Monday, January 30, 2012

Memoir Monday: My Unsuspected Line

Sometimes change takes years, and sometimes it happens in a moment, when you cross a line. This is a story about one of those moments and one of those lines. It's not a pleasant story, and it's taken me more than fifteen years to discuss it, but it has a happy ending, although it was a long road to get there.

Back in my early-to-mid-twenties I was both closeted and still refusing the deal with the depression that had haunted me since childhood. Each one was a burden, but the combination of both had sent me spiraling into the deepest depressive episode of my life. I'd lose hours of time, had little interest in any of my normal activities, and stumble through the day feeling dead inside. At first I used food to cope, which left me heavier but no happier. I then hit upon the novel idea of having sex with strangers. Maybe I figured that getting men to go to bed with me was a sign that I was desirable, or maybe I wasn't really thinking at all. In any case, I went to my mission with a will, hooking up with men both everyday and outrageous. That filled up my calendar – among other things – but those encounters just left me feeling empty.

The experiences were too many to relate here without crashing a server or two; I'd put the number of men I took to bed, very conservatively, at 40. One gentleman sticks out in my mind, a really strong-willed guy who did not take no for an answer. Given that I had very little ability to give no for an answer, we were as perfect for each other as Godzilla and Tokyo. The problem was not that he was an incredible jerk – I'd been with any number of those – but that part of sex for him involved hitting. This wasn't S&M; there were no leather chaps and vests and whips, and he didn't want to be called sir or master. This guy just liked dealing out abuse, and he didn't care if his partners enjoyed taking it.

The first time he popped me one I was surprised, but the blow, as hard as it was, didn't knock any sense into me. Instead, I tried gently dissuading him:

" offense, but I'm not exactly into that kind of thing. Maybe we could sort of take it slow and a little less intense, if that's all right."

Translated from Screwed-Up to English, this reads:

"I don't like it when you hit me, but I won't do anything more than gently complain about it. So carry on."

As you've already guessed, he didn't stop dealing out the abuse and I didn't stop taking it. At the time I figured that things could have been worse. I mean, at least I wasn't alone, and he wasn't trying to injure me, right? I didn't feel afraid or angry, but just numb, like I was watching this happen to someone else. I do remember thinking that it was important he didn't hit me in the face; otherwise, I'd have to explain to my brother, with whom I shared an apartment, why I was coming home bruised. At the time that seemed a very rational consideration, and not the amazingly fucked-up, Lifetime-Original-Movie shit that it was.

Later, as I was climbing into my car, I caught sight of myself in the rear-view mirror and froze at a sudden realization: I'd be dead within a year. I knew this the same way that you know the sun rises in the east and that Monday follows Sunday. Looking at my reflection was like staring into my own grave, and it was the only time I ever felt doomed. I'd never been so freaked out, but that sensation was like the moon sailing free of the clouds. I hadn't felt so clear an emotion in years, and it snapped me back to reality long enough for me to crawl to my doctor.

Depressives are often good at presenting normally, but I was surprised – and relieved – to find that my doctor had known since meeting me that, emotionally, I was going nowhere and would be arriving soon. He had the name of a psychologist ready, as if he'd been awaiting this moment, and he urged me to contact her straightaway.

To this day I still wonder why that moment in the car was when my invisible and unsuspected line was crossed, and I still don't know the answer. That kind of mystery doesn't make for a good story, I admit, but at least this story has a happy ending, and in the next entry I'll go into the five words that started my journey towards it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love that you open up on this blog. I think this is good for you. I also think I feel closer to you when you share so much of yourself. I wish you felt comfortable talking to me at the time. Truth be told, I was probably as messed up as you were....but we had more in common than I knew. We would have had eachother. MKC

5:20 PM  
Blogger greengreyeyes said...

You were brave to tell that. I am passive like you, at least I was, I am working on it. I used to say if I was being stabbed by a stranger in an alley I'd say " please, could you stab a little to the left, you're hurting my liver".
Glad you had that epiphany in time.

9:09 PM  
Blogger Amy McWeasel said...

Thank you for letting us in.

1:59 PM  

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