While my initial reaction to this story was the same as everyone else’s (and while I know that the price has since been rolled back, making this whole thing somewhat irrelevant), I have a couple thoughts…
How many people suffering from toxoplasmosis (which – my understanding – is mostly AIDS and cancer patients) are actually paying medical expenses out of pocket? Wouldn’t a price hike like this really just be sticking it to insurance companies and Medicaid/Medicare? Would anyone seeking treatment at a hospital actually be refused Daraprim on account of an inability to pay? (My experience with hospitals has always been that I’m given everything I need and then I get an insanely high bill that I just throw in the trash). And while I can’t find the article today (because there are about ten thousand of them now) I’m pretty sure that I read an article yesterday in which the representative of some hospital stated that they had already been in touch with Turing and received assurance that they’d be able to continue receiving low-cost Daraprim for low-income patients.
So – like I said – I don’t really have any idea what I’m talking about here. I could be totally wrong about all of this and maybe Martin Shkreli is a monster and Turing is the most evil corporation on the face of the earth. With that being said, as someone who was recently the target of self-righteous assholes all across the internet (who – in my case – really had no idea what they were talking about), I can’t help but feel a kind of empathy for Martin Shkreli and relate to what he’s going through right now.
I realize that writing even a qualified show of support for “the most hated man in America” right now is probably not the best PR move I can make but I still pride myself on being an open book and being totally honest and transparent about everything on my mind so… I don’t know – I just wish people would be a little more hesitant / thoughtful before they make someone the target of all of their anger and hate.
For the record, regardless of all the things I don’t know about or understand, I support the rollback of Daraprim’s price. Regardless of who’s footing the bill, I think that all medication should be priced as low as is economically feasible. And if it turns out that I have even less of a clue than I thought and that this price-hike would have hurt people… just know that I’m speaking from a desire for all people to be happy and healthy and treated with the same respect that I think we all deserve. This post is not in support of the price hike, it’s just a call for reason and kindness.
For as much as I talk and write about Wallis, I’ve never really shared the full story of how we first came together. I’ll save the cute elements of the story for later and just give you the important part that hasn’t seemed relevant until now.
When I met Wallis, she was actively addicted to heroin. She was trying to not be on heroin but (like most addicts) she was finding that to be a little tougher than she could handle. We hit it off really quickly but I told her on our very first night together that I couldn’t be around that sort of thing. I told her that if she wanted to continue spending time with me, she couldn’t be using drugs. (I’m way too fucking fragile to not relapse if a pretty girl has a needle and a bag of dope to share with me). She told me she didn’t wanna use. I invited her to go with me on a road trip for a week – up to Illinois and back. In the course of that trip, we fell in love. Which was a problem because it meant we needed to figure out what we were gonna do to keep her from going back to heroin once we got back to Jacksonville. We decided that she’d need to quit the strip club and get another job (nobody can stay off drugs in that environment – no addict anyway). I told her I’d cover her ’til she got a new job and then – when it was time for me to leave Jacksonville – she’d quit her new job and come with me. Sound familiar? I did for Wallis the same thing I had done for my best friend, Chris, a year prior. I brought her out on the road with me to keep her off drugs. To show her another kind of life. Like Chris had done, in exchange for “all expenses paid” she’d just help me with my set-up, selling art, whatever. (And like Chris, it pretty much worked. She never used once; not while traveling with me anyway).
When we left Jacksonville, it was for Minneapolis, where I was to be featured in a gallery exhibit. Halfway through the exhibition’s run, we returned to Jacksonville for a week, so I could bank at One Spark. On the drive down, Wallis started talking about going to see old friends – friends that she had, historically, used drugs with. I told her that this was a terrible idea. She argued that I needed to have faith in her. I responded that I’d heard that same exact sentence and had this same exact conversation many, many times in the past (with another girl) and that I knew perfectly well how this was gonna end. I told her that if she wasn’t willing to forego the reunion (and the inevitable relapse that’d come with it) that I couldn’t be her boyfriend anymore. One Spark was going to be an incredibly important week for me financially and I didn’t wanna fuck it up by spending the whole time worried about whether Wallis was safe. She said okay (as in okay, then you don’t need to be my boyfriend anymore). There was no hostility or drama beyond that but when we got to Jacksonville, we went our separate ways. Wallis relapsed that very first night (thought she wouldn’t tell me until later), but called me the next morning and spent the rest of the week by my side like a lost puppy. On the night before I was to return to Minneapolis, she broke down crying, told me she had fucked up, and that she still wanted to be with me.
I first had the thought years and years ago, upon hearing Rivethead’s “In My Heart a Warehouse Burns For You.” The last lyric in the song is “I love you just as much as I hate the man.” I’m not exactly the biggest fan of cops or authority figures of any kind but when I’m really fired up and full of hate, there’s only one target it’s ever directed at: me. I still listen to that record (The Cheap Wine of Youth) all the time so the idea of captioning a painting with “I love you just as much as I hate myself” had occurred to me on a couple occasions but I didn’t wanna be derivative. Then, when I bought Pretty Boy Thorson’s An Uneasy Peace (the final song of which is called “I Love You Even More Than I Hate Myself”) I had a bit of a god dammit moment. That should’ve been mine! The song’s awesome and it doesn’t matter that the lyric is similar to another. I started thinking about it though – that line – and whether or not it was actually true (for me). I was dating Wallis and I absolutely loved her but did I love her more than I hated myself? I wasn’t really sure. I decided that sometimes I’m afraid that I could never love anyone more than I hate myself. After all, we had weathered the storm of her relapse but I was sabotaging our relationship bit by bit with my low self-esteem. I wrote about some of that anxiety in the bottom-right corner of the painting:
It’s so much harder to travel with a second person. Staying with friends feels like a much bigger imposition and I can’t stay with girls I meet. That’s probably the hardest part. But I love Wallis. (And I really like fucking her). And I think she needs me. I tried to leave her in Jacksonville but it didn’t work out. I hope she’s with me because she really loves me and not just ‘cause she’s scared to go back to “real life.” It if doesn’t work out, it’s probably gonna be because I can’t stop thinking about fucking other girls, which I know hurts her (and is really so selfish and dumb - and even mean - on my part) but really has nothing to do with her. (She’s so fucking hot and sexy and cute and beautiful). It’s just my insecurity and my compulsion to fuck every pretty girl, to prove to the world (and myself) just how fucking wonderful and desirable I am. It’s not helping that girls are throwing themselves at me these days. But I know (or think) that shit won’t make me happy. And in the end, I’m just gonna want someone to love me and I love Wallis.
There’s another, shorter string of text higher up in the painting, similarly inspired by punk rock: “I was listening to that Gateway District song where they sing, ‘I’m always falling way behind and you go on and on and on.’ If only I knew someone like that. Maybe I’d have someone to look to. Everybody I know is struggling. Everyone I know is as hopeless as I am. (Or worse).”
There’s a brighter, happier pair of sentences in the top-left corner – the product of a moment when everything was right in the world. Amazing sex with Wallis and I’m driving to the gallery showcasing my art while listening to “Another Way Out of Here” by The Murderburgers. The thought occurred to me that “nothing in this world makes me happier than an energetic, upbeat song about suicide.” I gave it a second thought. Is that true?I concluded, “Except (maybe) hitting girls in the face during sex.” I smiled. That’s pretty funny. I’m pretty fucked up. The things that I enjoy are – well – a little odd. This was all well and good at the time. I posted a close-up of that part of the painting online and it was met with positive feedback and just a little bit of “Oh, Sam…” But before I even got the chance to write the statement for this painting (as I am now), that photograph – that caption – would make the rounds on the internet elsewhere and garner a very different kind of response. You see, when I wrote that, it was about sex with Wallis. Sex which includes light consensual fake-violence (or whatever the fuck you wanna call it). Wallis likes getting slapped in the face during sex. And I like doing it. Win-win, right? Well, yeah – until you get accused of a violent rape and the media picks up on the story and uses your art to support the idea that you’re the kind of person capable of violently raping a nineteen year-old girl you just met. Sitting in jail, I wondered how I was going to break the news to my friends and fans that I had been accused of this horrible fucking crime. I bailed out, Chris Spillane picked me up, and after ten minutes of discussion he tells me, “There’s one more thing we’ve gotta talk about, Sam. The publicity on this story is not good right now.” Publicity? This story? “What the fuck are you talking about?” I googled my name and discovered that I didn’t need to worry about breaking this news to anyone. Some reporter knew or figured out who I was, wrote an article about me complete with images of my art (like the “hitting girls in the face” one) and everyone else picked it up and ran with it. Suddenly, strangers on the internet were talking about how I was the kind of person who PUNCHES girls in the face. I was a scumbag and I was definitely guilty. What the fuck? I’ve never punched a girl in the face! I slap! Playfully! And only with girls that WANT me to! But none of that mattered. What mattered was that it was incredibly easy to paint me as some kind of violent sexual deviant who had finally gone off the rails and just started violently raping people. Freedom of expression has its fucking consequences apparently. The charges against me have since been dismissed by a judge who (after hearing all of the prosecution’s evidence and the girl’s testimony) ruled that there was no probable cause to believe that any crime had been committed but the evidence in the case isn’t all public yet and I’m still having to deal with (well-meaning) assholes who think I deserve to be castrated for something I never did. At the time of this writing, this is all still incredibly recent so I’m still working out exactly how a person does deal with something like that. (I’ll let you know when I figure it out).
Flashback to five months before that nightmare though – back to when I was still working on this painting (that’d later incriminate me in the court of public opinion). I wrote that I was feeling “stuck in a rut. This spot [on the street] isn’t super profitable [for selling prints]. I don’t even wanna write about what else is going on. I don’t want to muddle up this painting that I’m not even happy with. My little sister is killing herself and today I blocked her phone number because I’m tired of her asking for help, not taking my advice, and then texting me updates on her self-destruction that she knows will just upset me. I really need the validation of some sales to cheer me up today. If I make less than $100 today, I’m gonna feel super depressed.” And then – to remind myself what a dipshit I am for worrying about how much I make in one particular day, I added: “I’ve made $7,000 this month.” True as it was, it didn’t really help me feel any better in that moment. I continued writing – about an interaction I had with a guy who stopped to watch me paint: “Someone asked me yesterday if I really hate myself and why. I had a hard time articulating it [the way that I feel sometimes]. He said he thinks I’m not as unhappy as I let on. I’d do a much better job explaining it to him today: I’M UGLY, PALE, OUTTA SHAPE, MEAN, SHITTY, POOR, FEARFUL, AND IN A CONSTANT STATE OF STARVATION FOR VALIDATION.”
Reading that now, remembering that day – it’s kinda scary. Everything in my life was going so well and I still had this monster inside me, gnawing at my insides, telling me that everything was awful. That I was awful. I’m really grateful that I don’t feel that way about myself all the time. Arguably, my life is way more fucked up now (on account of the VIOLENT RAPE ACCUSATION) but – I don’t know – I feel better today. Maybe it’s because I’ve had to fight this awful thing. Maybe it’s because I’ve had to become stronger. Maybe it’s because enough other people hate me now that I can take a break on the self-loathing. I don’t know. I’m not sure. But after separating in late-June and spending two months mostly apart, Wallis and I are back together full-time. We’re living together in an apartment in Chicago and it’s been really great. And you know what? I love her WAY more than I hate myself. Not just ‘cause I’m not hating myself so much right now but… This girl… After all we’ve been through. After all I’ve done for her and all she’s done for me… Words are insufficient to express my gratitude, affection, and love for her. I’m probably gonna marry her.
And you know what? When it comes to “falling way behind” versus “going on and on and on,” maybe I do a little more of the latter than I allow myself to recognize sometimes. Maybe I do a lot more of it.
“I Love You Even More” by Pretty Boy Thorson & The Falling Angels
“Another Way Out of Here” by The Murderburgers
“Waves and Cars” by The Gateway District
“In My Heart a Warehouse Burns For You” by Rivethead
Okay, here’s the difference between now and the other two times I’ve used since getting clean: this didn’t happen in the course of some short out-of-town project. Those times, I finished what i was doing and then had to leave town to get back to my regular life. This time, it happened in the course of my regular life. I don’t have anywhere to run to, I still have things to do here in NY, there’s nothing pulling me “back” to anywhere else. The fact that it’s really easy to cop dope here doesn’t help. I thought I’d be able to bounce out of the hospital with a smile on my face and a “well that’s over – what’s next?!” attitude. And I did feel that way for a minute. But the residue of this shit is sticking with me and won’t leave me alone. And I feel alone. And I wanna use. I kinda really wanna use. And I can’t even remember the last time I felt that way.
And it’s not like I think it’s gonna be fun or that it’ll even be okay. I know it’s all bad, I know it’s all downhill but I still can’t shake the feeling. I’ve already had the thought of “well, if I’m gonna use, I might as well OD intentionally this time (and without anybody else around to call 911). ‘Cause I don’t like feeling like I wanna use. And even though I know this shit’s temporary – that I’ve lived without this feeling for the better part of three years now – the present bias is strong in me. And for all the positivity and optimism that comes with my current brand of nihilism, my personal philosophy doesn’t include any great reasons to continue living unless I’m enjoying it. And I am (I guess) – for the most part – up until moments like this.
I don’t fucking know. I’m not saying I wanna kill myself. I’m definitely not saying I need to go back into treatment. I’m sure this shit will pass in another day or two. I just… my head’s just all fucked up right now and I’m not enjoying it. I’m probably making it out to sound worse than it is.
In September 2014, I was arrested for being in possession of 40mg of Adderall. Adderall is one of three prescription medications that I take daily. It was first prescribed to me in January of 2005 and I have been on it consistently ever since. My prescribed dosage has ranged from 20 to 40 mg/day.
The Adderall for which I was arrested was in a bottle with my friends’ name on it. She gave it to me when I babysat her for two days, leading up to her entrance into a detox facility (for which I made the arrangements) on account of her problems with crack and heroin. I was happy she offered it to me because – as I travel for my career – it’s not always easy to get my prescriptions renewed on time each month. Finding a new psychiatrist in each new city that I visit can be incredibly difficult. Waiting lists for new patients to get a first visit are regularly as long as two to five months. I’m rarely ever in the same city (or state) for that length of time.
After my arrest, I brought in my pharmacy records, doctors’ notes, as well as newspaper articles and letters from friends and fans, testifying that – not only am I not a drug addict but that my life is built around that very fact and that I regularly help those still struggling with drugs to overcome their addictions.
The prosecuting attorney was not interested in any of these facts. At the time of my arrest, my own Adderall prescription was not current and it didn’t matter how long I had been on the drug or that I wasn’t abusing it in anyway, or that my life, career, and essence are diametrically opposed to drug abuse. I was offered a deal: “complete two years of probation and keep a clean (felony-free) record.”
My lawyer advised that we file a motion to suppress the evidence in the state’s case against me, as I hadn’t consented to the search which yielded the Adderall of which I was “illegally” in possession. If it didn’t work, I could take the deal. The motion failed, as the judge ruled that my friend’s consent (obtained outside of my earshot) was valid for the entirety of the vehicle in which we were traveling.
After that hearing, the prosecution withdrew it’s earlier offer and replaced it with “take the felony conviction on your record and either (1) complete two years probation or (2) serve one month in jail.” I requested a continuance to give the matter more thought. I sent in more records, proving that I had managed to keep my prescription current in the (now) nine months since my arrest; I had more letters mailed in – this time from family and people with whom I’ve dealt in my art career. I hoped this would sway the prosecution to reconsider. They did not.
On Wednesday, I went back to court resigned to accept the jail sentence (as probation would prove too great a hindrance to my career and the travel which it necessitates. Moments before I stepped into the courtroom, I allowed someone’s advice to sway me into choosing probation. I figured that I could serve it in Florida (which is still my permanent legal residence) and I had a few personal reasons to return there that I let myself believe outweighed the importance of career and travel.
It was so ordered. I left the courtroom and went to the probation office to sign up. It was there that I was told that my “residency status” in Florida was insufficient to warrant a transfer of my probation. In fact, I had no residency status sufficient to warrant a transfer anywhere outside of McLean County, Illinois (where my arrest took place). I would have to serve my two years of probation in the middle of Illinois where, needless to say, I would be unable to maintain a career as an artist. (There is no art scene there; there is no market for my artwork there).
I went to speak with my lawyer. “They can’t transfer my probation to Florida,” I told him, “I’ll need to take the jail sentence instead.” “Okay,” he said, “We’ll file a motion to vacate.” “Am I free to leave the county and the state in the meantime?” I asked. He nodded. “Should I go back to the probation office and tell them?” I asked. He nodded.
I went back to the office, told the woman at the front desk, and drove to Iowa City to visit my friends. And then I got a call from the probation office. “Until a judge approves that motion, we’re still legally required to complete your intake for probation,” I was told. “If you don’t come back and complete your intake by Tuesday, you’ll be in violation of your probation and a warrant will be issued for your arrest.”
I called my lawyer but only got his receptionist. He’s yet to get back to me.
I have an outstanding opportunity waiting for me in New York City right now. It’s one of the most important cities for the arts in the world and one that I’ve had on my list since day one. I need to go to New York and capitalize on the opportunity before it’s too late (which would be approximately two months from now). But – at this moment – not only am I unable to pack up and head to New York, it seems that – by Tuesday – I may be trapped back in McLean County for who knows how long.
In spite of this, I remain optimistic but my optimism doesn’t snuff out my anxiety, which is sometimes pretty overwhelming. This level of anxiety is not good for me. The last few days, I’ve caught myself entertaining stupid, self-destructive thoughts.
I won’t give in to them though. I’m going to be okay.
Hopefully, I’ll have a better idea of what’s happening by tomorrow or Tuesday. Wish me luck. (And/or buy some art).
Here’s a picture from the 4th of July party/punk show at the Cedar Falls Skate Park yesterday. I’m the one in the middle, clearly having the most fun, without a care in the world. (I’m actually less of a bummer right now than this picture indicates; I just wasn’t 100% comfortable posing for a photo with a bunch of other shirtless dudes, even if they are friends). I’m awkward. I was never in a frat. Whatever, dude.
You could call this piece the second in a series of three, detailing my second “romantic entanglement” in Chicago last year. The caption/title of the piece is (obviously) an acknowledgment of the way I’ve commercialized my “disease.” The text scattered throughout this piece is a pretty good document of that disease. It was all written as the piece was created (between August 15th and September 26th, 2014) and is as follows:
AAAANNNNNDDD – emotional attachment severed in 5… 4… 3… 2… gone. And I don’t give a fuck about anyone. Good thing I told Spillane earlier how much this girl likes me – and how (obviously) that means I need to be cutting it off soon. By nonchalantly bailing on our (admittedly) tentative (but – as of an hour ago – confirmed) plans for tonight, she’s given me all the cause I need. Except I know she’s gonna materialize by my side tomorrow when I’m downtown working on this piece and selling prints. So we’ll see how the fuck THAT pans out. Or – fuck it – maybe she won’t and maybe we won’t. Did I mention that I don’t give a fuck? ‘Cause I really wanna stress that point. Does it sound like I’m trying really hard to prove it. If not to you, then to me? Whatever. (Forever). If I were feeling mean (and I am), I’d say: “That ‘love letter’ I wrote you is nothing but another product for my inventory. You’re just a couple pages in a chapter in my story. A subplot, a side story, a tangent.” ON/OFF. ON/OFF. I still keep my feelings wired to a light switch. And I don’t care anymore.
Oh – wait – new day. Don’t care about any of that nonsense yesterday. Switch back on! I’m “in love” again!
Ink requires so much more precision than paint. I’m having a hard time finishing this drawing without my Adderall, which the police took, as evidence, the other night. A little over a year ago, I got out of Tranquil Shores and turned myself in for an outstanding warrant. As I sat in jail, I remember thinking, “This is the last time I’ll ever have to do this.” And now I’m facing charges again. FELONY charges. Felony DRUG charges. For my fucking Adderall. I need to get my shit together for my case. Letters from doctors, counselors, Tranquil Shores – to prove that I’m not some kid abusing this stuff – I just happened to let my prescription lapse (irresponsibly, I know). But that’s hard to do [manage my prescriptions in new cities] without my Adderall. Everything is. Everything is more difficult. And I’m overwhelmed. I can do it. Call a lawyer, call the doctors, get my suit shipped up here from Florida. It doesn’t sound like much but the anxiety of it all has me almost to panic mode. I want to shut down, block it all out, and just leave the state [of Illinois]. If this had happened in Kansas or Oklahoma, I’d just never go back. But it was on this side of the Illinois line. I hate it. This court doesn’t care about me. The judge, the prosecutors, the system. None of them care. I hate it so much. It’s cold and mean and awful and it makes me wanna give up. Two Saturdays ago, I got invited to two parties. I invited Nicole to go with me to both. I went to pick her up, anxiety set in, I told her to forget it, and I went out to my car to… I wasn’t sure. She sent a text: “Are you okay? What are you doing?” I was online, researching dope spots in Chicago so I could go cop. I told her ‘cause she’s twenty, might not understand how serious that is, might be naive enough and like me enough to just want to do it with me. But she knew better. She stopped me. Saved me from myself. Not that I didn’t put up a fight. She cried. I felt terrible. It was a mess. But she stuck it out. She really cares. That’s scary. We’re still seeing each other. That’s scary. I’m [this] close to referring to her as my girlfriend. If I were a better person, I’d probably break it off with her and stop getting involved with girls. IT ALWAYS ENDS THE SAME. Or maybe I should quit playing fortune teller, just live life, and let what happens happen.
OUT OF ADDERALL PROBLEMS: Meanwhile, I won’t shower or even get dressed until I have clean socks to put on. But I won’t have that until I go to the laundromat and I can’t go to the laundromat unless I get dressed and I can’t do that until I have clean socks to put on.
We’ve been seeing each other for six weeks. Became “boyfriend/girlfriend-official” last week. I haven’t put it on Facebook because I guess I just figure it won’t last. We got into an argument this morning. I started repeating “idon’tcareidon’tcareidon’tcare,” she goes “and you don’t care about me so FUCK OFF,” and then she hung up. (I think – I did anyway). I think that’s it. I think we’re done now. I talked to my south Florida girl last night. It was great except she sounded high but assured me she wasn’t. She invited me to come stay with her when I go back down there. If she’s clean, that’d be great! She called again this morning, moments after hanging up with my girlfriend. It turns out she is getting high and everything’s a mess. I’m stuck in Illinois on bail. Mike and I butt heads. I don’t feel secure here. I’m always walking on eggshells. My relationship with Nicole is dicey if not over. I’m ready to get the fuck out and go somewhere new. Sometimes I feel like I’m floating – for what? Is it about art? A career? Or do I do it all for girls, sex, love? Is it for myself – ego, fulfillment, ACTUALIZATION? What am I looking for? What am I after? UGH – WHO THE FUCK CARES??? Oh – WAIT – SHE JUST TEXTED ME. We’re still cool. (Or cool again). Game on. I feel better, I guess.
Don’t let the fact that I usually sleep indoors fool you. I might be charming but no place feels safe. This is what it means to be really homeless. I’m reinventing homelessness. And I do technically live in a minivan. If you did, your art would have unintentional creases and pressure spots too.
Depression, isolation, giving up… I started this piece over a month ago. My life was different then. It’s gotten worse. My faith’s been shaken. I’m so sad. It’s cold outside. I don’t wanna kill myself…
I’ve been involved with a lot of girls and it’s a personal point of pride that I’m on good terms with almost all of them. The girl I dated the longest [six years] remains one of my very best friends. I even remain friendly with most of my “one night stands.” There are two exceptions. There’s Heather, who I unintentionally put through emotional hell and who I’m on okay terms with but who (justifiably) has some hard feelings. And then there’s Nicole – a girl I dated last year. Our relationship was fucked up to such an extent that I don’t want to be friends with her. It’s true that I sometimes behaved in ways I’m not proud of but this girl was manipulative in ways I’ve never otherwise experienced. And I’m ashamed to admit that I fell for it – I allowed myself to ignore the obvious signs and I allowed myself to be manipulated. I’m not happy about that and I harbor some resentment that this person used and abused me as she did (even if it wasn’t as intentional or malicious as it now seems). It’s my fault to the degree that I let it happen but that doesn’t make it okay. I’m not mad about it anymore but I don’t have any interest in a friendship with the girl.
There are two big pieces of art that I made about our relationship. The first has yet to be posted online. This is the second.
What follows are the compiled journals written in the course of creating this painting. They don’t tell the full story of our relationship but – even still – they make for the longest fucking addendum I’ve ever attached to any of my paintings. It’s a lot to absorb. More than I want to. Some of them are written on the canvas. Some are blog entries. Some are blog entries that I didn’t have the guts to put online. Some are Facebook posts. And a lot of them are private journals that I never had any intention of sharing in any form. A lot of them are pretty embarrassing. I’ve done my best to arrange them chronologically even though I’m not 100% certain of the exact dates some were written.
I saw a new psychiatrist last month so I could get my Adderall refilled here in Chicago. She wanted to put me on Wellbutrin too. “No,” I told her. “They tapered me off all that stuff before I got out of Tranquil Shores. Antidepressants, anxiolytics, antipsychotics – they thought maybe I didn’t need them after all, having addressed my root issues with other types of therapy.” But I’m going to call tomorrow to make an appointment. I’m ANGRY ALL THE TIME and it’s making me miserable.
That feels like giving up. Like a “chemical solution.” But I don’t care right now. I had told her, “Yeah, I get depressed a lot but I’ve got reasons to be depressed. Isn’t medication for people who are unreasonably depressed?”
All of this talk about psychiatric drugs is gonna make this painting perfect for the group exhibition, “The Meds I’m On,” that I’m showing at in the Spring. Or it would have if I hadn’t just explicitly acknowledged it anyway.
We got into a fight and she pulled out a secret stash of oxycodone. I don’t know if she’s been using drugs the whole time and hiding it or if this is unusual for her. I panicked. I wanted to use. I wanted to not feel the way I was feeling. She wouldn’t share. That’s probably for the best. I gave up on the idea but wanted to be with her all the same. I said, “I need you.” She said, “I need you to leave.” We’re broken up now and I’m spending the night in the van and losing my mind. I can’t describe the panic I feel – over her, over drugs, over everything. It’s really cold.
We’ve reached this really cool understanding that everything wrong in our relationship is my fault so now we’re in a great place emotionally where – one minute – she wants to make out with me and – the next – she’s “not comfortable” with me in her bed so I need to go sleep on the floor in the living room.
It’s been a week [since I decided to get back on antidepressants and antipsychotics]. I still haven’t called [my psychiatrist to actually get those drugs prescribed to me]. Things got better and then… much worse. I am living in a state of perpetual anxiety. I need counseling. I want to make this girl love me but – what I really need is another girl. I mean, ultimately, I know that that’s not the answer. But I need to get out of here and I know from experience that the best way to get over heartbreak or rejection is to find warmth and acceptance from someone new. In any case, I can’t keep staying here – not so long as this remains the state of our relationship. I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack. I’m all nerves. Nicole is unstable and unpredictable. She told me last night that she didn’t want me in her bed but then woke me up in the living room at 3am to invite me back to bed. Still, she was cuddly but didn’t kiss me and I need at least that much affection. I’m praying (literally) that she’ll be in a good mood when I pick her up from work in an hour. – and that she’ll stay that way for the duration of the night. I want her to want me in her bed tonight. And to want me physically as well.
She has the next three days off and has talked about going out of town. If she does, I’ll have three days to breathe and (hopefully) find somewhere new to live. If she stays, it could be the best thing or the worst but probably both. Her moods flip in an instant, seemingly without cause of any kind. I can already anticipate it: she’ll alternately want space and want me out of the apartment and then she’ll want me right there, holding her. My own emotional condition is too fragile to be with someone so similarly disturbed. The only way I can see this panning out is if she has a total change of heart and decides that I’ve been sufficiently punished (or proven my dedication and resolve to be a better partner) and that she wants me back in a more absolute (less trial-oriented) sense. I want that so badly. More than anything. I want to be happy. I want us both to be happy.
I’m at Dr. Ableheary’s, about to go in. Since the fight that actually culminated in a break-up on Saturday night, I’ve been relegated to sleeping in the living room. That first night, she pulled me back into bed at 3am so I thought it’d happen again but it didn’t. I woke up yesterday morning. It was 9am and her bedroom door was shut. I did a few things around the apartment, she didn’t wake up (or come out of the room anyway) so I left, off to run errands and be productive. I brewed some coffee and left her a note (“call me if you need anything,” etc). She never called. I came back at 2 or 3pm. Packed up some art that had sold and needed to be shipped. She still didn’t come out. I wasn’t anxious all day like I had been on Monday. But I was overwhelmed by a crushing, permeating depression. My thoughts turned to suicide very early in the morning – before I was even out the door. They didn’t leave me even as I went through my day. The only relief came when I was on my way back to the apartment, when I realized that I had everything I needed if I really wanted to die. I didn’t commit to it but I started going about my day in preparation, as if it were a sure thing. Really, I was just hoping I’d see her when I walked in and everything would be better. That hour that I spent packing art, knowing she was in the bedroom, could hear me, and wasn’t coming out, was excruciating. I packed as much as I could stand before I decided that I should just go ship my packages and maybe find a good spot to die. I turned to my canvas, propped against the living room wall, and in crude black lettering, scrawled the words, “THE LAST UNFINISHED WORK.” That was my suicide note. I wanted cigarettes, which were locked in the bedroom – and I wanted to see her. I knocked on the door, she let me in without saying anything. I grabbed the cigarettes and stalled in the doorway. “If I had a problem, would you want me to talk to you about it?” She said I could. I told her what was going on, she asked for my keys, made me call Dr. Ableheary, invited me to lie down next to her. But she didn’t make eye contact and wasn’t very comforting. She started to warm up a little. Eventually, I asked if I could kiss her. She kissed me. We started really kissing (the first time since the morning after we broke up). And then we had sex and I was okay again.
She finally sat up in bed and became communicative. The rest of the night was pleasant. We didn’t really do anything but if I walked out of the room for even a second, she wanted me back, wanted my attention. Which was nice – just to be wanted. Still, when we were getting ready for bed, she indicated that I should still sleep in the living room but that she might come and get me. She did eventually. Thankfully, I was still sleeping when it happened or else I might have woken alone, in a deep depression again. I fell asleep in her bed. When I woke up, she was less playful. She had (basically) wanted me to entertain her but I had fallen asleep instead. She was pretty unresponsive and then – after about an hour in the bathroom – totally unresponsive. It was only after I stopped paying her any attention that she wanted it again. Today and yesterday afternoon, she was complaining about how “sick” she felt. She only perked up just as I was leaving for the appointment because she got an email about a job interview tomorrow. She said she wanted me to take her shopping when I get back tonight. Prior to that, I couldn’t get her excited about doing anything or even relinquishing her clutch on the blankets. Her mood swings are dramatic, instantaneous, and powerful. Which isn’t necessarily anything new but the way in which I’m able to address them has changed now that the status and dynamics of our relationship have. I used to have the power; she has it now. It’s uncomfortable. I’m working to make myself an indispensible support so that I can turn that back around. The important thing is that she’s receptive to affection again. I can kiss her, she’ll kiss me back. I need that. I told her I loved her – as a human being, independent of any romantic relationship we might have. But I want her back as my girlfriend. Why? It’s hard to say. She’s not my best possible mate. We’re both damaged. But a well-adjusted girl isn’t going to want to have anything to do with me. Maybe she is my ideal partner. Maybe we can help each other and grow together. I’m embarrassed that I’m apparently on the same level as a hardly-treated bipolar twenty year old. I want her so badly to be well, to be happy, and to be with me. I want her pills to work. She’s on all these new meds right now and on her period and she keeps saying she wants Xanax. She can’t be trusted with drugs like that but if I had one to give her, I would. I just want her to feel okay.
On our way to her interview at The Fortress [the BDSM dungeon she wants to work at], she said something about her penchant or proclivity for dominance. “You’re lucky I submit to you,” she added. I reached out and touched the side of her head. “You’re messing up my hair,” she fussed. “That doesn’t sound much like submission,” I said.
The power dynamic of our relationship has shifted. I think I’m succeeding in bringing it back around. We fucked on Tuesday. I need to fuck again today. I need for her to submit to me. I’ve been very attentive to every one of her needs these last few days. I’ve run errands for her, driven her everywhere she’s wanted or needed to go. I’ve cleaned up after her, done her dishes, fetched her whatever she’s wanted to eat or drink. I slept in the bed last night. I’m not prepared to move back to the couch cushions and the living room. I need to keep up my forward momentum. We’re kissing again now but – sometimes – I still sense her hesitancy to really kiss me back. I want to make her mine again. It’s a careful balancing act. I have to make all the right moves, balance my moods and feelings with hers. It’s a carefully paced, calculating kind of game. Sex makes it easier. Sex gives me power and confidence.
I’m waiting outside The Fortress for her right now. When she gets out, I want to take her home, throw her on the bed, and fuck her hard. I want to choke her and slap her and force my dick down her fucking throat. And then I want to clean her up and drink huckleberry sodas together and be warm and love her until we fall asleep.
October 17th (12:33 am):
As fucked up as everything got at times, I feel really good right now for these reasons: (1) I fucking love this girl and I’m never happier than when I’m just hanging out with her, joking around; (2) it bums me out so hard that she doesn’t want to sleep next to me (regardless of the reason) but her recognition of my feelings (in allowing me to sleep beside her) makes me feel like my feelings matter too (and seein’ as my feelings have been ALL OVER THE PLACE this week), it means an extra special lot to me; (3) her statement that her next relationship will “probably” be with me. My insecurity tells me, “she doesn’t mean that; she just wants to keep you on the hook,” but I’m electing to trust her – I’m putting my faith in her, I’m believing that her words are sincere, and I’m telling my insecurity to go fuck itself.
I love this girl. That’s paramount. And it feels less and less like “a choice” all the time. I don’t understand love; I’ve always seen it as something I can flick on and off like a light switch. And maybe that’s still the case, maybe I’m just really invested in the way I feel in the moment. But this girl really is unlike any other person I’ve ever met and – while all of this hurt and pain this week is INCREDIBLY hard to deal with – I don’t think I would be in love with her without it. Maybe this is the kind of shit that actually makes relationships for real. Maybe you can’t really love someone without all this shit. Anyone can be cute or charming or fun to have sex with but that’s not a real basis for any kind of meaningful partnership or even friendship. There’s gotta be something deeper. Maybe all the trauma can be described as “growing pains.” I mean, if I’m being totally honest and I ask myself, “What was the basis of our relationship before this?” – it’s… Well, I don’t know… I want to say it wasn’t anything super meaningful but I’m not sure if that’s even true. That day I ran off to get high and she sat in my van… that feels like something real and significant. That was borne of conflict too… I think that’s the stuff that’s got real meaning. The all-happy-all-fun shit is nice but I want someone I can go to bat for (and that will go to bat for me). She’s proven that she’ll do that. [I didn’t get high that day].
She says she needs space; I can fucking relate. I need to do a lot of work on myself. I’m fortunate though in that my time spent working on myself results in paintings and journals, which are how I make a living. She has to go to a job to make hers, which leaves less time for reflection, meditation, etc.
On the one hand, I need my own place. The only good option I have though is down in Springfield [two hours from Chicago]. With my income drying out with the cold, I’m not sure I can risk renting a room here in Chicago. It’s gonna be cold as fuck this weekend but I’m gonna have to suck it up and hit the street tomorrow and Saturday, even if it means making close to nothing on account of the cold. I really wish it was still warm and I was making the kind of money I was back in the summer.
Part of me thinks that we need that space apart so she can heal but part of me thinks of Julia and her boyfriend and that conversation Nicole and I had: “Wait – they used to live together and it didn’t work out? So what the fuck are they working toward?” But that’s different… our shit fell apart for reasons that had very little to do with the fact that we were living together. It was about my attitude and my ideas regarding “conflict resolution” (i.e. run away (or at least threaten to) anytime we had a problem).
I’m afraid to lose her but maybe it’s one of those “if you love something, set it free” kinds of deals. If that’s the case, maybe I should go all the way to Springfield. Really get some time apart. Really give her space and room without any expectations of anything. If what we have is real then it should still hold up a month from now. And as much as I don’t wanna be away from her at all, maybe a little distance would be as good for me as it would be for her.
My darkest thoughts are the ones that tell me she’ll want me to stick around just to shuttle her around town. I know she could ride around with someone else and I know she likes me but maybe that’s the thing… she probably couldn’t get rides from someone that she’d also like as much as she likes me. Kind of like how I could live in another girl’s apartment but not a girl I like as much as I like her. As much as I love her, as much as I love being with her, and as much as I love being able to help her in every little way I can imagine, maybe we should remove all the practical/convenient aspects of our relationship and see how well it holds up. That seems so insanely trivial that it doesn’t even warrant testing but a little time apart might be helpful anyway so maybe I should just go to Springfield for just a week or so.
I really hate the idea of being away from her (and I hate the idea that she might be okay with being away from me) but if we’re just talking about a week, then that’s nothing we weren’t gonna have to face up to soon enough anyway.
It bums me out that she doesn’t care about my art. It’s like a window into my fucking soul and she seems sort of indifferent to it. If she really loved me, I feel like she’d be my biggest supporter. Maybe not though… it’s hard to say. Maybe I bleed that kind of sentiment and history every day and it’s not necessary to go to my artwork to find it. And some of the girls that do love my artwork are some of my best friends but they’re not in love with me so…
Maybe nothing matters and it’s all bullshit. Or maybe not.
It’s fucking bizarre the way she’s able to identify my own shitty inclinations and behaviors better than I am. I’ve never been with anyone else that could do that. Or maybe I just wasn’t receptive to hearing about it in the past. Heather definitely couldn’t do it in any case. I can remember that far back. She’d just stare at me silently. Not that I blame her. I’m not easy to date and not easy to talk to (when there’s criticism involved).
1:26 am: I was wrong. Knowing she didn’t want me in bed with her… it was awful. I told myself I’d stay just since I had already come in but… I didn’t even make it ten minutes before it was more than I could stand. I’m sleeping on the couch cushions tonight.
I’ll stay in Chicago through the weekend, sleep elsewhere tomorrow and Saturday, and then make my way to Springfield on Sunday.
Sleeping on the couch cushions makes me suicidally depressed. Turns out it’s nowhere near as bad as trying to sleep next to someone that doesn’t want you in their bed.
I don’t even know if I can make it through the weekend in this city. All my good feelings from an hour ago are gone. Everything hurts.
I wish I were dead.
If she doesn’t want me now, why would she want me tomorrow?
I deserve to be loved. I deserve to be wanted. I made a mistake. I’ve apologized. I’ve demonstrated real remorse and resolve through my actions these last five days. There’s nothing left to change except her feelings, which I can’t control. When she’s ready she can let me know. I am special. I’m not to be taken for granted. I deserve to be earned too. Love me or leave me. I can fall in love again. I want you but I don’t need you. I don’t need anyone. I’m Sam North.
Wow. I thought I was going to come home and crawl into bed with Nicole. Instead, I show up and Rick is here and they’re sitting side by side on the couch and she’s not totally dressed. I like Rick but she was fucking him right before me so… what the fuck is that?
We have “things to talk about” tonight, she said. Shit to work out. If she wanted to hang out with some other guy, why the fuck did she insist that I come back here tonight when I SAID I WAS GOING TO STAY THE NIGHT SOMEWHERE ELSE?
What the FUCK. I am fucking angry.
[The next day, we “officially” became a couple again].
October 21st: Nicole started at The Fortress, doing domination work. Her first day of training was today but she’s been trying to dominate me for about a week already and it’s gotten more extreme these last two days. She says she wants me to be her “sugar baby” and that I don’t need to worry about selling prints to make money, She doesn’t lick my asshole quite like she used to and I spent a lot more time licking hers. That’s fucking fine on its own but she’s ALSO going to be doing “submission work” at The Fortress, which strikes me as being far more sexual in nature. If she wants to submit to someone, she should fucking submit to me. It’s not about the money; she’d make more than enough by just doing domination work. Which means it’s about pleasure and – part of being in a relationship (which we are again, officially, now) means that – you’re supposed to do that kind of shit with your partner.
I’m not about to become some little fucking house boy to her but if she wants to pay for everything: cool. Right? I can spend more time making and marketing art instead of setting up and breaking down on the street to sell prints everyday.
But the submission work bothers me. Should I just not care about it? It’s hard to care about her and not care that she’s getting off with someone else. Okay – when I put it that way – it seems really fucking obvious that it’s not alright.
I came to come scoop her up as soon as she called but I’ve been sitting outside The Fortress just waiting on her for twenty minutes now. Which I’m sure that she just fucking loves (keeping me waiting). She says she doesn’t suck my dick enthusiastically lately because I haven’t “earned” it. Last night, I gave her a backrub, filled her prescription, did her dishes; this morning, I helped her put in her extensions and drove her to work; then I cleaned up around the apartment and am now sitting outside, waiting for her. Yes – she pays the rent at the apartment but even that… we’re still in our first month and I bought $600 worth of furniture and appliances for the apartment already so… we’re pretty fucking square in the financial regard. Do I throw fits sometimes and get upset? Yeah but so does she.
I’m doing my best. I give her my best. She should do the same for me.
I want an anthem of empowerment. Something unequivocally positive. One that says, “It didn’t work out, it’s no one’s fault, and that’s okay. Here’s to the future and to happiness for both of us.” I’m still trying to make it work but I need to know that I’ll be okay even if it doesn’t. I need to find a way to frame the dissolve that won’t hurt. That I can live with. [I want art that I identify with that can comfort me].
[On October 25th, we broke up again. Pretty amicably initially but then it devolved into a fight. I packed up all of my stuff and just as I was about to leave, Nicole pulled me back into bed and we had sex. We decided that maybe we didn’t work as a couple but that we still liked each other a lot, we wanted to still live together, and that we definitely wanted to keep fucking each other. That lasted until the 29th, when we started fighting again].
Tonight is Halloween. I started this [painting] on the sixth. Everything in my life has changed and changed and changed and it’s all exactly the same. I just got a message from a girl in LA (that I don’t know). She said we’d be good for each other. I asked if she thinks I should come out there so we can BUILD A LIFE TOGETHER and she responded with total sincerity that I should. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t considering it. Then there’s the girl I have a crush on in Texas, who I think might also be crazy enough to have me come down there and just give it a shot, despite the fact that we barely know each other. And the girl in Florida who knows me well and still loves me and wants me back. Or the girl here, in Chicago, who says she wants me but sometimes asks me to sleep somewhere else. FUCK – when I put it that way – all other things aside, it’s obvious that this isn’t the one.
My life with Nicole is bullshit. She doesn’t respect me at all. She treats me terribly and spins it (anytime I say anything) to try to pin everything on me. I’ve become the best fucking boyfriend in the world, trying to be perfect for her, and it doesn’t make a bit of difference.
I’m leaving tomorrow. That’s all there is to it. I need to fucking leave. This is an awful trap. She doesn’t appreciate anything that I do for her. She’s the fucking worst. I don’t know if she does it knowingly or if she’s really this fucked up, stubborn, and blind but I can’t take it anymore.
I don’t know why I even give a shit. Fuck this fucking girl. She doesn’t deserve me. I’ve been better to her than anyone I’ve ever been with. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. FUCKING KILL ME. She’s turned me into this weak-willed little shit and I hate it.
Nicole is asleep in bed and I’ve still got ninety minutes to kill before I’m supposed to “break in” and “rape” her. And – of course – Chris Spillane is on the other side of town. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO ‘TIL 10:30??
Ugh. My life is so hard.
November 3rd (afternoon):
I keep all my things in my van now and have taken to wearing my house keys around my neck; they rattle and make a lot of noise. It’s a reminder to my “girlfriend” that I can remove this necklace and be gone in an instant.
November 3rd (late night, in Normal, IL (for my court appearance in the morning)): Last November, I wrote something along the lines of: “I wanna wake up alone on my birthday [Nov. 4] in a city where no one knows my name or wants anything from me.” I said I wanted to travel, live out of a backpack, have adventures. I said I liked “sex for the first time” and long distance friendships.
Mission accomplished, Sam.
It’s been a fucking year and tomorrow’s gonna be quite the fucking day.
Wish me luck. I’m 29.
[November 4th was my birthday, my court date, and the day that Nicole was supposed to meet with her psychiatrist and (afterward, she promised) finally decide whether she wanted to actually be in a relationship with me or just keep leading me on. When I got back to Chicago from Normal, she was in bed. “It’s time to go to your appointment,” I told her. She wouldn’t get up. Wouldn’t go. Even though her decision of whether or not to “date” me was supposed to be contingent on her conversation with her doctor. She was once again stalling. Trying to keep me hanging around without committing to me. “How am I supposed to interpret this?” I asked. She just laid in bed, with her eyes closed. FUCK. I don’t remember what happened from there but I do remember that my birthday present was supposed to be tying her up and peeing on her. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. Nothing did. I forget how the day ended but I remember thinking that it was the shittiest birthday of my entire life. The next day, I started to leave Chicago. I got an hour out of town before I remembered that I had forgotten something. I went back and Nicole convinced me to stay. The next couple days, she was alternately affectionate and cold. We fought a lot. I decided that I was leaving on the 7th (after my own psychiatric appointment) no matter what. I did. I went to St Louis].
I love the girl but after THAT NIGHT [October 11th] (when she got high and we broke up (the first time)) I became so desperate to win her back that I became this submissive little coward. I tried so hard that she started to take me for granted and lost respect for me. It made me resentful of her and of myself.
Here in St Louis, with a family that cares about me, I feel eight million times better. I have a bed to sleep in and don’t have to worry about whether I’ll be asked to go find a different one on any given night. I have a place to work on my art, without having to worry that any minute I’ll be told I need to go away for a few hours.
My legal situation is still pending and still stressful but the main source of my anxiety is now behind me. I don’t feel like I need to go to sleep just to escape my life and I don’t dread waking up tomorrow. I don’t feel like a tool and I don’t feel like I’m barely hanging by a thread.
Rational Anthem, The Murderburgers, and The Copyrights are playing here in STL tomorrow. What perfect fucking timing. On top of everything else, I’m gonna get to see a bunch of my friends and some of my favorite bands. I think like might be cool again. I feel grateful again.
In September, I started seeing a psychiatrist. In October, she put me back on antipsychotic and antidepressant medications (in addition to the Adderall that I’ve been on for ten years). The last time I was on antidepressants was as an inpatient at Tranquil Shores in February 2013. The last time I was on antipsychotics (I think) was as an inpatient at the Wellness Resource Center in February 2012 (though I almost went back on them in January 2013). I’ve also started meeting once weekly (via Skype) with Tracy, my counselor from Tranquil Shores.
Anxiety and depression destroyed my appetite this last month or so and I’m skinnier than I’ve been in at least twelve years. That’s good because I have body dysmorphic disorder and being this thin makes me feel good about myself. It’s bad ‘cause… I don’t know… ‘cause people say it’s bad…?
November 8th (late night):
I left yesterday. She called tonight. She wants me back.
I know I shouldn’t take her back but I wanna.
AGAIN & AGAIN & AGAIN.
We’ve been talking on the phone every night since I’ve been away. She says she really wants me back. She’s being really flirty and affectionate and tellin’ me about all the wonderfully fucked up sex stuff she wants to do with me. She’s really working to lure me back in. We’ll see.
I redid the crude black lettering that said “The Last Unfinished Work” in my usual large, white, block-lettering. Just below it, I wrote: “This painting almost got to be my suicide note. I changed my mind so now I’m finishing it. SORRY FOR THE CONFUSION.”
November 12th: I’m listening to “I Typed For Miles” by Jets to Brazil. Sometimes singing along isn’t enough. You gotta take a five second break from painting to run across the room and jump down hard or fall to the floor and roll back. I don’t even care about this song until the last lyric but I will sit through the five minutes it takes to build up to that OVER AND OVER again. I can listen to this song on repeat all god damn day [and I have been for more than a month now] and I will sing along to that last line like I am ready to break apart and cry forever.
“YOU KEEP FUCKING UP MY LIFE.”
I don’t know what’s up with our “relationship” but we’ve been talking about making pornography or doing live webcam sex stuff together.
I’m not well but I feel okay. Right now.
Is it possible that it’s mostly sex? Is it fear? What risks am I willing to take? What’s wrong? What’s healthy? I have no idea.
My Adderall dose isn’t high enough.
I love her but I’ve learned to trust my impulses and judgment – it’s how I survive – and she makes me doubt all that. I don’t know what’s what when I’m with her.
When I get back to Chicago, I don’t expect her to take me by the hand, lead me to the bathroom, look into my eyes, and say, “Pee on me,” BUT IT’D BE A SWEET GESTURE.
November 21st (back in Chicago): When you’ve gotta pee and the girl is tied up, blindfolded, and kneeling in front of you but you JUST CAN’T.
How embarrassing. Talk about #performanceanxiety, you guys.
[On November 24th, I went out to Yorkville with Nicole to spend the holiday with her family. While there, we started “dating” again].
I got on a plane yesterday to transport my little sister from a mental hospital in Boston to a treatment facility in (conveniently enough) Illinois. I’m on the return flight now. A couple days ago – in Yorkville, with Nicole – I got fed up with her shitty, cold attitude and told her I was leaving for good. She countered by saying she was finally willing to commit to me, that we were partners, and that I have a home with her. But she doesn’t want our Facebooks to say that we’re in a relationship. I don’t know how to interpret that any other way than that she doesn’t want people to know that she has a boyfriend because she doesn’t want to limit her options or opportunities in any way. So – basically – I’m assuming that she doesn’t have any plans to be faithful (and has maybe been sneaking around on me already). I’m not willing to be hurt like that so I’m gonna go sleep with another girl before I go back to the apartment tonight. I already slept with another girl last week but that was a few days before Nicole was willing to commit to me so – at that point – I wasn’t under any obligation to be committed or faithful to her.
In any case, I leave for Florida in the morning. I don’t have to be back in Illinois (for court) until January 26th (nearly two months from now). I told Nicole I’m only going to Florida for a couple weeks but I’m not sure that I’m going to come back until I have to so that would be the end of this short little “committed” phase of our relationship (for the third time).
I love her but I just don’t trust her and she’s not as loving or supportive of a partner as I need. When I used to ask her why she didn’t want “Facebook to know” we were dating, she wouldn’t reassure me in any way (that she loved me or wasn’t ashamed of me) – she’d just get mad at me.
I know the honorable thing to do would be just to break it off with her but I’m afraid of losing her even though I know it’d be the best thing for me.
As mean as she is to me sometimes, the way I’m behaving now – all this secrecy and sleeping around – makes me feel like kind of a shithead.
I brought her to Miami Beach [she begged me to], but I threw a fit and shipped her back to Chicago. She called last night. I said we should get married.
The way I feel when we hold each other and everything’s okay…
She’d look cute pregnant.
I need to stay the fuck out of Chicago.
All the girls in the world – all the sex – doesn’t change a thing. When I close my eyes, it’s Nicole that’s there. I love Nicole. [I’m writing this on the painting because (I think I feel it but, more importantly, because) when Nicole saw this painting she was upset that everything I had written on the canvas was negative. I felt like I should balance it out with something sweet].
I relapsed today [for the first time in seventeen months].
I’m still using. I haven’t bought any more drugs but I bought enough yesterday to last me through the weekend. I’m not going to get rid of the drugs as I’ve been advised. I’ll be all out within a day or so though. That’s when I’ll be done.
Okay, so I’M NOT SURE IF YOU GUYS HAVE PICKED UP ON THIS but I’m – you know – a little shaky lately. I’m not going to use again. That happened, that’s done. All that matters (about that) for now is that it’s not a concern. It’s not going to happen again. I’m good. BUT… everything else is a little up in the air.
A friend sort of accidentally pointed out to me last night, “You’re not following art anymore; you’re following girls.” And that’s totally true. I have this drive in me to find a satisfying, fulfilling relationship/partnership. That drive has become (at least temporarily) stronger than my drive to really effectively (/successfully) pursue my art career. I’m also not enchanted by the idea of constant travel anymore. What sounds way more appealing to me is finding a city that I can settle down in (at least for the winter) where I can make a daily income selling prints while I’m set up on the street. That seems like it’s Miami, where I can also walk in to galleries and pitch myself for exhibits. I could also do that first part in Jacksonville (though not as profitably probably) but there isn’t much in the way of an art scene that I could use to line up exhibits and sell my original paintings. But Jacksonville does have the added bonus of being a city where I have just a ton of support, from both friends and fans.
I’m gonna fuck up all kinds of personal shit by saying this next part but (I want to get back to using this blog as a real honest journal so…) fuck it – I’m just gonna put my cards on the table.
I still feel like I’m in love with Nicole and she wants me to come back to Chicago. We tried so many times to make it work and it just didn’t work. But I still have feelings for her and I would still give it another shot even though I know I can’t make any money in Chicago until it gets warm again and even though our relationship might end badly for the umpteenth time and I’ll be in this same position, only with less money and back in the Chicago cold.
On the other hand, there’s Heather, who I’ve consistently felt like someone that I could have a meaningful, functional relationship with. When I’m with Heather, I feel very much in love with her. The problem is that – when I’m by myself – I think about Nicole more.
Maybe that’s because I’m genuinely in love with Nicole or maybe it’s because Heather and I just haven’t been intimately close in seven months and I (consequently) feel somewhat detached from her.
Here’s where I’ve been fucking up. All week, I’ve been telling both of them that I want to come back to them. And that’s true. But obviously I can’t be with both of them. I was sort of planning on going back to Jacksonville, giving it a shot with Heather, and – if it worked out – somehow breaking the news to Nicole that I wasn’t coming back. Or – if it didn’t work out – stalling for time while I figured that out and then returning to Nicole.
All of that’s pretty shitty. Even though I have no ill intent, it feels like I’m kind of “playing” them both. Or at least not being totally honest, which I guess is bad enough on its own.
Heather, also, has someone else that she’s seeing (long distance) that she’s planning to visit next month. I’m not at all threatened or worried about that but maybe I should just let it run its course, go back to Chicago with Nicole, and then (if it doesn’t work out with her), come back to Florida after my next Illinois court date (Jan. 26th), and THEN give it a shot with Heather.
Or maybe I should just go down to Miami, alone, and do my own thing, pursuing art and not worrying at all about girls. But that’s not really possible. I’ll get caught up with some new girl or I’ll just be too preoccupied and depressed and – as soon as I have a sad day – I’ll run back to the arms of whichever girl will have me.
I could also sit tight, here in Bradenton, with my “fake family” (the Owens) and try to focus on my own shit, try to sort out my issues (with the help of my counselor) hunker down, make more art, write more journals, and just take it easy. My fear in that though is that I’ll just get caught up in laying around the house or hanging out with friends and not being productive really on any front.
Not to mention – without the validation that I get from art (sales) or girls (sex) I tend to slip into darkness.
I wish I knew what would make me happy.
I’m not happy with this but I’ll never be happy with anything.
The last unfinished work…
EPILOGUE (what’s happened since December 17th through the day of this writing, March 28th): A couple days before Christmas, I got back to Jacksonville. I started seeing Heather again. Soon after, I started seeing a lot of other girls. I got carried away. I was behaving like a sex addict; I was using girls like drugs. I remember feeling depressed one night in January because my date for the night had fallen through. I complained to my friend, Mike, about my hopelessly sad situation and the terrible rejection I was experiencing. He pointed out that I had already had sex with two girls earlier that same day. I thought about it and realized I had had sex with something like ten girls that week. That was too much but – admittedly – I was having a lot of fun (for the most part). I had realized that I didn’t need a girlfriend (or that I didn’t want one anyway).
I talked to Heather; told her I couldn’t be in a committed relationship but didn’t want to stop seeing her. She couldn’t handle that so we stopped seeing each other. She gave me back all the things I had made for her back when we were dating. A week later, she asked for them back and I didn’t think that was a good idea but I gave them to her. I put her through a lot and didn’t really think she needed reminders of me sitting around her apartment. I wanted to let her move on. I’m not proud of it but I wanted someone to love me and I pursued her for that love – and then when she started to give it to me, I changed my mind.
And then I continued to sleep around.
Until I met Wallis. We got wrapped up in each other really quickly. And it was easy. It wasn’t like it was with Heather (who’s feelings I was constantly hurting) or Nicole (with whom everything was a dramatic bipolar ordeal). I didn’t have to walk on eggshells with Wallis and I didn’t have to worry about her liking me one minute and wanting me to go away the next. It was nice. Nicole had been trying to entice me to come stay with her (when I went back to Illinois for court) with all kinds of promises about all the depraved sex we were gonna have. I sent her a text and let her know that I would not be visiting. And that was that.
As my relationship with Wallis has gone on, I’ve realized more and more just how fucked up my relationship with Nicole was. That’s not how people who love each other treat each other. We remained friendly for a couple weeks until she made a couple snotty remarks to me online. I don’t need this shit, I realized. I blocked her number and took her off my Facebook. I’ve always said that I don’t let people into my life who bring about more negativity than good. Nicole was not a good partner or a good friend. Not only am I over it, I’m fucking bored by it. That’s why it’s taken me this long to transcribe my journals and write this statement. I can’t wait to do the same for the one other piece I made about her so I can put this all 100% behind me. Finally writing this / getting it off my to-do list is such a relief and feels so good.
I hate being the kind of guy who has bad things to say about an ex but – like I said – I got nothing but praise for everyone else I’ve been involved with and am still friends with almost all of them. This one’s the exception. Sorry for the negativity – I’m almost done with this shitty little chapter.
Before we start, here’s a vocabulary lesson for normal people: Vivitrol is an injection you can get to block the euphoric effects of heroin for a month. Without the incentive of a high, there’s no reason to shoot up. So long as you get it every 30 days, you’ll stay clean. Dilaudid is a prescription opiate. Like Oxycodone, you shoot it up and it feels just like heroin.
A couple other points: I didn’t proofread this shit. I didn’t edit it, I didn’t “punch it up.” I just typed it. “Natalie” and “Joseph” are fake names because what-the-fuck-ever. People don’t always like it when they make it into my stories.
And with no further ado…
I didn’t wanna take Natalie to get her Vivitrol shot. It’d be an eight-hour roundtrip and if she couldn’t be trusted to go get it herself, then what’s the point anyway? What would I really be accomplishing, keeping a girl clean who didn’t wanna be clean? I felt like I owed it to her mom though and I like to help. Being useful to someone else makes me feel a little better about myself and I could use that lately.
I never got the chance. Natalie called me on Wednesday night. She couldn’t get the Vivitrol shot on Thursday as planned because (surprise!) she had been on drugs the whole time. You need a few days clean before you get the shot and she didn’t have ‘em. What she did have was a meeting with her probation officer in the morning. If she pissed dirty, she’d be going to jail. She wanted me to drive down to Boynton to help. “What can I even do for you at this point?” I asked. “I just need you,” she begged. I called her mom; she said she’d feel a lot better if I were down there. I agreed to go. My plan was to take her to the PO in the morning – to help her turn herself in. She wouldn’t do it alone but maybe I could be the support she needed to brave up and face the music. I didn’t tell Natalie that that was my plan; I just started driving and told her I was on the way.
I got to town shortly after midnight and Natalie was nowhere to be found and not answering her phone. I was really pissed off. What the fuck did I drive down here for? I pulled into a fast food parking lot, took a Seroquel, and went to sleep. Art, ambition, girls, relationships, love, sex, money, priorities, the ability to wake up in the morning and live a day worth living… Everything in my life is so screwed up lately. I’m sleeping alone in the parking lot of a Boynton Beach Checkers. Fuck my life.
I found out on the drive down that Natalie had, in fact, been staying at a halfway house but what she had left out is that it was one of those shithouse operations that lets you share a room with your junkie boyfriend/girlfriend. Drug-addled couples never get clean together. Never. She wouldn’t give me the address for the house because her boyfriend is the jealous type (Natalie’s “not allowed” to be my friend on Facebook, for example). She didn’t want any kind of confrontation should he be home when I came to pick her up. So she kept me on the hook. “I’m on my way,” “Where are you? I’ll meet you there,” “Just another thirty minutes” – this went on all day from 8AM ‘til 2PM when she finally showed up at my friend Joseph’s house, where I had been hanging out, waiting on her.
There was no way she was going to turn herself in, she said. She wanted to go to treatment. Joseph told her about the facility he works at. “They can handle your PO,” he told her. I didn’t really like that idea. Natalie’s been through treatment before. At least ten times. If she went in again, we’d just be dealing with this same shit down the line when she got released. Inpatient rehab cannot save Natalie. She needs real consequences. She still doesn’t want to get clean – not really.
But Joseph and Natalie got it all worked out. The counselors at his facility were handling her PO. She’d go in there for two months and the PO would come in with papers that’d terminate Natalie’s probation. For the ten millionth time, Natalie was gonna get off the hook, beat the charges, be free to fuck up her life. What the fuck was I gonna do? What the fuck could I do? Nothing except safely transport her to detox.
The detox Natalie wanted to go to wouldn’t take her until the next morning. Her facility found another place she could go but she didn’t wanna. She wanted to spend the day/night with me first. Fine. Fair enough. I like Natalie and I’ve done this before. It’s not generally advisable to try to babysit a junkie but – like Chris Spillane – I know Natalie well enough to know that I can hold on to her. Like Chris Spillane, I know she’s not gonna straight up bolt on me and I know she’s not gonna pull anything too crazy. She had already gotten high (hence her failure to meet up with me until fourteen hours after my arrival) so she wasn’t gonna get sick before I dropped her off at detox. We left her car in Joseph’s driveway and had a mostly pleasant day together.
We went back to Joseph’s house in the morning to get her car. We couldn’t go straight to detox because Natalie had a paycheck waiting for her at work that she needed to cash so she could get cigarettes and whatever else while she was in rehab for the next two months. It was 8AM but the check wouldn’t be ready for pick up until noon. And then she started in with the bullshit. She needed to go to a friend’s house to get stuff she had left behind, she needed to go to another house to shower and get dressed, she needed to do a lot of things and it was okay with her if I just let her drive to do these things on her own. Not fucking happening. I knew what was really going on – she wanted to go get high one last time. Was I afraid, like her mom was, that she might overdose? No. Was I afraid that she might get arrested? No – because that’d be the best thing that could happen to her, in my view. But I was fucking here and it was my job to hold on to her and make sure that she got to wherever the fuck it was that she was supposed to be going. I was emotionally fucking exhausted. “I’m not letting you go off on your own to run around town doing whatever the fuck it is you’re trying to do. Back me up on this, Joseph.” “Honestly,” he said, “She’s going into treatment anyway. It doesn’t really matter if she gets high one last time. Just let her do what she’s gonna do and then you won’t have to deal with all the lies and bullshit. At least she’ll be straight with you.”
Fuck. Now I’ve got the guy who works at the treatment center telling me I should just let her get high one last time. He’s wrong but maybe he’s right. What the fuck does it matter? Why do I care if she uses again before she goes in? Maybe I’m just trying to be controlling. Maybe this would all be a lot easier if, for once, I just give in and say, “Fine.” And so we’re off to the dealer’s house.
“I’ll pay you back as soon as we get my check,” she said. Fuck. So now I’m paying for the drugs too? Great. What the fuck ever. Here. I give her the money, she hands it to the dealer, he hands her the pill (Dilaudid), and we pull away. All of this is in Natalie’s car because I’ll be damned if I’m gonna have this shit going on in my car. I’m not going to jail for this shit. This is already stupid and fucking risky enough as is. I shouldn’t be here. What the fuck is wrong with me?
We pull into the parking lot of the AA clubhouse and Natalie prepares her shot. She can’t find a vein, she can’t do her shot. “We’ve gotta go to my friend Evan’s house so he can hit me,” she says. “No, we’re not fucking doing that.” “Then you have to do it,” she says. Great. Perfect.This makes sense. So now I’m shooting this girl up in a parking lot? Of course I am. This is my stupid fucking life.
I take the needle from her and slide it into her arm, immediately finding a vein. “First time, every time,” I think to myself. What a stupid point of pride.
I pretend to throw all of her paraphernalia out the window but secretly slip it into my pocket with the exception of her rig. That, I do throw away. But I take a clean one from her glovebox and put that in my pocket. We go back to Walgreens, where we left my van, and I go in to use the bathroom. Into the bottle cap Natalie used to prep her shot, I rinse the residual powder from the cellophane she used to crush the Dilaudid. I put my needle in to her cotton and draw back. There’s no way there’s enough left in this cap (even with the added cellophane powder) for me to feel anything but I’m going to do it anyway. I shoot up and feel nothing. I go outside and find Natalie in the parking lot, arguing on her phone. I don’t tell her what I’ve done but I’m angry about it. She says her boss called and that she can’t get her check today. I’m angry about that too because now I’m not going to be reimbursed for the drugs, for the gas I put in her car, or for the food and cigarettes I bought her (something she offered as consolation when she hit me up for the drug money). And my money is tight right now. That reimbursement would’ve helped. I tell Natalie it’s time to go to detox – and not the one she wants to go to in Miami – the one in West Palm that her soon-to-be treatment facility/home wanted her to go to. She flips out threatens to call her mom, tell her I shot her up, and get my phone turned off (because I’m on their plan). That doesn’t phase me. I know I’m going to tell her mom about all of this anyway. I start to call myself and Natalie stops me. I know she doesn’t want her mom to know about any of this. She gives in and agrees to let me drive her to the detox in West Palm. At some point, I sneakily get her dealer’s number out of her cell phone. If I’m still feeling like this after I drop her off, I’ve got plans of my own. I’ve been clean for sixteen months and I don’t give a fuck. After today, I’ll leave Delray and I’ll be safe again. This will be my last rescue mission. I relapsed two summers ago when I had eleven months clean. Once I removed myself from the dangerous situation in which I relapsed, I was fine. This will be the same. I’m going to be fine.
I smoke a cigarette in front of the detox center with Natalie before we go in. At one point, some guy comes out. He’s kind of an asshole. Natalie asks if I’ll get her a few packs of cigarettes to get her through detox. I say okay because I’m a sucker like that. We check her in and I drive to the store. Before I’m back, she’s calling. “I’m outside with all my stuff. Fuck this place. Will you take me somewhere else? I don’t want to stay here. And my boss called. I can go get my check after all.” She has a lot of reasons for why she doesn’t like it and I’ve got plenty of rationalizations for why I agreed to pick her back up but the truth of the matter is that I want her to cash the check so I can get paid back.
I pick Natalie up and we start driving to her work to get the check. On the way, (surprise!) Natalie tells me she needs to use again. Of course she doesn’t. She’ll be in detox soon enough (and the detox she wanted to go to all along – the one where they’ll dose her up with so much crap that she’ll be more high than she was on the outside) but none of that matters.
In fact, nothing that happened the rest of the day matters. Sure, there are all sorts of interesting, pathetic, sordid, exciting little developments in the next few hours but it’s all bullshit and I’m tired of this story now. I’m not having fun writing this. Here are the pertinent details: Natalie and I meet up with the dealer again; I buy drugs for myself this time; Natalie goes in to detox and I stay high until my drugs are all used up two and a half days later. And now I’m four and a half days clean again. And I’m the same person I was before any of it happened. I didn’t “lose” my eighteen months of cleantime, just as I didn’t lose the eleven months of cleantime I had racked up the last time I relapsed (summer 2013).
I finished my latest painting a couple nights ago – the one I’ve been working on for just over two months. I can see now that leaving Florida to travel this year was, more often than not, not especially productive. I am not pleased with my progress in these last few months. I have not been writing as much as I should be. I am not painting as often as I should be. I am not engaging with galleries or otherwise promoting myself or advancing my career as often as I should be. September, October, and November were almost total wastes of my time. I am confused and scared. I have lost my sense of direction and my motivation. I’ve been caught up in relationships that were mostly chaotic and destructive. I’ve become preoccupied with sex, moreso than ever before. These things are not a consequence of my relapse, they were the cause of it. This has been the build-up to it. And that’s okay. I’m not upset that it happened. I don’t really even care enough to think of it as “a wake up call.” Because I still feel lost and I still don’t know what to do and that’s the same as it was before I put a needle in my arm.