It Just Is

How do you know when it’s time to unplug? What do you do to make it happen?

When I know I need to go off the grid, it’s for one of two things. The first is that I’m trying hard not to get my crazy spatter on anyone else. The second is that I have something important to write and I don’t want that flow to be interrupted. Therefore, I am connected by an umbilical cord to my desktop/Fire HD, but not the Internet. Local files are a thing, people. Look into it. 😉

To me, unplugging means refocusing my attention on myself. It’s not that I’m actively trying to be selfish. It’s just that who should have the time to give me what I need when I am already actively spending time with me? I mean, there’s no commute.

When I shut down, I shut down completely. I’m sure it irritates the living hell out of people, but when I get like that, I don’t have the bandwidth to take on what other people are thinking and feeling. I recede into myself as my brain tells me that no one needs me, anyway. It’s not the truth. It’s the lie depression uses to get me where it wants me. My work to do is to raise my self esteem so that I’m not so needy, because no one likes to think of themselves that way, even if they have cerebral palsy, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and anxiety. I’m not needy in that I’m an emotional vampire. I’m needy because I genuinely have a harder time navigating the world. Because I don’t look like I have CP or bipolar, people treat me as if I have none of those things because perception is reality. In order to receive the kind of patience I need, it’s imperative for people to understand why I need them. Alternatively, I will be just as attentive to people who confide those things in me. It is not about me always needing things. It’s about both people finding someone who has their back. I am more dedicated to my friends than most people because I realize that if I need them, I need to appreciate them more as well.

I just navigate those relationships slowly, because I’m a lot and I know it. Even Sam was never truly on the inside, and not because I couldn’t see a future with her. It was that even though we were connected, it hadn’t been very long. I always trusted my friends more than I trusted her, because it would take time for all that to come out and we only lasted three weeks. What Sam did was devastating to me, because I had to come up with all the answers as to why on my own. All the answers I would have given her had she asked questions before busting my fairy tale. The resolution I received is that she was too pragmatic to take dreaming in stride. She seemed threatened by thinking bigger rather than excited. I believe the relationship lasted as long as it should’ve, and I’m glad it was easy to move on. It would have just been another relationship in which I’d say too much to fill the silence.

I always think there’s a combination of words that will unlock people. They won’t open up if they’re threatened by dreaming into the future or dealing with conflict. One always leads to the other if they’re threatened by both. I want to live bigger than this, despite my actions to the contrary. I had good reasons for disappearing from everything, because I needed so much and wouldn’t tell anyone about it. I wrote everything down, self-soothing to the extent that I’m able. One of the tapes I have that needs destroying is “why do you think everyone else needs to save you?” One answer is that I don’t have shame about asking for help, because I know how far I’d go for the people I love when I’m at full strength. I have an extraordinarily long track record in terms of absolutely going out of my mind when my friends are in trouble. They have to talk me down from the ceiling and they do, unless I can tell that they’re in such bad shape that they’re unable to run on their own power. In that case, I just do things without asking. I will clean someone’s house even when they’re yelling at me to stop because I can see that depression has gotten the better of them and I can’t let them die from bacteria, despite the fact that depressed people often kill themselves slowly, because they have no ownership of their future. All they can see is a lifetime of too much emotional pain. Death is not a gunshot to the head, but seriously not caring about your health because of death’s relief.

It’s the monster on your back and the ghost in your head, your diseased brain trying to protect you by emotional torture so you’ll isolate in protection of yourself and others. They think you’re too needy, anyway. I don’t feel needy, I feel fair. You give me a hand up, and both of mine are yours.

I also internalize that when I ask for help, people think that it’s not mutual because obviously their issues are too much for me. If I am projecting that, it’s not you. It’s the weight of the world. It’s not your problem that’s weighing me down, but the mass I take on just walking through a mall. Therefore, it makes me write differently, because I write to illustrate an idea, and it makes it seem more dramatic than it really is because I’m trying to craft a page. Trying to make up for the lack of being able to see your eyes, so that you see how deeply I’m feeling whether you’re in front of me or not. I am not actively trying to be more dramatic, I’m trying to make sure you get it. The more granular with detail I can be, because you’re not seeing body language or tone of voice. Even the way I talked about a problem would be different in person than in writing, because I have trouble processing emotion in front of people and need the safety of a delete key, even though I’m a dumbass and don’t use it as frequently as I have needed.

I retreated into myself, having fewer and fewer conversations in person, because it was far too easy to reveal myself in my letters than a cup of coffee relaxing on the couch. That way, I could have more emotional bravery than I’d ever have sitting down together, because I am not processing your emotions at the same time I’m processing mine. I don’t have to handle watching you cry or yell, because it will rip me to pieces and I avoid that at all costs. When I am reading your words, I am imagining your world. Imagining you telling your story as I tell you mine. I think it makes meeting in person easier, because if you’ve already written out what’s driving you up the wall about the other, time together can be all laughs. Writing is how I get to the bottom of some deep, dark shit. That way, you already know how I feel when we meet, and if the issue is not resolved, it’s easier to respond with empathy because you’ve already digested how I feel, sort of like being prepared for a test. If we have a conflict, I’m not blindsiding you and expecting you to have all the answers, because you already know what I think the problem is and talking is for answers.

I have a habit of popping off without making it clear how angry I am about an action and how much I love the person with whom I’m fighting. Harry Windsor talks extensively about this in “Spare,” how he often went into a blind rage everyone called “Red Mist.” It’s something that many people with PTSD feel, and you can’t tell me he doesn’t have it. We both have been through the shit, except his trauma isn’t even on the same playing field. To be perfectly blunt, we both have PTSD, but I don’t have a kill count. This is not to say that I think Harry did anything wrong. He is a precious gift from God and I hope he recognizes that though he’s been treated like crap by his family, other people are ready and willing to take their place. I think that’s part of the queer in me. We know intimately what it’s like to live with chosen family and not because we want to…… although it’s funny, I have never seen funnier conversations between old queers and young, that we are irritated by straight people accepting us because now it means we do get invited to things. We do get pressured to have kids. We now have to put up with all kinds of bullshit that’s new to us- how to act like we belong when we haven’t the first clue as to how. That’s because deep down, we don’t know whether your homophobia is overt or uneducated. It’s not that there’s never homophobia, it’s that deep down, white people have been told that being white is better with a horrifying history of trying to prove it, and straight people have been told that homosexuality is a sin that deserves jail and death. Those messages don’t fade overnight. We know that because we feel the same way as everyone else. It’s one thing to work through believing that homosexuality is a sin. It’s another to work through people treating you as if you are one.

So, even allies with the best of intentions make mistakes on two levels. The first is due to the deeply ingrained message that homosexuality is wrong, and the second is not knowing how to communicate with a gay person, because they’re enmeshed in a system they don’t see and don’t wonder what it is we’re rebelling against. We’re not different, we’re threatening. Straight people who are fully accepting of their gay friends/relatives still work through their own biases, and gay people with straight friends/relatives work through those prejudices from the opposite vantage point. We aren’t responsible for your education, and yet we are because we don’t want to live in this society where our lives are threatened because of our sins in the Bible; they have no bearing on the law and people shouldn’t make them exclusive……. but somehow have.

Dealing with everyone’s homophobia, including the fear we have of ourselves, is everyone’s problem. It’s not dissimilar from eradicating racism, including the kind that’s internalized because of the messages we receive every day. Our lives depend on whether straight, white, and cis people are threatened by us to varying degrees. We are making progress in the US, sliding backward…. while people in other countries have no such luxury. Being gay in the US is a much smaller deal than being gay in Uganda.

We find more ways to separate than connect. Women are still dependent on the level of men’s misogyny. Children are still dependent on their parents and rightfully so, but experience a large range of situations from their parents’ ideas on whether they are a being or a possession.

Unplugging and protecting myself from feeling all of that is sometimes necessary, because I stop talking when I feel like if I ask for help it will count as a black mark against me. If I don’t have help, I need more space. I need to write longer. It’s what helps me rely on myself, but often leads to the pendulum swinging too far and not wanting to say anything about anything, ever.

If I have a problem with you and I take the time to lay it out, you’re important to me. That’s because it takes an enormous amount of emotional fortitude to say what I really feel and not fear a response. To not torture myself once a letter leaves my hands. To know that I will deal with what comes, instead of focusing on all the bad things that could happen if you know how I feel and don’t agree with it. If you don’t tell me how you feel, I will free up that time and energy to be able to give it to someone else.

When my mother died, I lost someone who would help me if she was able, so she’s the part of my life where I feel the most vulnerable. It freed up a lot of my time and bandwidth, just love with nowhere to go because I wasn’t trying to replace her. I was only trying to fill up the hole in the most practical ways I could, like turning my attention in the hours I used to spend with her on the phone. I can’t replace her personality, but I can reorient how I spend my time. I can purposefully make friends with moms both older and younger so I feel that energy without having it myself. It’s a huge mountain to climb when you realize you don’t have a mother anymore. I do not mean in a practical sense. I mean that you are not in the active process of being the child born to her, and grief kills those parts of you so that your personality doesn’t resemble who you were before. There are just dead spots, searching for something to fill them.

The one thing I didn’t do was zone out, seeking pleasures like being drunk or high to avoid processing. I can be very proud of the fact that those things didn’t lure me away from myself. Most people can’t imagine doing that whole thing straight edge, because I never put anything in my body that would make me feel disconnected from reality. Now that I’m several years out, I’ll have a beer once in a while. It’s a treat like a Snickers, not something I do all the time. What I found is that alcohol makes my depression worse, so I can’t treat it the same as soda. I didn’t quit drinking because I needed to stop, I only quit drinking most of the time because it made me feel better. It gave me more bandwidth to deal because I wasn’t putting off until tomorrow what could be grieved today. Nothing compounded because I wasn’t kicking the can down the road. I sat in agony daily, just waiting it out because there’s nothing you can do but let time work. You never get over it, but you do see that you’re allowed to have happiness again eventually.

This is because when my mother died, I was single. It caused so much pain that she’d never know how my life turned out. I could say I’m grateful for that because I’ve made so many mistakes, but I’m not. The idea that Sam was my girl made me so happy, and crushed that my mother would never meet her or her stepkids had we moved in that direction. My favorite and most heartbreaking moments were dreaming about my mother and Sam having so much in common, and being so different. I got the best of what I loved about my mother professionally without the things about her personality that I didn’t like. Therefore, Sam actually reminded me a lot of Texas musicians, and my mom was one. An amalgam of everything I loved about Texas without the baggage of being from there. It was difficult dealing with being in the best music program in the country (TMEA, not local schools), and the homophobia within. I went to a performing arts high school in the middle of gay Disneyland and I still got bullied by kids in church choir.

Thinking about my mother not meeting anyone else I might date is devastating, because I don’t have that “bringing someone home to meet my parents” feeling yet…. and when it happens, there will be a deep place of sorrow inside me. I think about my future wife being pregnant and I just crumble at the thought. I think of my sister getting pregnant as well in the same way, even though we’re both childless and like it. It’s not the thought of Lindsay being a mom that drives me, but the part of my mom that would live in the kid. Neither of us want to have kids, and yet it would have been interesting to have seen what those kids would have been like. When I was thinking about getting pregnant, I was excited about all the ways I’d see my family in them. Getting pregnant was only about genetics, because I didn’t think of that until after my mother died. Lindsay and I both thought the same thing, we just didn’t have passion or drive about the idea. It jut exists.

You can acknowledge that a story would have been great without writing it. However, in my case, I have no idea who I want to commit to, so my dreams are based on what my partner will bring to the table and not what I want. I am not looking for a person in a certain set of circumstances, just being open to the fact that I won’t know anything up front and just be open. Women are naturally driven to have kids, and sexual orientation doesn’t play into it. Some just have more maternal drives than others and I need to be ready for it. If the person I want feeds me intellectually, they could probably ask me to dive off the Empire State building while singing “The Star Spangled Banner” and I’d at least think about it.

I can hit the high B flat when I unplug.


The Heart of a Chef

What quality do you value most in a friend?

Having a sous with excellent cooking skills and a criminal mind is one of God’s great gifts. -Anthony Bourdain

Everything I know about love, I’ve learned through cooking. That’s because my relationship with Dana was very much chef and sous, without the hierarchy. We cooked at home the same way we cooked at work. “You put ’em down, I’ll pick ’em up.” I relied on her technical expertise and soaked it up like a sponge. She learned that when I said I could fix something, she could take that check to the bank and cash it. Instead of just serving me things, she asked for my input. It meant the world to me, because who even am I in the kitchen? I’ve never been to culinary school. My absolute and total belief that she was the chef made communication in the kitchen so easy, because Dana didn’t have an ego and yet there was a line, like Leo being Jed’s best friend and his Chief of Staff. He wasn’t the president, and he knew it.

Our home life fed our work life and vice versa. I couldn’t wait to be in the kitchen with her every day, and that communication made us closer in that if we could communicate under that much pressure, we could talk through anything. It gave us emotional bravery because we were pushing ourselves so hard physically…. especially me, and I’m not in it for the pity vote. It’s just that *everything* in a restaurant is heavy and she could do most things faster and easier than I could. She had more muscle mass. I lifted a lot of things that were too heavy for me, and I will be in awe forever of the memory in which Dana carries a 50 pound bag of flour down a rickety set of steps. The hardest part was not hurting myself in the kitchen. It was watching her in pain. Therefore, my heart stopped for a second at the danger of what she was doing. Then I realized how strong she was.

And if she fell, she’d have a much better survival rate than I ever would have, because I’d have tripped over nothing in the first place. It’s a miracle I didn’t die, especially during a shift, I just couldn’t lift 50 pounds while I was afraid of the stairs that rode the line between step and ladder. Because I have no peripheral vision, the only thing that happened to me that made me afraid was backing down the stairs into a stock pot of cold oil- I couldn’t see it, so I stepped into it up to my shin.

I couldn’t believe what a patient teacher she was, and I’d like to believe I was a good student. I may have gotten a job on Dana’s word, but I kept it. I just couldn’t always be on my A game because my physical limitations show there more than everywhere else. Why wouldn’t they? Cooking combines balance, timing, depth perception (particularly in plating). I had to keep track of all that and sometimes my body rebelled.

I’m proud of what we accomplished together, because combined we had a well-rounded chef. One with both a great palate and technique.

Now that I’m not married to a chef anymore, I’m not saying I want to be with another one. I don’t know what my future partner will do for money. But what I know is that they’ll have the heart of a chef. They’ll either be great cooks or willing to learn how from me. That’s because closeness comes through activity, and life happens when you’re doing something else.

I need someone not afraid to try new things, who doesn’t have hangups about a particular ingredient before they try it. I need someone who is bold and brave in their choices as to how they do life. By this, I mean that they need to have enough confidence to admit when things are wrong and how they contributed to a problem. To be vulnerable with someone is the hardest thing on earth.

When you find that person, it makes you explode on the inside. Everything looks new, even if you’ve been in love a thousand times. When your brain comes down, you think about consequences and how much you’re willing to open up based on what’s happened before the relationship started. You use heuristics to say that what one person is going to do, they all are. That comes out both in very positive and negative ways.

As an INFJ, my inner landscape is huge. I let people in, and walk away from people that are frightened by it. My mind is a very busy place, and to be let in is a privilege. I don’t trust easily, and because I’ve been hurt before, I’m not as approachable as I’d like to be. I walk as if I’m in pain and don’t want to be bothered, and I can’t find a lie.

In terms of learning about love in other ways, my beautiful girl invested so much in me that I couldn’t help it. My brain flooded at all the dopamine, because I heard a message that I hadn’t heard in a long time. That what I bring to the world is valuable, and keep going. Looking inside yourself isn’t for sissies.

When my mind stopped turning a deep, platonic love into something the relationship would never sustain, I realized that even though I had been in love with her and it sucked ass carrying around all that emotion, there was no part of me that wanted to reject her. I often did when I was angry, but I was never alone in doing so. That’s because we’re a little too much alike. First children can be assholes to each other because they’re used to being the authority on everything.

She has the heart of a chef, but her passion is for different things that line up with the thousands I share. We do such different things that even if we lived a mile from each other, our lives would never cross over unless it was on purpose. We’re both introverted. Good luck. I think she’s less shy than I am, but we both have social batteries that drain vs. shyness in meeting anyone. We both think a group of people is called a “no, thanks.”

So, sufficed to say, I thought I’d found a lifemate, but not in terms of romance. My personality profile says that I only have one or two really close friends at a time because I’d rather be deeply intimate with them rather than having surface level friendships with a lot of people. It has been true my whole life. God forbid I be at a party, just having fun and not talking about anything of importance and enjoying the moment.

No, I am knee deep into all sorts of things, very few that were outside my beautiful girl’s wheelhouse. I wanted to soak up her knowledge for all time, because she cares about the same issues I do.

And yet, we fought like cats and dogs because she was everything my personality profile said I’d get, that I’d find someone willing to walk in my inner landscape with me. Why that side of me, the one that felt hurt and rejected won, I’ll never know. Why didn’t I just let it lie and stop responding? She gave me things to think about that will turn over forever in my brain. Why give that up?

It was easy when I realized that we’d never get back what we had, and I was too crushed by it. She didn’t deserve to know how I felt about her anymore, because clearly it didn’t mean as much to her as it meant to me. The reason it took eight years is that she did things that touched me deeply…. that even though there was no going back, we could move forward.

As long as we didn’t have to talk about what did happen, and it was making her reactions all the more muddled…. loving and also reinforcing the idea that I was intruding on her life rather than adding to it. Those words aren’t easily forgotten, and she said them. I just don’t know if she meant them. Was her response actually protective when it came across as angry? Why did I feel so defensive and afraid? Because I’d wronged her. She didn’t hang it over my head, but she didn’t solidify anything, either. That choice didn’t bother her, but it made me ruminate on what she actually wanted from me for far longer and with more intensity than I should have ever given it. I should have walked away sooner to protect both of us, but I didn’t because I wanted the question of how to move forward out of the way. How to navigate spiraling out because as much as we reject each other, it’s not really possible to disconnect now. We are both in each other’s minds and hearts but in different ways and for different reasons.

So, whether she shows up or not, I have to be there for myself. I have to offer myself the relief I was seeking, because relief is the only thing I wanted from her that I didn’t get. That’s why it was too painful to continue the relationship on a surface level. Not talking about the real thing led to superficial snarks, real and perceived.

So, there’s a lot in me that’s fighting right now with what is real and what isn’t. How much I should believe based on what I saw and not what I heard, because maybe I missed what she was trying to say in favor of thinking I was right. I also have defensive mechanisms and a stunning need to be correct. Thinking about it now makes me laugh, because none of our younger siblings would believe the lengths we’d go to in order to prove each other wrong because it’s good to be the king.

I feel deeply about every win and loss, because no matter the outcome, I screamed with empathy. It hurt more to watch her in pain than it did to be in pain myself, and 90% of the time I caused pain because I’d stepped on a land mine thought to be dormant. The other 10% was in reaction to feeling completely dressed down and unable to express my point in a way that had merit. I’m not the person that always has to be right in most cases. It depends on what I know about the subject, and I will defer to the smartest person in the room, always. But what do you do if your subject matter expert doesn’t think the same thing about you, or expresses that? What I mean by that is the people in your life not yielding to you at least part of the time. No one is ever wrong to the point there is no redeeming quality about them a hundred percent of the time. There is no relationship where one person knows everything and the other person is absolutely brainless and never has better sources and methods than you.

I will never in my lifetime have a conflict with someone in which I don’t have to own consequences, so I expect other people to feel the same way. I write to people privately the same way I write here- which is to say that I look at every possible combination of factors that could be going into someone’s behavior. I clearly express my 3D opinion, which is that I love you, but that doesn’t mean we don’t got shit to do.

When the response is rejection, trauma kicks in. It’s my job to stop. I can’t throw around words the way I have. I don’t judge people, I judge whether situations are fair. Just how long I’ve been feeling defensive because I spoke in a quiet voice and was ignored. How that builds up and my voice gets louder. I need to know why I’m doing it in order to change, and I can point fingers, but only for comprehension to understand the pain’s source. I cannot blame other people for my reactions, and I will not allow people to think that theirs are more important than mine. Different and equally valid.

Most of the time, I don’t understand the charge I’m leading because I don’t think the way a neurotypical person thinks. My filters are different, and the symptoms are akin to Asperger’s. I don’t process emotion like most people, so I don’t always know what to say in a way that doesn’t make them upset because I simply wasn’t thinking about it. My brain doesn’t say “you can’t say that.” Where my empath kicks in is seeing when I’ve caused a negative reaction, mostly because my calculations are foreign. I’m not running on the same operating system. There are no “things we don’t talk about.” That’s because every instinct in my body says that being vulnerable is the key to being strong. That it takes more courage to tell people how you feel when you are terrified of rejection. It takes courage to have an opinion, a right I’ve denied myself for far too long. That’s because when I began to have opinions, I rocked the boat to the point I thought I wouldn’t survive all the upheaval. That I had to fight this mental battle with my health so that I’d have enough energy to also self-soothe.

I didn’t want to continue a relationship where I thought I’d found Richard from Texas and she’d found Groceries. That’s because I made it where it didn’t feel that way and couldn’t get enough confidence in myself to give me any slack at all. I knew that my brain chemicals were beyond FUBAR and didn’t retreat the way I should have.

And exactly none of that turned down all the warmth I felt when I thought of her, not a fire in the belly but a day at the beach. I will feel that every time I think of her, which is how I know there’s no set of circumstances in which I’d refuse anything she wanted. It wasn’t a little deal to me that nothing felt solid, and the inconsistency drew me into myself. I was trapped in this cycle of believing that everything was fine and she hated me and yet still somehow tolerated my presence. Say that sentence all in one breath and you’ll get close to how I felt when you’re winded.

At the same time, I wasn’t always good about letting her know that I was thinking of her feelings because I talked about them, but she never talked about mine. Over time, I realized that my emotions didn’t cause much in her when I felt like Elvis had left the building, awakened out of a stupor caused by awe. When you love someone, aren’t both of those things true? That you can grieve what is lost and enjoy what you had simultaneously, because love and conflict live in the same house?

But if the only thing I can be counted on is saying we’re done and not done, I won’t waffle. That’s because I showed up for every holiday for nine years and wrote to her every day. For nine years. Pretty sure I can be counted on for more than a political point. When I said that it was over, we both had steam in our ears by then. I had no guidance in how much I should feel, so my attention never wavered from the first time we had a conversation. It should have been different. I should have known she was sharing my words with other people because she should have told me she was going to do it rather than telling me after it had been done. I don’t care about her sharing my blog entries, but my letters are another matter. Who knows what went on between her and the people who read them? I ruminated on that for years, because she’d said to keep things tight from everyone, and never said she wouldn’t.

I can’t do that. I can’t face a firing squad over what I’ve written, and neither can she. Neither one of us would want to walk into a room knowing that everyone there knew what we’d said, which meant that integrating our lives would have been difficult. I just would have had to sit through a lot more uncomfortable conversations because I haven’t said shit to anyone. She has a clean slate all day, every day. I do not.

He’s never known it, but I think about her husband all the time. Why wouldn’t I both love and fear him? How would I know how he felt in all of this? When can I stop shaming myself for it?

I am not pushing my memories with her away. I am letting them come and visit me in my dreams, her words pouring thoughts into my head that made me feel stronger and smaller than I ever had. But her words didn’t do it all. My reactions were often poor because my self image was so destroyed.

I do think that I’ve gotten a peace of mind that hasn’t been with me in a long time. I didn’t want to be selfish, and I waited until I was so defeated that I just slunk off into the night. That’s because she laid out everything on her plate and I couldn’t take it. I’d already spent years thinking of everything on her plate and knew there was no universe in which any one of my problems could compare. I didn’t get impatient until we’d been tearing at each other for almost a decade. I don’t know what created that push/pull…. that we could say it was over like that and sign up for more.

I think it can be chalked up to our different approaches to everything, but I never knew when she was going to see a change as positive or suspicious. When she felt attacked, she attacked me. Sometimes, I was stable enough to say “no, that’s not what I meant,” and sometimes her reaction was so fiery that it engaged my escalation mode. In fact, the last exchange we had started with “I don’t want to fight about this.” It ended with her feeling like she had to delay reading my e-mails because they brought on guilt and shame when none was meant. I am not responsible for that guilt and shame. I am only responsible for communicating my needs and hoping that they create a desired reaction because my happiness is just as important as theirs. When her response was to go find other friends, I did. I would like to believe that she popped off as much as I did, because she knows I know everything in that letter intimately. That no obligation of hers went unnoticed to me. I couldn’t believe she thought she needed to spell all that out as if I hadn’t noticed. I’d been drowning in it. I knew I was last priority, I knew why, and I couldn’t make anything better.

If I’d been the sort of person that compartmentalizes emotion, we would be in any of the situations we are now, because I could have just laid back and enjoyed having a friend that was smarter than me.

But I didn’t. I walked around hurt too much of the time, not because of how she felt about me; it was all about my emotions. The guilt and shame that was above me dripping down. I can’t speak for my beautiful girl, but it seemed like something was brewing on her end that read similar. My emotions were too big, and I knew it. I didn’t know how to tamp them down properly, and I never will. Someday a neurotypical can tell me what that’s like.

Right now, I’m just trying to turn my attention, living around this loss instead of kicking it out. Dealing with it while it’s happening so it doesn’t come up later. It’s important to me to have a verbal tapestry of our history, because even if I never get what I want again I still want to remember when I had it.

I want to cry out all the pain, and relive all those laughs. The fact that I look at this whole experience together makes me invincible, that I am not swayed into “it was always bad” or “it was always good.”

I didn’t handle it with power, grace, or style. But I felt it all, all the time. What kept me going was the heart of a chef, that the same give and take I had with food was there with all relationships…. that all of them were a balance of clutch and gas.

Life Before The Internet

Yesterday’s writing prompt was asking if I remembered life before the Internet, and I have to say “not really.” That’s because I’m the last generation born that didn’t have technology everywhere as a small child, but it started creeping in when I was older. Nothing felt like a leap, just solid movement forward. For instance, I had a computer in my room when I was eight. It didn’t connect to anything, and I was still obsessed with it. So, my memories of life before the Internet are limited to age 15 and under. As I age, those memories are slipping away no matter the subject.

I miss the simplicity of computers without networking, because I knew for sure my files were safe at all times. I didn’t have to worry about viruses because my computer was what we’d now call “air gapped.” That’s keeping a server offline on purpose so that no one can get into it that doesn’t have physical access to the machine. I air gap my desktop when I’m writing so that I can’t zone out. I put my tablets in airplane mode. I care about security, and have encrypted and password protected anything I’d hate for others to see, because no one is close enough to me to read them. In some cases, no one ever will be that close to me because I have to have that one space where I can say anything and come back and read it later. I teach myself about relationships by writing letters never meant to be read by them, because I’m through trying to solve our problems with their input. It’s what brings me closure faster than anything else. To reread my own words and be critically aware of the ways I’m participating, because I can’t do anything to control the outcome of another person’s reaction to something I’ve said. The only thing I can control is my own actions, and why at times the Internet is more of a threat than it’s worth.

I decided that if we were going to have this new form of communication, I was going to learn everything about it. I started using Linux because I thought of myself as a coder, but over time have realized that I just prefer the environment as a daily driver- just a menu and a terminal. HTML and CSS are not considered “programming,” per se… and I have a third grade education in SQL. I can read a program and tell what it is supposed to do easier than I can create one on my own. Speaking of SQL, databases have fundamentally changed the Internet, because all of the sudden script kiddies had access to information they never could have gotten without an inside job, like any rando with an A in hacking could try for the firewall at the NSA. There are dire consequences for it, but only if you get caught. A virus hidden in the RAM of a server is barely detectable, and affects computers all over the world simultaneously. That is why people were so reluctant to do online banking, and the only thing I miss about that is human interaction. No one has to be up close and personal with anyone they don’t know. There is an epidemic of loneliness in the US which we perpetuate in our relentless quest for personal freedom. The Internet has changed our DNA to fully believe that those small interactions don’t matter, and now half the country believes there’s such a thing as alternate facts, and that no truth is objective. There are no subject matter experts that rise above party, because we don’t have to know them. We live in echo chambers because we can….. at the cost of a loving society because if you don’t want to know a wide range of people representing all sorts of opinions, you won’t. You miss out on the pain of opening up and having your thoughts rejected, and the beauty of being changed by something the other person did.

I was born during the Carter administration, so my first real memories are of President Reagan. Therefore, I’d been born during the last time there was hope for bipartisanship that didn’t set out to emotionally destroy people, like the insurrectionists turning on Mike Pence and threatening his life…. People he had once thought of as his base pursued him relentlessly. When you escape with your life, you’ll never be the same. No one is taking responsibility for that, when they absolutely turned off their brains and stopped seeing real people, or real information.

It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times, because pre-Internet was pre-24 hour news cycle and the urge to keep up. There wasn’t the hunger for knowledge there is today, which has turned the Internet into America’s next civil war, emotionally speaking. The cult started with lies that spread while truth was putting on its shoes. It was too late to be objective because they’d been brainwashed to believe that everything in front of them was wrong except for one guy with no qualifications who made himself seem that important and for some reason other people believed it.

I don’t think that could have happened in the late 70’s/early ‘80s because interaction through face time and touch is key to not losing connection with them. It doesn’t create false courage, the ability to rip people a new one in public with no regard for real life consequences…. Even if it’s your mother.

In the entries where I’m taking my mom to the mat, it’s only now that I can reflect on her whole life without offending her. This is because she would focus on the negative instead of the positive. Would only see me as trying to hurt her rather than wrestle with real feelings on my own. She doesn’t need to know what I thought now, because I know we did our best and now there is no chance that anything will change. Something fundamental and precious was lost, but that doesn’t mean people don’t have problems that take time to resolve.

For instance, I can fully accept that not wanting me to be who I am because she thought I’d cause my father to lose his job was traumatic. I can also relate to her treating me that way because she didn’t want to make things harder for either one of us. She didn’t know the first thing about being gay, and relied on her own instincts. She didn’t know, and so it wasn’t malicious. That’s how we could be so close and so distant at the same time. We rejected each other over mutual fear, and resolved it toward the end of her life. I’m glad for that, but destroyed she didn’t live longer so I’d have more memories of complete peace and security. There were so many ups and downs that I own all of them, because when I became an adult, she was no longer responsible for my actions. I shrank back from her in some ways, because over time she hadn’t committed to learning anything about me and I didn’t want to press because she’s already shown me she wasn’t comfortable.

I think the Internet changed that, too, because she could see how mainstream being queer was becoming and didn’t feel like it was such a burden carrying what other people thought of me. Before the Internet, we talked through the Oprah Winfrey show. It’s the only thing we were both obsessed with at the time. I started watching when I was nine. I saw a gay person for the first time on her show. I saw a trans person for the first time. I saw a person with AIDS, and the families with their quilts.

So, by the time I actually came out to her, at least she’d welcomed gay people into her home through the magic of television even if she didn’t know she’d met a gay person before. That’s because it would be impossible to go your whole life and meet one. They just might not tell you.

Memories of my family reign before the Internet because we spent more time together. The thirst to connect virtually because it was easier became so vitally important. The Internet plays to my strengths, because I communicate better in writing. I just need to watch what I’m saying and how I say it…. Not so much with my blog, but with my letters. I’ll get all riled up about something and release too much fire. If they release more, I feel bullied and get angry. I pop off and say things before I’ve had time to think about it. I think the difference is that traditionally I haven’t been good at getting over the things I’ve said because they torture me…. This is because I can only do something about my own behavior, and I don’t see it until I’m outside the situation.

I feel like working on issues is key, because I don’t ever want our communication to come across as bullying again. I have often been close to people who think that working on issues is bad, and I have learned to walk away when I continue to feel bullied because I take responsibility for the times I pop off and get angry when other people don’t do the same thing. Their anger is completely justified, and mine is not. My words were hurtful, theirs were not. I’m just being a victim, they didn’t do anything. The fact that this is the pattern with which I am the most comfortable disturbs me, because I know I have a lot of work to do in the areas of being patient. Taking a step back.

The Internet changed me because I thought that being physically in the same room was equal to feeling emotions when I read. That’s because I tended to get frustrated when people were talkers and not writers. It’s not because I wasn’t willing to change mediums, it’s that their reaction was that their words weren’t good enough for me because they couldn’t write as easily as I could. Intimidated by me to an enormous degree, when I could care less how people communicate as long as they’re doing it. I don’t like when people tell me that my words are so intimidating that they don’t want to communicate at all. They don’t want to even try. Meanwhile, I am begging for them to show up. I don’t want to beg to people who use their lack of skill with writing to avoid talking about a situation at all. If you don’t want to write to me, I will try to keep from overwhelming you with reading… provided you’ll actually go for coffee or a cocktail. Tell me that working on something with me is important to you even though my medium of communication is the written word and yours is not.

Don’t let me be lonely even when we’re together. Otherwise, I count on interactions with people who don’t mean as much to me. I have to force myself to engage in small talk, otherwise, I won’t talk at all. I don’t have the safety and comfort of history with the tellers at the bank. It’s only sad when I want people to feel close to me and they don’t want me to feel close to them, and not because they don’t want it. They aren’t prepared to accept that my emotions are large on the page, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are in real life. It’s because when I’m trying to convey an idea, I might not know your history with what I’m about to say and tap into an image you think is one thing, but I meant it as another. Like saying I wouldn’t want to have something and it comes across as “I think you’re bad” when I mean my quota is full on that particular desire. That you’re giving me all I need already.

In person, I could say that with my eyes, and do.

But I did it so much more frequently in my life before The Internet.


Do you have any collections?

Doctor Who is by far the biggest fandom in my life, so I have t-shirts, an adult coloring book (get your mind out of the gutter, it’s just difficult af), and many things I have loved and lost over the years. At Alert Logic I had a TARDIS USB hub that makes the sound when The Doctor has on the emergency brakes. Someone stole it off my desk and took pictures with it all over Houston, then brought it back and sent me the pictures as “Sexy’s Day Out” or something like it. It’s an IT company filled with employees who are all obsessed with sci-fi. Back then, I also identified as Hufflepuff. I figured that’s what most clerics would be, and the clerical description fits because it’s not my job, it’s my personality.

I was nurtured to be that, and not because anyone else wanted it for me. I took it in by osmosis, and am very, very good at pastoral care when I have no emotional connection to the person. The problem is that even one session of pastoral counseling would make me take that person’s pain on as my own. Working in a doctor’s office gave me more clinical separation, but not enough. As an INFJ and highly sensitive person, my emotions were too large even after learning to tamp them down. I would be a horrible pastor or doctor, and not because I wouldn’t be good at it.

I would be incapable of refilling my own cup with energy, because Mrs. Jones is having an affair and her husband doesn’t know it, Mr. Smith is a teenage basketball player who wrecked his knee and his NBA dream is gone, and several Karens want to decorate my house before I get there. It’s always the Karens, because the parsonage is generally the Dear Aunt Sally collection, because parishioners furnish the parsonage with whatever they have on hand. When people have money, they have furniture they want to discard. Let me say for the record that I’ve loved all of it. I’m talking about the negotiations that happen when several families want to get rid of their old bedroom set at the same time.

The best house for me was the parsonage in Sugar Land, because it was gorgeous and in a great neighborhood, plus the church offered to let me paint my room any color I wanted. I chose pale yellow, and decorated my room around Elizabeth Arden’s Sunflowers perfume bottle. I wish I’d thought to get a Van Gogh print………..

In the living room, we had long couches arranged in an L, which created the perfect solution…. Lindsay and I had equal space.

My desire to be a pastor didn’t really come from preaching, though that’s the easiest part of it. It came from going to weddings and funerals from a very young age, learning what it takes to execute them as a leader. I listened in on conversations as much as I could, trying to wrap my brain around the heuristics that run in one’s mind as they try to figure out what to say.

My dad leaving the church impacted me in different ways, but one of the positives was getting away from that environment and looking back on my experiences to see if pastoring was what I wanted to do or what I had done. I decided, in the end, after years of discernment, that I felt a calling but not any drive or passion about it once my mother died. Before she died, it was being full of confidence that I’d succeed and regret….. and not because of other people. Because of my reaction to them.

It was more than being overloaded by other people’s emotions. It was feeling like I couldn’t help them unless I turned mine off. I don’t like doing it because it makes me seem colder than I really am, because people don’t see you protecting your own energy. They see you as distant. And even recognizing when people are saving energy is hard, because when you do, it doesn’t make them want to open up to you… they see their problems as too much for you when it is literally your job. I didn’t want to be a leader and for people to see I was a mess. It’s not interesting when I’m a private citizen, but pastors are known on a much bigger level than that. I’d like to be only capable of handling my own situation poorly rather than inflicting my pain on everyone else. I had enough of that in Portland to last my whole life, and not because I did it. I watched someone else do it and decided that wouldn’t be me.

The final nail in the coffin for the dream of me being a pastor was having watched said pastor go through the loss of her mother and what it did to the people around her. It changed her whole personality and the way she interacted with parishioners. No one would deny this that was in the room, even her, because it wasn’t all negative. The reason it had such a big impact on me is that my mother died, and my personality completely changed as well. The way forward was to write about my God moments here, and let people decide if they wanted to hear them. I could also keep my clinical separation intact, because sitting alone and writing is so much different than being responsible for your emotions while you read.

It’s also grief knowing you’re not stable enough to be that kind of leader when you know you were born to do it and would have been fantastic in some respects. I can’t say I’d have a really good handle on all of it, because I suck at admin and finance. I now wish I’d become a psychiatrist, but I also don’t have a great relationship with math and science, even though reading about them is absolutely amazing. I just have no talent with them myself. How I would have been a GREAT psychiatrist is being able to integrate therapy, but only on a superficial level, and medical school would have been the perfect answer because it would have beat enough emotions out of me that I could have functioned better with patients than getting a license in counseling. I can spend fifteen minutes with you, because that’s not enough time to uncover your deepest trauma, and that’s not a psychiatrist’s job. Medication is just a safety net. Psychologists are the real heroes.

I was born to be that person that listens to you for an hour and helps you relieve your pain, and realistic about how much it would wreck me over time. I know within myself that if I’d become a licensed professional counselor that I would be very much like Doc Martin. He was a world famous surgeon, and just one day developed a blood phobia and stopped. I have a feeling that I’d be the same- counseling people until it was too much and one day just walking away- seemingly out of nowhere because it’s not one thing. It’s compound interest.

Therefore, when I think of collections, I think of this web site, the legacy I want to leave behind. It’s not perfect. There are entries that are angry beyond belief, and entries that show my inner angel as well. For me, the first step to resolving my issues was realizing that I have an entire spectrum of emotions, and I didn’t need to berate myself so hard for the negative ones if that wasn’t my focus. That if I used my mistakes to learn, they wouldn’t be in vain. Therefore, I am relentlessly driven to understand myself (like all INFJs), laying it all out here because other people might say, “I’m going through something similar.” I am preaching the Gospels by living them, not standing on a platform and punching down…… my problem with Evangelicals in its entirety.

Who among us has the power to tell anyone they’re going to hell for any reason? Our religion is based on forgiveness. The Bible is also like the Constitution. There are many, many lessons we can learn from both, and let’s not confuse that by making people who’d be freaked out at the sight of a dishwasher the system administrators of our lives.

I picked up a great line from the Archbishop of Canterbury last week, because it’s fundamental to understanding this web site. In the Bible, there is no argument over the existence of God, there are only people’s reactions to God. What that means to me is that my Gospel is as relevant as Mark’s on a superficial level. That’s because who is to say that Mark’s reaction is more important than mine? He was just a dude.

I also make arguments for the reaction to God, not the existence of them (singular they to indicate nonbinary). I have said over and over that my God is the space inside me that tells me what to do…. That God lives in me, not the traditional Grandfather in the Sky. God runs through every piece of nature, because it’s not about whether God is present, but whether we are.

Having a relationship with God doesn’t require them to show up. It only matters that you do. God also brings many names. I believe in all of them. Allah, Ganesh, and Ra are all the same “person.” That’s because again, spirituality is based on your reaction to the divine, not because it’s really there. Wiccans tap into magic and nature the same way Christians pray and Buddhists meditate.

In that way, spirituality and magic are inextricably related. Even the Episcopal Church calls it “the mystical body of Thy Son.” That’s because when we access that spiritual place within us, we don’t know exactly what happens….. God is not the Actor, God is the Responder. When you get what you want in life, it doesn’t mean that God is a line cook at Waffle House. You don’t just order smothered, covered, chunked, and topped. The decks are random, and you just have to play your hand. God is what helps me decide whether I’ve won, and not by serving up the right answer. God is the place where I am allowed to struggle.

God can give me all the attention in the world when no one else should have to take on what you’re thinking and feeling. In that way, it is like an imaginary friend. There is no better comfort than an objective listener like a therapist, and when you don’t have it, your brain creates it. So, whether you believe that God is a figment of your imagination or a living deity, it still helps to pray. My philosophy on God is very, very much like AA. God’s function is to get your ego out of the way, so make it whatever you want. Your kids. Pepsi. Whatever.

How God helps me in particular is wrestling with other people’s emotions without the inconvenience of their feedback, because it’s not time for it yet. It’s time for me to struggle on my own until I’m not feeling uncertain anymore. It is because my feeling is that God is big enough to be your punching bag, and your very real friends aren’t. The argument for prayer is exactly the same as watching a candle flicker until it is still, trying to control it with your mind. The flame is a visual representation of your thoughts. If there is a grandfather in the sky, the way that image helps me is praying to someone with a tremendous pedestal so that they can see everything and how it works. It doesn’t help to believe they own the chessboard, but it does help to think about how objective a view God has.

Where organized religion comes in is that Jesus didn’t come here to comfort the distressed, he came here to distress the comfortable. (He was the embodiment of power with, not power over, and people hated him for it. He bitch slapped them with words, so they killed him. Seems legit.) No man is an island, so people gather to spread that message. It’s great when your community is focused on being Jesus, and not taking his message and turn it into the same one reflected by the people he hated. If Jesus saw the degree to which his name was used to justify wars, he’d have people’s heads, theologically speaking. Jesus and I are the same person in that our battle plans only include a strongly worded letter. And even when he chased the tax collectors from the high temple, I think the Gospel would have mentioned him physically whipping them. His answer was not violence, and for me, his message is concrete. If you have to fight people, use intelligence and not violence.

And people wonder why I love CIA and Doctor Who the same amount. Please. There’s even crossover, because both CIA and MI6 have been in Doctor Who over the years. Men in Black is the perfect marriage of Doctor Who and MI6, because their hierarchy is based on British intelligence, for some reason. But I swear to God, if you look at the way CIA and MI6 started, it is a stunning portrayal of both.

It’s also funny to me to think of Jesus as an asset and God as a case officer. I’ve been trying to put together a sermon for years on the ex-fil op it took to get Jesus away from Herod, but I just don’t know enough jargon to make it as hilarious as it ought to be. It could be argued that God gives Jesus alien intelligence…. and that did make me laugh…. this is because there is a direct correlation between God and The Doctor, or who we think God should be. We want God to be the person that shows up and saves the world just before everything ends in disaster, and not that disasters happen and anger at God is some people’s first reaction…. or more acutely, that they think God is angry with them, when that is literally impossible.

When God is angry at you, it’s not God who’s telling you what you’re doing is wrong. It’s you. If you feel anger at God for your situation, you’re angry at the world and attributing it externally, mostly because people don’t like to believe they’re capable of negative reactions and own their actions as much as they should because it makes them feel like a bad person…… not that they’re trying to let go of their own guilt and shame because surely they didn’t cause something bad to happen. God did. In no way do I mean natural disasters. As far as I can tell, Hurricane Katrina was caused by air and water- not gay marriage.

No, I am talking about the damage we cause other people without thinking, because when you don’t pray (the function, I don’t care about semantics), you don’t see anything from a third person view. You don’t talk about what your actions might have done to someone else, and that’s the best reason to pray, because it is literally the forgiveness of sins through the practice of forgiving yourself and trying to do better in the future. It all comes from you, raising your self confidence because emotional resilience is key to survival. Alternatively, if you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you always got.

Praying is a way to change that dynamic. Most people repeat the same patterns over and over because to embrace one’s true self causes conflict. You’re not acting the way you always did, and it’s uncomfortable, especially when other people are used to being able to intrude on your space and now they aren’t. Most people don’t think of relationships as a privilege. That someone is giving you their time, so treat it as sacred. Notice when people aren’t doing the same for you. Don’t let resentment build. If people don’t want what you want, acknowledge it and walk away. If someone also values your time, they will make no mistake about letting you know it.

But you just can’t make those decisions based on never looking at what’s really going on and counting on external validation of your behaviors, because then you’re not in control of your emotions. You’ve put it in someone else’s hands. I am firmly on the side of internal validation, and deeply in control of how other people make me feel because I talk about it. Prayer flows from me without ceasing. Just like Jack Lewis in “Shadowlands,” I can’t help it. I look at what other people are doing to me and how I need to change every minute of every day, but I can only do that in isolation with a 50 foot view. I don’t base my relationships on what people think of me, but how much they value my contribution to their lives, because I have a concrete idea of how long I’ll feel like I’m a problem before the relationship is too fraught.

It took too many years with my beautiful girl because as I’ve said before, she did so many things that made me light up from the inside that I believed we were building something and tearing it down simultaneously, and over time, the idea that we were tearing it down won because it was so confusing. We both proved to the other that we’d step in front of a bus for each other, no questions asked. I thought I was part of her support system because she didn’t have a partner, but when I found out she did, he was immediately folded in. He could also call me at 0200 and say something’s up. I was embarrassed that I didn’t know, because I had this wrongheaded idea that gender and sexual orientation were relative on the internet because without context, neither of you are thinking about the other’s body. Intimacy comes from sharing pain, not visual cues. This is because it had happened to me before, so that heuristic was way off when it came to her. This is the most mortifying thing ever…. I thought she was the same way because she said that if she was religious, she’d be pagan. I’d also never met a pagan woman who wasn’t bi, and now that thought makes me laugh so hard I can’t even breathe. That is because my pagan friends bear no resemblance to Outlander. God, I’m an idiot, but that’s the funniest reaction I had to something serious…… but if there’s something serious about it, it’s that we love the same things. Outlander is based on Doctor Who.

Even Jamie Fraser is named for one of The Doctor’s companions. So, we don’t love the same books/shows, but we love the same concepts when we tap into our God moments. For her, they come from magic, for me, they come from spirituality and faith…. not in God/earth magic, but in us and our reactions to them.

You can find evidence of it in everything I write, my collection and legacy that I existed…….. and hoping mine is the story that sticks.


Have you ever broken a bone?

My nose got broken when I was a kid. I am sure I walked straight into something, because if it had been a fight, I would have remembered. What I do know is that my nose is still feels weird about its “new” configuration.

My foot got broken when Lindsay decided that I could learn to skateboard in the living room, and it didn’t go all that well. It was just a hairline fracture until I worked an entire shift at a restaurant waiting tables without realizing that the pain was because of a broken bone, ensuring that it went from a nuisance to a big damn deal.

I went to the ER when I got home, after a concerned girlfriend said I should probably get an X-ray and everyone else was asleep. I think she must have driven 45 minutes to an hour to make sure I went to the doctor instead of just telling her I would. Incredibly sweet on her part, because like as not it would still be broken and me scratching my head as to why had she not been persuasive.

I broke my wrist in front of a Starbucks, because I tripped on the sidewalk going towards the door. That’s the most painful and irritating thing I’ve ever been through. My cast was a hot mess. Luckily, everything healed correctly and no lingering pain. The funniest was not being able to make it to my appointment to get my cast off, so my girlfriend’s dad took it off with his Dremel.

Speaking of which, my girlfriend’s dad was a good time, because he was conservative as shit, but made me laugh on a regular basis…. This is because he was funny both when he knew it and when he didn’t. He also lived in Corpus Christi, which is why I was away from my doctor in he first place. Katharin and I had driven to Corpus for a visit. Corpus is one of my favorite places now, because I’ve spent enough time there to get to know it. The beaches are just amazing, and I didn’t think I could love a beach more than the ones where I lived on Galveston.

Since then, which was probably 2015, I haven’t broken anything. The worst thing that’s happened is falling downtown and hurting myself, which by now has happened too many times to count, not all of them memorable. The ones that are stick out. The ones that don’t leave bruises, so I know something happened, but not when and where. Having cerebral palsy makes you off balance all the time, and not having depth perception on top of it makes me a bit of a comedian to the outside world. I run into doorjambs the most, because I can’t calculate the distance of my shoulder from it, nor can I pay attention to both sides of the jamb at once. I overcorrect left and right, so my shoulders look like I box.

Maybe I should box. I could work out and go an entire sparring session without being able to hit anything. 😉 I can just picture trying to punch in the right direction and missing the target by half an inch…. And that would happen more than once, every instance funny in its own way.

Breaking my wrist was awful because it was my right. I can’t write for shit, especially with my left hand. I couldn’t really type one-handed, either, but I managed that easier than a pen. I remember long, rambling phone conversations with Dana in which I was trying not to let on that I was in pain while she chatted about the latest goings on in Portland and the entire plot of the M*A*S*H* episode she was currently watching.

There’s a story there, and it fits in well with the theme of Katharin being good for me and not. Katharin was funny and engaging in public, and behind closed doors was a very unhappy person. I couldn’t do anything about that. There were several red flags surrounding this one, but this one crushed me. I spent time and money running around getting her flowers and an enormous cake for her birthday, and I got no thank you for it. I got a treatise on how sad it made her that I didn’t get her a card. I didn’t do it intentionally, I was just excited about the cake because it was themed especially for her. She told me once that she loved white cake, because it reminded her of special occasions, like birthdays and weddings.

Not only did I get her a white cake because of it, I remember that quote so fondly that white is my favorite cake now, too. I love weddings and birthday parties, or the idea of them, anyway. It’s like the first few minutes of “Love Actually” when you see people greeting each other at Heathrow.

I wrote her what I thought was a beautiful essay about how much I was grateful she was born, and it still took her several days to get over a slight I hadn’t intended and thought she was making a mountain out of a molehill.

In fact, what drove me away was her treatment of Dana.

She didn’t have the right to be concerned when Dana was in Oregon and I was in Texas, because I wasn’t giving off those kind of vibes. In fact, it didn’t occur to me just how stupid I’d been until Dana saw how Katharin treated me and read me the riot act over it, that it was painful to watch. This is because Katharin knew that Dana lived in SE Portland and forbid me to see Dana at all, so she’d check my bank account and see if any of my charges were in SE. Just everything she could do to spy on me to make sure I was keeping up my part of the bargain….. one I did not make. She didn’t have the street credibility to ask something like that of me, because I’d never been in love with Dana and I didn’t see it happening until I realized how much it touched me for Dana to hurt for me. That she was the kind of person I needed to be with rather than the one who set to tear me down instead of build me up.

This is because I’d won an internship with the Human Rights Campaign to write Sunday School curriculum for churches all over the nation. I would have been amazing at it, but Katharin didn’t want me to go and my friends said that it was a big deal for her, because who manages the house for three months, etc? My opinion was that Katharin and I hadn’t been together long enough for me to worry about her on that level…. It had only been a few months, not a few years. And even then, what spouse actively throws a fit over their partner getting the job of their dreams?

I threw away an amazing opportunity with the reward of continuing to get beat up emotionally all the time. That’s when Meagan and Deah came to visit, and when they wanted to spend a night with me, I said “of course!” Then, the day before they got to my house, Katharin was so mad at me for letting an ex spend the night (with her wife and child in the guest room, hello…… we’ve been friends since high school……) that she punched a hole in the wall. Luckily, it was fixed and painted before company arrived.

Katharin also had very specific ideas about what would make me less of a flake, which she phrased in just that way. I couldn’t stop the behaviors that made me feel bad, and I had such hope for the future. We were going to move to Portland together, and she started flaking on whether she was coming or not. She must have told me she wasn’t coming twice before I broke up with her for good, but that didn’t stop her from going nuclear when I did, because she needed to believe that I left. Realizing that she’d put on a show of saying she was excited about moving, then going to Corpus for the summer and getting settled in was her own choice, because it made it harder to leave when she was so integrated back into her first family. By this time, I knew I wanted to be with Dana, but it wasn’t the only reason I broke up with Katharin. I would have broken up with Katharin because of Dana’s opinion regardless. If my best friend is saying “I don’t like how she treats you” and she has known me longer than you, guess what?

I didn’t need Dana to tell me what to do. I knew what to do. She just confirmed that it was as bad as I thought it was. These things weren’t normal, particularly going through my bank transactions to see if I was even in the same quadrant of Portland as her. You would just have to know how many of my friends live in SE to know how laughable this really is. I don’t think I have any friends anywhere else in the city because those neighborhoods are too normal for us.

The love affair with Dana started in earnest when she drove with me to move my stuff into my new apartment, but it was just a whisper. Nothing happened on that trip at all, it just opened my eyes to the fact that when Dana’s plane took off, my entire world was going to go with it. I let her go, because I didn’t have any plans to return to Portland and wanted to move on with my life. Then, Houston got in my way. I just wasn’t happy because I wasn’t the same person in that context and I liked Portland Leslie better.

So, being with Dana never would have happened had I not gone back. It wasn’t that I didn’t see it, it’s that I couldn’t indulge it.

I think Dana felt the same way, that it would have been a great story.

When I moved back to Portland, we realized that we were both settling for fine and wanted to reach out for fabulous. And we were, but we weren’t the same people Houston, either. It seemed like such an incredible opportunity, and it was wasted.

I don’t regret ending my relationship with Dana when it got bad, I regret not keeping it amazing. When it was time to be there, it was necessary. When it was clear that we were turning on each other instead of towards, the signs were clear that starting over was going to be easier than going straight through.

But I’ll never forget being in so much pain in the ER, my wrist limp beside me and the pain meds struggling to keep up. Katharin said, “who’s Mama’s brave little soldier” She was actually imitating her mother, I think, because it made me crack up.

And laughter is the best medicine.


I do not have a very good relationship with headaches. They love me, and I don’t feel the same way. Yet, we don’t break up. Headaches just plague me constantly. I am certain that some of them are caused by emotional pain, but these are too severe for that to be the whole diagnosis. I can tell they are migraines, because both Sudafed and caffeine help stop the pulsing sensation that makes me close my eyes and the brilliant colors start dancing behind my lids. It is genetic. I spent parts of my childhood waiting for my mother to emerge from a dark room where she was sleeping off these monstrosities with narcotics because in those days, that was about the limit of what you could do after Tylenol, Sudafed, and a cup of coffee didn’t do anything.

The headaches aren’t NOT connected to my bipolar disorder, either, because when I feel bad physically, the pain compounds mentally. I feel worthless because I have even less to contribute to the conversation besides sitting in the room and unable to focus on other people because I can barely see five feet in front of my face.

As of right this moment, I feel like I have ants under my skull and I can’t scratch them out…. But not in a destructive way. Just in that way that it feels good to scratch my head like I’m washing my hair. I am not feeling crazy in a way that would have blood dripping down my neck and me saying, “did I get them?” That’s too dark even for me.

It’s just easy to pick up on dark humor when you feel this bad. It’s been all day, every day, since about Thursday. I have been going about my regular business while feeling absolute shit. It’s not my favorite set of emotions ever. I don’t like the guilt of feeling sick, that I am falling down on the job of taking care of other people and realistic about taking care of myself. I am sorry to all of the people who have sent me something and I haven’t replied. Being sick isn’t an excuse, but I hope it’s context. It is a sign that I am feeling marginally better that I was able to reach out a couple of times this morning even though my head is pounding, anyway. My need to isolate when I am sick is absolute when I am sick, because I do not want to be seen, heard, or touched. If I lived with a partner or I just happened to be with Zac during something like that, I might cave on the being touched part. I wouldn’t talk about it. That’s because there’s too much evidence it’s not psychosomatic, and too much evidence that it really, really is. I have a feeling I talked my way into this mess, so I don’t want to talk my way out.

That’s generally how I get into emotional messes. People think I’m too much. Full stop. I’ve been told I’m too much by too many people for it not to be universally true. So, I don’t talk about it and my brain sets up pain loops that eventually turn physical if I struggle mentally long enough. Depression and anxiety create stress responses that wear down your immunity and resistance to injury. In my case, that means something hurting far longer than it should when I fall. Depression makes me lose timing and balance, because they get worse when I’m tired. Depression is chronic fatigue, so I live for hypomania. Because I’m medicated, it doesn’t mean a whole lot except for my energy being high enough to handle more of other people’s emotions because I’m not concentrating on my own.

My closest allies talk about their problems and it helps me to focus more on them so that depression doesn’t dog me as bad. Changing my perspective is key. When I spiral out, my trauma reflexes kick in and the rage I’ve been holding in because I’ve been keeping so many secrets from an age where I should have been allowed to be young creeps in. Except I can’t get mad at her directly, it comes out in my writing style and people don’t realize that I’m hurting. They see it as being mean to them on purpose. I am working on changing that perception, but it’s hard when I’m struggling so hard to contain my emotions. I am combustible, and the first step is acknowledging it.

In the particular case of the Internet relationship, her life was bigger than mine, and she had a lot more to focus on than me. That was completely fine until my issues were never addressed and it was clear they were never going to be important enough for things to change. Then it was deciding whether I could live with that or not… that the level she was willing to pay attention wasn’t going to ever change and I needed to get with the program.

It wasn’t her fault, but our problems were too unique for me to process, and heavy enough that I needed to resolve them or move on with my life. That superficial interaction wasn’t enough for me because the feelings I’ve been carrying are too large for me to talk about on my own. And it’s not fair for that information to go to anyone else, anyway, because if I have something to say about her, it’s something she should know rather than me talking about her to other people. It’s what friends should do for each other no matter what the circumstance might be.

It caused no small amount of wanting to resolve everything and come to a peace about it so that dropping in on each other’s lives would have been possible. Not having that peace bothered me too much not to get closure on my own. That’s because her behavior came across as “you’re in pain and I don’t care” whether she meant it or not. Healing me meant giving me the peace of mind about what she was thinking and feeling, and because she didn’t give that, the relationship got more and more off kilter as I needed her to engage and she was stonewalling me every chance she got. She had every right to do so, but not with me. It was too much, but not too fast. It had been almost ten years. I was very supportive of everything she was going through, and frustration at not hearing that it was causing me more pain not to hear her anymore than I could reasonably be expected to carry. If she wanted me, I needed her to open up, because it was devastating that I was no longer hers, not that I never was.

Everything she did to stonewall me looked bigger than the occasional incredibly sweet things we did for each other, because it wasn’t my love language. She wouldn’t come my way no matter how I felt about it, which was to hurt deeply. It wasn’t fair for me to live with that level of pain and pretend it was okay anymore. That our relationship was nourishing me instead of draining me. In effect, we’d get frustrated that though we were both speaking clearly in her love language, she forgot how to use that skill and was extraordinarily frustrated that I cared so much more than she did because she wasn’t feeling the same pain as me. Working out problems didn’t make her feel more loved. Having a surface level friendship didn’t make me feel loved, either. It was a win-win situation in some ways, and devastating in others. I couldn’t afford that lack of self esteem anymore, because it was incongruent with being told that I was extraordinarily smart and impressive. In the beginning, I felt incredibly needed and extraordinarily honored, but because she stopped being vulnerable, I felt discarded. That’s not on her because she needed to distance herself. It was on me to decide a plan of action… what I needed to do to stop feeling unloved all the time because it was something that contributed to my physical health because I hadn’t learned to think about her. I’d imprinted on her and began to feel her.

Not resolving an issue completely presented physically, because she apologized for her behavior, but bringing it back up when I was processing what happened when something in my head referred to it was wrong. That I wasn’t bringing it back up to shame her, but defining a pattern. Recognizing a bad pattern and addressing it was the way to move forward and relieve the pain tape. Changing my pain to my empathy and focusing on what she was feeling was relief. I couldn’t get it from her, but I could get it from me.

Processing a thunderstorm takes a lot out of me, so that’s how I know it’s all in my head and also serious as a heart attack, because psychobiology tells me it’s true. But thinking about what she must have been going through brings me peace because it’s not offensive to think those things without her, when it hurt her to hear them and respond as if I was actively trying to hurt her instead of trying to change my own reactions to her. It was essential to resolving my feeling wanted and needed, because it made me emote in a way that made me feel equally hurt. Getting my needs addressed didn’t come across to me as actively trying to hurt her. It was solving the problem of being close in the future without knowing if there was a future or not. No matter what, we are part of each other’s brains because there’s nothing that will ever stop it. But there’s no building anything, either, when we constantly hurt each other because one wants to get closer and the other doesn’t set boundaries at all.

When she did, finally, it hurt too much to hear. It was never going to change. I could spill my guts any time I wanted, but if I hit a nerve, she was always going to keep it to herself unless it made her angry enough to explode. To have more negative reinforcement than positive was too much, because I then felt like I was intruding on her life rather than adding to it. It wasn’t that she didn’t want the relationship at all. It was that we didn’t want the same things. She was making clear what hadn’t been before, and it was devastating to an enormous degree because I’d put in so much work to rectify past mistakes so that she could trust me, and it felt like those letters were trying to prove my trustworthiness and being taken as attacks…. And that’s what made nothing move forward. I tried different ways to address a problem and none of them would work. I was lecturing her, not inviting her into my world. And it wasn’t that I couldn’t move on, either. It was that when a huge callback came up, she would take it as rejection and not trying to get closer, or not wanting it and not willing to be able to say it until now. It had to be one or the other, because in order to feel impressive, I needed to know why. Which changes have impressed you, because you only seem angry with me when you write? Why does a sitrep make you feel horrible instead of you lumping all my emails together as if they all say the same thing?

In my head, I thought she was a miracle, and she thought I was annoying. I am usually impressed by being the most annoying person people know, but she was my safe space, my lock box. It makes me feel so much light and love to feel needed in the same way, and my heart couldn’t take all the changes I’d made in negative ways, and it took a long time to understand that my illness had gotten out of hand and I needed to give myself a break because I’d done everything I possibly could to make sure I was consistent in my behavior so that our connection was as rock solid as ever, that scar tissue was stronger than new. She was safe from me. She’d have to know how long the stereotype of the aggressive lesbian has existed to know how deeply I’d shamed myself into believing I was a worthless piece of shit. How deeply it cut into me when she thought I was being overbearing when I was making light of something that had happened eons ago. The fact that she wasn’t there yet destroyed me. If she couldn’t laugh about it, she was holding onto pain and just not addressing it.

To give her an opening to do so was wrong and didn’t change anything. I just reinforced the idea that I wasn’t safe, when humor is how I move on. Therefore, when a clapback triggers something major, she can’t hear it with empathy, it’s a threat. Something I meant to be innocuous triggers abandonment feelings because I know that straight girls have been taught that homosexuality is wrong, or they just feel it. To tap into those feelings is not the same as a guy saying those things, because it makes them wonder what it is about them that gives off those vibes when there’s nothing in that thought process at all. When you love someone and start to feel those butterfly feelings, does it matter what their sexual orientation might be if yours is bisexual and theirs isn’t? There’s nothing about them that gives off a “vibe.” I’m not looking for feelers, because there are none. There is only direct communication and the deeply ingrained cultural acceptance of queer feelings being somehow wrong.

So, to be intrusive of that cultural norm is a bad thing, and I am separating out what happened before I got sick. Why do straight people automatically reject the fact that even if they can’t return those feelings and it’s okay, we’ll get over it, the thought is somehow offensive, as if we should have been able to tell you weren’t bisexual at first glance? That it is somehow in and of itself offensive?

I was never concerned about her reaction, because I knew it was a dead end, that these feelings were my responsibility to get rid of and they didn’t resolve until I absolutely spiraled out after isolating her because the pain of rejection was causing all kinds of hell, especially since I’d pushed buttons that were out of bounds in my haste to make her angry enough to reject me altogether, because I needed time. I would have gotten all the time in the world if I hadn’t picked myself up and apologized, but because nothing about our relationship was solid except for checking in once in a while, I floundered. No one loves you like someone who has wanted you and taken the time to get over it so that particular rejection doesn’t cause pain. Then, to have it resolved and to want to welcome someone into your life so badly and to have that deep love rejected is a unique torture, which you bring on yourself if you feel as deeply as I do about things.

Lesbians move on in this particular way easier than most, making an ex a part of their family because they trust people who have felt that deeply about them. Straight girls don’t, and I’m sure that’s because there’s a whole litany of tapes that run inside them when it happens. It irrevocably changes something, because it doesn’t feel like the natural order to them. It wigs them out, and why that is a thing is blatant.

What bothers me about this is that straight women have no problem telling each other that they love them to that degree, and say that they’d marry them. No, they won’t. Why? Are lesbians treated differently in this country or something? It’s fine to say it when it could never happen. Joking is fine, real is not.

Pushing is not fine, either, but that’s a separate issue and built on the fact that mental illness sucks. I have to believe that entitled behavior always comes from mental illness, because to make that level of a bad decision takes dedication.

To say that you’ll never do it again is empty, always…. Even if you take the appropriate steps psychiatrically and psychologically to prove it. She was very impressed and afraid at a fundamental level, and I couldn’t resolve that issue for her, I could only talk about it and see if it did any good.

I got exactly what I needed in every way but one, and that one overshadowed everything else, because it wasn’t being received as color commentary. It wasn’t received as letting her into my thought process. It was trying to inflict pain, and being seen like that wore me down over time. Feeling this deeply about someone when they couldn’t or wouldn’t speak in my love language when I realized I needed to make major changes in my life and keep them consistent in order to keep our relationship strong made me feel terrible. Believe me, I was fired for cause, but I couldn’t make things better for me, either. I could only make things better for her, which I was glad to do in any way that I could. But not hearing about her life made me feel unworthy, and it cost me a lot. Then, when she finally did open up, I thought we were set. It was just unfortunate that she hit a trigger. It was not her fault that she hit it. It was her response being irate and asking me not to put something on her, when I wasn’t. I explained what happened and she threatened not to communicate with me ever again, when she’d dismissed a basic need. I was trying to express my own fear, and it came across as irritating her for the fun of it. I’m sorry, what?

It was then that I thought we were done, because I thought it should have been enough to end us. But she and Daniel had so much in common that I really thought they needed to meet each other, because they would have been friends whether I was involved or not. They could have leaned on each other in a different way than they could have leaned on me. I bargained with myself that it was worth going through pain if I could make this connection, so I did.

Here was what I think was the fatal mistake. She told me that she would have to respond to my other e-mails at some point, so I asked her about it a month later, figuring that was enough time to get back to me and I was really interested in what she had to say. She didn’t know what I was talking about, and explaining it didn’t ring a bell. Knowing I was that low a priority was necessary. I needed to be on the bottom rung, being supportive and waiting for a response. But over time it wore me down because I felt unworthy of being a higher priority.

Therefore, it cannot be said that any of this is her fault. It’s my reaction, because she was right to do everything she did, and so was I.

But one recent moment that sticks with me is asking her to take a contact photo of herself for my phone… “it’s just to match a name to a face, don’t make it weird.” She legit just turned the camera around and hit the button, and it was one of the most gorgeous photographs I’ve ever seen in my life. This is because her eyes were focused on the lens, which made them come across as deeply intimate in a beautiful way, like she was staring into me, and it is just for me. She knew she was looking at me, and she saw me in return.

It’s a beauty that would undo anyone, and it’s not even close to what goes on behind those eyes. She is truly a world class brain, and here’s the biggest thing of all. She made me believe I have her smarts, too, when I actually use them. Her belief made me stronger, and made me love who I am. She continues to believe that, and I want it so much because it makes me like who I am when I’m with her. But feeling the pain underneath is a rough gig, because I couldn’t forgive myself. I’d be reminded of something bad, and chastised when I talked about it in hopes of letting it go. I let the joy multiply, it’s just that pain compounded faster. I was paying so much interest I couldn’t attack the principle.

That’s all on me, but what became clear is that resolving my own feelings had to come from me if we weren’t working on it together. I was in too much pain from feeling like I was a problem that needed to be solved. I couldn’t rectify not being able to build from a foundation that was once rock and had disintegrated at my own hand. As in, I wanted to move forward together, and didn’t want to do it alone until I had no choice.

Surely everyone is familiar with the pain of it all? That you’ve done something that can’t be truly forgiven because neither party is willing to communicate because one wants something more and one wants something less and both are afraid? The feeling of not wanting to rock the boat and hurting inside? Wanting to feed relationships so that they develop roots and brilliant flowers? The disappointment of knowing it can’t be done. Choosing whether the eventual buildup causes redemption or rejection, knowing that rejection will win when communication isn’t clear?

If we’d set up new boundaries where we were comfortable so that I didn’t build up a hope that should never have grown, I would have been fine. Asking for clarification took eight years. She danced around the subject because she knew I wanted more than she could give, and felt guilty about the pain it caused me because she didn’t want to tell me about hers and never would.

When she opened up about her family, I was thrilled. I don’t think I made it where it was clear that I was both overjoyed and felt left out at the same time. I was thrilled to hear that the relationship had been successful, loved the idea that she’d found a life mate, and announced it to all her friends except me. What does a lockbox friend want to hear except the things that make you love more? It meant I felt the pain of being excluded for so many years while also feeling the joy of being included now, wanting to build on it and not knowing if I should. If I tried and it failed, I’d be opening myself up to more rejection and pain. I did, and it did. Nothing went the way I wanted, and everything sounded better in my head, because her perceptions were so far off from my intentions. It caused a lot of anger that went unresolved, because what friend likes to hear on a consistent basis that someone feels like I need to attack them instead of “will you work on something with me?” Again, I think she is the most beautiful human known to God and man, and I am nowhere near alone in this opinion. The fact that she felt rejected by my words and they made her respond more than the accolades I gave her made my self esteem plummet. I was trying to speak for myself without speaking for her. She thought I was creating the narrative that I was a victim, when I didn’t think that at all. I was trying to get her to speak to what was bothering her by laying out my fears, hopes, and dreams first. Being strong by asking instead of telling.

To think that I was not thinking of her feelings is untrue. It wasn’t my job to write about her as if I already knew what she was thinking. It was telling her what her words did to me on an emotional level and needed to hear her reaction. When it began to always be pain, that I was goading and provoking her, I knew we were never going to see eye to eye on this, so we couldn’t give each other what they needed. There was something bigger than me at work. I was trying to build something strong and comfortable for the future, where the idea of having a conversation in person didn’t seem weird. When she said she’d think about it, I began to write in that way. I don’t know whether I wasn’t a priority because the prospect felt scary or because she literally didn’t want a future even when I talked about a time in our lives where she didn’t have as many commitments. It would have solidified in my mind that there was going to be change later on, even if there couldn’t be right now. She finally said enough to convince me that I was too much of a burden for her to spend any more time, and suggested she’d only been nice to me because I’m a writer.

There were a couple of other things that made her think that I was trying to hurt her, none of them true and scared the hell out of me. But none of that stopped the hope that we’d resolve our mutual issues with each other because she’d said she’d think about it and I couldn’t press. There was nothing to calm the fear we had in each other, even when I was vulnerable first. We both lead from the back, and I wanted to show her that I wasn’t willing to do anything for her that she didn’t do the way she’d saved me first. She just didn’t trust it. Didn’t mean I didn’t understand why and felt like a victim. I wanted our behavior patterns to change because this was costing me so much energy without being refilled because we were focused on different ways of being there for each other. My pain was all my bag, but hearing hers would have lifted it. I wasn’t trying to make her feel anything, I was curious as to how she felt and didn’t want to speak for her except in explaining how her behavior came across to me and wanting to know the reasoning behind it because it was so uncomfortable to be in the dark all the time.

I am sure the intensity of all my feelings came across as gigantic, and pushed her away to an enormous degree. Trying to prove that though they were large, they were all pointed in the right direction was futile, because she couldn’t just let me be me anymore. She was exhausted by it, and I was exhausted at her always thinking I was trying to attack her and trying to find different ways to resolve things so that she could hear just how much she meant to me without it seeming somehow manipulative or offensive when neither of those things were in any way true. I feel the same way about Bryn, and it makes us able to talk about anything and everything. She accepts all that gigantic love and returns it in a way that feels consistently loving to both of us, because neither of us feel like one is feeling deeper than the other.

We both feel deeply in every quadrant of emotion on the z axis, and don’t deny each other access, because being able to process is important to both of us. Neither of us see the other feeling something about a thing is an attack. It’s telling each other the story we’re telling ourselves and checking to make sure it’s true. Neither of us are a victim of anything because we’d never phrase anything in the form of “you made me” because we can’t. No one makes you do anything, you can only describe your own feelings and hope someone responds in a way that enlightens your assumptions rather than them feeling rejected. My uncertainty about the future led me to react quickly, because I never knew when something I said was offensive or not because she lumped everything together in one unit and said everything was negative.

I knew that wasn’t true, because she respected my opinion and would yield to it in the beginning. She’d talk about my perception and tell her story. To have something that vital and ephemeral was painful in a way that I’d never experienced. It was her right to withdraw, certainly, but also my decision on how long to be wrecked by it. How long to hope someday was real. To crave consistency and not be able to put it into language where it was heard in the manner it was meant to be received, which was not able to be changed because there was nothing to put us in the proper context, the only think able to break patterns. To meet might have made us repel each other for a while to let the cognitive dissonance set in, because the difference in writing voice and speaking would create sensory overload on both sides.

Maybe meeting in person would have been the end of us, anyway, because we both would have realized quickly that nothing could be fixed. But what I was aiming for was trying to make it comfortable enough to do that so it wouldn’t seem like a big deal because it wouldn’t seem out of left field.

Writing about it is helping me stop the rumination that comes with being so close and yet so far. I never could tell what I was saying that came across as an attack, just that there had been one. Therefore, I couldn’t stop “attacking her.” Being blind isn’t my fault. But I get to decide how long I’m willing to put up with not being received with positivity.

I felt like I had to ask her permission to go, because I needed to know whether I was valuable to her as an asset and not a liability…….. and deal with it on my own if I wasn’t because the not knowing was just as painful as letting all of that hope float and bursting it later, once it had grown. “We were just an empty dream too big for hope alone to fill.”

She did teach me a lot which I couldn’t have learned any other way. I am in no way mistaking the part for the whole. She made me glow from the inside at such a rapid pace. I can’t thank her enough, which makes my negative feelings all the more painful. I wish in a lot of ways that I could have relaxed and enjoyed not knowing, just going with the flow. But the problem was that I couldn’t, for a million different reasons.

Mostly that I didn’t like who I was when I was with her anymore, because receiving the impression that I was always trying to attack her made me feel terrible. I am not that person, and don’t want to be. I want both of us to work on the issue so that the other doesn’t feel like they’re being emotionally vampired. I want them to tell me when I have a good point and when my perception is off. I also want you to believe me when I tell you how your communication is making me feel. I pop off in anger because my trauma reflexes work fast when I should have thought more before I said something. This generally comes from being exhausted at being misunderstood for such a long time that first I’m talking about what I’m feeling and over time, my fuse at not being heard gets shorter….. it just takes a very, very long time….. or it used to. I’m trying to be better about communicating what I need, but if I’m not hearing your story because you refuse to tell it, I am not calculating my responses on it. I am telling you the feelings of rejection it has created for you to leave me out of your story.

I thought she needed me to be a part of her support system, which is why I worked too hard on trying to get this relationship to thrive and miserable when I couldn’t do it. I could feel around for her anger, and see how she responded to my feelings. Whether we were building something or tearing it down.

It all depends on your view. After ten years, it was causing headaches indirectly because rumination sets up physically when your energy turns toward it. It feels like weight you can’t get rid of, so you either have to fish or cut bait.

She made it clear that she was ready, and I made it clear that if she went, she couldn’t do things like thank me for something I’d written because it only jump started my heart in her direction, but in all the ways she would want when she was convinced that I was trying to hurt her. That’s why I was so firm on the fact that if she was going to show up next time, it had to be big. To acknowledge that I wasn’t a victim for opening up, that we were equally bruised by each other in different ways, and if our relationship were to get better, we needed to stop being so short with each other. Meeting physically wasn’t even on the table, only being vulnerable. I just became convinced over time that the only way to cure us from wrecking our friendship if she did drop in was to change all the perceptions we had of each other that weren’t true.

To think about how we would have been different and do it.

My work to do is to put down my trauma reflexes, because it makes me write differently than I would handle something in person and generally my impatient or fearful messages don’t come from anything but feeling uncertain. Knowing that communication is hard work, and I have to forgive myself when I fail and accept the consequences of my actions with everyone.

Being angry with people when I feel abandoned is valid, but the words I use to express it are too much, especially when I type faster than I think and rage is building with no way to control it because ADHD, anxiety, and depression.

To have no patience for it is the other person’s right and they shouldn’t be expected to stick around no matter what I say, because words have weight. I pay those taxes all day, every day. I also have the right to step back and post mortem a situation, because reading my thoughts here often fixes the problem of what to do next on both our parts. Sometimes, it lets people in closer. Sometimes, they feel rejected whether I wanted them to feel that or not, because people only understand others’ words and actions to the level they understand themselves.

I can only express my needs, and if it is too much to ask of someone, I am generally patient and loving until it’s been so long that my resentment is building. She thought I was trying to get her attention, and that part is true….. but never in the ways that she thought I was trying to get it. When I was being really thoughtful and vulnerable, I wanted her to think about what I said. That’s the kind of attention that I wanted, that she’d seen the full picture and wasn’t focusing on what she thought was negative, because my intention was never to hurt her. I couldn’t afford to lose her until I was very, very unhappy. Being known for all these negative things instead of all the things I said to build her up made me think of myself that way.

Those headaches were the worst.

The Very Beginning

This blog is the beginning. I have to remember that it is not my end goal. It is building an audience, slowly but surely, for people who actually would like to see something out of me that’s not a complete mess. Plenty of people would buy it just to make sure it was finished.

The urge to blog is relentless because you and I are always talking. I say too much because I need it, not you…. And yet, you’re an amazingly kind and tolerant audience for something I thought would be maybe three people and a few cats.

It’s funny how I got the idea to blog. At first, it was writing letters to the woman who abused me, because I thought I had to think big thoughts to keep someone older interested in my little musings… When I started Clever Title, I thought of her as my blog before I could type……… but it was the same style. Just lay out all my crap, see what sticks. Her lines are housed in my head (though no longer enshrined) to this day, the few genuine moments I remember. Those words will stay between us, but they explain explicitly how a young writer could fall in love with another’s work. The way she writes is more flowery than she talks, but more direct because there’s no one in front of her. The words are smaller and carry more weight. Clearly there was something there besides us both being queer. We were both young musicians, exploring the world in secret…. And each other, but only to the extent that nothing was off the table in terms of what I could and couldn’t say. My letters ran the same gamut as five years’ worth of entries.

My second biggest influence was Doogie Howser, MD.

I wish I’d had the self-deprecating meme back then that I did with my beautiful girl…. “Sending you six unrelated texts in a row is my love language, and I’m so sorry….” She was my blog within a blog, because she read everything I can’t show you. She was the one who listened as I floundered around on every topic imaginable in order to discover how I felt to the point I could write about it. For people who garden as writers, we are discovering the plot as we go along. We don’t make an architecture. Therefore, this blog-within-a-blog was the very beginning of crafting an idea. Before I can write about it here, I have to let the raw emotions fall on the page.

What I am finding is that I was so shaken up by the experience that I thought because I’d wronged one woman, I didn’t deserve any of them until I could truly make amends with her. I wanted her to stop being sorry that she chose me to be her confidante, and I think she was trying to tell me that she was sorry for opening up to me for different reasons, but I only saw rejection and pain. So, whether I tornadoed this relationship or she did is up for grabs, because I couldn’t tell from one day to the next how she felt. It was always precarious, and I didn’t like that anxiety at all. I was given the choice- live with that anxiety or don’t. My grief is unlearning that pattern. I had gotten so used to uncertainty. I had gotten so used to not knowing because it was all my fault we were in this mess to begin with.

Not being able to move on was not about being so blindly in love with another’s letters that I was ignoring my own life… although I can see how someone would get there. It was that I was suffering under the weight of all my guilt because things would get better and worse at such a rapid pace. If my narrative was wrong, I wanted her to lay out all those feelings and let me respond to them. Let me hear what really went on in her mind so that I can take it in, bless it, and release it. So that I can clear up any misconceptions. I can explain where I absolutely was not trying to guilt her, telling her what she had nothing to feel guilty about. In fact, all I ever wanted her to do was to look at my letters as if they had more to say than she should feel guilty.

For almost ten years of my life, I got to be a part of someone’s life that I desperately needed to meet. I regret all of the bad and celebrate all of the good. Nothing in my life matters more than the gifts she gave me of self confidence and belief in my own intelligence. I have managed to fool her into believing that I am smart, and somehow she made me believe it, too. I also know that I am wrapped into her equally wild and crazy mind, but what was too painful not to know was whether she still felt the same way about me.

I don’t know why I didn’t just say “what exactly are you regretting here?”

Actually. Yes, I do.

I didn’t ask, because I was afraid of the answer.

I knew what it would be because I was focusing on what I’d done rather than what she said. However, it wasn’t all beating myself up. It was getting mixed signals that were probably caused by not normalizing having conversations on the phone or in person so that when I was reading, I heard her voice instead of the one I made up for her in my head. I also didn’t make enough effort to hear her when she did emote, because I didn’t lift myself out of the situation long enough to be able to tell her that she was focusing on the wrong thing and so was I.

Neither one of us were very good at saying when something made us feel loved and when something made us want to stab each other with a fork…. We’d both hold it in fearing the other’s reaction. I’d finally get tired of sidestepping something and then all hell broke loose. It seemed like the thing that attracted her to me was the thing that repelled me the most over time…. Being able to communicate on the Internet and yet….. not.

I think it’s because we had different ways of being in this relationship, not due to us actually wanting harm for the other. We both spoke to each other in our own love languages, disappointed when the other didn’t respond the way they’d hoped. It wasn’t manipulation on either of our parts; I think it was just plain frustration because when we thought we were winning, we were behind. I never got the message in terms of how our relationship needed to change, because I was all in and I didn’t know if she was or she wasn’t. She wouldn’t set new boundaries, new rules of engagement so all topics of conversation were so hit or miss I didn’t know where I stood. Perhaps I overfocused on the negative responses and there’s a lot I’ve missed…. But I’ll never know whether I did or not because I couldn’t sit there long enough to wonder anymore. What is real? What is in my head? What can I expect from you? What do you expect from me?

As I told her, “I am not trying to take a plate that’s been smashed into a million pieces and make it look like it never broke. I am trying to work with you to mold new glass.” The cord connecting us to each other was massive because there were no constraints and no context.

I got tired of wondering what I could do better because I’d already laid myself bare in as many ways as I could, and none of it was coming across in the way that I meant it. I spent so much energy trying to figure out what I could say and how that I lost sight of the big picture. I needed her forgiveness in a very solid and concrete way.

I needed to know that I was worth meeting, not because I am perfect and need to be gladhanded, but that forgiveness is real with no lingering aftereffects. For her, that forgiveness was given on the surface, and it was murky whether it was real or not because even though we were still interacting, the tape that I was worth nothing to her wouldn’t leave me alone.

I realized no relationship was worth that much in self esteem, because it was dependent on whether I thought I was good enough for her or not. Who cares whether I thought I was good enough for me? Hadn’t I already proved I wasn’t worth anything?

How I conflated not being worth her time with self worth is not new or interesting. I ended the longest relationship with anyone in my adult life because I was so wrapped up in my own thoughts. I’d constantly think of ways to explain something that only served to make her feel worse, when I was trying to solve a problem, not create one.

It was a weight I could no longer carry, because living on wishes was not nutritionally filling. Neither is grieving someone that I thought I knew well, and also never met. The realest thing in my life, and also the most precarious.

“Hope is a thing with feathers,” but no one talks about how extraordinarily difficult a thing it is to get off the ground. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into that hope. I wrestled it like Jacob, and my hip is permanently disfigured.

The belief in this message of hope is that I tried the best I could, and I’m sure she did, too. Being able to communicate is a rare and beautiful thing; in this case, we never relearned each other. I know I missed a lot and am personally responsible for the initial break. Feeling the weight of that pain and embarrassment consistently undid me.

I am having dreams about what I wish would have happened, because it moves the story along with a natural denouement instead of a lens cap. The thing that keeps reappearing is that moment. The one where the other becomes real…. A handshake to anchor us so that finally, we are facing each other.

And I’d get to say, after almost ten years, “Hi. I’m Leslie.”

Going back to the very beginning.

The War Daniel, Part II

Describe a risk you took that you do not regret.

I took a risk in getting close to The War Daniel, and it paid off in spades. Yes, I went through so much, but I am hugely capable of dealing with things so it never felt like a burden. I know I came across as harsh, but that’s because I wasn’t holding him while we talked. I hope he understands, even if we never reconcile, how much he changed my life for the better just by having the courage to ask me to marry him… because it showed that he was dreaming of a better life down the road as well. I want nothing more out of him than that; I want him to find his best life, even if I’m not involved. I want him to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs or a war journalism professor or a lazy bum on a beach in a country where you can live on $20 and a coupon for frozen yogurt.

I just want him to live like he means it, because that’s what I want for myself. To free myself of the bonds that make me think the world is better off without me. The War Daniel and I have both gotten close, and it’s an institutional memory of what we hate most about ourselves, because it matches up so closely. I spoke the other day about my conversations being tough on anyone who doesn’t live on my “Island of Misfit Toys,” and Daniel knew enough right off the bat he bought a house.

Can you see what that means to me? Out of all the people in the world that could have picked me, he did. He knew every single thing he needed to know and nothing frightened him, because if I’d been through it, so had he…. Just from vastly different perspective. In fact, the only thing that gave me pause before I said yes was wondering why a Doc of that magnitude was even interested in me. Who even am I next to all that?

I empathized with his problems to the point of not being able to move at all. My mirror neurons were constantly overloaded, and it was because we were having the same experience. I was awed with him because I felt worthless, and vice versa. Neither one of us believed we truly deserved each other, and it showed quickly. However, I won’t ever believe that he’s not the perfect match for me, because we have just enough in common and just enough difference to change lives just by being us. We change each other all the time.

Cora is part of my story now, and in some sense, we are raising a child together. This is because my mother love kicked in the moment she realized she wanted that… a queer mom to help her translate her feelings so that her parents could hear her better. To teach them queer history so that they knew what our triggers were so that at least when they hit them, they’d know enough to apologize. I needed us to be one big happy family, three parents and a child, because I can’t think of a child that needs it more than Cora.

I cannot underestimate how much danger I feel she is in, both with Texas laws and attitudes toward trans women in particular, and to get even more granular, if white trans women have it bad, the darker your skin gets, the worse the crime statistics. Everything in that regard is par for the course.

When she told me how bad it was down there, my first reaction was “I want you to move in with me. Can we make that happen? I don’t even know if I can make that happen, but we can work on it together.”

She told me that she’d be open to it, and that she’s wanted it since I said it. Whether The War Daniel is an active participant or an NPC is of no consequence. They can walk away from me, but I will never in my lifetime walk away from her. That is my daughter out there, and I dare you to prove it’s not true. The only evidence you don’t have is DNA. Good luck. God bless.

So now I need to start researching the best place for us. If it was a cheap city, ideally it would have enough room for both her parents to visit, together or separately. It’s not that I have my hopes up, it’s just that if you commit to a kid, their whole famn damily comes with them. It doesn’t matter how they react to me, because I can only control what I’m putting out. So, The War Daniel is free to tell me he made a mistake and free to move on all in one breath, because I can’t care about him anymore. I need to care about her.

I have entirely pure motives because I can’t afford to be wrong on this one. I cannot live with a world in which I do not do everything I can to convince Daniel to get her the fuck out of NE Texas. I left because I got tired of fighting the system. I needed to live with other grown-ups.

So do I regret opening my heart so quickly to Daniel? Absolutelyfuckingnot. I got the best relationship of my life out of it. I just can’t be the only one getting up in the middle of the night when the baby is telling us she needs help. My best hope is that he does choose me again, for all sorts of reasons, a lot of them practical. I had to let go of wanting a man I couldn’t have because all of this is bigger than me. But that doesn’t mean I am counting on it. That would be insane. I want to be wanted, and a campaign for anything else is beneath me.

I think the biggest reason I’m loud on the Internet where it comes to Daniel is that he knows it’s here. He can look it up. He can see that he is wanted, loved, and cherished even when he irritates the shit out of me. He struggles with feelings of inadequacy, too, so more than anything I want him to know that I love him despite his flaws and failures because he loved me in that same extraordinary way. There were also so many callbacks to our childhood that we could pass on to Cora, and it’s not as fun doing it without it being a tennis match.

I took a big swing, and I’ll hit home plate one way or another. I can support Cora from a distance or she can live with me, but there’s not a person alive who, if they had a chance to get a trans kid out of Texas, wouldn’t.


What makes you nervous?

Before we go any further, I need to correct myself on yesterday’s entry. I wrote “rejection sensitivity disorder,” and I meant “rejection sensitivity dysphoria.” This means that if I feel a tiny bit of rejection, my echo chamber turns it into “the sky is falling…. all is lost…. all is lost.” It’s like weighing 400 lbs, losing 250, and *insisting* you need to keep buying your old size. It is why I struggle with office politics. Everything I do wrong, no matter how tiny or insignificant, means automatic termination. The bosses I’ve had haven’t worked with people who aren’t neurotypical, or if they have, they’ve treated me with the same heavy hand. There is no reason at all I should know the logic behind anything. Do what I say and don’t talk back, even if I have more experience than you. People with ADHD and Autism are naturally curious about the whole world, and just because we want to know why something is the way it is doesn’t translate into behavior issues. Nine times out of ten, we just want to know the purpose of what we’re doing so that we can feel like we have one, too. We spend most of our lives feeling unneeded and unwanted because the system isn’t built for us, go sit in the corner.

We also get that we’re irritating as fuck because if there’s a time crunch, none of that matters and we don’t realize it. The only reason I had to cure myself of this is cooking. But with my friends, I have as much curiosity as I can. Also, I like to post-mortem things and only some people like to do that because it makes you closer. Others are so focused on being fast that they aren’t thorough. They don’t completely clean up their messes and realize that the argument won’t go away if they don’t, because self confidences thrives with people being truly forgiven. There are no callbacks because they understand each other and can completely move on. Rejection sensitivity dysphoria makes me freak out at the slightest indication of unhappiness, especially in long term relationships because I’m angry that I’ve taught you all my quirks and they’re not important enough to remember. You’d rather set me on fire, where passive annoyance becomes rage. For me, the last straw with my beautiful girl was making a joke about our past history and using a trigger word as a response. She said, “gross.” Which in any other circumstance would have been fine. I knew that she was correcting me on my behavior and not my queerness, but every time I’ve ever been called that was ringing in my ears despite it. When I told her it was a trigger word, she dismissed me entirely. Fuck that noise. By nine years and some odd months, I feel like I should be able to say what I mean and mean what I say.

She had the right to be grossed out if she wanted, but she didn’t have the right to go nuclear on me when I told her why I was telling her what was going on in my head. She automatically hates anything I write when it comes to our friendship, as if having a friend that’s bipolar is so much worse than actually being sick with it. It’s like being angry with a dialysis patient. Yes, I’m still sick. I’m so sorry it sucks, but I can’t help it and it makes me angry at my body. So please don’t do anything to irritate my mental health, and if you do because you don’t know, start asking questions. No one has any idea how they’re coming across to me, and when I say something hurts, most people aren’t bothered enough by my words to do anything about it. This is because those conversations are deep and exhausting for me, so they must be impossible for who doesn’t live on my Island of Misfit Toys. Here’s the kicker. Because they don’t want to go that deep, they miss out on the best part of what I can do for them. I can make them mentally healthy again. I can’t prescribe medication, but I can use my words to make you believe that you’re the most important person in the world, no matter how small our interaction. I try to recruit assets, but they have criteria because I don’t want to live a lifetime of frustration. I had to stop thinking that the whole world should have access to me because it doesn’t leave me enough energy to take care of myself. It also takes up too many threads because my chip only has so many cores…. and my graphics card is also fucked up. I’m a 720 in a 4K world.

I desperately want to be a different person, because even I can’t handle it. This is the only way I know how to get there, and it is pissing people off left and right, because their previous impressions of me allowed them to get everything they wanted because it was true. I wasn’t setting boundaries and allowing them to use me up because I needed to feel needed so bad. I flounder without purpose, and it leads nowhere good if someone becomes your focus and doesn’t want it. Too much energy coming at them, especially if they’re not emotionally intelligent and self-aware. The more you understand yourself, the more you can keep from doing damage to other people. I have done damage to people both by giving everything and being too angry to discuss the issue calmly. I feel like it’s a tradeoff, and miserable when it’s not….. to varying degrees, of course. Forgetting my birthday? No big deal, because I notice but don’t say anything so you’ll have more compassion for something else. What I’m trying to change is feeling like I don’t deserve you (plural) because in the end, I’m not worth it. I’m too much for everyone, and I’m afraid someday it will work.

So I do everything to fight that instinct because I’m not finished with life yet. I have books to get rejected. I need to stay alive at least long enough to see what would happen. I won’t be able to live with myself if I had a chance to anonymously pay off some houses. There are several people out there who think I’m really negative toward them because they don’t understand me. They don’t like it that I’m curious about everything, including them, because asking them deep questions is intrusive. I just think that in time, people should be able to talk to each other open and honestly. Getting your emotional needs met is the most important thing on earth, and people without mental health issues don’t know what it is to relate and don’t look it up.

Over time, it gets old fast. And that’s what makes me nervous. That I won’t find someone willing to put up with my quirks if I’m willing to put up with theirs. I often end up in bad situations because of it. I take their issues very seriously, and don’t even tell people what I need so that their energy sucks up everything in the room. Yes, we’re communicating, but it’s all about taking care of you. I haven’t given you a problem to work out with me because I don’t think you’ll do it. I’m not worth it. It would be so much more about the dysphoria if it hadn’t already happened my whole life. I get angry because you have an emotional maid and I don’t.

Most people can’t sit in conflict long enough when it’s the only thing that will help.

A Tribe That Would Have Me

The title comes from “Kitchen Confidential,” the Anthony Bourdain expose that set The New Yorker and then the world on fire. It’s how he describes the brigade, and how I use social media. Many people do not think of this when it comes to me, but it’s easier for people who aren’t neurotypical (ADHD, Autism in particular) to connect on the internet because we have enough clinical separation to express our emotions. In public there is no delete key. You have the option to go back and erase your angry paragraph, and it’s a damn shame most people don’t use it. Intellectuals are caught between two ideas…. the internet is a place of wonder because we can share so much knowledge, and the person who decided everyone should be on the Internet should be handed their ass on a platter.

Even the way I use social media comes from a different place than most people. I helped power the Internet. I was one of the first account administrators in the nation for distance learning. I helped professors take their offline courses and turn it into media content before anyone really knew how to do that. It was 1999. I was part of the team that wrote copy for the Information Technology Daily News at University of Houston, our journalism club of three or four depending. This was 2000. In 1999 was when I started learning unix, Linux, and VMS/VAX (yes. I had an account on jetson. Touch me. Inside joke, talk to your parents.). I can tell you why I thought Fedora was difficult and Debian wasn’t. I have slowly turned into a curmudgeon who doesn’t want to learn CentOS because I’ve picked a team. It doesn’t limit me in any way. Debian (Ubuntu) in some form is the most popular distribution. I chose the underdog (for the time) and I was right. That means something to me.

I was on IRC. I know the reasons behind what you think is funny. I was an early adopter. I can’t keep up now, but I was part of the wave of people who did it first. I read Slashdot and Kottke religiously. It’s one of the reasons I’m hardcore pro-Finland. Anyone who can produce a programmer like Linus Torvalds is okay in my book. The only thing we disagree on is desktop. I like Cinnamon and Mate (like the tea), he likes KDE. It’s all the same shell, the commands like you’d use in DOS. I don’t care if you don’t want to know computers and just want to click a button. I can launch programs as fast as I can think on a keyboard. It’s only now that I’m beginning to be irritated by it in the general sense of going the Microsoft route and choosing the option that launches slowest for everyone if you don’t have the newest and fastest computer. It used to be the best way to put life into old hardware, but you don’t know that unless you’re willing to do the deep dive on which desktops hog memory (KDE, anything but vanilla Gnome) and which ones don’t (Mate, lxde). It’s too much work. What I don’t like is that the alternative only has one desktop, so if you’re a DOS person, Windows is irritating as shit and there’s nothing you can do about it, die mad.

I don’t like being handheld through goddamn everything and not being able to turn it off without installing hacks like OpenShell. It replaces the whole Windows 10 interface with something more reasonable, like easy access admin tools and turning on old school Explorer. In linux, I am free to wipe my entire computer if I wish… while I’m still on it. I just can’t reboot. 😛 In the beginning, everyone was like “fuck it. They’ll rebuild. Life is on the wire. The rest is just waiting.” So, whenever Windows trys to configure things for me I feel murderous toward every single Microsoft employee who ever lived, even though 2000 was great because there was so little difference between running a web server that I could afford to be operating system agnostic. Every OS sucks, it just sucks according to your personal definition of what would make things easier… a phrase with many transitive properties.

With Windows, I’m in the place where I can’t afford to go bigger, so I have one drive dedicated to it because I like older games like Skyrim, Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Fallout New Vegas. I know they’re all Bethesda games, but that’s just a coincidence. I liked Fallout 3 because I could navigate without a map. It was a smaller version of DC, I just had to learn quirks instead of directions. My brother-in-law introduced me to Skyrim, but Oblivion wrecked me. The priest as Christ writ large in Bethesda-speak. The Lone Wanderer is also a Christ figure, so that’s probably why I love the game so much. I can think about that world in terms of what’s best for it without thinking of my own problems, translating interactions between personal and in-game. Communication is therefore a two-way street because it informs me about my real life, this creation of who I wish I was. I have never played an evil character. I have tried so many times just to see what would happen, and I have rejection sensitivity disorder and can’t go there. Watching people actively hate me is bad enough in real life. I choose to live in the real world instead of being the characters’ god. I use cheat codes in everything because I just want to see the story, choosing to act like an intelligence officer instead of killing everything I see. In Skyrim, I use the invisibility spells and potions more than anything else so I can steal what I need before I get unalived.

Here is the one commandmant in Skyrim that should not be ignored under any circumstances. Do not kill a chicken.

Here’s what I won’t do. I won’t kill the other Christ figure in Skyrim, a dragon, either. I have never even watched the video. I have never blown up an entire city in Fallout 3 just to see what would happen, getting to rule the violent Capital Wasteland with even bigger violence to keep things calm. Even in a video game, I can’t be that mean… unless someone starts a fight with me. I will damn sure finish it.

I have a very loyal personality, with teeth and claws. No one in my inner circle would dispute this.

I think that where I get the most hung up is with friendships with women, because to be a woman is to be a fixer/pleaser who serves at her husband’s pleasure, according to the men that wrote the system we live under today. Therefore, because I know what I want and say it, I come across as demanding. In reality they could have asked me for anything, they just don’t, and not because they don’t want it. They’ve been taught not to want anything.

I can give what I require, and asking for it doesn’t require getting it. I just might not come to you again. I also don’t realize I’m asking too much if you don’t tell me that and instead, expect that I think you’ll be what I need you to be at all times with no thought for your needs at all. In a way, that is true. I am not reading your mind and thinking of all the things in it. I am calculating my responses based on what you need, and trying to figure out how we can help each other with the least amount of effort so that neither one of us feels put-upon. We’re a team.

So whether you think I’m the holy or the moly is generally dependent on your ability to tell me what you want, because I tried for so many years to read minds and I am, in fact, terrible at it. I have had too many relationships with Type A ballbreaking bitches (in a good way, truly) on purpose not to accomplish two things… feeling totally run over in most conflicts and learning how to stand up for myself, but only after everything else didn’t work. I have managed to pick the wrong tack in most relationships, because I had and continue to struggle with rejection sensitivity disorder. Over time, the symptoms have changed. At first, it was feeling like I needed to do everything someone said to keep them happy so that I didn’t get rejected. Now, it’s shutting down emotionally and not creating new relationships so that I don’t have to worry whether someone is happy or not. My world doesn’t break apart when someone is (generally rightfully) angry with me. I either push someone away first so that the story can’t be that they left, or won’t open up at all without significant evidence that I am wanted.

I am also hugely capable of telling you what my love language is so that if you want to say something, I’ll hear it. I don’t like walking-the-tightrope anxiety in trying to figure out if something is up and when conflict is going to hit so that I can prepare for every eventuality. I am an INFJ. If there is conflict between us, it causes me physical pain. My emotions are large and I am not medicating them away as much (I still take them; just different doses). Too much serotonin and I’m not really in touch with me anymore. We just chat at the office.

I’ve been this angry the whole time. I’ve been furious since I was born, because I have not lived a moment of my life without trauma. My mother said I cried all the way through physical therapy when I was a baby and I wish I could tell her that history repeated itself when I hurt my back a couple years ago. Again. Not one moment of my life has gone without me being physically or mentally seething with rage at myself.

I had a college doc say that he’d really never seen anyone with self-esteem this low… and that wasn’t after a session. That’s after I took an electronically graded personality inventory.

Now, it’s time to take that information and figure out why, letting myself feel the anger and process it out so that I’m not constantly a time bomb. I self destruct so easily it’s like a magic trick, because I cannot navigate the system as female, queer, and physically disabled. This is not to say that I am incompetent. This is to say that my voice isn’t as loud as others. They get what they need without asking because the system is built for people who already fit in that box…. which is white, cis, and straight (most of the time).

It is hard to be a person that wants to change something and is routinely ignored. This is micro and macro. Everything from speaking my love language to minorities in the system in general.

Personally, speaking my love language is not giving me gifts. They’re great, but I’d rather hear about your emotions. If we are in conflict and you send a gift, it’s not that it doesn’t matter. I just won’t connect those two things and automatically infer what you were trying to say. In my world, only the words “I’m sorry” actually mean you are. If you treat me differently after a conflict than you did before, I’m going to sense it before you even say anything because I’m excellent at reading body language. I’m good at inferring things from text…. and you can only push me away emotionally so many times before I decide that when you say fuck off, you mean it.

Equally easy to let go when you’re the one I go to with issues, but you’re not the one who comes to me. I don’t divine problems, but I feel when there is one. For instance, saying that you’re exhausted by what I need when you’ve never given me a chance to refill your energy stores so it doesn’t feel like that. If you handle conflict by saying “I’ll deal with this on my own,” how am I supposed to know that I’m doing anything wrong?

Additionally, freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences. This is with all my friends, including you (plural). I don’t think I’m untouchable. I think I’m being honest about what is true according to the filters in my brain. It is entirely subjective and doesn’t take into consideration anyone else’s feelings because I assume that if you have a problem with me, you’ll say what it is and we’ll work it out.

By far the biggest reason that I won’t work things out (generally) is when we are in conflict and I have heard you, but I don’t agree with you. Generally, when people disagree with me, they turn very pedantic. There are many things I need explained to me like I’m five, but emotions aren’t one of them. I’ve been feeling the emotions of the whole world since I was born. The dark side that no one will tell you is that INFJs are very, very prone to addiction, because they’re trying to numb out everyone else’s feelings. I absolutely feel your emotions that deep, I’ve just learned how to handle it (most of the time). Handling it comes from saying the thing I’m most afraid to say, because when I set boundaries, other people do, too.

It’s a negotiation, unless I feel that the conversation will end with only you being happy because I gave up everything. I know what that looks like and I become a shell of myself. I will become frightened of saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, breathing the wrong way. I will bleed internally so you don’t have to, which has been great for my partners over the years because they never had to figure out how they felt about anything.

That is doubly problematic in close female relationships, because both halves of the relationship do the same thing to each other unto time immemorial.

“Being Loud on the Internet” is just my way of having a voice. Spilling out how I feel about relationships so that hopefully it accomplishes healing my flaws and failures while pointing you in the right direction of finding yours. I don’t need you to try and make me happy. I need you to make you happy so that we can stand in each other’s stage lights.

What Had Happened Was…

I’m thinking over so many situations and memories are fast and furious. None are painful enough where I panic, but it’s not comfortable sitting here, either. There are physical reactions to every feeling, good or bad.

I think about what really happened in terms of the friend getting in my way. The underlying message was “I care about Sam more than I care about you.” I would have handled the entire situation differently if this friend had ever met Sam, or if the conversation was over hurting her directly. I let it go, and for her to keep bringing it up was reinforcing the tape that someone who wasn’t even in our lives anymore was more important than me. I figured if it was this important a hill for her to die on, then she had no business being friends with a blogger.

When Sam hurt me, ironically I only wanted Dana… and not because we were married. We were best friends for nearly four years before that, so she’s dealt with every heartbreak in recent memory except her. So, sometimes she was the face in my head when I was writing, just telling Dana “the audacity of this bitch.” It was a comforting image of something truly traumatic. Having a relationship end before we really knew what was up, and not because I didn’t want to figure it out. I was summarily dismissed.

If you text message breakup, be glad I didn’t post a screenshot on reddit so that Buzzfeed could write an article about it. I’m not applauding my less bad behavior, I’m saying consider the source. My girl had built something with me over a few weeks and trashed it in ten seconds. I didn’t stick around for the other side of the story because she said she thought it wouldn’t do any good and I, for once, agreed and moved on.

I recognized ahead of time that I could put too much energy where it wasn’t wanted for way too long… or I could trust that something else would come along and not dwell on her any longer than I had to in order to function.

By writing about it and getting angry, I let go of everything. I processed a three week relationship in the proper amount of time it takes a normal person instead of constantly torturing myself over what went wrong, nitpicking myself until I couldn’t get up.

What I wanted from my friends on the ground is what I got from my beautiful girl… that Sam didn’t deserve me and then she said something mean….. then said even that was too kind. I do not even condone cartoon violence, but her being irate that someone had hurt me helped more than anything else. I didn’t need her to get angry with Sam. I wasn’t even angry with Sam. I was hurt. Letting her get angry was easier than getting angry myself, because it folded me back into the love of my friend and how much they cared about me vs. pouring energy into feeling miserable that Sam left.

When I think about the differences in those reactions, what friendship is to me becomes clear. In the story we’re creating, we live and die for the main characters. Loyalty is key. If you care about the impression I’m giving strangers more than you care about me, it’s not our story anymore. That probably is a rebellion against being a preacher’s kid where everything was all about what other people thought.

I can tell you from listening in on adults’ conversations and having an excellent memory that people have thought I was weird and frighteningly intense since I could walk. People are going to think that no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, no matter what allowances I make to fit in. I have spent a lifetime hearing people’s real opinions of me when they think I’m not listening, and the preacher’s family is a constant topic of conversation. I learned early on that people were going to say what they wanted whether I played the game or not.

So, in the end I chose “not.”

Feeling constricted as an adult was familiar, but not comfortable. I still haven’t lost the feeling that everyone is watching no matter what I’m doing…. That even when I’m with friends my own age, there’s going to be a narc somewhere and it’s going to be interesting politically.

God is God, yet churches are full of humans.

And if we’re going to talk about being human, I am extraordinarily good at it. Sometimes I think of my blog as teaching other people how to do life right by seeing someone else fail so many times in front of them.

It is so much better than trying to please everyone and still having them say the exact same things.

I Am…

Describe something you learned in high school.

Here’s the link to the audio. You might have to download it into your own media player or the Mega app. SoundCloud wants me to pay because I “upload a lot,” and I get it. I just didn’t know the space limit was so incredibly low. I’m searching around for options, and most of them rely on using my desktop, of which I am not a fan… mostly because I’m not really using SoudCloud to increase the popularity of my blog. The audio is just a convenience.

High school is divided up for me in two segments. The first is that I spent my freshman and sophomore years at High School for Performing and Visual Arts as a trumpet player. The second is that my junior and senior years, I didn’t. I went to a regular American high school. I was still in the music program, though. My junior year I was in varsity choir and varsity band at the same time, the first in the history of the school to do so. I learned how to be in a marching band. My symphonic band was better than the one at ‘PVA (no judgment, it’s just true).

Then, my counselor suggested that I drop one of my music classes because if I took Microcomputer Applications, I could get what was called an “Advanced Diploma.” The band was gearing up to go on all these trips my family couldn’t afford, and it was an easy out to drop band because I knew I couldn’t sell enough fertilizer to pay my own way. Yes. Really. They asked us to sell shit to people.

I dropped choir because I didn’t like the new director coming in, because I knew other people that had her and it wasn’t my bag. I was not a “show choir” person. I do not think that if you can sing, you should automatically be capable of dance as well. I liked great repertory, and pop music wasn’t it (for me). If that sounds persnickety for a teenager, remember that I was a classically trained singer from being in an adult church choir since I was 13.

I didn’t care about Britney Spears. I loved Bach and it showed.

For the record, I care about Britney as a listener. She’s great. I just wouldn’t sing her stuff unless I was doing it as a joke, because I couldn’t pull it off where people would take it seriously. It’s a totally different type of training.

I think I’ve said before that Beyoncé left HSPVA because she didn’t want to be classically trained, and that I continue to be devastated that it did not work out for her. But same vibe, we’re just opposite. She didn’t want to learn everything I’d been taught about being able to blend into a choir, breath control specific to that kind of music, etc. It’s a lot. By the same token, I didn’t want to learn the proper breath control to sing whatever it is the Star Spangled Banner is now in professional football. Whitney Houston doing it in four was the high point. ::looks pointedly at other pop stars:: No one will ever be her, and I knew that I’d only be a cheap imitation. I don’t want that for me, or anyone else. Do what you do and make it count.

Since my dad had left the church, I also got a job in hopes of getting my own spending money. I was 16, so no one thought anything of screwing me over to save themselves, like making me pay things back when I was short on the register when they’d been stealing from the drawer. I’m bad at math, so of course it was all my fault when the drawer was missing $50 at the end of the night. Of course it should come out of my paycheck. It’s what a teenager owes a national corporation, right?

I would never sue them over lost wages, but I would get a kick out of it if they sent me a product and swag box if someone is reading who thinks such a thing could happen at the company. I once proposed to Zyrtec on Twitter and told them they were paying. Then, they later kidded me about forgetting our anniversary and I said, “how do you think I feel? You didn’t get me anything.” The proposal rocked, though….. that I had 99 problems but a itch ain’t one.

I worked for SuperCuts, and in this instance I am not talking about the company. I am talking about the sleight of hand with my own team, not every employee who ever worked there. I mean, I was great at my job in retrospect. They had me, so you’re definitely safe in giving them as much money as you want. I still look back on my time as magical because things that are commonplace today were introduced while I was an employee, most notably, American Crew (for which I am grateful… white people pomade). I think the Paul Mitchell Tea Tree line came out then, too, a total game changer. It was also amazing learning the jargon of how to tell people I want my hair cut so that there’s less room for a mistake.

It doesn’t always work, but it helps.

By the time I graduated from high school, I had set myself up for life in terms of my opinions on everything that is still true about me today. The only thing that’s changed is that I call myself out as I am, bisexual, instead of telling the world I’m a lesbian while not thinking that way, because that label wasn’t something I gave myself. I just have to be louder about being bisexual in a heterosexual relationship than I would if I was actively partnered with a woman, because you can see it with every kiss.

The one thing I didn’t see coming that I didn’t know I needed was dating a bisexual man. That way, we still have all the same cultural references, though I’m older and have more insurance. He doesn’t care whether I look high femme or butch because in one outing, we’d look depressingly heterosexual and in another, it’s a whole bear/twink mood without all the lights, drum & bass, and Ecstasy.

To stop joking, we’ve both been bullied for being queer. That trauma for him is a different playing field, because mine is rooted in embarrassment. I’m either gross and wrong or a plaything given to men, because why wouldn’t women being with women be nothing but a male fantasy? Why would women have agency in this society? Straight women don’t even have it.

Men harass me by seeing me with my then-wife (Kat, in this example) and asking us to kiss in front of them, or come home with us, or any number of things that hurt way more than they would have if it was original. Those examples aren’t all Kat, when it was 2000, or even Meag, when it was 1996. It’s all picking at the same scar every day of my life, because I heard about it before I experienced it. Being an empath made me experience that trauma before it was direct. I felt it on my skin when it happened to my friends.

For men, it’s horrible that they want to be female, their tormentors’ perception and not reality….. but seriously…. As if being female was the worst thing that could happen to a person…… hello…. All connected. Except men don’t stop with horrible comments with other men. It often leads to outright violence and death. I only say this because it happens to men more frequently, but violence against lesbians exists.

It’s a shared understanding, a shared library of images that create empathy. To me, it is especially important because the one thing I really hated about dating Matthew had nothing to do with him at all. It was gaining heterosexual privilege for the first time and rebelling against it hardcore. I remember one instance we’d gone to meet some of his friends, and someone did that thing where they looked around before they told a gay joke, and I wasn’t the picture of volatility you see here.

I said nothing, and just felt all of it. I know now that I should have ripped the dude a new one, but I didn’t want to upset the apple cart when I was meeting my boy’s friends the very first time. I was also like, 24, maybe 25. I was older than Matt, but still a child in my eyes now. I didn’t know what to do, and I was scared.

So now I can look at that and say I’m in a better place because Zac has probably been there. He’s just as out and proud as me. On Wednesday, I noticed right off that his nails were painted teal and he was wearing flowy pants. He’s the head of the queer group at his intelligence agency. I don’t know how he sees himself, but I see him as George Smiley if he had grown up like us. (Smiley is the protagonist in John Le Carre’s most famous series about MI-6.) I showed up in a black t-shirt, jeans, and tie-dyed pattern Crocs. I later put on a navy hoodie and my CIA baseball cap- some of you will remember that was a gift from Zac because he has the badge that allows you into Langley, but not the capability to escort visitors. I wear it almost every day like I’m pitching the afternoon game. Now do you see how we’ve inverted the binary? From the outside, I’m the butch and he’s the femme…. And no one would ever guess that we were into each other unless we weren’t holding hands or being cute to the point of nausea (our MO most of the time).

Editor’s Note: I learned that it was important on the train Thursday, when a young girl at the Franconia Springfield Metro said, “I want to be CIA, too.” I told her that I wasn’t CIA, I just had cool friends, and to call me when she got there. 😛

“Grown up like us” is emotional shorthand for Zac and I having to deal with the perils of being queer from a very, very young age. Zac entered the military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” At the same time, I’m not dating a gay man and he’s not dating a lesbian just for kicks. We’re not playing at anything, just being the most authentic versions of ourselves.

I have always been that in some capacity, but I have graduated. You don’t learn that you are brave and unique until someone tells you. In the moment, you’re just doing what you have to do to survive.

In high school, I learned that I would HAVE TO be unique.

My freshman year, I told one person I was gay and by the end of the day, everyone knew. In retrospect, it was the best decision I ever made, because any bullying that came my way was tiresome. They couldn’t blackmail me anymore, and they couldn’t get away with anything more original because they weren’t that clever.

Because I was moving out of the gay neighborhood in Houston to a suburb where everyone knew each other, I went back in the closet…. To save my father’s job according to my mother. My father didn’t care. He knew me. We’d met. But guess which message I heard?

Being in the closet for a school year was amazing and gave me the worst panic attack of my life. Both of those things were true. I would not have wanted to miss the chance of being in marching band, would not have traded my conductors (Mr. Matysiak and Mrs. Bueller [really]) for anything in the world. I would never have wanted to miss learning that I was not only a singer, I was damn good at it. I stood on the shoulders of giants, and my mother accompanied me through it all, literally.

She played the piano for my solos no matter what she was doing, and in seventh and eighth grade, she played for all my friends, too. This was not a small feat, as most piano accompaniments for solos are orchestra reductions. So, my mom hurt me a lot, and she also came through in equal measure. Not only was the piano our lighthouse when we were ships passing in the night, she left it to me in her will. She didn’t give me a setting. She gave me the main character.

In terms of hurting me, all of the panic I’d been feeling that year came to a head when my senior best friend asked me to come with him to his prom. He was literally on the way to pick me up, my hair and makeup done to perfection, when I melted down physically. It caused a monster reaction, a rash, shortness of breath, everything- so the doc came over and gave me a shot of Depomedrol and off we went.

That was the first time that I learned everything can be fixed before school, you’re going. It only backfired once. I had the flu, and Tamiflu was YEARS ahead in the making. If it had, I would have been going to school without spreading it. To be perfectly fair, I’d woken up feeling a little miserable and bloomed at school. It wasn’t a big deal right up until it was.

Actually, that leads to a really funny story. One of our parishioners while I was at HSPVA was a Republican judge, so I went to their convention in like, ‘92, before they were complete nut jobs. While I was there, I bought a button down that was made of real American flag material, and the colors were very dark. It looked sharp…. Or so I thought. I was really sick on my birthday, and nothing would have stopped me from going to school that day in my new threads. I get there and first period was band…. And if Jack Lucas had been there, he would have been SO PROUD OF HIS STUDENTS.

Editor’s Note: I also went to St. Martin’s Episcopal as a teen, where I was unimpressed with President George H.W. Bush….. and thrilled to meet a former Director of CIA (of course). Therefore, it always thrills me that Jonna Mendez managed to fool him, because of course now I know we have mutual friends…. And I am laughing so hard that I can’t even breathe right now.

Those motherfuckers broke out in four part harmony, because they were musicians. They could sing their parts blind. Then, they get to “free,” and Dan Kovaly hits the fucking *cymbals.* I was just as self-deprecating then as I am now, so I thought it was absolutely hilarious while still mortifying. Later, my mom and dad brought me my favorite food, cherry chicken from Ruggles. We got to eat lunch together in the commons, and it was sad that there wasn’t a Happening that day.

Happenings at HSPVA are code for what would now be called a flash mob, probably. You never knew when they were coming, and it was always unique no matter which art area was on showcase. It’s one of the core memories that made me who I am.

Back in high school.

The Yellow String

Describe one positive change you have made in your life.

In my world, a connection to someone that’s romantic is a red string. A connection to someone that’s platonic, but every bit as intense as a romance is yellow. Right now, those people are Zac and Bryn. I made the decision to have Bryn as my emotional support because we’ve been tight since I was 19 (off and on until I was 23 and moved to PDX). That means we’ve been friends since Jesus gave me his beeper number. Being that close to someone and having that kind of emotional shorthand takes time to build, and for me, is too heavy to put on any relationship I can’t define.

It’s a whole different vibe, to feel like I have a ride or die who, if she could, would drop everything and run right over. We’re planning a visit where she comes here eventually, because last time it was my turn. 😛 It will be great to show her my version of DC, where the wings and mumbo sauce live.

I was kidding her about renting a hotel room for the express purpose of watching trash TV and eating cereal out of the box, which in my opinion, is a good time. My sister and I have done it, so I speak from experience…. Although I don’t think we had cereal. When she comes here, we tend to stuff ourselves at Zaytinya to the point we can’t move.

Here’s the important thing that’s come out of having Bryn as my top priority. Conversations like this, where I’ve said that being with Zac has stopped the tape in my head where I have to figure out everything from soup to nuts in five minutes:

Cheers to that. So much of my healing is learning to listen to myself and my body and frankly increase my selfishness to allow my selflessness to have actual meaning and not just be a trauma response. And it is amazing how much loving myself more allows others to feel I am loving them, when that wasn’t my goal at all lol but shhh dontell

I told her that I felt the same way, but that she put it better than I would have. I don’t want to increase my selfishness to an obscene amount. It’s that previously I wasn’t taking care of myself or setting boundaries at all.

With the ones who wouldn’t or couldn’t set them with me, I let them go because I was tired of living in gray area. I’d been running full steam ahead towards relationships that weren’t definitive in terms of who does what. Elizabeth Gilbert has said, and I’m phrasing, that she doesn’t believe there’s any story of self actualization that doesn’t begin with getting tired of your own bullshit. That’s where I am. Looking back over the wreckage I’ve done to myself by letting things remain so unclear.

I have a feeling that started when I was young. Keeping every option open all the time because I never knew when she was going to put me back in the sunshine. That’s all my own crap now. I’m an adult. I can decide if someone is worth waiting for or whether it’s costing me too much in self-esteem.

Here’s the thing that melted my heart with Zac this morning, our string turning burnt orange (because who doesn’t like burnt orange, hook ‘em amen?). He’s a fan. He knows how much my faith means to me, and he’s an Atheist. He proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that things that are important to me are important to him, something that friends should share. He gave me a button that says “God is in the details.” I told him that I loved it because theologian Pete Rollins says that a/theism is the greatest love story ever told, and the truth is in the slash.

I know that there have been horrible things done in the name of God. I deeply apologize for all of it, because I am not here to defend any of it. I’m here to tell you what I’m reading, written long before the Crusades, for example. Jesus is my perfect example of more power with than over.

There’s also a reason that my favorite friendship through reading and watching YouTube is Christopher Hitchens and Rowan Williams, then Archbishop of Canterbury, and had to retype because I wrote Rowan Atkinson first. I coexist because of the same spectrum through which I see gender and sexual orientation. Specificity is in tiny degrees, and there are millions of permutations.

One of my favorite classes in College was Logic I. I was terrible at it, but fascinated by the subject. Using symbols to reflect arguments made sense to me, up and to a point. Then, my brain just scrambled.

The argument was God, for half the semester. Then, it was not God for the rest. I spent that class all up in my feelings, which is probably why I nearly flunked. I was thinking so hard about the emotional complications that I didn’t have room for stuff that was math adjacent.

It boggles my brain to hear people arguing about religion, just the easiest way to blow my hair back with excitement. I have a limit, though. I do not like atheists who proclaim their lack of religion as my moral failing, like if I didn’t believe in God I would be a better person, but I’m not.

Let me say for the record that it doesn’t matter whether there’s a God or not. I don’t pray hoping for answers. I pray and the process of laying out my thoughts gives me the answer. God is the voice I call my inner monologue, because that’s where I’m open to receiving spirituality. People do that in different ways, and it is not about “one is better than the other.” It’s about being able to access that part of yourself at all. Christianity is my way of doing it because it’s how I was made, my default setting. Plus, it’s a universal library of images which lets more people understand me than would’ve had I used something specific to the US.

When I access that part of me, I can talk to myself for hours in pro and con arguments, because I want to know and be prepared for anything and everything that could happen, amen.

I am the president of Overthinkers Anonymous, except there’s only me and a VP, so there’s only one chapter and it’s really only us…………… and we’re not friendly, Bob.

As I was telling Bryn, I can be more present in the moment with Zac because I don’t have any real heuristics on dating them. Patterns don’t emerge for me the way they would with a woman because I have no idea what in the hell I’m doing and for once, I’m okay with it.

For once, I can sit in cognitive dissonance and not be threatened by it. I know that no matter what, I am safe to say what I mean and mean what I say. This is because Bryn and Zac are both the kind of people that are hugely capable of knowing their opinions on how they feel. Thoughts and feelings working in concert. I am giving my energies to them in different ways. I’m a handful, and they’re capable.

It’s just that Bryn has a quarter century more blackmail material than Zac, and not for nothing, she doesn’t use it. I would be ripe for the pickings, I’m telling you. Not only that, she’s seen a lifetime of the real me, even when I didn’t know she was looking. Her teenage perspective to my twenties is so amazing, because she remembers things that I don’t and it makes our institutional memory stronger. She reminds me of everything good and everything bad about Portland, and I let her. That’s because she’s the person I can just say, “I feel horrible right now.” I never require her to agree with me about anything, but I know that she’ll hear it. I also am surprised by how many of our memories line up, to a degree in which it’s a bit frightening. That’s what I mean about my love for my friends being gigantic. That shared history means every bit as much to me as finding a partner.

The difference to me between my relationship with Bryn and in relationships I’ve had with women previously (save Dana, she was also driven by emotion), she doesn’t ever shut down. Not ever. She will say things like I can’t talk about it right now, but that’s so different than we’ll never talk about it ever. There is also no gray area in our relationship. It is for life. We will never leave each other. We commit to hashing it out. Every bit as important as my biological sister and my eventual partnership.

If you can’t be honest with someone you met when you were 19, you can’t be honest with anyone.

We get into things I won’t even publish, because only she is allowed access until I can bring it up without feeling the physical effects while I’m writing. In some ways, all that was ten years ago. Then someone will hit a trigger and I will flash back, and it literally takes my breath away. It doesn’t even have to be a someone. It could be a scent, like a certain mixture of fall air and leaves burning. It could be a perfume.

It’s intense and I can’t remember the good parts in that moment. I just feel used, because she didn’t set any limits with her words, it was all inference all the time. Therefore, I spent my entire life lost and confused until there was one moment when I was working out at a credit center in the suburbs of Portland, and I get a phone call. It’s the woman that emotionally abused me. She’d recently brutally dumped someone as her “pet person,” and she told me that I was a woman she’d like to get to know, but her tone was off. A bit seductive, but not romantic. Just going back into a more secretive bubble that felt illicit. And perhaps that was my perception of what happened given the trigger’s origin, and not the truth. I am telling you what I felt, and I did not take it well.

I thought, “she’s finally giving you all the attention you wanted and it feels all wrong. Why? What is wrong with you?” Now, I can tell you exactly what happened. I saw how she treated this person that she called her pet, and I wasn’t having it. For the first time in my life, I recognized a train wreck before it happened. I didn’t want to become an object of scorn to her partner, as if I wasn’t just an annoying dipshit to begin with. And dipshit is a direct quote.

So, when my beautiful girl wouldn’t set boundaries and would waffle between outright, overt, out loud protection and “you’re trying to provoke me,” I got tired. I wanted her to look at herself with the same fierce protection she saw my other friends. I wasn’t trying to create feelings of guilt, but change.

There was no change. Dreams of it, but none. I wanted a relationship with her that felt solid, and either I couldn’t feel it or it wasn’t there. I don’t know, and it’s not up to me to know. I feel like I have stated everything I needed a hundred times over, and she continues to shoot in the dark. It’s also frustrating when someone who used to be glad you’ve called them out on the carpet because they’re famous for walling off and moving past something starts using those walls with you……. And being furious that you’ve noticed. I could see that pattern coming from a mile off, and I still put so much energy into rearranging the dinner napkins on the Titanic.

She says that nothing was ever good enough for me, and her barometer was way, way off. She’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me, bar none. I am a better person for having loved her, and that part of me will never change. It’s why she is still welcome if she figures out what it is that she actually wants from me.

In the meantime, it’s good that I’m not spending my time waiting on something that may or may not ever come. Maybe she’ll keep reading, maybe it will be too painful. Who knows? I cannot predict when and if she’ll hear my meaning, but what I wanted to put a stop to was being able to drop in casually as if we had no history and keep it at that. I felt awful when she said that she hated it when I expected her to be the expert on our friendship at some times and that I was talking down to her when I explained the memory to which I was referring. I couldn’t win either way, because either I came off like a lecturer or someone trying to hurt her, and neither of those options were in any way true.

I was doing the work because I wanted to show up. The way I do for Bryn. The way I do for Lindsay.

Zac remains to be seen, but I am enjoying the moment, breathing and staying in one place. Changing my reactions and responses. Healing. Being able to talk through some issues that resolve my others.

Getting tired of myself is the best thing I’ve ever done, much less one positive thing. It’s all of them. ALL THE THINGS.


What’s the most fun way to exercise?

Let me start by saying that my first thoughts were fairly unprintable on this topic, but I decided to take it seriously, anyway.

I don’t exercise at all. Not purposefully, anyway. I walk a lot because I don’t have a car and I like it that way. A lot of my writing gets done on Hwy 29 between East-West Hwy and Franklin Ave. I wear Bluetooth headphones and listen to music, left foot on the downbeat. When I think of something good, I stop and record what I’m thinking.

A typical walk for me is at least a half hour. That’s because I keep changing my mind. I walk to the bus stop, and get bored of waiting, so I’ll start walking and tell myself there’s a bus stop every major street, so why worry? But then I get to the next bus stop and I still don’t want to wait. I’ll go three miles that way, anything to avoid slowing movement. Movement is creativity.

I’m not talking about dance. Movement creates inertia. If I start out with an idea at the house, I’ll have a book series at the entrance to the Metro, and a short audio clip of what my topic is to get started. When I’m on the train, I get out my tablet and keyboard.

I would like to be serious about exercising, in a perfect world. I’d like a trainer and I would work hard with them. For me, it’s not about losing weight. It’s that I have balance issues and a brain palsy that makes my muscles rebel, against what I have no idea. Strengthening my core is essential to staying upright. I am also of the age that I have been laid out flat on my back from a bad sneeze. Training would stop most of that, too.

Something to think of for the future, that walking won’t solve everything. My body is complicated, and yet, it’s not. I don’t care about what and when I eat, ever, because my blog won’t write itself. I know I will walk until I have something. It’s funny how my weight goes up and down dependent on how much I’m thinking about that day. If my mind is full, I can predict six miles. Not in a row, but throughout the day.

There’s a ton of shops within walking distance of my house, whether it’s going toward downtown Silver Spring and into DC, or toward my neighborhood shopping center, which has the basics. 7-Eleven gets most of my money, because when I forget my water bottle, I stop in for a soda. I like Big Gulps best, because I generally want the ice as bad as I need a shot of caffeine. Or, at least, up until I found Liquid Death sparkling water. If I’m going the fizzy water route, I’ll also “do a shot.” “Doing shots” is how I refer to getting pep in the middle of the day in hopes of not seeming so incredibly old. 5 Hour Energy is the top brand, but there are a hundred of them. My favorite is sour apple with a lime seltzer “back.”

Today is a bit different because I’m packing my “going to Zac’s” bag. Zac has an appointment on this side of town, so he offered to swing by and pick me up rather than me taking the train. My “going to Zac’s bag” is basically full of electronics. Getting on the train home would be impossible without my phone/smart watch, and of course they don’t have the same charger…. That would be insane.

I’m writing about going to Zac’s so that when I read this later, I will remember that Bryn asked for a picture of me with Oliver, Zac’s puppy dog. I am already blessed with “The Daily Zac” and “The Daily Oliver” photos, so it wouldn’t naturally occur to me to take one myself. 😛

Getting those two pictures are the highlights of my day… fuel for the road ahead, which is often lonely due to necessity. I can’t just hand off my story ideas to anyone else and say “I’m tired. You do it.” It’s not that I wouldn’t. It’s that I would feel terrible about asking people to work for free on the off chance a book does well. I am not so precious about my idea that I wouldn’t like a research assistant, for example, but I am also not willing to pay them in dreams.

I just have to keep walking so that my ideas flow organically through me and onto the page. Getting a proposal together is difficult, but definitely easier than trying to finish this book on my own (meaning the alternate history). It’s such a large scope and I’m such a small person. I continually hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew, especially in terms of showing talent.

All I can do is believe in myself, and keep walking, one foot in front of the other.

Stories That Stick

Link to audio for Easter, Year A, 2023

Editor’s Note:

I posted the audio yesterday as well, but here is a transcript if you’d like to read instead of listen.

I know you guys generally don’t know or care about the Revised Common Lectionary OR the Book of Common Prayer, but the people who steal my sermons DO and I let them because I don’t care. I want my words heard all over the world whether I get credit for my ideas or not. If I hit a home run, it’s always because I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants- Jesus, most notably. Use all my stuff and forget about the brand on the ball. Also, I post late in the day so you can’t use it this year. The Bible is put together by the Church universal so that you go through the whole thing in a cycle, complete every three years.

Here is the gospel on which I am basing this entry/sermon. It’s one of my two big holidays, just roll with it.

John 20:1-18

Every sermon I preach, when I am preparing I realize that Jesus and I are the same person (within reason). He was Jewish, I am Christian. He chased tax collectors from the temple with a whip, and I feel that way about anyone who excludes anyone. I’m also older than Jesus now, so I know that had he lived longer, we would have been more alike. We are both judgmental dickheads, and not because we’re not correct. We just get angrier than everyone else… ok, maybe not everyone. Jesus is the kind of empath that I feel he popped off and regretted a lot, another hallmark of people who know you’re not doing life right, because that’s what our personality does. We don’t want to rag on you. We want to build you up. We want you to join us in our utopia, and you will get there if you listen to us. But if you’re going after people with a whip to do it, I’m guessing there had to be a game of “Let’s Be an Asshole” somewhere.

I do what he does with language. My words are often harsh because I don’t feel heard, and neither did he among his family and friends. Nothing good could come out of Nazareth because they couldn’t see him for what he was and is…. an INFJ with anger management issues. Tell me that’s not me sitting on a Ritz, because nothing good has come out of DC, either.

If you’re lost right now in terms of the phrase “nothing good can come out of Nazareth,” it’s emotional shorthand for strangers listening to you easier than your own family and friends when you have big ideas that seem crazy. According to a Chiat/Day commercial, the only people that are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the only ones who do.

Jesus was insane. Just batshit.

He thought he could take on everyone who would listen, and like me, if you miss the message, he will flat school you. To me, he is also very funny. Anyone who can make a fig tree die just by yelling at it is familiar with my work………………… #shatnerellipsis

For me, the message has always been his. Widen the net. It’s the biggest message there is. For God’s sakes (literally), the symbol that best represents him IS A FISH. Here’s why. Wearing a crucifix is focusing on his death and not his life. It’s skipping over everything he was trying to accomplish and focusing on everything he didn’t. Do you think it really mattered to Jesus that he was sent to die? He ALREADY KNEW it would happen. So he made the best of it. Out, loud, and proud in terms of knowing what he was here to do….. “I’m here to help the shit out of you. Roll with it or don’t. I don’t have time to want people who don’t want me.”

Tell me THAT’s not me sitting on a Ritz.

If you think that I am trying to say that I am also literally the child of God, remember that I have always said that I do not identify with his divinity. I empathize with his humanity. My heart is continually broken that he didn’t get to live out his entire life naturally, speaking in plain language so that people could understand (Aramaic rather than Hebrew). He was an Idealist painted as someone trying to overthrow the government when he just wanted to feed people.

Besides, God might not be my father, but I was born to upper management. My street creds are solid without any letters. I don’t need them because I’ve been steeped in these stories since I was born, and when I’m preaching, I do every bit as much research as can be done from one Sunday to the next…. the interminable march of Sundays back through the ages and forwards towards our own deaths and resurrections. It’s just that we don’t take resurrection literally, and it’s the one thing we should. If you take nothing else away from the Easter story, it’s this one. Your story matters. You are every bit as capable of telling it as Jesus was. I got a line from an Atheist that I’ll use today, on the most holy of days, because I find absolute truth anywhere I can get it.

At the time, there were lots of people claiming to be the Messiah. His is the story that stuck.

Holy God. “His is the story that stuck.” I went dumb and mute (dumb being a double entendre, for the record).

I was talking about how the Bible is an ancient blog at best, the story of how Christianity was born according to the people who lived it. We can argue all day over whether it’s real, or we could stick to the story that stuck.

Today’s gospel is the story of Mary Magdalene running to tell Simon Peter that Jesus is gone.

Skipping over the OUTRIGHT AND TOTAL MISOGYNY of this passage to focus on other things (this might be a clue we’ll use again later), both Mary and Simon Peter walked into a tomb and saw that their best friend’s body had been stolen. Let’s leave Jesus’ resurrection out of this. Imagine the horror of losing your friend/possible husband to death and not being able to bury him. Imagine the sheer panic of finding out that the grave of their loved one had been robbed, the logical conclusion. Some of the disciples went home. They didn’t stick around long enough (no guilt, they couldn’t have known) for the rest of the story and had to endure that shock. In this moment, the resurrection doesn’t even matter. I wonder how long they sat there and kicked themselves over Jesus saying that they had to walk with the light while they had it. The Disciples are often portrayed as dumb guys, but here’s what I’ve learned in my 45 years. It’s not that anyone is stupid. It’s that the message doesn’t mean anything until you’re ready to hear it.

They did not hear “you have to walk with me, because my life isn’t going to be very long.” At this point, I start wondering what messages I’ve missed in the middle of the mess.

Even The Book of Acts reads like “holy shit, what do we do now? I know there were instructions.”

Their best friend has just died. In that moment, I’m surprised they were capable of any complete thought….. and then his body was stolen.

It’s a miracle that Jesus even ended up in a tomb in the first place. He was poor and the Romans wouldn’t have cared about burying any of the people they crucified. The only reason that Jesus was buried is that he had a very powerful friend that the government needed, so he could ask for something large and actually receive it.

Here’s the moment that judgmental dickhead became divine.

He told you that. He told you that you could ask for something large and be powerful enough to actually receive it. Grace and mercy are free of charge. So is forgiveness. You can let go of anything that is keeping your body in a tomb, graduating into the promise of new hope.

Let yours be the story that sticks.