In the summer of 2013 I left New Orleans with most of what I owned with a boy I hadn’t known for a year. We spent a month with his amazing parents in Boston. We took two days in Puerto Rico before we decided it wasn’t for us, after all. One short and highly educational week later, Steve and I boarded a plane back to Massachusetts. Aforementioned wonderful parents had kept his car, thankfully. We had a vehicle. Steve drove us to New Orleans. We got extremely drunk with our friends Max and Margaret and I got some belongings. We were robbed and delayed a day before we left for Colorado. Denver was my backup plan. We decided to go with that.
Within one month of Colorado living, Steve had ended our relationship. We’d broken up and gotten together again a few times since Boston. Two, to be specific. At the third time, I moved out.
Over three years, I moved a total of six times. I rented a room in a place I fondly call Casa de Crack and I had a California king bed in the suburbs. I dated and loved a married man which gave me countless lessons. I spent my late twenties refining my stance on kink and my place without the person who brought me into the scene. I spent my time focusing on teamwork. I was the only one left on the team now, and I could continue to not die.
Ironically, Kimberley moved to the Denver area. I was able to resume therapy about a year ago. Now when I see Kimberley, it’s still for ninety minutes per session. The difference now is that I see her every two-three months.
I’m far more self-sufficient than I would have ever been with Steve. We ended on decent, albeit fucked up, terms. We stayed friends until I felt secure enough to let that fade. I don’t like him to hug me anymore. I miss his parents most of all.
In Colorado, I started dating women. I fell in love, mutually, with a woman. I dated women and men. I was in a long-term relationship. I kept many New Orleans relationships alive. The Denver kink scene values education. I was able to learn things that I wish I’d known from the beginning of my kink life. I am proud to be someone who is known as a safe player.
I started buying my own legal weed. I sped through flashback work, without therapy, and now will go days without a flashback. I used pot as a new form of therapy. I kept up with my mental health reading. I worked like healing was my second priority. My first is to be useful while I live on the good graces of those who love me.
I’m not perfect, although, by the amount of love and praise I receive, I can easily see why people think I’m together.
I still don’t have a car. (Selling my car tops the short list of regrets I have about my Puerto Rican adventure.) I proved to be only able to wait tables and work at Penta. I was brutally fired from an office job after two short and terrible months. I was fired from a sushi place because I wouldn’t be bullied by a co-worker or language barrier. I was given money for rent from anonymous sources and then from people I asked.
The withdrawal from ending the Effexor was absolutely horrible. I was without meds for at least a year, which was a different kind of horrible. After so many years of hoping meds would not be a forever need, I started to think I might be one of those people who has forever depression. After I moved out of Steve’s apartment, I gimped to a therapist. She held my hand through getting Obamacare. I was able to see a fantastic doctor who helped me with a small dose of Zoloft. Because I live in a state that has made pot legal, I used marijuana for sleep. I use it regularly for flashback regulation, to combat nausea, and to sleep.
I bounce between two homes, both belonging to hearts that I own. My boy takes care of me in New Orleans and my girl keeps me in Denver.
At home, I work. I’m not paid but I’m not idle. I cook, clean, and help in other ways depending on my location. I’ve held several jobs since Puerto Rico, none with success. I’ve taken the advice of my wise Jared and started to work on redefining success. I don’t have to hold a paid job to be an adult. I don’t have to let myself see a failure in the mirror because I’m thirty and not “being a real grown-up”.
I had so many ideas on what being thirty meant when I was a kid. I felt sure that those people had figured life out at that age. Now, I see myself without a car, without a place of my own, any publications of note, without a marriage or a kid or even a shitty job, and I have to pause so I don’t panic.
I take a deep breath. Then I make myself take one more, because who am I kidding, one breath isn’t going to do it. If I can, I try for six.
I remember my coping skills. I think of Katniss in the meadow, playing her game at the end of Mockingjay. I have so many good things. I can create good things. I give good things to my partners, so much so that they want me around without being more than I currently am. I know I have worth. I also know that because of my past, sometimes I have trouble seeing reality. When I don’t see my value I tell myself that I’m just missing reality for a moment. It always goes back to normal. It just might take a while.
I’ve spent five years with the viewpoint that since I can’t die, I better figure something the fuck out. I’ve learned to humble myself. I’ve found new paths and discovered people I may have otherwise missed. It’s been hard.
I’m so fucking grateful that I have more time ahead of me to keep learning. I may never be good at it, but I enjoy living.