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Anonyst Man

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Journal: 02/02/17-02/05/17

Thurs, 2nd – Anticipating the visit to Chicago for the weekend, I was able to get to the gym knowing it would probably be at least till the next week before I’d go again. I also got a well needed haircut knowing that it might nag at me while I was visiting to know how much I needed one. Before the actual driving, I did most of my packing, and went to pick up Henry since he’d be joining us. I lingered at Rachel’s a little longer than I needed to so I could get some quality time with Merle, and kinda Tux too. Henry’s ride to my place was pitiful because I wouldn’t let that spoiled brat climb all over me while I was driving like my sister does. He managed to bounce around, climbing on top of everything else and whining like a baby. I quickly finished up the rest of my packing and headed out with Rachel. I did all the driving, and listened to podcasts for maybe the first half before Rachel got restless and was desperate for conversation. She didn’t really have much obviously new or interesting stuff going on, so she made me do most of the talking. For the life of me, though, I can’t remember what I talked about. We got in without incident and in the end the drive was surprisingly easy.

As I got settled and informed groups of friends that I’d arrived, I got a call from Myah but it was Philana on the phone and she was jealous that I hadn’t told her right away. They were both at Myah’s so they came up and we hung out much longer than any of us expected as they asked and I told them about how I got myself into the condition and position to leave. I didn’t really get to give them all the updates since leaving, but they asked how I’m planning on maintaining my progress so we also just talked about self-care and therapy for a while. I also told them that I was hoping and planning to be back in spring and they were excited but trying not to get their hopes up since it wasn’t final. They had to get to bed so we said goodbye and I told them I’d keep them in the loop about where I am that weekend and updates about coming back.

Fri, 3rd – Something woke me up pretty early, around 7am. It might have been Sydney texting me about what time before 1pm would be best for me to catch up with her and talk about my idea for some kind of story event where I can get everything out there for everyone at once. She was very supportive and helpful, and was also very insightful and understanding about my experience even though she hadn’t had one quite the same but had other kinds of self-discovery.

After we’d caught up and talked organizing, back home seeing several things that I’d wanted to get in order last time I lived there whipped me into a frenzy of organizing like I had been doing back at the family house. I organized the book shelf, and sorted mail, straightened up a handful of things in the living room, moved the AC unit down into storage, threw out unnecessary stuff, and more. I got more done in almost two hours than I had been able to in two months last time I lived there. It was satisfying on it’s own to get done, but I also wondered how much of a sign to take it that I was in such bad shape before and am good enough now that things will be different and I am ready to come back.

Timing worked out that right after I’d cleaned and showered it was time to meet up with Liz for lunch. It was really good to see her. I don’t remember the finer points of our conversation, possibly because she didn’t ask about why I left. I did brush over it I think, but she didn’t really ask for any more details so I don’t think I really explained. We talked about my coming back, how she’s been, and how school and recruiting is going for her, and other light conversation like how she handles dating and single life. She headed off to a working meeting and I headed home where I ended up taking a solid 2-3 hour nap from only sleeping 4 hours.

It was hard to rip myself up and by the time I did, I only caught the last hour of the KWEST Trip Fair happy hour that was happening at school. Bundled up from the cold, I decided to keep my scarf up until I noticed Zack, Spencer, and Johnny in the corner. At first I just kinda meandered up by them and kinda lingered. Zack noticed me and he was the only one of them who knew I’d be in town, so I winked at him even though I wasn’t sure if he could tell it was me. When the others noticed me I slowly lowered the scarf and got to see the surprise on their face once they recognized me. Johnny gave me a hug and I gave one to Zack too. I can’t remember if I hugged spencer since he was wearing a grape costume that had him covered in little ballon-filled grapes. I told them that I was in for the weekend but that I was also planning to come back for spring, which excited them. Quasie walked by and I got to surprise him too. I decided to get myself a beer and see who else was around to surprise, so I raised my scarf and wandered into the crowd. On the way to the drink table, I bumped into Arjun, and on the way back saw Peter, Jane, Sonia, and Andrew. I made my way upstairs to find a few others that I knew were there and got to say hi to and hang out with Aalok, Lindsey, Nick, Jillian, Kyndrea, Inge, and Joe.

I’d already planned to have dinner with Aalok, so we headed out for that after the happy hour was over and were joined by Inge, Ajay who I got to meet, and then Nick and Jillian. Conversation was fun and light and crossed a variety of topics from introversion and extroversion to holistic medicine to recreational drugs and more.

We knew many people from happy hour had moved to Whiskey Thief, so most of us headed there to join up. One of the first people I saw there and got to sneak up on was Milan. He looked so stunned, and confused, and in utter disbelief to see me I couldn’t help but laugh as he gave me a big hug. I also saw and got to catch up with Griffin and Andrew some more. Everyone I saw was pretty consistent in letting me know that everyone was thinking of me and missed while I’ve been gone. I did a little walk-around and got to sort of catch up with Paige, Connor, and Jeff, then got to sneak up on and say hi to Diganto and John which was great to see them and catch up a bit and talk to the potential incoming students they were hosting. I also bumped into Sri and got to chat a bit about how things were. On my lap back around I found Aalok and the gang in a booth and we played with the candles on the table. When I turned I noticed Liz on the dance floor so I went to say hi, and Milan, who was getting pretty drunk by this point, grabbed my face and said that I was what home was. He also asked about my filling out from working out since he had an upcoming wedding that he’s preparing for. He gave me a nice feel and encouraged Liz to do the same so I let them have a few good squeezes of me and said that I’d had the luxury of time to get to gym almost every day for a couple months. Back at the booth, I rejoined and laid down on both Lindsey and Aalok and snuggled them for a while until we decided to join everyone who was heading to the next bar.

Aalok decided not to join us at Prairie Moon. I’m not sure if it was due to class work, or if he was tired from the social exhaustion as an introvert. At Prairie Moon I headed to the back and was further assaulted with love by Milan which I didn’t mind at all, but his lovely fiancé Cherie started to get him under control. By the bar I spotted G and got to talk to him for a while about banking recruiting and he told me about how he got an internship and introduced me to his closest recruiting buddy Nathalie. Eric Palmer joined for a while and then I started heading back towards the front to find Lindsey and the others I came with. On the way I got to surprise Megan who looked like she might cry a little bit when she saw me. It was like the face people in YouTube videos make when they’re surprised with a puppy. She’d evidently been very worried for me and was happy to hear that I’d be back soon. When I got to the front and found Lindsey she was with Elaine and Stephen who were dancing so I joined them. The lights came on and the bar started clearing out and we headed to Burger King for the only food available that late.

Nothing really happened at BK except eating and some of the usual silliness. That was probably my drunkest of the night so it’s a little fuzzy whether we had any real conversation mixed in there. After walking the others home to E2 and turning toward my place, G called and invited me over to Brandon’s apartment where I headed. I got to catch up with Jesse who jumped up and was excited to see me and had missed me even though she hadn’t known that I was on a full leave of absence. I gave her the short version of things and she didn’t have too many questions, but was encouraging about coming back. G had some serious talk with me in the kitchen, I think about how much he thinks I need to come back which I told him I was pretty confident in.

Hanging out on the couch put me pretty close to what was being passed around. I passed on the hard stuff but decided to give the soft stuff a try and see how I could handle myself. It took a while to kick in, but then I realized how long everything seemed to be taking, that my brain and my thoughts were moving at light speed but my body and my words weren’t able to keep up. I tried my best to simply observe how I felt and thought and was being affected. I focused on trying to focus on being able to describe what was happening. One of the first hurdles to get over was paranoia, which I wouldn’t have thought to use in previous experiences. How that felt was as if they were completely faking what they were doing, and that the night was all a setup for them to mock me because I wasn’t in on it while they pretended not to show that they were laughing at me. Trying to observe the slowing of time, I pulled out my phone and tried typing notes as fast as I could, but it took what seemed like a lifetime to even capture a handful of my lost thoughts. I felt lost. I felt I could only move so slow and everyone was so far away that I would never be able to reach them and they would not be able to go slow enough to understand me. Focusing back on the observation, I started noticing that it seemed my senses felt heightened. As I looked at the room, it was as if my entire field of vision was in complete focus at the same time. Objects in my peripheral were just as clear and I could give them the same amount of attention as what was right in front of me. I could sense and feel, and almost see the air in the room that is easy to forget. It was clear how everything is different kinds of matter swirling around each other, there are no empty spaces. I assume things wrapped up and I was herded towards home. I had to continually concentrate and remind myself what I was doing and where I was going and to remind my future self so that I wouldn’t get lost. Walking home felt like an epic journey. On the way, I hypothesized that perhaps some of my cognitive functions slowing down were caused by the disproportionate capacity being used up in my sensory processing. I felt like I could smell everything around me. I could taste the last 3 things I ate. I could hear how each sound was made up of the sum of many tiny sounds, vibrations, scratches. I could feel pressure changes in the air and could almost understand how it was a result of other bigger atmospheric changes.

I made it home by about 5am, exhausted from the journey. In the bathroom I took a picture of my red eyes, then I passed out, relieved to have survived, and wondering how I’d feel the next day.

Sat, 4th – I think I slept in till around 11. I probably did some little things around the house and to get ready for the day. Early in the afternoon, Zack and Andy came over and I showed them my place and hung out for a while until we decided to head out for brunch. I got to hear a little about how Andy’s wedding planning was coming, and Brooke even made a brief appearance. Afterwards, instead of doing anything too interesting, the three of us headed back to Andy’s apartment to kick back, drink beers, and watch a few hours of planet earth.

At some point, G invited me to go and pregame with the Pride group before they went down to boy’s town. I left Zack and Andy planning to join back up with them after the pregame and not go downtown. Rob was hosting so I got to see him and Oliver and meet a handful of new people who’s names I’m not 100% confident in at this point. I met Adam, who’s a second year MMM and we got on the topic of my leaving and his connection to a small group of students meeting to discuss their own issues with depression and anxiety. I also me Travis, but can’t remember what we discussed at Rob’s, although we did ride together downtown and got in a debate about how and when you can know and trust someone. So yes, I caved and decided to join the boy’s town adventure planning to move over to the DAK event where more people were. That never happened. Instead I spent my whole night out in boy’s town and had a lot of fun playing a very serious wingman for Allie, and getting apologized to by Travis for some reason. After Allie found someone on her own, which I was pretty disappointed about, I met some nice girls and was talking to one who I kinda locked onto. I’m pretty sure it was hearing that she just got out of a long term relationship and knowing we could relate to each other in a way that not everyone could. Things didn’t really go anywhere by the time everyone was leaving so we exchanged numbers I think because we’ve been texting. Next I knew we were back at Brandon’s again. This time my curiosity had already been satisfied, so I passed on everything I was offered. I got to hear a little bit about the downsides of being from a famous or recognized family. I got home again somehow and think it might have been around 5am again.

Sun, 5th – Rachel wanted to get home by early evening so I only slept 3 hours. As soon as we’d gotten ready with everything in the car I went straight into a four hour nap.I finished the final two hours of the drive, and again, almost as soon as I got home, I fell into a six hour nap. I woke up pretty disoriented and was afraid of throwing off my sleep cycle, so I did my best to make sure I could sleep through the night by making tea, reading, and taking a sleeping pill. It worked surprisingly well.

The First Long Call: A Big Step Toward Closure (01/06/17)

This is my best attempt to capture (maybe not in the exact flow) the first lengthy, significant contact I’ve had with Carly since I started this blog. I mentioned not long ago we texted a little about what we’re learning and she said she would be ready to start having real conversation with each other again when I was ready.

I discussed the possibility with my therapist, and my fear was I would find out I’m no longer important or special to her in any way, or the contact would bring back strong feelings for one of us and not the other. The very last thing I needed right now was for either of us to get hurt, and hurting her would have hurt me.

My therapist challenged me to have the conversation sooner than later because the risk would never go away regardless of how long I waited, and it could be a relief to find out we felt the same about each other either way. I thought it would be a relief to know although she’s moved on that I’m still a very important and special person to her.

I tried not to think of it too much until I felt some level of comfort with risking the conversation, but a few nights later I was grocery shopping and something had gotten in my head to get me feeling very sharply anxious, insecure and inadequate wondering if the guy she dated after me was better than me in every way and everything I’m not.

Shortly after I got home from the grocery store I decided I couldn’t dwell in these feelings, doubts, and questions which felt like they were eating away and corroding me from the inside like a chemical burn. I texted her I’d be open to talking soon and she asked right away if now worked. Forgetting her time zone is three hours behind, I was a little surprised and instantly froze in panic for a second but took a breath and thought I didn’t have a good enough reason not to so I agreed and she called.

We started with a bit of light conversation hearing about each other’s holidays. There wasn’t much interesting or out of the ordinary I don’t think.

Somehow the conversation transitioned to me asking her more about who she is now, and what she’s done and seen. Not with any judgement whatsoever, but it was crazy for me to hear her talk about drugs she’s seen regularly at Hollywood parties, and ones she’s tried or now does regularly herself for primarily pain management purposes. It was hard to wrap my head around how casual and informed she was on the topic as someone who I’d known as a solidly conservative seeming, traditional seeming, almost Stepford Wife like person through much of our relationship.

She had texted me earlier how she was learning about her own pattern of trying to live up to some expectation and suppress her true self in relationships without any wrongdoing or pressure from her partner, and at some point I had to ask if I probably didn’t fully know her at all. She said probably not, and hearing more about how different her life, and perspective and opinions are surprised me how little I may have known the real her at all.

Although it could be nice to be taken care of by someone behaving that way, a recurring fear I had about our relationship was that it was, and would only get more like the boring, cookie-cutter life I was afraid to get stuck in.

Eventually I just out and asked her some of the questions which had been eating away at me. When I told her she was still important to me and I was afraid I was no one to her now. I also told her I had been feeling insecure and inadequate at the thought of New Guy being everything I’m not and that now she looks back and thinks less of me than she did when we were together because she didn’t know any better.

She said none of that was true and let out a breath which also said it was a silly question. After all she had done and gone through since our breakup, and how much she seemed to have changed, I felt the need to ask. I did elaborate on some areas of comparison and was somewhat relieved to hear some of the specific ways that New Guy hadn’t been a good partner in ways I knew I had.

The strangest area to discuss my newly developed doubts and insecurities was around my performance and contribution to the physical portion of our relationship. Our unique position of being each other’s first and only before we broke up is part of what enabled those feelings. I’m much more reluctant and skeptical to accept any good about myself, but I fully accept the bad in an instant. Hearing about a few areas of strength in my ability to perform physically was a weight off my shoulders, and I immediately agreed with her only stated weakness about having room for more confidence. The area she said I was probably average I have a hard time feeling ok with because I’m tough on myself and don’t consider average to be good enough.

What made even the positive opinions difficult to hear was knowing that they were based on her experiences with other men (which was kind of the point, I know). The hardest part might have been hearing how her opinions have changed, and her encouragement for me to also have a more casual encounter myself. I don’t judge or think any differently of her, but part of me naturally found it painful to hear that something we had once treated as somewhat sacred with each other, she was no longer treating as such, and could possibly have been giving what I thought of as a precious gift to people who might not be kind enough to deserve it.

She apologized if dating someone else so fast contributed and made my feelings of insecurity and inadequacy worse. I told her the apology was unnecessary. We were broken up and she didn’t owe me anything so she didn’t do anything wrong.

In fact she had been so good to me in our relationship that I told her, since I better understood and appreciated how well she loved me, she has become a role model for how I want to give in any form of relationship: taking any chance to care for my loved ones unconditionally. Her reaction was to tell me I shouldn’t want to be like her because she gave too much of herself. I don’t think the problem is being too giving and loving, but doing so from a false sense of roles and expectations instead of out of your own sense of self. Although her willingness to give and love was unconditional, I guess her own happiness and self worth has been directly conditional on others.

As we talked about how we were doing, it was strange I was working on moving on from her while she was already moved on and trying to get over New Guy. I asked her why I was taking so long to move on. She said she had started the process of moving on long before we broke up and had been working up the courage to break up with me while also not wanting to make things harder for me while I was in the middle of grad school application stress. Apparently having New Guy really helped her get over me too. She did say she had a short while where she was mad at me or trying to be mad at me after she broke the silence and I got to tell and text her a ton of apologies.

I wished I had reasons to be angry at her to make moving on a little easier, but told her I couldn’t really think of any since she had always been so good to me. She reminded me the fact she’d been hiding and holding back her real self from me was fair reason. I guess I had already started to feel angry about that the more I understand how much she had kept from me and essentially felt lied to in many ways for a long time.

She kept insisting I hadn’t done anything to influence it but she did it herself because of her expectations for any romantic relationship. She mentioned how in hindsight she was so much more fun with other friends and guy friends than she had been with me. That makes me feel lied to, and cheated, and in a sense she had given herself to other men in a way she wasn’t giving herself to me. Ironically, more fun side of her is what I fell in love with and maybe would have softened my fears about a Stepford life if she hadn’t gone away.

The other thing she said it would be fair for me to get mad about was New Guy again. I told her again that we were broken up so she didn’t do anything wrong and I didn’t blame him at all for scooping her up asap. They had been friends from work and she said I could be mad they kept in touch so frequently. I said that wasn’t a big deal and she hadn’t really talked to him that much. When she told me she had been texting him every day for months before we broke up I was surprised and had not know it had been that much. I think she maybe made a half-hearted attempt to be transparent that they were in touch, but probably just enough to somewhat satisfy her conscience without really being enough for me to think twice about it. Even if I had know the true frequency, it probably never would have crossed my mind to question it because I trusted her without question.

Something clicked in my head and I asked her if she was telling me she had cultivated feelings for him and had an emotional affair with him before we broke up. She said yes, but it wasn’t based on much because their conversation was very surface level. I didn’t feel much consolation from the style since the substance was still her choosing to continue indulging and developing feelings for him daily.

That rocked my world. Whenever I had told friends or family how quickly she moved on I said I trusted her and I didn’t think anything inappropriate happened. I was wrong. I was wrong to trust her for that period when she had been allowing and developing feelings for someone she chose to contact every day while I was with her.

I can’t say I had never felt the spark of feelings for old friends or new people during our relationship, and even shared residual feelings to an old friend who I thought deserved to know, which even today I can’t say whether a part of me had any ulterior motives. However, part of what was going on under my nose felt somewhat different because of the daily effort in maintaining and initiating contact.

Looping back around to how it was taking me so long to get over her while she was already moving on from someone else, we discussed a bit about how she doesn’t have interest in maintaining any kind of friendship with him because he wasn’t really capable of connecting with her on a meaningful level. I asked her how she was having a harder time moving on from someone she felt that way about than me. Her response was, in addition to simply choosing him and not being chosen back (again), she felt she gave our relationship everything she could, but wasn’t able to have that chance with him because he walked away so easily.

Before I would have agreed whole-heartedly that she had done absolutely everything she could have in our relationship. It was definitely true in the sense she gave all her time and energy into doing what she thought she was supposed to do, which was giving, caring and supporting. However, ironically, realizing more and more how she had kept herself and her needs from me, I could no longer agree she had done absolutely everything she could in our relationship.

Shortly after the conversation, I remembered that while we had been discussing our future, I had asked her if she would be interested in going to therapy together. Her sentiment was therapy is what premarital counseling is for after I make the choice to commit or not. At the time she also felt the issue was isolated to me and not her. I probably would have agreed before knowing what I now know and I can’t help but wonder what couples therapy could have done if it had been able to surface the issues we’re now dealing with apart. Such thinking is futile so I try no to dwell on how we could have done more, but carry what I’m learning forward.

More and more I’ve been learning how critical it is in any relationship that each individual be a healthy and whole person first before they can have the proper intentions and balance the give-and-take of a relationship.

That, I think, prompted me to tell her how I was learning just how unhealthy I had been and how terribly I had been treating myself internally. This gave me another opportunity, which I took again, to apologize for how my poor treatment of myself was in large part what overflowed into not being present or able to see her in order to treat her as well as she deserved.

Since she knew I wanted brutal (somewhat self-punishing) honesty to be shown fully my errors so that I could better appreciate and thoroughly learn to never do them again, she told me how I hadn’t been there for her enough and at times left her alone to do my own work when she was frustrated about being turned down for several jobs she worked very hard for and when her grandfather passed away. In no way do I excuse myself for those things. I remorsefully apologized and am working on forgiving myself for it. I also acknowledged for myself that she had been putting on a brave face, a mask that wasn’t true, which I hadn’t asked her to, and made it harder for me to see through while I was already blinded by my own agenda.

When she told me how she saw my depression building over time by isolating and not being interested in things I used to, she implied, if not explicitly said, she could tell for a long time I was on course for an imminent, massive breakdown.

Part of me was triggered and wanted to say “well then why the fuck didn’t you say anything to me or my family to encourage me to get any help?!” After asking in more civil terms, since I knew it was possible she had tried to warn me but I had been dismissive and blind, all she was able to say was she did express towards the end of our relationship that she wanted to get out more. She was absolutely right and I should have taken her out more and I regret not. I also try not to dwell on wondering what could have happened if she’d helped me get the help I couldn’t see I needed when she could see it.

All this talk about what we had been learning about how we both tried be who we thought we were supposed to be instead of ourselves got me thinking. I asked, since the more we lost ourselves the worse we were for each other, if now finding ourselves brought us closer together again, whether she was categorically closed off to considering getting back together. I tried to be abundantly clear I wasn’t trying or in any state of mind to even think about getting back together, but I thought it would be a tragic shame if we somehow became right together yet ended up missing each other.

Something reminded me I still hadn’t told her my side of the story leading up to our breakup. I was relieved it was important and helpful to her that she got to be the one to actually initiate the breakup since I decided not to do it myself before her trip to visit with a friend.

By this point it was almost 4am and we’d brought up but failed to end the conversation a couple times. We failed again by getting on the topic of our blogs. She’s been using her’s more as a platform to demonstrate, encourage and attract authenticity in people around her and it seems like she’s gotten really good response. Thinking more about her intentions after our conversation really inspired me to set the same example by being more fully vulnerable and exposed by not hiding behind any anonymity and being as forthcoming as possible in any blog post or conversation without reservation or embarrassment but fully owning everything past and present. She said I could follow her but I passed for now and I gave her my blog name but I think asked she hold off on looking until I felt more comfortable with it.

We said our goodbyes and I told her the conversation had been mostly good but a lot to take in so I might not be ready for another one like it for a while. She understood and said she’d put the ball in my court regarding when to talk again.

In the end it was a relief to be able to ask the questions that had gnawing and eating away at me. There were also some very difficult things to hear and find out about which would take several of days to come to terms with. I see it all as good truth to hear as knowing is a required step to accept things as they really are so I can put them behind me and move forward.

Journal: 01/15/17

I woke up to one of my favorite new sounds: the kids were awake and their little feet were pitter-pattering on the floor while they were giggling and running to attack me on the couch.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to join them at church since I was a little concerned about getting home to cook and stay on my meal plan schedule. While I mulled it over I play with the kids on the floor with a puzzle.  As they were heading out I decided to join them and squeezed between the kids’ car seats in the van.

They decided to go to a church that met in the high school that I used to volunteer at through most of college. It was strange to be back on those grounds after all this time and remember some of the times I spent there with kids and the people I met. Aside from Carly, I haven’t kept touch with anyone else who attended or volunteered at that school with me so that was a bit strange to think about.

It took us a while to get the kids signed in and checked like they were a couple of coats. We did go back with them and try to get them comfortable with the little classrooms with all different ages of kids. While their parents were taking them in and I was happily observing the craziness of all the kids playing or just being herded around I spoke with a woman who was familiar with the work I did and the people I worked with.

Eventually we gave up on the kids getting comfortable since they were still clinging to their parents after a while and took them into the service. It was kind of surprising to see how bashful Arie quickly got around strangers since she was usually so in command at home. They stayed pretty good but eventually decided they wanted to join the other kids.

The service was about how Peter had denied Jesus three times, and then how Jesus later asked him three times whether he loved him and to feed his sheep. It had been a while since I’d been to church, and especially this one with a pastor who I’d heard before. I kept monitoring how I felt about the different things he said, what my honest thoughts were, and if I felt at all moved by faith or anything. I don’t think I was, I think that stuff requires you to be in a place where you already want to and are ready to surrender completely to what’s being taught.

Instead what I kind of realized is how much the message was essentially a lesson on the psychology of healthy relationships and sense of self worth through stories for the purpose of reflecting and applying to your own life. It got me wondering how much the purpose church serves for so many people is almost a lot like group therapy, and I wondered how many of those people would have been resistant to the idea of also accepting any kind of straightforward therapy out of fear or pride. As I think about it now, so much of my volunteering as a mentor with kids was to serve as a very close therapist who was able to earn their trust in a way that might be harder for professionals in an office or hospital environment to be able to.

When we got back home we played with blocks and trains and had lunch. The more time I spend with the kids, the less concerned I become with them liking and trusting me, and more concerned about how I can be a good influence and teach them. I had some pretty noticeable success getting Arie to finally let Cullen build the way he wanted instead of completely micromanaging his every move, and got both of them to actually ask for blocks or train pieces from each other instead of just taking it and flipping out. They listened almost right away when I told them that I didn’t like when they did those things to me, and they kept applying it to each other for the rest of our play time with hardly any need for me to remind them.

After we were done with that, Arie had the pretty sweet idea to build a fort, which I was immediately game for. She said that she was the “Director” and started barking commands. Early on when she would do that, I was flattered and wanted to encourage spending time together, but as time goes on that’s not really a behavior that I want to encourage. I told her that I wouldn’t play if she wasn’t going to ask nicely. Over the course of the fort building, she did slowly get a lot better at asking nicely the first time and thanking me for helping. My hope is that will spread to how she treats her brother who she often treats like a toy or tool as her service to use.

The fort ended up pretty sweet and I think I actually drifted to a light sleep for a minute before it was time to clean up and put everything away. Once everything was put away, I can’t remember what the family was doing but I told them I wasn’t going to join them and said some unhappy goodbyes to the kids and told them I’d probably be back again soon.

On my drive back down through Columbus to Cincinnati I sent a quick text to Amanda to see if she was around to meet up really quickly before I was out of town. She said to meet her out so I did and got to meet a couple of her friends Darrin and Sean who all invited me out to join them later at a Greensky Bluegrass concert they were going to. I told them I probably wouldn’t but I’d think about it.

I ended up driving them home since I had a car and they got ready so I hung out with them there for a little while and Darrin invited me to his house before the show to pregame and jam out on his instruments. I went and had a great time and ended up having a couple drinks so I realized I pretty much had to go along for the rest of the night instead of driving home. They were also nice enough to offer me some of their ecstasy and shrooms, but I don’t think I can handle that stuff so I passed.

We ubered to the show, I got some pizza, and I started meeting and talking with some girls that I was around in different parts of the venue. They were all pretty nice, and some were also really cute, but I ended up talking to one in particular while sitting with my friends. She was strawberry blonde, was taking care of her drunk friends, was able to have a fun conversation, and she had a cute freckled face. I noticed myself examining her face and feeling that she seemed like a good person and I just came right out. I asked her if I could tell her something. She said yes and I told her simply that “I think I like you.” She paused for a while, maybe not sure how to respond to such a straightforward statement. Eventually the pause was long enough that I got a suspicion. “You have a boyfriend don’t you,” I asked. She nodded and said yes. Now I wonder if that was true or if she either didn’t like me or didn’t know what to say so she said yes. I gave a disappointed nod, asked her what his name was, she said Trevor, and I told her that he was lucky to have her and that I was going to find some other friends on the other side of the venue.

Maybe she thought I was just trying to get into her pants because I just got up instead of continuing to talk to her, but I was actually a little embarrassed and part of it was that I was still looking for someone to kiss and cuddle with.

A couple of the other girls I spoke with either ended up also being in a relationship already, or starting out seeming into me and then becoming distant. I keep wondering if it’s because I don’t show enough interest early enough.

We ended up going to an after party at a bar where I saw many of the same girls and a couple new ones, who all pretty much ended up having a boyfriend or having that be code for just not liking me. While I was there I got to play with an LED hula hoop which I was really bad at and making eye contact level friends with other random dudes there.

To keep things going, after the after party, we went to another party at someone’s house. An after-after party if you will. There didn’t turn out to be a lot of people, maybe 10-15, but I got to meet them and they were alright. There was a girl that I thought was pretty cute, and might have been nice except she had some pretty thick walls up to everyone. I made friends with the house cats, and when some drugs came out I asked a couple questions that ended up surprising everyone how few times I’ve smoked weed and how I haven’t really done any other drugs. I got a lesson in packing and etiquette for sharing a bowl even though I didn’t take anything that I was offered. Then snuggled on the couch for a while listening to the conversation wrapped in a blanket and the cat came to snuggle under the blanket with me. One of the more boisterous guys who kept pulling out bags of cocaine was shocked that I’d never tried it and was dead set on getting me to try. He said he’s sneak me some if I fell asleep, but I asked him to be nice to me and I think he couldn’t bring himself to do anything after that.

Eventually after the conversation started to feel repetitive and the girl with her walls up kept herself at a distance, I saw that there was sunlight starting to show in the crack of the blanket over the window. When I checked the time it was about 7am. That’s when I let myself fall asleep and took a couple hour nap until about 9am.

All the people still there when I left really seemed to like me and told me that they really liked me. One guy gave me his card which I have and don’t know what to do with.

When I woke up Darrin and I ubered back to Amanda’s place where I fell asleep on the couch snuggled up with her dog Chavi. My Sunday night ended at 10am on Monday morning.

I don’t remember when exactly, but I know at some point in the night Darrin told me he thought I was a really cool guy. When I asked him why he said it was because I just be myself. I guess that’s true in the sense that there are things that I know I’m not and so I say no to, but I still don’t know if I’m really in touch and aware of who I am or have that figured out.

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