Does this music make me look gay?

Once upon a time, I used to be really in to making mix CDs. It kind of followed from my love of making mix tapes, and then when file sharing showed up and literally the entirety of recorded music was at our fingertips for a very brief period of time, I was in heaven. Now with the rise of Spotify playlists, I rarely burn CDs any longer – the big exception being a CD that I burn every Christmas for my friends and family of all my favorite songs of the year.

But in the early 2000s, burning mix CDs is just what I did. And while I was pretty firmly in the closet at that time, what with being recently married and a new dad, that didn’t keep me from channeling my inner gay. One of the things I loved doing was listening to stereotypically gay music, or artists with a big gay following. It was something that I kind of did naturally throughout my life without even realizing it. My Madonna fandom starting at the age of 13 being a prime example. How was I to know that if you male and a fan, there were good odds you were also a homosexual? The same thing happened when I started listening to Streisand – no idea that she was idolized by gay men of a certain age. After I realized what I had been doing, I started owning it, even if I wasn’t ready to own being gay yet.

It was in this frame of mind that I made my first gay mix CD, affectionately (and obliquely) titled “Dan’s Over The Rainbow Mix.” It even had this cheesy cover art that I made from stuff I found on the web.

Now, it could be argued that not all of these songs are strictly gay classics. Sure the gay divas are well represented by Madonna, Barbra, Judy, Bette, Donna, and Diana. But I’m not sure how “Lovesick Blues” made the list, other than Dolly being a gay icon. I hadn’t heard ” Where Love Lives” in probably 15 years and was glad to discover that Spotify had the same version that I put on this disc. Perhaps a better title for this is “Dan’s In The Closet Mix” or “Dan Ventures Musically Out of the Closet Mix.”

At about the same time that I made this CD, I discovered the CD series Gay Classics. There are 13 discs in the series, and while you’d think that with a name like that, you’d find a lot of songs by classic divas and other gay artists, it’s mostly a collection of second rate late 70s/early 80s disco songs by artists that aren’t super famous. Still, since I was determined to get a full gay music education, I downloaded a lot of these albums, or at least what I could, from free sites on the internet. There was one song that I downloaded that I loved – “Let The Night Take The Blame” by 501s. Yeah, I had never heard of it before either, but it sure is catchy.

The bad part was that I had downloaded an incomplete file, and the 8 minute song cut off around the 5 minute mark. Unable to find it anywhere else for download (you still can’t download this version anywhere that I can see), I vowed that if I ever saw the CD somewhere, I would buy it.

As luck would have it, I was in Chicago in probably 2003 and went to a now defunct record store called Borderline Music which was right in the heart of Boystown. And they had the CD I was looking for – sporting a pretty nice cover if I do say so myself.

I picked that up right then and there and listened to “Let The Night Take The Blame” while I was stuck in rush hour Chicago traffic on the way back to the hotel with my 4 year old daughter sleeping in her car seat in the back seat.

I used to really worry that my music taste would lead people to discover the truth about my orientation. And for a while, I embraced the idea that I was the straight man who loved gay music. Clearly, I was just fooling myself because I’ve never been straight. Now that I hold being gay a lot more loosely than I used to, I think that it’s obvious to everyone and that my Madonna fandom just amplifies the signal. That’s when I realize that a lot of straight people are just terribly clueless when it comes to that kind of thing. When you couple it with the fact that people don’t really think me as much as I think about me, well, no one’s paying enough attention to notice. And if they do, I just don’t give a shit. I’m gay. So what.

No matter what happens, I’ll always have my gay music.

Coming out pains

So today I’ve been all out of sorts for nebulous reasons. I should have gone to the gym – God I could say that every day lately – and my therapy appointment got cancelled. Instead of doing those two good things for my body and brain, I ended up just sitting around, staring at my phone. Those kinds of days rarely leave me feeling accomplished or successful. Because of that, I’m going to try to hammer out this post and see if it helps me at all.

I’m struggling a lot with they WHY of coming out. WHY now? WHY am I doing it in the way I’m doing it? And most of all, WHY do I feel so weird about it? I’ve been trying to figure out what I’ve hoped to accomplish with coming out at all. I could have just come out to my wife and daughter and that would have been the end of it. But I’ve gotten what I would categorize as either very brave or very careless. I’m finding that I don’t give FUCK about who knows I’m gay. That’s is problematic, to say the least. I’m not in a position where everyone knowing would be a good thing, despite my desire to just live my life as me.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that I’m planning to stay married to my wife. I know people judge me for that, and for the most part, it rolls right off me, but it does get me a little bit if I’m totally honest about it. I have talked in the past about how it makes me feel like both a fake gay and a fake husband, completely inauthentic at anything that I’m attempting to be. I know that if I were to come out at a place like my job, people would judge me, and they’d judge me differently if I just came out as a gay man who was ending his marriage to live my life as a gay man. Both would be hard to take, as I know there are a lot of people that are more conservative than liberal where I work, but the talk that would result from me coming out AND staying in my marriage would be too much for me to take. I’m not in the mood right now to try to explain it to people.

But I’m fighting this intense need to finally be the whole me, and in so doing, it’s killing me to stay closeted. I just want to tell everyone. Now, I don’t want to be outed – there’s a difference. I want to control the flow of information insomuch as I can. I’ve finally accepted this part of me and I can’t really be it. But I have to be brave and smart simultaneously.

I’ve talked a lot in this post about other people. Ultimately, it’s not about them. It’s about me. Me living my life honestly and authentically as a gay man in whatever form that takes. It’s so funny to me how calling myself gay just slides off my tongue nowadays. This is my life and it’s mine to live as I need to while minimizing the hurt that I cause others, knowing full well that I’m going to hurt people along the way, if only unintentionally.

I’m reminded of this great Mary Chapin Carpenter lyric from her 2007 song “On With The Song.”

This isn’t for you and you know who you are
So just do what you want ’cause I know that you can
But I gotta be true to myself and to you
So on with the song, I don’t give a damn


In many ways, that lyric perfectly encapsulates this time in my life. I’ve denied myself for so long, why shouldn’t I make sure that I’m taken care of?

OK, I need to sleep, so this will have to do.

On shame and being closeted

I wanted to sleep in this morning but I woke up around 7AM and made the mistake of looking at my phone. I was greeted by this Twitter DM from someone I don’t even know.

“Have a nice day”? “No hate towards you”? Whatever dude. For the most part, this slid off my back pretty quickly, but I was, understandably, affected by it some. I am only human, after all. Someone who doesn’t even know me felt the need to pop into my DMs and tell me how I should live my life. Oh, and tell me I’m old as fuck. Well, fuck them.

I posted a screenshot of it to Twitter and I felt an overwhelming amount of love and support from my gay Twitter family. Seriously, those people are the best. I know that I have an unconventional situation. I know that it doesn’t make sense to everyone. But it makes sense to us and we are living a happy life together and I am happier than I have ever been. I am not completely out, nor do I think I ever will be (although never say never), but I’m more out than I ever thought I would be and I’m making gay friends and socializing with them and feeling like I am part of a community for the first time in my adult life. Staying closeted was slowly eating away at my self confidence and my mental health. I am convinced that the closet was a major contributor to my depression and anxiety (although not the only one, for certain.) Finally admitting who I am and who I always have been has been so liberating in so many ways. And then this guy has to come and shit on it.

Like I said, it has mostly slid right off me. But there is a niggling part of me that wonders – am I bringing shame on my wife and family? She certainly hasn’t mentioned that she feels shame, and knowing her, if she did feel that way, she’d let me know. My child couldn’t care less – I think she’s more comfortable with my identity than I am some days. But I still feel weird. Probably because I am afraid that people at work are going to find out and then I will have to explain everything and I’m just exhausted thinking about that. But that is also anxiety talking.

There is a certain risk in being out – you can’t deny this. But the much more damaging alternative was remaining closeted and never admitting to myself what I have known all along to be true. It does not mean that I love my wife any less. It does not mean that I am going to run out and cheat on her (that WOULD bring shame on my family.) She is part of this process and is not coming along unwillingly. I am staying true to my morals and my commitments that I made, while allowing myself to acknowledge the things that I buried very deep within me.

Shame is a complicated thing. You don’t even have to do something shameful to feel it. Your brain can make it up. And after talking to a couple people this morning, shame is really the last thing that I should be feeling. I should be proud because I am being who I am, and while who I am is amazing and beautiful, it’s also a little bit scary.

Also, I may be a little bit older than most guys going through this, but I am definitely not OLD AS FUCK. I have a lot of living yet to do.

And with that, I’m going to go to bed for a little while and see what the rest of the day brings.

Twitter is gay

One of the biggest things that has helped me in my coming out process and getting used to being gay has been Twitter. Now, I know that it’s run by Nazis and they refuse to rein in the white supremacists, but in spite of that, it has been a godsend for me as I try to figure out what exactly I am.

I was dragged kicking and screaming to Twitter about 10 years ago by my wife, who really liked it. At first, I didn’t get it. I would tweet in the style of the old Facebook statuses (remember when it was “Dan [last name here] is…” and you had to come up with something that fit that mold?) Anyway, it didn’t take me long to get the hang of Twitter. On the 10 year-old account, I think I have something like 28,000 tweets, and I’m sure that in there somewhere is something that disqualifies me from public office. I guess it’s a good thing that I don’t have any political aspirations!

In May of 2016, I created an alternate Twitter account so that I could talk about being bisexual, which is what I had convinced myself I was at the time. I had started writing a little Tumblr blog that I think I have since nuked, and I wanted a place to share those writings. At first I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know who to follow or how to get followers. It was an exercise in frustration because it was never going to go anywhere if I couldn’t find people. Then I noticed that I was following a lot of gay accounts on my first account, and I was getting suggestions of other accounts – you know, the “bromo” accounts. It was my first exposure to “gay Twitter.” In any event, I decided to start following those on my alternate account, and I started to gain followers, little by little.

At first, I vowed that I would be completely anonymous, never showing my face on Twitter for fear of people I know finding it. But as someone pointed out to me early on, there are millions of Twitter accounts. And I didn’t have my phone number attached to it so the chances of anyone finding it were very small. Eventually, I started using a Bitmoji as my avatar, and put my actual first name on it, followed by a little rainbow flag. It was a little step out of the closet that was very small, but felt huge and very revealing to me. Then, as time progressed, I posted my first selfie to the account, then a video, then I changed my avatar to a picture of me.

Last month, the number of followers I have on my alternate Twitter surpassed the number of followers on my original Twitter account. Somewhere along the way, my alternate Twitter actually became a better representation of who I am than the 10 year old Twitter that had 28,000 tweets. Don’t get me wrong – that Twitter is still me, just not the whole me. And as you might imagine, I enjoy being the whole me so much more than just a partial me. I haven’t abandoned that 10 year-old Twitter account, but I don’t use it even half as much as my gay Twitter account.

For a long time, my gay Twitter account was a big secret. My wife didn’t even know about it. Last week, I told her about it and, as expected, she was very supportive of me having it. I told her about how I felt like it was more me than my other Twitter account and her response was “well, duh!” She made me show her my avatar but she promised not to follow me, which I appreciated. She does like me to have my things.

I’ve met some great people on there – people I would consider friends even though I’ve never met any of them, save one local person who found me rather serendipitously. I want to meet some Minneapolis Twitter gays when I go to Celine Dion in November. To all the gay and bisexual men I’ve met on Twitter, you’ve been an instrumental part of me becoming the whole me, and for that, I’ll always be thankful.

The first time I met a gay guy

Or at least the first time I set out to meet one…

Back in the pre-Grindr days, when the internet was in its infancy, I first started exploring my sexuality on a bulletin board service that all the cool kids were using at the time. It frequently had over a thousand users on at any one time, from all over the world. There were different online forums or “rooms” and the main LBGT one was LesBiGay. There was also a private one called Queerspace that you had to message the moderator to be allowed into. I used to post anonymously (as you might suspect) about my situation, looking for help and support and also holding out hope that I might make a friend or two. There were many, many local users so the chances were higher than you might expect to connect with people. One of the first people I met online was a guy that went by the handle Zackala and we talked a lot about Madonna and Stevie Nicks. It was one of the first times I’d ever talked to anyone who shared my passion for those two artists and it was thrilling, to say the least.

As time went on, I got a little braver and, from the safety of a relatively anonymous user name, I started telling people that I would meet in the LGBT forums that I was gay, usually telling them my first name. One of those interactions with a guy named Dave, who went by Jumbo on the BBS. (How I remember this, I have no idea.) Anyway, he said he was bisexual, and I told him that I was too, and that I’d had one sexual experience with a woman which was a flat out lie. I told him what I was in school for and he said that he used to be roommates with someone in the same major whose name I knew but with whom I was not personally acquainted. His roommate knew my roommate though, and I remembered her telling me a story about how he had a roommate that hit on him, so that much of the story fit. Anyway, we agreed to meet at the mall the next day in the afternoon. He told me he’d have a green backpack, so that I would be able to pick him out.

I remember being petrified. This was the first time that I was going to go meet someone in the flesh to whom I had confessed my sexuality. It was terrifying and exhilarating all at once. I was scared of being outed, even though he professed to be closeted as well. I remember being worried that I was being set up and that I was going to be beaten up or seriously hurt, but holy shit was that the worst case scenario creator working overtime.

I went to the mall at the appointed time and I walked around where he said he would be, which was a place that served as an inside bus stop of sorts, so lots of students were gathered around there waiting for the bus. And then I saw him – or so I thought. I saw someone with a green backpack, but I still wasn’t sure. Then suddenly, he was staring me down with bright blue eyes. There was no doubt it was him. He started walking toward me and we shook hands and introduced ourselves formally. I wasn’t sure what would happen next, but I think we had previously decided we’d go get some quick supper or something since it was close to that time.

We ended up going to Bruegger’s Bagel Bakery and sat and talked for a long time. I have no recollection of what we talked about. I journaled about it at the time, but the content of our conversation is lost to time. I remember thinking he was cute but not an Adonis or anything. I was just so amazed that I was talking to another living, breathing, LGBT person and it wasn’t through my computer screen. It was a watershed moment in my development as a gay man, even though I eventually went back in the closet. But we ate and talked and it was a good interaction.

After me met, we went back to talking online, and our conversations were very close to cybersex. He told me I had a cute butt, which I never thought I did. One thing I do remember is how he talked about wanting to get in my pants and that he had a key to a university office where no one would find us. Being the risk averse, anxious person that I was, I never went along with that. I think that, more than anything, scared me off from even getting to know him better. He seemed very focused on the sex part and not on the friendship part, which was hard for me because I was deliberately trying to expand my circle of gay friends in anticipation of being rejected by my current batch of friends when they inevitably found out I was gay. As I wrote back in the day, ” I just want to meet some new friends that aren’t in [major redacted], and I figure, why not hang out with some bi or gay guys, just so I can finally have a little bit of room to be myself, not watching every move I make.  It’ll be a real relief if this works out the way I want it to.”

It didn’t really work out the way I wanted it to. Our interaction trailed off until it was nothing and we never met up or spoke again. I eventually met up with other gay guys for coffee and what not, but none of them ever worked out. Some never showed, some just didn’t have any common interests.

As much angst as that meeting caused me, it was a really important part of laying the groundwork for coming out and being comfortable with myself. The 40something version of that young man is the one that meets up in public with a group of gay men on Friday nights, and also the one that foolishly tried to find friends on Grindr. You win some, you lose some.

I never got a chance to tell anyone these stories from my college years, so blogging them is really therapeutic. And the words are just flowing out of me like they haven’t in years. I must be doing something right, and in the process, I’m honoring that scared young gay man that just couldn’t quite bring himself to accept himself. It got better.

That time I almost came out

coming out

For as deeply closeted as I was in high school, college, and for most of my married life, there was a time that I remember almost coming out. It was October 8, 1994, the night before the GRE. I know this because I journaled about it. I was with my roommates (one female, one male.) I had a terrible crush on my male roommate, one that was made even harder to take because he was very hot and cold with me. Sometimes, he’d act like he was my best friend, and then other times, he would barely talk to me and act like I was an embarrassment to be around. Through all of that, I still crushed so hard that my little gay heart broke over and over again. It was a time when I was convinced that coming out would be the end of the world as we know it and who knows, maybe it would have been. We’ll never know.

Anyway, we had gone out to pizza that night and talk turned to how far each of us had gone sexually. I was 21 and terminally virginal and was deeply ashamed of that. My female roommate was not shy about her virginity so we all knew that she had not done anything. Of course, I was a little obsessed with how far my male roommate had gone because I thought that if he hadn’t done anything, there was a small window that might allow that he’d reciprocate my feelings. But I had pretty much resigned myself to the idea that he had gone all the way with women on multiple occasions. Imagine my surprise when he said he’d “only gone to second base.” Naturally, when it came to be my turn to reveal my sexual history, I lied and just mimicked the second base line.

The summer prior, I had finally written the words, “I think I might be gay, or at least bisexual.” I had waded into online forums and bulletin boards and had begun exploring what that meant. So it was in that context and in the environment of feeling close to my roommates that I found myself thinking “I should just tell them.” As quickly as the thought came to my mind, I dismissed it. But I remember really wanting to tell them. I wanted to tell anyone – to be me – but I didn’t think I could trust anyone besides anonymous online people. I mean, that was better than nothing, but still, deep down I wanted to be out of the closet even though I really didn’t – if that makes any sense at all.

Obviously I did not tell them that night. I think some of it had to do with the fact that I had heard them say rather homophobic things in the past. The one I remember was when a LGBT conference was held in our college town one weekend, one of them said “well, the AIDS virus will be running rampant this weekend!” Who can blame me for staying closeted?

The funny thing about this is that 3 years later, on that exact same weekend, I got married. The even funnier part is that I got married on October 11th which is National Coming Out Day.  It’d be easy to look at this  chain of events and say “well, you just lied to yourself and got married.” And while there is a kernel of truth in that, the biggest reason I got married was because I had fallen in love with the woman who would become my wife. And we’re still in love today, although that love manifests itself in a very different way now than it did back then.

As I have detailed before, I sometimes wonder what my life would have looked like had I come out to my roommates that night, but we’ll never know. They are sufficiently removed from my life now that they have no need to know. But the benefit of hindsight shows me that the simple act of nearly coming out was crucial to my eventual departure from the closet 25 years later.

 

Almost home

My wife and daughter are gone for the weekend so I’ve been left to my own devices. Last night I went and visited friends for the evening and had a gigantic chicken parmigiana and laughed a lot. Today I went over to see my mom and dad who I haven’t seen in a while. It’s been a really long time since I’ve been to my hometown – probably a year or so. My parents still live in the same house I grew up in so going back is always a bit surreal.

For the 75 minute drive home, I put on the Spotify playlist “This Is Mary Chapin Carpenter” – which was completely inspired by the fact that when I was driving over, I heard the song “Almost Home.”

The lyrics particularly hit home for me, because they seem to really be applicable to the emotions I’m feeling about my coming out journey. The lyrics “I’m not running/I’m not hiding/I’m not reaching/I’m just resting in the arms of the great wide open” seem especially appropriate these days, as I continue to accept my identity as a gay man. I am a gay man – a beautiful gay man – and for too much of my life, I ran away from that feeling. To finally embrace it, even in the odd circumstances I find myself in while coming to terms with the fact that I’m gay, has gone a long way to helping ease my chronic underlying anxiety and depression. I still feel anxious and depressed at times, but it seems like it doesn’t happen as much or quite the level of severity that I’m accustomed to.

I pondered the idea today of “what would it look like if I came out to my parents?” They don’t know, not because I’m worried about them disowning me or my family, but because I don’t know that they can understand the subtlety involved in me being gay but still in a married relationship with a woman. I know that’s not my responsibility, but it is still something I think about. We’ve done so many things unconventionally in the last few years that sometimes I think that my parents don’t really know what to do with us other than just give us support.

There are times that I really get caught up in the guilt of lying to people for 30 years.  I think about the “girlfriends” I had in high school – all two of them – that I wasn’t really into (for reasons that I knew then) and how unfair that was to them. I think about how my very existence as a man has been, on some level, a deception from the get-go. I don’t know that it was always deliberate, but there have been times when it was. That’s a huge regret I have. I can’t change that, I just have to live with it. I know that telling my parents would not end our relationship, and honestly, I’m closer to doing it than I ever have been, but even today, I couldn’t make the jump to it, although I was feeling very safe and loved.

“Almost Home” also has the lyric “there’s no such thing as ‘no regrets’/And baby, that’s alright.” And that’s the sometimes uncomfortable truth I have to square with when it comes to being gay and coming out late in life. I do regret a lot of things – not just the deception. I regret not being true to myself sooner and for a longer period of time. I know that it’s not as simple as that, and if it had been, I would have come out.  But the fact was I was scared and it was 1995, not 2019. As scary as things are now for us, things were even scarier then. I was sure I would lose all my friends and family and be alone. I didn’t know the first thing about finding a LGBT community when I was 22. Hell I was playing straight and I was lonely and had no community. In hindsight, I’m not really sure what I had to lose, but clearly, I thought I did.

I want to get this blog going again. I stopped journaling and honestly, I need some long form writing to keep my brain going and keep me honest. If people read it, great. If not, no big deal. I imported all four blog posts I did on Blogger earlier this year and kept all the ones that I had posted several years ago, because they all have a place and really it’s important to preserve that kind of thing.

Mary Chapin Carpenter saw me through college when I was depressed, anxious, and deeply closeted. I also had the worst unrequited crush on my roommate. I sometimes wonder if he suspected. I guess it doesn’t really matter. Sometimes her music makes me sad, but more than anything lately, it’s reminding me of how far I’ve come, and the people and things that remain even though I’m not straight anymore.

Love, Simon made me gay

My TimeHop reminded me this morning that it was a year ago today that I went to see Love, Simon in the theater. I always knew that I was going to like it, I’d been listening to the soundtrack for weeks leading up to the it (which is not something I normally do), but I was unprepared for how it would affect me.  Simply put, I wasn’t ready for it.

As someone who has always known he was gay, but has spent my life largely hidden in the stuffiness of the closet, going through the motions of a “straight life”, it had a seismic impact on me. I think it was this scene, one that is often cited when talking about the movie, that did me in.

 

It was Simon’s mom saying “you get to exhale now, Simon” that reduced me to tears in the theater, trying so hard to hide it from my wife and daughter who I knew couldn’t possibly understand, even though my wife knew that I was into guys, too. I always felt like it was something that she more or less tolerated about me as we never talked about it and never discussed it in any practical way. About a year prior I had brought up the idea of me possibly exploring, but my timing was horrific and she quickly put the kibosh on that, while at the same time driving me further into the closet so that I never brought it up ever. I felt like I was a failure as a husband and father because I was gay and married to a woman. How did my life end up like this? Crying in a theater as a 40 something adult man watching what could have been a version of me as a teenager if only I had been braver?

I ended up crying at home that night, telling my wife how much that movie had affected me. I don’t remember all the specifics of it. I remember my daughter being a little confused as to why I had such an intense reaction to the movie. It all made sense about six months later when I tearfully came out to her over a rainy Labor Day Weekend. To her, it was officially No Big Deal.

The movie still gets me whenever I watch it. I am fond of saying that Love, Simon made me gay because it got me to finally realize that hiding from my true self was never going to make me happy. I got more involved with Gay Twitter (for better or worse, LOL) and made some friends there. I got more involved with the gay men’s group in my city and made a couple friends there. I’m not as active as I want to be with it because my life is nuts and I frequently just don’t have time or am exhausted and just want to collapse after work vs. go out to a dinner or something.

I became a lot more open with my therapist, and I leveled with her and said that I wanted to talk about this, and talk about it a lot. We did a lot of deconstructing, talking about how this embracing of the real me could help me, and the consequences it might have.  We talked a lot about how I really needed to tell my wife about how much I had been affected by the movie and by the things I was discussing in therapy. I started keeping a journal chronicling a lot of the emotions that I was feeling. I’ve fallen off that wagon, but I know that’s ok and that I can go back to it at any time.

Ultimately, I did tell my wife that I was mostly gay. Like pretty much gay except for her. She basically admitted the same to me, which wasn’t news, but was reassuring to hear. I told her that I was still committed to this marriage, but that I didn’t know how all this information fit into our heterosexual marriage. Her response was “this is decidedly not a heterosexual marriage as neither of us are heterosexual.”

It’s not easy. I still think a lot about what my life would look like had I been brave and decided to come out in my 20s. But then I think that everything I’ve done has been the right thing at the time. I was in no way ready to face being gay in my 20s. I would not have my amazing daughter if not for the decisions that I made in my 20s. I should count myself as lucky that my wife didn’t kick me out when I came out to her. I still feel a little weird talking about it – I know that’s on me and not her. I know that times were different 20+ years ago, but there is a part of me that feels cheated for not having been brave. I wonder if I’d be married to a man. Would I be even lonelier than I am now? Would my family still love me? It’s all kind of navel gazing because obviously that’s not the path that I took, but I do wonder sometimes.

In the year that’s elapsed since I saw Love, Simon and saw myself a little too much in the main character, I have run the gamut on how “gay” I feel. Somedays I don’t feel gay at all, but then there are days where the idea of being a gay man consumes my thoughts and makes it hard to concentrate on my real life. Sometimes I think I can go the rest of my life without having gay sex, and then there are other times that I think that I won’t last a second longer if I don’t. The idea of me exploring has come up since but only in passing and with me blowing it off more than anything else, citing my trouble with maintaining good mental health as reason number one to not try anything right now.

I’ve come out to a couple of friends here. I’m not out at work, nor do I plan to be. I believe in a strong boundary between the personal and professional, even though most of my co-workers are on my Facebook so what’s that all about? I haven’t told my parents because they won’t get it, even though some have argued that they deserve to know the full me and get a chance to love the full me. I just don’t think they’ll understand me being gay in the context of my continuing relationship with my wife.

But I am more comfortable in my own skin than I ever thought I could be, even though on my worst days, I do feel like I’m still living a lie. But it’s not a lie. I have a life with my wife and it’s not easy to separate those things. Some people have told me that I need to cut her loose, but they don’t understand my marriage and the only people that get to make decisions about my marriage are the two of us.

So thank you Love, Simon for making me gay. It was the push out of the closet that I needed.

Weekend tales

It’s been kind of a tough weekend for me. Our finances are just in complete disarray for a variety of reasons, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to navigate those. It’s been hard because I have a lot of my self-worth caught up in how well I can provide for my family. My wife tells me that it’s not all on me, but it sure feels like it. I keep thinking that I need to get a second job so I can work evenings and weekends but, for reasons that will become clear, I don’t think that’s possible.

Whenever I’m off work, like this weekend for instance, or in the middle of last week, I basically never get out of my pajamas. I don’t shower, I don’t clean up at all.  I just sit around all day and can barely even get up to do anything. This is a marked change from a month ago, when we would spend all weekend Konmaring. I don’t want to do anything that I usually like to do, I’ve stopped reading the books I was reading, barely play records anymore. I mindlessly scroll through Twitter looking for that fix of whatever I’m looking for. I don’t even know what I’m looking for when I’m doing it. Interaction? Affirmation? It’s really hard to say. Anyway, to say things have deteriorated as far as my mental health goes.

I think I’m going to have to go back on Abilify which I don’t really want to do, but I really see no choice. I’m definitely worse off of it than I am on it. I’m just going to have to cope with the fact that it’s making me fat and prediabetic. So tonight I’m going to taper back up on that. I hate being dependent on chemicals to function, but I guess that’s just how my brain works.

The thing that sucks the most is I just can’t turn off the tape of negative self-talk, the one that tells me I’m stupid and a terrible worker, father, and husband. Intellectually, I know that it’s not true, but I think that when I am feeling lousy, I am much more susceptible to its effects, which just serves to make me feel worse. Today I woke up feeling like I was ready to take on the day and I’ve been up for 2 hours and have done next to nothing. I think I need to start making lists of things that I need to do – setting little goals for each day so that I have a direction in which to point myself. Right now, I feel like my only goal is to survive life and make it to my next day off, when I can not shower and just sit around all day.

I mean, I know that it was my own fault that I ruined the weekend for myself. I hate being in my 40s and feeling like I am a prisoner of my own life and brain chemistry. I really thought that by now, I would have worked it out.

My wife, who I feel is not as supportive as she could be, basically told me this weekend that she will not be drawn into the negative feelings pit with me, and who can blame her? I know I wouldn’t want to do that either. I told her that I don’t talk to her because she makes me feel like she doesn’t want to hear anything – something I perceive to be true – but perhaps it’s the way that I express myself that is causing the problem.

As it turns out, it really is my fault, not hers.

Still, this morning I can’t shake off the tired and lonely and depressed, but I know that things will get better. I’ve taken steps to improve things and I’m going to start reading the books I was reading again today in an attempt to normalize things a little bit. We do choose our own happiness – I truly believe that – but right now, I barely have the energy to get out of bed, let alone choose anything.

A Facebook break and task paralysis

So last Friday when I was off work and recovering from working the overnight shift, I posted a filtered post to Facebook saying I was dropping off the grid for a while. It had a lot to do with my anxiety and depression, but I was mostly just sick of Facebook. I needed to step away from it for a while, as one occasionally does, to regain some sense of perspective. That, and everything I was seeing was pissing me off something fierce. Be it the political posts or the screen captured tweets or just people posting every dull fact about their lives, I was over it. I couldn’t take it anymore so I had to turn my back on it.

What I found while doing this is not what I expected.

I’ve still perused Facebook a little bit – my high school music teacher died at the ripe old age of 91 so I’m glad I saw that and wasn’t out of the loop – but what I’ve really enjoyed is not sharing every dull fact about my own life.  I didn’t expect to feel that way. I think social media has trained us to share every little detail and you know, sometimes we just don’t need to know those details. I wonder if anyone that wasn’t on that filtered post even notices I’m gone. My hunch is probably not, what with the algorithms and promoted posts. Hell, I hardly ever see any friend activity, just stuff from news sites (which honestly, I should unfollow) and Buzzfeed quizzes.

I’m still posting on Twitter – well, my alternate Twitter where I can be my whole self. I sometimes feel a little bad that I had to resort to that, but I just couldn’t be me in front of the entire population of my life. It’s wide and varied and well, most people just won’t get it. It’s weird how I started that alternate Twitter and now, it’s really the one that is more accurately me vs. the Twitter account I’ve had for 10 years.

My anxiety is not great at the moment. I’m having a hard time sleeping – mostly because my legs are very restless at night. I did some research into that and it can be a side effect of going off Abilify, which I did cold turkey in January. I should have known better than to go cold turkey but it was a low dose and I thought “what can go wrong?” That should have been my first clue.  I’ve also read that restless legs can be the result of anxiety and stress that are out of control. So who knows? The other night I was having such bad anxiety that I thought I was having a heart attack. I knew I wasn’t, but I had chest pain that would “roll” through my chest. I’m still alive two days later so I think I’ll be okay, but it really does suck that acute anxiety has so many symptoms in common with acute coronary syndromes.

The other thing I’ve been struggling with lately is just a general “task paralysis.” We’re going to meet with our accountant today, something I’ve known since the beginning of the week, but it wasn’t until this morning that I finally printed out all the tax documents that had been sitting in my email for weeks.  I also have to suspend my student loan payments for a few months because our cash flow is so bad right now. I feel like I’m selling off Madonna CDs just to put food on the table which is a terrible feeling to have.

I’m seeing my therapist today so hopefully that helps, although it’s just another thing to pay for which stresses me out. It sucks because when I was a kid, everyone said I had so much potential and would be so successful, but really, I feel pretty much like I have failed at life, being in my mid-40s and stressed about finances when I have a good job that pays well. Maybe it’s just the American way now.

Anyway, that’s all I have for this morning. I might write another post later today since I’m off work.