I have a lot of problems. There’s no denying that. Anyone who’s read a quarter of all the crap I’ve ever written (and all the crap I’ve ever written is readily available online in dozens of places, all 100% Googlable) can stand up and testify on my behalf in court should I ever need to claim insanity as a defense for, like, hitting an SUV with a baseball bat repeatedly (not the driver, just the SUV) or standing in an intersection and screaming at the top of my lungs “It’s called a turn signal for a fucking reason! It’s called a turn signal for a FUCKING REASON!”
For the whole of my life, I have gone on innocently believingand rightly so, in my opinionthat everyone is fuktup. Everyone. You, reading this now, are fuktup. You have something wrong with you. It makes you human. We are filled with lies our parents told us, and belief structures based on the things we cobble together from books written in strange languages by long-dead men who were probably more concerned about having more worshipers so, hey, don’t eat that pork because it’s rancid. And so on. We all live every day of our lives dealing with the fuktupness that invaded us early, and built upon itself, and developed a hard shell, burrowed in deep, and lives there still, breeding and growing and pulsing with every beat of our hearts.
So, I’m fuktup. So big deal. So what?
Well, it’s gotten to a point where I can’t deal with it anymore, or I’m unwilling to, or the hard shell is breaking and things are starting to escape into the real world. My coping mechanisms are breaking apart and I’m just… not… happy.
So, welcome to the big, wide, wonderful world of therapy.
Two things jump into my head immediately when I consider therapy. First, I have always been of the opinion that all therapy consists of is a stranger leading you to a conclusion you already know, but you’ve been unwilling to go there because it would mean compromises, or pain, or anguish… stuff no one wants to deal with if they can avoid it. So you’re paying someone thousands of dollars to tell you something you already know, and who needs that?
Second, I am reminded of a drive home a couple of years back with a friend when the subject of therapy came up and she said, “I love it! I’ve been in therapy off and on for ten years and it’s really been helpful.” I replied, looking out the passenger window into the dark, dark night, “I’ve never had any therapy.” She nearly slammed on the breaks in her shock. “Never? And you’re gay?” And I nodded yes to both questions. She stated, “I have never known anyone, anyone, who was gay and did not go to therapy.”
I noted that she did not say, “I have never known anyone, anyone, who was gay and did not need therapy.” Which was nice. But untrue. Everyone who is gay probably needs therapy, though not, as some might assume, to deal with the fact that they’re gay and try to be un-gay, but rather to deal with the fact that the whole world seems to want to hate you and there’s not a god damned thing you can do about it.
Not that the whole world actually hates you, but sometimes it feels that way (and maybe it feels like that for everyone, only the gay population can actually pinpoint a reason why and even point to cultural clues and evidence in citation of that fact).
Anyhoo, I resisted going to therapy because it’s sort of clichéd and so middle class and expected and I could never figure out how I would ever tell if I was cured or not. I mean, when you go to a doctor about a physical ailment, you know when you feel better. But as for my emotional well being, some days I wake up feeling fine. Maybe a little tired, maybe dreading going to the gym for any number of reasons I shall no longer delineate here, but by and large feeling okay about me and my state in the world.
Some days I wake up and think, “Wow, I sure wish I had not woken up just then. I wonder if there’s a way I can just lie here and pretend to be dead. Maybe I can actually go back to sleep and not wake up at all, which is like being dead, only no one mourns you.” And I eventually manage to shower and brush my teeth and get dressed and go outside and feel absolutely worthless and horrible for no reason I can understand.
When I stub my toe, I get it. It throbs, I go “ouch” or “shit” or “fuck” or something and hop around looking silly and eventually feel better. When I wake up feeling like I wish I were dead, it hangs around and then it goes away… and then it comes back again… and then it goes away… and then it comes back again…
Another thing I wanted to avoid was dealing with was/is being cured in the first place. I know it sounds silly wanting to be sad and mopey and all “woe is me, no one loves me, I am incapable of feeling, ouch did I just stub my toe?” but it’s like… it’s like not wanting to go to the hospital and discovering that the little tickle in your throat is cancer eating away at your esophogus. It’s better not knowing how bad things are, so if you can deal, and ignore, then things aren’t that bad. Stupid, sure, but it works!
Until you die of throat cancer.
So, why did I suddenly feel it was necessary to seek professional help in my not-that-awful but somehow-not-currently-manageable life? Well, there are a couple of reasonsand I’m not going to lay them out here for you absolutely free when I can pay someone exorbitantly to nod and remain quiet and be non-judgmental about my freakishnessbut it comes down to “Why am I so lonely all the sudden when I’ve been alone all along and I’ve never felt like this before?” and “Why, if I am so lonely all the sudden, am I avoiding going out and meeting or seeing people?”
This last point is more worrisome to me than the preceding. I’ve never been much for crowds. Don’t like them, think most people are stupid, would rather read a book or watch TV or play with the cat at home than open the door and go see a movie where I will have to contend with lines and chatting and the getting of refreshments and the saving of seats and so forth. But lately, my… let’s call it ‘fear,’ shall we? My fear of crowds has started to expand exponentially so that three people may constitute a crowd. And that could be three friends. Three close friends. Talking about me.
And before I could easily manage a party or gathering where I would be surrounded by friends and acquaintances (my old rule being that if 51% of the assemblage was made up of people I am familiar with, I would go. if it swung the other direction and I would have to actually meet new people and talk to them and attempt to be charming and civil and not collapse in a puddle on anxiety and self-loathing, call me at home because that’s where I’ll be) but lately I have been turning all invitations down because…
Okay, here’s the thing. I’m the third wheel. I’m always alone. I’m the guy without the date. I don’t think that I am invited because people view me as the pathetic loser who needs to get out more, even though I feel exactly like a pathetic loser who needs to get out more, but everywhere I go I am the tag-along. I am the odd man out. I am stag. And it becomes very depressing after a while.
Okay, so, here’s another thing. Why can’t I meet anyone?
And… here’s where I don’t share some embarrassing things about my life with you because A) they’re embarrassing and B) it’s my life, my real one, and not some fake, humorous, coy online life where you imagine what I am like but I am not really like that. You do realize, don’t you, that you don’t know me at all, right? That even though I share a lot of my thoughts and opinions and, yes, even my dreaded feelings with youyou don’t know me. And I know that you don’t know me because I don’t know me either.
This is my first discovery. I don’t know me. The things I was assuming about the reasons behind some of my freakish and potentially embarrassing behavior turn out to be only partially correct and sometimes 100% wrong. This is both comforting and… not. I mean, you go into a situations… no, I mean, I go into a situation thinking I already know why I am the way I am and they have to do with things I cannot change, really, and that I thought I was “over,” but what if it turns out I’m not?
Only it turns out I probably am “over” that thing or those things and there are, in fact, a whole hell of a lot of other things completely unrelated to the first thing or things but incidentally related in that they occurred before the other things and, although the one has nothing to do with the basis of the other, the problems having to do with the other, AKA “The Gay,” may have been exacerbated by the first thing and although I am “over’ “The Gay” I am not over the other thing so, tangentially, I am not completely comfortable with “The Gay.”
What does this mean for you, the reader? Well, I suppose that if you are having some emotional problems of one sort or another that are preventing you from living a happy life (because “normal” is not a word I use, and neither is “happy” for that matter, but I’d rather be happy than normal) and you’re assuming you already know what the deal is, maybe you don’t know what the deal is and you need to talk to an outside observer who has spoken with lots and lots of other people and can, therefore, figure out somewhat easily what your problem is.
Not, I hasten to add, how to resolve it, but simply to define it, which, I can tell you now, has a comfort level all its owndepending, I suppose, on the source of the problem and where it leads. In my case, it’s not such a horrible big deal like physical or emotional abuse or being shut in a closet for being bad or treated like a dog when I wet the bed.
Which I did, by the way. Bed wetter. Big time. Not any longer, I assure you, but we were all worried there for a good, long time.
But we (being me and my therapist) will deal with that later.
The biggest feeling I have nowbesides the night sweats and the walking dread and the self loathingis relief. I feel a sense of relief, at last. I am far from being at ease enough with myself that I can tell you that I will herewith always answer in the affirmative when asked out to parties and whatnot, and I’m still not going to go up to any guys I may meet and ask them out (oh HELL no!), but at least I know now where I need to get started down the path to feeling all right with myself, and that’s someplace I haven’t been before.
So, here I am, Fuktup but Hopeful. Hope is an odd concept for me. You get to a point in life, sometimes, where it’s easier to just give up, or give in. To cry Uncle to the universe and believe that the life you’ve dug out for yourself is the life you deserve, and the problems you’re facing are too large to surmount, and that finding help and answers is going to be more painful and confusing than just sitting there and watching more TV.
Hopefully, I’ve passed that point.
August 13, 2003