I don’t Know What To Say

I was six years old the first time I was sexually assaulted. I can recall the majority of the details with clarity and alacrity. This is a blessing and a curse, I guess because the memories have stayed strong and present with me all these for the past three decades. I have spent the majority of my adult life wrestling with them. Like many survivors, the memories often come bursting out of me with little warning, and at inopportune times. Sometimes during the summer if I am sleeping in a room with a ceiling fan, I wake up with a start thinking it is someone’s breath on the back of my neck. I have spent much of my life in and out of various states of dissociation and bottomless rage. I have spent much of my life like I still don’t know how to say no, and often find myself intimate with individuals who know just how to exploit that.

On the other side of that survivorhood, I distinctly remember being thirteen and my male friends and I figuring out that that there was a blurred line between persistence and coercion. To our young minds, the absence of physical violence somehow differentiated us from the individuals who assaulted me years earlier. Furthering that idea, when I was fifteen, a group of boys abducted one of my friends and took her to a party where they assaulted her. This crime was never reported, but served as singular turning point in the young lives of my friends and I; a reminder of sorts of the secret truth we had always known, encoded in our young bodies: The bad men were real, and they mostly got away with what they wanted. My best friend and I walked around school carrying knives secreted away in our pockets the rest of that year, swearing that we were going to stab the one perpetrator we could identify to death the first chance we got. We never did. He went on to live a normal life until dying in a car wreck on the run from the law ten years later. I was at a party when I heard, and I laughed audibly, comfortable in the certainty that my friends and I were so different from this sorry, dead asshole.

When you are a young person, especially when you grow up in punk, you define yourself by what you are and what you are not. You delineate everyone into a clear “them” and “us”. You surround yourself with other freaks and outcasts and convince yourself you somehow live outside of the unrequited-blood soaked horrorshow that is life on this planet. My friends and I naively believed we were somehow different, all the while shutting out the voices of the women and queers in our lives who have been imploring us to just fucking listen and do better. The few deeply intimate relationships with I have had with men have been with fragile boys with fragile egos, unable in varying degrees to examine hard truths about themselves, always wondering why their lives are perpetual disasters and their exes fucking hate them. Don’t worry. I am counting my relationship to myself in there too.

I wrote letters to two of the individuals who assaulted me at the beginning of my thirties, never having the nerve to send them. Two years back, I decided to send them while trying to reconcile and change my own patterns of abusive behavior towards intimate partners. I held the naïve belief that maybe these two men would hear me out and open a dialogue and that maybe we could sort out some of this mess together. One of them responded. I obviously could not hear the tone in their voice as they composed an email, but I am fairly certain it differed very little from Brett Kavanaugh’s as they berated me, simultaneously calling me a liar and weak for still feeling the effect of their actions thirty years later. They included their phone number in the email, demanding that I call them, which I never did. I have no doubt that had we spoken on the phone, they would have sounded *exactly* like Judge Kavenaugh did on television the other day.

This individual also came out to me as trans in their email. Two days later, they committed suicide. I blamed myself for the death of another trans woman, and wondered what kind of common ground we could have found had they just listened. I wondered how similar the paths we had walked really were. I spent the next week certain their ghost was in the room with me at night and slept very little. I left my room only to eat or walk my dog. I told my friends I was sure that they would be waiting for me in hell when I died. The crushing feeling of guilt stuck with me until I thought about what an utter fucking chump move it is to hurl yourself into whatever afterlife will claim you rather than take responsibility for your actions.

My heart feels ripped out of my chest this week. My heart is broken for all the people I love who are survivors (and that is almost everyone I know.). My heart is broken for all the people I love who are raising children, especially daughters in this thresher. My heart breaks for the kids who come after us, who were supposed to inherit a better world. My heart breaks for the people I love who live the duality of being both survivor and perpetrator this week, because every person I have loved the most has endured/is capable of/has inflicted some serious harm, and we have to live the lives we’ve made and pick up the pieces. My heart breaks continuously thinking about the people who I have done harm to. My heart breaks thinking about what it is to live in a culture that benefits you so intensely that your hard-learned life lessons usually come at the expense of the people you love the most, and that is treated as normal.

I am tired. We are all tired. We are all tired and heartbroken, and I have no optimism with which to end this post, only a small body filled with venom and unwavering love for my friends doing the best they can.

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I don’t Know What To Say

Annihilating The Void.

I love my bedroom right now.

It’s warm.  I’m safe, though I wish my door locked.  I’ve always preferred to have bedroom doors that locked.  My sheets are clean.  My dog is snoring on my baby blanket next to me.  I’m in my underwear I’m splitting my time between working on a poem, and trying to write the most heartfelt apology letter I can write to a person who really deserves it.  I periodically stop what I’m doing to do push-ups.  Trying to fight through the depression fog and get back into training for real.  It’s funny, they always talk about how good exercise is for depression.  I feel like everyone neglects how hard it is to want to exercise when you’re depressed.

I feel a little lonely.  I feel content.  I feel hopeful about the future.

This morning when I woke up, the void felt like it was filling every fiber of my being, just that inescapable and inexorable emptiness that is constantly fighting to fill my body.  One of the BPD traits that I struggle the most with is a constant feeling of emptiness.  I decided to just name it.  “The Void”.  Like, if I give that sense of emptiness a name, then it I can identify it as an enemy.  After that, I can learn all of it’s weaknesses.  Once I have learned the void’s weaknesses, then I can destroy it.

In today’s mission to annihilate the void, I managed to get out of bed and go to work.  I managed to do some solidarity work.  Then I got to see my sweetie and one of my best friends for a few minutes.  After that I spent time with a new friend learning about making music.

In a few minutes, I’ll put on an episode of the twilight zone and fall asleep.  Mission accomplished.  Another day survived.

Annihilating The Void.

11/15/16

11/15/16

Oh, holy darkness
I ask you to reach down
From the vast night above

Oh, holy darkness
Wrap this burdened body
In the warmth of your ebony arms

You are not the most tender
Lover I’ve ever known
But tonight you suffice

Tonight your shadows
Carry me all the way home
And tuck me away into safety known

Oh, Holy darkness
My night is long
And dark, and full of dread

Save for the refuge you offer

11/15/16

The Moon, Monsters, and Emotional Mayhem

Depression has seeped itself into the marrow of my bones once again.  I shut my bedroom door against the world, especially this week.  Especially being a reeling, grieving queer person this week.

On my dead end street, I shut my bedroom door against the world, and draw the curtains against the light.  I wrap myself in a blanket mailed to me by a long-gone lover in the hopes that it would help with my sleeplessness and I wonder:

“How long will this time last?”

Depression is a monster.  I am depression.  I am a monster.

Late at night, driving home, I park my truck on my street.  I stand quietly in the yellow glow of the streetlight for a moment before walking into the house.  Our street dead ends into the woods, and I hear coyotes howling in the distance.  Hope the dog circles around the edges of the light, sniffing at the air.  I can tell she’s spooked.

I’m spooked too, but it’s not the coyotes.  It’s the passing hours.  Its’ the passing days.  It’s the passing years.  They all add up to the same mounting sense of panic and isolation that set my skin crawling.

The streetlights flicker.  Hope growls softly at the tree line.  I almost wish I smoked cigarettes, or drank alcohol.  At least I’d have something to do with my hands, or something to meet the darkness with.  Instead we turn towards the house.  Hope runs ahead of me and beats me to the door.  We walk inside and go into our room.  She settles herself at her place on my bed, and I mine.  I open the window, and outside I can still hear the coyotes, growing distant.

Tonight I love them for howling at the moon to keep me company.

I really don’t want them to eat my housemates’ cats.

I ended the night reading old journal entries.  This is never a pleasant way to spend the small hours of the night.  You realize how similar you are to the person you were at 19, at 21, at 25, at 30.  Maybe we never really change.  We just grow older, and more embittered as the lines wear into our face and the years pass by in a flash.

I’ve always talked about depression.  I’ve always talked about feeling like an alien.  I have always talked about isolation.  These themes have defined my life.  It wasn’t just a passing teenage phase.  It wasn’t just a passing early adulthood adjusting phase.  I don’t think my experience is unique by any means, but it’s the experience I know the most intimately.

A breeze flutters through my window.  Hope snores.  I turn a dried and cracking page from a fifteen year old journal.

June 27th, 2001

I slept in the back of my car in Lauren’s apartment complex last night.  I arrived too late to knock on the door and ask to sleep on the couch.  I think I pulled up around one or two and fell asleep.  Lauren knocked on my window to wake me up around seven when she left for work.  She handed me a spare key, and told me I could go inside and brush my teeth and shave if I wanted. 

I probably looked like hell. 

I haven’t wanted to sleep at J’s house.  I can’t bring myself to, knowing what her next door neighbor did.  He tried to say hey to me and ask how my drive from Minneapolis was.  I ignored him.  Are you fucking kidding?  I have some of my things stored in the garage, but that’s it. 

J says I’m too angry.  She says sometimes these things just happen.  The phrase “quiet atrocity” reverberates in my head over and over.  Fuck this.  If this is how adults live and treat each other, I want to stay a fucking kid forever. 

We got in a fight that led to me sleeping in Lauren’s parking lot.  I cried more than I’ve maybe ever cried in my life.  All that helpless, impotent rage came pouring out of my eyes and my tiny body in racking sobs.  We agreed to go to therapy, but I don’t know if it will help.  I know I am doing literally every wrong thing here, but I also don’t know where to turn for advice. 

I don’t sleep enough at night.  I drive around looking for quiet places that will set my mind at ease.  I listen to the same four or five tapes on my tape player for hours. 

Catharsis.  Gehenna.  His Hero Is Gone.  Tragedy.  Born Against.  From Ashes rise. 

I dig through suburban dumpsters while The Rebel Sound of Shit And Failure grinds away in my tape player.  I sped through the intersection of 14th Avenue and Ogden Street half hoping a car would slam into me and end it all while The War of the Sons Of Light and Suns Of Darkness vomited all of it’s hatred and bile out of my speakers.  Driving north on Wadsworth Boulevard I pull over to cry and punch my windshield until it cracks while Tragedy howl about the Tension awaiting imminent collapse. 

The words have never rang truer than now.  I once told J that I needed music that sounded as ugly as I felt on the inside every single day, and this was it. 

Earlier today I recalled the story of how a friend and I met to her with such detail that she was kind of amazed.

“Maybe it would help you if you had partial amnesia.  I can’t imagine what remembering all these tiny details might do to a person.  I was horrified.  I actually got kind of upset and wanted her to apologize.  I’m so attached to memory, and the details that I feel things just as deeply a decade later as I did when the event occurred.

Case in point:  Reading the above journal entry.  I remember the sinking hatred that filled my body when I encountered J’s assaulter.  I remember the sinking, helpless wrath that filled my being almost every single day that summer.  I remember exactly how it all felt.  I remember.  I’d like to say that I’ve moved on, but recalling that helpless anger with ease, maybe it’s not the case.

Still, it’s my brain.  I’ll take it’s functions as they are, thank very goddamn much.

Howl.  Crackle.  The early summer breeze comes in through the window again.  It is nearing two AM.  I’m glad our street dead ends and is silent except for the chorus of nocturnal life the woods provide.

April 6th, 2005

It’s been almost two months since the accident.  I can walk upright with a cane now.  The last two months have been so hard.    The apartment I lived in when the car hit me was cramped and infested with roaches.  My housemate was an unsupportive fuckass, so I moved here. 

Molly lives in a one bedroom apartment on 2nd and Acoma.  I live in the living room.  She is the only one on the lease.  The rental agency doesn’t know I’m here.  If they every check, we will have to hide most of my stuff somewhere, or at least make it look less like I live in the living room. 

I got drunk by myself a few nights ago on a bottle of plastic whiskey from the liquor store a few blocks away on South Broadway.  I laid in bed and stared at the ceiling while Molly’s copy Lucero’s Tennessee spun on the turntable.  Call me elitist, but the record just sounds right on vinyl.  I get it.  It’s punks playing country music, or hipsters, or whatever.  These ridiculous sad bastard songs sound like they are supposed to with the accompanying crackles and pops that come with vinyl. 

I kept thinking about a line I read in a Derrick Jensen book, about how humans inherently hating themselves and each other.  With liquor swimming around in my belly and my head spinning, I had to admit he was right. 

If we didn’t hate ourselves we wouldn’t commit atrocity after atrocity upon one another.  We wouldn’t poison the planet.  We wouldn’t poison our bodies, or murder, or rape.  Or fucking commit genocide.  We wouldn’t commodify and consume everything within reach if we weren’t full of a self-hating death urge. 

We wouldn’t have to numb ourselves to the horrors we commit, or uphold, or ignore, with three dollar plastic bottles of whiskey. 

I just admit it.  I drink because I hate myself.  I said that out loud at a party at Villa Kula last summer when someone asked me what made me want to start drinking.  The room fell awkwardly silent. 

 When I was straight edge, I used to say that I never wanted to numb myself to the experience of the living no matter how difficult or horrific it was.  Now I just want numbness.  I hate the person I am becoming.  I hate it when I have days where this city just looks like a rotting corpse, and it’s inhabitants are just maggots crawling and gnawing through the flesh. 

My eyes are all fucked up and bitter.  I’m only 24.  Alcohol alleviates that bitterness for a while.  Sometimes I pray that alcohol poisoning will take me in my sleep. 

Last night was largely a blur.  I definitely remember Molly and I meeting up with an old high school friend at a queer bar just north of Colfax.  I’m still walking with a cane, but felt well enough to walk around.  Before we left the apartment, Molly and I planned our “Night of Mayhem”.  If I was well enough to walk (albeit with a cane) maybe I’d be well enough to run too. 

We filled our bags with spray paint, bricks, a crowbar, and one bottle of whiskey each.  Kentucky Gentlemen, of course.  This is the only gentlemen either one of us trust.  I can’t bike yet, so I bussed it up to East Colfax.  The Zero, then the fifteen.  I was only mildly self-conscious of the rattling spray paint can knocking against the whiskey bottle in my bag. 

We didn’t know what we were going to break, or spray paint, but it was going to be awesome. 

We hung out at the gay bar with my high school buddy, and watched the drag show.  My high school friend bought Molly and I two shots each.  I’m definitely feeling it by the time Molly and I get up to leave and meet our other friends, and respective lovers at the 404 Lounge on South Broadway, one maybe three blocks from our apartment.  L. and I have already been having a strained conversation through text message, and I’m not looking forward to meeting up with them.      Molly and C. had been broken up for a week or so, but were in that awkward ex-lover phase where the cord wasn’t quite cut.  It had been a rough winter, for all of us. 

“You know, you could jump on the bus now, or we could walk down Colfax and drink some of this whiskey.  It’s such a nice night.” 

She was right.  No reason to hasten what was likely going to be an awkward night at the bar.  We made our way, stumbling and giddy down East Colfax, passing back and forth the bottle of Kentucky Gentlemen. 

“You know what fucking song I love?”

“What song?”

“Kiss the goddamn bottle!”

“Goddamn.  Me too.  We should sing it.  Mattie Canino sang it for me at a house show last year when I started drinking.”

We went on like that; west on Colfax towards Broadway, where I’d catch the Zero, stumbling and singing.  We sang it so, so badly.  A man walking on the south side of Colfax even stopped to watch and laugh at us. 

“It gets loneliest at night.
Down at the liquor store.
Beneath the neon sky.
Our moonlight.
Six A.M., the floor comes alive with lice.
The pan’s dried up so tight.
With hardened beans.
We’re hungry.
So I lean on you sometimes.
Just to see you’re still there.
Your feet can’t take the weight of one.
Much less two.
We hit concrete.

How were we born into this mess?
I know I painted you a prettier picture, baby.
But we were run out on a rail.
Fell from the wagon to the night train.

I kissed the bottle.
I should’ve been kissing you.
You wake up to an empty night.
With tears for two.

Cigarettes they fill the gaps.
In our empty days.
In our broken teeth.
We’re jonesing.
Say mister, can you spare a dime?
Some change could make a change.
Could buy some time.
Some freedom.
Or an ear to hear my story.
It’s all I’ve got. My fiction
beats the hell out of my truth.
A palm upturned burnt blue.
Don’t call it sunburn.

You’ve been shaking on the job.
Just one drink ahead of your past.
There’s a white light coming up.
You draw the blinds hoping it’ll pass.

I kissed the bottle.
I should’ve been kissing you.
You wake up to an empty night.
With tears for two.

I kissed the bottle.
I should’ve been kissing you.
You wake up to an empty night.
With tears for two.

I kissed the bottle.
I should’ve been kissing you.
You wake up to an empty night.
With tears for two.”

We came to the corner of Colfax and Broadway where I was to catch the Zero, and where Molly would jump on her bike and bike the eleven blocks south to the 404.  Before my bus came, Molly insisted that we jump over the chains keeping people off the Pioneer Monument and drink a toast. 

“Everything we know is coming to pieces!  Our lives!  Our city!  Our world!  Civilization itself!  Through it all our friendship, and maybe this stupid statue will endure!” 

Molly was grinning and gesticulating wildly with the bottle of whiskey.  A trained opera singer by profession; even with the slurring, her voice carried mightily.  We both pulled swigs of liquor out of the bottle, emptying it into our bellies.  Molly took the bottle and smashed it at the foot of the statue. 

Somehow, nobody called the cops on us.  My bus came.  Molly got on her bike.  Ten minutes later we were at the 404.  Molly was already fighting with C.  when I arrived.  L. became irate with me when I didn’t say hello to her as soon as I walked into the bar.  Her irritation only grew when she realized how drunk I was. 

The details are lost to me in a whiskey blur now, even a day later.  I think that cute boy who flirted with L sometimes came into the bar.  Somehow I tried to walk home by myself.  It was only three blocks.  L. followed me outside to ask if I was okay to get home on my own. 

“Fuck you!  I’m fine!  Let me go!” I slurred. 

The hurt was right there in her face.  I was now that guy.  The guy who gets wasted and jealous and acts like a hurting piece of shit.  Seven words that I couldn’t take back.  It went downhill from there. 

We argued for a minute in front of the 404.  Then walked back to Molly and I’s apartment.  We sat on the porch, crying quietly.  We proclaimed how dearly we loved one another, but it just wouldn’t work.   

It’s a blur.  I definitely remember crying and saying:  “I’m in love with you because you’re so sensitive.  I love you because you cry reading the newspaper!”  I remember asking her what she was feeling, and she replied only with “despair.”.  She asked if she could come in to fuck one more time before we broke up for good.  I said no.  My room was too messy and I was embarrassed to have her in it. 

We kissed goodbye and she walked home.  We’ve broken up before.  I wonder if it will stick this time?

I passed out in Molly’s bed, periodically waking up to leave her a series of increasingly incoherent voicemails.  She played them for me today, and they’re hilarious.  I can’t even tell what I’m saying in the last one.  “Something something something heartbreak”

Molly and C. got in a huge fight.  It’s definitely over for them too.  Molly came home crying and passed out next to me in her bed.  We laughed at our messenger bags full of alcohol, spray paint and bricks the next morning.  Who were we kidding?  We didn’t break anything but ourselves.  Our “Night of Mayhem” quickly devolved into a night of emotional mayhem.  Now we’re left to pick up the pieces.  Again. 

I don’t drink now.  I don’t even really go out to bars.  Lately I don’t even really go out.  In my solitude, I could almost miss the drama and disasters of youth.  Almost.  I look back tonight not with a sense of loss, or wasted days, but a sense of bewilderment of what any of it means.

Some nights I can see it clearly.  Tonight isn’t one of them.  There are good days and bad days.  I’m out here alone on a dead end street, save for the coyotes howling, and save for Hope the Dog, of course.  I’m not sure if I’d have it any other way, but I don’t know.  Pouring these words onto the page makes the loathing dissipate just enough.  It brings just enough light to the darkness.  That’s it.  That’s kind of all I’ve got to go on.

We’ve been picking up the pieces for as long as we can remember.  I don’t really know how to bring this piece to a close.  It feels more like a weird archival journal entry, a look back at survival strategies to see what worked and what didn’t work.  I guess it comes back to the fact that at thirty-five years old, surviving gets exhausting.  I want to thrive.

coyote4

The Moon, Monsters, and Emotional Mayhem