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The more time I spend awake the more I wish I could undo the last few weeks. I still feel trapped in grey, but I now have guilt and remorse to carry with me. I’ve had bad times before, days where I’d withdrawn and been laid up by depression. But never before have I deliberately hurt myself. Though to be honest, I hadn’t tried to hurt myself. I tried to die. More than two weeks later I’m still baffled as to why I chose that path. I’m still recovering but now it’s more about my mental state. I graduated from the medical unit of the hospital, but everyone thinks a stay in the behavioral program would help. So here I am, slogging through group therapy and counseling sessions. I haven’t seen anyone since I came in five days ago. Maris, Nathan and Heidi from work saw me in the hospital and I felt guilty when they came by. Here in this unit though, visitors are a privilege, which has to be earned. I didn’t mind this policy though. Seeing the people I disappointed is too much to contemplate. It hurts my soul, and I have zero desire to feel more hurt, even though I know I deserve to hurt.
Maris had brought Kells to see me when I first woke up after my dance with vodka and oxy. The two of them probably hoped for a tearful reunion where Kells and I mutually beg each other’s forgiveness and all the problems faded away under the force of true love. Granted, my life has been a bad straight to cable movie the last few months, yet I’m not sure how either of them were surprised at my reaction. My chest aches as I remember that time, weeks earlier.
“Josh I just..”
“I said GET. OUT.” I interrupted Kells harshly.
“Josh, honey, just listen ple—” Maris began
I roared my response, “GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME” through Maris’ words, and followed my scream with my water pitcher. I stared down Kells, who stood at the foot of my hospital bed, shocked and dripping as he nodded slowly and backed away.
Maris gasped, “No Kells wait!” and followed him into the hall.
I wanted to listen in but I couldn’t bear to hear what they said. As if it wasn’t bad enough I had tried this shit, and hurt my best and only real friend, why did the person, who was connected to my out of control emotions, have to show up here? Why did Kells have to come survey the broken mess I was? He couldn’t have the grace and mercy to just keep away after he bailed? I felt humiliated. Why had anyone even bothered? I was disgusting and deserved to hurt. I pulled the sheet over my head and curled into a ball, and proceeded to close my eyes and wait for sleep to come. I knew I would be waiting a long while, and felt the piercing cold build in my chest.
I shook my head and tried to clear those memories from my mind. Just like I wanted, Kells had left and not come back. Which was good, I wanted him to go. I didn’t have what it took to be part of someone’s life. I was pathetic. It was good he was gone, right? I nodded, alone in my room, and ignored the fact that my face was wet with tears.
Josh doesn’t want me. On my back deck, staring into the night sky, his screams for me to leave echo in my ears. I’m not quite sure what kind of welcome I expected, but being given the fuck off hadn’t been my first guess. All I had seen when I looked at his sweet but worn face was his limp body on the couch. Even now, I can hear in the still of the late summer night his words demanding my exit. I try not to care, try to push it into the box marked ‘duty’ that I shove all the ungrateful encounters with citizens I have from my job in. This was not work though, I couldn’t pretend it was. I know I have a connection with him, an attachment that confuses and thrills me. I know that’s why I ignored his replying messages from the night he had dinner with Maris. My heart sank after seeing the possessive teen angst texts I hazily recalled sending to him. I felt and still feel ashamed and afraid. I’m still burdened by the shame of how I acted and my fear to step up and take the risk. My mind is snagged on the possibility he could be like Brian. I am afraid to need Josh.
Alone under night sky with only the fireflies for company, I can admit I’m ashamed to need that connection I felt, that I feel, and to want it. I’m scared it will bring heartbreak the way Brian had. So I had backed away. I should be fighting for him, not running off when he needs me most, even if he can’t see it yet. Josh is sweet, wasted on me I think as I review again my choices; especially when I had read his text about his phone dying at dinner but deliberately did not respond for nearly 24 hours, it was a dick move. Karma paid me back though, when the very next night my jealousy and angst took the lead and I ruined my chance. I am definitely too old to be pining over a what might have been, but that apparently isn’t stopping my traitorous heart from doing just that.
I look back up at the cloud hazed constellations and muse on the absurdity of well, all of this shit. I built a wall up after Brian, shunning relationships. casino oyna I pick up young hotties and fuck them. That’s it. I don’t do dating, I don’t text endlessly, I don’t pursue. It’s easier this way. My life revolves around working, going to the gym and occasionally pulling a down and dirty with a big muscled dude similar to myself.
And yet, there was Josh. He isn’t a hot and confident stud, like all my usual men. Josh is awkward, soft, charming, sweet and clearly has a lot of baggage to work through. Our limited conversations had still made clear he wouldn’t know where the closest gym was and with his sweet naivete I’d be hard pressed to think of someone less likely to be part of the hookup culture. He was so far away from my type it was laughable. Amazingly, I’m still drawn to him, and seeing him in pain and turmoil does nothing but make me want to be there and help him find his bearings.
I tuck my chin into my shoulder and let out a noisy breath. My whole body shudders with anxiety with all these thoughts swirling in my brain, and I suck in a deep breath to fight those old feelings of being pathetic and wimpy down. Emotions and self reflections aren’t my strong point. Even when Brian and I were dating we hadn’t been a sappy couple. In fact, I was always fucking proud that being gay didn’t mean I was feminine in any way. Yeah. So I spent a few years thinking having feelings was feminine, fucking sue me. I know now it’s wrong and sexist as hell, but before Brian tore my world in two, I remained trapped into that mindset.
To be honest, I think that’s a big part of why I still struggled with dating. Life is so much easier without emotions clogging the drains. When Brian cheated, I was angry and hurt. I wanted to punch him bloody, but I also wanted to cry and beg him to work it out with me. Granted, the bomb he dropped next that he wasn’t just leaving, but leaving me for a coworker, made me a little less enthused to work it out…but only a little. I had really thought he was my soulmate, and the new knowledge that he had seen me as just an easygoing sex partner but not Even his ONLY sex partner was gutting. My head and my heart were a mess then. Ok, I’m still a bit of a mess. If I weren’t, I might not still be such an ardent adherent of the hump and dump life.
I roll my eyes at myself for obsessing about Josh and wondering if there can still be an us endlessly in the weeks since that terrible night. It’s one sided, my attraction I think. Josh is no longer interested in seeing me, he hasn’t called me, though I sent flowers with my number on the card. Luckily, even though Josh isn’t willing to see me, I have a reluctant ally in Maris.
Well, maybe ally is too strong a word. Maris has my number and she has so far responded to my inquiries on Josh, if tersely with the bare minimum of details. I try to send her jokes and greetings, because I don’t want her to think I’m just using her to get to Josh, even if that kind of is the main tenet of this relationship. I am however starting to like Maris as a person, not just as a footsoldier in the Get Josh campaign. Speaking with Maris and witnessing her fire and wit firsthand, I could see how she is so well loved by Josh.
Tipping the beer towards me, the bitter liquid chasing my fears down I pause to consider what I know: that the more time that goes by, the less confidence I have to try and date him. Everything feels stretched too thin. I like him, but I’m no longer sure I’m trying to be with him or just making sure he’s ok. No, that’s a damn lie. I know I want to date him. I have seen him at what is arguably his worst and I don’t care. I want him. My heart clenches when I think of his reaction to me. It hurts he isn’t interested anymore and it’s driving me to distraction that his rejection of me matters so much. I drop my head into my forearms as I lean against my balcony rail. I laugh a bitter chuckle. I’m such a fucking cliche right now, pining after lost chance at love while mooning about under the stars. Maybe I just need to get my mojo back, just burn Josh out of my system. It was never going to work out. I take my phone from my pocket and stare at it before drawing a shuddering breath and flipping to contacts.
“Hey sweetness, you busy tomorrow night? Wanna meet up?”
“So Josh. What have you been working on since our last session?” my therapist asks me. Her face is soft and her voice is firm but inviting. I find myself always wanting to confide in her. I sigh as I think about the last couple weeks. Feeling so out of control is terrifying. After I was released from the hospital I took a medical leave of absence from my job and went into a day treatment program for mental health at the same hospital. I am here in their step down programming and I come for both group and individual sessions. Five days last week, four this week and if things went well, three next week. This would continue to decrease until I could tolerate only once weekly individual visits. Thank God I have good insurance. canlı casino Wait. What did she ask me? I look across the room, where Naomi waited patiently with her usual soft encouraging smile. She correctly reads my face and asks me again
“Josh you seem preoccupied. Will you tell me what you’re thinking?”
I sigh and close my eyes, trying to gather up the loose noodles of my thoughts.
“I’ve been thinking of what I want, and what I have. Like, not just things, but what I want from life, from myself. What do I offer to people. What do I want from a partner and how am I going to communicate that?”
I pause, closing my eyes as if the space behind my eyelids have the answers on them. Naomi harps every session on communication, a big theme of work since my episode of self harm. However, I still need someone to communicate with. I’m pretty sure my awkward and entirely implausible fledgling romance with Kells is way over. I glance over at Naomi, who nods encouragingly. I continue into the calm quiet space my therapist leaves for me to talk into.
“I guess, what I’ve been working on is just figuring out where I am? Like, metaphorically.”
I sound unsure to my own ears. I don’t feel confident arranging my thoughts into words that make sense. Naomi just nods seriously and chimes in.
“It sounds like you are looking at how you drive your own life, and how others take part, is that correct?”
I nod hesitantly, and clear my throat of a sudden thickness before blurting, “I. Well. Maybe? Like, um, I don’t know what I want but I think I know what I don’t want.”
My chest seizes up as I stumble over the words I’ve said. Naomi nods and gestures invitingly to me.
“And what is it that you know you don’t want?”
I tilt my head back, my slightly too long brown hair flopping away from my eyes, and consider her question. I don’t know how to answer. My mind is a mess but words keep falling from my mouth.
“Have you ever wondered what you’re doing here? Just, well, is there a point to all this?”
“Is there a point to all what Josh?” Naomi shifts in her chair and I can see I’ve ticked some box in her therapist head.
So many feelings ripple through my chest and burn from my heart. I feel the importance pulling at me, but it’s too slippery still. I need to really get across how I feel. Staring fixedly at the wall slightly above Naomi’s head I swallow hard and come to a decision.
“All these things, these feelings, I lived so much of my life without them and I wasn’t unhappy, mostly anyway. Well maybe I just didn’t know how unhappy I was. I’m not sure.” my voice trails off as the tendrils of thought start sliding away again. My fingers at my temples squeeze as I try and physically push the thoughts out. “So, why is everything such a mess for me now? Why did I just fall apart? I know I don’t want to feel so alone. I want to feel connections. I want to feel needed. I need to feel wanted.”
I breathe deeply, hands dropping to my lap, willing my focus onto the squeeze ball Naomi keeps on the side table for fidgeters, trying to finish my words before my courage deserts me.
“But this out of control feeling, this is all terrifying. It’s like. Well.” I’m struggling to talk and panic rises up in me. Naomi opens her mouth but I hold my hand up,in the universally recognized symbol of no I’m not done. Using the breathing techniques she taught me, I slow myself down and begin again. “I’ve never really felt like I was really there for anyone. I mean, I would have been if they asked, but no one ever has. I’ve never been a son someone adored, or the best friend someone counted on or the boyfriend you couldn’t be without. Other people are that for me. I want to be that for someone, but I’m alone. I feel like everything is always dark and I’m supposed to light my way without a fire. And it was all just. Just too hard you know? I know I hurt Maris and, well I guess maybe Kells.”
I breathe in with a shudder, ignoring the hot tears on my cheeks. Naomi has seen me and countless others cry in this office I’m sure. The easy way she calmly passes me the box of tissues supports my assumption.
“And, I’ll say sorry—I’ve said sorry, to Maris anyway. She’s forgiven me. I really don’t know about Kells,” my voice falters as I think about the words I’m saying. Whatever point I believed I had seems muddled now.
Do I need his forgiveness, do I want it? After all I wasn’t the one going off having tantrums. Ok, maybe trying to commit suicide because suddenly my life felt empty and meaningless after my latest failure at a personal connection could be looked at as a tantrum. It felt cheap to term it so. I know now my attempt had more to do with my anxiety and sense of self and three weeks of drunken escape than it did about Kells. Calling it a tantrum doesn’t feel entirely wrong either, and these last two months had given me a lot of otherwise empty time to consider my motivations. I feel the tightness build in my chest as I gasp out the kaçak casino rest of my thoughts.
“But how can I accept they could forgive me if I’m still not ready to forgive myself? I’ve never tried to hurt myself before. And since when did getting dumped mean I’m suddenly Sylvia Plath? It wasn’t even like a real breakup because we weren’t even actually dating! And why weren’t we? What’s so wrong with me that no one needs me around? Why can’t I be wanted? I don’t fucking understand!” keening with frustration and sorrow.
My emotional tirade stops and the small office is silent save for my panting and the soft tick of the clock on the wall, cutting the minutes of my session down one by one. I stare at the floor, unable to look my therapist in the eye as the weight of what I’ve said lays on me.
Naomi allows me to calm my breathing a bit then proceeds.
“Those are some really powerful thoughts to have Josh. I’m proud you’ve been able to push yourself this session.”
I nod and force my eyes up to hers as she continues.
“So to summarize, I’m hearing you think you didn’t feel connections in your life before, and didn’t have experience with so many emotions. I also hear a lot of anxiety and fear about not feeling wanted. Does that sound like what you were saying?” Naomi’s tone is soothing but direct as she tries to refocus me.
I’m exhausted and my eyes feel grainy. I slump in the chair; confused and tired.
“Maybe. I don’t want Kells to think this was about him. I’m scared he blames himself and he shouldn’t. I’m the problem anyway. He’s so. So right and good and I’m just not.”
“Aside from you not actually being the problem, we will continue working on your self worth Josh. Josh, have you considered talking with him? Maybe it would help.”
I chew my bottom lip and rub again at my temples as I feel a headache build. I’ll end up with permanent marks there I’m sure. Call him? I don’t know. It feels wrong, after all that’s happened and the time that’s passed since then. It feels terrifying, everyone knows rejection feels like your heart was being pulled through your throat, why would I sign up to experience more of that? On the other hand, it feels thrilling and I want it. I can’t deny I’m still drawn to him and want to hear him again. There’s no way it won’t end with rejection, because it’s me after all, but Naomi is right. I should make sure even when it is sure to burn me, because I will heal faster with closure. Maris has been keeping tabs with him, playing mother hen, so I know I can reach him if I want to. If I can.
“Maybe Naomi, maybe.”
Sitting alone again on my back deck, I try to feel like my old self. Missing Josh is torture. I don’t want to come across like a stalker, but I can’t seem to shake the urge to check up on him. Mostly this means I try to spend time in places I know he frequents. It also means I keep up a near daily text message exchange with Maris. She still isn’t my biggest fan, and still gives me only the briefest of answers since her loyalty is clearly with Josh. Usually I ask how he is and if she’s seen him recently, and then ask questions about him until she cuts me off saying that’s for him to tell me. Which would be great, if he would speak to me. I know he has my number, Maris tells me she’s given it to him. I look up at the star freckled night sky and clench my jaw, maybe I’ll ask Maris again for his number. And if he still tells her no, that I can’t have it, maybe I do need to move on. I can’t torture myself forever, right? Fuck. No, not yet, I’m not ready.
I sigh as I pull my phone out and start tonight’s dance. I draw a deep breath to try and prepare myself for torture again.
K: how is he?
M: he’s looking better, says he is going back to work in a week.
K: Really? Are you sure?
M: that’s what he says. Look Kells,I know you wanna help. But maybe back down now.
M: you can’t make him want you back. And he refuses to talk to me about you.
K: oh. ok. I’m glad he’s doing so much better. I wish things could be different, and that I had a chance.
M: Kells. He’s just. Still in a dark place.
K: hey, thanks. For everything. Take care of him. Please?
M: of course.
I stare up at the dark lonely sky, suddenly devoid of any light and wished not for the first time I hated coffee.
It’s a sunny pre-autumn morning, the kind that blast you with a sweater-needing chill but promises an almost hot afternoon featuring a bright blue sky littered with white clouds. Bright flashes of sun setting up into sharp contrast the gilding of the leaves and fields, colors of the earth ripening from verdant lush to harvest fullness. Maris and I are spending this Saturday together, for the first time in weeks. It’s taken me a long while to get into my groove again, and to want to be out with Maris or anyone. I start work on Monday, having spoken with Naomi enough now to feel I am ready for a normal life again. I still see her, but I’m only going once a week and the intensity has mellowed. Now we are exploring ways I can grow to make myself happier, more confident and be less emotionally dependent on others.
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