Sunday, September 30, 2018

A Letter To My Rapist

I was raped about a year ago, it happened at the bathhouse. In the last year, I thought that I had dealt with it. As one year since it happened came closer and closer, I kept thinking about it more and more. I kept replaying what happened in my mind, over and over. Whenever I would think about it, I was consumed with guilt and sadness.

In my last couple therapy sessions, I kept saying I wanted to write a letter to my rapist to work through what I was feeling. I did this previously, writing a letter to my dad and it worked well. Of course, I love to procrastinate and keep those feelings bottled up, so I kept putting it off. Well, finally, today, I wrote that letter. It was hard.

At one point I was so angry I punched my table, the next moment I was sobbing uncontrollably. I'm glad I finally did this, I needed to write that letter, get those feelings out. I feel like I ran a marathon but I also have a feeling of letting go. I wouldn't be surprised if I wake up tomorrow and the lower back pain I have had for over a month is all of a sudden starting to feel better. Here is the letter I wrote:

Fuck you! You rapist piece of shit. I said no. I told you to stop. I think about that night, all the time. I replay it over and over in my mind. Sometimes I wonder what I could have done differently. I get angry when I wonder this. I didn't need to do anything different. You did!

You need to not be a rapist! When someone tells you to stop, you need to fucking stop! What? Were you annoyed that you weren't going to get to cum? FUCK YOU! You know what's worse than you not getting to cum?

Having you on top of me, your dick inside me, while you say no, when I asked you to stop. When I tried to get up and you pushed me back down. When I tried to yell NO louder and you put your hand over my mouth to silence me. I bit your hand, did that stop you? No, it didn't. You kept raping me. I withdrew consent and you didn't give a fuck. I was an object for you to use.

Everything started going dark. I remember thinking to myself "I can't believe this is happening." I could hear others in the bathhouse, chatting, having sex. Here I was, being raped, with dance music and sex noises as my soundtrack. I started checking out, going to my safe place, when all of a sudden, I thankfully got angry. I yelled "I fucking said no! Get off me!" I hit you on your side, I pushed back as hard as I could and threw you off me.

You landed on the floor, looking scared and saying "sorry, sorry, I didn't meat to" GUESS WHAT? YOU FUCKING MEANT TO! YOU RAPED ME! How dare you be fucking scared, you piece of shit rapist! I said no, several times. I asked you to stop.

You said no to me. You pushed me down, you covered my mouth. You knew what you were doing. After you left my room, I sat there, naked, alone, scared, crying. I thought "do I report this?" Then I imagined telling a police officer that I voluntarily went to the bathhouse. That I consented to sex with you. That I withdrew consent, but I was worried they would view me as a slut for being at the bathhouse. I worried they wouldn't take me seriously.

I've held this in for the last year. It's been eating away at me. That's on you! You raped me! You made me feel less than, scared, alone, sad, angry. I've felt guilty that you may have done this to others after me. Fuck you! I'm returning that guilt, that anger, that sadness back to you.

It's not my fault. You are responsible for you. I'm not allowing you to control me anymore. I did nothing wrong. It's not my fault.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Choosing Me: A letter to my dad

Letting go, it's not easy. Moving on, it's not easy. These last few months I've been very depressed. Irritable, angry, sad, empty. In therapy I've been talking about how angry I am with myself. I take everything out on myself. At one point, the emotions got so bad I cut myself. It was really bad this time. I cut the word whore in my left thigh and the word fag into my right thigh. Every time I get in the shower, change my clothes, I can't help but look at the scars on my leg. Every time I look at them I get angry, angry at myself. I feel ashamed for cutting myself. I feel disgusted with myself.

In therapy when we were talking about my negative feelings towards myself, he asked me to close my eyes and think of the first time when I felt less than. Within 30 seconds I thought of being a child. I cried a lot as a child and it made my dad angry. He would tell me "boys don't cry", "man up", "we don't cry." As he said this, there was always this look of disappointment in his eyes. I always felt he was disappointed I was gay. He would make comments about the fags in the pride parade and make jokes about gay people. I was allowing him to make me feel less than.

My therapist proposed an exercise for me, to write a letter to my dad, expressing how I felt. I've done this letter writing before for other people/experiences in my life. I agreed it would be a good thing for me to do... it took me almost 2 months to write it.

It's funny, I thought I had resolved my feelings about my dad. Years ago I went through a four month group therapy program. Twice I told my dad how I felt about certain things. I talked about how he scared me as a child with his drinking and anger. I told him how I felt our relationship is one sided, that it's me always reaching out and when we talk he just spends the whole time complaining about things. I set boundaries for our relationship. I thought I had dealt with it and moved on... boy I was wrong!

As a child I felt alone, unwanted and a burden. I was very lonely as a child. I just wanted to be loved and acknowledged. My dad was an alcoholic and would get angry at lot. I remember my mom and him getting in intense arguments, him punching holes in the wall. Whenever he would get angry, I would think "is today the day he is going to hit me." That's no way for a child to live.

I wrote the letter. It was difficult to write. I realized something as I wrote it. I've never mourned the loss of the life I could have had, that I wanted to have. I've been holding on to how things should have been. I've been directing my anger at myself, not the person who caused it, my dad. I've been treating myself like shit for so long, for too long and I don't want to do it anymore.

I've allowed myself to feel worthless and weak because of what he said and did. I'm angry that I feel a lot of my life has been taken away because he wasn't there for me. He didn't support me in the way I needed. He chose alcohol over me and that wasn't okay. I'm sad I don't have a relationship with him but I realized something important, I can't have his negativity, his anger, in my life. I need to put myself first, I deserve to be put first. I deserve to be loved and respected. I deserve to love myself and respect myself. I deserve kindness.

I can't change the past, I can't forget what happened, but I can acknowledge it, deal with it and use it to move forward in a healthy way.

This was a hard letter to write. It wasn't just a letter to him, it was a letter to myself. I cried writing this letter. I have never cried like this in my life. I cried so hard, so loud, I made noises that sounded like I just had someone important die. In a way I did have someone die, I had to let a part of me go. I had to mourn the loss of my childhood and the person who I thought I should have been. I had snot dripping out my nose, I was drooling and gasping for air. I had years and years of emotions finally being released.

At one point I stopped writing, I threw the letter on the ground and started addressing my dad out loud. At first I could only get out "fuck you, fuck you dad, fuck you! Fuck you!" Through the slobber and snot, I said "you've taken so much away from me, you have made my life so difficult, I'm moving on. Fuck you! I deserve happiness and kindness. I'm moving on!"

I ended the letter with "Goodbye dad, I'm choosing me."

Goodbye doesn't mean I won't speak to him again. It doesn't mean I hate him. I forgive him. I see a fellow human being who has also struggled with life, who doesn't know how to deal with his feelings, his demons. Just because I forgive him, doesn't mean I need him in my life regularly. It doesn't mean I will take on his negativity and his anger. I will put myself first. I will choose me because I am worth it.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Doing The Right Thing Doesn't Always Work

Happy. Tired. Empty.

Trying. Tired. Empty.

Working out. Tired. Empty.

Socializing. Tired. Empty.

For the last couple of months I have been feeling like shit. Depression has taken a hold of me, inside and out. Whenever I read articles about depression, I always read the comments section. I should know better than to read the comments section of any article, because the ignorant people always make me mad.

When I read the comments sections for depression articles I always see comments like "go for a walk", "just shake it off", "do something that makes you happy", "eat healthy", etc. I have a news flash for those people: IT'S NOT THAT FUCKING EASY!"

I have been doing the right things. I have been working out three times per week, I have been eating healthier, I have been socializing with my friends, I go to therapy once a month and I've talked about how I've been feeling depressed with a friend. Guess what folks? Still depressed! Still feeling tired and empty inside.

Each workout class I go to, I have to fight with myself to go. Everyday I have to fight with myself to eat healthy and not eat fast food three times a day. When I hang out with my friends, I have a good time, my laughter is genuine, but I still feel empty inside.

Sometimes you can do all the right things and it just doesn't work. Sometimes the only thing that works is time!

Having several illnesses takes a lot out of me. Living with HIV, Bipolar Disorder, Asthma and IBS is exhausting. I only have so much energy to expend everyday and I need to get better at managing it. I've done a lot work on myself through therapy and I feel like my brain is reaching a precipice. I can either scale the mountain in front of me or I can turn around and go back to what is comfortable.

One side of my brain is trying to get me to stick with what we have always done, give up. Stay in bed, eat like crap, stay isolated, have a pity party. The other side is seeing light at the end of the tunnel, it recognizes all the hard work we have been doing, is remapping our brain and for it to stick we need to keep moving forward, we need to keep working out, eating healthy, facing our feelings, facing things head on, loving ourself and not giving up.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Can you be Raped at the Bathhouse

It was a Friday night. I was at home bored and feeling like some sexy good times. I had a shower, got ready and headed to the bathhouse. I was going to get laid! Oh yeah! I arrived at the bathhouse and it wasn't very busy yet, it was still early in the evening. I walked around, smiled at a few guys, went into the steam rooms. As the evening went by I found someone or I thought.

I was laying on my stomach, he laid on top of me and slid his dick inside. He was thrusting and it wasn't feeling good, he was really big. I tried to move to switch positions but he wouldn't move, kept his full weight on me. I really wasn't enjoying it as it was hurting too much and I wanted to stop. I said "I need a break." He mumbled "no" and kept going. I then said "I need to take a break, I need to stop." I tried to get up and he pushed my shoulders down and said "no" and mumbled something in another language.

My adrenaline was kicking in, my heart was racing, I was feeling scared. I said in a more loud stern voice "get off me, I want to stop." I tried to grab him, he grabbed my hand and shoved it back onto the bed." I then said "no! I want to stop." He said "no" and put his hand around my mouth.

I was scared, feeling light headed, I couldn't believe this was happening. I started to feel myself checking out, going to a "safe space." It felt like everything was going dark. Thankfully I was able to get angry once more. I bit his hand and then I yelled "GET OFF ME! I FUCKING SAID NO!" I hit him in his side and thrust back as hard as I could. He went flying off the bed onto the floor. I opened the door and yelled "get the fuck out you piece of shit." He said "sorry, sorry" grabbed his towel and ran out of my room."

I closed the door, sat on the bed and started crying. I felt embarrassed. It makes me angry that I felt embarrassed. I felt embarrassed because I thought "can I get raped at a bathhouse? I came here for sex." I started imagining if I were to tell my friends or the police, would they even think I was raped? I allowed him to have sex with me, I allowed him to put his dick inside me.

But you know what? IT DOESN'T FUCKING MATTER that I was at a bathhouse. It doesn't matter that I originally gave him consent to have sex with me.

WHAT MATTERS is, I withdrew that consent. I said no, many times. I tried to get him off me and he wouldn't get off me. When I withdrew consent he said "no", that was him acknowledging he knew what I was saying, that he chose to use me for his own pleasure despite me saying no.

It wouldn't matter if I had sex with 15 guys that night. I can say no at anytime.

It makes me angry that I felt the need to question myself about whether I was raped or not. Thanks media, thanks rapists, thanks everyone that has treated someone who has been raped as less than.

The other part that makes me angry, while I was repeatedly telling him no, loudly, I could hear guys walking by my room. I find it hard to believe no one heard me, I was not quiet. Not one person stopped to knock on the door and ask if I was okay.

As I opened the door and kicked that rapist piece of shit out of my room, there were guys out there, as I yelled "get the fuck out you piece of shit." No one asked me if I was okay.

Ignorance isn't bliss, ignorance is being complicit.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Dare I Say, Thank You HIV

A life reborn, finding myself one day at a time.

7 years. 7 years ago today I was diagnosed with HIV. 2555 days with HIV. 61,320 hours with HIV.

I went to the clinic to get my results. I was sure I had HIV. My friend told me I was worrying for nothing. I didn't tell her, I had unprotected sex with an HIV positive guy. A month after having sex with him, I had the worst "flu" of my life. I could barely eat, I had no energy. I lost 20 pounds in under a month. I knew what the results were going to say.

The nurse sat me down and told me "your test came back positive." She gave the speech, "it's not a death sentence, the medications are better now days, blah blah blah." I asked her how many people she has had to tell. She said I was her first. Awe, I popped her HIV diagnosis giving cherry. I told her she was doing a good job. WTF!? Typical me, putting others needs ahead of mine. Easy to do, when you have no self worth. I saw the time and said "crap, my parking time has run out. I need to go put more money in. I'll be back, I swear."

I put more money in and went back to the clinic room. She was surprised I returned. She told me I had an appointment with the infectious disease doctor in a couple of weeks, gave me some pamphlets and asked me if I needed anything. Need anything? Seriously? In 15 minutes you told me I have HIV, you gave me a bunch of pamphlets and now I need to go to work. I don't know what the fuck I need.

I got into my car, I tried to cry, I couldn't. I just started laughing. I drove to work, as I was walking from the parkade to work I texted my friend "I have HIV." She messaged me back saying that's not funny. I told her I wasn't joking. She called me, told me everything was going to be okay and that she was here for me. Maybe a text wasn't the best way to tell someone, oops.

I took a deep breath and walked into work. I knew it was going to be a difficult night. I was working till 2 am, I just received life altering news and my job was to take escalated calls from angry dick heads who didn't get their dipping sauce for their pizza. Fuck!

It didn't take long before I lost my shit on a customer. I had a woman, who had been moving all day, she said she placed an order an hour ago and there was no record of her order. I apologized, offered a discount and to rush the order, that wasn't good enough. She started crying, complaining how she moved all day with two kids and then started yelling at me. I yelled back at her and I heard her phone drop. All of a sudden a man's voice came on the line and in a concerned tone said "um hello?" I flipped out and said "I can't deal with this shit! Good bye!" and hung up on him.

I can laugh about it now. I assume he was her husband. This poor guy is probably thinking, what the hell is going on? My wife is losing it, the pizza guy is losing it, I just want some food.

7 years later. 2555 days later. 61,320 hours later. I've changed jobs a few times, I've gone a few dates, still no relationships. I've gone to group therapy and individual therapy. I've had my struggles and I've had my successes. I've grown as a person. I've set boundaries with my father. I've become closer with my mother. My friends are fucking amazing! I have small group of friends, we've been friends since high school. 17 years of friendship and counting!

Lately I've been depressed. Working has been a big source of that. Every time I feel that I am moving forward with my health, I feel like work takes me 5 steps back. Butt! A big hairy bubble butt! Sorry wrong kind of butt. But! I have to give myself credit. Despite being depressed, I am still trying. I am still trying to eat healthy, I am still trying to make myself see my friends. This past weekend I went to a conference out of town for people living with HIV and AIDS. That was huge for me! I put myself out of my comfort zone and faced my anxiety head on.

Even though I've been depressed it doesn't have as strong of a grip on me and I can thank HIV for that. Contracting HIV was hitting rock bottom for me. Contracting HIV made me realize I needed help. It  motivated me to join that group therapy program. It got me diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. It motivated me to start individual therapy with a Psychologist. It motivated me to try new things. Did I mention I started taking singing lessons last year? Something I've always wanted to do, but was to scared to do.

HIV made me realized life is too short and it has allowed me to grow and become a better person. As I write this, tears are running down my face. Some are sad tears, because to be honest obviously I would prefer to not have HIV. BUT another big hairy bubble butt! A lot of them are happy tears, proud tears that I have turned a negative into a positive (I swear no pun was intended!).

Because of HIV, I am becoming a better version of myself.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Shackles of Anxiety

I'm driving in my car, thinking to myself "I can do this, I can do this." I round the corner and my heart   beats faster every block closer I get to my destination. I attempt to turn into the parking lot, I jerk the steering wheel in the opposite direction and think "park across the street so you can see who is going in."

I'm so nervous. My anxiety is through the roof, my heart beating fast, mouth dry, palms sweaty. Mom's spaghetti? Wait that last part is from a song. Concentrate. It feels like there is a lump in my throat. I think my co-woker said that is called globus. Sounds like a travel agency.

I see a few people go in. I can do this, I can do this. I stare at my runners on the seat, just pick them up, open your door and go into the school. Nope not yet, I got here early for a reason, so I can work up the courage to go in. A couple more minutes pass, it's an all or nothing moment. I grab my shoes, open my car door and cross the street.

I open the school doors and walk down the hallway. My heart beating fast, nauseated, and the globus in my throat. That reminds me, I should plan my next vacation. I round the corner and I see a few guys sitting outside the gym. I try to make eye contact and smile, they look away. I nervously grab my phone and start looking on Facebook.

In my last therapy session we talked about how I need to be physically active. It will help with my joint pain and my mood. I've been wanting to go to recreational volleyball which is run through a local gay and lesbian sports league. Meeting new people isn't easy for me, you know with the anxiety and all. Hard to make conversation when you have a travel agency, I mean globus in your throat.

A few more guys show up and they all know each other. Everyone is laughing and hugging and catching up since the last time. Fuck. This is what I was afraid of. Afraid it was going to be a close knit group and I would have to awkwardly wiggle my way in. I feel like I'm going to have a panic attack and freak out. I try to covertly control my anxiety and tell myself, breathe, breathe. I manage to calm myself down. I tell myself once were in the gym and we get setup and were playing I will be so happy I did this.

The doors open, everyone goes into the gym and starts changing. Okay, so change rooms aren't a thing, nice underwear. I'm awkwardly standing against the wall while everyone is still chatting and having a gay old time. My anxiety is going through the roof again. Two of the guys are setting up the net, people start getting together and practicing. Do I just walk over an join them? I would, but my feet are stuck to the ground. Can globus travel to your feet? Who is running the volleyball? Who do I give my money to? Why are they spiking the ball? I thought this was a recreational league. TOO MUCH!

FUCK THIS! I can't do this. Grab my shoes, stare at the ground and I walk out of there. As I open the gym doors, my lip is quivering, I'm doing everything I can not to cry. My eyes are tearing up, I get out of the school and there are some junior high kids hanging outside of the school. I look to the side, I don't want them to see me, this pathetic old man about to cry. I speed walk to my car, come on globus lets pick up the pace! I get in my car, slam the door shut and start crying. I slam my fist on the steering wheel and yell FUCK! What is wrong with you?!

I'm crying because I feel pathetic, I feel stupid and embarrassed. It's just recreational volleyball, what's the big deal? This shouldn't be so hard. A normal person would of just said "Hi, I'm here for the volleyball, who do I pay my money to?"

But. I have to give myself credit. I drove there. I got out of my car. I went into the school. Hell, I went into the gym. Yes, I left but I made it farther than I thought I would. I tried, I gave it my best. Each attempt is a step in the right direction. Do not give up.

Take that globus, not telling me I can't cancel my flight without penalty. Shit wrong globus.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Tired of Being Tired

I'm tired. I'm tired of being tired. Tired of fighting. Fighting to live. Fighting to be mentally healthy. Fighting to love myself.

It's too much. I'm exhausted. It's a constant struggle. HIV. Asthma. Arthritis. IBS. Bipolar. Anxiety. Welcome to my pity party, I can cry if I want to. Today I didn't wake up till three pm. That's not true, I was first up around noon and couldn't get out of bed. The safety of my bed had me wrapped tightly in his arms. If I don't leave bed, I don't have to face the struggles of the day. If I allow myself to fall back asleep then I don't have to think about the life I hate. I fell back asleep and woke up around two. I went on my phone trying to distract myself. That didn't work as I saw on twitter it was mental health awareness day and that got me thinking about how I was feeling and relating to what people were posting.

I thought to myself, just get up, go make a coffee, it's simple. But then the evil part of my brain that's busy being depressed said to me "No it's not! Stay in bed. If you make coffee, you have to remove the blanket, get up, put on pants (the pants would only be for my roommates benefit), put on a shirt, put on your slippers, walk to the bedroom door, open the door, walk down the hallway, open another door, walk up the stairs, put the coffee capsule in the machine, lock the lid, press the button, wait for the coffee to fill up, grab coffee cup, go down the stairs, back through the door, back down the hallway, through the bedroom door, sit down, take a sip and ruminate about how shitty life is." So  yup, I stayed in bed for another couple hours. My bladder being full finally got me out of bed, which then led me to my couch and watching The Flash.

Work has been super stressful. I've been so stressed my IBS is acting up, my jaw and neck are sore from being tense, I've been having dizzy spells too. The other day at work, I had been go, go, go. I finally realized I hadn't eaten anything five hours into my shift. I went to Harvey's and ate. I got back to work, sat down in my chair and I felt lightheaded which quickly shifted to dizziness and then my eyes got heavy, a wave of blackness went over me and I almost fell face first in the keyboard. Thankfully I didn't faint but that was the closest I ever felt. It was intense. No time for the weak though, I logged into my computer to pump out more work.

Last February I went on short term disability for two and a half months. I was feeling like I do right now. I started seeing a therapist, I still see him every two to three weeks. I feel I didn't give myself enough time to build structure and get myself mentally healthy when I returned to work. I felt guilty that my co-workers had to pick up the slack and felt I needed to show I can do my part and even more now that I was back. My manager is aware I have HIV and Bi-Polar disorder. I've told her one of the main things I need is a consistent schedule. I struggle trying not to sleep too much. My therapist has told me it's important I get up at the same time every day to build that consistency. I find it difficult to do, when my start time isn't the same or is later in the day. My goal is to get up at eight thirty am every day and not hit snooze. This week I am working noon to eight. Since my mood is in the crapper it is very difficult for me to not hit snooze and sleep to the last possible second. If I'm asleep, I don't have to feel.

Recently we lost two supervisors and that meant the supervisors were down two people in their schedule rotation. One of the supervisors expressed concerned that I don't work the same hours as the rest of the team so out of guilt I volunteered to be a part of the rotation temporarily and work a late week every four weeks. That was a mistake. I have fallen back into old habits and my mood keeps getting worse. I feel stupid writing about this. It feels so dumb that this should be such an issue.

Getting up at eight thirty am each day shouldn't be hard, how can it have such an impact on my mental health? But I know it's important and I know it does. I know I need to say I can't work these late weeks anymore. And I also need to say I can't handle the current workload, I need to get my mental health back on track so that I can be a productive employee. Sigh, easier said than done. My arch nemesis anxiety is filling my head with all the irrational things that can go wrong.

I'm tired of being tired. I'm tired of being in pain. I'm tried of struggling. Just so tired.