Onward

The past few days have gone from joy and satisfaction to familiar difficulties and back again. The problems Sarah and I passed through all of last night do not bear repeating simply because they introduced nothing new to worry about. It was merely the continued development of old problems. Are we over them? I never know. They always come back anyway. There's that dim hope that eventually we'll clear everything up, and sure, it almost feels like that now. I won't even try to guess what's next. Usually things get bad when I bring up something to make sure we're totally perfect and everything's been cleared up, but I just do more damage. I'd like to think we've made progress. Right now, I feel so peaceful, and I can't wait to enjoy my March Break with Sarah.

I got home today to find an envelope on the counter. It was from Trent. I've been offered admission; I'm going to university.
  • Current Music
    Weezer - Weezer (Blue Album)

Dear Nick

Hey Nick. It HAS been a long time. Too long. The past eight or nine months of my life have been the most interesting and complicated I've ever experienced.

This Thursday will mark five months with the girlfriend I always thought I deserved. Certainly that plot twist has been the dominant force in my life.

We skipped over the annoying ritual and customs usually required; we never even went on dates. While that's refreshing, there are numerous consequences to being a serious couple of romantics. Every minor problem is exploded into a crisis, which does not say good things for the major problems (which have been numerous beyond belief -- "worst case scenario" problems). There have been so many disasters that I feel like I've been given a complete education in relationship snags in half a year. I realize the danger in making such an assumption.

Meanwhile, my parents have sold the house and announced a pending divorce. It struck me with such dull surprise that I was almost disturbed at my ability to cope. My life has been riddled with so many traumas and pitfalls over the last few months that the spiritual appreciation I've developed for the necessity of change has been all that can keep me afloat. Facing one of those very contingencies I'd considered when questioning the potential of the perspective I developed a year ago, I found that I really am capable of dealing with drastic adversity. I had been primed weeks earlier with a revelation regarding something Sarah did. Without the knowledge I've accumulated, it would have killed me, but with it I was able to drag through a period of melodramatic melancholy to an eventual decision to keep going. When this was followed by my parents' announcement, I was in such a position of calm acceptance that it passed over me without much impact. The anticipated realization has not come. As drained as I am, I feel as if I can forge on through whatever life throws at me, and that's a good feeling.

School is descending into a more depressing affair than I ever thought possible. My first semester consisted of English and drama, and this one is a required global course that inspires me to reject all Western lifestyle, and sociology and film with a teacher who knows nothing about either. Whether these will be accepted by Trent, the only university that seems to have anything to offer, is in question. To my mother's horror I'm again asking if I want a university education at all -- but the academic process has come to mean so little to me. It doesn't teach me any of the things I want to know, nor does it seem to say anything important. I suppose I'm in the classic point of my life to be desiring an education from the School of Life instead. I'm like a living clich�.

Such connection as I desire arrived with studied perfection this weekend. For months I'd been plotting a party for my eighteenth birthday. I convinced my father to close his senses while staying upstairs and my more easily worried mother was talked out of calling in sick instead of working her overnight shift. Short of thirty people attended and appeared to have a fine time. In every conceivable way, accounting for the anticipated clean-up and burnout, it was a perfect night, made to seem all the more perfect with the miracle of drugs and good company.

It was the third time Sarah and I have dropped acid, after Boxing Day and New Year's Eve. This time it was 2.5 hits of double-dip. I make a point of bringing this up because you've talked before about your two years using LSD, and now I understand what you meant about being duped. The afterglow has finally left me, but for a long period I was in touch with my idealized perception of the world without even having to try. Whether or not that's a good thing is something I haven't decided. It smoothed out the rough edges and made the world sparkle, and I spent yesterday morning drifting around thinking there was nothing wrong with the basic nature of existence. I believe such a thing spiritually, but can I be comfortable being convinced of it chemically? My brain is chemically unbalanced anyway, but is it okay to compensate with a drug as seemingly perfect as LSD?

I know that today the feeling has passed, so I can use my memory of that feeling to my advantage without having it all the time. At least my use of the drug is capped by local supply -- it was a miracle I secured the six hits we bought in time for the party -- but if I could have it all the time, would I? It felt like acid was the solution to all the world's problems. Intellectually I know that is untrue, but should it be a solution to any problems at all? The day before we dropped, Sarah and I had an argument. I was uneasy at the time because I might be planting the seed for tragedy, but instead we discussed the problems and it was acid that repaired any immediate emotional damage, instead raising us somewhere higher than we'd been before (pun intended).

But what does it all mean? I don't consider it the evil drug it is made out to be, but if it is I'm sure it's a subtle, sneaky sort of evil. It could easily lull a person into blissful complacency. Right now I wish I could stay for eternity inside two o'clock, Saturday morning, smoking pot with a handful of friends and listening to music in a room that looked like the most beautiful painting I'd ever seen. It felt complete, and I never feel complete in any way. I love my girlfriend but I forget to love my life. I want to find a way to be as complete as I was at that party without trashing a house, taking drugs, and going 36 hours without sleep. I think I remember you saying something about that once -- wanting to have transcendent experiences without getting high. Have you figured it out yet? Will the answer involve poi? I'm looking for satisfaction without big balls of fire.

Ultimately what was so perfect was being with people I loved without all the concerns that always bog me down. So many of those concerns are given to me by other people. Sometimes they're the people I love, sometimes the ones I try not to hate. But should I begin to live my life on my own terms? Is it possible to follow the life that feels right without pushing away everyone else? It seems there's always someone who has a problem with what I'm doing. Thursday night I wanted a calm night away from anyone I cared for so I could care for myself, but Sarah got angry because she felt neglected. Friday night I wanted to give everyone and myself a good time, but now I am being hounded to use energy I don't have to continue putting the house back together when to my eyes the house is still functional and can be returned to pristine arrangement in due time -- I already spent an entire afternoon cleaning yesterday because I was aware Mom would have a problem with anything less than obsessive cleanliness. But the coffee table being on exactly the right angle is simply not something that concerns me. Nonetheless, I'm forced to worry about it.

What I ask myself is whether I will ever escape the expectations and needs of everyone else to follow my own, and whether I will ever lose such ideals and forget to seek beauty. Essentially, will I be able to live the life I want, and will I always want that life? The things I want are more fundamental than the passing whims that would be expected of me, but will there come a day when I compromise like everyone else seems to? The direction and purpose I felt Friday night was enough to live on, however I could get it. What I want is to find a way to remember it's there all the time, and I don't want to let other people keep me from having it.

I'm very sorry for the length, but I'm dissecting existence over here. Those questions were rhetorical, so don't feel a response of any kind is called for. I'll be checking out your new project as soon as I begin to live again. Right now I've got to vacuum the kitchen and begin some homework to play along with Ms. Caines' pretend sociology. Watch how fast I move.

--Joe
  • Current Music
    Godspeed You Black Emperor! - Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven

Snags

I've spent the last hour dragging through hours of ICQ history in an effort to cut it into something that would fit into a journal entry, but there was too much that could not be ignored, so I can only express it in broad terms.

Tonight Sarah swore at me like never before, declared that I hate her, and said she didn't want to say she loves me. I feel ripped to pieces for several reasons. Tonight she felt abandoned and rejected while I thought it would be a good idea to not have her out another night given the upcoming party and her parents recently angry at her absence. I also needed to mentally prepare for the socializing expected of me tomorrow, and I could not become properly introverted to gain strength while with anyone I truly care about distracting me from myself, who I've been constantly neglecting.

Sarah became infuriated that I left the house when I'd already missed signals that she wanted to go home with me after a recognition night our parents dragged us to. I went out to pick up the weed with Colin (the pickup was missed when I was standing on the roof of the mall crying into my cellphone). While out I got high with Colin since he'd settle for nothing less, only making the situation worse with Sarah.

She was calmed down not by my efforts, but by chatting with Vaughn online. She's been doing that lately -- he's apparently a good listener. He's also sorry about what he did, but he'd do it again because he still wants her. But he promised not to, so they became friends again. After a lot of trying to get across how I felt about this, Sarah agreed for the sake of our relationship to end it totally, rather than seek the ever-elusive closure with him.

She had decided he needed a second chance, and could change, and needed help, but that wouldn't be her. In fact, she promised so, but didn't really notice as she broke that promise and started talking with him once again. Meanwhile, she was venting to him about all the ways I don't consider her feelings.

She logged off saying she's okay now, but I'm definitely not. I feel absolutely awful. I was trying to clear and centre my mind for tomorrow, and instead I've been reminded of how totally I don't understand Sarah's needs and I've been exposed to yet more Vaughn in my head. I'm seriously worried about the psychological brewings right now and how it could impact my trip. I may have to back out and be a sitter while everyone else trips. It could be too risky to go into my head right now. I'm crying just to think about how hard I had to try to get her to actually stop associating with Vaughn for good. I thought that had already happened so many times. Yet she wants me to trust her... then she breaks that trust even now. Apparently what she meant by the promise was that she didn't want him as a friend then, but now she'd decided to give him a second chance. So she tells him about what a crappy boyfriend I am, while he fantasizes about fucking her. I'm left to feel like shit because I lived my life without her for one night.
  • Current Music
    Dave Matthews Band - Live at Red Rocks 8.15.95

Happy Birthday to Me

In the end, it's all good.

Today is, by some estimations, my birthday. An equally valid case could be made for tomorrow, but I'm not all that interested in such pedantry. I only know that I'm really happy right now.

A party I've been planning for months is tomorrow night, and it's actually looking like it might come off all right. I have twenty or thirty friends expected, ten grams of weed paid for, and Mom going to work and Dad a movie (leaving only Grandma downstairs, probably not a problem). But most vital is supplies for the worked-up After Party, the second phase consisting of five out of probably six over-nighters dropping acid. This LSD was a point of some considerable difficulty -- for nearly two weeks now I've been constantly trying to locate the needed blotter, but the area is going through a dry spell. I had given up all hope on about ten possible sources, but on the last break of the day I saw Jessie and Katie rounding the corner with Orrin beside them, wearing an expression of barely-contained exuberance. Jessie noticed me and came straight over, saying that she had managed six hits of Easter Island for $55. I gave her three twenties, still not even comprehending my good fortune, and I was very confused by her slick delivery of the goods during a "birthday hug." As I walked away after figuring it out, I placed my hand in my pocket and felt the sweet joy that is a little baggy with a square of paper in it.

What had been planned as a walk home on my free to deposit the money I'd had out for the impossible buy, was now a victory march (with constant checks of my cargo). I got home in the best of moods, my mind racing with the realities of the imagined party now a day away. I must assemble the entire main floor in preparation, procure the ten from Colin, set up the stereo system for Jacob's gear, and countless other things I've not even thought of.

My can of Wizard stands ready to spray the house into "Cedar & Lemon" goodness. $100 of junk food is lined up to be eaten. Drugs are coming in from all directions. It's actually coming together, finally.

Tomorrow is a day off, as the school prepares for split-shifts after Sir John A. started making its students puke. The moment I wake up, my birthday and my party will have begun in earnest. I am legally becoming an adult, and the only logical way to react is by engaging in the most reckless extravagence possible. I hope I survive.
  • Current Music
    Phish - Hampton Comes Alive

Discouragement

I've been trying. I've been trying as much as my sorry soul will allow. Have I not had it as bad as Sarah lately just because I'm almost succeeding?

After finding out a change in requirements will disrupt her course choices in the coming years, possibly excluding the possibility of early graduation to earn money for school, Sarah became shockingly distraught. She had found it to be a bad day (even having a cigarette and planning not to tell me, breaking her promise to herself to quit). Now she was leaning against the wall outside the gym, trying to be inconspicuous as tears rolled down her cheeks. I was unprepared for such a breakdown, so I felt particularly bad for what would surely be another painful parting. There have been many times lately when my need to get to class, rather than a free as it often was last semester, has been an issue of friction. Sarah wants me longer than she can have me, and feels rejected when I leave.

She begged me to come over for the evening. I had a sociology test to study for, but I reluctantly pushed that to my one free before that class tomorrow, and agreed to come over to comfort her. I detoured to arrange for supplies for my upcoming birthday party, which Sarah said would be alright. However, I took too long. Colin dragged me into sampling the product, and by the time I finally got to Sarah's I was almost half an hour later than I anticipated.

She was largely quite well, her spirits seemingly raised above the concerns of the day. But when I had to go, she whimpered that I stay. I agreed to another thirty minutes, half of which she spent asleep in my arms, and when the time was up she shattered once more. The tears would not stop, and I repeatedly got up and began to leave the room before being pulled back by her cries. I tried to hug her and kiss her and let her know I still loved her but simply had to go. It wasn't enough. One time, she turned away from me and huddled in a ball on her bed after a sorrowful, "I hate you!" It brought me back, exactly as it was intended to do.

When I tore myself away from a situation I knew could end no other way, she stomped down the stairs as I was putting on my shoes and stood frowning before me. I once more told her I loved her, and she shook her head. She didn't believe me. I went to hug or kiss her, but she resisted, so I had to ask myself why she had come down (after wailing as I apparently gave up and left). I walked out the door feeling heavily disheartened, as if nothing will be enough to pull my girlfriend from the cycle from which I am tentatively leaving myself.

As I got into the car and started to drive home, I could think of nothing but how an objective observer would perceive the situation and the demands Sarah places on me. She needs support, plainly, but is she asking too much of me? I am perfectly willing to give whatever I can, but am I insane to wonder if in any context other than our mutual love, this would be taken as one person emotionally taking advantage of another? It's not the first time I've felt like a hostage, unable to walk away. The fear of hurting her in any way is enough to keep me there, but if it impacts my life and responsibilities, is it going too far? I planned to do homework and university stuff today, plus catch up on some family time with my neglected parents, but instead I ran to the rescue yet another time. I don't have a problem with it, but is it actually doing any good? Would it have made any difference if I left at 9:00 or forty-five minutes later as I did? She'd still be protesting and crying as I left.

What am I to do? She's so insistent that she needs me, but what does she need me for? She wants me to be there to hug her and make her feel loved in the middle of a life that seems to be falling apart for her. Do I not do that well? Not long enough? She sure doesn't seem satisfied with how I help her, so how can I do better? How can I give her what she needs? I thought I already was, but she's just not happy. Even if I'm not the cause of the moment, I ought to be the cure.
  • Current Music
    Pavement - Terror Twilight

Steak and Clarity

Some reasonable part of me justifies it in light of recent difficulties. All the same, things seem really good.

I spent the night at Sarah's. Nothing remarkable occurred, yet I somehow reflect on the day-and-a-bit with a lot of satisfaction. For the moment, the world makes sense.

Two things, apart from Sarah's calming presence, pointed me to this state. One was the movie "Ghost World" which we watched last night, exactly the sort of ironic life study I enjoy. What struck me when we paused for popcorn and Sarah's father imposed his assistance on us was that real life is just as much of a deadpan comedy as any film I could watch. Every last one of us is our own exaggerated character, a self-mockery engaging and compelling in its own identity. If most of the situations I am placed in were found in the context of a clever dramatic comedy reflecting on modern life, I would enjoy the show. Simply because real people haven't been written doesn't make them any less ridiculous, or any less worthy of smirking appreciation. I know I'd be damn well amused by myself if such a character were found in a movie. I'm a joke, and so is everyone. I mean that in a much warmer sense than when it occurred to me the codeine night. I've found myself looking around as if I'm in a story, and suddenly our failings are so much more forgivable. It's the ultimate in realistic drama -- the sort that you can find comedic if you evolve past the need for a laugh track to tell you what's supposed to be funny. I suppose I shouldn't spread the philosophy around, but I may hold onto it nonetheless.

The second thing to amuse and enlighten me is another philosophy, one bullshitted spontaneously while talking to Sarah. It was only as I began to expand on my original idea that it took on a quirky appeal, until I became convinced that my life can be likened to that of a steak.

It's not particularly good steak to begin with. Neither was I. Whether by tabula rasa or inadequacies in a starting form, we do not begin complete and perfect (in the sense in which the analogy requires). To have a proper, full life, we must move and improve, heading toward some ultimate destination. A steak is to be eaten, but one such as myself is not worth having without enhancement. A marinade, for instance.

For this marinade to be adequately absorbed, the meat must first be tenderized by means of a tenderizer, classically a wooden mallet with a face of points, but a fork could perform just as well. This represents the past decade of my life. I have been pounded, beaten and stabbed into a fragile, tender form, so much so that if you're going to pick me up you'd better support me completely, or else parts of me will break off and fall between the cracks of the grill to sizzle and char (unfortunate and undesired).

It recalls Trungpa's business of opening the ribcage to expose the soft heart of a warrior, so sensitive you nearly shed a tear from everything you see. That's what my Shambhala steak is all about.

Once tenderized, once having passed through the abuse that goes almost too far, the steak or person is ready to receive the depth lent by creative, varied flavouring. Without having first been opened up with little holes to soak it in, the steak is unreceptive to marinade. It will reject it, being coated externally with a touch of the richness in which it is immersed, but without significantly taking anything in. Such may be the same for me. I have arrived at a point in which I want to soak in as much experience and life as I can. I want to search out the spices and sauces that will make me taste better. I want to become more complete, more textured, more coloured, more unique. I want to pick and choose what will make me the best steak I can be, and draw it in as intensely as I can. I want to swim in beautiful things. I want to take it all in and be made better by it. By being hurt first, I'm all the more thankful for the shades of experience available to build character and taste.

A steak's ultimate destiny is to be eaten, just as my ultimate destiny is to die. That's the direction we are constantly, inevitably taking. But it is not being digested that a steak longs for -- it's the joyful appreciation by the eater. It's being the best, tastiest, most tender steak it can be, just before it gets swallowed. It's the memory it leaves behind -- "I had the best steak last night." I want to leave behind that kind of memory on the world I take part in. Our joys before death are in how we touch the world and how the world touches us. The people and things around us and how wonderful it all is. I'd like to be able to leave a good impression on people, to be a positive presence in the world. To do that, I must let myself enjoy the flavours of the world and make them a part of myself. I must arrive at the most complete possible form, something impossibly done from the back of a sterile freezer.

I've already passed through the true hardship of being ripped to pieces to prepare for fitting anything in, but now that my soul of steak has been spread out, I have more room inside to accept and appreciate the world. Before that process was one of simple connection, but now I see myself actively taking it in and changing from it, while still leaving it there for others to advance, enhance and flavour themselves with.

I won't close with a bad pun about steak. In fact, I'd like to never close at all.
  • Current Music
    Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

Where Once One Fell

As one half of a relationship, I do less things as an individual, and what I do directly affects my other half. I've always been stricken with difficult periods. So has Sarah. So it only makes sense that the same would be true of our pairing. We are individuals, and the product of our association is a third creation -- that which exists between us. And it can be just as ill as we are. But like all things, it can be repaired.

Sarah and I have had a bad stretch. In some ways, as bad as we've ever been. For the first time, classic relationship incompatibilities have arisen, and we've fought, and argued, and felt hurt. Accused and cried. Why? I'm still not entirely sure.

Sarah only just pointed out that it seemed to begin after I revealed my fear to her that I don't understand her well enough. Maybe I succumbed to my fear, or maybe I planted the seed of doubt in her mind. When I told her that I was afraid of becoming like my father with Mom by not appreciating her feelings or understanding her, it all started to really happen. I was suddenly completely ignorant of her needs and clueless with her every communication, right after I had vowed to devote myself to understanding and helping her.

She always plays and I take it literally. I react by instinct when she does the slightest thing to make me feel unwanted. Ironically, she does so because she needs the reassurance of watching me try. She feels worth something if I take the effort, and I feel worthless if I have to. We each want to feel wanted, but we need opposite things to get that. It became my fault for not understanding and not providing what she needs. I felt drained constantly from so much being asked of me that I didn't know how to provide. I was trying so hard and failing so totally, and Sarah was feeling awful because after almost five months I still couldn't get a grasp on the most basic parts of how she works. It came down to my need for direct, honest communication versus her need to be loved through the challenge of her playful disagreement. I was doing it all wrong.

This problem grew out of two others that occurred on opposite ends. I was beginning to feel that while being with Sarah I have neglected my other friendships, and I wanted to make sure those bonds still remained strong. I was feeling regretful to have let some connections slip, and I wanted to reassert myself. At the same time, Sarah was feeling threatened by my friendships as they are. Sarah Fawson had been hugging me a lot passing in the hall, and a few times I dropped Sarah to hug my former best friend made my girlfriend feel very, very bad. This set us up emotionally for descending due to my idiocy and inability to comprehend anything but saying what you mean and doing what you want to. I'm a confused, frustrating male.

It seems to have died down, though, for the moment. Run its course, perhaps, or maybe we've just regained confidence in each other. It's been a good, happy day. I said to Sarah that I want to be simple again, and she said it's impossible with her. I don't think so. Not the sort of simplicity I mean. We can put whatever we want above it, but down beneath, there's nothing but love. That's the most beautiful simplicity there is.
  • Current Music
    Dump - A Plea for Tenderness

Well Then...

The plot thickens.

In some strange way, I'm glad for all the shit I have endured. It has concurrently hardened and softened me, preparing me for the hardships that my life will present. Adversity has become less threatening, as I have continually learned better ways to cope through sheer familiarity with difficult circumstances. More than anything, I am glad for what I have discovered over the past several years about change. Change is inevitable, and not inherently a bad thing. Resisting change is painful and counter-productive if one seeks contentment. You must be open to whatever happens, no matter how shocking it may be.

If I had not recently arrived at a revelatory peace with Sarah, it might have been impossible to bear. Doubt, confusion and sadness had overwhelmed me, but through patient work we brought ourselves away from that and held each other up with our smiles. It was exactly the cushion I would need.

This was the sort of contingency I had half-wanted to test my new mindset on, ever since I found myself becoming a more grounded, peaceful person. Certainly the situation itself is upsetting, yet I am disturbed at how unfazed I was last night, when my mother calmly told me that after our house is sold by the end of the school year, she and Dad will be living separately.

My parents are breaking up.

I think it must not have hit me yet. I don't hurt any more than I did before I was told. I feel concerned for them because I have seen hints of their troubles for years, but I feel largely helpless in doing anything for them myself. For once, I do not find myself leading a situation back to me and what I did wrong. I don't feel in the least that this has anything to do with me, except that I must support them through this. Yet I am no less strong to hear it.

Perhaps it's because I will only be present for two months after the change, and then onto a new life just as unfamiliar, a change that I have long been anticipating. I must merely move my period of adjustment back by one summer.

On some level it's exciting; on another, I just hope it won't be too hard for the rest of my family. Right now, I feel that I will be able to handle it. Maybe I'm being foolish to think so. It's been only a day since I found out, the very day that it was thrown on my father in a final form. He's not even had a chance to speak with her much since she decided she was "checking out" as he puts it. I don't think he can convince her to do otherwise. This is pretty real. As real as it gets. It's the greatest test of whether I've finally become a person who knows how to face reality.
  • Current Music
    Pink Floyd - Meddle

Good Enough

I returned to school confident in both my ability to hold myself up in my classes and to hold myself together inside. Nothing had gone away -- I was still physically exhausted and emotionally crippled -- but I was ready to attempt to function positively in spite of the weight upon me. Unfortunately, it would not be so easy.

Maybe I just put up an image of being stronger than I was. Although I went in with some sort of renewed energy, it was a fragile, uncertain strength. Sarah either didn't realise how internally broken I remained or was too upset herself to think clearly in her actions, and her natural tendency of playing in a sense I don't understand kept up. Ultimately the theme for several days was one of me feeling like I wasn't good enough. I wasn't trying hard enough, I wasn't caring enough, I wasn't happy enough. None of this was Sarah's idea, but in my state it was the impression I received.

She was faux-pouting almost constantly because I refused to kiss her. I was doing my best to stay alive, and she couldn't seem to get over a lack of lip contact. She was back to constantly kidding about not loving me, throwing around sad faces and such. She's always casually joked by not hugging me or running away -- indeed, one lunch hour since I returned she grabbed my glasses and ran away, and I had to find her five minutes later at the class I had next. What was discouraging before was now one little thing after another driving me further back to my depression. I was more sensitive than ever before, but Sarah was acting even less supportive because of her own emotional state and because she didn't seem to appreciate the depth of my pain, due to my outer fa�ade of having it together. Her innocent little pouts were the last thing I needed to deal with on top of the still-settling feelings after she told me about December 2.

One night I had talked with her for an hour on the phone when Mom insisted I go to bed out of consideration for my health. Sarah had been crying in my ear for a very long time, and nothing I could say did any good in helping. I finally warned her I had to hang up and go to bed, and with statements of love to an unresponsive wall of tears, I clicked the receiver. The next day, I walked up to Sarah as she got off her bus, and she tried to push past me. Her black lipstick was already making enough of a statement. I tried to hug her and understand what was wrong, and as she refused eye contact on her way to the Pit she vindictively accused me of abandoning her in her moment of need. I was shocked, as I had the impression the previous night that my talking to her was doing no good at all. Whenever I ask what's wrong, she can't tell me. When I reassure her, she tells me I'm wrong. It's hard for me to understand anyone who doesn't operate in the same terms of truth and openness as I. Whenever I hurt us, it's because I say something out loud that I could choose to keep to myself. When she hurts us, it's sometimes because she won't say those things. I had decided that my counsel was worthless, because she wouldn't even talk to me, and I had no choice but to leave, so I did so. Now she was telling me how she had cried herself to sleep for hours and it was partially my fault because I had left her alone in her room. I felt like a failure for not understanding that she simply doesn't know how to let even me in.

Friday night, while we sat in Colin's basement before leaving to enjoy the weed we'd purchased, Sarah picked up a MAXIM that Danny Conrad had been flipping through to Colin's thoughtful commentary, "I like those magazines. They're good to jerk off to."

"See, you'd never be able to find my kind of girl in one of these," Sarah said as she turned the pages and criticized the women. She found one or two she liked and ran them past me, seeking my approval. Meanwhile, I was waving manically to remind her she had me.

Later, I tried to explain that whether you're straight, gay, or bi, male or female, it's generally not considered appropriate to comment appreciatively about others in your partner's presence. Maybe I'm just being overly sensitive, but I was hurt to see her ogling the pretty girls. Colin looked at the one she liked and said, "Yeah, I'd have sex with her, would you?" and she thoughtfully responded in the affirmative. She later explained that she thought I would enjoy this. Apparently, "most guys" would.

Am I overreacting to be bugged by it? I don't know, but I do know that it was yet another thing that made me feel like I wasn't good enough. I can think of being with no one but Sarah. I can't even look at other girls. Meanwhile, she can do far more than look at options apart from myself. That's what I said to her as we sat in a parking lot trying to repair that night -- her actions have made me feel as if, as devoted to me as she is emotionally, in terms of sexuality she is not as exclusive. I felt like for her heart I was her true love, but for her body I was a convenient outlet. For me, sex has always been an irritating requirement of my body. When I met Sarah and was allowed to actually get what I was physically yearning for, it became an opportunity to express my love, but in itself it remains meaningless. It's good fun, but nothing more. To her, it seems like it's something far more important, and I've been made to feel like I'm not sufficient to satisfy that side of her. I have only her actions and words to consider, and the things she's done seem to clearly speak that I'm sexually useful but hardly everything she needs. She told me once she's not even sure if she's bi anymore, and then she spends ten minutes admiring barely clothed girls -- thinking it would turn me on, seeing her size up others. If she stood beside me and pointed into a crowd of guys at those she'd like to fuck, I wouldn't like it then, so how are pictures of women any different?

Yesterday she called me in the morning and we talked. We were trying to decide what to do and how to do it, and she explained that she had extensive laundry to do. I asked when it would be finished, and she shortly freaked out and snapped at me that she was already doing it. I floundered around in confusion until she explained in frustration that by saying she was busy with house work she didn't mean that we should delay meeting but that I should go and see her at her house right away and we would stay there until it was done. She said how sometimes I'm so much like her brother because I can't understand the most basic things, and he's someone she's repeatedly told me she hates because of how stupid he is. I once more found myself feeling entirely inadequate. She blames the incident on her attempt to get off Paxil, but I stand by my old belief that whether or not someone is particularly angry or irritable, it's those moments that reveal how they feel.

Everything since my return to school had been making me feel like I wasn't good enough for her. Everything she did, everything she said, came out on my end as saying I had to do and be better. I just didn't have the strength to do any more than I was. Today my entire body aches, as it has for a week from sheer fatigue, and where once I thought I was turning around I feel crushed and worthless once more. I've gone back to asking myself what I've been doing wrong for everything to be failing so much. She's always sad, angry, or discouraged. Why can't I do better and make her happy? It keeps coming back to my own feelings stemming from my non-existent sense of self worth.

Saturday consisted of almost nothing. I went to her house for a while before we went back to mine, but nothing ever came of the day in terms of actually occupying ourselves. The events of the night before (matching up with Speedy, Katie and Tim before enjoying ourselves in Atlantic Acres) yielded new consideration on our recently adopted titles, and Sarah used my computer to further her already considerable knowledge of the subject. In reading a few lists of guidelines and rules, she seemed to gain a renewed enthusiasm for the lifestyle, and we agreed to take it a few steps further. What little it could do was to bolster my confidence. Meanwhile, she seemed pleased to devote herself to her role and to me. I am not an inherently dominant person, but she has a strong submissive side (in fact, it's core to her character) and I am willing to provide what she needs. I have a vague fear that it will develop into a problem for me because it's so against my basic nature, but I'm fairly sure that I can keep it up for half a year. I just wouldn't want to live it forever.

She phoned today to say that neglecting to dry the last load of her family's laundry yesterday had led her into an argument that lasted until one in the morning. Her parents said she doesn't take responsibility, doesn't care for herself, and doesn't know what she wants out of life. She goes crying to me too often and never tells them what's wrong, when she can't trust me for support because I'm not blood and therefore everything I do toward her is because I want something. She angrily told them that she had started to sleep with Vaughn when she was with me, and that's why she'd been constantly sad for a month.

They yelled. They argued. Her father grabbed her wrist and told her not to cry when she did because it wasn't hard enough to hurt her. They grounded her for a day, and promised much more if she was found crying about it and talking to me on the phone.

Something inside me awoke as I heard the story, and I remembered why I'm with Sarah -- I love her. The highest level of that is that I want to make her happy and give her a better life. That's why I'm with her, because I want to use my life to make hers more bearable. I want to take care of her. My resolve strengthened, and I realised that as weak as I often feel, it's most important to care for her. It's why I'm around. I hope I'm good enough to take up the task.

This day has been spent on the phone. Most of it has been unfortunate. She is once more unhappy because that insidious "everything" feels wrong. I've struggled to find out what part of that is from my wrongdoing.

I make jokes, which she considers a minor problem. Much more significant is that I "don't believe" in her. I set back the case when I told her how unimportant I as me seems to be to her sexually. She was hurt that I thought it wasn't important to her, even though I tried to explain otherwise. What I was really saying is that she tells me how devoted she is to me, how totally she loves me, how perfect I am for her in every way, then she reflects on girls she'd like to fuck (or, for that matter, she fucks Vaughn).

I'm trying as hard as I can to trust in what we have again, and she says she's spent the last month doing everything in her power to show me how much she loves me and how true to me she is. So why do I end up feeling, over and over, like I'm not good enough for her?
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It's Already There

Would I be premature to declare some upturn in events? I'm sure it can't be so easy, but I think that I may have gotten over the worst of it, and oddly enough without the complete collapse I expected as being necessary. It was reflecting upon that very supposed need that may have triggered my change in perspective.

I had a long chat with Nitya Sunday night, and it opened me up to a lot of things I wasn't planning to consider. I was trying my best to explain my state of being, and in so doing I had to express something of the notion of a romantic fall. I had to put across a large part of my emotional construction, trying to justify foolish mental workings. The appeal in depression and tragic failure is not easy to get across to a less romantically inclined person, and in describing my need to sink completely in order to eventually rise back, I think I touched on some level that rock bottom I was seeking. I realised that even without getting stoned or drunk to excess (the conversation began with me lamenting the timing of my illness) I had still hit somewhere so low that I would be dead if not for my experience with the feeling. And somehow, it became less necessary to connect with the lowest of lows before recovering. I reached a point where I was ready to consider the process of going back up.

Our discussion somehow evolved into describing my values and beliefs. I reminded myself of all the things I'm supposed to be doing with my life, and indeed the fundamental decisions I've already made about that life. While the answers remained as ambiguous, the process and the conclusions thus far became powerfully real again. I am the eyes of the universe, and it's my duty to look back at myself and what's around me and appreciate it on the most involved level possible. I have experienced sadness, but I must again experience joy. There may be nothing further to be gained from dwelling on this awful little piece of a world that is fundamentally good -- I've been reading my Shambhala book for the third time, and it's bringing a lot back.

The next day was the final exam. Around noon Colin called with Robert beside him saying he had found a pinner in his pocket on the way from school. After trudging through the cold and snow to where I was supposed to meet them, giving up and going home to run into Colin somewhere totally different, I partook and then joined them back at McDonald's.

I returned home in an inspired mood, watching a movie alone and settling into a strangely satisfied groove. All my catch phrases were rising to the surface, and they meant something again. I talked to Sarah on the phone and ICQ, and though she was down I could not be willingly dragged from where I was, and she actually seemed cute in her own sadness, because sadness seemed so unnecessary.

I laid awake in bed after it all, expecting a difficult first day back to begin this morning (though more snow would again delay my return). As I thought of how much I appreciate Sarah and my life for what they are, not what they aren't, I remembered perhaps my most important wisdom, the piece that came not in one sudden epiphany but a slow, graceful realisation: it's already there. I don't need to keep looking everywhere for it. I already have it. Life's not perfect, but it's good because it is. I remember that now, and I don't want to forget it again.

Am I still depressed? I think I'm a perpetually depressed person, and I'll never be able to be buoyant and stop doubting. But the better side of me has taken over, and for a time I may be able to groove again. A brief mention from Sarah of what it was like when she met Vaughn was enough to strike me down for a moment, but I've recovered. I'd like to think I've regained my ability to ignore. There are things that must be put behind me, and I should not so easily let them slip in front once more. I won't make promises to myself or the world, but I know that at the very least I have taken one step in the right direction.
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