Dear Matty

I’ve been waiting for months for this countdown to reach zero, and here we are.  It’s a little after 9am and you just texted me to tell me you’re at your gate at Philadelphia airport.  I’m sitting in my living room, just dressed, having coffee and writing you this letter.  I’m so unbelievably nervous about meeting you in person for the first time.  You’ve told me again and again not to be, but I can’t help myself.  My heart thunders in my chest and my pulse races at the thought of finally getting to spend some quality time with you that doesn’t require an internet connection and use of PSN.  I’ve barely slept at all because I didn’t want to miss picking you up.  I’m so anxious.

After you went to bed, I baked the chocolate chip muffins and ate two of them.  Had to make sure they were up to snuff before I served them to you hahahaha.  You just checked in on Facebook, I’m so excited!  Alex is on his way to get me and then we’ll be picking you up.  Every time I think about you being here I get excited and smile and laugh.  I can’t believe that this day is finally happening!


Fast forward to the end of the week…


This went by way too fast!  It’s a little after noon on Saturday and I’m sitting here on my couch listening to The Cure and wishing you were still here in my arms.  I still feel like an asshole for making you cry this week; once after telling you about my mother and what happened to her and again when we had the talk about us.

I’m going to miss having your big warm body to snuggle up with at night, holding you close to me and feeling the heat of your breath on my skin.  Hearing the sound of you snoring and watching your lumbering form cast shadows on the dim walls of my bedroom.  I’ll miss all those special dirty things we said to each other in bed.  I’ll miss having morning coffee and muffins with you and snuggling under the cammo comforter on the couch while we play games together.

I’m already counting the minutes until I get to see you again.  I miss my bubby.

Your papa bear,

Ben

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Life Is A Suicide Mission

Do you ever wonder why people kill themselves? I used to.

Way back in school, when I was first introduced to the concept of suicide, I couldn’t for the life of me understand why someone would do such a thing. I get that your life is currently in a shit place and things are bad, but are they really that bad? Little did I know that in a few years, I’d learn why in a very difficult life lesson.

When I was young, I used to listen to all the grown ups in my family talk, I loved hearing their life stories. One story always stuck with me through the years. I don’t remember his name, but mama knew a man that she described as ‘always happy and funny and cheerful.’ She had a picture of him with my sister Regina when she was young. She told me that he had killed himself. Being so young, I had no idea what that meant or why it made her so sad.

Not long after high school was finally over, life decided to really take a turn for the worst. I’d be willing to go so far as to say that it’s the darkest period of my entire life. First, my mother died a couple months after I graduated after a nearly year long battle with cancer. My birthday and Christmas meant nothing to me that year. Then my friend Wendy’s grandmother died at Christmas. Then my father died the following March. Then his mother died a month later. Then on top of all that, I was forced out of my home by my father’s piece of shit sister since it was now legally hers. So I ended up living with my sister. Those were very dark times.

Did I think about killing myself? You bet, and often. I had nothing really to live for, I was merely existing. I often look back on it all and wonder how I made it. I suppose I never gave up hope that things would get better, and I guess in a way they did. Every time I thought about killing myself, I remembered what I was taught in health class in high school:

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

It pretty much became my mantra for years, said silently to myself when the voice within became too loud. I had friends, sure, but eventually they all turned out to be a bunch of fakes except one (he knows who he is.) In retrospect they weren’t really worth living for, but it was all I had. Life got better. Life GETS better, that’s why I’m still here.

Those times I entertained the thought, I weighed the pros and cons carefully. It would all be over; all the daily misery, the suffering, the anxiety, the sleeplessness, the fun and games, the sex, the music, the voices within, the noises without. Would it hurt my family? Probably, but I didn’t really care if it did or not. The ones that it would hurt the most were the ones that kept me from doing it, I stayed alive not for myself but for them. They are why I’m still here.

Those times I entertained the thought, I thought about how I’d do it. Pills? Not 100% effective. Guns? Too much of a mess. The answer came to me at work one night. I had an accident where I hit my right shin on a metal guard and ended up cutting open a vein. There was blood everywhere; every beat of my heart brought me closer to oblivion as I watched my life force drain from me. All I wanted was to sleep. All I wanted was to lay down and die. I was so tired. This was the way out, this was how I’d go out. I was taken to the ER and sewn up and drugged. I felt fine the rest of the night thanks to the wonders of modern medicine. Now that I had chosen a how, all I needed was a reason. An impetus for my destruction.

The years have passed since that night and while I have the occasional bad day here and there I still don’t have a reason to do it.  I like to think about it the same as this guy:

I don’t fear death and/or suicide. Whenever I get low I look at it as a very far off option if things don’t get better. They always do so I’m not worried about it. For me a quote from Neil Hilborn illustrates it best, “I think a lot about killing myself, not like a point on a map, but rather like a glowing exit sign at a show that’s never been quite bad enough to make me want to leave.”

I see suicide as an option, especially if you’re terminally ill.  An option that not everyone agrees on, but it’s an option nonetheless.  Do I still wonder why people do it?  Yes and no.  Why they do it is still a mystery, a case by case basis, but I think I have an inkling.  They just feel hopeless, like there’s no escape, like this misery is going to be endless.  But I don’t wonder about it as much because I feel I’ve lived through the why.

Life and Death, part 6

Ever text someone at just the worst possible time?

Yesterday, I asked my friend Alex if he’d like to get something for dinner before he went to work.  His response was something I didn’t expect.

I can’t, I have the girls until I have to leave for work because mom had to make an emergency trip to Canada to see aunt Yvette.  She has lung cancer and it has spread to both breasts and other parts of her body.  She’s opting for doctor assisted suicide at the end of the week.

Ouch.  Needless to say, he’s not taking this news well as after that he was more than a little upset at her decision.  Having witnessed firsthand what cancer does to a person, I feel like she is justified in her decision to end her life while she is still in full control of her faculties.  It’s what I would want were I in her place.  It’s what I will demand if I’m ever in that situation.

I still remember the daily living horror of watching my mother wither away while she had cancer.  Initially she was herself, only sick.  But as the last year of her life went on, the pain became unbearable and the sickness slowly eroded her humanity until what I was looking at from day to day was a husk, a shell of a human being, kept alive by drugs and our selfishness, our inability to let her go peacefully.  Had I had any say in the matter and any level of maturity (I was 17 when she died) I think I would have had that talk with my family about letting her go, whether they liked it or not.  I can still remember her last night at home.  I stood there with my father and watched helplessly as she went through her death throes and finally stopped breathing.  This is the personal hell I endure, that I live with from day to day.  Most of the time the flames don’t bother me, but today I feel their wrath.

My knee jerk reaction to Alex’s disdain for her decision to end her life was a simple question:  who would you be keeping her alive for, her or yourself?  It’s a painful question and not one with an easy answer to say the least but I think it’s one that everyone with a sick and dying relative should think about.

Relationships, part 15

Family

So earlier today, myself and someone close to me were having a heart to heart about family and what that meant to both of us.  If you go to Google and ask it for a definition, you will of course get the traditional definition of ‘parents and children’ and ‘things that are appropriate for both parents and children’ but neither of us were speaking in these narrow terms.

At one point in the conversation, he says to me “I’m at the point where some of these new gay friends I’ve been making feel more like family than my actual family, know what I mean?”  I certainly knew exactly what he meant.  I was overcome with emotion at some of the thoughts I was having after I read his text and was also reminded what mom said to me one day during lunch.  She said that more often than not in her own experience, family wasn’t always someone that was blood.  Family was whoever was there when the chips were down and still had your back.  I agreed with her wholeheartedly.

To me, family is a lot more than a mom, a dad and children.  Family is who’s got your back.  Family is who helps you when you need it no matter what the cost is.  Family is who still loves you at the end of the day no matter what you’ve done or who you are.

After reading his text, I was reminded of one episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 5, where Roxxxy Andrews has her breakdown on stage.  Ru is wearing that weird green dress with one sleeve when she says to Roxxxy “We as gay people, we get to choose our family.”  I can’t even type that sentence without getting choked up.  I didn’t realize it until that moment, but that’s exactly what I’d done.  I had chosen my family since my own family didn’t really want anything to do with me anymore after my parents died.  Ru really hit the nail on the head and hit me right in the emotional breadbasket.  When I watch the show, it makes me feel better to know there are people out there that have gone through the same emotional stuff I have.  It makes me feel closer to the people on the show, hearing about their lives before they got on and what it’s been like for them.  I don’t just watch the show for the fashion and the cat fights, that stuff is just a bonus.  I choose who I let in my family.

We also spoke of having support when coming out.  That was another point at which I was awash with emotion.  I didn’t really have much in the way of support when I came out, at least it didn’t feel like support to me.  Some teasing and definitely some changes in attitude from everyone I knew.  In all the years I’ve talked to other gay men about their life experiences, it’s usually one of three scenarios: your biological family just straight up turns its collective back on you; your biological family already knows and they’re just waiting for you to tell them or your biological family doesn’t care and loves you anyway.  I try to be supportive when I hear that someone is coming out or is on the verge of making the announcement because I remember how alone I felt afterward, how I needed someone to just tell me things were going to be ok.  Support can make all the difference in the world.

Gay people, gay families, are more than just a label.  We’re people with hopes, dreams, fears, needs and wants just like everyone else.  We fear persecution and hatred, we need love and a place of peace to live in, we dream and hope for a better tomorrow and want our voices heard.  We tend to look out for each other more than our hetero counterparts do.  We know the struggle, the hardships we face, and we don’t want anyone else to fall victim to that.  I’d like to think that my chosen family can count on me, that I’m definitely the type that has your back when the chips are down. When it seems like the world is against you, I’ll be your sword and shield.  I’m not afraid to make more enemies, even if that means making an enemy out of a blood relation.

After all, there’s a reason we refer to each other as ‘family’

Relationships, part 13

So it’s been about 3 weeks since the election results and I’m still not sure how to take it.  I still don’t know how anyone could have willingly voted for him.  I still don’t know how I’m supposed to work with people that I know voted for him without blowing up and biting their heads off.  I’ve been successful, so far, in simply not talking to them and avoiding them as much as I can.

I just want to wake up and have this nightmare be over, but I fear that it’s going to a 4 year descent into darkness that there won’t be any coming back from.  Once this is over with, you still have to share space with those people.  Still have to (either willingly or unwillingly) interact with them.  I don’t know.  I’m of the mindset at the moment to simply cut the ones that voted for him completely out of my life, or in the case of total strangers just dismiss them entirely.  I certainly don’t think I can help anyone that voted for him with a clear conscience.  I just don’t do second chances.  It’s like giving someone another bullet for their gun because they missed you with the first one.

People are angry, people are upset, people are afraid.  Battle lines are being drawn left and right and I really don’t know who I can and can’t count on anymore.  I really think that Tess Rafferty really hit the nail on the head:

I am so damn tired of trying to see it from the other side. I’m trying to discuss nuance while they paint us and our candidates with the broadest of hateful brushes.

I’m tired of pretending that it’s somehow reasonable to teach creationism in public schools with my tax dollars, while you tell me that two same sex people who love each other, getting married, somehow threatens your marriage.

You voted for Trump – I am tired of trying to see things your way while you sit in your holier-than-thou churches/white power meetups, refusing to see things mine. Did I just lump you in with white supremacists? No, you did that to yourselves. You voted for the same candidate as the KKK. You voted for a candidate endorsed by the KKK. For the rest of your life, you have to know that you voted the same way as the KKK. Does that feel good to you? Here’s a hint – it really shouldn’t, especially if you call yourself a Christian.

I’m tired of pussy footing around what offends your morals while couching what offends mine, because racism, misogyny, homophobia, and xenophobia offend mine.

Let me say it right here – if you voted for Trump, I do think you are a racist. I do think you’re homophobic. I do think you’re a misogynist. Racism, and homophobia, and misogyny are all a spectrum, and you’re on it.

Don’t like getting painted with the broad brush of racism? Now you know what it feels like when you get told that you want to rip a baby out of a mother’s womb at nine months when that’s not what happens. That’s NEVER, what happens.

I tried to be polite, but now I just don’t give a damn, because let’s be honest, we don’t live in polite America anymore. We live in ‘grab ‘em by the pussy America now. So thank you for that, being polite was exhausting.

And don’t come at me with how you just didn’t like Hillary, this was bigger than Hillary. This wasn’t your standard “I just want lower taxes and smaller government” Republican – we had Germans warning us that this guy was scary. And still you cried – emails and Benghazi or “that voice.” And still there’s been mountains of evidence proving that nothing that you think Hillary did was that big of a deal or even true. Some of the finest minds in the world have drawn you graphs and charts proving that no crimes were actually committed, and you were either too dumb or willfully ignorant to care.

And if you really cared about crimes, you’d care about any of the three pending against your candidate. Take your pick. I’d start with the rape of a thirteen-year-old girl, but if you voted for Trump, you probably don’t care much what happens to women. Doesn’t matter anyway, she received so many death threats from your political peers that she dropped the charges. But ask me again why more women don’t come forward.

And speaking of smaller government and lower taxes, enjoy not getting mine. If Trump actually does what he says he’s going to do, then your petty backwards state and your small angry town can pay for your own school to not educate your children. I live in California, the largest economy in the United States, and the sixth largest in the world. We’ll be fine. But have fun affording all those children your health insurance won’t pay for your birth control to prevent. I’m just kidding – you’re not going to have insurance. Won’t that be just great again!

The truth is, that for those of us on this side, there is no ‘when all this is over.’ Things are just getting started. We think last Wednesday was bad – we don’t know what bad is yet. This isn’t something you get over, this is something you endure. We’re going to face a tax on every right we fought the last sixty years to gain. The deck is so stacked against us that we may not win. The best we can hope for is gridlock. And that’s just nationally. Internationally, who the fuck knows what this lunatic is going to do. And the scarier thought, is that the only thing worse than this guy, is the guy who’s one angry tweet away from the Presidency – Mike Pence – advocate for gay conversion therapy and mandatory funerals for fetuses.

So now’s the time you might want to see things from my side. Because, if we’re all going to have to be friends after this, imagine me having to be polite and having to respect your vote to take away my rights and freedoms and those of my friends, while we fight desperately to try to hang onto them, because that is what you did.

I honestly just don’t think that I can be friends with anyone that voted for him.  I know I’m pretty upset at the people that voted third party and the people that simply chose not to vote.  My anger toward them is such that I created a new Facebook account and added them all to it while simultaneously kicking them off my main account, just so I don’t have to interact with them again if I don’t want to.

I know that everyone is one this whole “we need to unite and come together” kick right now, but this is personal.  If I can find a way out of this country to Canada, then I’m leaving as soon as possible.  “Do you think that even if you go there, you won’t be affected?”  Of course I know I’ll be affected if I go there!  I’m not dumb, but I am tired of my tax dollars going toward a country that apparently hates my guts even though they don’t even know me.  You want this country to yourselves?  Fine.  I just wouldn’t bother asking me for help if the need ever arises, because I’ll willfully stand by and watch you drown in your own blood and I won’t lift a finger to help.  Maybe humanity as a whole is the scum of the Earth and deserves to be wiped out.  Right now I just feel like we’re beyond any sort of redemption or reconciliation.

Make no mistake, you’ve definitely made yourselves an enemy.  And I don’t mean just myself.  Marsha P Johnson started this fight and it’s not going to stop, not anytime soon.

Relationships, part 12

Jeffery,

I’m going to go on. I’m going to go on living to spite you. To spite myself. I’ll never forget what we had. How could I? You have me several firsts. Several intimate moments. Special dirty things that we used to do together. Sorry our ending was what it was, but I feel that’s what you wanted. I will go on living, go on loving, I will go on this journey alone if that’s what I must do, but I will go on regardless. I will go on regardless of the fact that part of me is missing, that I am damaged. Hopefully my next love can see past that and help me put the pieces back together, the way I tried to help you.

Relationships, part 11

I will be 37 in 15 days.  Honestly, I don’t know how I feel about that.  I haven’t really celebrated my birthday with any enthusiasm in years.  I don’t have anyone special to spend it with, so I just feel like it’s any other day.  But I do tend to get away with whatever I want on my birthday, so I suppose that’s a plus.

Marshal and I are still talking.  I up and asked him to take me with him when he leaves after his college year is over.  I was half joking, half serious.  I think it would do me some good to get out of here, either for a break or permanently.  Because of him, I’m still exercising in my off time.  I bought a weight bench and I’ve started making meals for the entire week.  This week’s meals are all chicken and rice with either broccoli or asparagus, plus a side salad.  So far, I’m liking making my meals this way.  When I’m tired from work I can come home and just heat up one of them and I’m done.  I haven’t had any sodas in days and no junk food.  I’m trying real hard to lose weight and get in shape this time, and I’m not going to quit no matter what.  I can still see he and I being partners or husbands or whatever you want to call it.  Maybe he’s good for me and I just don’t know it yet.  Maybe he’s good for me and Gerry is all wrong for me.

Gerry and I haven’t gotten to talk much lately because of work schedules and the fact that I don’t really want to play Neverwinter at the moment.  I have this irrational fear that we’re going to meet (if I can ever get my damn passport application submitted) and he’s just not going to like me as much as I like him or he’s just gonna want to fuck me and be done with me or someone that’s important to him (like friends or family) is not going to like me and then he’s not going to like me.  I really need to stop overthinking the whole thing and just meet him.  Granted, it won’t be the end of civilization if he doesn’t like me or want to be with me, it will just be the end of me.  I really don’t know how I’d feel if he didn’t want me.  I keep having these recurring thoughts/daydreams of meeting him and it just turning into a disaster.  I really would like to marry him, but I’m so afraid