General Status Update

Things have been getting better and better all the time… well, in some cases, not really, but I have decided that if I look at things like they’re good, they will be. My attitude is my choice. I choose to live in light, instead of the fear that my friends are going to pull away from me because they cannot understand my decision-making process and will not take the time. I didn’t go to the hospital because they had to put me on a psych hold in a criminal sort of way. They put me on a psych hold because I went into the ER and said, “I’m having a psychiatric emergency RIGHT NOW.” When you do that, the codes start running. You take off all your clothes, your jewelry, even your underwear, before you are allowed on the unit. When they started moving, I felt safe enough to fall. They left me alone with my phone for a minute so I could make the calls I needed, and I sent Argo a voice mail saying that I was in the psych ward at Methodist hospital, that I wished I could send her a picture as well to prove that thoughts and behavior matched, and that I owed her a big one because it was she that convinced me it wasn’t going to get better if I didn’t help myself, first. She didn’t save me by DOING anything. She saved me by telling me to look at myself and the direction I was headed without any input at all from anyone.

I did. It worked.

I called the nurse practitioner number listed on the back of my card and said that I needed psychiatric help now, and I couldn’t get a new patient appointment for at least three weeks. That was the tipping point for me. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do outpatient or wasn’t capable of it, I just thought to myself that if I walked into the ER, I could get help NOW. I could not take three more weeks of deep, intensive, shaming rumination about everything I’d done to break up my family. I would likely be dead at my own hand in three weeks, because I was reliving everything that happened and trying to fix it in so many iterations that failed because Dana’s feelings mattered. Argo’s feelings mattered. I was terrified that mine didn’t anymore. I had hurt them both, made them feel unsafe in the things I wrote, not even really knowing why until I started processing it after the fact.  It wasn’t all my fault, but my personality type is to take all the blame for anything anyone’s ever done. I am kinda The Maid. I decided to stop seething in resentment and anger, and the only way to do that was to submit. To tell Argo and the rest of the world “I give.” I could say that in person to Dana and have her see beyond my words. Argo didn’t have that luxury, thus aforementioned voice mail.

Instead of submitting to death, I submitted to life. I agreed to get my ego out of the way and believe wholeheartedly in a God that would save me, because God works through people. Doctors, nurse practitioners, orderlies, and even the billing lady all rushed in to help at a time when I could not help myself. I found solace in the other patients, because hearing their stories allowed me to better express all the pent-up feelings of frustration I’d had about my impossible situation. The thing about going to a mental hospital or to an AA meeting is that it works because everyone there is willing to tell you that they straight up fucked up their lives and it’s all their fault and the only thing they can do is laugh about it because we’ve already seen the alternative. It is laughter in the midst of pain so great at first I could not even describe it.

In a lot of ways, my shame was in realizing that I could not serve both of them, and I had to give up trying. I had run out of time for the inappropriate feelings for Argo to go away with both of them long ago, and I stood there because I wanted to. I may have mentioned it before. To me, I had this perfect ideal in my head of the life I wanted to lead and the more time I spent with both of them, the more I realized that the ideal was slipping through my fingers and it was all my fault. I put Argo into an impossible situation because she loved me so much in a clean, ethereal way that it was frightening. She trusted me, and I crossed a line. A big one. At the same time, it would never have occurred to me if Dana and Argo had become close as well.  I felt pulled toward Argo, and that is part of the reason I call her that. She was my siren, because the light she shone on me took me away from my life on one plane and added it to the other. Living in two worlds, kind of like Jesus, I suppose. He lived on the ground. He preaches from the cloud.

just. Like. Me.

Treating Argo like God literally, that person who HEARS what you say and doesn’t necessarily write back is amazing. It’s not always the responses that change me. It’s the letters. But one response stays with me, and it is so simple. I sent her a note that included text from something I’d written to Diane, I think, and said, “please read this and tell me you hear me.” She said, “I hear, listen, understand.” it was everything I’d ever needed in four words, which only made our chord grow stronger. She didn’t have to fix anything. She just listened, commenting when she could and laughing at the jokes. Over time, there became inside jokes that still make me light up inside when I think of them. As I have said before, my reaction to Argo was bad, but her reaction to me was incredible. I will never forget the experience of loving her in the way that I did (we were having text… she’s going to kill me for that one…), because it literally showed me who I am and who I have the capacity to be in the future. She was the one that convinced me my words were worthy of an audience of millions…. not that I have it right now, but to believe in the possibility that one day, the dream you have will be reconciled and you will be living the dream you’re conceiving. That was what made her Christ in the world to me. She lifted the Mirror of Erised and promised me that if I put in the shoe leather, it wouldn’t be the Mirror of Erised anymore…. because it would fade into the bathroom as an heirloom when the dreams became reality.

Her belief in me to that degree raised me up from the minutiae of daily life, and convinced me that my belief in me should grow, as well. The fact that I threw this friendship away because I wanted more and wouldn’t ever have it is still painful, but I saw it as a threat to my fidelity with Dana because I knew it was not inconceivable that Argo would fall in love with me the longer we stayed up in the cloud where gender and sexuality didn’t matter. I saw Dana’s point and denied it wholeheartedly, because I believe it to be true. I believe it to be true that Argo’s sexuality isn’t fluid, and mine is. I could never convince Dana of that, but I have certainly convinced myself. I realized that the problem was me, I just didn’t know how to fix it. How do you not fall in love with honesty? How do you not fall in love with someone you’ve fought tooth and nail and they give you everything they’ve got and you give them an equal thrashing and after it is over, you realize that she is the smartest person in any room? How do you not fall in love with someone who gives you a life raft? I’d never had a friendship before that was that close and intense without sex. Ever. I am turned on by thoughts and feelings, so my relationships tend to get emotional first and love comes later. I followed my natural pattern of being friends until it was so obvious to me what I was doing that I couldn’t anymore.

In the time since, I have settled. Dana says that this is the calmest she’s seen me in months, and it is true. I value life so much more having gone through this experience, because now I know I want to walk in light, when before, it was kinda negotiable.

Sermon for Maundy Thursday 2015: The Maid, the Mechanic, and the Martyr

Why are you even here?

It’s a question every one of us should be asking ourselves constantly, because otherwise, life slips by and children grow up and it’s all over.  A few weeks ago in our gospel, Jesus talked about using him while he was here. In John 12:35, it says: “you only have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you.” If we translate that into metaphorical terms, we can extrapolate that Jesus is trying to build the new church before he is crucified. It is as if he is pleading with them to listen, but they are so full of their daily lives that they cannot see Jesus’ vision….. even though they’re trying. He’s just one of those guys that whenever you talk to him, you come away with more questions than answers. Even today, most of Jesus’ parables are thought of as thousand-word jigsaw puzzles, which is why there are still theologians duking it out on a daily basis. The disciples argued amongst themselves in the same way after Jesus was gone, because the darkness had indeed overtaken them and they wished they’d been more attentive.

However, we’re not there yet. Jesus is still alive, trying to see his vision implemented, and he has a very clear idea of his management style. We’re in the Upper Room with Jesus, where Passover is going on around them. This is a quiet, intimate celebration with just the 13 of them…. the original posse, gathering into themselves. The Disciples do not know that it is their last Passover with the physical Jesus, but he does. The pericope for today begins with him:

Before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.

It seems to me that if you are looking closely for the heart of Jesus, you’ve found it. These words are sticking with me today…. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. This is not about anyone but the 12 people who voluntarily stopped everything they were doing and said, “yes, I will follow you.” Not only that, they stuck with him while everyone else thought that he was crazy. When he was crucified, people put a sign on his cross that laughingly, sarcastically called him “the King of the Jews.” People SPAT on him. Ultimately, though, who’s loss was that? Jesus did not need those people to believe him. He needed his FRIENDS to believe in him, and that everything else would flow from it. In a very, very real sense, the Disciples served as his defensive line. Jesus is in his bubble. You don’t get to see Jesus. Have some wine.

Because of this, he knows he is indebted to them in a way that he cannot repay. They don’t have any money to speak of. They beg wherever they go. So, in a way, if I had to guess at Jesus’ thought process, it was that he could still give them the gift of himself, because in a way, isn’t that all we have to give?

He takes off his outer robe and kneels at the Disciples’ feet, and you have to understand the context. This is not a time in which people bathed regularly. This is not a time when people generally wore protective shoes for travel. When you are talking about washing someone’s feet in a time like that, you are not lightly wiping. It is hard work, because you are taking off the dust of other times and spaces. It is in this moment that I identify with Jesus the most, because I fall down on the job all the time, but this is the type person that I want to be…. the ideal version of myself that doesn’t hesitate to drop everything and serve when it is clear that I am needed.

That is exactly the mindset he wishes to instill in the Disciples….. leading by example because as the leader with not much time left, he has to prepare the next generation. Has to teach them how to be Christ in the world after the Ascension. Has to go through the pain and suffering and betrayal, knowing that there’s not a damn thing he can do to change the outcome. What is it possible to do in the time we have left?

Show them how to use power with, instead of power over. He doesn’t order everyone to take off their outer tunics. He takes off his. He doesn’t demand that the Disciples wash his feet, he gets a cloth and water himself. You don’t lead people from the front. You encourage them to desire to want to serve you, and there’s a big difference between people who want to follow you and people who feel like they’ve been swindled into it because they love you and don’t want to disappoint. Think of it as the difference between being drafted and choosing to enlist. I have never been in the military, but I would imagine that your outlook on it would be different if that is the life you could voluntarily choose, instead of having it chosen for you.

Jesus takes the power given to him by the Holy Spirit and uses it not to lord, but to serve. He is worthy of praise and glory not because he demands your agreement. Jesus is worthy of praise and glory because that is the life you chose…. you serve him because HE SERVED YOU FIRST.

Tonight as you go to church, what will your agreement with Jesus say to you? Will you acknowledge that you serve him because he serves you? Do you see the way that Jesus serves you, or do you only see the ways in which you serve him? Following Jesus tends to take on three basic personalities:

  • The Maid
    • Constantly serves Christ, but filled with unworthiness, so the love between the self and the Christ is a one way street, one blind to the other. Capable of giving so much, and does… without remembering all of the ways that Christ takes care of them, too. If you think that this is outdated language, think of all the times you’ve served your friends without expecting repayment, because you don’t think you’re worth it, anyway. They get the most out of you, and you get seething resentment because the relationship is so unequal. Think Martha of Bethany, who complained that her sister wasn’t working enough when Jesus and the Disciples crashed at her house. Martha was giving of herself, not realizing that there was just as much in store for her if she stopped working and joined the rest of the group.
    • The Mechanic
      • Consistently tries to see both sides of an issue because surely there’s a fixit somewhere. They ruminate on facts, trying to put the puzzle pieces together of any problem anywhere. Generally in the middle of the theological spectrum, because to take one side or the other definitively is to declare loyalty, which is detrimental to objectivity, their main strength in the body of Christ. These followers generally allow for tremendous artistic growth in a church, because they are happy to run the business side of things. Someone has to keep count of how much is in the treasury and if we have money for grape juice and challah (Holla!). They are consistently under-appreciated, because the work they do in a church goes virtually unnoticed. Because of this, I have a drive to exalt them, because other churches aren’t so great about remembering that managing the books and making sure that the bills get paid IS serving a church, with gladness and singleness of heart. Remember that Thomas, even though he doubted Jesus’ bodily resurrection, wasn’t being a jackass. He was just a different personality, and as you can tell, Jesus invited Thomas to check out whatever facts he needed.
    • The Martyr
      • My Palm/Passion sermon re-framed the classic image of the word “martyr” in my mind. The classic interpretation of a martyr personality has become warped over time, so that they look needy in life, instead of what they actually are- the sacrificial lambs of our time. Unlike Biblical literalists, I do not believe in competitive suffering. I do not believe that what Jesus suffered was any more or less traumatic than any of the other people crucified that day. I do not believe that Jesus suffered more than the Jews during WWII in Nazi Germany. I do not believe that Jesus suffered more than the Cambodians under Pol Pot, or the Ugandans under Idi Amin. Martyrdom is when you go against the grain, knowing that something bad could happen, but putting it away. If it is the focus of their thoughts, their productivity wanes. The Martyr functions best in a “honey badger don’t care” kind of way, because to give up their power is to render them useless. Martyrs believe that they can change things through their lives, not by dying. It is just unfortunate that the more people who are moved by your words, the more people there are who become dissatisfied with your style of leadership…. which sometimes ends in tragedy.

Of these three types of Christians, where do you fall? Actually, even if you are not a Christian, can you identify your personality in any of these types? I think we all fluctuate between the three, but in serving Christ we have the ability to become martyrs ourselves, but not in the classic “she’d be fine if there was someone to stop by and wipe the blood off her cross every day” kind of way. That kind of martyr is self-obsessed, while real martyrs are too busy thinking about the ways in which they want to change the world to notice that others are unhappy with them. Martyr is a badge of honor for serving something in which you believe until death. I have talked before about living in darkness because you want to; this is just such an occasion. If you serve a sin, you’ll reap a lot of them. If you serve a mission, you’ll reap a lot of them. It is your choice. This is not to bag on Atheists in the slightest, because it does not require God to know whether you are serving darkness or not… because ultimately, this is not about God. This is about you.

The thing that we ask ourselves in this Holy Week is if we have the power to be that brave. Do we have the power to ignore outside influences to create the dreams that the Spirit will endow IF ASKED? When they wash your feet tonight, remember that they are choosing to serve you. What are you going to do to serve them in return? Lead from the back. Trust that your defensive line will be able to protect you. You have your friends that you will love until death. Those are the people whose opinion desperately matters, because if you have the will to wash others’ feet and the will to lead with soft power, you are literally living in Christ’s name all day long. So be brave. Be BOLD. If there’s anything in the pericope that encourages bravery, it’s that leadership doesn’t have to be top-down. Sometimes the people raise you up.

Selfie

10995592_10153109616505272_1874626757795171162_nMy hair is a little bit Harry Potter-ish. It grows in every direction. Better to keep it short. Thankfully, it doesn’t look half bad. 🙂 A new haircut really helps when you are going through the motions a little bit. It’s hard to engage, because everything is just so SAD. My heart has been through the ringer on two fronts, even when it didn’t have to be. I made it happen. I was in a bad place. I needed someone else to talk to besides Dana, and I got it. It is just unfortunate that once those conversations started, I didn’t stop them. I tried. I really did. But the more I ran away, the more I felt guilty, because I knew that I was compounding the problem instead of solving it. It didn’t get me any closer to Argo to argue with Dana. It didn’t get me any closer to the bff/wife/me triangle that seemed like it was going to take and slowly faded into madness for all of us.

it was just one of those days where i didn’t want to feel sad. I wanted to take control of my mood and do something that made me feel better… like going to the grocery store and buying the things I like. For instance, now I have four boxes of tea, all loaded with caffeine. It is not PG Tips, it was on sale. Please forgive me. I know what I’ve done, and I repent.

I also bought cookies, apricot, to go with said tea.

I bought all the processed sandwich stuff I like that Dana doesn’t. I’m the odd duck that likes the loaves. I got ham and cheese loaf, pickle and pimento loaf, and olive loaf. I am pretty sure you couldn’t pay most people to eat that shit, but OMG NOM NOM NOM.

And an artificial sandwich isn’t complete without Velveeta.

Portland, don’t give me shit about organic right now. I am not taking in many calories, so I have to shop based on what looks good to me rather than trying to balance meals, because meals do not happen. I am not that kind of eater. I’m the bird that will steal from your plate, instead. 🙂

Sermon for Palm/Passion 2015

It’s one of the most legendary stories ever told. Jesus riding a donkey through the gates of Jerusalem to a crowd of adoring “fans,” knowing that the hour is upon him and this celebration is going to be short-lived. In fact, in the liturgical calendar, it’s the same Sunday…. the celebration, and then the stab in the back that causes Jesus to lose his life. He knows it’s coming, but he can’t say anything yet. Now is not the hour. Now is the time to look pretty for the cameras, and remember to show his good side.

Do you ever have to do that?

Do you ever have a feeling of dread that you know what’s coming, but you’re not there yet? It’s time to smile and get through it, knowing that the situation will likely not end well. But you do it anyway. Grin and bear it, as they say. Can you picture the scene? Can you picture what this clown parade did to Jesus on the inside?

You know where he is, because you have experienced it yourself…. just maybe not during a public event… but let’s not forget that some people have.

Just a few days before his assassination on April 14, 1865, Lincoln shared a recent dream with a small group that included his wife, Mary Todd, and Lamon. In it, he walked into the East Room of the White House to find a covered corpse guarded by soldiers and surrounded by a crowd of mourners. When Lincoln asked one of the soldiers who had died, the soldier replied, “The president. He was killed by an assassin.” The play he’d come to see, “Our American Cousin,” was an absolute farce. I can imagine laughter coming through the sense that his legacy would be secured in death, because his dream is particularly involved…. along with a recurring dream that he needed to sail as fast and as far as he could.

Smile. Grin and bear it. Show your good side.

It was November of ’63, and the air had a slight chill to it when the car turned onto the parade route. I imagine that there were lots of people chatting with excitement to see the real-life version of Camelot. It was a site- the president in an open-air car so that everything seemed brighter, closer… memories that would live forever, especially after The Passion. Kennedy knew that in some factions, he wasn’t well-liked. In fact, according to Jackie Kennedy’s oral history about the president, he had a premonition that he would be assasinated. She said that after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Jack said, “if anybody’s going to kill me, they ought to do it now.” When the news was revealed, it seemed like he had a death wish. He asked a historian, “if Lincoln had lived, would he have been remembered as the great president that he is?” The historian, David Donald, said probably not, because he would have had to deal with the consequences of Reconstruction.” From then on, Kennedy knew that his legacy would be somehow secured in death.

Smile. Grin and bear it. Show your good side.

Queer as a three dollar bill. Hailed as the Mayor of Castro Street. Widely loved as a city supervisor, but not immune to the fact that as a gay public figure, he was not winning brownie points with everyone, even in San Francisco. The office was quiet as Dan Brown gunned down both Milk and George Moscone, the actual mayor. Though Milk often covered up his pain with a bright and bubbly countenance (my name is Harvey Milk, and I’m here to RECRUIT YOU!!), the tapes of his last days are morose. He knows the tension is building between gays and people who hate them, but he’s at a loss as to what to do about it. So he did what everyone else seems to do, which is dance around the issues in hope of getting support for some of them. You can’t win them all. He certainly wouldn’t.

Smile. Grin and bear it. Show your good side.

My mother used to be a music teacher in a REALLY bad neighborhood. A third of her kids’ parents were in jail. She was and is still remembered there as one of the greats- the teacher that all the kids wanted to be near all the time. But there were kid fears that stumped even her, like a black child who came up to her and said, “why would anyone want to assassinate President Obama?” She’d heard on the news that there were death threats because he is black.

How do you deal with those questions? Especially when kids just nail your heart like that?

Smile. Grin and bear it. Show your good side.

It’s Palm/Passion. Joy and anguish. Life.

Every day is Palm/Passion for someone, and sometimes, we are loathe to respond. We gather into our own pain, because it is easier. Helping someone else requires understanding the situation- who has time in an iPhone world? No illness is a five second soundbite. Poverty, hunger, thirst exist and pleas fall on deaf ears. We don’t want to get involved…. and yet, there are moments that astound us into either the Palm or the Passion set of emotions. I believe that this is just such a moment for Jesus.

Hear the words of Mark:

While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”

Palm and Passion in the same breath.

Every day is Palm/Passion for someone. What are you going to do that promotes their resurrection into wholeness? How are you going to enjoy their glory while you have them?

I have said many times before that everyone has an inner angel and an inner asshole. We fluctuate back and forth between these two characters in our heads all day long. Sometimes, we feel ten feet tall…. and others, it’s just ten inches. It’s Passion and Palm in a repeating pattern that will either further your life or end it. Casey Cease, one of my favorite preachers of all time, said something in one of his sermons that sticks with me to this day…. “I LOVE MY SINS!”

We all do, don’t we?

Every day is Palm/Passion for someone.

Which one are you?

All Over the Place

Stream of consciousness blogging is not so much writing as workshopping. Some ideas will get fleshed out later, but most of it is just rambling. ON PURPOSE. It’s not supposed to be thought of as anything but where my mind goes for the few minutes I’m sitting here. I have all kinds of thoughts, but very few actions. My thoughts limit me a lot, and that is the focus of my therapy. Why have I been so committed to sabotaging success? Part of it is that I don’t believe that these sorts of things are supposed to happen to me. I get into the rut of “I’m just a….” I am working to change that, because I am not entirely sure I’ve ever had a job that showcased my talent rather than my weaknesses.

I am very socially anxious at work. I cover it with a lot of bright and bubbly, but the truth is that I avoid people at all costs…. because obviously, I am not doing as good a job as everyone else, so why call attention to it? I berate myself for small mistakes and blow them out of proportion so that every time I see someone in authority, I go to the smallest place inside myself.

Or at least, that’s what I have been like since I was 16 and started working as a receptionist at SuperCuts. Anxiety day in and day out. Every day I’m going to get fired. Every day is one more day that I’m barely hanging on, etc. So emotionally laden that I couldn’t drop what I was thinking about to make room for something else. It was the same way when I was in school. All of my emotional problems combined to make school a hellish place from 7th grade on, because although I attended, I wasn’t really there. I had no ability to save myself, because other people needed me and they were more important. All my kid energy went to pulling an adult across the river, or at least, that’s the way it seemed to me.

Carrying all of that anxiety made me fatigued with no realization that I was dragging ass and I could do something about it… because I’d always moved like this…. perhaps because I’d been sad for longer than I would have liked to admit, and everything takes longer when you’re so in your head that the rest of the world fades away. It’s like being locked there, because you cannot own the rumination and tell it to go away. It’s a constantly running tape filled with fear and unworthiness, but luckily, mine is starting to wear down, and hopefully with friction it will snap and my whole brain will be mine again.

For now, though, people do not see my thinking as creative, because it’s much more convenient to take the fact that I was hospitalized and see the blog through that lens rather than seeing it as one narrative… sometimes impossible to do because I realize that I skip subjects a lot.

That’s because this is not a book. A book has an editor. A book has an ISBN. A book is prestigious. A book also takes at least a year, possibly two or three, to be written and edited to final copy. My words are “all over the place,” because unlike most conservative Republicans these days, I think about things and CHANGE MY MIND. I am capable of taking in and synthesizing new information so that I have different opinions on different things. If you read them in the same day, you’re going to think I’m talking out of both sides of my face.

No. That is not reality. Stream of consciousness tells me how I feel in real time, and it changes. To stay stagnant is to close your mind to the possibility of new things….

….all over the place.

The Hack

Dana invited me to come over to her apartment for pizza, but she doesn’t have any furniture except her bed and a couple of patio chairs. She said I could fall asleep next to her if I wanted. I woke up at three in the morning because as you can imagine, I did not sleep well. I tossed and turned in what used to be my old bed and just got more confused by the minute. I got up around 4:00 and made coffee, then I went out on the patio and just read. When the sun started to come up, I woke Dana up and told her that it had gotten weird and I was going home. I do not like this dance of “let’s be close” to my face and what a horrible manipulator I can be behind my back. I constantly feel as if Dana is trying to tell me what I want to hear… but at the same time, if that were true, why would she be inviting me to spend time with her? It is a question for which I no longer have tolerance. It’s too much cognitive dissonance to feel valued and devalued all at the same time, and I have other people in my life who haven’t been in a toxic relationship with me for the past two years to fall on.

That is because Dana and Argo both accuse me of revisionist history, but do not explore why I would say what I’d say. To them, it’s just crazymaking that I would say I’d fallen in love with someone without meeting them. It is inconceivable to me that Dana does not understand this, given the way that she moved to Portland (which is her story to tell, but if you know it, IT IS APT.) Argo does not understand the ways she participated in me wanting to be near her in the first place, and sees it as toxic that I would consider leaving my support system here, because it comes across like she thinks that she would be my support system there. We only know each other through letters. Why in the world would I want to see her without mutually agreeing it should happen? The idea of meeting in person is SUPER intimidating to me, and as far as I’m concerned, I could live a lifetime without it happening. Even if we did live close, it wouldn’t mean that I would treat her any differently than I do right now. I never forget that the physical plane exists, and so does travel. If we’d wanted to get together by now, it would have happened already. To me, adding flame to this fire is just a way to make me seem crazier than I really am, which is plenty. But at the same time, not that crazy. There are more reasons to move than there are to stay, regardless of whether Argo and I ever speak again…. particularly true because I loved not having to drive and being able to take public transportation everywhere. But it is just a future that never happened, or hasn’t happened yet.

If we were going to meet, it should have happened early on, before our minds connected to such a degree that we couldn’t go back and undo or unsay anything. Argo has said that she is sorry for the way Oz was revealed, and all I can say is “right back at ya.” I am so sorry that I am not THAT writer for her anymore. I am so sorry that I cannot light her up from the inside with laughter. I am sorry that her opinion of me became so low at my own hand, because I could not express everything that I wanted to say that would put my behavior in context. She talks frequently about my manipulations. But hers are there, too. The difference is that in our relationship, I’m the manipulator, and I should know it. Because why would she ever manipulate me to get what she wanted? That street has gone both ways for many, many months. So why would I stay in a toxic triangle like the three of us created? None of us realized how harmful it was right up until it was a flaming disaster, least of all me.

Argo has no idea how much impact walking with her on HER journey changed ME, but I can’t talk about it. I can only speak to my own experiences, and the only other person that was there for those conversations was Dana, so there is no one else in the world that knows the depth and breadth of our relationship before it got weird and we both picked up our toys. I went home for good reason. However, I feel that I should say it out loud that it wouldn’t matter if she lived across the street. Physical location doesn’t mean much to me at all, until it’s been two years and there’s been no regular friend-normalizing stuff to interrupt doing lines of emotional crack on each other, while she says that I only know “random factoids.” It is not revisionist history to say that the relationship was great AND it changed me in ways that I will never get back. There’s a reason I spiraled out of control mentally. I am not trying to be revisionist. It’s that in Argo’s case, there’s a lot I heard from her that affected me just as much as talking to her. It was a mutual relationship by all counts, until Argo passive-aggressively accused me of something I didn’t do in order to pull away from me because she knew that my feelings for her were growing. The fact that she lied to cover up her real motivation was a huge fissure to me, and though I hold no ill will, it established to me that she was capable of messing me up, and her line about not manipulating me was insulting. This was fairly early on in our relationship, and the pedestal I fell from cracked my face. I never gained any ground with her after that, but the changes to me and in me had already begun. I was not in a place where I could think about anyone else but the two of us, but that’s another set of confidentiality issues and in no way romantic. Just personal.

All of my mental issues were held out in scrutiny, and I think that’s all I need to say about that. We all have our own quirks, and I hope that part of my charm is realizing I needed help for mine.

Dana and Argo are furious with me because they think that I am a monster/mental patient. I am furious with them for thinking that out of this goat-roping clusterfuck, I’m the only one that needs help. It is so much easier to point fingers at other people than it is to own your own shit, but it did not earn me any style points with either of them to tell them so. I wanted them to look at me like, “if she can do it, maybe we can, too.” The reality is soul-crushingly opposite.

They both tend to read my writing without follow-up questions, which leads to a lot of inference and not a lot of direct communication. I am definitely ok with this, because anyone who really wanted to know how I was doing would probably be wise to ask me. Why should I care about conversations that are not of me? It was not like this in the beginning. In the beginning, Argo said that I had amazing insight. But then I became human to her, not the writer from afar, and all of the sudden my insights weren’t so great anymore.

For instance, I remember that I sent her an e-mail talking about her dad; she thought I was in attack mode. I was actually trying to open up a dialogue about both of our parents, but that is not what came across to her. She thought that I was trying to say something bad about him, and I wasn’t…. but if you were just inferring into my words and not asking me what I meant, you could certainly take it that way without context. That, to me, was the breakdown in communication. Neither Argo nor Dana could see me in context anymore, because they both enjoyed the idea that I was the crazy one…. but when they did see me, life was amazing. As things began to break down further and further, people around me began to think that I was losing it. In some ways, I was, but not for the obvious, on the surface reasons. I was losing it because of everything that happened subcutaneously. I once told Argo that she’d gotten under my skin in a different way, through words. I cannot and will not ever tell you what those words were, but they were a game-changer, and I reeled. Of course my emotions were spiraling, but I cannot put it into any more context than that.

I am accused of revisionist history all the time. That’s because it’s my history, not yours. I am sure that you have come away with different impressions of me over the years- some valid, and some not- and that is the same way I feel about you. I have come up with lots of presuppositions and theories about who my readers might be, what lines stick, and how I am going to bring this site into the future.

It is not what everyone remembers about the situation; it’s what I do. For instance, if we’ve been fighting a lot, but we had a really good moment, I will carry the good moment with me instead of all the bad ones. That way, when I look back at our history, I have a rich tapestry of all the reasons why I value and appreciate you.

When you voluntarily ask for help with mental illness, it’s a mark that doesn’t go away. It will affect me for the rest of my life if I let it. But the truth is that I should have been hospitalized at 15. Then I wouldn’t look like such a crazy adult, because maybe I’d have been able to salvage the last three years of childhood.