in my closet,
or lie like
igloos on our bed.
in my closet,
or lie like
igloos on our bed.
My blog struck a milestone yesterday evening.
With Rodrigo at my side I checked the number of hits my blog has received since I started writing it back in 2008.
And there it was: 50,000+.
I turned to Rodrigo and smiled broadly.
“It’s at 50,000 isn’t it?” he asked.
“Yes, Rodrigo, it is, thanks to you?”
“Me,” he asked.
“You’ve inspired me like the others. Without inspiration I couldn’t write.
“And without readers I’d never be read. And that’s a writers lifeblood: readers reading.”
Thanks to each and everyone that collaborated to make this milestone a reality.
On to the next milestone, 75,000!
We’re all as delicate as a porcelain tea cup.
About six weeks ago I called 9-1-1 and told the operator that I was manic and was experiencing SI/HI (suicidal ideation and homicidal ideation). They sent a handful of policemen that then escorted me from my hotel and into a police cruiser.
Before I knew it, the police cruiser was heading north to a town called Davidson. It was there in Davidson that I was interred in a psychiatric hospital for fifteen days.
The reason I was manic with SI/HI was because I have Bipolar II disorder. But more importantly, I was unmedicated: I turned my back on Depakote and Abilify and Gabapentin. Instead I flew to Paris where I met Jean-Baptiste. He also knew I was manic.
It was in Paris that I started to self-medicate with beer, whisky, and men’s affections. When I left Paris I brought my self-medication across the Atlantic and into Charlotte.
I have a high tolerance for liquor so I was able to consume a relatively large quantity of whisky. Not on a daily basis mind you, but when I was lacking the affections of men. I’m not an alcoholic, but I am abusive; I am an abuser of alcohol; I drink to excess.
But upon discharge I had my medications straight; I’d dried out (and stayed sober); I’d understood that patience is a conscious pursuit.
Fifteen days in a psychiatric hospital might seem to some as a mark of weakness. But I can assure you it is not. It is a sign of strength; of humility; of character; and fortitude.
I am now a medicated and sober man that has Bipolar II disorder. I am stronger and wiser and calmer. I have been blessed with patience. I have found great friends in both Robyn and Mike.
I think that our weakness is often the gateway to our strength.
Every act of kindness is a small miracle.
I have disabilities: I wear a full-length leg brace on my right leg; I must use forearm crutches to ambulate; I have scoliosis; I’m a jalopy.
Pup, on the other hand, is a shiny, new Tesla: Sleek, sexy, and a tad nerdy.
But on the county roads of daily life that we frequently travel, Pup has accepted my limitations, and I, his.
Pup kindly watches me struggle with something (and believe me, I struggle with a good many things), then swoops in to help.
For example, last night we went to Target to buy a mixer. Pup told me to wait, that he’d retrieve a power cart so that I wouldn’t have to exhaust myself walking around the store. His expedition to secure a cart was in vain, however. But that didn’t stop Pup. Oh no (and this is the Rhodesian Ridgeback showing), he stepped up to every department manager and pointed out that a lack of concern on the part of Target staff was a direct violation of the ADA. It was as though I were being taunted by a bunch of bullies, and he jumped in to defend me.
Or, after we’d eaten our first dinner together, Pup watched my feeble attempt at placing my leftovers in a to-go box, then grabbed the plate and the box and deftly transferred the pulled pork, baked potato, and mac and cheese. Finally, he inscribed the top of the container so I’d know what treasure lies within.
Or last night, on the way home from Target, I was struggling with an impossible pound bag of M & M’s. For some ungodly reason, I have never been able to tear open their bags, and when I do, the bloody bag explodes, sending candy everywhere like chocolate shrapnel. But as Pup was driving, he reached into my lap, gently removed the bag from my hands, held it to his mouth, and, while I was screaming “fire in the hole,” easily tore open a corner with his teeth, then tenderly placed the bag back in my hands saying, “here you go, sweets for my sweet.”
Pup is my champion. Though young, he pulls out my chairs, moves obstacles from my paths, slows his walk so we’re side-by-side, reaches into my breast pocket for my billfold, removes espresso that’s older than 90 seconds.
Pup has become my very own super-hero.
Every creature seeks approval from its own kind.
And gay men are no different.
Actually, gay men are probably worse. Gay men seek validation across a wide swath of “kinds”. Men, women, brothers, sisters, dogs, cats, etc.
There are so many different platforms on which gay men can seek validation.
Many friends keep asking the same question: If you’ve already discovered Jean-Baptiste and Luciano, why do you keep trolling the internet?
The answer is easy: Validation.
Scouring the internet for men is akin to window shopping. I’m browsing. I’m sitting on a pier and lazily casting my bobber into the water to see if anything bites. And if something does take the bait, I’m not going to yank the line and hope that I’ll hook the guy. I’m not interested in a catch. I’m really interested in the nibble, the interest, the wink, the nod, the text, the call, the voice, the hello; the validation that I exist somewhere else than in this hotel room. That I’m recognized.
That I’m not one man in a one-man boat, adrift in an endless sea.
Jean-Baptiste reminds me that I’ll never be lonely because I have him; Luciano reminds me that I’ll always be his future.
Then why are two men like Jean-Baptiste and Luciano, not enough?
In love, in friendship, they are. Really, they are.
But I’m looking for flesh and bone. For physical validation. Not of my beauty, not of my charm or wit or humor. But of me. As a man, in flesh and bone.
The future is just a step away.
In 2008 I experienced a total mental breakdown. It was devastating. It was as if someone tripped on the electrical cord connecting my brain to power and yanked it from the wall. Everything shut down. Unsaved. Blackout. No surge protector.
Long-term memory was lost. Short term memory resembled swiss cheese. My brain was littered with divots like a county golf course frequented by 9-iron heavy amateurs. My vocabulary was blurry like a windshield streaked by aging wiper blades. My thoughts scattered like hooligans running from sirens.
My psychiatrist cautioned me: “The more you think, the more frequently you’ll reboot. Your brain is exhausted. It’s spending a great deal of energy defragmenting your life, trying to bring disparate pieces together for cohesion. Let it be. Stop trying so hard. Stop pushing it. You’ve been given a tremendous gift; a do-over; a mulligan.”
This post, Becoming not Became is my title post. A title post has a high degree of significance. It’s that post which marks a clean break from one way of being in life to another. And today, thanks wholly to close friends and their brutal honesty, I can confidently say that I have stepped into my own future.
My past is in my past. I don’t bring my past with me into my present. I used to, I used to carry the disappointments and frustrations of my “yesterdays” into my “today’s.” Not any longer. Ever since my spiritual transformation, it is virtually impossible for me to even remember yesterday. I don’t remember conversations, or arguments, or bedspeak. I don’t bring forward heartache. And, I suppose, I don’t allow joy or happiness or laughter to tag along either.
Each day that I awaken is a new day, unmoored from the dock of the past. It’s only anger or sadness that burdens me. Their expression is seen by tears. Remember, we only cry for the past, never for the future.
I decided today that I would get my shit together. I would return to Chicago, rent a great apartment, furnish it the way I want, get my knee replaced, get my affairs in order, and then, and only then, maybe I’ll fly to Buenos Aires for the winter (it’s summer then).
I’ve also decided to stop pursuing men in some desperate hope that they fill the void created when Nick I split up. It’s simply not fair to either of us. My Parisian pointed that out to me today.
So, today is my becoming, not became day.
I can either mourn what I Became or celebrate what I’m Becoming!
Let the party begin!
The adage goes: Distance makes the heart grow fonder.
But distance also provides a deep sense of clarity.
The past three months have been, in a word, tortuous. Three months ago I gained a profound depth of clarity as well as humility. Over the course of six years, I’d been prescribed by doctors copious amounts of amphetamines, opiates, and benzos. When I mean copious, I’m not kidding. 6 kilograms of amphetamines, 3 kilograms of opiates. I should have died from these lethal doses, but I muddled through unscathed. No damage to my brain, but my metaphorical heart was crushed. I’d become a monster. I was drooling on my self, lost interest in others, and ruined my 30-year relationship.
I went cold turkey to purge myself of these toxins which wasn’t painful, but terribly discomforting. I don’t have an addictive personality, but I was dependent. When I meditated the voice of wisdom told me to rid myself of these toxins. Without their removal, I wouldn’t gain clarity. And without clarity, I wouldn’t ever understand humility.
There are six fundamentals of the human condition: Life, Peace, Humility, Clarity, Courage, and Truth. These words have been carefully selected so as to avoid any misinterpretation. The human condition cannot achieve one without the others. For instance, we cannot gain clarity without truth and courage; we can’t gain humility without life and peace. But as humans, we tend to avoid these tenets. We lie, we cheat, we distrust, we have arrogance.
I have been blessed to receive them all. I have seen and felt them missing. I have lied. I have fostered mistrust. I have pretended to be humble but acted out of arrogance. Whenever we deny ourselves the full embrace of these tenets, we deny our own existence. We deny ourselves our own humanity. Are these tenets difficult to accept? Yes. But once we surrender ourselves to these fundamental expressions of our humanity, the world, in its divine expression, provides for us the very fabric of Life.
And Life is the greatest gift of all.
This morning I gained profound clarity. I understood that Artem and I will never be together. That I had wholly manufactured our relationship because I had experienced a hope which was so pervasive and desperate that I was willing to forgo sanity. I had been incarcerated for two months as a severe manic. I’d been entombed in some of the most sadistic and disgusting psyche wards in Chicago. 4 psyche wards in 14 days. Some offered a bolted down cot, with no pillow, and a sheet which was tied down so I couldn’t strangle myself. I’d been locked away in some nursing homes which prevented me from wandering outside wrought iron fences. My former partner took out a restraining order against me after I’d tried to strangle him in an ER. I had no home, no address, nowhere to run from these oppressive places, so I turned to my imagination to escape.
It was in the bowels of my imagination that I found Artem. I yearned for any escape. Any thing which even smacked of normalcy. So I developed a relationship with Artem that I thought was real. I was so desperate that I didn’t know what else to do. I asked my Parisian over breakfast this morning, “Haven’t you been so desperate to free yourself from the bonds of personal anguish, that you’d believe in anything which provided the most ridiculous shred of hope?”
But it wasn’t until last night did Wisdom bestow upon me clarity.
My Parisian is flesh and blood. When he first embraced me, I felt the knobs of his spine, I languidly stroked his chest hair, I allowed my fingers to trail down his belly to his button, I let my eyes wander through his eyes and I saw my own attractiveness there; I touched his arousal as though it were molten iron; I kissed his tender lips, letting our tongues dance with each other as though they’d known each other for lifetimes.
And it was there, in flesh and bone, that I’d discovered the stark difference between fantasy and reality. The dreams of Artem were simply a way for me to maintain sanity. It’s my Parisian that allowed me to feel my future, my reality.
So I’ve learned over the course of the past few days that I’m not interested in hope, but am fully vested in reality. Whatever doesn’t happen with Artem doesn’t happen. Artem is paying dearly for crimes he committed in South Africa years ago: Tax evasion, fraud, and criminal intent. I simply can’t help him.
Ah, but the Parisian? In him, I have found myself, and in his eyes I see myself. In all my true colors and wrinkles; in my Parisian, I have learned to fall in love with myself.