Last Words

Well, it’s really over.

I mean, it’s really been over for a year, but it’s really, really over.  On Friday, November 15th, I received a blank text message from Alan.  Literally, just an empty bubble.  I was out driving so it took a minute for me to process what had happened, to realize that this was a message from the man I love who had ripped my heart out of my chest and stomped all over it with glee.  (Clearly there is something very wrong with me.)

I believe I am a, mostly, sane and rational person, so if I had somehow managed to send an accidental blank text to someone I had had zero interaction with for 7 months, I would have followed that text message up with something along the lines of, “That was an accident.  Sorry to disturb you.”  So I waited.  I waited to see if he would send some sort of explanation.  No explanation came.  For five days.

Look, I will freely admit that I have not handled every part of this experience in the healthiest of ways.  I’ve spent the last year of my life stuck in a terrible place, holding on to a sliver of hope that somehow he would be the exception to the norm.  Somehow, he would be one of the few that actually achieves self-realization, faces who they have become, and seeks help to heal.  Because of this delusion, I have kept an eye on his on-line activities, not to monitor him, but to have an idea of what’s going on in his life and where he might be in this process.  I knew that he had not used his Grindr profile in about three to four months.  I knew the he had logged off of Scruff the day after Labor Day and with the exception of three times that I could tell, 1) to delete his profile picture, 2) to block me from his account, and 3) to unblock me a few days later, he had not been actively using Scruff either.

Suddenly, he was back on both apps.  He had updated his profile picture on Grindr, and added one to Scruff, both the same picture, (one that was taken when he and I first started dating, which he had sent to me via text when he was off on a nature adventure with his friends.  Could be a coincidence, but as this drama unfolds, it becomes harder and harder to believe anything he does is by accident).  He was back on the apps, pretty constantly, as he was when he first dumped me – as he does when he is “single”.

This information, coupled with his “accidental” blank text, gave me a pretty clear picture of what’s happening, but I wanted to give him a chance, the benefit of the doubt, as it were (though that is a loaded statement and not something I give him any longer).  So after five days and no further contact from him, I sent a simple message:

“Was there something that you wanted to say?”

Two hours and five minutes later her replied, “My phone screen’s acting up lately.. sorry.”

“mmmm.  okay.” I replied, knowing that his answer was completely implausible.  I can think of no feasible way that he accidentally sent me a blank text message after seven months of silence due to his phone screen acting up, unless he has had zero text communication with anyone since the last time we interacted.

“How are things?” he asked me, as if there was no tumultuousness in our history and my disbelief was not clear in my response.

The last time we interacted, he was cold, aloof, and indifferent to me.  Theoretically willing to try to be “friends”, but not anything more.  I knew then that I couldn’t do the friendship thing and, painfully, I let the communication drop.  This time, I knew he wanted something, but I didn’t expect him to be nice.  Regardless, I was not going to let my guard down.  I was not going to feed him, and give him any information to use against me.

“Better question is how are things with you?”  With every message I sent I expected hostility, for the façade to drop and for things to go awry.

“Same old same old, I guess. I’m moving (again). Lol”

“I figured you would,” I replied.  “I would ask to where, but I’m sure you won’t tell me.”  Last year when he moved, while we were theoretically still in each other’s lives, he wouldn’t tell me where he was moving to.  He would invite me over “when he was ready.”

“To Fremont,” he answered to my surprise.  Fremont is a big town with a lot of apartments, but its still more than I expected.

While still dating, we had a conversation once about where we would live if we were to move in together at some point.  He works for the fruit phone and his office is in Sunnyvale, California, my life is in Oakland.  Obviously, we would need to find some place in the middle, except he was unwilling to do so because his commute across highway 237 would suck (to be fair, he is right).  But now suddenly, after we are no longer together, he is moving farther north and east and farther away from work.  (Also, he works and worked from home most of the time so the location wasn’t especially relevant since he doesn’t actually make the commute very often.)

“Intersting,” I replied.  “So much for your commute you were so protective of.”

“It’s a good deal,” was all he said.  His current roommate was moving out and his lease is about to expire.  “I think it’s time for me not have room mates.”

I reminded him that I had told him when we were first getting serious that he should have the experience of living alone at some point before settling down “with someone” (meaning me, of course).  He said, “Haha you did.  Still single so..🤷🏽‍♂️”  An innocent enough comment on it’s own, but loaded with subtext under the circumstances.

He asked about me again, but I evaded the question, saying simply, “As you said, same ole same ole.”  He said he wouldn’t pry any longer, and that he hoped I was well.

I asked, as I needed to know from the beginning, “Don’t guess anything has changed since our last conversation.  Still not interested in going to therapy?  Still solving all your problems with the gym?”

He confirmed that he is not going to therapy but stated that he’s been more open with his friends which he suggested has been helpful.

“For what it’s worth,” I said, “I try to keep texting to a minimum these days.  I’ve learned that it leads to misunderstandings and problems.  I’m open to real conversations via telephone or face to face, but minimal texting…”  he acknowledged this and I went on to say, “Also, when I say ‘real’ conversations, I mean conversations about real things, not small talk and not bs’ing.”

“Noted,” he replied.

I had all I needed to know.  Of course, I can never know for certain, but from all that I have experienced with him, all the research I have done since he dumped me and everything that has happened since, I was able to draw a pretty clear picture of the situation.

SIDEBAR:  There is a website called quora best described as Yahoo Answers, on steroids, upon which I stumbled by accident in the early days, and now I get regular “digests” from them in my email.  It is disheartening, to be honest, how many people have questions and answers about dealing with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and what that implies about how rampant this evil actually is, but I am also grateful for the site and the people on it, from whom I have learned so much about this situation.  On Quora, and I’m sure in many other arenas, the victims of narcissists, and NPD abuse are referred to as “supply”, because that’s how the Narcissist sees us, not as human beings, but as a “supply” of the adoration and admiration they believe they so richly deserve.

Typically, a narcissist cannot be without supply.  They are usually looking for the next supply, even while they are in the devaluation phase of the narcissistic cycle with their current supply.  One post in the forum referred to narcissistic supply as being like air.  You can hold your breath for a few seconds and its no big deal, but pretty soon things start to look pretty grim without air.  For a narcissist, being without supply is the same.

I already know, by his own admission, that Alan “cheated” on me once while we were together. I put quotes around cheated because since we had never discussed and agreed on exclusivity, he didn’t actually cheat, but since he did it behind my back and waited four months to tell me when it would have the most hurtful impact, we’re going to go with “cheated”.  He admitted to doing it once.  I wouldn’t doubt it was much more than that.

I digress.  Here’s what I believe happened and lead to his “accidental” blank text.

Alan met a new supply on Grindr sometime around late July or early August.  Alan stopped using Grindr so that New Supply would believe that Alan was all in.  Clearly, Alan thought that New Supply didn’t use Scruff so that was safe.  For two months, Alan would still get on Scruff pretty regularly, but not as often as he had done before.  Due to the afore mentioned unhealthy behavior on my part, I saw in my favorites, that Alan was within seven miles of my house all of Labor Day weekend (I live 31 miles from his apartment in Milpitas).  On Labor Day, Alan returned to his apartment and logged off of Scruff.  Other than three instances mentioned above, he had not been on it again.  One guess is that he got caught by New Supply so he stopped using Scruff as well.  Again, I’ll never really know.

Regardless, the week before last, New Supply wised up.  Clearly he is smarter than I.  New Supply kicked Alan to the curb and Alan was caught unprepared and without a new New Supply lined up.  Alan logged back in to both apps, updated profiles and pictures and started actively hunting for the next supply, only, as we have seen, a narcissist cannot be without a supply for long so Alan thought, “Hmmm…  maybe I can lure Kevin back in to fill the void.  It won’t last, but he loves me and I was able to dupe him before, I’m sure I can drag him back in for a bit.”  And lo, the “accidental” blank text message was born.

He didn’t count on me having wised up, too.

I made up my mind.  I knew what I had to do, but I didn’t want to tip my hand prematurely.  On Wednesday, I sent Alan a text message.

“Is there any way we could get together tomorrow for a cup of coffee or a walk or something?  I feel like there’s more to our conversation from yesterday and as I said, I prefer in person these days.  My schedule is wide open.”

He responded with, “tomorrow would be a bit busy for me in the evening.. tonight, I have dinner plans with some friends, but I’ll be done by 8:30.. that wold be nice though”. (A narcissist always has to control the situation.)

“I have to work tonight,” I said.  “Right now actually.  And it’s Dreamforce. I made a bunch of money in a short period of time last night.  It would be dumb for me not to drive after work.”  (I am an Uber and Lyft driver as well as a Massage Therapist)

“Nice! Ok, we can play it by ear tomorrow then.”

First of all, “play it by ear” with Alan, is always a no, it’s just a no that is designed to string you along and keep you waiting on him for hours before he lets you down.  I didn’t hold my breath, and on Thursday when I had heard nothing from him, I went on out and drove some more.  Around 7:00 I looked at his profile on Scruff and he was 112 miles away.  (So…  he knew he was going out of town on Thursday, but he wanted to play Thursday night by ear?)

I reached out and he confirmed that he was out of town, “But we can still talk if you want,” he told me.

“I’d rather meet in person,” I said.  “I’d like to schedule a get together for when you get back.  I’m out driving right now.”  I did not expect a response.

Scruff told me, on Saturday, that Alan was on his way back.  Yesterday morning, he was 16 miles away, so I reached out again. “I’m available after 6 tonight or anytime tomorrow.”

His response: “Let’s play it by ear tonight.  I’m spending time with the fam today and have other things on my plate.”

“‘Play it by ear’,” I said, “is always ‘no’.  When can you get together, or do you really not want to?”

Over an hour later he answered with “Reaching back to you is a wrong move on my part.  take care and wish you the best.”  and then he blocked my phone number so I couldn’t reply to him.  But he couldn’t so easily block me on scruff.

“God you’re such a childish coward, shooting of your rude message and then blocking me so you don’t have to deal with the aftermath.  But at least you’re predictable.

“You’re absolutely correct.  Reaching out was a mistake on your part.

“I really wanted to get tougher so you could hear my voice, see my face and not be able to project your own anger and hostility onto my words, as I know you will now do.  I wanted you to know that I am not angry.  I am sad and I pity you, but I am not angry.  I also wanted to give you a chance to say your peace like a grownup and maybe we could walk away from each other with little shared dignity and respect.  I guess you’re not really capable of that.

“I can’t stay on this roller coaster with you.  I know you don’t believe it, but if you are not a narcissist, you absolutely have many narcissistic tendencies and serious emotional issues that need to be addressed.  I believe you are a full blown narcissist and you have proven it over and over.  This exact situation helps prove it again.  Do yourself a favor and research it, in depth!

“Therefore, as much as I still do love you, I do not ever want to hear from you again, unless you are in therapy and taking it seriously.  That is what I wanted to talk to you about in person.

“I’m not going to block you and if fate makes us cross each other’s paths again, so be it, but your message last week was nothing but a fishing expedition and I saw through it from the start.  You can’t keep doing that to me.

“The next time you contact me, if you ever do, the first thing you have to say had better be, ‘I have been in therapy…’

“I’m sorry it has to come to this.  I really hoped for more for you and I really hoped we could find a way to be in each other’s lives, but you have proven yourself to be a good person who does horrible things.  I love the good person, but I can’t watch and I can’t be a victim of the horrible anymore.

“I hope some day you find the peace you need and find a way to be mentally and emotionally healthy.  If that ever happens I’ll be happy to hear from you.  Until then, do not contact me again.”

Of course, I expected a response.  I expected cold, callous, unfeeling disdain.  I got disdain, but…

“Is that all you have to say?  Have you not said enough?  I actually thought that we actually can meet and have an adult conversation.” (That’s why you refused to commit and then blew me off?) “But apparently, you already have a projected image of my ‘full blown narcissistic’ tendencies.  That’s your opinion and everybody’s entitled to that.  I’m sorry if my behavior has caused you so much pain.” (Not actually an apology.) “If this is your way of projecting yourself, and to actually find closure, so be it.

“As far as I’m concerned, my relationships with my friends and family were never toxic, nor did I even try to play with theirs nor any body else’s.”  (Of course as far as you’re concerned.  A narcissist would never see it any other way.  Also, the grammatical incorrectness and missing words are verbatim.  I used to attribute this to English being his second language, albeit one he speaks fluently, but again, I question whether it’s deliberate vagueness.). “That was never my intention and I believe you have already said your peace over and over again – may it have been unsolicited or not.  If you never found peace sending me an unlabeled mail, stalking me on LinkedIn, and now assuming immediately that I am trying to avoid hearing what you have to say in person, then you will never be at peace.  Ever.” (I sent him a letter after the last time he blocked me before I could respond to him and I deliberately left the return address off to increase the odds that he would actually bother to read it – he did.  I have no idea what stalking him on LinkedIn is supposed to mean.  How could I not assume you are trying to avoid hearing what I have to say in person when you blocked my phone number?) “I feel bad for you.  I actually thought you were sane.  Your life choices reflect a lot about how you think.  I see it over and over again.  You were a mistake.  Everyone around me who has met you were right. (Four people with very limited interaction and no knowledge of who I am or what I’m about.  Two were his roommates who were almost never home when I came over, and two were people who he told me at the time, said they “approved”, but whatever.) “The fact that you cannot even hold a decent relationship with your own family is true testimony to your projections.” (My family is abusive and hurtful.  Self preservation is not the same as “cannot hold a relationship”, but he never bothered to familiarize himself with these facts.) “I cannot be a part of that, nor comply to your unsolicited assumptions and/projects of who I am.  Keep telling yourself I need professional mental help.  If that helps you sleep at night and move on.”  (It does, because it’s clearly true.)

This is an example of a narcissist who has been rejected and how they become unhinged in response.  His only objective here is to hurt me as deeply as he can muster as a final assault.  Despite how it may sound to some, he did not hurt me.  The commentary above is to put into perspective for those who do not actually know either of us just how insane his rant really is.

Nevertheless, there was one error on my part.  I genuinely wanted to keep the dialogue focussed on behaviors and not on people.  So I sent one final message.

“I will offer you one apology in that I should not have said you are a childish coward.  I should have said it was a childish and cowardly act.

“I won’t bother to respond to your message as there’s no point.  I think we can both just count our blessing that this is over and move on.”

Four hours later, he responded with, “Please do”

It was all I could do not to send one last message.  “Last word!”

Ooh, Burn(ed)

Someone please remind me that I am, indeed, Irish/Scottish/English/Whatever other EASTERN European ethnicity, and not, in fact, the Italian/Latino ethnicity that I always wished I was…

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It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time

I said so myself…  I might have been wrong.

This idea of using the daily photo prompts to take pictures and write blog posts, seemed like a thing.  It really did.  Clearly, though, it was not a thing I could keep up with.  And I’m so bad at letting these things go and moving on from them that when the first time I didn’t get it done, I thought, “Well, shit.  But that’s ok.  I’ll just double up tomorrow.”  And of course, “tomorrow” came and went and no pictures were taken and no posts were written, and before I knew it, I had a backlog of pictures to take and post and I didn’t know how I was going to make that happen and suddenly, it’s been, what? two weeks since I wrote anything.

But really?  I mean, really!

Let’s take a look at the prompts I did not fulfill, shall we?

January 8th:  “Lucky Number”

Okay.  So I actually had (or rather have) a decent way to accommodate this.  I don’t really believe in “luck” per se, and as such, I don’t really have a lucky number.  I do have a favorite number, 23, which comes up in my life frequently and without reason, but I wouldn’t call it a lucky number and I couldn’t give you a discernible reason for its prominence if you asked.  On January 9th, K and I went back to the tattoo shop where I got my latest tattoo done.  She got a new tattoo, adding on to one she’s had for several years.  (In fact she got it at the same shop where, and within a few weeks when, I got my first one.)  We went together, and when he was finished with her new tattoo, he cleaned up, set up fresh equipment and did my touch up/repair/augmentation work that I alluded to.  As it happens, I incorporated the number 23 into the additional art and could have taken a picture of that for the photo prompt…  Except it didn’t happen until the day after the prompt and wasn’t really ready for photographing for many days after that.  In fact, the tattoo as a whole, still isn’t.  It’s been two weeks today and much to my surprise, and displeasure, it still isn’t healed.  The sun rays done in the colors of the pride flag, were touched up and extended farther onto my shoulder, which, can I just tell you, was not a pleasant experience!  For some reason, those blocks of solid color have taken a long time to heal.  They’re much better now, but there are still dry and scaly patches that are bothersome and difficult to resist the urge to pick and scratch – which is disaster for a tattoo.

It’s already evident that I will have to go back for at least one more touch-up, but that most likely won’t happen until May.  My swim class starts up again tonight, and while I don’t expect our instructor will actually have us get in the water tonight (he didn’t the first class last semester), I wouldn’t be able to anyway, because it’s not smart to get into a public pool, while a tattoo is still in this scaly stage.  I think I’ll be okay by Monday, but I don’t know for sure.  Fortunately, it’s the first night of instruction and it’s about getting comfortable being in the water and floating, ducking under the surface and kicking against the wall.  If I have to sit that out, it will not be a big loss.  Strangely, I am equal parts excited and trepidatious about class starting up again.  I really enjoyed the class last semester (and will again) but I also haven’t been in a pool since the last class I attended last semester.  I’m sure whatever endurance I’ve built up has been lost.  I just hope I haven’t taken too many steps backwards in terms of technique…

January 9th: “Natural”

The instruction was to take a picture of something natural or created naturally.  The possibilities for this are endless, and yet, with what was available to me, fairly boring.  The same goes for the follow-up prompt the next day…

January 10th: “Man-Made”

Take a photo of something made by man.  In a lot of ways, this would have been even easier, because everywhere you look you can see things that are made by man.  But that almost makes the prompt uninteresting, because I could easily have taken a picture of my television, or my furniture, or my computer, or…  Well, pretty much anything in my house that was not fresh produce.  And since I didn’t leave the house that day, the photo would have been something in my house.  It quickly becomes uninspiring.

But you see, this is an ongoing problem in the realm of photo challenge photo taking.  If I don’t leave the house, then the opportunities for the photos are greatly reduced.  If I do leave the house, do I really want to lug my camera around with me everywhere I go?  The answer to that is two-fold, because yes, I do want to take it with me everywhere I go.  And, NO!  I don’t want to have to carry it around and keep track of it and make sure it doesn’t come to any harm everyday, everywhere.  Anyway, while I’m unemployed and have limited reasons to leave the house, I spend days at a time inside my home and therefore have far fewer options for creative photos that meet the challenge and don’t become redundant.

January 11th: “Looking Down”

Once again, without leaving the house my options were limited to looking over the railing of the stairs leading up to my front door, which would be…  concrete sidewalk, or very poorly maintained grass in the side yard, or looking out a window.  Which wouldn’t really be “down” so much as “out”.  Of course, I could have taken one of those ubiquitous pictures of my feet, or of my shoes on my feet (which I don’t wear in the house), but that’s not particularly interesting in my mind.  Pass.

January 12th: “Something colorful”

I didn’t leave the house.  Like the song says, “Second verse.  Same as the first!”

January 13th: “Makes me Smile”

This one I actually could have done, with only the smallest bit of cheating.  I always figure that the point of the Photo-A-Day challenges, is to take a photo that day that goes with the prompt, however, I was actually with K when she took the photo she posted for “natural”, only it was “lucky number” day.  Maybe it’s the thought that counts?

Anyway, I took this picture of Lil’B a couple of weekends prior while we were on an outing to the Hyde Street Pier and exploring some of the ships that are moored there.  Lil’B always makes me smile.  So if you don’t worry about the fact that I already posted this picture once, or about meeting the date, then it’s all good.  🙂

Taking a picture of Lil'B, taking a picture of me.
Taking a picture of Lil’B, taking a picture of me.

January 14th: “Three Things” 

This one might actually have been pretty interesting.  The instruction was to take a picture of three things.  “They might belong together, or they might be totally random”.  But of course, by this time, I was a week behind on this endeavor, and in my mind, I couldn’t have participated in this one without having done all the ones that came before.  This leads to my new challenge for myself to be further discussed at the end of this post.

January 15th: “Black and White”

This prompt is much like the “upside down” prompt in that, with modern technology, any picture can be black and white with just the press of a few buttons.  I could have made a picture black and white using settings on my camera, or using iPhoto to edit it that way.  There’s no real challenge in that, and once again, I only left the house to work.  Irony being what it is, I could have taken a “selfie” at work and posted that, since my uniform for most bar tending jobs is a white shirt with black pants, tie and vest.  But again, I didn’t want to bring my camera along to work.

January 16th: “Sun”

The instruction was to take a picture of the sun.  Of course this was totally doable, even without having left the house.  But again.  I was too far behind.

January 17th: “Tiny”

Does this really need any explanation?

January 18th: “Happy Place”

I wouldn’t even know where to start with this one.  (Plus I worked again, that day.)

January 19th: “Breakfast”

“Take a photo of your breakfast, or where you were for breakfast time.”  This was a Lil’B Sunday.  I picked him up earlier than usual so we could go to the Oakland, Zoo.  I slept through breakfast, and well?  Really?  Does anyone really want a photograph of my bed?  I don’t think so.  I took lots of pictures at the zoo, though I haven’t yet had time to edit them.  But those photographs had nothing to do with the prompt.

January 20th: “To Do List”

I suppose there might be something interesting in this.  The instruction was to take a picture of the actual list, or a series of pictures of things I did.  At the moment, my to do list, is only in my head, and it’s so long that it’s actually debilitating and nothing gets done.  Something I absolutely must work on.  But anyway, this photo prompt wasn’t doable either for many reasons.

January 21st:  “Blue”

Sometimes they’re just too easy, which I guess I shouldn’t complain about.  While I am not consciously aware of having a favorite color, or a strong preference toward any one color, until recently, a quick glance at my closet would have told you that blue is unequivocally my favorite color.  Finding a blue thing to take a picture of would not have been difficult.  Then of course, there’s always this:

Me and my new car, taken outside the dealership, Half Moon Bay, CA
Me and my new car, taken outside the dealership, Half Moon Bay, CA

Heck, even the blue Honda over my left shoulder was mine.  That’s the car I traded in for the Mustang.  (Don’t talk to me about the monumental difference in gas mileage.  I will cut you!)

And that leads us to today, January 22nd: “Nice!”.  The instruction just says, “take a picture of something nice”, which, again, could be anything.  Hell, I could even just direct you to scroll up an inch or so.  There’s something pretty nice!  Maybe I’ll take some additional pictures today, maybe I won’t.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Anyway, my new challenge for my self, as alluded to with January 14th: “Three Things” is to not get so caught up in the idea that I have to post one thing before I can post something else.  Especially when that one thing is something that I am avoiding doing for whatever reason.  Maybe that thing will get posted, maybe it won’t.  But I shouldn’t let that thing prevent me from posting other things.  I have, in the past, had a problem with holding back on those thoughts because I hadn’t posted the other thing yet, and then I end up losing lots of ideas that I wanted to convey.  Probably this won’t lead to anything earth shattering, but at least it should help me keep my writing muscle exercised…  Lord knows it’s the only one that’s getting any exercise.

 


Words To Live By

A couple of years ago, I began reading Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City books.  For those who don’t know, the earliest of this series started out as a recurring installment in the San Francisco Chronicle, the local news paper.  I imagine it was sort of like reading a soap opera.  The books take place in San Francisco and center around a young gay man, Michael, and his naive, mid-western suburbia transplant neighbor turned best friend, Mary Ann.

One night, while reading one of the early volumes, a reference was made to an actor by the name of Tab Hunter.  The first thought that popped into my head was that “Tab Hunter” sounds like a made up name (it is) of a porn star (it is not), yet, in spite of not being a connoisseur of pornography, the name seemed vaguely familiar to me.  I never did find out why, but in my investigation I pulled up his IMDb page to see if I would recognize him, or might have seen him in anything.  While I’m sure to have seen him in some of his late career television guest roles, nothing jumped out at me, but as luck would have it, he had starred in a film adaptation of Damn Yankees!, a play I had the opportunity to see in the mid ’90s and very much enjoyed.  It also happened to have significant relevance to my, as yet unpublished (in fact, still unedited) novel I was writing at the time.

While I perused Tab Hunter’s IMDb page I noticed that he was quite a handsome man in his youth, though, to be fair, he’s not a bad looking man now, considering his advanced years.  Anyway, I became curious about him.  Along with adding several of his appearances to my Netflix queue, I also checked out a copy of his autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential, from the library.  It was there that I learned a lot of interesting things about Tab Hunter.  Most notable to me, especially at the time, is the fact that he is gay, and while Hollywood (and society) would not allow its leading men to come out publicly, in that day and age, Tab never really made much effort to hide the fact either.  In fact, he claims, in his book, that he never really gave it much thought, never questioned whether it was who he really was or what he was supposed to do or be, and he never felt the need to make a declaration about the subject either.  It was just who he was, and he never gave it a second thought.  Too me, that seems like some pretty forward and progressive thinking, even by today’s standards, not to mention in the 1940s and 1950s!  Tab Hunter Confidential is Tab’s life story beginning with his birth on July 11, 1931, in New York City, as Arthur Andrew Kelm (later Arthur Galeen) and ending with his quiet life on a secluded ranch near Santa Barbara, California where he still lives with his “partner” (I hate that word in this context) of 30 years and their many animals.

In the final pages of the autobiography, Tab describes being at his mother’s bedside as she lay dying.  His mother had been a hard and difficult woman who never quite accepted who he was, choosing instead to ignore that part of his life and never discuss or confront the situation.  His description of the woman reminded me quite a bit of my own mother and her general reaction to the news when I came out to her, and so when he describes reading a poem to her on her deathbed, a poem that I felt was very poignant, I found it quite moving:

A powerful poem I discovered while reading Tab Hunter Confidential, an autobiography.
A powerful poem I discovered while reading Tab Hunter Confidential, an autobiography.

I felt that this poem was a powerful message, and words to live by.  It became the foundation of an idea; an idea which began to shift and grow in my mind.  Over time, it began to take shape until it became something real.

I hadn’t planned to write about this, or share any pictures, until all the touch ups and augmentations were complete and it was completely healed, but circumstances intervened, and here we are.

Today’s prompt (and it actually still is today, as I’m writing this.  Go me!) is Words To Live By.  While I originally thought to find a way to photograph my favorite quote, “Stop laughing!  You can’t fix stupid!”, I decided to try for something that is hopefully a bit more uplifting.  So instead, I now present, in all it’s imperfect, incomplete glory, my fifth tattoo.  The largest, most elaborate tattoo I’ve gotten so far, and certainly the one with the most meaning and significance behind it.  (Not to be confused with the most sentimentality, which is still tattoo number four, all the way!  Which, as it turns out, I don’t think I wrote about here…  Hmm…).

I gave my basic concept to the tattoo artist who created a more elaborate, and better than I could have imagined, design.  The poem, I think, is pretty self explanatory.  The rest represents baring oneself before God, concealing nothing, and basking in the knowledge of God’s grace, mercy and love.  With this tattoo, I proudly demonstrate the certain knowledge that I am a child of God, loved and blessed, free of judgement and condemnation, and that it is not a contradiction to be gay and a Christian.

The finished product is not perfect, however.  As you can see in the third image, the first line at the top, “If I relax” the I and the r are too close together.  The artist assures me that he can fix that and I certainly hope he can.  It was definitely a disappointment when I took the bandage off after I got home and realized that the letters were so close together that it looks like an h “If helax”.  The sun rays, in the colors of the pride flag, need to extend further onto my shoulder, chest and back than they do, and they definitely need to be filled in more.  He told me as he was doing the tattoo that they would need to be touched up.  Blocks of solid color that large rarely heal perfectly on the first pass.  It is also my preference, and he says he can do it, for the colors to be a little more bold and primary, as they appear on the pride flag.

Pride Flag
Pride Flag – Photo credit not mine.

Finally, only after I’d had the tattoo for a few days and had looked at it regularly did I realize, it just doesn’t quite look complete to me.  I have an appointment for this coming Wednesday to have the touch-ups and corrections done and at the same time, I’m going to have him do some augmentation to frame the tattoo in a little better.  I’m thinking more flourishes, similar to what’s at the bottom of the poem along the sides and around my arm, meeting on the inside.  That should be quite an exciting experience since the skin there is quite tender and soft.  It does not go through a lot of abuse, being on the inside of the arm and, therefore, it will be much more sensitive than the outside of my arm was during the original application.

I’ve written about my first three tattoos previously, here, so I won’t get into them now.  If you’re curious, check that post out.  I had intended to link to the story of tattoo number four as well, but it seems that story hasn’t been written…  yet.  I will.  I promise.  It’s a good one.

Getting On With It

Once again, I’ve been sitting on a “post” that I wrote weeks ago and e-mailed to myself  but never posted.  And once again, I feel like I can’t move forward until it’s been posted.  Some of what’s here is no longer relevant.  That will be explained eventually.  Meanwhile, I must get this posted so that I can move forward…  somehow.

This was originally written on October 2, 2013.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

The noise and the supply of bullshit seem to be unending.  It’s abundantly clear, now, that The Guy doesn’t care about me in the least.  I shouldn’t be surprised.  I shouldn’t even be hurt by it.  But I am.  He fed me this bullshit song and dance about talking to people about the disruption, but he remains just as guilty as the rest, and just as guilty as he’s always been.  Seems like utter hypocrisy to me.  He, the one person I’ve spoken to at length about this problem, doesn’t care to be cognizant of his contribution.  So why would he believe anyone else would.

He just walked by my desk and said good morning.  Why?  What’s the point?  He doesn’t talk to me at all, except to say hi and bye.  Sure it’s polite, but we are past polite.  I can’t stand the sound of his voice.  The sound of his laugh.  I hate seeing him.  I wish I could get out of here and NEVER COME BACK.  I can’t wait for that day.

Only it has to be under my own steam.  There’s no way I can survive being unemployed again now.  It’s just not possible.  Yet, my boss is threatening to fire me, when you boil it down, because I’m depressed.  She says I’m being unkind to people, but she can’t give me an example of it.  All she says is that it’s “a tone”, it’s “intangible”, but “it has to stop.”  I really do not know what she’s talking about, as I have made a concerted effort to be as neutral as I can manage with people.  I’m not happy and I don’t have the power within me to pretend to be.  Of course it’s not OK to be rude to people and it’s not my intent to be, but if I’m doing something wrong, I don’t know it, thus, the reason I need specific examples.  (Meanwhile, I’ve actually received several complements from my customers recently, telling me what a great job I’m doing and how invaluable I am to the organization.)

A big part, maybe the biggest part, of why I’m unhappy, depressed now, is because of him.  He is directly responsible for breaking me.  I’m not saying I don’t have any responsibility for my circumstances, of course I do, but he was reckless and irresponsible and he toyed with me and my emotions.  He created this situation and I’m the one left to deal with the aftermath.  I’m trying to do just that, I’m trying to deal with my issues.  I’m doing the best I can.  But these things take time and my boss is not interested.  And now she wants to extend my probation, like that helps anything.  We’re never going to see eye to eye.  We’re never going to agree on how things should work.  We’re never going to agree on what “this industry” is like, or what “good customer service” looks like.

It’s just hopeless.

I NEED TO GET OUT!

~~~~~~~~~

On Friday, October 18, 2013, five and one half months into my six months probation, I was informed that I was “a square peg trying to fit into a round hole”, (that’s an actual quote), and that I was being “released during probation”, which pretty much means they can terminate my employment without notice, without warning, and, apparently, without any documentation of a problem.

The meeting with my boss and the HR representative (someone I had spoken to multiple times about the issues I was having with my boss and my concerns for my well-being, and who never once offered any sort of supportive or encouraging advice) took place at 3:30 that Friday afternoon.  Just half an hour before everyone was to meet up at a local brewery for happy hour to celebrate The Guy’s birthday.  Two separate calendar invitations were sent out about the happy hour and two separate calendar invitations were declined by me.  I’m sure he didn’t expect me to attend, but I can’t help but imagine that some people were surprised I wasn’t there and must’ve asked about me.  Either way, I know that my boss sent out a terse e-mail the following Monday morning informing the entire staff that I was not longer working there and to come to her with any outstanding or new requests.

I’ve never seen or  heard from The Guy since that day.  I can’t say I’m surprised.  I can’t imagine what his response was to the news.  Probably relief, though he’d act like he was sad for anyone who’s paying attention.  I can’t imagine he acknowledges any sort of responsibility on the subject, even though he does hold some.  It’s just as well really.  I don’t know what I would have said or done if he had contact me.  I need to wash my hands of him, and this is the only way to do it, but it still makes me a bit angry.

(Ironically, as a direct result of conversations that took place around the difficulties at work, I’m taking an “anger management” class right now.  That’s a whole post in itself and I’ll discuss it further later, but one of the concepts in this class is that “anger isn’t real”.  They suggest that anger is just a mask for pain whether it’s physical or emotional.  That said, I wonder why I would be hurt that someone I don’t want to have anything further to do with wouldn’t bother to check on me after finding out I had been let go?)

Regardless, I am out of that situation, away from him, never have to see or speak to him again.  I can start to “wash that man right out of my hai–”  oh.  Well, you get the idea.  (I wonder if anyone will understand that reference without clicking the link.)  I no longer have to deal with the stress of a job that was never right for me in the first place.  I don’t have to deal with a boss who is chaotic and disorganized and disrespectful, and sexist.  I don’t have to deal with the film of grit and filth that was a permanent fixture on my beautiful new car, from the asphalt plant or sand factory, both of which were on the other side of the fence from the parking lot.

All of these are good things.  Nevertheless, I am still unemployed, living in one of the most expensive parts of the country, with a brand new car (and payment, gas and insurance to go with it) and not nearly the resources I had the last time this happened.  If I don’t figure something out pretty damn quickly, I’m going to have to make some drastic and very unpleasant changes, I’m just not sure I can face.

Anyway, my first priority these days is earning money and finding a new full time job, but I think about this space often.  Maybe now that I’ve gotten the last of these written-elsewhere-and-emailed-for-later-posting posts posted, I can come back here more frequently, even if it’s just to post short updates on the current goings on in my life…  like this:

First day with full-time glasses.
First day with full-time glasses.

A Lack of Self-Respect

I’m hard pressed to understand why it is that I can’t seem to muster up any more self-respect than this.  Why would an otherwise intelligent man continually subject himself to the whims of a person who doesn’t value him?  How long does he go on making excuses for someone who doesn’t communicate?  Who toys with his emotions and shows no more concern for his well-being than to completely ignore him all week-end and then offer up some mostly useless excuse for why?

Anyone with a modicum of self-respect would have washed his hands of this a long time ago!  So why can’t I? 

I doubt myself.  That’s the only answer I can come up with.  I doubt my worth.  I doubt my judgment.  I doubt my sense.  Because what if I’m wrong, and this guy is the guy that I’m meant to be with and I’m just dealing with some incredibly painful, seemingly interminable growing pains at the start?  Twenty years from now, will I be looking back at this time and appreciating the struggle we had to go through to spend the rest of our lives together?

I doubt it.  I think it’s far more likely that 20 years from now I’ll be looking back on this time and kicking myself for not washing my hands of the whole thing faster.  Probably from my deathbed, where no one will be there to hold my hand and see me off.

Most of the time I feel like he’s toying with me.  He doesn’t want me.  But he doesn’t want to let me go either.  He likes having me hanging on and when it seems like I’m about to let go, he throws me another bone.  It’s cruel really.  We have these deep emotional conversations and I think yes!  Finally we’re getting somewhere! But then his behavior doesn’t change.  He still doesn’t respond to his text messages in a timely manner.  He still ignores the ones that make him uncomfortable.  And he still offers up worthless explanations.

He has all the control.  I’m not sure if he realizes it or not.  He might.  He might be doing it on purpose.  Or he might have no idea. 

But in my own sickness, I’m afraid to hurt him, so I don’t say anything, and I continue to just hide in the corner and wait for his next scrap of affection knowing it will never be enough.

Clogged

During my therapy appointment the other week, Deb offered me an additional form of communication I was previously unaware of, in the form of encrypted e-mail messages.  The idea was for me to have an outlet of some sort as I deal with the emotional fallout of my recent…  can it really be called a “break-up”(?), with The Guy.

I didn’t take her up on it.  I mean I made it available to myself, but I never actually used it.  I didn’t know where to start.  I felt – I feel – compelled to make my writing logical, and fluid, with a clear beginning, a middle and an identifiable end.  It needs to be…  Entertaining seems like the wrong word…  But certainly it needs to be interesting.  It needs to hold the reader’s attention.  So I wrote a little bit here.  Targeted, specific stories to convey the strongest of my current emotions, and the utter defeat that I feel.  But I never wrote to Deb.  I thought about it a few times, but I just didn’t know what to say.  I have no idea how it works.  Would she respond to my e-mails?  Would it just be a dumping ground for all the crap that I’m thinking and feeling?  Would it result in stored up ammunition to use against me in our next session?

I have no one else to talk to…  The couple of people I started to talk to about this, gave me songs and dances and bubbled over with platitudes that don’t interest me in the slightest.  As I mentioned on my Facebook page (and then subsequently deleted)

“The next person who tells me how awesome / amazing / special I am and how lucky somebody is going to be, damn well better follow it up with a declaration of love, and gratitude for how lucky they feel to be that person.”

I’m absolutely sick and tired of being told how  great I am and that someday, somebody will want me.  All I hear is, “I’m sure there’s someone that would want you…  It’s not me, but there’s bound to be somebody somewhere…”  The fact that it took 38 years to find one person with whom I thought there was a real possibility (and proved to be dead wrong) would seem to suggest that, in fact, there might not be somebody somewhere who will want me.  I don’t think anyone has done me any favors by ignoring that fact and pretending everything is bound to be just hunky dory.

As it happens, there actually are a few other things going on in my life right now that don’t center around The Guy and the resultant breaking of my heart.  Admittedly, my broken heart and the litany of emotions that result from it (hurt, sorrow, anger, depression, resentment, jealousy, fear, loneliness, desperation….  Just to name a few) are highly prevalent in my mind and I do frequently come back to them.  But there are other things in my life, things that are affected by said broken-heart-induced hysteria.

In the meeting I had with my boss last week, the one in which she offered up a different (but equally problematic) cubicle for me to try on, she also told me that I really needed to think about whether this was the right job for me.  She said that I seem to get really frustrated a lot and…  Actually I don’t remember exactly what she said, but the implication was that I’m not being nice enough to people who come to my desk.  She asked me when I started, and when I reminded her of the date, she said, “Ok, so you’re about halfway through your process.”  We had been discussing the fact that I’m process oriented (something I was very clear about in my interview) and that we don’t have enough processes for how we get things done for people to know how to ask for things.  Process was, I’m quite certain, a misspoken word on her part.  She meant probation.  The organization where I now work has a six month probationary period.  And as much as I’d like to come up with a better explanation, I can think of only one reason for her to mention that in the context of that conversation.

Now, in addition to all those feelings I just listed above, I’m also feeling threatened, and vulnerable.  I suspect she is thinking about firing me, and my only option is to stuff down all my feelings and pretend that everything is great and wonderful in my life, and welcome each new frustration– er, interruption as if it’s the greatest thing that could have happened to me.  I’m supposed to never let on that anything is bothering me…  Even though, everyone else does at one time or another.

In a recent ill-fated text conversation with The Guy, he made a comment about me “snapping at folks”.  I don’t believe I am.  But if I am, I’m unaware of it.  What I am aware of, is that I’m struggling with a lot of negative emotions without possession of any coping skills to make it better, and in spite of that, I have been very deliberate about not taking that out on other people.  There was one instance when I vented some anger about a specific thing to but not at my manager, and I do admit that I was wrong about the thing I was angry about, and wrong to vent in that moment, but I also give myself credit for the fact that it was an isolated event (to my knowledge) and that I’ve actually done a pretty good job of containing my feelings…  Or so I thought.

But now I can’t help but wonder.  If my boss is telling me that I’m not being nice enough to people, and The Guy says I’m snapping at folks, and I’m not aware of it….  Well, what does that mean?

I admit that I’m not happy right now.  I have lots of very good reason not to be.  I also admit that I do not possess the proper coping skills to compartmentalize and separate my personal problems from my work life, which, admittedly, would be better.  But from where I’m sitting, there’s a huge difference between not being happy and bubbly when I talk to people, and being aggressively angry with them.  I am under a lot of pressure and stress right now.  I get that my stress is not someone else’s problem and I don’t mean to make it so.  But who is to say that “how can I help you” spoken without a smile is less appropriate than “how can I help you” spoken with one?  I may not be happy to speak to someone at any given moment, but I still give them my complete attention.  I still acknowledge and fulfill their request as efficiently as I can.

I’m actively searching for some affordable and feasible anger management or stress management programs.  I can, and might, write a whole separate post about the anger management thing.  It’s a very touchy subject that stirs up a lot of feelings on its own.  But if what I’ve been interpreting as emphatic passion, on my part, is being seen as anger to everyone else…  maybe that’s something I need to look at.  There’s no question that I experience a considerable amount of stress.  I imagine the two are related…  But it’s a lot harder than you might expect to find what I need, when I need it.

So, I’ve thought about writing e-mails to Deb…  multiple times.  But…  It’s like my fingers are a funnel.  They take the big, wide-mouthed vessel full of emotions,  a vat of roiling, battling, conflict, and as the emotions roll around and around in the vessel, making smaller and smaller concentric revolutions, they reach the narrow mouth of the funnel, only to find that they all want in at once.  And the battle is amplified there as everything tries to escape at once.

My funnel is clogged and I don’t know how to clear it all out.