A little over a year ago, I was in a pretty horrible funk. I think I was legitimately depressed. I was feeling completely stuck. I had just graduated from university the year before and spent the year preparing my applications for grad school. I thought that I had everything figured out (at least for the next 2 years). Can you guess what happened?
Well, plans fell through. I didn’t get accepted into my grad programs. I didn’t even get accepted into my backup. I was thoroughly devastated.
For me, life has always had a clear route. It’s always been like this: preschool to elementary to junior high to high school to university then to graduate school and finally to a career. There was always a clear A to Z path and things always made sense. I’m not saying that it wasn’t hard, but I always managed to pull through as long as I knew that it would bring me to the next checkpoint. So when I didn’t get into grad school, my world crumbled into chaos. For once in my life, I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have any idea what to do. I was free and it scared me.
It left me feeling utterly helpless and as if I was abandoned by the one thing that guided me. I’m not sure what it was… but it’s the general feeling that there’s a plan for you. For once, I felt like… maybe the world didn’t have a place for me.
Anyways, what happened was that I disappeared for months. I shut myself in – both literally and metaphorically. My friends became worried when they didn’t hear from me for a month, then for 2, then for almost half a year. My parents started to notice it too. I didn’t want to do anything except sit in my room and sleep. I had no motivation to do anything but sleep and pray that one night I wouldn’t wake up. I was never suicidal; I’m far too chicken to do anything to myself. And I know that it would kill the people I love.
Anyways, out of that pain I reached out online to strangers. I wanted to talk to someone about what troubled me, but I couldn’t bare telling the people closest to me. I didn’t want to burden them with the things that I thought seemed so minuscule in comparison to their real life problems. One night, I was browsing PostSecret and I found a forum thread where strangers posted their numbers in order to share secrets. So I posted mine.
And then I looked a couple of posts up and texted 2 people from Canada. I figured, hey… why not. I remember sitting there in my room, on my bed with a loaner blackberry thinking, “maybe I’ll just start with a funny secret,” because I was too afraid of telling someone what was really eating me.
So I sent a stupid secret off to a couple of strangers. Both of them texted me back within a couple of minutes. One of the people that texted me was a sweet (although a little misled) 19 year old girl named Sara. The other was a guy from Vancouver called Ray. I talked to Sara for a while, but it became obvious that we were from two different worlds and the conversation fizzled out.
But this other guy, Ray… Was something different. We talked for the whole night. Almost 4 hours. It just flew by. By the end of it we had established that we both liked comics (to an extent), had a stupid sense of humor and had even set up some nicknames for each other. He was Ray Cactus and I was W. Phoenix. I don’t even remember the conversation that well, but I just remember feeling relieved that I was making contact with someone real. Someone that wanted to talk to me. Someone that didn’t know my past, didn’t know that I was depressed, wouldn’t judge me and didn’t care to. He just wanted to talk and make jokes. And that was … a nice breath of fresh air.
After that first night, he and I texted on and off for a few weeks. Then, at one point, he asked me for my Skype and we started talking there too. I didn’t take it too seriously; I guess I just saw it as a friendly stranger that I could chat to when I was feeling lonely. And so, it went on for a couple of months. We would chat via text or Skype about whatever came to mind; work, school, friends, Christmas… anything.
Then, one night in December 2011, he asked me for my email because he had been wanting to share a funny story and had a hard time getting hold of me on Skype. I figured, “hey, he seems nice enough and it’s just an email, why not?” And I texted him my gmail account.
He emailed me his story from his work email. It was just a funny story, nothing more, but it started to get me wondering. Why was he so insistent on telling me the story? And then it dawned on me, “he likes me.” Before this I had never known his full name, but it was on the bottom of this email. So I googled him up. And I found a picture of him on his work website.
Oh. My. God. I remember putting my head down on my desk as I tried to calm my racing heart. He was damned good looking. And he was into me! I didn’t know what to do. My palms were shaking and I just couldn’t stop gulping down air as I thought about how this suddenly happened. How did I get so lucky? Someone that was both amazing in terms of personality and almost exactly what I liked physically. Here was this gorgeous guy, completely and utterly interested in me. How did this happen and how did it happen to me?
So, that started our whirlwind courtship. I ended up going to Vancouver over the holidays (not because of him, but because it’s a beautiful city) and while I was there, I was so tempted to meet him. But, the revelation that he was this drop dead gorgeous guy and that he was interested in me … was daunting. So I chickened out. I didn’t tell him I was in his city until the night before I had to leave. And he was upset.
We eventually smoothed things over and it started becoming obvious that we both were falling head over heels for each other. We started texting all day long – every minute of every hour. I told him everything with complete honesty and he told me everything (or so I thought). The more I talked to him, the harder I fell.
But the road was filled with bumps. He eventually told me he had bipolarism and as a result, was likely unable to have anything real with me. But I ignored this, I thought, “it’ll be okay, I’ll show him how much I love him and it’ll work out.” Yes. I was naive. So naive.
Eventually, the seams started to tear apart. He started pushing me away, saying things like, “I’m no good for you” or “leave while you still can”. Of course, I kept sticking around thinking that he’d realize I wasn’t going anywhere and then, then he would for realize that he could love me.
So, for almost 10 months, we tumbled between the lines. Never quite something, but also definitely not nothing. We straddled the lines of friendship and something more. I would push for more and he’d pull away. So many times I thought it was over. I thought that I’d have enough, but then he’d come back and say something… and I’d be under that spell again. So we went on like this, back and forth for months.
Yes, there was a time when I was happy, but I realize now that there were so many times where I couldn’t tear myself away from my damp pillows. The times that we had together that were … amazing, well … they didn’t last very long. They meant so much to me, but now I’m not quite sure what they meant to him.
Again, I’m sorry for how long that was. I hate to leave this on a cliffhanger, but it’s getting insanely long and I do want to make a point in my next post. So, I’ll save a little bit of my story for the next chapter and I’ll finally say what I’ve wanted to say for the last few weeks. It’s unfortunate that the backstory needed so much time and patience.