Category: Personal

About August-Now

Ok, so I’ve been busy personally for the past few months but there’s a whole story behind it. Strap in, my friends and let me tell you about where I’ve been.

Our story starts with Charlottesville. On the day of the rally, I was busy helping out with a charity cosplay group brighten the days of those at a kid’s grief camp. After that, all of us load up into the car and I open my Twitter feed. I read about the car plowing through the crowd and then came the footage. I ended up breaking down in tears in my boyfriend’s apartment because I could not believe the utter lack of humanity in that moment. And in that breakdown, I realized that this was going to be the catalyst for me to stand on my own two feet.

I knew that, at least within the Catholic church I attended, Thoughts and Prayers would only be mentioned if there was a natural disaster or a domestic terrorism attack. But stuff like this? I would be more than surprised if it was even discussed. So, I made my plans and I went to church the next day.

We had a guest priest, which wasn’t exactly great. I sat through the readings and waited patiently for his sermon. Surely within the time between Saturday and Sunday, one would modify their message to at least address the horrors of the world and steps that can be taken to rectify it; nope. It was Yet Another Plea to Donate to a Charity. I sat there furious. Once we all stood up to recite the Nicene Creed, I loudly asked “What about Charlottesville”? This got everyone’s attention and the priest feigned not hearing what I said. I continued to ask questions and he deflected it with a baseball joke. That was the last straw for me and I walked out of the church, waiting for my brother to pick me up for my daily Starbucks fix.

As the day went on, I pretended that everything was fine. It wasn’t until roughly a quarter to eight that my mom was on her way to bed. She saw that something was wrong and I told her I wanted to move out at the end of the week. She took it far better than I thought; I imagined it resulting in far more tears. We started to formulate a plan and I said that I would be the one to tell dad, the more difficult of the two parental units to talk to. I ended up not telling him as he watched TV and I sat across from him. The whole air was thick with awkward tension. He shuffled off to bed and I tried to distract myself with a larger flow of media.

I woke up the next day and saw a large amount of boxes in the hallway outside my door. Figured all was well. I walk downstairs and dad was occupying my spot at the family table. He spoke in that terse tone of voice that said he knew what was up. He told me he wanted me out that very day, making a clean break. At the time, I was rationing my antidepressants and took a brief drug holiday with disastrous results of dizzy spells. Luckily I got a refill that day so I resumed my dosage. I’m packing my belongings by myself and trying to overcome this vertigo while updating my close friends about what’s happening.

Working non-stop, I finally call it quits as help arrives. I arrive at the apartment and quickly ship my totes indoors. Dad and I exchanged a few words but it was all emotionless but professional. I shut the door behind me and smile because now, a large weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. No longer would I have to feel trapped by the rules imposed by my folks or have to hide parts of myself.

Nathan came home from work and we got some of my seasonal stuff stored at a friend’s house. At that point, I just had to turn in a residential application for the complex and wait until a place opened up. Since I was unemployed and more or a less a squatter in a one-person studio apartment, I assumed the role of the homebody hubby and did some domestic stuff. I did my best to clean the place and stock the fridge. It was especially easy since the store was a few blocks away from the apartment. When he would come home, I would assume the supporting role and let him talk about his day as well as microwave dinner. I began to do things that I would loathe doing at home or wouldn’t want to because I knew there was a provider. Now, it was up to me to take care of my own basic needs.

September came and we began to get a routine established. Nathan got an offer at his workplace that he was temping for a full-time position. This was great as right around this time, we got word that there would be a one-bedroom apartment available in mid-October. On top of that, he celebrated his birthday in the middle of September, so it was up to me to make it extra special. When we went to the local Coldstone for his birthday, he told me that on that day last year, he celebrated it alone. Now, he was celebrating it with someone he loved.

October comes and we start to prep for moving out. I start putting things in boxes and get things put away, little by little. The Friday before the move, Nathan swaps cars so that I can use the stationwagon to move things. I end up taking two carloads of boxes by myself that day. It also marked the first time I used a car by myself since I went on medical leave the year before and I did just fine. I pushed myself a little too much but that’s ok. The actual day of the move was not a good one for me as I got overwhelmed and felt like I would collapse. I ended up sleeping in the closet in the new apartment just to isolate myself from the world.

Little by little, we get the new home situated. The entertainment center is installed, I place my 400+ on the shelves, we get the new couch that we bought indoors, we unload the plates and utensils, and so much more. Right now, there’s still some things we need to unpack like our clothes and miscellaneous stuff as well as purchasing a mattress. Currently, Nathan gets the couch and I get the floor. Hopefully, that will happen soon, along with me buying the car from my folks and looking for work.

All in all, things have been very positive since I left home and I could not be happier. Nathan and I will be celebrating eight months on the 19th. We’ll be celebrating the holidays together and hit some of those milestones of being a couple. I’m so excited.

Advertisements

Tears on the Chest

xgaybutnothappy

Depression sucks. That’s pretty much a given. There’s the long stretches where you just go through the motions, nothing changes, and you long to just lay there and let the world pass by. However, the sessions that hurt the most are the ones where they just come out of nowhere; when you were feeling just fine and then for no reason it hits you. It’s these waves that have been affecting me more and more lately.

There are times where I am spending the day with my boyfriend and everything is going great. But then we will cuddle on the couch, under the covers, and then I just get inexplicably sad. There’s no real identifiable trigger but I am going to try and figure it out without making myself miserable in Starbucks.

The thing is, this whole romance thing is still new to me. Having someone say they genuinely care about me and want to spend time with me is so touching. He gives me the best cuddles, making me feel safe and secure. He can let me vent about whatever problems I’m having (mostly family ones but that’s another post). I am at that point in my life where big transitions are coming and I am going to spread my wings. Am I scared? Absolutely, but I know that there are some things that I can’t keep doing anymore.

sigh…

We are both eager to move in to an apartment and start living together. As it stands right now, the application process is still underway. It’ll save on gas and I won’t have to put up with my parent’s controlling rules (midnight curfew, they will not drive to his place but can pick me up from there, requiring me to attend church but they won’t take me to the services that best fit my schedule even though I currently rely on them for transportation). I just want to be free but there’s a part of me that says I’m not. However, I know that it’s gotten to the point that I will need to leave sooner than later since they don’t exactly approve of my relationship. With this apartment, we can make our own rules and do our own thing.

I guess the tears come from this. Sometimes they don’t manifest because of that but the fact that it still happens is something I need to address. Maybe upping my antidepressant medication would help. I don’t know but I do wish he was next to me right now, holding me.

The Arson

A few weeks ago, a great tragedy hit our town. Some non-thinking degenerate dropped a firecracker into a book-return chute in our library and well… (photos credited to KPC Media)

library arson

Upwards of over 50,000 items are lost, including the entire film collection as you see above. And yes, I am super devastated because today was the first day photos of the damage were released to the public. This is the one most devastating to me.

Since I have lived in town, this library was one of my favorite places to go. Parents would take me for storytime, then a month-long historical camp for boys (there was a girls one as well), summer and winter reading programs, and so much more. I loved going through the shelves and seeing what kind of adventures lay in wait. But when my interest in film skyrocketed, this was the place for me to go but the story goes a little further back.

Around middle school and high school, Dad would go out to the library and borrow a bunch of films for us to watch on Saturday nights after church and picking up pizza. It was because of him that I saw classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Ben-Hur (the Charlton Heston one), Them!, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, and others. When I got heavily into film, I referred to the AFI Top 100 lists and did a lot of cross-indexing, updating it whenever the library got the film in their catalog. I saw Taxi Driver, Birth of a Nation, some Hitchcock and Kubrick films, and others. For a while, I’m pretty sure I was the only guy who borrowed David Lynch’s The Straight Story on VHS; at the time, it was the only film by him in the collection and it was one of the underrated ones.

Was it a big collection? Well, not as big as the large library in the next town over but it was enough to keep patrons satisfied. But now they are all gone. Because somebody thought it was worth destroying something so precious. They caught the guy but it’s going to take many months to get the library restored, especially since it’s a historic one.

At this point, they are taking monetary donations but I want to do something more. I do need to trim my personal film collection anyway by either upgrading to a higher format or just letting them have some, especially films that weren’t initially in their collection to begin with. So if anyone from the library sees this, I’m willing to help in any way possible.

The Reveal

822041a63443dc389c2978be73ce8f2b

 

It has been one week since I came out to my folks and it has been a whirlwind of feelings. I needed to process my emotions but it’s led me to realize some things need to still happen if I want to be happy.

Last week was marked by panic and sadness as I tried to fine-tune my coming out letter. My mind obsessed about the unknown as I tried imagining each scenario, the majority of them negative including being tossed out of the house. I tried keeping up with my studies at the same time but realized that I needed to schedule my proctored mid-term exam, which wasn’t going to happen because I realize my limits in terms of how fast a class can go. I’ll probably drop the class and try again in the fall when it’s at a normal pace. Even if I did take that mid-term, I probably would’ve been too distracted by the future to even do remotely well. As of now, it just sits there incomplete.

I let my friends know on Facebook that I was going to do this and needed all of the positive energy that I could. I tried catching a quick nap by falling asleep to Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” but couldn’t because my mind was racing. Mom drove me over not knowing what to expect. Dad drove separately and Nathan made a mad dash to get to the appointment.

Once everybody was inside the office, I pulled out the letter as they sat across from me. I took several breaths before reading the line that laid out the truth: “I am bisexual and Nathan is my boyfriend.” I reached for his hand to help me get through it.

After I read the letter, I waited for their response and it was surprisingly tolerant, more so than I thought it would be. They told me repeatedly that they loved me but I could not bear to make eye contact with them. Like the Philip Selway song says, it will end in tears. I tried to explain as best as I could why this was so difficult for me to do, bringing up their views on religion and how I was afraid to speak out. There was some anger on my end towards my dad (which I expected would happen anyway) but in the end, I walked out of that room a mess despite the fact I did something that’s considered brave.

I went home with Nathan after the appointment a complete wreck. I needed space away from my parents and was not in the mood to do any more dialoguing with them. Oh my, was I a wreck. I was hungry and wanted to do nothing more than collapse on the couch, distracting myself with Rifftrax. I barely got any sleep that night but then passed out on his couch when he left for work.

After that weekend and some considerable time away, I came home to sleep in my own bed. The next day, dad called me into the kitchen in that tone of voice that implied “we need to talk”. It took not even five minutes but I was told that I could not spend the night at his place anymore and that I couldn’t leave home in the middle of the night, even though Nathan told me he would do that if need be.

At this point, I’m seriously considering moving out because I do not agree with these rules. My birthday is a month from now as it edges ever closer to nearly a quarter-century and I am told “no sleepovers”. Nope. Not having it. I need to spread my wings, which is really my next step, but now that’s going to be a whole other conversation that needs to happen with my folks at some point. A one-bedroom apartment opened up in Nathan’s apartment complex and would be an improvement for the two of us but the question is when.

There’s a lot that I’m conflicted about and still trying to work through. It’s going to be a long journey. I have a family reunion this weekend and, now that my parents know, it’s going to be a rough ride.

The Awakening

angry fox

 

I am slowly discovering that I have not been a healthy individual when it comes to emotions. I’m not talking about me being abusive or anything like that. It’s more about bottling up those emotions and letting them simmer for far too long.

I learned on the playground that guys don’t cry. Unfortunately for me, I got upset whenever something happened to me and the tears just rolled down. I was called a crier in my class and had to try my best to swallow those instincts to just let it out. The downside is, this caused me to stonewall that part of my emotional core to the point where it is very difficult for me to cry at the appropriate time or in tear-jerking parts of movies. I’m trying so desperately to break that down but I get the nasty feeling inside that I’m being just selfish because I need to tend to my emotions. I’m usually the shoulder people cry on, not the other way around so when it’s my turn, it just feels awkward and scary.

Anger is the one emotion I had to bottle up the most. I was not really allowed to be angry at home or anywhere else because my anger displays were “not like everyone else’s”. I couldn’t openly swear within earshot of my parents, yet dad was allowed to get away with it for some reason. Sure, I’d drop a bomb or two in an argument but I would be talked down in an effort to regain control of me, something I’m learning is rather toxic. Instead, I’d medicate myself with some Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein, the harder side of Dream Theater, and now an eventual wading into punk culture. After all, if nobody in the house is willing to hear me out, I can just drown myself in hardcore riffs and industrial blip bloops.

I tell people that I’m usually a nice guy and I’ll get along with you over the course of time but just don’t try to piss me off. That side of me is scary and as much as I don’t want to admit it, it’s a side that I need to acknowledge. I am trying my best to gain some semblance of independence but am limited by being at home in a place where I can’t be too extreme with my expressions. I’ve been looking into punk ideologies and am learning about how there is a purpose behind it, depending on the faction. I’m working on trying to change my outward physical appearance in terms of clothing and accessories. I’m trying to be more open about my ideas among my family but it’s not easy as I consider myself to be the black sheep of the family.

It’s a slow process but I figure that if I really want to grow my wings, I need to wake up and let myself be open about my emotions.

The Bombshell

0914bb7014b1803e0090c119ec8d565ab5d1dfbf

In January, I went in for some testing to see what exactly was wrong with me. Two weeks ago, I finally got the report and a whole lot more than what I bargained for. I’ve been trying to process all of it and I’m finally ready to talk about it.

The gist of the report says that what I was experiencing was adjustment disorder that stemmed from my youngest brother leaving for college on top of dealing with the bottled stress from my job. I’m not happy that I had to quit my job because I couldn’t handle him going away. I feel fine now but I just feel upset at myself for letting it happen this way.

The biggest bombshell that was detailed in the report was that I don’t meet the criteria to have been diagnosed with autism. Apparently my executive functioning skills are just too good to meet that criteria when I know for a fact that’s not the case. The report stated that I never had a language evaluation as a kid to back this up.  Curious, I asked my parents after that initial meeting about my diagnosis. They told me that when they took my younger brother in for testing so that he could get some services from school, the doctor interacted with me briefly and asked my parents some questions. My parents did some research after that and decided I was autistic (Asperger’s back then but still). There was nothing on paper, no professional evaluations. All of it was based on a guess.

You see the narrative of how someone who goes undiagnosed for so long and then when they learn about autism, everything clicks. I can’t find one that goes in reverse. I am floating inbetween zones because I’ve now hit another identity crisis. How can I be at terms with something I may have never had in the first place? Peers have tried comforting me of the fact that this isn’t a bad thing (as if it was to begin with) but it doesn’t help. And then to have my parents come clean about my quasi-diagnosis after all these years makes it worse.

Am I mad as hell? You bet. After all, autism is a serious topic, especially as my generation enters a world that is ill-equipped to accommodate us because the focus was all on the kids. Would it put my mind at rest if I sought out a professional diagnosis, just to say it’s on paper and it’s for real? Probably but is it really worth the effort? Do I self-diagnose, knowing full well of the baggage that it carries? Or do I do neither and just float about in a twilight zone of neurological confusion? This journey has gotten a lot harder, especially as I look at my feed the House passed the dangerous “health care” bill. If I do get the diagnosis, I’ll get charged for a pre-existing condition that was out of my control. If I don’t, I’ll save some money but at the cost of mental health issues.

I’ve tried to distract myself with Beat poetry and finding my muse in Burroughs and Ginsberg, drowning my ears with the sounds of Jocelyn Pook and The Orb. I’ve taken naps out of sheer boredom because it’s a cheap way to detach yourself from the world with little side effects. I’ve sought comfort with my boyfriend and he’s been very supportive of me and what I’m going through. But where do I go from here? This fox has no clue.

The Boyfriend

fox kiss

A lot has happened in the past month, especially with the past week. I am officially off the market and am dating my first male partner ever (he’s an NT). Let me tell you, it’s very exciting.

I first met him (for the sake of the blog, I’ll call him “Mark”) at a small Super Bowl party at my support group leader’s house. Mark was friends with the leader because they briefly worked at one of the local Meijer’s. About a week later, we saw La La Land together for the first time. He hinted that he wasn’t straight during dinner before the movie which resulted in adding him to my list of potential partners. Thanks to my poor circulation in my hands, they got cold and he held them to warm them up. I think this was the first sign of flirting but I didn’t really catch on until later during a viewing of Sausage Party where we played footsie in bed. At that point in my life, that was the gayest thing I’d ever done.

Cut to a few weeks ago when we got together as a group for an afternoon IMAX screening of Kong: Skull Island (it was serviceable as a popcorn film). I noticed he was subtly holding onto my arm for half of the film. In the car, we both just said “YASS GURL” and other stereotypical gay mannerisms like the limp wrist, all with an ironic sensibility. The next day, the group gathered at an IHOP for movie night and he placed his hand on my leg. We sat next to each other on the couch for a screening of The Edge of Seventeen (underrated and humorous). Our hands touched and throughout the course of the film, they moved upwards toward the arms and eventually embracing.

Last Sunday, we met up again for a game night with the support group which, unfortunately, was a bust as the only people in attendance were the core group. We met up early to watch some movies and laid next to each other on the bed. The leader had left to go pick up some more people and left us alone. We embraced each other strongly and he kissed me on the forehead. I reciprocated and then kissed him on the lips. This led to more of the same and repositioning to get better cuddles. After thirty minutes or so, we made it official that we’re dating.

I’ll spare you some of the saucier details but what I can tell you is that we’ve had nightly video chats and just being all lovey-dovey for each other. Last time I saw him, he gave me his sweater so that I can sleep in it. To put this in perspective, I’m closer to a twink in terms of frame and he’s a bear, so I’m drowning in it. We’ve already held hands in public as we walked to Meijer’s to get ingredients for dinner and introduced me as his boyfriend to some of his friends. We’ve done some slow dancing (he led), something I haven’t done since my prom in high school. Hopefully this week, we can watch Moana together and then attend an art gala at my old college where he’ll get to see my connections. Months from now, he’ll take me to the local pride festival.

Now, we’re hoping this will last for as long as it can. We both have the same parental complications, so we’re trying to make it work as best as we can. Thankfully, we both value open and honest communication which makes things a lot easier. Half of our messages are either “I miss you”, “I love you”, or kiss emojis. We’ve told our own groups of friends who are receptive to these kind of relationships and they’re proud of us.

I’m late to the dating game myself. I only had one dating relationship back in college but we mutually split after a month. Most of my peers are married or have kids already and I’m just off to the side waiting for that special someone and he finally appeared. I can’t wait to see where this goes.

The Evaluation

1_2069781i

Monday was a mentally exhausting day for me. I was scheduled for a neuro-psych evaluation that would last for four hours. I wasn’t that stressed about it because the testing would be things I could do easily and would be stimulating.

I was called back by a nice gentleman around 1:15, trying to weave my way around a very disruptive child having a bad session. The room was small and windowless. It was also quite warm but I grew acclimated to it. He explained that there’d be three tests: the WAIS-IV (IQ), the MMPI (psychopathology) and a third one that was on the computer. I was allowed to have drinks and snacks during my break because I couldn’t sit there for four straight hours.

First, there was some block arrangement. Match the pattern in the book as fast as possible. Simple enough, up until the last problem where I ended up taking a bit longer than I’d like.

Next was some short-term memory recall. I struggled with some of the number sequences once they became longer. I tried to mimic the BBC Sherlock and visualize the numbers as they appeared but I wasn’t successful. Then I had to do the same thing backwards. As the sequences got longer, I noticed my ADHD kicking in despite taking my medication earlier that morning.

I was asked how two items were similar. This was to demonstrate the ability to think abstractly or something like that. He then showed me a list of words and asked me to define them. I got all but the final one; my etymology skills failed me in that moment.

After that, he asked me what kind of problems I was having. I gave him a CliffNotes version of the past four months, saying I had no clue what or why it was happening to me. He assured me that the doctors would eventually find an answer to what’s going on (apparently it’s not conversion disorder like I thought).

Next came some mental math questions. All those times in school I thought mental math would get me nowhere came back to bite me as I slipped up on an embarrassingly simple subtraction problem but then worked my way through the rest. It stung a bit because I couldn’t change my answer even though I usually come across as an intelligent man.

I was then asked some general knowledge questions. As he worked his way through the list, he paused and chuckled at one question: who was Martin Luther King Jr.? We both laughed because it was a coincidence that this would be asked on MLK Jr. Day. A few questions later, he asked what the importance of the freedom of speech was in a democracy and why it’s important to maintain good relations with other countries. We both smirked because we both knew why but some higher-ups clearly didn’t.

Then came some more recall, this time with stories. In grade school, my reading comprehension was terrible. I dreaded taking the computerized tests that asked for specific details that I didn’t think were important. I listened to the story and had to repeat as many details as I could remember. Some more tests came later and then he asked some long-term recall questions from those stories.

Towards the end, I was given survey after survey asking about my mood and desires. The MMPI in particular was exhausting because it was over 550 questions that asked me things ranging from whether or not I had a compulsion to steal, if I drink to feel better about myself (never had a drop), multiple questions on suicide that were phrased the same way, if I ever wished I were the opposite sex (clearly written with a gender binary in mind), and others.

After I finished all of that, he took me out of the office and told me it’d be another five to seven weeks before I heard back. At this point, I’m used to waiting. I left with a substantial hunger in my belly as I needed dinner. The testing gave me a glimpse into the future in terms of a career in psychology. With the cursory understanding of the abnormal, I was able to pick out what the questions were specifically asking. I knew I could mentally eliminate some diagnoses because I had no inclination towards them (alcoholism, kleptomania, pyromania). The rest, I’m not sure.

All I can do is wait.

Not Throwing Away My Shot

Over the past few months, I’ve done quite a bit of soul-searching. Between being put on medical leave for conversion disorder and the recent election, I’ve noticed that I there’s a lot of work that I need to do if I want to make a difference in this world.

I had a serious medical episode at work back in September at my job, an insulated window factory. The best I can sum it up is that I had a dissociated state and couldn’t move or speak. I was transferred to a more secure and less stressful part of the factory. At the same time, my doctor gave me Lexapro which eventually proved to be extremely detrimental. This eventually led to me being placed on medical leave for a few months.

During that time, I had several appointments for new meds and an EEG because these episodes continued. Each day was a nightmare since there was no way of knowing how or when they’d happen. I even had a therapist involved that I still see because I had no idea what it could be (eventually concluded it was conversion disorder after meeting).

With the time I had spent recovering, I thought about going back to college but wasn’t sure what for. It was in the back of my mind for many months but I didn’t want to go for the sake of going. It wasn’t until after that fateful day in November that I needed to give it some serious thought.

I went to visit family for Thanksgiving, a move that I didn’t want to do but it the decision was out of my hands. In preparation, I borrowed the soundtrack for Hamilton from my library because I had never heard it. As I rode the Ohio landscape in the backseat, I let it wash over me. Then this lyric struck a chord with me:

I am not throwing away my shot. No, I’m not throwing away my shot. Yo, I’m just like my country: young, scrappy, and hungry. No, I’m not throwing away my shot.

In the back of my head, I was thinking about how I can be a better advocate for autism and LGBT rights. I knew I needed to help but wasn’t sure how. I found out that a local college had a certificate in LGBT Studies. I thought it could help me gain a better understanding and meet others involved the community. This became more apparent as the cabinet slowly filled up with more and more dangerous people. As for the autism side, I’m doing the best I can to stay up to date with the latest news. I would like to see what the scene is like in northeast Indiana, see if there are any support groups for people my age.

I’d say that’s all but there’s the fact that I’m still living in a home where my preferences will need to be made known and it won’t be easy. I was raised Catholic and my parents stand by their beliefs. I’ve had to hide my sexuality from them for years but will eventually come out in the coming weeks.

I can’t stand on the sidelines any longer. I still have a chance to do some good. I am young, scrappy and hungry and I’m not throwing away my shot.