescence returns from a SIX YEAR hiatus to release a self-titled third album. Amy Lee came out of marital seclusion after spending years putting together this new album, and the band’s lead single, What You Want, shows a growth in style that feels like Evanescence. It’s not like they’ve gone and become We Are The Fallen or anything.

Tori Amos is releasing a new concept album called Night of Hunters, which is said to bear resemblance in many aspects to her third album, Boys For Pele, that dark masterpeice that I consider the cornerstone of her musical career. Tori has even treated us to a track-by-track narration of the story told by the songs that is, as is to be expected, something like a hallucinogen trip. The legendary Bjork comes out of hiding as well to release an album, Biophilia, that is being released in both standard album format and as a series of interactive applications. I’m even hearing tale of a new Kelly Clarkson album. There’s a lot of good music to look forward to, and all within the next few months!