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Liar

Categories: The Journey

I am a liar.  I have been smoking while saying I’ve quit, I told Phillip to his face that two credit card charges were wrong that I know are correct, ugh – I am allowing the addict part of my mind to control the sitch.

This is bleeding into other things, I know.  Before today’s meeting, I was feeling unsafe, uncomfortable.  I didn’t want to wait for Chris because I didn’t really care if I saw Chris; I am irritated with him, I feel pretty sure.  It’s one of those slightly warmer than luke-warm irritations, though – it doesn’t burn, but it’s certainly on its way to boiling.  It was good to talk with Keith because he has a great energy, but per usual I didn’t want to be at the meeting.

Ryan & Meghan came over tonight, and we had veggie burgers, zucchini fries, and homemade wild cherry ice cream.  So good.

Anyhoo – all today is really about is the fact that I’m a liar, and I know I have to summon the courage to change this thing that I most certainly can.

Blerg.

Smoking Journal:

August 8th  – First day without a cigarette.

August 19th – Started smoking again

September 5th – Told myself I wouldn’t buy another pack of cigarettes; buy cigarettes

September 7th – Tell myself today will be my last day without cigarettes.  Tell Phillip I’ve been smoking and that I am quitting as of tomorrow.  Enjoy cigarettes without feeling ashamed for hiding it.  Have what I say will be my last just before bed.  Try to smoke “mindfully,” taking note of what I enjoy about smoking but also what I find disagreeable.

September 8th – First day without a cigarette; that didn’t go as planned

Sept 10th – told prof I was having difficulty

Sept 15th – we’ll see

Oct 6th – I didn’t quit smoking, like, even a day

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Anonymity & Shame

Categories: The Pondering

Folks with cancer used to, and some likely still do, feel shame because of their condition, so I’ve read. Some folks are still either too ashamed or too scared to come out of the closet. Even more frequently, people live secretly with HIV. And until only recently, discussions of bipolar disorder were notably missing or had occurred primarily behind closed doors. With regard to addiction, anonymity is still strongly encouraged. My pondering: Does maintaining anonymity stir within a person, or help maintain, shame?

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Step Two, Part III – New York, New York

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Categories: The Steps

I’ve met a fellow, and it is total infatuation.  Sitting here in his apartment, having aggressively introduced myself during Turkey Trot at Club Cafe last night, I ponder the possibility of a full-fledged relationship with this fellow I initially imagined simply a one-night stand.

I find out from a mutual friend that this fellow tells him he is “on the train to boyfriend town.”  I consider falling in love with this fellow & do so.  One of my closest friends & I pretty much part ways because she thinks I’m jumping into a relationship rather than dealing with the whys of my suicide attempt.  I’m just happy to feel “normal” after that silliness.

I know the boyfriend is moving to NYC so beat him to it, thinking this will ensure our relationship continues.  Even though his notion of living is planning his wardrobe based on next season’s offerings, even though his friends are vapid.

New York is positively terrible, so I drink my days into my nights; I will outrun my misery, I will outrun my misery, I will….  I’m living in Bushwick and am mugged.  I am mugged again.  I am arrested for getting in a cop’s face.  I lose my job.  The boyfriend tells me he’s peacing out.  I will not, absolutely will not, leave NYC.  You big, scary, beautiful, terrible, lovely, hateful city – you will not beat me into submission, retreat.

I get a job at a fashion forecasting service, and I am happy then unhappy then happy.  I meet a man who I know can protect me, who I know can be an important part of my future, who excites me & challenges me & impresses me.  We spend much of our time chemically uplifted, and I like this.  I am impressed with the new life I am living & am impressed with the man’s truly bright, nice, and interesting friends.

As I grow happier with the man, I grow just OK with the job.  Then my favorite boss leaves, leaving me only with the positively awful Controller of the firm, and I am really unhappy!  I drink more & more.

I am at a new job – back at a law firm, another of the largest in the world, this one a financial powerhouse, the second most profitable of them all.  Oh My God, this is the most miserable place anyone could ever work.  The Most Miserable!  I get off the train in the morning – a pint of vodka.  I work out – I buy another pint of vodka.  It’s 4:30 – I buy another pint of vodka.  It’s dinner time – I drink a bottle of wine.  It’s 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning – I wake up and drink a couple or few swigs of vodka.  I start over.

I give up the ghost and admit my happy, decently successful life is an unhappy, nearly depleted existence.  I am Ryan, and I am an alcoholic.

This I know:  I have Phillip, I have my besties, I have my family.  I will get better, I will make it in New York, I will be able to make it anywhere.  I just have to figure out why I was brought here & what I am supposed to do.

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Step Two, Part II – Surviving

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Categories: The Steps

“I don’t care if they eat me alive / I’ve got better things to do than survive”

- Ani DiFranco, “Swandive”

I have seen a number of psychiatrists, and the current one is fine, though she doesn’t engage me.  I’m seeing, like, the dozenth therapist on this journey to recover my mind.  He’s a decent enough fellow, but he doesn’t engage me particularly, either.  The diagnosis between these two is depression.  So they’re trying another med; I’m hoping for a psychopharmaceutical miracle.  I’ve been on this new one about a week, and frankly I’m not sure how I feel.  Confusion, that’s apparently what’s happening.

Today is Jeremy’s birthday, and I’ll be meeting up with him and the horrible fellow he’s seeing.  Perhaps I’m jealous, perhaps I just see this terrible fellow for the awful fellow he is – either way this should be a lovely time.

We’re at the Jeannie Johnston, a bar at the end of St. Rose – my street.  It’s a divey/pubby sort of place, and I sometimes come here to get hammered late at night.  Everything seems off.  Maybe it’s being near the horrible/terrible/awful fellow, who has with him a friend named Blaze, who is just the sort of person I would expect to be the horrible/terrible/awful fellow’s friend.  I’m drinking quite a lot, which isn’t that unusual, but I don’t feel drunk; I’d like very much to be drunk if I’m to continue suffering these people.  Not Jeremy, of course.  Jeremy is my favorite person, and it’s his birthday.

Everything is blurry, and I’m happy my apartment is so close by.  I really don’t know what I’m thinking.  Fog clouds my thoughts, everything seems pointless.  I’m not sad, mind you – I’m nothing.

The one place I feel safe these days is my bedroom.  It’s really cute:  a large IKEA cube shelf at the head of the bed, loads of paintings hung salon-style on my walls, an antique bookshelf filled with shoes.  Oh how I love shoes.  An armoire Jeremy & I bought in Arkansas; it’s great for storage and is a beauty.

There is nothing I want to do; I don’t even want to drink this bottle of wine – motivation doesn’t exist.  I guess I’ll go ahead and take my Tylenol PM and drift into dreams, perhaps I’ll find motivation in my dreams.

I take my two pills, open my computer, go to my Gmail.  I’m not completely certain what I have to write or to whom I’m going to write it, but I know there is something that needs to come out.  I know.  I don’t feel it, feeling is gone.  But I know.

I open the bottle of Tylenol PM, and I wash all the pills down with some wine.  It is red wine.  I write:

Hi darlins. 

You folks are the most amazing people I’ve met in this world, and for the pleasure of your company I thank ya.  I don’t know anymore how to do this.  Everything stikes me as simultaneously humorous and depressing and, well, the depressing has, I guess, won over. 

You all know why I love you so there’s no reason to put it out here – you’re the five people in this world who have made me believe it can be a better place, perhaps even a place where fuckers as fucked in the head as me can feel free and maybe happy. 

I saw you all this summer – it was my summer of goodbyes.  I had great times with people I adore, and if nature somehow allows my brain to continue on, I will never forget y’all: the loves of my life. 

I don’t think there’s anything anyone could have done, so don’t be all girly and silly.  Just love, luvs.  Love it all.

I close my eyes as sleep washes over me.  I feel nothing.  Perhaps I will find something, anything, in my dreams.

I know this isn’t a dream.  And I know this is unpleasant.  I’m not exactly aware of the goings on, but I am sure something real is happening.  I am over a toilet with someone’s fingers down my throat.  I am on my back and my sweater is being tugged or ripped, something is happening.

I wake up just slightly.  I am tied tightly to a bed and scream for Jeremy.  I scream and scream, but Jeremy never comes.  I don’t know where I am, but I know I am bound to a bed and the lights are bright, glaring.  I am afraid.  I prefer feeling nothing over feeling afraid.  I drift back into sleep.

I wake up to a man asking me if I know where I am.  I do not know where I am, and I can barely keep my eyes open.  I drift back into sleep.

I wake up to a a girl in a red coat.  I recognize Marta and say, “I like your coat.”  I drift back into sleep.

I wake up in a room, a nurse doing something involving caring for me, and this time I stay awake.  I ask her how she’s doing.  I ask her name.  She is doing very well and is glad to see me awake.  Her name is Nancy, and she seems very pleasant.  I smile.

Now I feel.  I feel a lot, more than I can process.  I am alive and am surprised.  I don’t believe in a god, but I believe in something, and I know I have survived so that I can begin to live, that there must be something I am supposed to do.  I don’t know what that is, though.  I remain confused, but at least now I feel.

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Step Two, Part I – Baby Bird & Broken Ring

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Categories: The Steps

Cat asks if she can practice Reiki on me.  She wants to move my energy, apparently, so we decide the back porch to be the best place.  The back porch is my calm place – I have out there eight varieties of heirloom tomatoes, cilantro, cucumbers, jalapeno and bell peppers; I have two betas, some floor pillows, a beautifully painted cabinet, several candles, and largish white lights strung from the ceiling.  We live on the top floor and have great sun exposure.  There are on both ends of the porch birds nests, both with chirping little baby birds.

I finish making my salsa, we chat, I walk outside, I am dubious.

Cat gave me a ring a while ago, saying it would help pull my negative energy from me.  My friends know of my constant anxiety, and Cat thinks it a malady of my energy.  As we walk outside I am fingering the ring, spinning it ’round my finger, per usual with me and rings.

Cat has me lay on my back and places stones at various points on my body.  I close my eyes, still dubious.  Perhaps even more dubious now than as I walked out here.  But I know and love Cat, and I trust even her slightly outlandish beliefs.  There are only sounds of nature, mainly comforting sounds from the birds nests.

My eyes closed, Cat begins her practice.  The weight of the small stones seems somehow to increase, my chest feels constricted, my face feels warm and then hot.  My breathing must have become more labored because Cat asks if I’m OK.  I tell her I’m experiencing some oddness but, yeah, I’m OK.  She continues.

My face becomes uncomfortably warm, the stones feel heavy, and my chest feels as though a small child is sitting on me.

Then there is a shift, something changes:  both birds nests grow frantically noisy, the weight of the stones becomes undeniably greater, my face feels like I’ve sat on a beach far too long, and the constriction of my chest leaves me finding it difficult to breath.

Then there is no weight from the stones, the heat disappears from my face, and my chest feels as it had before Cat began.  The nests are calm again, but during the ruckus a baby bird has fallen from its nest.  And the ring Cat gave me lies on the floor of the porch broken into three pieces as if smashed by a hammer.  I feel calm & have a moment of peace.

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Step One – The Musical

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Categories: The Steps

What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong:  The first song is easy – I was born knowing nothing and was exposed to a world where everything was a Sight to See. I think “What a Wonderful World” perfectly captures the beauty and hopefulness of a baby’s naïveté, and it sets a nice tone for a playlist explaining a life.

Bang The Drum Slowly – Emmylou Harris:  This song comes across as inspired by a father’s death.  It starts:

I meant to ask you how to fix that car / I always meant to ask you about the war / And what you saw across a bridge too far / Did it leave a scar and its chorus is Bang the drum slowly / play the pipe lowly / To dust be returning / from dust we begin / Bang the drum slowly / I’ll speak of things holy / Above and below me world without end

I don’t recall what sort of trauma I went through upon the death of my bio-mom and the abandonment of my bio-dad, and I consider myself lucky for that; however, since at least my late pre-teen years, I’ve considered billions of questions I wish I were able to ask them.  Though I’ve come to understand that without Kristi’s death & Kenny’s absence I wouldn’t have lived the lovely life I’ve lead, my thoughts still sometimes drift into sadness.  It’s a life-defining sorta thing, and this song nails the emotions I have regarding Kristi’s death.

Blue period Picasso – Peter Bjorn and John: The third song on the playlist is about longing to be somewhere other than where you are, being misunderstood, being lonely.

Growing up a girly boy in southern Arkansas wasn’t 100% easy.  I felt isolated much of the time, though looking back I know there were plenty of wonderful times when I didn’t feel so completely left out of the world surrounding me.

I pretty much every day pretended I was someone else or somewhere else or that I had some magical power to change where I was into a place I wanted to be.  I apparently told my mom long ago that I would live in New York City.  I didn’t ever really consider how I would get here; I just knew that here I someday would be.  Maybe this line applied: “The paintings around me, they don’t understand me / I’m a bit too early, I’m seen as development.”  Maybe it was that isolation in Arkansas had to happen for freedom & flamboyance in New York City to come to be.

Numb – Pet Shop Boys:  My Grandma’s death, and my role in it, shifted my being, I have never felt the same since that day.  I had a long list of weekly chores that were impossible to accomplish, so I was popping Vivarin like an addict, which I guess I’ve always been.  I was also babysitting and doing summer marching band practice.  And I was taking care of my senile, diabetic Grandma.

 One day I finally crashed, and while I was zonked out my Grandma died.  With all of my responsibilities, abusing Vivarin seemed like my only option.  My addict mind, at 15, had been activated, and my abuse of Vivarin caused my Grandma’s death.  I have never loved someone so much, felt so safe with someone, felt so loved by someone.  For my Grandma’s death I will for all my days be sorry.  If Grandma is up in the stars, though, I know she forgives me; now I have to forgive myself.

Being Boring – Pet Shop Boys:  Pomfret Hall, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR – my first home away from home.  The freedom I felt stepping out onto the circular asphalt drive of this building that would very soon house more students than the population of my hometown was thrilling & terrifying.  Finally, I would be able to live life my way – it was what most students were, I imagine, thinking just at that very moment as we readied ourselves for a new home, unpacking cars and van stuffed with new acquirements from our local Wal-Mart.  I have to admit, this moment was probably the strongest of my frequent feeling, up to that point, of wishing I were single.

On My Own: So between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I got married to my best friend/girlfriend. She came out to me about six months later. So at last and with a vengeance I came out of the closet. It was an immediate acceptance, as in at the end of her sentence I was prepared for what I knew would be radical acceptance (I didn’t know this theory then, but it applies) and, more importantly, radical disclosure. I told everyone, including my mom, who was thoroughly supportive of my new path – one of acceptance of myself and an honest, unashamed existence.

This song, cheesy as it is, was my theme song; I listened to it every day and sang it in my head as I opened up to my friends about one of the most important aspects of my being. No one was surprised.

Big Time Sensuality: I saw Jeremy C. Fox for the first time as I walked into the University of Arkansas Library – Mullins Library – to sign up for my work-study gig. He was sitting at the guard’s desk, and he was cute. Even though we both worked in the circulation department, I don’t think we spoke for months. After we did start talking, I wished that he’d just leave me alone. He was mean!

Jump ahead to my sophomore year, after I finally came out, and we were lying on my living room floor, chatting for what I remember to be hours; I’m pretty sure I knew then that he’d be a very important part of my life. I still thought he was mean, he just wasn’t mean to me any longer. We started dating, and about a year later we moved to Boston together; I enrolled in Northeastern University to finish my degree, and we played house. Quite successfully, actually, for awhile.

Though our relationship is no longer a romantic one (that thought is kinda cringe-worthy, actually), he remains one of the very most important people in my life and the person I count as my oldest friend. He’s had to put up with me nearly every day since we started dating back in 1998, and in 2006 he literally saved my life (I don’t use “literally” incorrectly). So not only would I not resemble at all the person I am today without his influence, I probably wouldn’t be here to resemble anything at all.

Hyperballad: My life with Jeremy Fox was a good one for several years, but my head started playing little tricks on me about four years into things, when I was 23. I can’t be certain, but I believe this is when bipolar disorder first started interfering with my affairs, which makes sense, as the disorder tends to manifest in the early 20s. This song is meant to convey the confusion that was swirling in my head – the confusion that would lead to tremendous upheaval in my life, would become mania, and would wreak havoc that, looking back, seems unreal.

Tragedy – Emmy Lou Harris: Jeremy & I broke up. Jeremy was my first true romantic love & our breakup cracked my heart, to be melodramatic, as I am wont to be. We searched for a way to stay together because we were bored; we had become more brothers than boyfriends. That involved some rather interesting circumstances – “we cast our nets out on the sea,” and nothing we had gathered came for free. We paid with our relationship, and with that my new life began.

We Are Nowhere And It’s Now: Without the anchor of my relationship with Jeremy, I was lost. I started drinking more, and my anxiety was uncontrollable. We still lived together, so it was actually a nice thing to have him physically if not emotionally there, but that came with its own set of problems. This song captures really well the way I felt in those days – days I couldn’t have traversed without Alison Brazil Brundage. Thanks, hurnty.

Flamboyant: Resurfacing after the breakup, I did so with what I consider a vengeance, so to speak. This was the time of my life when going out became the point; it was the time of my 24 year-old gay existence in Boston as a partier, a writer, a flamboyant caricature, and possibly a “mean girl.” It was perhaps the most amusing, fun period of my life so far, but it wasn’t rewarding. I was a lost little boy having too much fun to notice the danger that awaited – Hansel in the house of cake & candy.

The Living: This is another hard one. I’d not yet been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder, and in what was apparently the lowest I’ve ever been, I walked home from a bar feeling not sad but rather feeling nothing, washed down a bottle of Tylenol PM with a glass of red wine, and emailed my closest friends a goodbye note. Jeremy Fox read that email, or someone called him (he was the only of my close friends living in Boston at the time), and somehow he & a hospital saved me.

Such Great Heights: This song is the one that always makes me think of the second of my three loves. Less than a month after I tried to off myself this happened:

I’ve met a fellow, and it is total infatuation. Sitting here in his apartment, having aggressively introduced myself during Turkey Trot at Club Cafe last night, I ponder the possibility of a full-fledged relationship with this fellow I initially imagined simply a one-night stand.

I find out from a mutual friend that this fellow tells him he is “on the train to boyfriend town.” I consider falling in love with this fellow & do so. One of my closest friends & I pretty much part ways because she thinks I’m jumping into a relationship rather than dealing with the whys of my suicide attempt. I’m just happy to feel “normal” after that silliness.

New York: In an apparently manic period (as in actual bipolar hypomania, though I’d still not yet been diagnosed), I moved to NYC. Truly, I suddenly decided to move, and two and a half weeks later, with hardly any preparation (Thanks, J Fox, for cleaning up *that* mess), I was living in the biggest city in the United States. I always knew I’d live in NYC, but I also always assumed there would be a plan.

My first year was positively terrible. Capital T – terrible. I was mugged. I was mugged again. I got into an argument with a cop, which taught me not to argue with cops. My fella peaced out. I drank my days into my nights, every day and night failing to outrun my misery. I lost my job. New York City would not defeat me – of that I was sure. If you can make it here….

A Man:Me:Then Jim: The fella and I broke up shortly after I arrived in NYC, as did he, and this song captures the complications of that break-up. It was a disaster; it was mean; it was heartbreaking. I still don’t think I’ve processed what happened because I’ve not yet made it that far in my Step Two, but I know the relationship happened for a reason. I just wish it had ended differently. As in I’m glad that it ended so that I was able to get to where I am, but I wish it had been a more pleasant affair.

Marching Bands of Manhattan: I was so sad in NYC. My closest friends weren’t here, I was a bit heartbroken by the breakup, I had been mugged twice, I had had an unpleasant run-in with a cop, I had been fired from my job, and I was drinking heavily every day. Fun!

Poses: For a long time, I found myself not unhappy in New York but not happy either. New York has a way of chewing you up and spitting you out at the beginning, I’ve read & experienced, but some of us stand up and dust ourselves off. That doesn’t mean we’re standing there all smiles & giggles, though. I just existed, though I knew I wanted more than what I had, that I had once thought I would have more than I had. Rufus captures it in this song: “I did go from wanting to be someone / now I’m drunk and wearing flip-flops on Fifth Avenue.”

The Origin of Love: I met Phillip.

Some Nights (Intro)

Lived In Bars

There’s More To Life Than This

Carnival

Human

Damaged People [Live In Milan]

You’ve Got The Love

All Possibilities

Swandive

Between Two Lungs

Revelations

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