Borderline Affairs Sample – “Rush”


This is a second poem included in my book “Borderline Affairs.” I will continue to release occasional samples, although I am restricted from releasing the full manuscript. If you like what you see, please consider a purchase of the paperback or ebook format on Amazon, just search for “Borderline Affairs: A Memoir.” I hope you enjoy!

———

Feel the rush
Feel the blush, of happiness
Feel spun
Feel one, with nature, with your body, with your fellow man
Feel damned

Salvation lies, it would appear, in the bottom of a bottle of pills
Feel the chill
Fed to Hell
But that Salvation was not mine to have

Where do I turn for a savior?
Where is my god?

Flicker of flame, shadows in the dark
Rolling, bowling, watching shit arc
In the glass pipe, crystal clear,
Smoking, slowly, now faster, now breathe, inhale, take in the rush
Don’t let go til you’re full
Let your mind wander, crazy, tripping
Tweaking
Poring over every detail, every line, every lie

My god, my salvation, is not in pills
It is in these rocks of glass, shattered, before me, ice, blue, chill,
These are my poison pills

And when they go down, they go down easy
Feel the rush
Just a crush
That takes me to a whole new world, spinning, soaring, up above the clouds,
So high
So fine
All that, is mine

But when the time comes, I fall,crashing, slamming my head against the rocks below, racing towards the cascading water, ready to suck me in
This is my sin

But I’ll take it, anyday, over that other life you promise, over that other God you worship, over those verses selling sin, not salvation
I’ll take my chances, thanks

I’ll take my baggie and my pipe
And the clouds surrounding me, embracing me, comforting me

Up high, there is no lie, everything is fine, and we go higher, and higher, reaching towards the sun, breathing deeply, exhaling and exalting at the bliss, oh what I wish, it all would stay forever

Keep me, I pray, in the clouds above
Feel the rush
Feel the happiness
Feel spun, at one, at peace, with yourself
This, you see, is my new love

No poison pills
Elixir of life instead
This time, better off in my head, than dead
And I sit, spinning, waiting for my rocket to come
With all this, be done
Rejoice in the sun
Where we all are becoming one

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#mylifematters Part VIII


Three little words changed my life, forever. You’d think that, just coming off a suicide spree, as I’ve affectionately named the preceding portion of my life, one would naturally turn to larger questions: What is life? What is the meaning of life? Why have I been chosen to live life, instead of succumbing to death? Any of these questions would be perfectly rational. Prisoners have converted for lesser sins. But I’m a proud atheist. Decoding that, actually, was the first moment of freedom I’d ever felt in my entire life. I was no longer in bondage, no longer a slave, no longer subordinate, no longer living in fear, no longer praying so many unanswered prayers, no more religion, with all its trappings that just cover up what it’s all about: profiting off fear, easing the masses, making social policy the role of the church, not the government. All of these churches have successfully done for millenia. The Catholic Church, especially, so enduring an institution, one wonders at times if they should be Catholic just to see what the fuss was about. Fuss is an appropriate word for catholicism. I was raised in a simple church with simple beliefs, closer to Quakers than Catholicism. Our church wasn’t even called a church, it was known as a “meeting hall.” This, supposedly, ensured that there was no single preacher to dominate the congregation, but rather that each member would contribute their share to enrich the general welfare, the general spirit, the general knowledge. It worked, to an extent, like one would expect any focus group to work. And, undoubtedly, the award of salvation is a strong motivation to exert oneself and exhort oneself to praising God. If that wasn’t sufficient, the punitive measures taken against congregation members who stepped out of line effectively beat us into submission. We saw that earlier with my mother. No, we were far removed from catholicism, with its Idol worship, its trapping, its preaching, its exhortations against sin, its removal of the gospel from the trust of the laity into the hands of an omniscient priest. That last part, particularly, stuck in the craw of my church. We had such a heavily footnoted Bible that it seemed like it was our duty to interpret and understand the Word of God. That was no matter to be left to be interpreted for us. No matter that the footnotes and copious extraneous works were, in fact, our Gospel, treated with more respect and reverence than the Bible itself. We were blindfolded, tricked into believing that we held the power of knowledge, but really, we were powerless. We could be talked into anything so long as there was a de minimus justification. I can’t stress enough the power of brainwashing. The catholics had tried it, during the dark ages, but we’re ultimately unsuccessful. Ironic, really, that our church praised Luther and Guttenberg for bringing the Word to the masses, when, ultimately, we took over the interpretation, so that access to the text was a prerequisite for understanding but not sufficient for understanding. In fact, it was heretical to make up our own interpretation of verse. Those matters were done for us. I love to relate the story, not that I know much detail, about how a young couple entered the flock, as it were, and were so surrounded with doctrine and preaching and worship and lifestyles that they, smartly, fled, and in the process, sued the church for brainwashing. I envy them. They saw, so much earlier than I, what a fraud the church was, what a fraud the concept of God was, what an abomination that hierarchical structures could breed such dependence and obedience, in the name of enlightenment! Well, anyways, the church quite handily had a fund available to settle such lawsuits, and the matter was dropped. I have no idea how many other people were paid off to keep quiet. How revolting. So, yes, the day I realized that God didn’t exist was a moment of true freedom, and would profoundly affect my life by allowing the choice and power to determine my own values and standards, with great deference to philosophical giants, to the power of Logic, but, ultimately, it was my choice and my decision alone. There are, I strongly believe, certain Hobbesian rules and principles that no man can run afoul of, such as murdered, without bring society back into a stats of nature, which was so “nasty, brutish and short” that no man could desire it, in fact, that every effort would be made to maintain a society in order to avoid devolution into the state of nature. Religion, for many, handily played the role of organizing mankind and providing a common enemy, the devil, which is always effective for holding disparate groups together. Like a nation losing its grip on its populace, the mere invocation of an enemy that would destroy us all gives rise to a sudden, strong sense of nationality, of civic pride. Hitler knew this, and the Nazis were one of the finest examples of how any group of people can be held together by banding them against other groups: Jews, gays, communists. Simply declare those an abomination, and you suddenly held the power to take over the world. Anyways, religion, as it were, is simply the opiate of the masses, the drug we’re fed to keep us subservient. I’m not a radical,  not recommending overthrow of government, in fact, I love government. Strong government is the best antidote to religion, by providing a sense of belonging and community without invoking unnatural spirits and ghostly beings. Government is truly an atheist institution; it is the refutation of this principle that causes so much strife and warfare. Our own forefathers saw this, that there must be separation of church and state. But we never learn, and those who don’t learn are doomed to repeat the mistakes of their past. So it is.

Rambling as that may have sounded, I intended it to highlight how important this next event was, so important that even God had no power to intervene.

It started so simply. I was up in Seattle, after my parents had hauled me home, and was living with a friend, Frank, in a wooden boat moored at Lake Union. It wasn’t a houseboat, those were sneered upon, nor one of those flimsy plastic shells people so love to revere, but rather an original wooden boat, two cabins, two bath, galley, living room and dining area, all below deck, and a large and spacious upper deck that proved quite sufficient to hold even the largest parties. Frank was, frankly, conservative and religious, but the  topics of homosexuality and religion never came up, so we were able to forge a relationship anyways. So it was that I was up in Seattle, having hauled my laundry by bike from the dock to the laundromat a mile away, and I was just sitting there in the lobby waiting for my laundry to buzz. It was a beautiful summer day in Seattle, the kind of warm, sunny day, with rays of light glistening and sparkling in the water, with green, soft grass and just a hint of a breeze, the kind of day that makes Seattle worth living in the rest of the dreary, rainy, gray year. I was, like I said, doing my laundry, playing on my phone, killing time. Well, not “playing” exactly, more like cruising. I was on the mobile version of Adam4Adam, which I think I mentioned before as being the new gay.com, although that still existed. This new site allowed you to choose individual pictures of guys in the same neighborhood as you, and strike up a conversation. Their profile would already list their age, height, weight, body build, hair color, and, conveniently, sexual preferences, including whether they wore protection. Despite all the trappings of providing a “social forum” for gay men, it was, in all respects, a sec site, a hook up site, a site where sex was the first and last thing on every mind of every guy in every profile picture. This predated Grindr, which took the same concept but made it location based by GPS. Phones capable of that weren’t ubiquitous back in the day (Oh how I’m dating myself), so the best we had was what the person listed as their neighborhood. This worked until everyone realized you could only seen other members in the same neighborhood; it wasn’t long before every profile listed “Capital Hill,” the gay part of town, whether that person lived within striking range or not. So it wasn’t always easy to find someone that was literally in the same neighborhood. I suppose that’s asking a lot, to have a cute guy in the same neighborhood, online at the same time as you, looking for all the things you’re looking for and having all the qualities that you find attractive and, conveniently, lived right next door. Straight people don’t expect so much. In fact, there’s a comic expression of “s/he was the One for me,” as if the location didn’t matter. So convenient that most people found their “One” often within the same area code, and looking a lot like them (racially, at least). I find myself sidetracked again. Because the point of this was to say that I was cruising for sex online, on my phone, while I was waiting for the mundane task of laundry to finish so I could go have some fun and enjoy this very pleasant day.

Generally, I was fairly successful online, meaning that I usually was able to find a guy I liked, nearby, that liked me too and wanted to meet. Well, fuck, actually, but once in a while there was coffee involved. So, at this time, there was  certain guy I was talking to, trading innuendos back and forth, hunting without saying that we found each other attractive. Finally, it came right down to it. He invited me over. I said yes. Now, here come the three little, innocuous, innocent even, words that changed my life forever. His next message: “do u party?” Aside from the glaring observation that he couldn’t be bothered to type out the word “you” was the equally glaring observation that this wasn’t a well formed sentence of the English language. “Party” was being used as a verb, not an adverb or pronoun, not a “party” like an event that people attend, not a “party” like being a “party boy” that lived for the gay clubs. Not, just the word “party,” as an action in itself. It didn’t actually catch my attention as much as I just made it seem; there was just enough unusual about it, though, that I followed up with something like “I like parties.” It’s true, I did love a good party. His response: “do you know what party means?” Well, let’s not drag it out here, just tell me! My response: “obviously not in the same sense as you’re using,” or something to that extent. The response came a few minutes later, as if he was formulating just the right definition, just the right choice of words, to explain his intentions. Finally, the reply came back: “it means Tina.”

Let break for a second to process. Some of you may be street savvy and quite familiar with this term. Others, like me, had never heard it before. I mean, I knew Tina Turner, and Christina Aguilera, if you wanted to stretch the usage of the word, but I’d never heard of something called “Tina,” as an object, a thing, maybe even an event but certainly not referring to a person or place. Vaguely, truthfully I knew what was up. I knew, without knowing, that he was offering me the chance, for the first time, to experience drugs. There, I said it. He wanted to do drugs with me. I didn’t know what “tina” was, but I understood what he was proposing.

Let’s back up another step. I was a good kid, followed all the rules, made good friends, made smart choices, excelled at academics, yes, even we to church, for a while at least. I wore khakis, not jeans, polos and button-downs, not t-shirts, parted my hair to the side, not up in a Mohawk or messed up in a bowl cut, both of which were popular. No, I defied style and expectations and dressed my own way. Actually, I dressed the way the church wanted me to dress. And if I didn’t dress that way, not only would my parents find out, but one of various “monitors” might discover and report me. You see, the church kept certain people at certain schools and provided oversight to those students by strategically placed members of the congregation. In fact, there was very little you could do that was not under the watchful eye of the church. One guy, young adult I suppose, had an affair in Mexico, and the church found out and disciplined or expelled him. How they discovered that information  is completely beyond me, but it did mean that I’d better watch my back around town. So, I was a good kid. Even when I left the flock, so it was called, I still performed well academically and socially, proof enough, for me, that religion wasn’t  necessary to the proper function of every day life. Even down in San Francisco, although my morals tipped a little, I was still a good kid, at least in comparison to the lifestyles I encountered. So, when  a good kid is offered drugs, by a stranger, that good kid should be mindful of his upbringing and resist the offer, maybe even calling the police in the process to arrest this drug dealer. That’s what  good kid should have done. That’s not what I did.

Remember, I was fresh off my suicide spree. I still wasn’t happy in life. I had tried, at this point, potentially every single combination of antidepressants, anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety agents and God knows what else. Point is, I’d tried it, and it failed me. Why do I say that? Well, someone who is not depressed does not attempt, thirteen times, to kill themselves. Obviously, I was not happy, and the medication wasn’t helping. So here I was, in pain, depressed, anxious, unhappy and miserable, not knowing what to do or where to go to find relief. I just knew that salvation did not lie at the bottom of a bottle of pills. I’d tried that. So where did it lie? Well, I was being given an opportunity to find out, at least rule out drugs, and I was going to seize the chance. Nothing could possibly make my life any worse, so there was no harm, no foul. And if things improved for me, praise be Jesus, or drugs, as it were. So, I said yes, I’d come party. I finished my laundry, hopped on my bike, huffed and puffed up the backside of Capital Hill, and made my way to his place. You know, I can’t remember his name. What I do remember was what happened.

pop more pills
feel the chill
live the rush
die 
just a crush

an addiction, all my own; a lifestyle, one I chose
may I get another? 
life, I mean
this one doesn’t go down easy

a flicker, flame, beacon in the dark
a spoon, a pipe, doing it on a lark
who hurts when I fall? 
not I
not I at all

a bottle in front of me
a decision to be made
do I take the medicine? 
or swallow the poison pill? 
isn’t that really what I’ve been doing all along?

alice
see through the looking glass
can you still fit through that door? 
has life become just a chore?

drink the potion, my sweet
lie down beneath these sheets
when it’s over it’ll all be over
when it’s done your time has come

hanging on, not letting go
I want to feel the thrill
again
of life
beyond the pipe

I want to feel the rush
of waking, flush
with life

it cuts like a knife

slit your wrists
smoke a bowl
live or die, who’s to care?
who’s to hurt? 
not you, not I

alice fits through the door again
I am ready to embrace this sin
falling out, falling in
sodomy between me
and my pipe
outrage
pathetic

poetic

like a pill about to crush
like the damned who live for the rush
I take my pills
and live the thrill

and
I die
alone
needle in my arm
pills strewn around
who’s to care? who’s to know?
I just wanted to go
through the looking glass, again

-Alice Falls, personal writings, 2014

In this part we see, aside from my deep antipathy towards the church and religion, the first moments, indeed, the critical moment, when I said yes to drugs. I’ll flesh that out in the next chapter. This is getting harder to write as the memories become fresher yet more cloudy. Pun intended. You’ll see.

Before we go forward, I want to be absolutely clear. This is an essay on my life, which includes drug addiction. I neither condemn nor condone drug use. These are individual choices. I won’t sugarcoat the truth, but neither will I pretend that some of the highs, as well as lows, didn’t exist. Love, they say, is a many splendored thing. I aim to show, in a brutally honest fashion, why I made the choice to continue to use, what the effects were – physically, mentally and socially – and what it did to my life, and, for some of you, your lives. Some of you had no idea I was high, there was just something not quite right. Others of you knew, and judged, and ostracized. I’m not upset about that. Drugs are scary and sometimes the only proper reaction is to place some distance between yourself and the situation. What I hope to get across, though, is that I changed, I let the drug change me, but maybe, just maybe, there’s some recognizable part of me left inside this machinery of death. I want to know whether that’s true. I don’t have any answers. I’m going to let you read and see what happened and reach your own conclusions. I’m not looking for sympathy, though I’m certainly not hoping for antipathy; I want, to the extent that one who has never done drugs can, go give insight and provide a platform for understanding. No one lightly chooses drugs, especially, most particularly, not this one. There’s a reason, a good reason, why I chose to subject myself to hell. You see, there’s a little slice of heaven inside hell, and sometimes, sometimes you’re lucky enough to see it, touch it, feel it, caress it, before it’s all taken away again, leaving you in an abyss of emptiness, but never giving up hope that you’ll one day, once again find that slice of heaven. 

#mylifematters Part VIII


Three little words changed my life, forever. You’d think that, just coming off a suicide spree, as I’ve affectionately named the preceding portion of my life, one would naturally turn to larger questions: What is life? What is the meaning of life? Why have I been chosen to live life, instead of succumbing to death? Any of these questions would be perfectly rational. Prisoners have converted for lesser sins. But I’m a proud atheist. Decoding that, actually, was the first moment of freedom I’d ever felt in my entire life. I was no longer in bondage, no longer a slave, no longer subordinate, no longer living in fear, no longer praying so many unanswered prayers, no more religion, with all its trappings that just cover up what it’s all about: profiting off fear, easing the masses, making social policy the role of the church, not the government. All of these churches have successfully done for millenia. The Catholic Church, especially, so enduring an institution, one wonders at times if they should be Catholic just to see what the fuss was about. Fuss is an appropriate word for catholicism. I was raised in a simple church with simple beliefs, closer to Quakers than Catholicism. Our church wasn’t even called a church, it was known as a “meeting hall.” This, supposedly, ensured that there was no single preacher to dominate the congregation, but rather that each member would contribute their share to enrich the general welfare, the general spirit, the general knowledge. It worked, to an extent, like one would expect any focus group to work. And, undoubtedly, the award of salvation is a strong motivation to exert oneself and exhort oneself to praising God. If that wasn’t sufficient, the punitive measures taken against congregation members who stepped out of line effectively beat us into submission. We saw that earlier with my mother. No, we were far removed from catholicism, with its Idol worship, its trapping, its preaching, its exhortations against sin, its removal of the gospel from the trust of the laity into the hands of an omniscient priest. That last part, particularly, stuck in the craw of my church. We had such a heavily footnoted Bible that it seemed like it was our duty to interpret and understand the Word of God. That was no matter to be left to be interpreted for us. No matter that the footnotes and copious extraneous works were, in fact, our Gospel, treated with more respect and reverence than the Bible itself. We were blindfolded, tricked into believing that we held the power of knowledge, but really, we were powerless. We could be talked into anything so long as there was a de minimus justification. I can’t stress enough the power of brainwashing. The catholics had tried it, during the dark ages, but we’re ultimately unsuccessful. Ironic, really, that our church praised Luther and Guttenberg for bringing the Word to the masses, when, ultimately, we took over the interpretation, so that access to the text was a prerequisite for understanding but not sufficient for understanding. In fact, it was heretical to make up our own interpretation of verse. Those matters were done for us. I love to relate the story, not that I know much detail, about how a young couple entered the flock, as it were, and were so surrounded with doctrine and preaching and worship and lifestyles that they, smartly, fled, and in the process, sued the church for brainwashing. I envy them. They saw, so much earlier than I, what a fraud the church was, what a fraud the concept of God was, what an abomination that hierarchical structures could breed such dependence and obedience, in the name of enlightenment! Well, anyways, the church quite handily had a fund available to settle such lawsuits, and the matter was dropped. I have no idea how many other people were paid off to keep quiet. How revolting. So, yes, the day I realized that God didn’t exist was a moment of true freedom, and would profoundly affect my life by allowing the choice and power to determine my own values and standards, with great deference to philosophical giants, to the power of Logic, but, ultimately, it was my choice and my decision alone. There are, I strongly believe, certain Hobbesian rules and principles that no man can run afoul of, such as murdered, without bring society back into a stats of nature, which was so “nasty, brutish and short” that no man could desire it, in fact, that every effort would be made to maintain a society in order to avoid devolution into the state of nature. Religion, for many, handily played the role of organizing mankind and providing a common enemy, the devil, which is always effective for holding disparate groups together. Like a nation losing its grip on its populace, the mere invocation of an enemy that would destroy us all gives rise to a sudden, strong sense of nationality, of civic pride. Hitler knew this, and the Nazis were one of the finest examples of how any group of people can be held together by banding them against other groups: Jews, gays, communists. Simply declare those an abomination, and you suddenly held the power to take over the world. Anyways, religion, as it were, is simply the opiate of the masses, the drug we’re fed to keep us subservient. I’m not a radical,  not recommending overthrow of government, in fact, I love government. Strong government is the best antidote to religion, by providing a sense of belonging and community without invoking unnatural spirits and ghostly beings. Government is truly an atheist institution; it is the refutation of this principle that causes so much strife and warfare. Our own forefathers saw this, that there must be separation of church and state. But we never learn, and those who don’t learn are doomed to repeat the mistakes of their past. So it is.

Rambling as that may have sounded, I intended it to highlight how important this next event was, so important that even God had no power to intervene.

It started so simply. I was up in Seattle, after my parents had hauled me home, and was living with a friend, Frank, in a wooden boat moored at Lake Union. It wasn’t a houseboat, those were sneered upon, nor one of those flimsy plastic shells people so love to revere, but rather an original wooden boat, two cabins, two bath, galley, living room and dining area, all below deck, and a large and spacious upper deck that proved quite sufficient to hold even the largest parties. Frank was, frankly, conservative and religious, but the  topics of homosexuality and religion never came up, so we were able to forge a relationship anyways. So it was that I was up in Seattle, having hauled my laundry by bike from the dock to the laundromat a mile away, and I was just sitting there in the lobby waiting for my laundry to buzz. It was a beautiful summer day in Seattle, the kind of warm, sunny day, with rays of light glistening and sparkling in the water, with green, soft grass and just a hint of a breeze, the kind of day that makes Seattle worth living in the rest of the dreary, rainy, gray year. I was, like I said, doing my laundry, playing on my phone, killing time. Well, not “playing” exactly, more like cruising. I was on the mobile version of Adam4Adam, which I think I mentioned before as being the new gay.com, although that still existed. This new site allowed you to choose individual pictures of guys in the same neighborhood as you, and strike up a conversation. Their profile would already list their age, height, weight, body build, hair color, and, conveniently, sexual preferences, including whether they wore protection. Despite all the trappings of providing a “social forum” for gay men, it was, in all respects, a sec site, a hook up site, a site where sex was the first and last thing on every mind of every guy in every profile picture. This predated Grindr, which took the same concept but made it location based by GPS. Phones capable of that weren’t ubiquitous back in the day (Oh how I’m dating myself), so the best we had was what the person listed as their neighborhood. This worked until everyone realized you could only seen other members in the same neighborhood; it wasn’t long before every profile listed “Capital Hill,” the gay part of town, whether that person lived within striking range or not. So it wasn’t always easy to find someone that was literally in the same neighborhood. I suppose that’s asking a lot, to have a cute guy in the same neighborhood, online at the same time as you, looking for all the things you’re looking for and having all the qualities that you find attractive and, conveniently, lived right next door. Straight people don’t expect so much. In fact, there’s a comic expression of “s/he was the One for me,” as if the location didn’t matter. So convenient that most people found their “One” often within the same area code, and looking a lot like them (racially, at least). I find myself sidetracked again. Because the point of this was to say that I was cruising for sex online, on my phone, while I was waiting for the mundane task of laundry to finish so I could go have some fun and enjoy this very pleasant day.

Generally, I was fairly successful online, meaning that I usually was able to find a guy I liked, nearby, that liked me too and wanted to meet. Well, fuck, actually, but once in a while there was coffee involved. So, at this time, there was  certain guy I was talking to, trading innuendos back and forth, hunting without saying that we found each other attractive. Finally, it came right down to it. He invited me over. I said yes. Now, here come the three little, innocuous, innocent even, words that changed my life forever. His next message: “do u party?” Aside from the glaring observation that he couldn’t be bothered to type out the word “you” was the equally glaring observation that this wasn’t a well formed sentence of the English language. “Party” was being used as a verb, not an adverb or pronoun, not a “party” like an event that people attend, not a “party” like being a “party boy” that lived for the gay clubs. Not, just the word “party,” as an action in itself. It didn’t actually catch my attention as much as I just made it seem; there was just enough unusual about it, though, that I followed up with something like “I like parties.” It’s true, I did love a good party. His response: “do you know what party means?” Well, let’s not drag it out here, just tell me! My response: “obviously not in the same sense as you’re using,” or something to that extent. The response came a few minutes later, as if he was formulating just the right definition, just the right choice of words, to explain his intentions. Finally, the reply came back: “it means Tina.”

Let break for a second to process. Some of you may be street savvy and quite familiar with this term. Others, like me, had never heard it before. I mean, I knew Tina Turner, and Christina Aguilera, if you wanted to stretch the usage of the word, but I’d never heard of something called “Tina,” as an object, a thing, maybe even an event but certainly not referring to a person or place. Vaguely, truthfully I knew what was up. I knew, without knowing, that he was offering me the chance, for the first time, to experience drugs. There, I said it. He wanted to do drugs with me. I didn’t know what “tina” was, but I understood what he was proposing.

Let’s back up another step. I was a good kid, followed all the rules, made good friends, made smart choices, excelled at academics, yes, even we to church, for a while at least. I wore khakis, not jeans, polos and button-downs, not t-shirts, parted my hair to the side, not up in a Mohawk or messed up in a bowl cut, both of which were popular. No, I defied style and expectations and dressed my own way. Actually, I dressed the way the church wanted me to dress. And if I didn’t dress that way, not only would my parents find out, but one of various “monitors” might discover and report me. You see, the church kept certain people at certain schools and provided oversight to those students by strategically placed members of the congregation. In fact, there was very little you could do that was not under the watchful eye of the church. One guy, young adult I suppose, had an affair in Mexico, and the church found out and disciplined or expelled him. How they discovered that information  is completely beyond me, but it did mean that I’d better watch my back around town. So, I was a good kid. Even when I left the flock, so it was called, I still performed well academically and socially, proof enough, for me, that religion wasn’t  necessary to the proper function of every day life. Even down in San Francisco, although my morals tipped a little, I was still a good kid, at least in comparison to the lifestyles I encountered. So, when  a good kid is offered drugs, by a stranger, that good kid should be mindful of his upbringing and resist the offer, maybe even calling the police in the process to arrest this drug dealer. That’s what  good kid should have done. That’s not what I did.

Remember, I was fresh off my suicide spree. I still wasn’t happy in life. I had tried, at this point, potentially every single combination of antidepressants, anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety agents and God knows what else. Point is, I’d tried it, and it failed me. Why do I say that? Well, someone who is not depressed does not attempt, thirteen times, to kill themselves. Obviously, I was not happy, and the medication wasn’t helping. So here I was, in pain, depressed, anxious, unhappy and miserable, not knowing what to do or where to go to find relief. I just knew that salvation did not lie at the bottom of a bottle of pills. I’d tried that. So where did it lie? Well, I was being given an opportunity to find out, at least rule out drugs, and I was going to seize the chance. Nothing could possibly make my life any worse, so there was no harm, no foul. And if things improved for me, praise be Jesus, or drugs, as it were. So, I said yes, I’d come party. I finished my laundry, hopped on my bike, huffed and puffed up the backside of Capital Hill, and made my way to his place. You know, I can’t remember his name. What I do remember was what happened.

pop more pills
feel the chill
live the rush
die 
just a crush

an addiction, all my own; a lifestyle, one I chose
may I get another? 
life, I mean
this one doesn’t go down easy

a flicker, flame, beacon in the dark
a spoon, a pipe, doing it on a lark
who hurts when I fall? 
not I
not I at all

a bottle in front of me
a decision to be made
do I take the medicine? 
or swallow the poison pill? 
isn’t that really what I’ve been doing all along?

alice
see through the looking glass
can you still fit through that door? 
has life become just a chore?

drink the potion, my sweet
lie down beneath these sheets
when it’s over it’ll all be over
when it’s done your time has come

hanging on, not letting go
I want to feel the thrill
again
of life
beyond the pipe

I want to feel the rush
of waking, flush
with life

it cuts like a knife

slit your wrists
smoke a bowl
live or die, who’s to care?
who’s to hurt? 
not you, not I

alice fits through the door again
I am ready to embrace this sin
falling out, falling in
sodomy between me
and my pipe
outrage
pathetic

poetic

like a pill about to crush
like the damned who live for the rush
I take my pills
and live the thrill

and
I die
alone
needle in my arm
pills strewn around
who’s to care? who’s to know?
I just wanted to go
through the looking glass, again

-Alice Falls, personal writings, 2014

In this part we see, aside from my deep antipathy towards the church and religion, the first moments, indeed, the critical moment, when I said yes to drugs. I’ll flesh that out in the next chapter. This is getting harder to write as the memories become fresher yet more cloudy. Pun intended. You’ll see.

Before we go forward, I want to be absolutely clear. This is an essay on my life, which includes drug addiction. I neither condemn nor condone drug use. These are individual choices. I won’t sugarcoat the truth, but neither will I pretend that some of the highs, as well as lows, didn’t exist. Love, they say, is a many splendored thing. I aim to show, in a brutally honest fashion, why I made the choice to continue to use, what the effects were – physically, mentally and socially – and what it did to my life, and, for some of you, your lives. Some of you had no idea I was high, there was just something not quite right. Others of you knew, and judged, and ostracized. I’m not upset about that. Drugs are scary and sometimes the only proper reaction is to place some distance between yourself and the situation. What I hope to get across, though, is that I changed, I let the drug change me, but maybe, just maybe, there’s some recognizable part of me left inside this machinery of death. I want to know whether that’s true. I don’t have any answers. I’m going to let you read and see what happened and reach your own conclusions. I’m not looking for sympathy, though I’m certainly not hoping for antipathy; I want, to the extent that one who has never done drugs can, go give insight and provide a platform for understanding. No one lightly chooses drugs, especially, most particularly, not this one. There’s a reason, a good reason, why I chose to subject myself to hell. You see, there’s a little slice of heaven inside hell, and sometimes, sometimes you’re lucky enough to see it, touch it, feel it, caress it, before it’s all taken away again, leaving you in an abyss of emptiness, but never giving up hope that you’ll one day, once again find that slice of heaven. 

#mylifematters Part II


———-

Part II

———-

I wish I remember the details of what follows, though, really, it’s better that I don’t. I remember enough and I’ll share that with you.

My family had, by now, moved from Spokane to Bellevue, WA. There I finished my last year of high school via Running Start, a state program designed to give high performing students the opportunity to take college courses at the local community college at no charge. Because of this program, I was able to complete high school simultaneously with my AA, no small feat since the schools provided no support in managing course requirements. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at community college. I was, by most measures, a highly motivated and successful student. By my senior year, I had completed math courses through Calculus III, which, had I taken two more math classes, would have led to a BA in Mathematics. I was smitten enough with math that I tutored students part time on the side. In Spokane, I officially worked at the math lab, helping remedial students, for the most part. In Bellevue I struck out on my own. I didn’t have a lot of clientele, but there was one of which I’m particularly proud. He was a student in Calc II, middle aged and blind. Calculus, if you’re unfamiliar, relies heavily on visuals to understand the equations, or vice versa. The school had promised to translate the textbook into braille, but lagged so far behind that I was tutoring him by voice alone. To understand diagrams I often traced his finger in the general pattern, explaining as I went along. I don’t know how either of us made it through. However, I’m very proud to report that this student was able to pass the class with a 3.8 GPA. That rivaled my own grades. I was grateful for the opportunity to help, and happy it worked out successfully.

While at community college, I picked up employment at a tech start-up, back when that was still unusual. I worked the reception desk, with an official title of purchasing agent, being under the tutelage of the facilities department. That meant I had the opportunity to take over ordering supplies and food for the building. With a practically unlimited, unaccountable budget, I had fun, probably abusing my power, but the techies certainly appreciated the dozens of doughnuts, free breakfast and lunch, and the occasional perk of getting some special equipment if they were nice, maybe a good pen or a printer or executive chair. I stayed at this job for two years, vacating the position when my coworker, older than I and with a family to support, was vying with me for the position after a merger. She needed the money more than I did, so I graciously acquiesced. Besides, I had picked up part time employment at Eddie Bauer, first at their corporate campus near Microsoft, then at the store level at Bellevue Square, a high end retail mall for well-to-do housewives whose husbands made enough to obviate the need for them to work as well, so they would stroll around, picking up Prada shoes, Coach bags and little Yves St Laurent outfits for their precious babies. Angels, as they inevitably called them, even while they were drooling all over my merchandise and wreaking havoc around the store. Angels. Sure. Never argue with a woman whose bank account rivals that of some smaller nations.

These jobs along with a full load at school kept me busy for upwards of 100 hours per week. I don’t know how I did it. I would sleep in the tech firm’s boardroom, racing off to the mall after an hour of shut-eye, working the overnight shift dressing windows and mannequins, then grabbing a quad espresso on the way back to a full day at school and work. I think I used up a lifetime’s worth of energy in those two years.

But somehow, don’t ask me how, despite this busy schedule, I managed to find my first boyfriend. This was back in the heyday of gay.com, an Internet chat room that offered group and private chat. This was also the heyday of the growing gay rights movement, in Seattle at least. I remember attending night meetings at a youth LGBT organization an hour south of the city, without my parents knowledge or consent, at least once or twice weekly. It was there that I attended my first dance. It was also there that I first saw Madonna’s “Express Yourself” video. I was shocked but immediately fell in love. Moulin Rouge came out around the same time, and Christina Aguilera was the buzz word of the week. I fall easily for musicals, and this was no exception. I finally felt like I was part of something, something cool, something that validated me and my lifestyle. It was there, I think, that I met my first boyfriend. Truth be told, I’m not sure how we met exactly. It may have been from online chat rooms. Either way, we ended up going to the youth club together on many occasions. His name was Shaun. He was not exactly white, but the exact ethnicity escapes me. Polynesian perhaps. Or Irish. I really don’t know. He was cute, not classically, but good enough for me. My standards were pretty loose at the time, I was happy just to meet someone who would talk to me. Anyways, we ended up dating. In between work and school, we went out to lunch together, dinner sometimes, the youth club others. He was head of the student LGBT group at his college campus, so there were always events to attend.

He was my first. It was unforgettable, the absurdity of the events, but the actual sex was apparently forgettable, as I don’t remember much about it. A lot of fumbling around, I’m sure. I’d seen some porn by then but real life people and events so rarely follow a porn script, despite best efforts, that I was pretty much shooting in the dark, pun intended. My coworker at the tech company just happened to be, outside of work hours (and sometimes caught during work hours) a professional dominatrix. She was a large woman, busty, good with a whip. I don’t know why I took to her so well. Probably because my home life was so sterile and disapproving of any sort of security that I naturally gravitated towards the forbidden. A note to parents: the best way to ensure your child does something against your values is to mark it as “forbidden.” No one can withstand that kind of temptation. Anyways, Jackie, my coworker, took me under her wing. She was determined that I get laid. I was too young to attend her wild and raucous sex parties, and didn’t have the time to go to her nudist retreats, so I guess she had no choice but to bring the sex to me rather than the other way around. I should stop here for a moment and note that it was during this same time period that even found out, or discovered, or decided, that I was gay. Actually, it wasn’t me that decided it. I was told that I was gay. My coworker from my job back in Spokane (I worked two – my first as mailroom clerk at  jewelry manufacturing wholesaler, the second as human resources assistant for Spokane School District 81) kept in contact when I left the District and moved to Bellevue. In fact, as I’ll tell later, I continued to go back to Spokane for some time for doctor visits, with the earlier-mentioned psychiatrist, and she would always pick me up from the airport and take me, occasionally letting me stay at her house overnight if I didn’t have  same-day return flight. I was attending school at Bellevue Community College at the time (the time of learning I was gay), and taking a French class. I chose French because people were cuter in that class than the German class, plus it was such a classier language than German or Spanish. I fancied it was the language of aristocrats. There was a boy in the class that I was instantly drawn towards. I’d never experienced a romantic desire in my life, definitely not towards a boy. There was a girl at church that I did, then and still now, had a crush on,  but I was nerdy, awkward and painfully shy, so it was more of a fantasy than a reality. Bethany, if you’re reading this, you probably already know I’m talking about you. Anyways, I didn’t even know what “gay” meant, literally. I first encountered the word when I was outside the grocery store with my dad, and there was a signature-gatherer for some gay rights cause. Actually, he may have been anti-gay for all I know. Point was, I’d never heard the term before. My dad quickly shuffled us past, saying very little about the event  I don’t remember what he did say. It was derogatory, but not in a clearly defined way, not with any four-letter words, but generally giving the sense that there was something wrong with it. I still didn’t know what it meant, though, just that, whatever it was, it was Bad.

Sidenote: somewhere in this time period, I was “experimental” with a friend around my age. We didn’t do much more than exchange titillating innuendos, but there was one time we attempted to touch each other. His mom caught us, after my friend confessed to her, apparently feeling Bad about the incident. I then had am incredibly awkward conversation with my parents about how Wrong that was, expressing genuine concern that I had done a Bad thing, that I couldn’t become one of Them, that was Sinful. I’m not sure the word “gay” ever came up directly. I was just made to feel shame about my curiosity.

Now, fast forward to Bellevue, French class. I was emailing Pam, my prior coworker at the District, and going back and forth about life and school and any other thoughts on my mind. I had no one to really talk to other than her. I was sitting in the computer lab (laptops were still horrid, heavy monsters), when I got The Email. I know I mentioned the French class boy, but I don’t recall saying anything particular about him, especially nothing of a sexual nature. My mind wasn’t there yet. But, as middle aged women, mothers, sometimes do, no, scratch, always do, she told me, not asked, not suggested, not beat-around-the-bush about it, no, flat out told me I was gay. I reeled. I gasped. My mind flashed a million thoughts in the seconds that followed. But the predominant thought, the theme that kept cycling back into my consciousness, was the cute boy from French class. Now I knew why I was drawn to him. Now I understood that he was gay too. Now a lot of things made sense. I never bothered to question her, there was no need. I knew she was right. I don’t know, without her, if I ever would have known, or just stayed repressed my entire life. It was funny, her knowing me better than I knew me. Or, knowing what I already knew but didn’t have the words to use or even the ideas to form. I didn’t stop, at that exalting moment, to think what my parents or others might think. I just remember, maybe for the first time, that I was Happy. I was serene. I was peaceful. I was finally at rest with myself. Nothing else mattered.

The French boy and I drove my teacher crazy, whispering in the corner, passing notes, laughing at inside jokes, the occasional glance or touch to reassure each other we were thinking the same thoughts. My teacher never once said “gay” nor did she reference the matter, nor, even, did she appear discomforted by the matter, beyond the fact that we were frequently disruptive. What an experience! I was heady with delight and happiness and joy. I never even had to “come out,” it was like everyone already knew, and no one cared! I could be blatant about it and still there were no repercussions. The world had come a long way, or, rather, the move of a few hundred miles across state to Seattle had landed me in a whole new world. Gay was the new normal. Gay was the new me.

There was, of course, the delicate matter of my parents. There was no initial confrontation; I didn’t deem it a dinner table conversation, and they, for their part, chose to ignore the ever-blonder hair, the ever-growing collection of jewelry, the ever-increasing use of makeup. I wasn’t subtle, though I may have thought I was. I’m not sure what I thought. I remember sneaking boys into the house late at night, my bedroom literally across the hall from my parents, without ever getting caught. I’m sure at some point they knew, it was just easier to not bring up such sin, to look the other way while I was fucking in the next room, to pretend not to see the rouge on my cheeks, to ignore my efforts to lose weight (I was 6’3 and wanted to be 165 lbs, I came pretty close at times), generally just to ignore me altogether. I was busy anyways, I had dinner in a rush or reheated it late at night, dashed off early in the morning, had lunch at school, etc. There wasn’t a lot of face time with my parents, and everyone kept it that way.

So did I ever tell them? In fact, no. My mother told me. Just like Pam told me, only this time with a tone of reproachment and judgment. I suppose, technically, she “asked” me, but it was one of those rhetorical questions where the answer is already presumed within the question. We were on a car ride, and the event to which I was going, I’m not sure what it was, was canceled, so we were headed back home. And then she asked. I suppose maybe we worked our way up to the topic, in a way, but the question, to me, came flying at me from left field. I could only agree, not only to be truthful, but because the question itself obviated the need for an answer. The next few weeks were nearly comical, as she passive-agressively forced scripture passages on me, and I fired back with quotes and pamphlets from PFLAG. We were at an impasse, which was actually quite common between us. We were both stubborn to the core, no matter how obviously wrong we might be, so especially on this issue there was no backing down.

The day the next event happened was just another day, to start. I was driving around Kirkland with Shaun, walking down the waterfront, playing on the playground, things boys do on dates. When we go back to the car, it refused to start. Well, I’m no mechanic, and he wasn’t either. I learned later that you always should have a lesbian in your life to cover these situations. So I called my mom to come pick us up. There was something odd about that phone call. She refused, citing irresponsibility, neglect of maintenance, failure to be prepared for emergencies, and why, oh why, was I with Shaun in the first place? She knew were dating, though I never told, and he was a constant source of tension between us. There was something more in her voice, though, the tone was different, bleak, almost, desperate but fatalistic, as if she had resigned herself to whatever she was thinking about. Anyways, I called my sister, and she came with a gallon of gas, enough to get home and no further. I was upset because we were on a dare, and why did it have to come to an end, couldn’t she buy a bit more gas, I didn’t have any money, but no, no, no was the answer. My mother had found out I called my sister, and placed severe restrictions on what help she could offer. So I had gas to go home, so I did. It was growing dark, wind blustering, raindrops starting to fall. The kind of night that looks pretty from the comfort of a warm home, in front of a fire, but not something for which you’d like to be outside. My sister had left after giving us gas, so we drove home, me growing ever more uneasy, sensing something in the air, without being able to place it. I got out of the car, went to open the apartment door, but discovered it was locked. I was already in a bad mood, it was a cold night, I just wanted to get Shaun’s belongings from inside the apartment and let him go home. Instead he was just as stuck as I was.

I called my mom, seeing where she was at. She was at, it turned out, at a church prayer meeting at a congregation member’s house down the street, and was not to be interrupted. No matter that I had no key and it was cold out and really she was only five minutes away by car. No matter. It was a bitter phone call. I called the apartment manager next, who knew us well, but she couldn’t break the lock since I wasn’t the name on the lease. She suggested calling the police, sensing my growing panic. The police arrived quickly, but, since I was the age of majority, couldn’t rule it child abuse and, in fact, could do nothing because I had no lease on the place. They left me with a sympathetic look and a pamphlet on domestic abuse. By now I was mad, no, angry, no, furious, boiling, cursing up a storm. Not that it helped the situation. So I reverted back to the passive-aggressive me that always gets results. Not good results, but one can’t be picky. I just wanted inside. I started calling my mom again and again and again, determined to annoy her enough that she would have no choice but to come. Instead, she turned her phone off. Fuck. I knew what to do, though. I convinced myself, and to this day it’s the version of events I believe, despite strong assertions and suggestions to the contrary, that the prayer meeting was about me and what to do with me. I knew whose house it was at, and I’d held long simmering suspicions about what he thought of me, and it just made sense that they would be discussing me. Well, I wouldn’t let them do that in peace. So I called the house, got voicemail, called again; after several times, I was angry and scared and cold and still hadn’t gotten Shaun’s belongings, and was determined to make someone suffer. So I called back, knowing the house phone was in the kitchen adjacent to the living room, and left a series of loud, angry, threatening messages in language that would make a sailor blush. I just knew they were discussing me, and I was determined to upset their meeting. After waiting several minutes from my last call, there was a screech of tires in the paring lot, and my mom emerged from a vehicle I had never seen before. If I thought I was upset, it didn’t hold a candle to the expression on her face. But she remained silent. She opened the door, let Shaun gather what he needed and leave then, in a fateful moment of self-restraint, she whispered, through clenched teeth, loud enough for everyone to hear, with not a trace of sadness in her voice, that I had ten minutes to pack and leave, forever.

It’s a blur beyond that. Some may even dispute the accuracy of the events I just described. What I said, though, was true and real to me at the time, and it’s accuracy, to an extent, is unnecessary, because it was my belief in events that mattered at the time. I remember calling my friend, a young gay couple from the social group I attended, and who I knew well because of weekly Queer as Folk viewing at their house, and asking to be picked up, immediately, and stay with them for a while. I packed everything into two bags and went outside to wait. My dad came out after me and I started running. Just then, my friend, Justin, arrived, and with horns honking, my dad screaming, me running, I leaped into the moving car and we sped off, kicking up dirt behind us, as my dad was yelling, begging me to come back, it could all be talked out. Fuck that. They wanted me gone, so I would go. Forever. Estrangement works both ways.

Well, the rest of this particular story isn’t very dramatic. I lived with Justin for a few months, then Shaun and I got back together and we moved into a two bedroom apartment in West Seattle. I started attendance full time at the University of Washington, took a new job, and was very successful, as these things go. I didn’t talk to my parents for two years, at least. I honestly thought, based on some rumours, that he had moved to the South, or maybe even Russia. Their phone number no longer worked and I had no forwarding address for them, so I was as good as disowned from what I used to think was my family. Anyways, Shaun started acting up around the same time, using drugs (in retrospect, probably just weed, but drugs were drugs as far as I was concerned at the time). I vividly remember the day we had a fight, and he threw my cat over the railing, watching her plunge to the concrete below, breaking her back, spewing blood and guts, a look of sheer horror on her face, and mine. Shortly after, I caught Shaun on the rooftop doing drugs in the hot tub. I called the police. Management kicked us out, but let me move into a new unit since I was an innocent party. So I ended up living on my own in my own one bedroom apartment. Who needed family? I had my own place, my own job, was getting a great education, making friends and having fun. I was doing fine. Or so I thought.

I walk forth, my world crashing and falling all around me
If you listen just right, it’s like a gentle rain
Whispering to me in soft tones of hope and inspiration
The rain picks up
All the Opera seats are full
The patrons lean in, frowning, what will he do with his life now? 
Will he recover, and get a job and find his life again? 
Or will be listen to the torrential rain, the gentle rain long gone, 
And give up hope, as should have been done long ago, 
Surrender to the sweet mercy of drug induced happiness 
Where the rain never comes and the music never stops

But I can’t decide today
I don’t want to ever decide

The rain will never stop pouring until I’ve made up my mind 
Until then, the rain falls, 
Just life restoring death

-Rain Falls, personal, 2012

This concludes Part II in which we see me go from school to work to being kicked out and disowned, back to school and work. I purposely left out the critical, life changing moment, however, when I learned the extent of and limits to sexuality, and bondage, and love and trust. These moments deserve their own section. So take a break, this ride is about to get ugly.

#mylifematters Part I


———-

Part I

———-

I was 16 when it began. I’d had the perfect, idyllic childhood. Raised in a close knit town, surrounded by caring people, the perfect nuclear family. Three kids, mother and father and a cat. Well, a dog at one point. Then another cat. I think ultimately we were cat people, that poor dog. I had (have) an older sister by two years and a younger brother of three years. We were very close, although not always best friends. It happens. We grew up in a very strict, religious environment. For many years I didn’t know any different, and for us, the kids, it was a great experience. Sunday school, summer camp, friends, playmates, neighbors. This was our life. But somehow, things spiraled out of control. I won’t repeat details, because my mother is truly the innocent party in what followed. Truth be told, I’ll never actually know the truth. But I have a pretty good idea. Accused of infidelity, by the Church, not by my dad, my mom was estranged from the Church. This was her life, our life. My dad was an elder in the Church, my mom led the youth groups. We were loved and beloved, the model family to so many others. I suppose models always break down at some level or some point in time. Perhaps others were jealous. Perhaps they were ignorant. Perhaps they made up stories that compound upon themselves and became The Truth. I don’t know. I do know that my mother took it hard, being cut off from what was, literally, her life. Other than raising three children, a feat I’m sure I will never fully appreciate, the Church was her life. Why do I keep capitalizing “Church?” Well, because the Church was a Cult. Capital “C,” notice. No, not a satanic cult or devil worshippers or even worshippers of false idols (those, I was told, were the Catholics). Not a suicide cult or a cult with its own compound in Texas. No. In fact, our base was in California, Anaheim specifically. It didn’t start there though. It started in China by a man who was jailed for being Christian in a communist country. He fled the country and came to America, where streets are paved with gold and Christians hold more power than politicians. Or is it one and the same? No matter. Upon reaching America, this man started spreading the gospel, his gospel to be precise. He had written many books, now translated, and was to write many more (he was almost divinely prolific). These books expounded on the teachings of the Bible. Well, his Bible to be precise. Only one version of the Bible was allowed – his version – and it was so heavily footnoted and “explained” the some verses spanned multiple pages. Like lay Christians in the Dark Ages, we were presumed not to know how to interpret the Bible for ourselves, so, like children, it was explained and expounded upon so that we see the Light. Where his knowledge of the Lord came from is beyond my knowing, that was never explained to me. It wasn’t quite Joseph Smith, but I’d be hard pressed to define the difference. One wrote his own Bible, the other annotated it so heavily that the words no longer mattered, it was the interpretation that was Correct. God, apparently, left much to be clarified, and this young man was well suited to the task of speaking for the Lord. Speaking instead of the Lord, to be precise. In addition to the teachings of the Church (which are loosely based on Christianity), there were Rules to follow. God only saves those, apparently, who don’t wear jeans, don’t go to movies or watch TV, don’t have secular friends and who don’t establish any foothold in the World beyond what is necessary to sustain themselves, in order to better use their time to spread the Word. Those rules, of course, did not apply to the man who owned the Local Church in Spokane, where I was raised. There, I said it, Local Church. Look it up. Anyways, this man was filthy rich due to some holdings of industries which were very much of this World (manufacturing jewelry that represented false idols is one example that springs to mind). He ruled, unchallenged, and rewarded his acolytes quite handsomely, in terms of money and/or importance and social status. Those who may have questioned his leadership were generally exited from the Church or otherwise made to see the Error of their Ways. You see, brainwashing is quite easy in an insular community dependent on one man for their salvation. In fact, as was the case for my mother, he held absolute power over life and death. Perhaps he was neglected as a child and developed a God complex. I say, and and repeat, power over life and death. For, upon learning of the supposed infidelity, which of course was not seen as a judicial matter but rather an offense against God and all that the Church stood for (the foundation seems to have been a bit shaky), the Elders of the Church condemned her. My father was an elder. To his credit, he believed she was innocent, but this did not seem to affect his (dis)belief in her, generally speaking. That sentence may require some explanation.

You see, as one is want to do when cast aside, persecuted and excommunicated from their Church, which is their whole life and whole desire for their life and for which they gave up all else, my mother suffered a nervous breakdown. Actually, a series of breakdown. The Church naturally saw this as the Devil inside her. One or two of the congregation came to her side, but no one offered or thought she should obtain help. It was, after all, a sin, what she did, and the Lord does work in mysterious ways, or sometimes direct ways, by slaying his believers. So I was told.

But these realizations came much later. Some may laugh at their inaccuracies, but I maintain they are as accurate as I was allowed to know, which was quite a bit, given it was my family that was under fire. If events were different, I apologize, not the people involved, never will I forgive them, but to the vicissitudes of time and space during which memories are formed and reformed. What I saw, at the time, was much different.

I was 14 at the time. Don’t quote me on that. I saw my mom being ripped apart from the life that she knew. I saw my father, ambivalent about what to believe or whatever to do. I saw the Church persecute her, especially, most cruelly, during her to-be-expected panic attacks and breakdowns. One, and I repeat, one, solo, single person believed her and saw the psychiatric crisis for what it was. He saved her life. It was not the elders of the Church nor the Members of the Congregation, but rather one single man. If there is a God, it would be him. My father didn’t jump to her rescue, as a good husband should, and a long period of fighting broke out between them. This culminated, and I don’t know why it was this time and this place, in my mother grabbing a knife and attempting to stab my father. She managed to rip his clothes before my sister intervened. She was always on my mom’s side in the events and accusations. So I don’t know who called the police, as I remember it being her, but it must have been painful to report her mother. The police came and took my mother away. My father was encouraged to press charges, because the prosecution could not  go forward without his cooperation, but finally, and to his credit and my disbelief, he refused.

Somewhere in all this, quite probably beforehand, but stuck in the murky middle in my mind, my mother attempted suicide. This of course was quite hush-hush. I only know bits and pieces gleaned from quiet conversations, knowing glances, nurses scurrying around, doctors calling on the phone. In a heroic and valiant effort to end the pain and suffering, she slowly, painstakingly, eerily and quietly starved herself to death.

Almost.

From here my memory is blurred. We moved to the other side of the state, where the Local Church of that town took us in, knowing, but not knowing, the events that had transpired. Perhaps the consensus was that the Devil had done his part and she had suffered enough for her transgressions. I don’t know.

Like I said, my memory is blurred. Because, before moving, I was seen by a psychiatrist. My mom’s psychiatrist, to be precise. And my sister’s. I had declared to my parents that I was depressed, saying that depression can be inherited, and that I was scared. What child wouldn’t be? The doctor was friendly and knowledgeable – both in terms of his medical knowledge and his personal knowledge of the situation. In fact, at several points throughout my care, he was gone on visits to DC to speak before Congress on various mental health issues. So I trusted him with my care.

He prescribed an anti-depressant and talk therapy.

Now, back to where I was. This all happened while still in Spokane. I kept him as my doctor for the next several years, flying back and forth across the state every few months. He eventually moved, and I eventually stopped going. I can’t remember if I sought care in Seattle, where we now lived. That seems like it would be an important memory, but this time of my life later turned out to be the least of my concerns.

I’m going to stop here for now. This concludes Part I, wherein we meet the Church, see my mother’s pain, experience life in my family, and see my initial start on the journey to insanity.

#mylifematters Prologue


I’m sorry.

I’m sorry i wasn’t there when you graduated. I’m sorry I wasn’t there at your wedding. I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you got your first job. I’m sorry i wasn’t there when you had your first child. I’m sorry I never call or visit. I’m sorry I never put you on my Christmas list. I’m sorry we’ve become estranged, strangers in the night. I’m sorry I scurry silently by when I see you on the streets. I’m sorry you think you mean so little to me.

Because you mean the world to me. I’m not sorry I ever became friends with you or shared my life with you. I’m not sorry I went to bars with you and danced with you. I’m not sorry I studied with you or came to your events. I’m not sorry. These are moments I’ll never forget.

But, I’ve changed. To you, to my family and to myself. I don’t recognize myself in the mirror anymore. Who is this man, ghastly thin, pale, teeth yellowed, hair falling out? Who is this man looking back at me? A hollow image of my former self, a look that doesn’t go away after Halloween, a permanent and poignant marker of my downfalls and failures.

It is for this I apologize.

But I want you to know, there’s so much more. I wasn’t always like this. You know that. I was happy, carefree, a smart boy, a good looking boy, a healthy boy, a fun boy. I may have grown older with time, then, but I never grew up. I loved that about myself. You did too. There were days when I couldn’t stop smiling, laughing, experiencing the joy, the friendship, the love, experiencing the experience! Sure, I studied hard, I worked hard, I was a serious student and worker. Sure I had a few bad days, don’t we all? But, you know, those didn’t define me. My smile did. Infectious, even to me. I was outgoing, popular, a socialite extraordinaire. Well, to an extent. Those parties I threw are some of my favorite memories, whether a small gathering at a bar, a night out on the dance floor, an intimate glass of wine, a  pants-off-dance-off in your living room. These are my memories, the good times, the good friends, the good drinks, the good bars and clubs, the good experiences.

It’s all gone. Even my memory is fading. I’m writing this so I can remember those days, those times, those moments, that made me happy. Those moments. Once lived, but never again.

Who am I? Me, I suppose. A facade, though, as if me was put on as a costume on myself. What I see isn’t what I get. A dashing young man, smart, successful, happy… It’s like a mirror showing me qualities I’ll never possess, the ultimate looking glass mirror. Because there, in that mirror, is the me that you saw and knew, the me that made it in life, the me that went on to grow old with a partner. But that’s not the me behind that glass. Pretty, but false. Who am I? Well, me. But not anything I’ve ever known or expected or anticipated or wanted or desired or for which I prepared myself. No, this me fell under the wheel and was tossed around, trodden upon, spit at, destroyed, used and cast aside. This me lives each day in darkness and despair and fear. This me, this is the real me. Maybe I was faking the whole time.

I’m writing this mostly for myself, so I know, as crazy as I am, that some things are not just in my head, imagined, but rather events I lived through, in fact, many of them events which I arranged. There was so much I wanted, so much potential, so much to live for, so much that I couldn’t take it anymore.

You were there. Really. You didn’t know but you were there. I remember the names and faces. I remember the time of day. I remember the sunshine, the frolicking, the good nature of mankind. You probably forgot, just another day. And it was. But not for me. It was a turning point that, little did I know, would forever alter my life. And so, I write this for you too. Because, as my friend, you deserve to know what happened. You deserve to know why I slipped away, turned my back on you, left you and never spoke again. You should know, it wasn’t you. 

I’m going to start where I remember and fill in the gaps as best I can. Names are real, events are real, dates may be all in my head, but I know what happened, regardless of when it occurred, and I need to put that down on paper so someone, someday, maybe, will read it and understand. I made poor choices, yes, but like anyone, I made the best choice under the circumstances I had, under the way that my mind saw things, under the way of what life threw to me. Under these circumstances and in that might, I made the rational decision. What followed was unforeseen, unforeseeable, impossible to imagine or comprehend. It was just another fucking day.

You can stop here, or skip over parts or jump straight to the end. What I need is to put my story out there, what you do with it is none of my concern. Of course, I want you to understand. But I’m not writing for your sympathy or your judgment. You will judge, I know. Because what follows is not the me that you knew or I knew, but the me that experienced these events and became the me of today. God, how I wish that me was not me.