I spent New Year's Eve alone, as planned, watching New Year's Eve and drinking mouthfuls of blackberry whiskey. I considered finding myself a random hook up, but I knew I wouldn't enjoy it and it sounded like a lot of work. I tried to avoid social media (something I only recently realized can trigger my depression in a massive and sudden way) and enjoyed my casual night in. I don't remember much, but I'm pretty sure I cried a lot. I was very drunk. And, per usual, lonely.
Danny and I had plans to hang out the next day. We had only recently followed each other on our social media accounts, and it had been so refreshing to get to know him without any influence from the carefully crafted facade of one's Facebook profile. And I can certainly tell you than if I had friended Danny too early in our companionship, I would have most likely ended things long ago. He posts a lot of stupid shit.
Anyway, in the mid-afternoon, Danny posted two tweets that forever changed how I knew I could feel about another man. The first mentioned a really cute boy at the party. Unbeknownst to me, I sure as fuck did not want Danny to think anyone else was cute except for me. The second was about some dude he kissed at midnight.
My blood boiled.
And I was...hurt.
Of course, there was a 99.9% chance this kiss meant nothing. The New Year's Kiss is a thing, and he was at a party, and everyone else was doing it. Had I gone stag to a party that night, I would have done the same thing! Yet, I was still incredibly jealous. But why? It's not like we were dating. It's not like I wanted to be in a relationship with him.
I tucked my feelings away (a terrible habit of mine) and met with Carol to work on theatrical project. This was actually when I told Carol about Danny - and Danny dropped by a bit early and met her accidentally. It was incredibly uncomfortable, but it also made me really happy that someone so important to me met someone...who was also very important to me.
She left. We climbed into my bed to swap stories of our days and watch The Mindy Project on Hulu - a show I've never liked as much as I said I did, but I wanted him to have a reason to come over (he loves it) and also have an emergency button for any time we ran out of things to talk about. He told me of his New Year's, mentioning both the cute boy and the kiss. In the more logical place that my brain is in as I write this, I can see that him sharing this with me should have shown me that these experiences meant absolutely nothing to him. But at the time, I couldn't see it that way, and I was saddened.
Why was this suddenly so painful?
I realized that I maybekindofsortof liked him in a way. I knew we had formed an intense emotional bond, as he had now been there more than anyone else and had seen my depression first-hand (though he didn't know the word for it yet.) I wanted to tell him of my sudden deeper feelings, but was that crazy? Then again - we had been seeing each other for six weeks. Several nights a week. And we'd supported each other's productions and, wait. When did we starting kissing goodbye every night?
I asked him to talk. He obliged. I was so scared that my feelings were crazy, because that's something depression does to you. Your thoughts are so invalid sometimes that you forget which thoughts, and therefore feelings, you can trust. And because the negative thoughts and feelings are the most powerful, you allow them to influence your actions. It's a terrible cycle that I still struggle with even after becoming aware of it.
I cried, gently, and explained that him telling me about the kiss and the cute guy made me jealous and sad. I told him it upset me to see him tweeting about those things, as well as Tinder and Grindr. I didn't want him presenting a public image of being single, because it made me feel ignored. During this conversation, I realized that it had been several weeks since we last hooked up. We had simply been hanging out - so now I also had the sudden fear that he was shifting into "just friends" territory. He assured me that was not the case. "Well..." I sniffed, terrified at what I was about to suggest. "I just...can't stand the idea of you hooking up with or talking to anyone else."
He breathed heavily through his nose. Did I offend him?
"Brent. I'm not hooking up with anyone else. I haven't since...I haven't in awhile. I value what we have more than that."
I explained how broken the ending of my last relationship had left me. How it was hard for me to open myself up to someone like this, because I've only barely just started healing. I now know that Danny was the band-aid that I was desperately trying to use to heal a massive, gaping wound. He always did his best for me, truly, but at the end of the day - he couldn't provide the type of care that I needed.
Because it needs to come from within myself.
The sad fucking thing? Just because I know that, doesn't mean I know how to do it.
But to get back on track, Danny confirming that the relationship was serious for him as well felt amazing. We were on the same page. We embraced, and I apologized for crying and taking so long to get to the point. He then explained that he is still struggling to understand his sexuality. Essentially, as he grew closer to someone, the sexual appeal fizzled. I later found out that this is because so many of his past sexual experiences are tied to horrible memories, negative people, and (sometimes horrifically) forced scenarios. A lot of stuff that can really change a person. Honestly, just hearing about them changed me a little.
I told him that I didn't care if he didn't want to touch me that way. The physical aspect of the relationship was not what I was in this for. We turned the TV to Mindy, dancing along to the theme song with our fingers just like we always did.
The next day, we were hanging out again when he suddenly became ill. He was literally lying on my bed clutching his body in pain. For the next thirty minutes or so, I was lying there, comforting him and talking softly. Finally, the worst of it seemed to pass. He let me know he wanted to go home and go to sleep. I walked him out, putting his jacket on for him (another thing we always did) and kissing him goodnight. I don't know why, but I kissed a bit harder than usual - maybe because we had so recently confirmed our deeper feelings for each other. He reached down, like...down, down. Um...okay? I wasn't going to stop him, but didn't he just say he wasn't into this anymore? And that he was tired and sick?
The moment got the best of me, and we moved to the couch for a few minutes of fun. When we were done, I asked him, as innocently as possible, if I had somehow implied that I NEEDED him to hook up with me. "Kind of....yeah." He laughed. I felt terrible, apologizing and promising that wasn't the case. He said he appreciated it. I kissed him goodnight and he left.
I ran to my room and wept. I was fucking furious. How dare he touch me when he wasn't into it? How dare he think I would only want to see him if we were going to hook up? And most of all - I was disgusted. The thought of him touching me while not being into it - while I am, let's just say, extremely into it - made me feel gluttonous in the worst way. Looking back, I see that him offering me sexual affection despite not being into it should have shown me that he was trying to make me feel good and do something nice. But at the time, the gray inside my brain wouldn't let me see it that way.
I texted him the next morning, asking him to talk. It was a busy day, and a late night, and he had to do something the next morning. He asked if it could wait. I said it could not. He said the earliest he could be by was midnight, and that he couldn't stay long. I said that would work.
He came over, clearly a bit irritated that I forced him to come, and we sat on my bed. I broke down. Intensely. I wept on his stomach, unable to form words. He patiently rested his hand on my back. Not saying a word until I was comfortable. I explained how offended I was the day before, and that I clearly had not made it clear that I really liked him. He was quiet. He hadn't realized, he said, how much I liked him.
I asked him how he felt about labeling what we were doing. He recoiled. He explained that labeling something adds expectations, and pressures. And responsibilities. He didn't admit to his actual fear of these things, though, for another few months. He argued that we should be able to do what we're doing and enjoy it - we don't have any reason to label it just so it's easier to explain to others. I asked why he never wanted to take me to parties. He explained that his party friends are a lot less mature than me, and that he knows I'd hate it. He's right, but that's not the point. I'll suffer through a shitty college party to spend time with him. And be seen with him. I asked why I never met his friends. He explained that he was either with his them on campus, at parties, or he was with me. I asked why we never went out. He reminded me that we, collectively, had about $100 total in our bank accounts.
All logical things. But I couldn't digest them logically. I pretended I was okay with going with the flow, but really I just let my insecurities continue to grow. I needed promises and guarantees that no one would ever be able to give me. Knowing it to be impossible, I wanted a magical vow that he wasn't going to hurt me. My brain told me that he didn't want to call me his boyfriend because he didn't like me. We don't go out because he doesn't want to be seen with me, and his friends wouldn't think I'm cool or cute enough.
If only I could have seen that spending so much time with someone is a beautiful way of showing that you care.
Showing up the day after a monstrous and emotional 90 minute breakdown is another.
If only I could have seen that then.
to be continued.