There is a moment when you know it’s over. That his proximity disgusts you. That no amount of love can disguise what was or what could be. These photographs were taken at the moment, the moment I knew for sure. The fast train to Paris from Cannes. A beautiful boy sat opposite me and I wanted to ravish him. I couldn’t wait to say goodbye to the loved one. Yet, I knew, the moment we parted I would not stop thinking of him. From the moment I woke up to the moment I fell into a fitful sleep. Gone, the door slammed. He was dead to me long before I made it impossible for him to do anything but take drastic measures. It was the worst kind of grief because nobody died…
It started with a short message and ended up with a whole bunch of choices I never expected.
Not in my wildest dreams.
I’ve read what you had to say. Now it’s my turn.
Stepping away from the mess. It’s not so messy. It seems like it was planned.
This pantomime. Look at the cast of unusual, freakish characters. Look at them.
Boys and men, trans and women.
Young girls. Yes. They are here too.
So you wrote me a poem. No title… of course.
We were connected .
When it expires we are expired.
The order? It was a good idea. It was a great way to formalize the end of our association. I can only imagine that you feel much the same way I do.
I wish we had never met.
Don’t you shudder whenever you think about it?
I understand why you needed to rewrite the narrative.
I took advantage of you?
You had far more to lose by telling the truth.
When assigning blame, I take full responsibility. I should have walked away.
Everyone I trusted advised me to do so. Everyone I trusted.
Instead, I pinned my hopes on you. I found your interest in me all at once baffling and inspiring.
A romantic relationship was impossible.
Because I am a broken, sick man. Incapable of intimacy.
You sold me:
A big fat lie.
Yet, we never talked about my lies. Yes, I lied to you about almost everything.
Lies I had held onto for a very long time.
This man is a liar. Just like me. Did you ever think that?
The last time I checked, and that was some time ago, you seemed very happy wearing your new clothes, your relationship, your job and your family.
I am delighted. You will make a much better job of being a gay than I ever could.
Your ability to form and maintain relationships will mean that you’ll have everything you always wanted. Everything you ever dreamed.
The questions I wanted to ask… I have no reason to ask.
The truth set you free and I am very proud of you… even though I have no desire to set eyes upon you ever again.
May 6th 2013
When did you have time to write that? Was it really meant for me?
Did you wonder if I should reply? Did you think I could?
There are no words left.
The storm rattles the house, thunders down the drain pipes. Torrents of rain over the mountain. Hammering down onto the wide, new leaves.
Make some toast and lime marmalade. Boil some eggs. Stand naked in the warm rain.
Last Monday I qualified at an AA meeting in the East Village. A twenty-minute qualification.
I skipped the drugs and drinking part of the story and talked exclusively about how I got sober and how I stay sober.
Since returning to NYC I had thrown myself back into AA. 90 meetings in 90 days. A new sponsor and a new sponsee. I quickly realized that there was no place for me in the gay meetings and opted for the straight/mixed meetings in far-flung places.
I could blast gay AA if I could be bothered… but I can’t. Needless to say, it’s just not for me.
Monday morning, during the qualification, I nearly burst into tears. In fact, I nearly burst into tears three times.
Once describing seeing the word God in the written steps of Alcoholics Anonymous at my first meeting, the second when describing how humbling it was spending time with the tranny hookers I met in jail and thirdly when I remembered the final moments of my using.
I have never ever cried when qualifying. I knew by the end of my share that something was seriously wrong with me.
I had a fun weekend with a young Texan. We visited the New Museum, had various lunches and dinners with friends but all the while I felt listless, irritable, prone to bad temper.
We had HIV tests, we explored Williamsburg. We looked at art, we bought action figures.
Tyler left on Sunday.
Within hours of his leaving my pee had turned a dark umber.
I felt the return of the pain in my chest that I often commented, when ever I had it, on Facebook.
I told them:
Is this flu or depression or anxiety or kidney failure? Guess what folks… the terrible chest and back cramps have returned with a fever…
The terrible chest and stomach pains that I learned to dread, that had plagued me for the past two years were getting progressively worse.
Now, added to everything else… the pale brown pee. I knew things were… serious. But I remained optimistic that by the morning the pee would return to normal.
On Tuesday morning, despite my optimism, my pee had turned the colour of coca cola.
I called a doctor friend at Cornell who made an appointment to see me immediately.
In huge pain I made my way to his office on the upper east side.
He prodded and poked then had me take a sonogram which revealed the cause of the problem: gall stones… lots of them.
One of them, he suggested, may have lodged in the bile duct and the bile was now backing up into my blood.
By Tuesday afternoon my eyes were bright yellow.
I told my doctor friend that my mother had her gallbladder removed and my father had died of pancreatic cancer. He baulked. He couldn’t be sure that this wasn’t cancer until they had probed a little more.
He took blood and sent me home, making an appointment to see his urologist friend this week.
When I got home I went directly to bed. The pain worsened. I was in difficulty. I called my doctor. He told me to go to the ER.
The doctor called ahead so I was quickly admitted and given a massive dose of morphine.
In a painful daze, during the next day, I had the blockage removed.
The young gay man who removed the stone was incredibly chipper, explained what he was going to do and soon I was asleep.
They shoved something down my throat and into my tummy. They cut into the bile duct and removed the obstruction. They checked my pancreas.
It was ironic: the gall bladder and the pancreas irritating each other. My mother and father at war in my tummy.
I woke up.
Thank GOD it wasn’t cancer. It was a gall stone. But my pancreas was angry. The doctors urged me to have the gallbladder removed.
The following day I was wheeled into surgery and had my Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal.
I woke up with a dull thud in my belly and four small incisions.
The surgeon described my gallbladder as ‘severely traumatized’.
The bladder had been suffering for many, many years and within hours of surgery I knew that I was waking up without just the physical bladder but without a huge emotional burden.
I felt free. I feel free.
A day longer in the hospital recuperating and they sent me home.
Dear Cristina sent a car to fetch me and Stephen and Roy filled the fridge with wonderful things to eat.
My time in the hospital was made so much better by everyone who works there.
The doctors, surgeons, specialists, nurses and orderlies.
Every one of them treated me with respect, kindness and the level of care I received was without comparison.
Each doctor looked me in the eye, introduced themselves and shook my hand. They described in detail what was going on and gave me options.
The surgeon bantered and made one feel at ease.
The nurses said goodbye to each patient when they left their shift.
Every person I met wished me a speedy recovery and good luck.
Even though the hospital remains over crowded (since hurricane Sandy) and we were housed in former waiting areas and reopened buildings the staff were sublimely professional.
The other patients, however, were terrible. They complained about everything. The staff remained, in the face of this rank ingratitude, resilient.
I saw drug addicts in the ER demand morphine. I heard men rudely tell nurses that they ‘didn’t do’ wards. I heard cantankerous men demand their diapers changed. The nurses were treated like care slaves. Like servants.
The lack of any kind of humility from most patients was stunning.
I apologized whenever I could for the behavior of my fellow patients.
I’m sure that fear and pain determine the behaviors of most people in hospital.
I’m sure that the entitled rich expect so much more because of the high insurance premiums they pay and the poor… well, they never get to treat anybody as they are treated.
Still, it’s no excuse. Bad manners prevail.
It was another peculiarly American experience, one I will never forget.
The dogs were happy to see me but I was less happy to see them. I couldn’t deal with how much attention they demanded.
I lay in my bed watching the Oscars. A long way away from that terrible, cruel world.
No, I don’t want to kill myself.
There have been times recently when I have seriously thought about suicide but life always delivers so much more than death ever could. Why would I want an endless night when I have the glorious day?
This too will pass. A tiny rule that reminds me daily that life is worth living. That love, lust, hate and anger all have a certain shelf life and it’s only a matter of time before relief is found or misery returns.
U.S. Suicide Statistics
1.3% of all deaths are from suicide.
On average, one suicide occurs every 16 minutes.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people aged 15-24 year olds.
(1st = accidents, 2nd = homicide)
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 25-34 year olds.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students.
More males die from suicide than females.
(4 male deaths by suicide for each female death by suicide.)
More people die from suicide than from homicide.
(Suicide ranks as the 11th leading cause of death; Homicide ranks 13th.)
There were over 800,000 suicide attempts in 2010
When I was a kid things were so confusing, so traumatic I made two attempts at taking my own life. Once with a knife and secondly with pills. I failed to complete my mission on both occasions. Thankfully.
When I had my breakdown during my mid twenties I met young people, at the Henderson Hospital, who seemed determined that life was not worth living and had made far more serious attempts at ending things than I had.
Sarah’s story, particularly, sticks in my mind. I may have written about her before but let me refresh your memory.
Sarah was a young, pretty blond girl who had been serially abused (sexually and physically) by both her parents, foster parents and finally by her adopted father.
By the time I met her she was a husk of what she should have been.
She trusted no one. Why would she?
Every day at the hospital we would congregate for an obligatory house meeting. Sarah was missing. I was sent (by the nursing staff) to her room to find her. When I opened the door I was met with a blood bath.
There was blood everywhere, on the sheets, the floor, sprayed on the ceiling and the walls.
Sarah saw me and said sweetly, “I’ll be down in a minute.” She was pathetically dabbing with a blood sodden rag at the mess on the walls. “I just want to clear this up.” She smiled at me. Softly. She had severed an artery in her wrist and as fast as she mopped up the blood more spurted out.
I grabbed her wrist and called out for help. Screamed for help. Eventually someone arrived. We were hustled (still holding her as a human tourniquet) into a car and to the local ER.
By the time we got to the hospital I was welded onto her and had to be surgically removed from the congealed, bloody wound.
I have no idea what happened to Sarah. Perhaps she succeeded and did indeed kill herself. I have no idea. She didn’t come back from the emergency room.
I don’t remember ever asking about her. Out of sight, out of mind.
Those who threaten suicide are frightening people. A disregard for their own life could very easily become a disregard for yours. A suicide is a murder. A murderer may kill you too.
During the past decade of sobriety I have met many men and women (mostly men) who managed to kill themselves. It always amazed me that even sobriety could not save them.
Death seems so alluring to some people. There is nothing alluring about death: a premature death is just absurd to me. We are dead all too soon and for those of us who do not believe in heaven we may as well find heaven on earth.
Anyway, I am too much of a coward to kill myself. Too much of a coward to drink or take drugs. Too much of a coward to be successful. Too much of a coward to say no…to open letters…to say goodbye.
I have learned to live with depression (without drugs) mental illness (without therapy) inertia (without fear) and love (without conclusion). Some people cannot face the power of life itself. The beauty, the grandeur, the mystery seem so threatening to them and end up dead by their own hand.
Perhaps they cannot/will not respect this extraordinary world, this abundant place.
Recently, as documented here, I have felt vulnerable and sad. I felt (falsely) as if life could only be lived in a certain way…with a lover at my side. On those occasions I am blinded to what I have and drawn to those things I do not have.
These past weeks since the great ‘closure’ my eyes are open, I am bathed in light. The night is no longer a terrible and foreign place. The day begins without yearning nor ends with tears.
God damn it…
This too will pass.
- Suicide higher among young adults (psychologytoday.com)
- Roommate of gay suicide student pleads not guilty to intimidation (pinkbananaworld.com)
Gorgeous day here in Malibu. Another day on the beach with the twins. They are dragging me out of the house and making me laugh. More to come. A heat wave with record-breaking temperatures. I may go into rehab sooner than I thought. Long chat with therapist/admin at Pinegrove Mental Health Facility in Hattiesburg Miss.
The film is progressing. We have a title at last.
When I left Joe after 7 years I could not understand why he was so angry with me.
I was old enough to know better.
Perhaps he had separation issues? My arrogant reasoning. Whatever it was, after I felt him his fury lasted for two years. Perhaps I deserved it? My ‘kindly’ leaving him, after all that I promised, was worth being punished for?
I know now that I certainly deserved it.
There is no good goodbye. There is no way to ‘kindly’ leave someone you have loved and who loves you. I loved Joe so badly but when it was time to go I had to pack my bags and leave. Of course…it was not going to be that simple…I had the full weight of a billionaire’s wrath focused on me. We ended up in court…well, I ended up outside a court room negotiating with his representative.
I was a litigant in person which meant that I repped myself. I handled my own divorce. I was happy with the outcome. Who wouldn’t be?
I was also, at that time, two years sober. I couldn’t have left him if I had been drinking. The foundation on which our relationship was built had been sodden with white wine and Maker’s Mark since we first met.
Even after we had thrown everything we could at one another during our very messy divorce I still wanted to be his friend. My love is not so easily discarded. Like it or not people (his friends) we have seen each other since that time. I wanted so badly to be at peace with him.
Surely that’s not unreasonable?
I made a hefty financial and emotional amends. I paid him over $1, 000, 000. I refused to hate him. Yet, like it or not, I was on a solitary path. On my own. From then on I just couldn’t bear the pain of falling out of love.
Not until last year did I risk opening my heart again. Ha! Look where that ended up. What galls me most is that I attempted, yet again, a kind goodbye and yet again I was rebuffed.
When relationships end it seems unthinkable that a workable peace cannot be achieved. That an amends can’t be made. That adults can’t find a solution and part amicably.
My part. What is my part? How do I take responsibility for my actions? The choices I make? I assure you that I know all too well that given the correct information ahead of time I will try to do the right thing.
Even if, as was the case, I was duped into my last relationship.
How can anyone make the right life choice when the facts have been so skewed?
When I am lied to, when the truth is withheld from me how am I expected to make good choices? That is how we find ourselves in this present pickle.
I simply would not have entertained knowing JB if he had told me the truth.
The house smells of hyacinth. The boys are making themselves midnight snacks. They dragged me to the movies. We saw Paul which we really enjoyed. We were the only people in the cinema.
I woke at 4.30 am once again. Nothing unusual about that. Pottered around making tea and reading the news. Unusually I went back to bed and for four hours I dreamt: dreams of reconciliation.
I found myself at Victoria Station (London) waiting at a platform. Then, I am on a road trip in France with a man I seemed to know but at day break no longer recognise. Then, I am in a strange bedroom with a girl and a boy who are fighting. She is crying. She lets me hold her, console her.
Back at the station there is a large white dog who is lost, I can hear her owner calling out her name and they are reunited. The dog plays in a sand box, performing tricks as if she were not a dog at all. Burying herself comically in the sand.
Now the boy and the girl are there at the station. There is still tension between them but the girl thanks me for holding her. I ask if I can talk to her friend. When we are alone I look into his eyes and ask him if he had ever, in fact, loved me. He smiled wryly and I knew that he never had. I was disappointed but not surprised. He let me kiss him on the lips. He was being very brave. I said my goodbye and they left, the girl and the boy.
Some man wrote to me last week, an anonymous man (might have been a woman) telling me that I had ‘borderline personality disorder‘ well, I looked at the symptoms on-line and well, yes I could very well be that man. But, so could almost every body else that I knew. I thought, ok..so take away these symptoms..cure me. What am I left with? Not much.
What is it to be normal? To have ‘normal’ aspirations? To have ‘normal’ relationships?
I am willing, as I have all the way through my recovery..to remain teachable. To consider the options. To seek, to find, to mine my happiness without compulsion. I have failed again and again but I try and I try.
Perhaps the fight in general, the war..is over? I don’t know. I am not suicidal. I am not unhappy. Today I find myself in my own body, seeing out of my own eyes. Feeling with my own fingers.
If indeed it is true that I am as mad as a hatter then I must learn to live with my madness. I am not, any time soon, taking psychotropic drugs or committing to therapy that declares some sort of vegetable normality. Regardless of what or who I am I shall continue to make the best of a bad lot.
If one really could change out all of ones shortcomings what is one left with?
Yesterday we chopped down the tree that fell on the house. Jody arrived from the electricity company to oversee our work. We stood on the roof and fearlessly chain sawed the branches out of the live wires.
Roger, my assistant, emailed, called, swept paths and generally made my life a great deal easier. Started making a list of things to be packed up and sent back East.
Guess who I received a long letter from yesterday when I got back from the Emmy do at SHLA? Yes, you guessed it…Jake. What a smarmy bastard..of course he couldn’t just let it all go. He couldn’t leave me alone. He had to reach out. Just as I was NOT thinking about him, getting right with our situation. DAMN. I was in such a positive mood.
I went to bed feeling all confused and mushy again. Thinking all manner of absurd things.
He timidly suggested that we don’t meet for the time being. How about we never EVER meet? Why don’t you just fuck off and lean on some of your other friends like you lent on me for support? They’ll get sick of you too, bleating and moaning and missing her.
So, why was he writing? He asked for his full name to be removed from the blog which I did ..then I re-read his letter. It was all about him. Blah fucking blah about his coming out and how much I meant to him. Bullshit. If I had meant anything to him he wouldn’t have contacted me. Not once did he enquire about my continuing health problem..not once. The more I thought about it the more annoyed I became.
He asked after the ‘darling’ little dog which nearly made me PUKE.
So, I called him and left a long message on his phone. I told him never ever to contact me again. That his mate had emailed me from Mt. Kisco to tell me that he was laughing at me with Jake and other friends behind my back. That I hated him. I wanted him to hear my voice. That I meant what I was saying. That I am serious. Like when you call your dealer and tell them to lose your number. Like when you tell your friends that you are not coming out for a drink.
The funny thing was he didn’t want to demonize me..well Jake, that’s very reassuring. I am having NO TROUBLE demonizing YOU.
So annoying! I had been really getting my head together.
Had dinner with Toby at Pace..his steak cost $50. My soup $8. I drew these:
I needed to stay in home alone tonight. I feel sad. Sad about Kristian, sad about my friends who died this year and sad that once again I am on my own: the vacuum left behind after a wonderful weekend with a great friend.
I have always had and certainly will continue to have a serious problem with goodbye. Saying goodbye permanently or even temporarily brings up huge feelings of loss, vulnerability and then the anger-the anger overwhelms me.
The genesis of these feelings: I was ripped from my mother’s breast and put up for adoption. These are primal fears of life and death. The most profoundly affecting goodbye after my mother’s abandonment was the death of my Darling Big Dog.
When my dog was violently killed the resulting anguish unleashed a torrent of sadness, a great wave of misery that may have resulted from not ever having said goodbye-ever to anyone I loved. I did not go to my grandfather’s funeral nor my grandmother’s. I have rigorously avoided any ritual goodbye and for that I am a lesser man.
Whenever I leave a party I just slip away as if saying goodbye will somehow humiliate me.
The same feelings overcome me now after the deaths of three friends in as many months. Yet the very act of writing about them lends me immediate solace.
The end of relationships causes me unrelenting heartache.
Stoically accepting the end of a relationship? No, not for me. Nearly all of the relationships I have had have ended badly. I never, it seems, get to write that scene in the movie of my life where two people say a dignified goodbye.
The end of my relationship with Joe ended thus: I knew that I was going to leave but it took me 2 years to end it and when I finally did I tried to do it with tenderness and compassion but he was so angry that he made my life miserable for a full year after I left him-ending up in court fighting over property.
In my mad head I forget that I have choices, the choice to remember that the past no longer runs the show, choices to say goodbye without the reenactment of traumatic and ruinous scenarios.
Today I waved goodbye to a new friend who has come to mean a great deal to me. Whether there is any romantic future between us is really not up to me-unless I behave in such a way that he would never want to see me again. This morning I began to get angry, angry that he was leaving but knew that it was for the best.
Even though I was only momentarily angry-until I could identify what was going on in my mad head and break the cycle of abandonment and despair by telling him that I would miss him, that I was feeling sad, that I had no mechanism for making those feelings go away…and by telling him the truth I was freed from behaviors that would alienate him from me forever.
I will say goodbye to Kristian this week, say my heartfelt adieu. His death has brought up all sorts of STUFF. I sorted out pictures of us today and will post them as soon as I can.