Tag Archives: brene brown

65. James Stays the Same if You Do the Same

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How many times can I write a blog about dating?

I tried it all again; I put myself out there. First I told all my friends that I was looking and to set me up if they knew any eligible, drug-free bachelors. Then I consulted my mother…

Mom: I just feel like you need to date a doctor. Or a lawyer…
Me: Got it, Ma. Loud and clear. Totally agree. Though, quick side note, it’s not like I’m turning down offers left and right from lawyer-doctors. I promise if they come along, I’ll give them a chance.

Then I downloaded a dating app to find a man for my mother…ahem, excuse, to find a man my mother would approve of. I chose to go with OkCupid, because my Facebook survey showed that it had the LEAST amount of fuckboys. So I created a brilliantly eccentric profile that was described by my friends as an “accurate depiction of who James is” and “intimidating”. I decided to go with the screen name “Asskitty”. It felt equal parts fun and daring. I created a profile with excessive use of CAPS  lock and Fetty Wap references, all brought to you by COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE. But I had some pretty good luck! I went on dates with some really awesome people, and I was pretty honest whenever I wasn’t interested except for one specific person, and I apologized. Not perfect, but I tried. All in all, it ended up working out NOT A BIT for me. To oversimplify my dating woes, I met someone and the interest to pursue a romantic relationship wasn’t mutual. Yes, it was all more complex than that, and it ended in a mature, amicable manner. But I couldn’t help but ask him, “Honestly, is it something about me? Was it something I did? You can tell me.” He kindly assured me that it had nothing to do with me, and I know he meant it. But that didn’t stop that insidious thought from continually detonating in my mind: “What did I do wrong? What did I do wrong? WhatdidIdowrongWhatdidIdowrongWhatdididowrongwhatdididowrongwhtdddwrng?”

The following week, a friend of mine experienced the same thing: they were interested in something serious with someone who was NOT looking for the same thing.We were texting about it, and they texted me: “This always happens to me. What am I doing wrong?”

Nothing. You’re doing nothing wrong. It’s not you.

Then I had ANOTHER friend go through the same thing. And they said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Why is this happening to me??

I said…

“Nothing! There’s nothing wrong with you! How can you put this all on yourself? Dating takes more than one person’s effort. If the success of a relationship depended on just one person’s solo effort, you would be fucking married by now! But you can’t take full responsibility for the dissolution of the relationship. They have to meet you halfway, and you can’t convince someone to want to try; they have to come into the relationship with the desire to make something work. And it’s not your fault that they weren’t inspired to give a shit. You can’t say to yourself, “Oh, if I had been more interesting, they would’ve wanted to date me. Or if I had been prettier or funnier or more self-assured or more laid-back or this or this or this. It’s not your fault. This isn’t on you. Sometimes it’s just not a good match, and that’s real-life, sucky-ass adulthood. Sometimes you don’t mesh; you’re looking for different things. That’s okay. It’s not personal even though nothing could FEEL more personal. It’s just life. So stop beating yourself up. You did your best. You showed who you were and you were honest about your feelings. As far as I’m concerned, you succeeded on your half. And if they weren’t prepared for something serious, it’s not your job to wait around for them to be ready for you. Their fear of commitment isn’t your fault; they were that way before you came along. You can’t MAKE someone emotionally available. That’s not on you. And it’s not your job to fix the parts of them that need healing. You’re not Bob the Builder; this isn’t a Coldplay song; fix yo damn self! We all need to recognize our baggage, address how it’s holding us back, and then move forward. We’re not going to get anywhere sitting around feeling bad for ourselves, and there isn’t a Prince Charming who is going to come along and fix you UNLESS your therapist just happens to be called Prince Charming which is equal parts fucked up and amazingly cool. Not everyone needs to be ready for the heavy, serious, committed relationship. But those same people also don’t need to be Hurricane Hot Mess, sucking in other people in and hoping to feel something. You won’t absorb wholeness from someone else. Don’t take my others down with you. Because if you’re the Titanic, I will NOT go down with this ship #Dido ! I will be Miss Rose and I will cling to that floating door with my dear life and I won’t save NOBODY, not even no god damn purple Leonardo DiCaprio. BYE GIRL. GETCHO FLOATIES AND DOGGY PADDLE, BISH!

(Wow, James/Asskitty really uses CAPS lock a lot, he sure is intimidating but oddly…dare I say, sexy?)

…Then I realized I should probably take my own advice.

Someone once told me that in the initial stages of dating, you should just see if you could even be friends with this person. Because essentially a boyfriend would be my best friend that penetrates me. Currently, my best friends penetrate my soul with their kindness but unfortunately they don’t penetrate my anally with their wangs. So in the meantime, I’m looking for a male best friend to love me and STICK IT IN.

Therefore, if I start treating a prospective boyfriend like a new friend, I start looking at everything differently. Usually when I’m dating someone new and learning things about them that don’t mesh well with my personal values I ask myself, “Hm, is this something I can deal with? Should I just sacrifice little pieces of me to make us fit together better?” But my friends would never DREAM of making me do that. NEVER. My friends wouldn’t ask me to change. Kelley hates my fashion sense and she REALLY hates when I say the word “pussy”, but she still loves me. (PUSSY!) Caity rolls her eyes every time I yell, “IT’S BUTT O’CLOCK,” but she wouldn’t have me any other way. Friends see you as the cuckoo daddy-mess that you are and LOVE you that way. My mother gave me the best advice when I was in middle school. She said, “Wipe front to back James; you’re getting shit all over your balls!” I’m just kidding. She never told me that; I STILL get shit all over my balls. But she DID say, “James, your friends are who they are. Don’t try to change them. You need to decide if their personality traits are something you can deal with or if they’re deal-breakers.” Dating should be the same way. When I meet someone new I need to say to myself, “Wow, this quality of theirs irks me. Is it a deal-breaker or is it something I can accept?” For example, I can deal with someone who doesn’t love flossing or someone who asks too many questions during movies or someone who loves Halloween or someone who wasn’t valedictorian. But I CAN’T date someone who likes punting babies or someone who’s racist or someone who’s an alcoholic or someone who hates men in heels because of deep-seeded latent homophobia which also leads to crippling sexism or someone who uses #gayboy on Instagram for the gratification of likes from an absolute stranger. You shouldn’t change to accommodate someone else, and you shouldn’t ask that of them either. You HAVE to take someone at face value. No person is a fixer-upper. You can’t go into a relationship thinking, “Well I would really like them IF they changed this thing about themselves. But we’ll work on that. They’ll change.” No. That’s not how it works. You take who you get when you get them. It is extremely damaging to tell someone you love them ONLY under specific conditions. That’s selfish, and love isn’t just about your needs. Conditionally love ain’t real love, booboo.

And when it isn’t a good fit you have to walk away. You acknowledge your irreconcilable differences, you shake hands and you cartwheel away. For me, every time a relationship ends it feels like someone just took a sledgehammer to a ten-foot tall Jenga tower. It takes me a while to regroup. I know there’s nothing wrong with me, but the sting of rejection never loses its punch. So I need to lick my wounds for a bit before I jump back into the Dick Party. So I go home and tell my friends I want to be left alone for the night. And then they all come over anyway, because they’re a bunch of soggy assholes who don’t listen. I cry while they listen intently, blow raspberries on my belly, poke me in the penis and repeatedly flash their waxed vagina at me. And I hate them for making me laugh when I’m so determined to be devastated, but I lay in bed that night thanking Whoever-The-Fuck-Is-Listening for sending me this whorey handful of people who genuinely care about me. And I know that they, my Chosen Family, have set the standard of what to expect from a boyfriend. They tell me not to change. They encourage me to be my true self, even when my true self wakes up at 7 AM hyper AS FUCK, starts speaking flirtatiously to the closet door and then humps said closet door because the chemistry was just ELECTRIFYING. They pay attention when I tell them my shame stories, and they tell me, “I’m sorry that happened to you, but one bad action doesn’t define you. This does not make you a bad person.” They lie on my bed before I go on a date and tell me how gorgeous I am, and then I flounce down the street with the MOST inflated self-esteem, the MOST offensive coffee breath and a STRONG panty line. But most importantly, when our relationship isn’t working, we talk about it. I can say, “Hey, you’re hurting my feelings,” and we work through it. I can ask for the things I need and receive them, because they know I would do the same for them. My Chosen Family is the ULTIMATE boyfriend. I have found these incredibly functional relationships with HIGHLY dysfunctional people that I plan on spending my whole life with. And I know in my heart that these will be the most meaningful and fulfilling relationships I will ever have. These relationships shouldn’t be discounted or ignored while I’m sifting through clearance piles of fuckboys in search of a boyfriend who will one day call me HIS TRAP QUEEN. #ZOOGANG. Because these people will always be there, no matter how many times I fuck up. And if my best friends have displayed such beautifully imperfect examples of what a relationship can be, WHY would I settle for anything less from a boy just because he’s hot and he got MAD fingerbangin’ skills? Why, James? Why?

“Nobody touch me ya not righteous.”
~”Work” by Rihanna (feat. Drake)

#CHOSENFAMILY

65

#DONTGIVEUP

JAMES

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57. James is the Glue

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The first thing I ever wanted to be was a comedian. Well, the very first thing I wanted to be was a magician, because I used to be obsessed with Harry Houdini. But then I learned that even with his powers of sorcery, he was felled by a punch in the stomach. ‘Fuck that,’ the 8-year-old James exclaimed! Well, then I wanted to be a firefighter, but then I realized that I was terrified of fire; I just wanted to look like the firemen that I saw on TV. Finally, I decided I wanted to be a comedian…with the body of a firefighter. Even as a small, prepubescent pervert, I wanted to be making people laugh so hard it hurt while my body… made them so hard it hurt.

Ah yes, readers, let the fuckery commence…

But let me start at the beginning. Let me start at a time when I had a more innocent sense a humor, a time before I laughed incessantly at the thought of a “dick fart”. Yes, readers, let start with the first person who taught me the meaning of comedy: my grandfather. (Just for the record, while my grandfather is mentioned in the cultivation of my comedic talents, this blog does not in any way reflect his personal endorsement or his condemnation of my disgusting fucking sense of humor. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…)

Flashback to my early teen years: I was having an angsty time in high school just like every other teenager tossing and turning on the tumultuous, cum-stained waves of puberty. I distinctly remember a specific time during which I thought everyone hated me; I’m pretty sure I was having a disagreement with every single one of my friends. I also struggled heavily with depression when I was younger. In middle school, I frequently cried hysterically to my mother and said, “I wish I were dead.” Once, she burst into tears after I said that to her. She asked me to stop saying it, so I did but I didn’t necessarily stop feeling it.

In a nutshell, the struggle was REAL for this lanky gay in his early, early teens. So my mother suggested I spend a weekend at my grandparents’. I remember feeling a combination of absolute nothingness and utter desperation to get away from everything. This was the first time I fell in love with my tried-and-true method of problem-solving: running the fuck away. So my mother dropped me off at my grandparents’ house, and I stayed with them for about a week. I spent my days playing with my Neopets on the computer, biking to the local swimming pool and being rendered breathless by my grandfather’s flawless sense of humor. For example…

One day, I was sitting on the computer checking on my Neopets, wondering if anyone would ever need me as much as these digital monsters, and all of a sudden I heard a quiet chanting coming from the living room. This was also the time in my life when I was really into the TV show Charmed so I’m pretty sure I had come to the conclusion that the mysterious chanting was coming from a demon that had come to take my life. I bowed my head, I solemnly bid my beloved Neopets goodbye with a lengthy, inexperienced tongue-kiss to the computer screen and walked towards the living room, resolved to die at the hands of this inevitably sexy demon. As I reached the living room, I raised my eyes to make full eye contact with the demon, but instead I saw my grandpa standing the middle of the room, arms extended halfway in front of his body, palms to Jesus, eyes closed, chanting in Latin. He must have felt my presence, because he slowly opened his eyes and smiled at me. I smiled back knowingly; he was up to some type of fuckery.

“What are you doing, Opa?”

My grandpa replied back without a single hesitation, “Oh, I’m just sacrificing this baby lamb to Jesus.” And with a twinkle in his eye, he resumed his Latin incantation to Jesus as he offered up the nonexistent baby lamb while I LAUGHED MY FUCKING ASS OFF.

This memory has stuck with me for at least a decade now, and I think it’s because it was one of my first lessons in comedy:

  • Don’t hesitate. Just go. When I asked him what he was doing, he just said the first fucking thing that came to his mind. He didn’t judge his thoughts and think to himself, ‘Is this funny?’ He just trusted his inner comedian and succumbed to a violent, hilarious case of word vomit. I know that even if the first thing that had come out of his mouth wasn’t initially funny, he would’ve worked his way into it. Cuz he’s a fucking pro and shit.
  • Commit, god damnit. My grandpa fucking went for it. He stood in the middle of the living room, chanting in Latin for fucks sake, over an imaginary lamb carcass. Does my grandpa even know Latin??! I don’t fucking know, but I believed it! And he wasn’t giving a half-ass performance of his “Latin” incantation; he was giving all he had! And he went on for a considerable amount of time in Latin/Gibberish. (Let the record show that it is highly probable that my grandfather actually knows Latin. Among the many things he studied in college, I know he took a few classes in Theology.)

Luckily, he gave me subsequent lessons in being absolutely ridiculous:

It was a sunny day in Horicon, Wisconsin as we rode down the highway. He was driving while I stared lackadaisically out the passenger-side window. The lady driving in front of us was cruising at a speed much slower than that which my grandpa desired. Honestly, it is very likely that this woman was driving the legal speed limit, but my grandpa just wanted to go faster. Or he just wanted to make me smile. Either way, we just road along behind her for a bit. But I guess the forlorn look on my face was too much for my grandpa to handle, because he looked over at me and said, “Hold on.” Then he slowly rolled down his window, calmly reached out his head and yelled, “DRIVE FASTER, YOU OLD BITCH!” I remember laughing so hard I cried, while my grandpa put on his shit-eating grin, rolled up his window and continued driving. This was Lesson #2:

  • Make fun of yourself. More specifically, be aware of which groups you belong to, and feel free to make fun of them all the time. Quite frankly, my grandfather also could have been classified as an “old bitch”. Therefore, he had a right to make fun of other old people. He had the right to “berate” this old woman for “driving slow” when she was surely driving the speed limit.
  • Do the unexpected. My grandpa is a super well-mannered man. He studied like a million things in college, including a P.H.D. in “How to Be a Gentleman”. He never raises his voice and he never swears. So he knew that it would be fucking hilarious for him to scream profanities out his window at this woman. Also, just so the whole world knows, this woman absolutely did NOT hear him yell at her. Her window was rolled up, the wind was roaring, she was an old bitch, etc.
  • Know your audience. He looked at me and thought, ‘Here’s a teenager who gets scolded if he ever swears in front on his parents. Hell, his mother won’t even let him say the word “fart”! I know that watching an old man swear will really make him laugh.’ And he was right!
  • Go all the fucking way. He didn’t pretend to yell; he yelled at the top of his voice. You have to give it 110%! I apply this to my life by abusing the literary device “hyperbole” every time I tell a god damn story. Everything is funnier when it’s bigger, especially an “accurate retelling” of any “historical” event.
  • Comedy is the best medicine. This might have been the most important lesson that I’ve taken away from all of my grandpa’s jokes. Comedy can literally fix anything. If I am ever sad, I trust that my grandpa still knows how to make me laugh, even though my sense of humor has devolved into a disgusting rompery of foulness. For example: my roommates are currently singing a Christmas carol where they replace random words with “ass-queefs”, and I can’t help but randomly bursting out in laughter. Despite my current extremely sophisticated sense of humor, I know that my grandpa can still have me rolling on the floor laughing. #partridgeinanassqueef

I’ve taken all my lessons, and I’ve fully integrated comedy into my daily life. I use comedy every fucking day. Comedy is the adhesive that binds the book of my life, and I find myself constantly using comedy as a heavy-duty sandpaper, aggressively (read: effortlessly) smoothing over all the rough patches that I encounter in life. I do it now without thinking. I find it to be my innate duty, necessary but exhausting.

I used to call myself “the glue”. The first time I called myself that was my senior year of high school. I was really worried about going away to college, because I felt like the glue of my family (which is comprised of me, my two parents and my three sisters). I remember crying to my dad and saying, “You guys are gonna fall apart without me! I’M THE GLUE!!!!!”(Cue EVERY crying emoji.) Okay… So first of all, yes, I have been dramatic for a long time. But second, I wasn’t being a pompous ass thinking that my family needed me. When I left, who was gonna smooth things over with a joke? When I lived at home, if my sisters were fighting with my parents I would easily diffuse the situation by firing a well-timed joke. The gunfire would cease, everyone would laugh and immediately the tensions would disperse. What were they gonna do without me?? My father looked at me with compassion in his eyes and chuckled, “We’re not going to fall apart.” I went away to college, and my family didn’t blast itself into smithereens without my tactful, diplomatic jokes. Life went on, but I kept comedy in my back pocket as my reliable Secret Weapon.

Now I work in a restaurant. Every shift starts with a brief meeting, and sometimes the morale of my coworkers is kind of negative. Hospitality is hard, and customers can be assholes. Unfortunately, this negativity can spread like poison in the bloodstream. But I take it upon myself to be the antidote, and I try to lighten the mood by making a joke. For example, there was once a competition in one of the preshift meetings about who could tell their most embarrassing story. I gladly told one of the many stories of me shitting myself. I think people were more horrified than anything, but I know that, even if for only a moment, they forgot about their shitty days as they thought to themselves, ‘Wow, I’m so glad I’m not half as nasty as James!” But my job doesn’t end there! When we all go downstairs to start serving guests as they give complicated martini orders as if I’m a fucking Starbucks barista, it’s easy to succumb to the general soul-sucking energy that the customers bring with them. So even then, I continue to make jokes in an effort to keep the mood light and easy as I trip theatrically on a chair in the dining room and suggest that we put some orange cones and caution tape around it. Or how about the one time when I was reaching across a table to grab some empty plates and the guest turned her head and got a face-full of my crotch, and I asked my manager if I should charge her extra for that. Most people just think I’m fucking weird, but I don’t really care as long as someone is laughing (…most of the time that “someone” is just me).

Meeting people is a pretty vulnerable situation, but I use the same gameplan every time: make them laugh. That’s it. Step One: make them laugh. Everything else comes after that. Once I can make someone laugh, I can figure out how to navigate the rest. Later in the conversation, I can make another joke by referencing back to my initial joke or use a piece of information that they revealed to me earlier. For example, if when we met they told me they were a professional goblin hunter, later in the conversation I will ask them to clarify: “I’m sorry. Now when you said ‘goblin hunter’… Is that a real thing or was that your way of telling me that you murder ugly people?” That way, I continue to make them feel more comfortable by making them laugh, and I’m showing them that I care to get to know them because I’m listening to the things they’re telling me. Once I make someone laugh, I know how to win them over. Eventually if this relationship grows into a friendship, I will know how to diffuse an argument between us in the future. When someone is mad at me, if I can make them laugh it’s gonna make it real hard for them to stay angry. And no matter how upset they are with me, once they laugh they’ll remember what it is they love about me (besides my devilish charm). And if they’re sad about something else, it’s even easier for me to make them laugh. I just give them two pieces of good advice and then my third piece of advice is something silly. For example: “You know what you need to do? You need to be brave, tell him how you feel and then eat all the fucking ice cream.” Tada! The rule of threes! It also helps to deliver a joke in the midst of a serious moment. For example, a friend is opening up to you, crying and wondering if someone will ever love them. And then you look them straight in the eye, wipe away their singular tear and say, “Hey. Now you listen to me. You are the filthiest fucking person I know, but I love you, you nasty fucking bitch.” Bingo bango! Sentiment with humor! Never fails. And if it does fail, you slap them in the face and give them a cookie; after that, at least one of you is bound to feel better.

Comedy is my foolproof lubricant in vulnerable situations. I have a bad habit of using comedy in my moments of uncomfortable vulnerability. For example, if I text someone and say something like, “Hey, I really miss you,” but they don’t respond right away, I am bound to then text something like, “Oh, man, sorry, that text was meant for my mom… and the dick pic I meant to send to you accidentally went to my mom. Fuck! Oh man. I hope she likes it? No, that’s fucked up. I hope she hates it! Wow, but I hope she doesn’t tell me that she hates it; that would really hurt my feelings. Does it turn you on when I use a semi-colon in a text? Maybe my mom won’t recognize my penis, and she won’t know it’s mine. I’ll tell her my iPhone was hacked by North Korea. That’s a thing, right? Also, do you love me?” And then I would insert a slew of emojis, starting with the crystal ball emoji and ending with the poopie emoji. I know in my heart that I should just sit patiently in my vulnerable moment, but sometimes I just can’t HELP but scramble to use comedy as my emergency parachute, uncertain if anyone is waiting to catch me as I careen towards unknown terrain in the Land of Vulnerability. That way, I’m safe either way. If the feeling is mutual, they’ll return the sentiment and my joke will just make them laugh. But if the feeling isn’t mutual, my joke serves as a landing cushion for me and it distracts them from my moment of vulnerability, like that super bright white light that the Men In Black use to erase people’s memories. Their conscience will be scot-free and unburdened while over in my apartment I’ll be sobbing wildly facefirst in my Stitch stuffed animal.

This leads to me the lesson of comedy that I appreciate the most: comedy is an excellent way to deliver a sincere message. You get people to like you and make themselves vulnerable to you by making them laugh, and then you sock ‘em where it counts.

Comedy is my lifeline. It’s my signature and I scribble it on everything. But it does get a little tiresome, being the social lubricant all the time. I feel like people look to me to save the day sometimes… “Oh, I’m sad… James will fix everything! Make it all better, James! Do that thing where you tell a disgusting story, and I forget about everything!” Whether this pressure exists in the physical world or only in my head, I frequently feel it’s my responsibility to be some sort of superhero of comedy, like it’s my duty to heal the hurt with my jokes. Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than to make someone explode with laughter and know that it was me that did that. But sometimes, I just wanna sit back and be the one made to laugh. Sometimes I don’t wanna be the superhero; I wanna be the damsel in distress who desperately needs to laughs until she sharts. Sometimes, I wish I was 15 again, sitting in my grandpa’s Buick while he screams out the window at an old woman to drive faster. I just wanna be sitting in that passenger seat, breathless with laughter while my grandpa smirks to himself, secretly satisfied that he made me smile while pretending he didn’t do anything remotely out of the ordinary. If only. But I can’t go back. I can only go forward when my eyes are open. So. In that case, I fully intend to soldier onward, carrying the blazing torch of comedy handed down to me by my grandfather and ignite the world with shart-inducing laugther.

Game on, Life. Here comes the giggles, you fucks.

“If I go crazy then will you still call me Superman? If I’m alive and well, will you be there holding my hand?
~”Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down

#dontgiveup

Love,

James / The Glue

This is what I looked like when my grandpa started teaching me to be funny. If only he would have taught me how inappropriate it is to wear a tye-dye shirt in front of a tye-dye background. Also. I'm posing with my stuffed animal. How can anyone be cooler than me?

This is what I looked like when my grandpa started teaching me to be funny. If only he would have taught me how inappropriate it is to wear a tye-dye shirt in front of a tye-dye background. Also. I’m posing with my stuffed animal. How can anyone be cooler than me?

54. James Reads A Bitch For Filth

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This month I’ve been devoting an hour every day to writing. It’s awesome because it provokes a lot of self-reflection. But it also sucks… because it provokes a lot of self-reflection.

For example, I’ve been recognizing a certain recurring pattern in my dating life, and it goes a little something like this (Hit it, DJ):  I’ll be seeing someone, and everything will be totally normal. We’re clicking, we’re jiving, I’m hilarious, they’re eating it up like Thanksgiving dinner, life cooler than cake. And then one day, out of the blue, something shifts. To some people it may be almost imperceptible. But I’m a fucking Cancer so NOTHING goes unnoticed, bookay?? Suddenly, they don’t text back as often as they used to. They don’t make an effort to hang out anymore. Yes, they’re really busy, but their schedule has always been jam-packed. Yet now they no longer make an effort to squeeze me in.

Now that I’ve become aware of these changes, I realize there are only two possible realities:
Reality  #1: Nothing has changed, and I’m being hypersensitive and insane.
Reality #2:
Something has changed, and I will be making a fool of myself if I continue to pursue them when they no longer have feelings for me. And if I continue to be vulnerable to this person by doing affectionate things, I may call these “acts of courage and authenticity” but they’ll feel like “acts of absolute stupidity”.

In order to figure out which reality I’m currently living in, I must take action. So I broach the subject with them: “Hey, is everything good between us? I’m sensing that you’ve lost interest. It’s okay if you’re no longer down; just let me know.” Now, by asking this, I’m accomplishing two things:

  1. I’m getting to the bottom of the situation a la fugging Nancy Drew: I’m asking if it’s really happening, or if it’s in my head. I’m giving them the opportunity to tell me if something is going on in their lives that has caused them to change the way that we’re interacting. There is a chance that I’m taking this too personally when in reality they’re dealing with some heavy shit that has nothing to do with me.
  2. I’m giving them an out: I’m giving them the opportunity to say, “You know what, I’m not really feeling this anymore.” I realize that it’s really hard to tell someone that you’re no longer interested; I get it. So I’m trying to make it easier by asking them the question. All they have to say is, “You’re right. I’m sorry. I don’t think this is a good fit.”

Let me be clear, this specific situation has happened to me three separate times now. And it always goes the same way. I give them the out, but they always respond with: “Oh no, I still like you. I’m just really busy.”

….

Okay. Listen up, cowboy, this isn’t my first fucking rodeo. I know what’s going on here. Just grab hold of your balls, and use your words. I know you’ll probably feel like an asshole for telling me you don’t like me anymore, but I’m a big boy; I’ve been through more painful things in my life, and I can handle this. You’re actually being more of a jerk by telling me you’re still interested, because you’re giving me false hope, which is probably the cruelest thing you can do to someone. No, I take that back. The worst thing you can do to someone is make them feel crazy. I openly admit that I have a very real struggle with mental health. I feel things with all my heart, and my emotions know great depths. So if I like you, I really like you. I am OBSESSED with my friends. I love them so much it hurts, and I make it known to them constantly. So you have to understand that when you tell me, “No, James. I still like you. No, James, nothing has changed. It’s all in your head,” but then you continue to put distance between us, I feel extremely crazy.

I discussed this situation with my mother, because she knows the answer to everything. And she told me something really helpful: “James, you’re extremely emotionally aware for someone your age, especially a male.”

Alright. Touché, Mother. Perhaps I can’t be furious with these individuals. I just assume that they know exactly what they’re doing. I assume that they know that they’re not interested, and they just keep me hanging on out of some sort of cowardice or insecurity about not having someone pursue them. But maybe they have no fucking clue! Caity said, “James, being emotionally aware takes practice, and you’ve been practicing for a while! Some people haven’t even started.” True. Maybe they don’t know that they’ve lost interest. Maybe they don’t realize that the way we’re communicating has changed. Maybe they are absolutely oblivious to the affect they’ve had on me. Maybe they aren’t supervillains trying to thwart my rise to Fame and Happily-Ever-After. Just because they aren’t Team James doesn’t mean they’re Team Anti-James.

Fair enough. But let me just read you boys for filth before I close up the library for today. This is what many of my past relationships have felt like:

Do you remember that game we played when we were kids: Red-Light-Green-Light? Well if you’re not familiar because you were too busy eating the dandelions and wondering why the sky is so fucking blue (no judgment), I will explain it to you. The gym teacher usually was the Traffic Controller, and the kids were the cars. The goal was to go from the starting line to the finish line near the Traffic Controller. Every time the teacher said, “Green light,” we all stumbled as quickly as we could towards them. When they said, “Yellow light,” we moved in slow motion. When they said, “Red light,” we came to a full halt. If you violated the light, you had to start over; the stakes are much lower than if you blow a red light in real life. Well, in my relationships, the other person has almost always been the Traffic Controller, and I was the small child sitting cross-legged at the starting line with my foot in my mouth screaming, “VROOM VROOM!!!” When the Traffic Controller gave me permission to move closer with a shout of, “Green light,” I would quickly hop towards them, increasing intimacy in the least threatening way possible. If things needed to slow down, they would yell, “Yellow light,” and I would move towards them in slow-motion, sticking my tongue out and crossing my eyes all the while to distract them from the terror of pending intimacy. And when they became too overwhelmed by the thought of us actually being together (HEAVEN FORBID), they would exclaim, “RED LIGHT,” and I would freeze completely. And although both of us were supposed to remain still, frozen in time, we would both stealthily inch away from each other, secretly believing physical distance would minimize the pain of emotional distance, smiling as we retreated, pretending that a relationship could come to a full halt with zero casualties. But I’ve played this game repeatedly with different dudes: them being the slightly hot gym teacher who dictates proximity, and me being the excited child who can’t WAIT to reach the finish line, not giving the slightest fuck about what will happen when I actually reach the sexy gym teacher who was so reluctant to let me be close; I just know I’ll be at the finish line, and everything will be okay, because I’ll win, and I’ll be the winner, and I LIKE DANDELIONS!!

But rarely do they actually every say, “Red light”; it’s only implied with their actions. But they continue to tell me that everything is fine. So I keep pursuing. I’ll send one more text that says something like, “I’d like to see you again,” and I’ll get no response. I will immediately feel like an idiot, and I’ll want to swallow my iPhone so I can simultaneously choke on it while also preventing myself from sending any more heartfelt texts. I’ll feel myself falling victim to the turbulent winds of a Shame Storm: my stomach drops out, my whole body turns cold and my mind starts reeling with unkind thoughts toward myself. Then I have to make the conscious decision to navigate my way out of the storm by talking to myself louder than the destructive cyclone in my head. I’ll take deep breaths, cover my face and speak aloud to myself the first words that come to mind: “I’m not stupid. I’m not stupid. I’m not stupid.”

Because I’m not; I’m not stupid. I was courageous for putting myself out there. No, it didn’t go my way. But I tried, and that’s the success. Some people are paralyzed by the fear of possibility, but I tried. Sure, maybe I embarrassed myself a couple times by being over-eager and possibly over-zealous, but I tried. Yes, I’m still haunted by the memories of how sweet everything was in the beginning and I have to resign myself to the fact that I will never know why everything changed, but at least I tried. I don’t want to be ashamed of any of it. Brené Brown says that sometimes it’s enough to just show up. And I did that every time. I showed up with my heart in my hands, thoughtfully practicing authenticity, and I’m proud of myself for that.

After it all, I just have to tell myself, “You’re OK, James. CUZ YOU’RE THE FUCKING SHIT.” People always laugh at me or make fun of me for lacking modesty about my virtues, but I don’t have the time to shortchange myself to make others feel more comfortable. The rest of the fucking world is going to shit all over me, and I’m not gonna be another diarrhea cloud in that shit storm. Yes, I recognize my imperfections, but I know that I have a fuck-ton to offer. So you may judge me for being a fan of myself, but I simply don’t have the time to pretend that I don’t know I’m fucking cool as tits. I don’t have time for any of it anymore. I don’t have time to play Red-Light-Green-Light where I’m at the mercy of someone who has no intention of ever letting me reach the finish line. I don’t have time to play Red Rover where I run towards the outstretched arms of someone with the hopes of an embrace but end up on my back, breathless, staring at the sky, wondering, ‘How the fuck did I get here?’ I have no time for childhood games or fuckery of any sort.  And I definitely don’t have the time to submit myself to gaslighting either; I already feel as if it’s Me vs. Me, and I don’t need anyone adding tinder to that bonfire.  I can empathize with people’s issues until I turn blue, but there has to be a point where my sanity takes precedence.

And with that, the library has been officially closed.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
~Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

#dontgiveup

JAMES

54

53. James Struggles With Authenticity

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Hey. How are you. I don’t care. Let’s get down to business, shall we?
#letsgetcracking #thegoddamnedshowmustgoon #shesfucked #imready

So I’ve been having this real struggle with authenticity lately. Clearly, I’ve been reading a lot of Brene Brown. She talks about the relationship between vulnerability and authenticity. She defines authenticity as “the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are” (Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown #readit). Authenticity is about letting people see who you really are, imperfections and all. It’s about cutting away all the bullshit and courageously showing the world your true colors. I feel like I do a good job of showing my true self because I wear fur vests in public, but I do know that I struggle with speaking my heart when I fear negative consequences. I’m not great at expressing my feelings when they are anything but positive; I don’t particularly enjoy telling people that I feel uncertainty, insecurity, fear, anger, sadness, disappointment, etc. I’d rather tell people that I feel awesome all the fucking time. But that’s not real life. No matter the emotion, telling people how you feel requires vulnerability. You are making yourself vulnerable when you say, “Hey, you were the best part of me day today (I’m Irish in this example),” the same way you’re making yourself vulnerable when you tell someone, “Hey, you really let me down today.” God, just the thought of saying that aloud made me want to vomit up all my iced coffee, but that would be a waste of caffeine. Unless it means I get to taste my coffee twice. Hey… that doesn’t sound so bad.

Okay. So Brene gives a gameplan for practicing authenticity. She says that when you’re venturing into vulnerable territory, if your only goal is to be authentic then you can’t be disappointed. But if you dive into a vulnerable situation with the intention of receiving approval or acceptance from someone then you have the possibility of feeling shame when you don’t receive those things. If you’re going into a situation thinking to yourself, ‘Hey, I’m just gonna speak my heart and be myself, and all I seek is the pride of courageously showing my honest, imperfect, vulnerable self,” then you can’t be disappointed! Because you don’t need approval from the listener to feel okay.

The thing about vulnerability is that it sounds immensely gratifying in theory. “Oh my god, I would love for someone to see my true colors… as long as I don’t have to go first.” But that’s the even more courageous thing to do, to be the one to open up first. And all those “firsts” in a relationship are terrifying, because it’s all uncharted territory where both people are fumbling around a jagged obstacle course in the dark. But remember whether it’s the end of the first date and you’re the one to ask for a second date or it’s the end of the second date and you’re both naked and you don’t know who’s gonna take it up the ass, someone’s gotta go first.

So I’ve been having this struggle lately:

If you have read any of my blog posts…. or if you have read even half of a blog post, you know that I am a person with MANY feelings. I know that people think that EVERYONE has many feelings. Okay, maybe that’s true. But I talk about ALL of them. All of them. If a friend gives me side-eye even for a split second, I will want to ask them if we’re fighting. They might respond with, “Oh, no, my contact was sliding around in my eye, and I was just looking for it.” But I feel like everything needs to be said.

Let me repeat that:
I feel like everything needs to be said.

In my life, I have had a few lots of many relationships with the menfolk. And of these relationships, the ones that burnt to the ground were incinerated by a lack in communication. So. All of the relationships that I have had have gone up in flames. Cool, right? But let me define lack of communication. Because it wasn’t always the same. At times, one of us was feeling a certain way but didn’t feel comfortable sharing the information with the other. For example, I have been known to tell myself, “Oh, this thing is really bothering me, but I will fix it all on my own. No one will help me. This thing will be fixed by me and me alone. The Bible says, ‘This too shall pass’. So I’m not sure if that particular verse is referring to kidney stones or heartache, but I’m going to assume that it applies to all things. And I know that there’s that saying about accepting the things I cannot change, but instead I’m just gonna assume I am omnipotent and I can fix all things, including the things I cannot change. So. Suck on that, Life!” But there were also times, when I just didn’t want to make myself vulnerable by sharing my feelings with my partner. I thought to myself, ‘Why should I have to open up? Why do they get to know everything about me, and I get to know nothing about them? Because then they get to hold all the cards while I sit here naked?! Hell fuckin nah!’

(Clearly this is the part of the blog where I’m halfway through my jumbo iced coffee, and all the caffeine is starting to hit me. The man next to me stares at me in bewilderment, wondering how I can possibly type a blog this fast with my eyes closed and drool careening from my mouth-hole. [He just looked over and read this. I wonder what he thinks. I would turn and wink but my fur is too big, and it’s blockading my face. Blockading. Yep.])

Withholding my feelings from my partners was very, very bad. Very bad. Because those small things that started off in my head as “inconsequential, petty things that I could either fix on my own or just get the fuck over” eventually snowballed into “humongous, non-negotiable deal-breakers”. Yes, some of my relationships were fucked from the get-go. But some issues could have been resolved if I had said something. I’m not crying over spilled milk…that would be a waste of tears because I would just lick my spilled milk off the ground. But really, I’m just mindfully reflecting on my past.

But there were other breakdowns in communication. Sometimes when I would be texting a boy that I had the hots for, we would be texting like madmen, sending 9 million texts a minute. The text thread would be growing exponentially while we both sent text messages like we couldn’t possibly be bothered by real life happening around us. And then. AND THEN! The boy stopped rapidly texting, and maybe the next response came ten minutes later. And then I read the response and thought to myself, ‘Well, I’m just gonna wait ELEVEN minutes to respond to this text. That’ll show him! HOW DARE HE HAVE OTHER CONCERNS BESIDES TEXTING! Yeah, that’ll really put him in his place.’

Now, stop gawking at me and thinking, ‘Wow, James is totes a crazy person.’ Because I know you have done it, too. I feel like I have a pretty solid head on my shoulders, and yet I have done this a MILLION times in my life. I’m a very mature person; I wear lots of black and I only shit in my pants once a year, but I still act like a child sometimes.

So. I’ve learned that communication is vital.

Now here’s the current struggle. I always know how I feel. 99% of the time, I know exactly what I’m feeling and why I’m feeling it. And I always want to express my feelings. To everyone. But it’s hard with someone new. With someone new, there’s all this uncharted territory; no one really knows how everything works yet. And someone has to be the first to open up and be vulnerable; someone’s gotta take the giant step on the New Frontier currently known as Authenticity. For example, if I miss a Someone New, and I want to share this information with a Someone New. But before I vocalize my feelings, I need to solidify my intention. Am I saying, “Hey, I miss you,” because I want to hear it back? Or am I saying, “Hey, I miss you,” because it’s how I feel, and I simply want to practice authenticity? Because I have to be okay with not hearing it back. Also, it doesn’t mean as much if I’m only saying the words to hear them back. I mean, honestly, how many times have we all told someone, “I love you,” just because we needed to hear it back in that moment? And if that’s the intention, to feel love, then the purity and honesty behind the words, “I love you,”  are diminished. The real act of courage is opening yourself up without the guarantee that they will return the sentiment. Coming face-to-face with the queasiness of uncertainty; that’s vulnerability.

So it’s been a real struggle for me. Because I want to actively practice authenticity. I want to be courageous enough to open myself up without needing the other person to reciprocate. But how do I practice patience and kindness with myself while I sit in the wasteland of terror in my moments of post-vulnerability? How do I become content with speaking my heart without waiting for the approval of the listener? How do I keep myself from banging my head against the wall until exhaustion after I’ve bared my soul to somebody? And at what point do I stop practicing courage, vulnerability and all the other horseshit and just put my hood over my head and drown myself in the couch cushions??

I really should have started this blog with a joke. This is some real shit, huh? Ok. Two guys walked into a bar. Then they hugged each other, gave each other butterfly kisses and lived happily ever after. Get it?! It’s funny, because TRUE LOVE DOESN’T EXIST.

….that was a joke, get it? Alright, back to our regularly scheduled programming: Vulnerability Hour with James Marvin Mayo Hansen #holdthemayo #XtraMayo

So I was really mulling over this predicament last week while I was flying home to surprise my family for Thanksgiving. Stacy and I took a cab to my mother’s office and we waited for her to come back from her lunch break. She walked in and exclaimed, “What are you guys doing here?!?!” And she gave me a big, strong, back-breaking, I-love-you-I-mean-it hug. Then we were like, GIVE US YOUR CAR WE’RE GOING TO SURPRISE MARVIN (my father).

Stacy and I drive over to Home Depot to surprise my father while we laugh maniacally about how brilliant we are. Then we discuss how hard it is to drive again after being in NYC for so long. I propose that the hardest thing about driving is remembering to put the car in park before turning it off. We nod together thoughtfully.

We arrive at Home Depot where my father works in shipping and receiving. We promptly find a woman named Stephanie who we wrangle into helping us surprise my father. Then we find my father’s boss, and he excitedly decides to join in the surprise. They page my dad over the intercom while Stacy and I hide behind a stack of poinsettias. Stephanie finds my dad and tells him he’s in trouble with Boss. Clearly, Stephanie got carried away, because now my father thinks he’s getting fired. So my dad is standing in front of Boss who says, “Marv, you can’t take all day. The thing is….” then me and Stacy jump out and surprise my dad! “SURPRISE, YOU’RE NOT LOSING YOUR JOB IT’S JUST JAMES YOUR FAVORITE SHITHEAD I DIDN’T TELL STEPHANIE TO TELL YOU YOU’RE GETTING FIRED I DON’T KNOW WHY SHE DID THAT YAY HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!”

When my dad saw me, he looked at me with the same fear in his eyes that he used to get in my childhood when I would wander into his room in the middle of the night like a “tiny” spectre because I was afraid of monsters under my bed who wanted to murder me for my amazing fashion sense. Then my dad gave me the same kind of hug my mom did while Stephanie and Boss laughed devilishly and high-fived over their Tony-award winning performances. When my dad pulled away he was wiping tears from his eyes. In front of his co-workers. And in that moment, I decided who I wanted to be. I want to be my dad. I don’t want to hide my vulnerabilities. I don’t want to pretend I’m not moved to tears by something that makes me super happy. I don’t want to act like nothing can penetrate my shield of Cool Guy exterior. I want to be fiercely, unapologetically passionate. I want to tell people how I feel. I want to get giddy and excited about drag queens without worrying about compromising my masculinity. I want to lipsync to that one song on my iPod that just GETS ME while I stomp the pavement while Harlem children point and laugh at my red harem pants. I want to be authentic and vulnerable just like my dad.

Also Dad, I’m sorry they made you think you were getting fired. That situation just snowballed out of control. Stephanie and Boss are amateur actors, and they raised the stakes a bit to high for that particular scene. But they’re committed to their craft, and they will learn someday. I love you a lot, and I want to grow up to be just like you. Because you’re awesome, and your children are super hot. Especially James.

“Bang my head against the wall. Though I felt light-headed, now I will not fall; I will rise above it all. Found what I was searching for. Though I felt light-headed, I should’ve fell and hit the floor. Instead I rise above it all.”
~”Bang My Head” by David Guetta feat. Sia

#dontgiveup

JAMES

53Here is a picture of my niece, Ava, wrecklessly practicing a handstand while I sit idly by and take pictures.

 

 

47. James is Josie Grossie

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I don’t necessarily want to even write this right now, because right now I wish I didn’t have this to write about.

I was watching the most recent episode of Girls today (Season 3, Episode 11 “I Saw You”), and by the end of the episode I was extremely frustrated. Caity was sitting on the other couch, and she paused her TV show to ask me, “Are you okay?” And I responded with, “WHY CAN’T ANYTHING GO RIGHT FOR ANYONE?! WHY CAN’T THEY JUST GET WHAT THEY WANT?!” I shrieked and ranted for a while longer until I reached a crescendo, and then I laid my head down on the couch. And I cried.

You have probably deduced by now that I was not just upset about Girls.

Alright, hoes, buckle up for story time.

I went on a spontaneous date. This person invited me out to get a milkshake at 1:30 AM. Um, anyone who knows me knows that I am ALWAYS down for disrespecting my body with artificial sugars, but anytime past midnight is BEDTIME. He asked me twice; the first time I said no, and the second time I said yes. We had milkshakes, and then we went and sang karaoke for each other until four in the morning. I DON’T DO KARAOKE. I hate karaoke. I think I’m a great singer, but I don’t think karaoke meshes well with me; I sound awful. But I sang “The Nearness of You” (the Norah Jones version), and he watched me the whole time. When I finished, he stood up, walked over to me, kissed me and said, “I could listen to you sing all day.” Well, then I died. After I died, we walked the streets of Manhattan until 5 AM. I got home at 6 AM, and I went to bed all aglow. Absolutely one of the most magical dates of my entire life.

This is the conversation we had while we waited for my subway to arrive:
Him: You should sleep over.
Me: No way.
Him: Why?
Me: Because then we’ll have sex.
Him: No, we won’t.
Me: Yes, we absolutely will.
Him: No, I don’t want to have sex with you.
Me: Well, that’s rude and you should never say that to anybody.
Him: No, I mean, I do but not tonight.
Me: Well. I’m still not spending the night.
*pause*
Him: Are you always this much of a gentleman?
Me: No. Depends on the person.
Him: What do you mean?
Me: Well, if I don’t really care about seeing them again then I’ll probably mess around with them. But, if I want it to go somewhere, I don’t want to mess it up by having sex right away.
Him: I get that.

AWESOME; I told him this disgusting truth about myself and he understood. Just. Awesome..

We hung out the next night, but it was significantly less magical. He said he wasn’t feeling well, so I forgave him for being weird.

The next day he didn’t respond to my texts. A couple days later, I texted him again; no response.

And I was cool about it for a while; I decided to be cool: ‘Oh, he’s totally busy!’ ‘Oh, I totally don’t care about it, either way. Whatever is fine with me!’ ‘Oh, I totally just want to be friends so, like, when a friend gets busy, I totally don’t mind.’

That plan was going really well until today I realized that it was NEVER GOING WELL.
And that’s when I cried on my couch.

This is what frustrates me:

I DON’T KNOW THIS PERSON!! Why do they make me cry?? Why does this stranger make me question all these things about myself that I once believed whole-heartedly: ‘Wait….am I attractive?? Am I awesome?? Would I do me?? Am I fun to be around??’ I don’t like feeling like there are certain parts of myself that I should have edited for our first date. And why the fuck do I care so much?? I mean, this person clearly doesn’t care about me so why do I care about him?? Oh, because I’m sensitive. I know being sensitive is a beautiful thing, but it feels like such a burden; I have a very hard time loving this part of myself; I struggle with loving the part of me that is so easily wounded by a stranger; I struggle with loving the part of me that hopelessly hopes that this is still going to go somewhere, the hopelessly hopeful part of me that deletes his number from my contacts but then SAVES IT in a note on my iPhone. WHY, JAMES?! WHY?! You should just let dead things die, ok? Kapeesh?

Love makes me unstable. I go gaga for the Love. But right now, I’m at the end of a NOTHING, and I’m experiencing symptoms of heartbreak. I can’t sleep. I’m kept awake with thoughts like: ‘What did I do wrong? What did I say?’

Caity says I shouldn’t be self-blamey. She’s probably right, but I can’t ignore that part of me that keeps saying, “James, you should know better. This is your fault. You pick the messy ones, and you dive in head-first. You run full-speed towards a dirty bomb with your arms wide open and you expect to walk away not only unscathed but happy? In the words of Yara Sofia: “Pull jourself together, darlin’.” And it’s not like I’m a blameless victim; I’ve done shitty things to people who were into me in the past. I can’t help feeling like this is my comeuppance.

More than anything, I wish this whole thing didn’t happen. I opened myself up to someone who deceived me into thinking they were someone that they’re not. I know there’s something beautiful about being vulnerable and putting yourself out there, but there’s something awful about feeling the egg on your forehead drip down into your eyes.

I feel like this:
47.1Josie Grossie. I am Josie Grossie. (Never Been Kissed with the incomparable Drew Barrymore)

I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I don’t want to feel like the cute football jock played a prank on me by pretending that he liked me. I don’t want people to feel bad for me. I don’t want to remember any of it. I delete this motherfucker’s number every other day. Every time I see our text thread, I delete it because I can’t help but see myself as an over-eager loser.

I really want this to all go away. I would love to be able to just pluck this whole memory out my head and light it on fire. I wish that someone would just conk me on the head and I would forget everything that’s happened in the past week.

Usually at 11:11 I make a wish for people in my life in need, but lately I just keep wishing to be better equipped to deal with this. Because I have no idea how to deal with this, which is extremely unusual for me. I have rules and plans and guidebooks for every situation. Break-ups? A CINCH. I know how those go; I could do it blindfolded. The timeline of how a relationship should go in my mind? After 3-6 months: I love you. After 2 years: move in. After 3-5 years: get married. BAM. But HOW do I deal with someone convincing me that they’re SO into me and then not speaking to me? Oh, and for the record, this human is still living and breathing cuz I just saw/spoke to him. So, he’s not dead which is quite possibly the ONLY allowable excuse.

I just wanted something to go my way. I know that makes me sound like a spoiled brat, but in these past few months I’ve really been struggling. Last year was the first year in my entire 24 years of existence that I not only missed Thanksgiving but also Christmas. I’ve been with my family for both of those holidays for my entire life. But last year I had work conflicts so I couldn’t go home. Then my grandmother passed away in January, and I didn’t get to say goodbye. That was really hard for me. And it still makes me fall apart. Like when I was watching Girls: Why can’t these characters have it easy for a few seconds? Why couldn’t I have gone home and spent one last Thanksgiving with my grandmother? Why can’t this guy just like me? Of course this stupid boy dissing me is much less painful that the unexpected passing of my grandmother, but it all hurts. It all hurts. I’m a Cancer. It all hurts.

I’m trying really hard to integrate the Four Agreements into my life. Right now, I’m working on taking nothing personally. I’ve been working on this for a couple months. It’s extremely difficult. But following in this practice, I have tried to see everything through his point-of-view. And I get it; he was lonely, I was there, I fulfilled his momentary need, he went home, realized that he didn’t want anything serious and he proceeded to push me out. That’s all fine. I get it. But. Be a fucking man for fuck’s sake and tell me you’re not interested. I even gave him an easy exit. I texted him: “One question. Are the dates over? It’s fine, either way, just let me know.”

….no response.

God, nothing gets me hard like a coward.

Maybe this is something that Unavailable Gay New Yorkers do. A friend of mine said that he had gone a couple of amazing dates with a guy, and then the guy just stopped communicating with him. Maybe this is a thing? Is this something I need to get used to. Because there is no way I can do that.

I’m an intelligent guy; I’m good at taking a step back and seeing the big picture. I understand that someday this moment won’t be so painful. I understand that someday I’ll be grateful for this occurrence. I understand that I didn’t do anything wrong; all I did was open myself up to an assassin in disguise. I understand that vulnerability is necessary and, ultimately, beautiful; I’m just waiting for it to feel beautiful.

I would like to reiterate that this guy isn’t a terrible person; he just isn’t mine.

“I can take so much
‘Til I’ve had enough.”
~”Only Human” by Christina Perri

 

Love,
James.

37. James is Unraveling

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Hello. My name is James, and I am extremely insecure.

(*in your most convincing monotone, uninterested voice*: “Hi, James…”)

I feel like I used to have a really good handle on all of this. I felt most confident about myself my senior year of college. I was blogging every day about things that made me happy. I was spending a lot of time with people who really cared deeply for me. I was getting a lot of positive feedback on my blog. I felt like I was helping people; I felt like I was serving a purpose larger than myself. When I finished my Happiness Project 365, I felt happy, content, grateful. It made me teary-eyed how joyful I was. So that ended September 2011.

Flash forward to now. March 2013. One-and-a-half years later. I’m standing on the subway platform covering my face with my scarf, talking aloud to myself: “There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m perfectly fine the way I am. I’m beautiful. I’m sexy. I’m talented. I’m kind. I’m important. (*Repeat from the beginning with increasing speed, making me look like someone literally trying to fight off the Devil)”

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Well… “fallen” sounds too graceful. How bout “Oh, how the mighty have flown from their bikes and landed on the ground with a broken collarbone, a body full of abrasions, stained with black road rash and embedded all over with dirty rocks from the pavement.” Yes, that sounds more accurate.

I feel myself becoming someone I’m not. Someone who I don’t want to be. And it literally feels like the war of my life. Dramatic, I know. The last time I felt this bad was the beginning of my senior year where I literally felt like I was gripping to my sanity by my fingertips, reeling from the worst break-up of my life. And it wasn’t all in my head. I was remembering it aloud once with Jian Li and I said, “I literally felt like I was losing my mind.” And she said, “I know. I was there.” And I’ll never forget that conversation with her, that feeling of validation, that feeling of Wow, that was real… that was close.

And here I am again, but this time I’m not recovering from a break-up. It caught me by surprise. It’s not fun looking up from the bottom of this stupid well, mentally feeling as busted as Samara (yes, that little demon girl from The Ring). And I’m not sure how I got here. And I’m not sure how it snuck up on me so quietly. But the other day it hit me like a ton of bricks. And I realized… I feel so inadequate. Like I’m not enough. Or I’m just not right.

My chest isn’t big enough.
My arms aren’t big enough.
My abs aren’t defined enough.
My ass isn’t big enough.
I’m not masculine enough.
I’m too tall.
My feet are too big.
I’m not rich enough.
My hair isn’t thick enough.
I’m not talented enough.
I’m not brave enough.
I’m not sexy enough.

I had just read Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly and it really woke me up. I’m waiting until I have more money, a better body and constant theater work to love myself. Subconsciously, I told myself, “James, I will love you when you complete this list. I will love you then.”

When I realized that, I felt like a dementor had put their “lips” to mine and sucked all the air out of my lungs. And immediately after that feeling, I felt that sudden sink of dread in my stomach. It felt like I had eaten a bowling ball and it was starting to rot in my stomach. Because at the moment I realized: “James. We have a problem. And now you have realized it. You have addressed it. Now here is the moment where you decide: Am I going to do something about this? Or will I be content with feeling incomplete?”

It took me a while to do something about it. I didn’t want to admit that I was struggling. I’m a 23 year-old gay man who is struggling with masculinity, trying to bulk up to look more like a “man” while constantly missing my family so much it makes me cry… I wasn’t about to further undermine my masculinity by saying aloud, “I feel unpretty. *cue the Lucille Ball wail* WAAAAAAAHHHHHH!”

But I hit my lowest point two nights ago. I cracked. And it really starting eating away at me. I felt the beautiful parts of me corroding while the ugly insecurity took over. It started  to interfere with my personal relationships. And I realized it had been eating away at me for a while. It had been fucking up my relationships for a while. I had been waiting for someone else to make me feel complete. I was waiting for someone else to make me like myself. I think part of me knew that this insecurity was there all along. But I wasn’t facing it head-on. I let it throw wrenches in the gears of my friendships and I didn’t hold my insecurity accountable. I let myself take the blame. Because I was too ashamed to talk about my insecurity. I felt like, “Oh, how cliche. An insecure, gay actor. Why don’t you just go cry about your pirouettes and really seal the deal.”

But I’ve had it. In the words of the drag queen Detox: ” I’VE HAD IT. OFFICIALLY.”

Lately, I’ve felt myself unraveling. And it’s fucking terrifying. It feels like I dropped a spool of thread and it’s falling out of my heads faster than I can gather it all. But I’m not gonna sit here and take it anymore. And I have a few strategies.

STRATEGIES FOR COMBATING THAT ASSHOLE VOICE IN MY HEAD
1) Journaling. Whenever I feel myself really struggling with something, something that I really want to get to the bottom of and understand more clearly, I pull out my journal. On the subway mostly. But sometimes I can’t take it anymore. I can’t stand knowing something is deeply bothering me and not understand the root of it. This really helps me discover the little hole into which insecurity is sneaking. It helps me truly feel like I’m getting a handle of the situation.
2) Talking aloud to myself. This is maybe the most successful. It helps me shut up that asshole voice really quickly. Whenever I start to feel like I’m not good enough, I just starting talking aloud. I don’t say the awful things aloud. I only say the kind things aloud. Because those things are true. “I am important. I’m perfectly fine the way I am. I matter. I’m beautiful. There’s nothing wrong with me.”
3) Self-help books. They really help me change my perspective. They help me see myself in a different light and I start to really believe myself. I plan on getting back into this this week.

I refuse to wait for other people to make me feel good enough. On the same hand, I refuse to let other people determine my self-worth. I am good enough because I say so, god damnit.

This war starts today. I won’t win every battle, but I won’t give up.

Bring your A-Game, Asshole-Voice. Cuz I’m coming for you guns-a’blazin.

#DONTGIVEUP

I’ll need y’all more than ever:

37.1 37.2 37.3 37.4 37.5 37.6 37.7 37.8 37.9 37.10 37.11 37.12 37.13

I love you.

JAMES.

26. James Talks About Buttholes (Like, Literal Anuses)

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This took me forever to write. 2 days. 5+ hours.

This is about vulnerability.

This is about nobody/everybody.

The other day I was having a rough day, and I wasn’t feeling quite good about myself (to be perfectly vague). So I watched my favorite TED  Talk. If you are unfamiliar, these are short talks given by experts in a certain field about their respective area of study. TED is an anagram for: Technology, Entertainment and Design. My favorite talk is by a woman named Brené Brown; “The Power of Vulnerability“:   (If you haven’t watched this, YOU MUST. I have promoted it more than once, but this is really, really good. Like, EVERYONE. It will be the quickest 20 minutes of your life. WATCH. IT. NOW.)

OK. I find it extremely difficult to be vulnerable for a variety of reasons:

1) I live in New York City. People here are harder. You can’t cry every time someone pushes you in a crowd or punches you in the face on the subway. Otherwise, you wouldn’t last one week.
2) I deal with rejection more than any other type of person I know. I have been to almost 70 auditions since moving here, and I have only heard 2 “yes”s from any of those auditions. Can you imagine going to 68 job interviews and only hearing “no” after “no” after “no”? It’s like that. I need a tough backbone (which can be hard to separate from being guarded).
3) I have put myself out there many-a-time for many-a-guy… and I have been turned down many-a-time. I have flirted with guys who showed interest and then they are all of sudden not interested. No reason given, no reason requested.
4) Nothing is for certain. Except math. 1+5 will ALWAYS equal 6. But there is not guarantee that anything will last. But there is no guarantee that anything will work out. Relationships, jobs, NYC. Equity actors still struggle to make their rent. Relationships of 5+ years disintegrate. You’re never in a safe zone of 100% certainty. No one is safe from random acts of life. And all the accumulation of all this booshit causes me to grapple with romantic relationships.

Let me elaborate.

I am a people person, yes. I can get along with anybody. A.NY.BO.DY. Anybody. I can go to a party by myself and make some friends by the end of the night. And I can flirt my tits off. I am good at figuring out how people tick and talking to them accordingly. Some people really like to talk about themselves, so all I need to do is ask conversation-starting questions: “Where are you from? Where’s your family? Do you miss them? Where’d you go to school? etc.” Some people are super vulgar, so all I need to do is exchange stories of foulness (perhaps about drunken and/or sexual debauchery: “This one time, I was so drunk I fucked a garden gnome”….that’s totally a fictional example).

Ok. That being said, I really, REALLY struggle with relationships with guys. You too??? Wow, I’m shocked. SARCASM. I couldn’t be less shocked. TRUTH. I struggle, because I don’t have faith that a guy could know all parts of me and not be scared away. I don’t think I’ve ever met a guy that I’ve shat all my crazy on. Never have I met a guy with whom I did the following things (FAMILY: DON’T. READ. THE. BULLETED. LIST. SKIP TO THE END OF IT. OR JUST DON’T READ THE STUFF IN THE PARENTHESES):

  • abused the words “pussy” and “beaver”,
  • sung in my ugly MirandaSings voice
  • danced like I meant it
  • sang like I meant it
  • said what I really wanted instead of pretending I was ambivalent (e.g. “I do care where we go for dinner; I WANT CHINESE FOOD LIKE I WANT SANTA TO BE REAL!!”)
  • been a sloppy drunken mess (googly-eye, full-on Deirdre St. James [my drunken alter ego… think Sasha Fierce x10])
  • riffed (and meant it)
  • made jokes during sex (e.g. “Why did the chicken cross the road? Huh? I can’t understand you. Don’t talk with your mouth full!”)
  • said how I really REALLY felt (e.g. “I think I like you more than you like me.”)
  • asked the burning questions in me of whose answers I am terrified (e.g. “What is it you like about me?”)
  • asked for help when I’m sick (e.g. “Will you please make me some soup?”)

But I RARELY put myself in a position where I need somebody. The other night I woke up to myself puking in my mouth. I almost woke up my roommate, but I decided I could handle it on my own. I went to the kitchen and stood over the sink, spitting. I HATE vomiting. I hate it so much. I cry every time I puke. If the Devil owned one bodily function, it would definitely be vomiting. Nothing feels like the birth of Satan like puke rocketing out of your throat. But I also hate depending on other people. Because I can trust me not to let myself down. “Vulnerability? Whose that? Is he cute? Is he known to carry big things if you know what I mean?”(#destinyschildshoutout #heygirl #BEEP)

I mean, what would Kaylee have done if I had woken her up? Perhaps she would’ve just sat with me while I spit into the sink.  Or rubbed my back while I waited for more vomit to come up. Or filled up a glass of water for me. But maybe that’s enough. Maybe sometimes it’s just nice to have people around. Like, when you go to the hospital and friends come to visit, there’s nothing they can do (unless they’re doctors) but it’s still nice to just have someone there. Physically there.

So I struggle with romantic relationships. When I see a guy, I start walking on tightropes lined with eggshells, because I’m convinced one false move can fuck it all up. So I immediately start editing out the parts of me that I don’t think that Mr. ______ will like. If he hates swearing, I’ll swear less. If he hates when I make conversation during naughty times, I’ll shut my mouth. If he doesn’t like my insecurity, I’ll pretend I have my shit together. I just want someone to stay, and I feel like it’s a miracle when two people actually make it work with each other. And in a way, it is a bit miraculous when a relationship works out. When a relationship survives long distance, that’s a miracle. When a relationship survives infidelity, that’s a miracle. When a relationship survives honesty, that’s a miracle. BUT. It is NOT a miracle of San Gabriel that someone might like me for me. My imperfections are what make me beautiful.

But whenever a relationship goes awry (which is super common, especially in New York relationships when you can have a mint chocolate chip milkshake with rum in it delivered to your doorstep by a monkey on Easter just because you want it), I will blame myself. Many New York “relationships” end by excommunication. If the other person doesn’t respond to your texts for a week, you can assume it’s over. If they stop reaching out to you, you can assume they are no longer interested. This has happened to me more than once. And I will ALWAYS ask myself, “What did do wrong?” Here are possible answers:

“Maybe I couldn’t please him sexually.”
“Maybe I wasn’t interesting enough.”
“Maybe I was annoying.”
“Maybe I was too immature.”
“Maybe I was too gay.”
“Maybe I was too needy.”
“Maybe I cared too much.”
“Maybe I was too crazy (in the bad way).”
“Maybe I tried too hard.”

But maybe it’s not me. Maybe it’s him. Maybe he had an incurable case of diarrhea. Maybe he’s terrified of my vulnerability and he’s not ready to be in an honest relationship. Maybe he just wants a fuck buddy. Maybe he’s intimidated by my honesty. Maybe he’s leaving soon and he doesn’t want to start anything. Maybe he has shit that he needs to deal with, and he doesn’t want to pull an innocent bystander into his psychotic whirlwind of Bad Crazy. Maybe it doesn’t have a god damn thing to do with me.

I try to remind myself that I am enough. “You are enough.” I have heard this phrase so many times, especially in the world of theater. So I have told myself, “I am enough for this casting director. What I have, that’s enough.” Or, in terms of dating: “I am enough for Mr. ________; who I am, that’s enough for him.” BUT THIS IS MY FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM. I am telling myself, “I am enough for them,” when I SHOULD be saying:

“I AM ENOUGH FOR ME. What I am, what I have, what I’ve got: THIS is enough for me.”

My utility to other men is secondary to my worthiness to myself. I am enough right now; not in five/ten years when I meet someone who makes me feel whole. Because what if he never comes, James? I’m not being melodramatic or pessimistic; it’s an honest possibility. What if I wait around for the One and he never shows up? I’d be waiting around forever for someone to instill me with a sense of wholeness. But there’s no guarantee. I don’t like them odds, trick; I don’t likes them at all. And let’s be honest: not everyone’s life is a fairytale. Not everyone ends up with a Prince Charming. And while I’m learning to embrace the uncertainty of life, one thing is certain: I’m not waiting around for anyone to make me feel good enough. And all it takes is a belief: I am perfectly fine the way I am.

I went into therapy (and not like the gay club) the summer after my freshman year of college:
Therapist: What seems to be the problem?
Me: I think I’m crazy.
Therapist: How so?
Me: (I went on to tell her all the reasons I thought I was crazy. e.g.: I push people away when they start to get close to me. I don’t like saying, “I love you.” She ended up helping me realize that the person I was pushing away was being annoying and that I didn’t like saying “I love you,” when I felt obligated to say it.)
Therapist: Well, you’re not crazy.
Me: I’m not?
Therapist: No. Say it: “I’m not crazy.”
Me: I’m– (then I broke down cuz it was a HUGE RELIEF to realize that I wasn’t out of my fucking gourd)
Therapist: I have something for you to do. Everyday, look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I’m perfectly fine the way I am.”

And that was really hard for me. Not just because I didn’t fully believe it but because it was physically difficult to form those words in my mouth. I choked on them on the way out, but I pushed myself until I could say it in the mirror without breaking down… which took me a while.

I am imperfect. I fall asleep on the subway. My feet smell like sewage at the end of the day. I snore. I get really anxious if I can’t work out for a couple of days. I push myself really hard. I listen to Eminem, Lil Wayne, Kanye West and Chris Brown even though they are HUMONGOUS douchebags. (I mean, Lil Wayne and Eminem say “faggot” WAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much for being men who “don’t suck dick”…. 😉 whatever you say 😉 ….faggots.) I trust everybody. I try too hard. I share too much. I swear WAY too fuckin’ much. I move too fast. “Your Love Is My Drug” by Ke$ha will ALWAYS make me smile and want to jump up and down while scream-singing (otherwise known as “screlting”). But this is who I am. And in its own fucked-up way, it’s beautiful. Like a Picasso painting.

Also in my list of imperfections: I am in lurve-town-balls with any movie that Sandra Bullock or J. Lo does. So I was watching Sandy’s All About Steve and she plays this quirky-ass, crazy-ass crossword puzzle constructer. And she is just super weird. But so candid. And at the end of the movie Bradley Cooper’s character says, “Mary, don’t ever change. For anybody.”

Brené  Brown describes the roots of the word “courage”: “Courage… [is] from the Latin word ‘coer’ meaning ‘heart’, and the original definition was ‘to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.'” Sometimes I want to sear the letters “C-O-U-R-A-G-E” into my forearm to remind myself to never ever compromise myself for any old trick that blows across my path like tumbleweed. I don’t want to edit myself in order to win someone over. I want to tell graphic stories about buttholes because this is who I am. And if you can’t handle me, that is A-O-K. You go do your thing, and I’ll go do mine; we just don’t be doing each other’s things ;). (Now THAT is something for you to cry about.) But there is nothing wrong with me. Cuz I’m perfectly fine the way I am.

In the words of Sara Bareilles, “I’m well-versed in how I am cursed.” And I am MORE than aware of the fragility of love and trust and forevers. But I am not gonna stop putting myself out there. Yes, it is terrifying to be the one to initiate; it’s so scary to say, “Hey, I like you,” without 100% certainty that they will say it back. And it’s nerve-wracking to ask somebody on a date when you have no idea if they are interested in you. But that is life.

If you’ve been keeping up, you’re probably wondering, ‘What ever happened to Billy?’ Well, Fellow Hopefuls, it didn’t work out. My dad called me today and asked about him:
“Hey, Bud, how’re things with Billy?”
“Actually it didn’t work out.”
“Oh, man, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s OK, Dad.”
“Well you’ve gotta have somebody else lined up; who’s next?”
“….Me.”

This is what I see when I walk out the door everyday.

No holding back. I’m wearing my butterfly ring, my sunglasses in the shape of a heart, my white skinny jeans and my v-neck that says “LIKES BOYS”.

Fuck. Everybody.

The other day, my friend asked me, “How many blowjobs do you get per week?” I immediately started laughing… and then I realized she was serious.

“I’m beautiful in my way cuz God makes no mistakes. I’m on the right track, baby. I was born this way.”

~”Born This Way” by Lady Gaga

I want to be a good example for the kids that I will someday raise.
I don’t wanna hide.
MAKE YOURSELF PROUD.
JAMES.