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.

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Wasted


Trigger warnings: this one is a bit dark, and very dreary and depression, mostly because I’m talking about depression. Enter at your own risk. If you do decide to read it and it hurts, then I am very sorry. I hope I’ll be okay, and I hope that you will too.

***

My head is a weird place to live.

Last night was very difficult. In retrospect, I should have seen last night coming, because the whole day was leading up to it.

Sorry, I’m being cryptic. What I’m talking about is my depression. My depression which as I’ve said before manifests as intense loneliness, and it just follows me around throughout the day. I was actually going to write a blog post last night about “Grey Days,” which was a possible word I was thinking of to describe the kind of day where my depression is having a “flare up.” This is something that’s really been happening all my life. When I was a little kid, it wasn’t so much a feeling of loneliness as it was an intense nostalgia, longing for a past time when I felt safe or comfortable or happy. This affected my OCD and caused me to spend a lot of time playing video games and watching TV to try and recreate a moment when I had felt safe. And then in turn I’d try to recreate that feeling later on, leading to me doing a whole lot of playing video games and listening to television and not a whole lot of anything else.

And you know, I wish that I had known then, back when I was twelve, spending all my time staring at screens, that it was a very unproductive use of my time. Granted, my life was not easy when I was twelve. I was raised by an emotionally abusive mother and I needed whatever moments of peace I could get. But I wish I had found peace in walking around outside or reading books more often than video games, because ultimately, as much as I love video games, it kind of saps all the creativity out of me and leaves me kind of zombified. Sometimes that’s nice, but to spend the majority of all your free time that way isn’t exactly healthy.

And really, I think a lot of my problems are due to unhealthy habits. I never learned to eat properly, I never learned to play any sports, I never learned how to interact with people my age, I never learned to drive or do my taxes or deal with the responsibility and stress of working a job. I never learned to manage money, I never had a supportive family who could comfort me when I was lonely or heartbroken, I had to do everything by myself. I had to raise myself. Emotionally, at least. And well, a kid doesn’t know how to raise himself.

I’m rambling today and I guess that’s just gonna be what today’s post is. It’s important that I write every day just to exercise, another thing I need to work on. I want to go back to the gym. I’d like to do so today. But today is another Grey Day where everything is just HEAVY.

I carry the loneliness and the depression around like a very heavy blanket over my shoulders. It’s like a blanket in a lot of ways, it comforts me and keeps me safe when I’m alone, but it’s also hard to carry around, and it keeps me from breathing unfettered.

I was determined that today, I would not let the depression keep me from being productive. I was going to get up, take my computer, and go out into the daylight, sit down at the coffee shop and write, apply for college, work on job applications, and try to make the most of the day. And I’m doing that. But it would be accurate to say that the simple effort to just sit here, out in public, and do something so simple, is so draining that my whole body is weak and I almost feel like I could pass out from it. I’m not really panicked or anxious right now. My current meds have traded panic attacks for deeper depression. It’s time I asked my doctor to change them. I don’t know what the next ones will be like.

I’m horny all the time. I always have been, I’m hypersexual. But this summer, I indulged way too much, and I had a lot of unsatisfactory hookups that ultimately amounted to self-harming. I was shattering my spirit every time I did it, to the point that I didn’t even enjoy hooking up anymore. I was even a little grossed out by it. This is not something I’m used to feeling. Usually, sexuality is so powerful that it consumes me, and even if things don’t work out with the person I’m having sex with, at least I had fun having sex. But now even that has vanished. And the loss of my sexual appetite (and inability to stay hard at important moments, again due to the medication) has really affected my sense of identity. Sexuality is such a part of who I am that I don’t know who I am without it.

A Youtuber who I like, called Contrapoints, said that when she transitioned and no longer had to deal with having so much testosterone running through her, she felt like a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders, like she’d been released from the curse of having a man’s body, the need to have an orgasm every day, to have sex frequently in relationships. I admit that I thought it sounded nice. I thought, it would be good not to have this throbbing thing between my legs dictating my bodily needs, demanding attention before everything else, to the point where orgasms didn’t even feel that good anymore. I usually cum more than four times a day. And this is me ON ANTIDEPRESSANTS, we won’t even go into what it was like before I had medication. Suffice it to say my sexual appetite is huge. And I guess that’s a natural part of being a male in my twenties, but combined with my recent struggles with such intense loneliness, it makes for a dangerous combination.

Last night, I gave up on writing a blog post, packed my computer up and drove home. I’d gone to Starbucks, which is my preferred place to hang out and write, mostly because they always have incredibly fast and reliable WiFi. I spoke to the manager earlier this week about a job and she was very nice to me, and I honestly got really excited. I called her a couple of days later and she assured me she hadn’t forgotten about me. I came in today and asked if she was there, but she’d already gone home. I’m hoping she’ll call me back. I’d always kind of worried about what working in a coffee shop would be like for me, being stuck behind a counter with long lines and potentially feeling really hot and overwhelmed, but for some reason I now really want to give it a try. I think I’d be a good fit. I hear they pay their employees really well.

You see, I don’t have any idea what I was going to talk about when I started this, it’s all very stream of consciousness today because there’s just so much I have to say. I’ve been working on writing a song, and every day I spent at least twenty minutes or so playing it and throwing around ideas. It’s progressing very slowly. I’ve been keeping track of my ideas for stories and blogs. And I made myself some lunch this afternoon instead of buying it, and that always feel better than eating processed food.

I wish I had any fucking clue how to do any of this. It’s awful to be twenty-eight and have no idea how to be a grownup. I feel so embarassed and humiliated, like this big child who doesn’t know what the hell I’m doing. And mostly, the only real emotion I’ve been feeling lately is desperate, cloying loneliness, which doesn’t exactly make online dating easy, because I’m either upset at all the rejection or I’m coming on to people way too strong.

I guess I’ve gotten over being ghosted a couple weeks ago. But I haven’t forgotten about it, and I haven’t stopped being angry. Another guy has put off seeing me three times now and vanished without responding to messages. I don’t know why people are so unreliable. I even asked him last night to promise he wouldn’t disappear on me. But he did anyway.

What I feel today is hopelessness. The effort to sit here is overwhelming. Just driving around, being out in the world, it’s enough to make me swoon with sadness. I walk through the day, on the verge of tears at all times, and the worst thing is I don’t know if it’s for a legitimate reason or if it’s just my stupid brain chemistry not doing what it’s supposed to.

I’m getting old. I’m not actually getting old but I can feel myself aging, turning into an actual adult, and I’ve missed so much. I didn’t go to college, and even if I start soon, I’ll never know what it’s like to be twenty-four in college. When I think back on my life, I ask myself, is there any time I would go back to and live again if I could travel into the past? And aside from my visits with Matthew last year and Jacob this year, the answer is no. I hate my childhood, I hate my teenage years, I hate my early twenties. When I look back on my life, I don’t see a collection of lived experiences and a life full of interesting thought and contemplation and expression of my talent, I see wasted potential, I see the person I currently am: a fat, diabetic, alternate-timeline version of the real me, the one who went to school and made friends and had lovers and felt things, felt life, actually FELT everything. But this version of me? It’s a bad dream. One where you wake up and think “I’m so glad I’m not actually in my late twenties, I’m so glad I haven’t sat around and wasted my life playing video games. I’m so glad I didn’t turn into my older brother, sitting on my ass playing games all day while a woman takes care of me.”

But in my case, I don’t wake up, I don’t look down to discover I’m still spry and energetic and hopeful and sexual. I realize that I’m twenty-eight, but I look like I’m twenty and I feel like I’m forty. And I’ve spent so much time doing absolutely nothing, and I regret.

I regret. So. Much.

I think I’m going to go home, and save the college application for later. I’m going to crawl into bed with the dog and the cat, and I’m going to curl up and maybe cry, maybe listen to ASMR videos, maybe browse through the fifteen open Pornhub tabs on my phone, maybe fantasize about my novel that probably isn’t actually any good, and has gone stale and old and lost it’s spark and it’s magic, and will probably never be written. I’m a good writer, but not good enough to write a book. I’m a good musician, but not good enough to make an album. I’m a good lover, but not good enough to make someone feel a genuine connection with me. Except for Jacob, of course. I still love him. And a few other people, but most of them live far away.

I didn’t mean for this to be so sad. But this is what it’s like inside me, walking around inside my sad little body. You can’t really explain it to people like my mom who don’t have a conception of what it’s like to be constantly in pain, constantly hurting, constantly alone, constantly on the edge of tears. To live your life with your emotions just laying gently on a razorblade, and any bit of pressure will bare down on you and it will cut you. To feel sick, and depraved, and like everyone who’s ever met you was mistaken when they saw your kind voice and your compassionate heart and your articulate way of speaking, and they didn’t see that inside you’re a creep. Everybody loves that stupid Radiohead song, “I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo.” But they don’t really believe it when they sing it, or identify with it. They don’t really know what it’s like to be a weirdo. They don’t know what it’s like to learn with surprise that your other gay friends DON’T peek at the urinal every time, that they DON’T find themselves fantasizing about fucking every cute guy they see, that they DON’T immediately wonder what someone’s penis looks like when they talk to you, that they DON’T see the world through a hypsexual fog that increases the color of everything like a television turning up the saturation, but that only gives you an exaggerated version of reality, and it’s pretty but it still isn’t real.

I’m ashamed. I’m lonely. And I don’t think that I’m really worthy of love. Because I know that I’m too much work. My heart is a tangled web of veins and arteries and muscles, and to actually get to anything worthwhile, you have to go cutting through the vines and searching for something hidden deep within. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’m clingy and emotional, but at the same time I’m shut off, I can’t really express love or actually enjoy a connection. I’m so many contradictions in one person, and it tears my spirit into pieces when all the different parts of me are running in different directions and leaving me in the center, being pulled and pulled while the fabric begins to tear.

I’m not going to hurt myself. I certainly don’t want to hurt anyone else. My version of being suicidal is not actually attempting to kill myself because I don’t truly want to die, it’s a feeling of giving up all hope. It feels good to let go of hope, because it’s not the answer you want but it IS AN ANSWER. If you pray and God answers, “No,” well at least he spoke to you. That’s what giving up is like. It’s like trying to stay alive in the ocean but making the decision to unbuckle the life vest and sink, because now you’ve made a CHOICE, now the power is back in your hands, and even the ocean can’t take that from you.

I hope that tomorrow I feel better. I hope that tomorrow I find the love of my life. I hope that tomorrow I laugh. I hope that tomorrow I never have to feel the way I feel when I’m around my mother. I hope that tomorrow I’ll be a little bit better of a person than I was today, and I won’t feel so incredibly wasted.

Jacob’s Song

Jacob’s Song

The first thing I did when I got out of bed
Was to fall to my knees and put my hands on my head
When the daylight called me I closed the blinds
Cause without you dear I can’t tell time
And without you dear I can’t tell time

And I thirst for you, and I’m hungry too
And I’m calling in the darkness cause your eyes are blue
The first thing I said when they asked my name
Was that I’m lost in the world and I’m tired of this game
Yes I’m lost in the world and I’m tired of this game

Weeks pass by at an angel’s pace
And the statue by the river leaves an empty space
And they wonder I wander in the whispering wilds
But without you dear I’m a helpless child
And without you dear I’m a helpless child

And I thirst for you, and I’m hungry too
And I’m calm in the darkness cause your eyes are blue
The last thing I said when I asked my name
Is that I’m lost in this world and I’m tired of this game
Yes I’m lost in this world and I’m tired of this game

They found me by the railroad tracks
With a star on my head and an ex on my back
And they called my mother and they asked my age
But without you dear I’m an empty page
And without you darling I’m an empty page

And I search for you in the wind at dawn
And I listen for your voice when the daylight’s gone
And I know you’ll come back when I call your name
And I know that this time is an empty pain
And I know if I call you’ll come back to me
But without you my dear I don’t know how to speak
And without my dear I don’t know how to speak

And I thirst for you, and I’m hungry too
Cause the world is missing colors from your eyes so blue
The only thing I said when they asked my name
Is that I’m lost in this world, and I’m tired of this game
Yes I’m lost in this world, and I’m tired of this game

And I thirst for you, and I’m hungry too
And I’m drinking in the desert cause your eyes are blue
And when I lay in bed I whisper your name
Because I miss you dear and I’m tired of this game
Yes I miss you dear and I’m tired of this game
If you listen close you can hear your name