Deafening Silence

I’ve never known which was worse – feeling alone with a plethora of people physically around you or “in touch” with you or feeling alone because you are, truly, physically and mentally alone. I guess they’re both equally awful and equally unavoidable because let’s, or I, rather given the fact being that it is I who feels alone right now, must face it – if you are the type to feel alone, you’ll feel alone whether others are surrounding you or not.

On the campaign, there were moments I felt more full of love and joy from others than I’ve felt in my entire life. This was for about the first month. So much love. So much understanding.

Somewhere, I realized I had not put my warning labels up – that I had flashed some signs of caution.. but that was not enough. Soon enough the parts of me that are so undesirable would creep through, and ruin the experience of perfection everyone else was feeling.

It’s funny, my signs of caution in this setting would normally be seen as “get the fuck away before you’re part of the damaged goods” in other scenarios, but here, in a safe Beto space, my signs of caution were seen, as one told me, as badges of bravery. “I have been raped.” “My father abandoned our relationship.” “I experienced discrimination in the workplace.” “I quit my job and don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.” These are all things that really, in most instances, one would think would not be celebrated… but would likely incite the slow but steady walk away. You know the one – the one where the conversation seems to be going well but then you drop the bomb… the other party acts like it doesn’t matter and then steadily figuratively backs up in the conversation and then suddenly backs up physically from the conversation.

This wasn’t the case here. In Beto 2018, I was celebrated for my “bravery.” Put at ease for my uncertainty. In a cool kids club for quitting my job and saying no to corporate America.

Well, I’m not sure if this is a chicken or the egg scenario, but this sort of acceptance can only last so long. Our Mecca lasted, as long as it could have, before suddenly I knew: either I was the fraud or I was being fraudulently supported. The vibe wasn’t there. The trust. The support system. The insider feeling… it was gone. I told others outside of the campaign the second I knew. They told me give it a few days and the feeling would subside. It didn’t.

We become the person we expect others will expect us to be.

So I don’t know if it’s the chicken or the egg. I became, or at least I think I became, a scarred person who let my scars show. My scars did not seem to be celebrated – or perhaps I just felt that way. I don’t know.

I know a few things. I know my thoughts are incredibly scattered right now and I know that many from the campaign word feel that way too. I know we were warned of feeling all of these ups and downs after the campaign and to spend the time after the campaign with those we love and who love us.

I know that many people from the campaign spent every waking moment together afterwards because those were the people they know loved them. I know I have spent most of my time alone. Searching for those that make me feel loved.

Chicken or the egg. Yet again. How can you find those that make you feel loved if you aren’t capable of feeling loved – or, is it, that those in your life who do love you, which dear lord I hope exists for me, who truly love me, don’t know how to express it. Or is it that I don’t know how to accept it?

I do know that there’s been less of the expressing recently and more of the feeling alone. The doomsday feeling of alone. This is not a cry for help because I have too much pride to do that and frankly, am too self-aware and would get annoyed with random people reaching out to me. It’s just a curious musing.. at what point do you truly become unlovable? Unbearable? Are they the same thing?

What about just … uninvitable? Not a word, I know, but the person that people stop inviting to things. Either because they think they’re too cool, you haven’t shown up in the past, or because their everyday life is simply functioning without you as a true consideration? How many times have I done this to others? Infinite, I’m sure. I’m sure as I write this, there is someone out there who today thought that abandoned our friendship. But perhaps that is too self-Indulgent to think that way.

The feeling of annoyance is deafeningly loud. I mean, the feeling of being annoying. Somehow, the silence from others, the desire of meaning, the feeling of being a constant nuisance for trying to surround myself with those I Love, has turned into a deafening roar. Yet the silence is destroying me.

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My Walden Pond

Growing up, there were two types of kids- the kids who opened their eyes under water and the kids who didn’t. These same kids also somehow seemed to be blessed with the immense and enviable courage it took to flawlessly master the high dive.

I, not surprisingly, was a didn’t. As a kid, despite my brother’s constant nagging to “just do it” I was the kid who did not open my eyes under water. Not even with goggles. I was too scared water would leak in. This led to a lot of near death experiences when my brother would confirm I did not open my eyes and subsequently try to “drown me” by holding me under in the deep end just to scare the bejeezus out of me. Additionally, this meant I was definitely not a swim team contender.

During the past few weeks, dealing with a break up has meant having a lot of time to refocus on me. I was focused before, but I think that’s something people who go through break ups say. “I’m finding me again.” “I’m putting me first”. “I deserve better”. “It’s better to be alone than with xyz.” For the record, I will never say these things about this relationship and never have. But life is life and things “happen for a reason.”

Anyways, with this free time I decided to invest a lot of my energy into working out. Working out has always been a way to cheer myself up when nothing else could, or at least clear the dark thoughts in my head. As part of my new exercise regimen, I decided I would learn to swim laps, and … I did! At first, I attempted to do the breast stroke in a way that could only be described as arms projecting out and about in sort of spastic Macarena and legs … scissoring? Either way, each day I added five more laps to my routine and with the help of some YouTube videos, was able to improve my technique just a bit and get up to 30 laps.

Despite my embedded sarcastic tone in the phrase’s last use, things did seem to happen for a reason, as I found myself being annoyed about having to fly to Boston for a continuing education course to keep up my law license. Somehow, however, my flight was just a day after said break up. So a day of continuing education turned into 2.5 week’s of Boston fun and escape. And it has been.

Most of my time during these past couple of weeks have been unplanned and spent spontaneously catching up with friends and wandering various neighborhoods and enjoying the beauty of Boston/Cambridge. The one must on my list, however, was a visit to Walden Pond.

Walden Pond, for most of you, is likely the physical written manifestation of Thoreau’s imagination and historic prose. For me, it is a beautiful escape that I never knew existed. Growing up in Houston, we did not have these natural beautiful ponds or springs to swim in. When I came to New England and discovered with awe the beauty of these natural treasures, I was hooked. I have visited Walden Pond several times over the years, and I knew it was a must during this visit.

Yesterday was the day. My beautiful friend who graciously let me crash with her for the past 2 week’s drove the 30 minute drive to Concord, where we finally turned left into the wooded parking lot and then crossed the street, walked down the steps and across the beach to our somewhat shaded (for her) and somewhat sunny (for me) spot we would claim on the beach. I laid down and it was just as beautiful as I imagined.

Now, I’m pausing here to tell you that there is no use of metaphors in the creation of what is to follow. Why, you ask? The experience was simply too beautiful to create a metaphor. It’s beauty was too true to be a metaphor. Too literal for comparison. It was the metaphor.

(Con’t…) I don’t remember the specifics of every time I have visited Walden Pond, but I do know that my time in the water is usually minimal and spent within the confined areas – not in the designated free swim area. The free swim area was where experienced swimmers could swim across the lake and back. Warning signs upon entry stated in no uncertain terms that those who ventured out were on their own. Well, yesterday when I grew restless in my half shade/half sun spot and read those words, only one word came to mind: “perfect.”

I walked into the water and kept walking. I kept walking until my toes no longer touched the rocky bottom and I was floating. And then I was “swimming” and then I wasn’t swimming, I was gliding. Flawlessly. I was being pulled towards what can only be described as the beauty of another world. Eyes closed under water, but open as I reached the surface with my eyes only on the beautiful clouded wooded horizon with the sun somehow coming through the trees in a way only seen in paintings. I now understood the term breathtaking.

Taking no notice of the distance I now was from the beach of the lake, I yearned with each scoop of water to bring myself closer to this masterpiece. It’s a freedom they write about in the classics and proclaim in the movies.

As I came closer and closer to the center of the lake, The most incredible thing was, I think, was the quiet. For the first time in my life, I felt peace. The only noise I could hear was the calming ripple of the tide interspersed with the sole voice of my own thoughts. There were no voices in my head but mine. No currents pulling me in different directions or pressure pushing me down. I was floating and I was soaring. For those minutes, however many, I was where I needed to be and it was majestic. I was floating towards the beauty of another world.

As the tide turned I noticed a woman about 10 yards away. I was no longer alone. There was an intruder. Without glasses I could not make out much of the contours of her bobbing face, but from what I could see, we looked eerily alike. No longer gliding, we both were facing each other with our confused heads bobbing in unison. My peace was gone and the beautiful moment though captured, was finite.

I suddenly became hyper aware of the fact that if I kept gliding, we would collide. She wasn’t moving, so it meant that I either need to change directions or stop moving myself. The tide quite literally turned and I turned with it. My eyes opened to the tiny figured on the beach and, struggling to find the energy, I swam towards shore. With each awkward stroke, more cries of babies could be heard and even worse, complaints from teenage beauties about their “flawed bodies.” My knee scraped a rock and I was forced to stand. My time, my moment was done. And I was incredibly sad. I am incredibly sad. And truth be told, this was this first time i had felt remotely sad since the breakup because I had felt it was the right thing to do.

My mind, just a few minutes before completely at ease was racing a mile a minute. That experience, what was it? How had it suddenly become so easy? Was this what the brain of a “normal” person feels like? Was this the outlook on life the prescribed tablet I take like clockwork every morning was supposed to give me but has failed to do so? Was this calm other people’s equilibrium or would it have been as incredible to them? You see, when you deal with mental illness, I think people forget that you have as many questions about how other people, the normal ones, experience life as they have about someone like me.

I sit here now, reading the notes I took right after the experience, full of hope that I could go back in the water and recreate the experience. I couldn’t. I didn’t.

I lied. But I came by it honestly, I promise. I did not set out to have a metaphor, but I suppose I’ve had a revelation in the midst of typing. Well, not a metaphor, let’s say a comparison. I can’t decide if I’m happy yesterday happened. I am filled with anguish today that I know that sort of experience exists and, though fleeting, I experienced it. Just as fleeting, it’s now gone. With my breakup, I am just as torn. Is it really better to have love and lost than to never have loved at all? I hate cliches, but seriously. Every other break up I’ve had, I’ve had so many major reasons to dislike the person, the relationship, etc. But this one, this person, we knew it wasn’t right in the end. But during it, the experience, it was beautiful. I might not have had perfect form, but I felt like I was gliding. I experienced a beauty and a peace that I did not know existed. And now it is gone and I don’t know if I’ll ever experience that again. With that experience comes new expectations and a different kind of unrest.

It’s easy to accept not having something when you don’t think it’s attainable. When you cannot experience it – never have, never will. Right now, wish I never experienced it. Wish I never glided towards the unknown without fear.

So what do you do. And please don’t tell me Bumble.

Two Words, One Lesson.

“Me too…” she said, half chuckling nervously, half confused as to whether she should have just pledged a “sorority” she wasn’t sure she was ready to pay the dues for. In the split second following her admission, she decided it’s always better to be included. After all, it was the sixth grade, she was tall and lanky with awkward braces and big ears, and boobs that had just sprouted on her otherwise stick-thin body, somehow at the exact point of her body that was equal to the height of every boy in her grade. The other girls in this new group were the popular girls, so this had to be a good sign, right?

She checked her baby-G watch to realize that advisory period (or homeroom in a less, achem, “preppy” school) started in four minutes.

“Four til,” she announced. “So what do we do?”

She was always the thinker. The over-analyzer. Twelve-going-on-forty her mother and her friends would always joke.

“Well, I guess we need to tell someone, right?” Another one of this chosen group of six young girls blurted out. Her already size DD chest bounced as she shrugged her shoulders.

The girls huddled and ultimately decided that between advisory and first period, they’d meet with Mrs. B about it. The girls never went to first period.

Years later, she couldn’t remember the details of the meeting, whether it was actually six girls, or five. She couldn’t remember if she was the one who started the conversation with Mrs. B or if it was another girl appointed for the task. But, she could remember this – she figured the meeting with Mrs. B would be the start and end of it. Well, maybe it would require her talking a little bit more about it with the headmaster or worst case scenario, her parents, but certainly, it wouldn’t follow her past the sixth grade.

Years later, her memory recalls that day going something like this. Certainly, parts of her memory are incorrect, but we all remember inconsequential-turned-consequential events differently, right?

After advisory, the girls, minus a couple who “chickened out”, went to Mrs. B to tell their tale. She didn’t think that any of them thought it was that serious, but they did think that what they had all discovered was odd, and at least worth mentioning. At the very least, she’d tell them, in true Mrs. B fashion, that they were being dramatic, and then they’d go on with their day. Instead, what they told them that Mr. S, the computer teacher, turned Mrs. B into a ghostly shade of white as she told them to stay in the room and that’d she’d be right back.

Presumably, Mrs. B returned with the headmaster and the head of the middle school. She asked the girls to repeat what they had told her. Nervously, one of the girls recanted how just that morning, one of the girls mentioned how it was strange that Mr. S had, on multiple occasions, reached his hand under her skirt while checking up on her computer work, and done some sort of rubbing thing on her chest a few times, too. How, when she mentioned it to one girl, that girl grabbed another, who said it had happened to her too, and she grabbed two others. Ultimately, a group had formed that realized that they were all sitting in the back row of the classroom and that it was happening to them. And, it turns out, much more to at least one of them, but she didn’t want to discuss that. They all thought it was weird when it happened, but had brushed it off. Now that they knew that it wasn’t just them, they figured it probably wasn’t an accident and they should tell someone. Upon hearing the story, the two male heads of school turned that same ghostly white. If she had a mental curse word vocabulary at that point in her life, this would probably be her “oh shit” moment.

The two men told them all to stay right there, and they did, as Mrs. B followed them outside. None of the girls spoke. What had they done? Were they in trouble? Would other people find out? What was going on?

Mrs. B returned a few minutes later and told them first off, that they had done the right thing by coming forward. And secondly, that the police had been called.

“WHAT!?” One of the girls blurted out.

“This is an awful thing that Mr. S has been doing to all of you. We had no idea. When the police arrive we will confront him and have the police escort him off of campus and he’ll probably be put in jail. Don’t worry girls, you did the right thing. I’m not sure, but there will probably be an assembly about it. It will all be fine.”

That ghostly shade of white took over six more faces.

The girls were told to stay put as this all went down. They did. She doesn’t really remember what they did in the meantime. She does know that it wasn’t that long, because the assembly Mrs. B had mentioned took place in the morning. Turns out, the assembly felt like more abuse than an unwelcome leathery hand inside of her pre-teen thigh had ever felt like.

At the assembly, the headmaster and head of middle school gave some sort of run-down about what had occurred that morning. They stated that Mr. S would never be allowed back on campus, and if anyone sees him, to notify the faculty immediately. They commended those who came forward and offered counseling for any that would need it. They also asked for anyone else to come forward should they share the same experience.

She’s not sure how, but somehow during that assembly, or before, everyone knew. Everyone knew that she had said “me too.” Perhaps, the headmaster had mentioned that Mr. S was doing this to those girls sitting in the back row. Maybe, they knew because she had developed early and it was obvious. Or instead, maybe one of the girls “let it slip”. Either way, suddenly, a firing squad of pre-pubescent boys were whispering in her ear as the headmaster explained that they might be seeing police on campus in the coming weeks.

“You like em older, huh?” One said.

“Hahaha, can’t believe you let that old man touch you,” another whispered in her ear.

“You guys are so stupid. Why’d you make such a big deal about this?” said another.

“You guys are liars.” Another hissed.

She buried her head and tried not to cry. When she lifted it again, she had a fake smile plastered across her face. She wanted to be in on the joke, not a part of it.

“I don’t know,” she said, “it was just like, annoying, you know? Plus, he was not cool at all.”

She knew then, that “me too” were the worst two words she could have ever said. Why did she do that!? She’s always doing stupid things. It wasn’t that big of a deal that he did those things to her. Sure, each time his hand got closer and closer to being inside of her, but she could’ve devised a plan to shift her body as she did it. Why did she need to feel included? She was telling the truth, but she should have known better. This was probably the type of thing her mom had warned her about. About not falling into the wrong crowd. Why did she let herself get lumped into this crowd?

She somehow managed to get through the rest of the day. She doesn’t remember now, at 27, what exactly happened, but it was a variation of this. Things at school calmed down, but there were still several jokes made about the “Mr. S thing”. Her parents were notified and her mom was alarmed, but, aside from talking about it right after it happened, it was not discussed. Rumors circulated at school that Mr. S ran a booth at the rodeo and to be on the lookout, because he would come after them. She was terrified at as she went on the carousel that year. But, she luckily didn’t see him there.

A few weeks later, her mother took her to the police station to give her statement. She wasn’t prepped for what they would ask, and nothing was really talked about on the way there or the way back. She gave her statement to the police and despite her looks trying to signal the detective, she had to answer the questions in front of her mom. She was not comfortable and she didn’t tell them everything. Besides, at that point, she had convinced herself that the little bits that she had told the detective were the whole truth, not the partial truth. To this day, she doesn’t know what parts she carved out of her memory. Funny how that happens, isn’t it.

While Mr. S didn’t follow her to 7th grade, the story of him and the girls did. The boys and even some other girls, continued to taunt the girls for claiming the story and telling Mrs. B. Even before their balls had dropped, the boys somehow knew how to victim shame. It was like it was in their DNA. It was bad enough that one girl left the school for the local public school and never looked back.

She tried to forget it had ever happened. For the most part, it worked. When she was sent to therapy in seventh grade for whatever reason a seventh grader without any severe problems is sent to therapy, it wasn’t mentioned. It was never discussed at home. Once, when she was 15 and a freshman in high school, a new detective called her home. He informed her mother that the detective in charge of the case had really messed up and it was never completed. Mr. S was still out there and they wanted her to come in and give testimony. Her mom asked her if she wanted to and she quickly stated that no, she doesn’t even really remember it anyways and it’s just not a big deal anymore. Her mother was quick to accept and relayed the information to the detective. The detective never called about it again. She didn’t think about it anymore. It didn’t happen.

It wasn’t until some sort of drug was slipped into her drink in college and no one believed her that she had vivid flashbacks to the Mr. S thing. Thankfully, with the drugging, nothing had happened besides becoming violently ill and terrified as her body felt paralyzed, she couldn’t talk and she vomited everywhere with her close friends freaking out around her. That, and you know, the losing “friends” thing that followed afterwards because they said she “claimed” drugging when she had just had too much to drink. She began having panic attacks, remembering that she had done this before, been dumb enough to tell people about something that she should have known they wouldn’t believe, and created a label for herself. She was in college, she should know better.

The next two times something happened to her, they weren’t just a hand up the skirt, a slight brush of the breast, or a drugging without the sexual assault kind of incidents. One violent, one not. Both during law school. Both at inconvenient times. Both assaults by people she knew.

Thanks to the first time I said “me too”, just in the sixth grade, I know better than to tell those stories. I’ll just relay those stories through a hashtag. After all, that seems to be the actual popular thing to do.

Oh- we both know she is me right? Figured we had cleared that up.

So, #metoo.


This story is told to the best of my ability. If there are errors, as I’m sure there are, they are not intentional. On the record, I believe those involved – the school, parents, police (aside from the one detective) did the best that they could, at the time. But clearly, so much more could have been done.

Limping through my strut

Some days, most days, I can lift myself up nowadays. This day is not one of those days. I have fallen. Sure, someone may have stuck their toe out and tripped me, but that does not make the fall hurt any less than if I had missed my own step.

I don’t know how spilling that analogy onto the page (I hand write before I type this in) somehow is the only thing that made me smile today. Because it’s so true,right? People who care about you, or who, at the very least, have incentive to care if you feel like you’re under a dark cloud or not, are always very quick to tell you to not be too hard on yourself or it’s not your fault when you get screwed over or hurt and feel down on yourself. Sure, fine. But how does that make me feel back at that wonderful equilibrium I felt before? Just because someone tripped me and you point out that fact does not put me back at that equilibrium before the fall. My knees are still skinned and my hands cracked from trying to catch myself. Maybe I’m slightly less embarrassed or feel like a little bit less of a duntz, but if I get back to my steady strut, my skinned knees are there and most likely, I’ll have a little bit of a limp that I can’t just ignore.

It’s a pretty good analogy, I think. But of course, I can’t say that to those well intentioned ones who care. Instead I retreat and take a seat for a bit til I regain my balance.

It’s too bad human instinct isn’t to just invite someone out for ice cream or a tv binge after they fall and pretend like I don’t have an ice pack on and like you didn’t go out of your way to change your plans to just be there.

But I guess I’ve been an all-star at getting through things in the past, so It’s a given I can do it again. Right? After all, why do I need help picking myself up if I’m so strong to begin with? What was I thinking? The fall was yesterday. I should already be back to a full-blown Power strut by now.