It’s been a while.
I have to admit, even opening a blank document caused me to feel like the elephant who has taken up residence on my chest shifted a little heavier. But I’m writing anyway. Fuck that. The elephant can just cope.
So what we have here is a perfect storm of depression and Life Events (which I will get into eventually), combined with a horrible self-destructive certainty that I am the world’s crappiest writer. (Not because I’m actually a crappy writer, I think I’m middling okay when I’m actually doing the work. But because I should be writing instead of wallowing inside my own brain with no audience to appreciate the level of lunacy I achieve in there. The material never stops, it just doesn’t get expressed.)
Writers who are not writing are crappy writers. I know this to be true.
My depression tells me I’m an awful writer who doesn’t deserve to put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard, whatever). And then I don’t write. Which makes me mad at myself for not writing. Which makes me more depressed.
You get the idea.
But I don’t like that life. So here I go. Writing.
Let me tell you a story…
At the tail end of Summer, early Fall, I met a guy at a farmer’s market. Seemingly nice person. Fun to talk to. And he behaved in a genuinely interested fashion, which I enjoyed. (Hey, it’s nice to feel LIKED, you know?) We hung out a few times. Had some good conversations. He made me laugh. He bought me a meal. There was some overt flirting happening. We spent some quality time texting. It was fun.
Then it got a little weird.
He messaged me out of the blue one day, maybe a week after the lunch date, asking what I thought of him moving to my hometown (from where he was residing, two hours south) if things went well when he met my kids.
Now, hang on just a minute
A) Dude had not actually been introduced to my children.
B) We had shared one meal. Just one. During daylight hours. In public.
C) I could count on one hand the number of times we had been in each other’s presence.
So now I started to become much more concerned about the level of clinginess being displayed by this adult human being. And I’m looking at the stories he had told me of his past relationships. And I’m thinking maybe distance here is a good thing.
I told him it was a bit soon to be having that conversation. He seemed to comprehend this in a reasonably intelligent manner, so we kept talking.
But things were decidedly amiss.
This became even more apparent when he abruptly ceased all communication. No warning. No explanation. (I’m not an idiot. I got the message quite clearly.)
I ignored the silence for about a week. Then, after some ruminating, and in a moment of downright pique, I sent one word.
Whereas the message I had sent voicing concern about his well-being the week before had gone unread and unanswered, THIS got a response.
(And if I had any desire to go back into my archives and revisit those messages I would copy and paste his reply to the very last letter, because it was rife with misspellings and godawful punctuation errors and I’m feeling particularly bitchy about the whole thing. But alas, you can’t have everything. So I’ll clean it up and paraphrase. He can’t say I never gave him anything. Asshat.)
He started with, “Well, there’s no need for name-calling!” (Because that’s the really important point here. Not the radio silence for the last week.)
And then he proceeds into this convoluted, badly-written story about how he got busy with his “new job and new girlfriend” and he couldn’t very well be bothered to message ME because how would that look?!
Sweet holy hand grenades.
Setting aside all the previous talk about how he wasn’t one to prioritize work over his relationships with the people he cared about, and how it was so important to be up front and clear with people. Glossing over all the lip-service paid to how it was so much better to be straightforward with people. (I could see I was going to have to just pretend those conversations never happened.)
All that aside…
Nope. I got nothing.
Seriously dude, is it really that hard to be the person you pretend to be?
I mean, to just send off a quick text, “Hey, I can see we’re not going to work out, I’m going to move on and look for an alternative. Have a nice life.” That’s all. Not asking for a complete dissertation on why things are obviously not meant to be. (I’m pretty smart, I can see the writing on the walls. It gets really clear, really fast. Yay for dodging bullets. Again.)
So I shoot back a message saying thanks for the explanation and that it was a jerk move to not at least mention to me that he was moving on. But hey, at least now I knew he was alive. (I may have gotten somewhat sarcastic. I may have been a bit irked.)
And, rather than leaving it alone, this nimrod writes back telling me he was “just trying to be friends” with me and that it was all in my head, so it wasn’t HIS fault I misunderstood.
So, instead of bowing out, he chooses to fucking GASLIGHT me.
Thereby rocketing right up the scale from mere asshole to gaslighting rat-fucker with that singular message.
(And yes, I feel very strongly that people who sell their reality as truth when it’s opposite the factual evidence are deserving of such colorful descriptions. Taken in small doses, this behavior is temporarily angering and damaging. Taken in a drip-feed over years, it is soul-destroying. Been there, done that. Bought multiple t-shirts.)
My response was succinct.
“Whatever you need to tell yourself to make your reality work for you, dude.”
I waited until I could see he had read the reply. (I suspected it wouldn’t be long. I was right.)
Then I blocked him.
Because that way madness and homicide lies.
Were I a different human, I would go back through the impressive message catalogue I accrued in the few weeks we were communicating, and I would plaster copies of those “friendly” messages wherever it struck my fancy. I would burn his fictional world down in the “friendliest” of ways.
But that would require energy. And he’s not worth my time.
I have to explain. Normally I would not maybe feel quite so strongly about this insignificant mosquito in my ear, but circumstances have conspired against me.
My mom got diagnosed with breast cancer.
And, because the universe likes to pull these kinds of bizarre juxtapositions sometimes, this happened on National Coming Out Day this year. Which also happened to be the day I decided to out myself on social media (because I feel representation is important, but I also didn’t want to have a bunch of weird individual conversations with people who didn’t know I’m bisexual).
So, after I’ve posted this thing that I’ve been pondering declaring for YEARS, I drive to work. It’s a beautiful day. I’m feeling pretty good about the universe as a whole. (Disappearing Jackass had only been incommunicado for a couple of days at that point. A mere annoyance in the grand scheme of things.)
As I pull into my parking spot at work, my phone rings.
It’s my dad.
I immediately assume it’s a phone call about my declaration.
It’s nothing of the sort. Not even a little bit.
My dad tells me my mom has breast cancer. That she had a lump, that she ignored the lump, but finally had a mammogram and found out it looked very much like cancer. That she already had an appointment to have a biopsy and see a surgeon and talk to an oncologist. That I was supposed to just carry on and go in to work and do what I needed to do because the people who needed to be handling things were handling things. So not to worry. (Telling me not to worry always works. Like magic. No really.)
He had no answers to my questions beyond, “We will know more after the biopsy.”
My mom’s universe was turned upside down. As a result, the universes of my dad, my brothers, and myself were all completely upturned as well. That’s how these things work. She’s the matriarch. She has to be okay. That’s the rule.
So this is the news I was given roughly 72 hours before I sent the “Chicken” text.
Yes, I was deliberately inflammatory. I figured he had done exactly what he ended up telling me he had done (the whole new job, local-girl-with-lower-standards route). This news was not a huge surprise.
It was the confirmation I wanted. That’s all.
I got it.
Life goes on.
Yes, my mom is going to be okay. In the weeks following that particularly difficult day, she has since had a successful lumpectomy and will be having further treatments (radiation, chemo, all that fun stuff) in the coming months. It’s going to suck for a while. But there is an end in sight. Which is the best of all possible things.
Familial chaos aside, my personal life is going disturbingly well at this particular moment in time. I’m not quite sure what to do with that feeling. So I’ll just let it percolate.
And if I leave you people with anything here, I leave you with this: Please for the love of all that is good and holy and beautiful in this world, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES. Get the weird lumps and bumps checked out. Pay attention to the moles and the weirdness. Know that you are vital pieces of a brilliant and amazing whole and as such I need you ALL to be okay.
(Oh, except for the gaslighting rat-fucker I was talking about earlier, he can neglect the hell out of his health. Maybe I’m not that nice a person after all. Those are the other things I leave you with. I’m not that nice, and don’t be that guy.)