Tag Archives: codependency

I Have Borderline Personality Disorder and I Accept Credit and Debit

“I Have Borderline Personality Disorder and I Accept Credit and Debit.” 9/26/14. Ink. 40×32″.

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…

The first piece in this series was “Love Letter;” the third is “The Last Unfinished Work.”

What I Do When I’m Not on Tinder

"What I Do When I'm Not on Tinder." 6/21/14. Ink. 11x14".
“What I Do When I’m Not on Tinder.” 6/21/14. Ink. 11×14″.

Check me out! I’m being an angry crybaby ’cause I heard second-hand that someone (that I don’t even know!) implied that I can’t really be trusted because I’m a drug addict.

You know how long it’s been since I injected drugs? You know how long it’s been since my compulsion to inject drugs inspired me to do something dishonest? Not to mention: I’m itinerant as fuck! Nobody knows me. I’m in a new city every day. I can be whoever I want each time I roll into a new city. The only reason anyone I encounter these days knows that I am/was a drug addict is ’cause I fuckin’ tell them. I wear everything on my sleeve ’cause I’m okay with who I am. I’m fuckin’ proud of who I am. Good and bad.

So fuck off with that shit.

What’s this have to do with my new piece, “What I Do When I’m Not on Tinder?” Very little! I’m just trying to kill two birds with one stone by venting and simultaneously writing a statement for a new piece. But if I wanted to contrive a connection, here it is: Even my Tinder profile introduces me to “potential matches” with an opening salvo of, “I don’t shoot heroin anymore but I still have a personality disorder. It’s nothing you’d notice most of the time.”

“What’s Tinder?” you ask. Well, you poor unfortunate soul, it’s a dating app for smartphones that matches people based on geographic proximity (“[this user] is two miles away”) and whether or not you swiped left (“nope”) or right (“like”) on their profile – which is comprised of no more than six photos and 500 characters of text. It’s superficial, shallow, and lots of fun! Once two people have swiped right on each others’ profiles, the lines of communication are open for messaging and (potentially) making plans to meet in real life. And now that Tinder’s introduced their newest feature (the hilariously-named “Tinder Moments,” a Snapchat-like feature which allows you to upload an additional photo, revealed only to your “matches” for 24 hours (who are then prompted to “like” or dismiss it by way of swipe)) it’s also become one more social-networking-avenue for a sad little boy like me to collect the validation-via-clicks for which I’m so desperate.

My mood right now is definitely corrupting my usually joyful description of Tinder. It’s shallow, superficial, and a lot of fun. It’s super speed dating. Say the wrong thing to some girl? Who cares! Just scroll down to your next match and start again! It’s totally meaningless (just like everything else in the known universe)!

I finished this drawing three weeks ago but have held off on sharing it on my website, Instagram, and Facebook until now because I only just got a proper high-res photograph of it. There was one venue through which I shared it immediately upon completion though – and it proved to be my most popular TINDER MOMENT to date!

I’m ridiculous. (And pretty okay with it).

Full disclosure: As revealed in the statement accompanying my commissioned “Bleed Blue Tatoo” piece, I’ve “started getting laid again,” am getting all the female attention I need, and have consequently been inactive on Tinder for a week or so. I’m also taking bets on how long ‘til I fall apart again and rediscover its utility. Hit me up for the current odds! Who knows? Maybe this very entry will be the spark that burns it all to the ground!

A Plume of My Own Cigarette Smoke

I drove past a bridge this morning that was so beautiful that I caught myself actually exclaim, “holy shit,” out loud. If I needed any evidence that I’m not the miserable, cynical little shithead of years past, I think that might be it.

Here’s a painting and a “story.”

"A Plume of My Own Cigarette Smoke." 2/20/14. Acrylic, spray, and watercolor paints, food coloring, and ink. 36x48".
“A Plume of My Own Cigarette Smoke.” 2/20/14. Acrylic, spray, and watercolor paints, food coloring, and ink. 36×48″.

My first large, expressive painting after I decided to leave my girlfriend, break my lease, buy a van, and devote myself entirely – not only to the creation of art – but to traveling the country, chasing after whatever opportunity may come along and getting serious about building a real life and career as a professional artist.

I’m happy with this painting as “art,” less so insomuch as it’s a personal artifact. The whole thing was fueled by a sense of inadequacy and complimented by anxiety and fear as I wrapped up the loose ends in my personal life and prepared to embark on the new course I had charted for myself. A lot of my art is chaotic and busy but – in this case – I was adding to it and making changes everyday (for more than two weeks!) because I just didn’t feel like it was enough.

There’s a good deal of small print spread around this piece, addressing a veritable shit ton of emotionally-bananas nonsense.  Regarding the large caption (“Sometimes I’ll see a plume of my own cigarette smoke in my peripheral and mistake it for an approaching human; so – NO – I wouldn’t say that I’m all that lonely”):

“I don’t think I’ve felt lonely since I started this. I wrote that shit in my phone a month ago and pulled it out [just now] to show the world how god damn clever I am. It was real when I thought it though but that was before I even broke up with my girlfriend.”

One of the primary objectives from my continuing care treatment plan reviews was always to go out and interact with HUMAN BEINGS more often. The night I wrote this, I went to see some bands play at Rain Dogs but was (of course) set up to sell prints and working on this painting as well. At one point, it was actually in my lap as I painted in a corner. I realized it and scribbled, “I’m out but I’m holding a four-foot canvas. AREN’T I QUIRKY?!?!” (Because I’m still not comfortable simply existing in a crowd. It makes me anxious to be seen when my presence doesn’t have an obvious purpose). Painting, or selling something, gives me one.

Between starting and finishing this painting, I met a girl that I maybe kinda sorta like a little bit. The story of our first two nights together is thoroughly documented in my EPIC POEM, “The Long Con.” On that second night though, when I FOLLOWED HER SIGNAL and made my move (only to be shot down!) I was pretty confused. At the same time, it was a relief to know that I could just hang out with her and not worry about whether I was saying or doing the right things to eventuate our sleeping together that night. After all, did I really even like her? Maybe I just wanted to feel validated by getting her to like me

“It’s sort of a relief, it’s nothing that matters, it’s just insecurity, it doesn’t add up to shit. The day I understand anything at all… whatever. BUT HOW COME I LOOK OVER AND SHE’S SMILING AT ME LIKE THAT? WHAT DOES SHE KNOW THAT I DON’T?”

For the most part, I was able to sort of laugh off what, in that moment, I perceived as rejection. (It helped that a friend had told me she was only interested in girls). Even still, I don’t get all that bold that often. I usually find a way to guarantee that there’s a green light before I put my fragile little ego on the line like I did. The aftershock of the incident had me feeling a little shaky. This was the eve of a much bolder risk; this was the night before I started the next phase of my life. My next scribble said, “I’m leaving tomorrow and scared and on edge and cry and shoot drugs.” While I didn’t actually cry and I definitely didn’t shoot any drugs, that’s the kind of self-pity/doubt that I was slipping in and out of. (Girls are DANGEROUS for me).

I was still struggling to find happiness in my painting. I was trying too hard. When I finally went back to basics and scratched out SOME FUNNY FACES, I had an epiphany: “I am reinvigorated by funny faces. Sometimes I try to expand and grow as an artist. FUCK THAT! Write what you know (my own mental instability); paint what you know (funny faces).” I started to feel better immediately. Not that that stopped me from finding new and exciting ways to fuck up or otherwise complicate my life! Within a day or so, I had cause to add…

“I’m in the middle of a 61-day crystal/herb spiritual healing. I was told that my [ultimate] spiritual goal should be “to be an excellent father” even though I said I didn’t think I wanna have kids [‘cause I’m too self-absorbed / preoccupied to ever be a decent father]. Long story short, cumming on her face tonight seemed too IMPERSONAL so – between the two things – I decided to make her the first girl I’ve ever intentionally cum inside of. She wasn’t mad but I’m OUT OF MY MIND. (Her too).”

So now I was mixed up and sleeping with four girls but only excited about one of them and – in moments – questioning even the authenticity of my feelings for her. BECAUSE I DON’T UNDERSTAND MY OWN BRAIN SOMETIMES. And I definitely have trouble trusting my feelings. AND I’M EMOTIONALLY FICKLE! As I concluded with my in-painting journal:

“I keep trying to get girls to fall in love with me AND IT KEEPS WORKING. And then I sort of lose interest and feel like an asshole. It’s not like I’m fully planning it that way but it keeps happening and I should probably know better by now. MAYBE I FINALLY DO??”

 I stopped and seriously considered it. “Am I done? Do I finally get it? Am I ready to stop fucking around and validating myself by (as I love to put it) tricking girls into thinking I’m worthwhile?”

“J/K LOL,” I added, and my painting was finished.

The Long Con

Remember when I wrote something along the lines of, “I just spent three hours writing poetry in a coffee shop so I figured it’s about time I grew my first beard?” Well, here’s the product of that (from February 13th and 14th).

BUT FIRST – because I know how you kids like pictures – here’s a photo of me working on “Another Painting  By My Favorite Artist,” the night before it was finished.

Me 'n' Mikey Twohands, workin' on some art. Photo by Rosaly Natera.
Me ‘n’ Mikey Twohands, makin’ art. Photo by Rosaly Natera.

—–

“The Long Con”

She was drunk and I flirted with her.
She said we were friends on Facebook.
I said I didn’t know.
But I knew.
Just a little bit.

 She had liked one of my photos.
I think I liked one of hers.
The internet is fun.

I got back to Hembrough’s apartment and asked him for the scoop on this girl he worked with.
He told me that she was gay. Or that she was bi.
“More into girls” and “done with guys.”
I smiled.
“I can work with that.”

At the bar,
When she acknowledged that she knew who I was,
I asked if she had seen my art and read my stories.
“Just Facebook.”
“Oh,
So you don’t actually know just how special I am yet.”
She said she had an idea.
“Scale of one to ten,” I asked.
She gave me a seven and a half.
Which was totally unacceptable.

I hit her up the next day.
“I’m leaving town soon. Let me know if you wanna hang out before I go.
I can TALK MORE AT YOU about how special I am.”
We met up that night. At the marina.
We walked around a little, talking, getting to know one another.

It was going well. We got along well. Connected on a lot of levels.
We related. Seemed to have similar worldviews. Mostly similar.
I liked her attitude generally. Her notions about the universe. How things work.
The brightness of her spirit.
At one point, I was overwhelmed by my adoration; I hugged her.
Her enthusiasm for an animal, a tree.
For living.

It struck me (and I told her) that, not so long ago,
I’d have thought that shit was retarded.

She told me about crystals.
It was awesome.

The next day, I wanted to see her again.
I asked her,
“If I don’t leave town until morning, would you wanna hang out tonight?”
I was really hoping she’d want to.
(And I kinda held off on leaving for just that reason).
For the chance of it.

She invited me over to her house.
I had intentionally waited until it was late enough –
When it wouldn’t make sense for us to go anywhere else.
I’m calculating like that.
But she didn’t lead me to her room.
The pretense of our late night meeting:
She said she wanted to see my new in-progress painting.
I brought it in and she pulled two chairs together, in the living room.
We arrived to a point of joking; the painting needed a literal silver lining.
I told her I’d do it. “I’ll do it right god damn now.” I threatened.
“I’ve got all this stuff in the van.”
“Do it,” she said.
“Well… um… do you… would you wanna paint with me?
It was already after 2AM. She said yes.

We painted together as people filtered in and out of the house around us.
Kind of hanging out, doing their own thing, talking to us, but mostly we painted.
We would talk together, occasionally one or the other to someone else.
Some kids on the couch sniffed cocaine from a bag.
I walked by to change the music and they tried to hide the drugs.
“I don’t mind,” I told them as I returned to my painting.
“I was in middle school once too,” I whispered to her.
Cocaine is a funny joke.

We listened to pop punk and I talked passionately about self-loathing and cheerful melodies,
Grit and sparkle, light and dark.
I focused on my canvas as I worked.
A few times, I looked over and noticed her – beaming at me.
With that smile. The one that really says…
The kind that I interpret as: “I’m really into you.”
She had that kind of Radiant, Outstanding, Beaming smile.

I didn’t even know how to react to it.
It made me kinda nervous.

The night before:
When we said goodnight. I gave her a hug and she hugged me back really well.
Tightly.
When I let go – this is when I would have kissed her – she said,
“I think you’re really cool”
Or something funny like that.
I smiled and I took it as a “don’t even try” sort of signal.

 

But tonight, I had been wondering,
“Is this girl into me? Is she not?”
When I saw her beaming at me like that, I decided:
“This girl is twenty-two.
She doesn’t know what she wants from me.
She wants whatever it is I decide she wants from me.”
I asked her if she wanted to come outside with me while I smoked a cigarette.
Before I lit it
(Because she doesn’t like the smell of smoke
(Especially menthols))
I pulled her in toward me. Hugged her. Embraced her. Put my hand on the back of her head.
She did the same, really pulling herself in close.
But when I started to pull slightly back,
To tilt her head, to kiss her,
She said,
“I think you’re really special,”
And I laughed.
“Is that your way of saying ‘Don’t try anything?'”
“Yes…
“I think so.”

Okay!
Fair enough.

I didn’t feel rejected. I felt kind of relieved because –
You know –
There was no longer any pressure of
Having to have sex with this girl.
It wasn’t gonna happen; we could just be…
We could just be buddies.
Just fucking hang out, paint, whatever.

 

So we did. That was the rest of the night and then I left.
But I remember thinking:
I don’t know what’s what, I can’t figure out shit
But I feel relieved.
Because I’m just trying to sleep with this girl because of my own insecurity.
To show myself that I can.
That this girl would want me.
Like any girl would want me.
It’s a stupid game of validation.
I didn’t need to have sex.
It’s not like wanted to FUCK her.
It’s not that.
It’s just… what I do.
I validate myself through sex.
So I felt relieved. And I noted it.

But still – if she doesn’t want that
WHY IS SHE SMILING AT ME LIKE THAT?
(It was an intense smile).
WHAT DOES SHE KNOW THAT I DON’T???

 In the morning, I thought about her,
About her rejecting me,
And a big smile crept across my face.
I think I might like this girl.
Even if she doesn’t wanna let me do TERRIBLE THINGS to her.
Maybe that’s even part of it.
I told her so.
She reciprocated.
And indicated
That she doesn’t let people do “terrible things” to her
Until she knows that they’re for real.
Or real friends.
Something like that.
And then with a flirty sort of emoticon.
Which isn’t especially poetic.
But this is 2014.
So it’s cool.
And I was re-energized.
It was cute and it made sense.
I was re-energized for The Long Con.

Hembrough and I like to talk about everything.
Really honestly, sincerely but
We also like to play
(As anyone who’s seen our Kendra Sheetz video knows)
Off the whole “fratboy, fuck-yeah, pickin’ up girls” thing.
Any effort to win a girl – for sex, for love
Even if it’s genuine – more than a sex thing
(Which in my case, it always is)
(Sex is the least important facet of my operation)
It requires a degree of skill, of deception.
A girl has to be tricked
Into believing that I’m worthwhile.
If the effort spans more than a single evening,
That’s what Hembrough and I like to call
THE LONG CON. 

So
We’ve kept in touch; we’ve been talking.
Things are nice.
But I realized last night,
(When I didn’t get all that far out of town)
I was wishing she was with me.
Wishing she was there,
Wishing that I was falling asleep next to her.
I didn’t want to have sex,
I just wanted to fall asleep with her.
Which is really sweet
And…
Unusual.
I said I wanted to do “terrible things” to her
Because….
Well, the things I do are pretty terrible.
And girls are turned on by that; that works.
But THAT’S not what I had tried;
Not what I had led off with.
I had tried to kiss her.
Which isn’t terrible; it’s just… sweet.
And I realized that – since breaking up with Heather –
I have not done anything sweet.
Good, welcome, appreciated, but not sweet.
The last girl: I fucked four times;
I kissed her no times.
But I wanted to kiss this girl…
Is that because the dynamic between us
Is more of a personal / getting-to-know-you
And not a “we’re in this to fuck so let’s fuck”
Or is it because maybe there’s something else there?

It’s hard to say.
It’s always hard to know what’s real with me.

Is it just because she denied me?
Do I want what I can’t have? Is it that?
I don’t know.
I told Chris: I might like this girl.
I might actually be developing feelings for her.
But is that totally crazy? I don’t know
I don’t know
But I’m enjoying it for what it is right now

I’ve left town but I told her I wanted to call her,
Talk to her about these things.
I don’t know to what extent.
But she’s on my mind.
She’s the girl that’s occupying my thoughts.

Unspecified Selection From “The Worst Kinds of People: An Omnibus of Terrible”

"Unspecified Selection From 'The Worst Kinds of People: An Omnibus of Terrible.'" 12/7/12. Oil pastel. 12x17½.
“Unspecified Selection From ‘The Worst Kinds of People: An Omnibus of Terrible.'” 12/7/12. Oil pastel. 12×17½.

Unspecified Selection From "The Worst Kinds of People: An Omnibus of Terrible" #2 [image]There’s not much I can say that I haven’t already, in my statements for the other 12.13.14 pieces and others relating to codependency (like “Girls Are Not Pokemon“). As indicated in the graphic, this is a diagram of Figure 12.13.14 or (in reality) it’s a diagram of how I was feeling one day in December 2012 – like an interchangeable asshole, with a life not worth living.

However, as I mentioned on Thursday,  sometimes there really are fruits of being a contemptuous bag of dicks. In this case, it was my friend David asking me to adapt this drawing for use as a t-shirt for his label, John Wilkes Booth Records. They came out really great and you can pick ’em up in the JWB webstore for a measly $10.

TSt-017: Like Bats s/t cassetteAnd so long as you’re already throwing your money away, allow me to present the first release from Traffic Street in more than two years. Technically, it’s a reissue of the Like Bats EP we put out back in 2009 but this time around it’s on cassette and it includes something we’re choosing to keep secret because… well – there are only 100 copies so they’re going to sell whether we tell you or not and secrets are just more fun.

Buy cassettes here. Buy prints of (either version of) “Unspecified Selection” here.

For wholesale orders: United States / International.

14

"14." 1/2/13. Calligraphy ink and sewing needle (tattoo). 1x2".
“14.” 1/2/13. Calligraphy ink and sewing needle (tattoo). 1×2″.

In early November, Alexis and I were “just friends” but it was obvious that something was going on. We walked into the room laughing, toward some empty chairs near Delia. “So when are you two going to get married?” she asked. “Pffft… What are you talking about? We’re just friends,” I said as we sat down. Alexis turned and whispered in my ear: “So… when are we going to get married?” I smiled. At this point, that kind of flirting was still a bit of a lapse in our usual insistence (even to one another) that this was a strictly platonic friendship. “Hmm…That’s a pretty serious commitment. I might need some time to think about it.

A few minutes into the meeting, I motioned her in a little closer. “Okay, so here’s the deal,” I whispered in her ear, “We’re not allowed to be in relationships until we’ve had a year clean, right? So we can’t date until next August… Recovery: twelve steps, the last of which is “helping other addicts,” which is why – you know – the joke about fucking someone you meet in recovery is “the thirteenth step.” So – from that – you could say that the fourteenth step is getting married. So… 12, 13, 14: December 13th, 2014. By then, we’ll have known each other for two and a half years, in which we got our year clean, started dating, and then spent a year and a half together as a couple. 12-13-14.” I pulled back from her ear with a smile to see her reaction. She loved it. She looked giddy.

—–

In writing my statement / story for “Another Opportunity For Growth!!!,” I did some digging… I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did find this conversation from a week after that story (and two months after the one at the start of this entry).

Texts: January 13th

Alexis: I love you. I wish we could communicate like before but I guess this is how It’s supposed to be. I’m sorry for being a shit but I’ve been working out my own demons. It isn’t easy on my own but I’m managing. Will I get to see you again?

Sam: You can see me pretty much anytime you want to.

A: That’s not true. I can’t leave the county. Have you talked to Tracy since you left [Tranquil Shores]?
[Tracy was my counselor, as well as hers]

S: I didn’t leave. I was just desperate to get you to open up. And I was hurt and angry – feeling like you had locked me out. Feeling unloved, neglected, and rejected. So I was probably trying to fuck with you a little bit. To get a reaction out of you and get you to call me back for once. I’m sorry for doing that.

A: So you didn’t leave? You LIED TO ME? Played mind games?

S: Yes. And not that there’s any excuse for it, but that’s what I felt like you were doing to me when you’d disappear for four days. Or lie to me and promise that you’d call me at a certain time and then ignore my calls and just text me a day later. But like I said, two wrongs don’t make a right. You’re going through your own shit, I’ve got my shit. So – yeah – I’m sorry. I was hurt and desperate to get you to talk to me.

A: This is what our relationship has become?

S: Lexi, I didn’t do this alone. You can’t put it all on me. You practically ended our relationship on New Year’s Eve when you disappeared all week and then refused to tell me anything about what’s going on.

A: What have you been going through?

S: There was this girl that I was totally crazy for. We met up one night and I told her how much I loved her. She told me how much she loved me and how she knew it was for real. And I was so happy. I couldn’t wait to see her again. We made plans for NYE but she never called me back. And then, when she did – days later – she wouldn’t tell me anything about what was going on. But I knew something serious was happening because she also stopped going to groups and seeing her counselor (who she had always seemed to love). I didn’t know what was up, but I was terrified for her. Because I loved her and cared about her so much. Even a week later, she was still being spotty and still wouldn’t tell me what was going on. I would have told her anything but she wouldn’t tell me even one thing. It got to be more than I could handle. It hurt too much, worrying about what this girl was going through and at the same time dealing with the pain of being locked out by someone that I had bared my soul to and opened up in a way I never had before.

S: That’s what I was going through.

A: I’m not dead, Sam.

S: I know you’re not dead. But there were a few days where I was afraid you might be. And I’m still scared that you might be mixed up in something dangerous. But I’m not letting it get to me.

A: I’m here for you. Always.

S: Kid, I love you to death, but you can’t say that. You’re NOT always there for me. You won’t ever answer my calls or call me and you only respond to my texts half the time. But that’s okay. I accept that.

A: So because you’re assuming everything, that’s how you want us to be?

S: No. I want us to be partners. But I can’t always get what I want, so I’m settling for being your friend. To whatever extent you’ll allow me to be.

S: If I could, I’d see you every day. But if all you want from me is the occasional text, I’ll take what I can get.

A: We did see each other every day. We had that. I want to hear from you daily and see  you.

S: Can I call you so we can talk for a minute?

A: Talk of what?

S: About whatever. I can just tell you about my weekend. I just like to hear your voice ’cause I miss you.

[no response]

S: If you don’t want to talk on the phone, that’s fine. You don’t have to stop texting me just to avoid it.

[no response]

S: Hey – by the way – did you see that picture of my Lexi tattoo?

A: What tattoo?

S: The ghost from the painting I made way back in October when I first started trying to figure out if I was in love with you or if I even knew what love was or if I was capable of loving someone. And – next to it – “14.” Because I did it on 1/2/13 (the same numbers in the same order as 12/13). So – you know – to complete the number: 12/13/14.

A: Where’d you tattoo it on your body? That’s seriously about me? Wow, Sammy.

S: It’s right above my right knee, in the only spot that I don’t ever patch on my jeans so that it’ll always show.

A: Where’s mine gonna be?

S: Wherever you want it to be. But you’d actually have to meet up with me to get it. Will I get to see you sometime this week?

A: Up until an hour ago, I thought you’ve been in Sarasota. I definitely crave and truly miss your energy. Why the ghost though?

S: In the painting?

A: Yeah.

S: This sound lame but (when I made it) it was because I felt possessed or haunted by doubt and uncertainty. And then (when I did the tattoo) – even though I didn’t doubt my feelings anymore and knew that I loved you – it made sense to reuse it. Not just because that was the first thing I painted about my feelings for you but also because I felt like you had disappeared. You were there one minute and gone the next. Like a ghost. Which was scary (like a ghost) because I thought you might be dead… like a ghost. And I was upset again – about something going on with us – just like i had been when I first painted it.

S: I miss you a ton, kid. I still think about you all the time. One of these days, you’ll have to let me come see you, or at least hear your voice. But it’s nice even just to text.

A: I’m laying in bed so I don’t sound cute right now. Sleepy and in pain.

S: You always sound cute but it’s okay if you don’t feel like talking. Sorry to hear you’re in pain. What hurts?

A: I pulled a muscle.

A: Think I may just be getting old.

S: Aw. I’m really sorry to hear that. I pulled a muscle in my arm that’s been hurting for a week now. Not bad though (sometimes not at all). I hope it feels better soon.

S: Yours, I mean. I hope YOURS feels better. Mine, I can manage.

A: Lol. You’re cute. We’re just linked and connected in some strange cosmic way I suppose. It feels good to talk to you. You make me feel at peace. It’s weird to explain.

S: You don’t have to explain a thing. Even if it’s just texting, you make me feel the same way. When I’m not losing my mind worried about you, you’re pretty much my favorite person on the planet.

S: And hopefully those days are done with. I’m gonna do my best to just hold it down and deal even if I can’t get in touch with you for days.

A: That’s where trust and faith come into play.

S: Yeah, you’re absolutely right.

A: Don’t lose your mind. And I couldn’t possibly be your favorite person. There are a lot more interesting people out there.

S: Well, you’ll have to introduce me to some of them then, I guess. I sure haven’t found them on my own.

A: Stop making me smile. It hurts.

S: So when I get my “vehicle” this week, you gonna let me come over and tattoo you?

A: What vehicle?

S: If I tell you, you promise not to make fun of me?

A: Yes.

S: I’m getting a scooter. I should have it by Sunday. Not exactly a car, but it’s a start. Plus, I can paint it and cover it in stickers and stuff, so it’ll be REALLY, REALLY PUNK.

A: I love it. Fucking adorable and so totally punk.

S: So does this mean I can scoot on over and draw something under your skin?

A: Yup!

A: I’m laying down now. It’s time I try to get back to a schedule of early bedtime, up early.

S: Okay, I should do the same.

A: I love you, Sammy. Sweet dreams.

S: Love you too, kid. Sleep tight.

—–

  • If you’re reading that and thinking, “Nobody writes messages like that,” you’re half right. Mine are unedited but she writes messages like a normal human being (without “proper” capitalization/punctuation, with typos, etc.); so I changed that when I typed this up for… um… uniformity? Otherwise, it’s pretty much a straight transcript.
  • When asked about this tattoo, I don’t usually mention the girl – only that the ghost is my emblem for borderline personality disorder (as it came from an expressive art piece created in the midst of an episode / incident of particularly strong “symptoms” – and used in later pieces when I was either experiencing or commenting on the same). Both explanations are equally true (and very much related).
  • The first thing about this conversation that jumps out at me is the way I was trying so hard to be okay with what was going on, when I should have just turned my back and ran. She wasn’t in a good place and I had “fallen down” with girls in situations just like this so many times.
  • Second: She says “That’s where trust and faith come into play” and I respond, “You’re absolutely right.” She was absolutely wrong insofar as she was suggesting that I should trust (and have faith in) her. And I knew that even then. But I chose to knowingly misunderstand her, which enabled me to agree with her. Because I did have trust and faith (or I was trying to have them anyway). Not in her – (she was obviously fucking up hard) – but in … everything, I guess. I was trying to believe that everything was happening exactly as it needed to (or – at the very least – the only way that it could happen). Whatever had happened so far, I was just hoping that she’d spin herself back into Tranquil Shores before shit got really bad.
  • But that didn’t happen. The night of December 30 remains the last time that I ever saw her.

Another Opportunity For Growth!!!

"Another Opportunity For Growth!!!" 1/6/13. Crayon on a "sorry we lost your mail" envelope from the US Postal Service. 4¾x9½".
“Another Opportunity For Growth!!!” 1/6/13. Crayon. 4¾x9½”.

In the last months of 2012, I was inpatient at Tranquil Shores and taking my recovery really seriously. My general mood and outlook were more positive and upbeat than at any point prior in my life; things were going well – most of the time. When they weren’t, it was bad. I had learned to deal with some emotional triggers but others could still set me off in an instant. I was breaking down in a mess of tears constantly [and, historically, crying wasn’t something I had done very often]. The treatment team was really happy with my progress but were discussing the option of adding an antipsychotic to my daily prescription. Personally, I was 100% on board with the idea at the time. The way I felt most of the time was great. I just wanted to stop falling apart for two hours every other day.

There was something else going on though that was tearing me up and that I wasn’t talking about. There was this girl. And though (for the first time) I cared enough about “playing by the rules” (for the sake of my recovery) to not turn it into a sexual relationship, we were very much emotionally invested in one another. And the kinds of little things that chip away at my soul whenever I’m involved with any girl (coupled with the shame of having to lie to my counselor to keep it a secret) were killing me.

Eventually, I came clean about the whole thing. Alexis denied it but she was leaving Tranquil Shores in a week or so anyway. That confession was the catalyst that finally kicked my recovery into gear (for real). There was no need to talk about anti-psychotics after that. When she left, still denying everything though, I figured it was all over between us. It hurt but what could I do?

In the last week of December, she got in touch with me and we started talking again. She still saw her [also my] counselor on an outpatient basis and she had gotten honest and confessed that everything I had said was true. We had both been advised that we shouldn’t be speaking with one another until we had a better grip on exactly what was going on between us, but I was so excited to find that she was no longer furious with me (and wanted to see me) that I didn’t care. On December 30th, I snuck out of Tranquil Shores and she picked me up down the street. At the end of the night when she dropped me off to sneak back in, I could have skipped back to Tranquil Shores; I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I didn’t get caught and we made plans to meet up again the next night: New Year’s Eve.

I played it cool and waited all day for her to hit me up. Nothing. I tried her phone. Nothing. And then four more days of the same.

She had relapsed… right? The night that we were together, she had told me that that it had been on her mind a lot but that she had held strong. That was the way I usually talked to people on the occasions that I had already relapsed, but I took her word for it. I had to because I so badly wanted it to be true. It was obvious now though. Our night together had been incredible. She apologized for denying everything initially (in fear) and said that she had been dying to talk to / see me, but needed to sort through her feelings first. She had done that though now, she said, and she told me she was more in love with me than she had ever been in love with anyone and that there was no doubt in her mind that her love was real, authentic, and deep. You don’t disappear on someone for five days after saying some shit like that. It wasn’t the behavior of someone “living a program.” I didn’t know what to do. She might be dead. [People that start shooting up again after a period of clean time have an incredibly high rate of overdose]. Two friends of mine had already overdosed in the last two months. I feared the worst and it ate away at me.

In those five days, I exercised self-discipline like never before. I only allowed myself to try and reach her once or twice a day and I kept myself busy and focused around the clock with my art and my treatment plan. I was a ball of anxiety but I was extremely proud of the way that I didn’t completely lose my fucking mind. I felt like I had bullets under my skin, bouncing around my skeleton… but I managed.

Late afternoon, January 5th, I got a text: “hi sammy.”

HOLY FUCKING SHIT.

“Hey! Where have you been? Are you okay? I’m so happy to hear from you! Call me!”

She called later that night. It was … off. She didn’t sound high, but she wasn’t exactly coherent either. Above all though, she stressed that I didn’t have anything to worry about –  and she asked if she could see me tomorrow [Sunday] night. “Of course.”

Those weren’t my only plans for the day: Taylor was coming to visit. I had been looking forward to it for at least a month. I got all my little papers to my counselor, got them stamped, signed, approved, and sent over to property staff. Everything was in order. It was the first time I’d get to see her since Labor Day, 2011 – when we left San Diego on separate flights and, upon arrival in Florida,  I immediately proceeded to overdose (intentionally) in an attempt to kill myself. [But that’s another story].

I’ve written a lot about overlapping things I’ve had with girls (especially in this stretch of time) but I don’t consider this anything like that. Taylor and I had dated and lived together for six years, but I had spent a lot of time looking at the relationship and was almost certain that I was looking forward to seeing my friend, Taylor (and not Taylor, the girl with whom I might still be in love). I wasn’t trying to “win her back” as I had back in 2011; this wasn’t romantic, we were friends. [Though this, too,  is tangential – a subject for another time]. We planned her visit at 10 AM because she was flying back to Baltimore at 4 that afternoon. I was excited.

At 11AM, I called. Running late, she said. Okay – no big deal.

At 1PM, I called. No response.

At 4PM… she’s on her flight right now. She fucking bailed on me and didn’t even care enough to tell me.

And what do you know… I haven’t heard from Her all day either. We’re supposed to meet up tonight… I sent her a text. I tried to call. Nothing. I need to go for a walk.

I signed out for an hour [I had been at Tranquil Shores for five months so I had that privilege on a Sunday afternoon]. I walked down the street not knowing what the fuck I was even doing. I sat down at a bus stop and waited… to hear from her. I wrote her a short but desperately conflicted “please let me back into your life” kind of note. I sent it as a picture so that she’d be more likely to look at it (assuming she actually had her phone and really was just ignoring me).

No response. I walked some more. Sat at another bus stop. Decided to draw. I looked in my bag and took out the only medium and paper I had on me: crayons and a tattered envelope. I was trying so desperately to remain optimistic and see everything in the best possible light. Taylor’s bailing on me that day and this girl (that I was in love with)’s strange behavior and looming death… it all hurt but it had to be for something. If nothing else, I told myself, it’s practice; I’m getting better at feeling pain and not falling apart. When I live in the real world again one day, where I could quickly and easily numb out pain with heroin, these experiences will be what keep me from doing so. I will get through this and I will be okay. It’s another opportunity for growth…

—–

2013-01-06 note

  • Here’s the note that I wrote her just before I drew my little cartoon.
  • If you wanna know how things turned out with her, it’s in my statement for “Spoiler Alert.”
  • Taylor and I are pals and talk all the time (but never about why she didn’t show up that day).
  • The cartoon featured in this entry is for sale in my webstore (and comes in a custom frame/mat set that I painted/made myself).
  • This cartoon was among the twenty-five pieces featured in my first art show. It was sold 11/9/13.