I Miss This Place

Hello, Bloglets (is this a name we like? I’m experimenting. Bear with me.)

I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. I always do, even when I’m not around. I’ve been turning several thousand things over in my head for quite some time, and I think what I need right now is to just dump it all out and attempt to gain some sense of organization. If you fancy such rubbish, by all means, read away. If it’s not your jam, I won’t be offended. Emotional labor is totally a thing.

Since I moved to Boston, my mental health has been… unusual. Things that have always been there have taken new forms and proven to be more of an obstacle than they ever have been. I’ve always speculated that I suffered from depression in some capacity, but it was never bad enough to drive me to seek out treatment or a diagnosis. I might have some days or nights when I felt lonely or unwanted, but they typically passed by the next morning and all was well-ish (if my memory serves me.) In the months leading up to the move, I had several spontaneous…somethings. I don’t know whether I should call them anxiety attacks, emotional breakdowns, or something completely different. But I had never experienced anything like them and they terrified me. They lasted for several days and I had no idea how to process them so I spent every free moment I had during that time literally hiding under the covers. The anxiety has stayed with me. I’m fairly certain now that it’s always been there, but I misinterpreted it as shyness or introversion. It is rarely as intense as it was during those spells, but when it is, I’ve managed to keep it more or less under control, at least in the presence of others. Whatever it is that’s going on inside me, it’s left me feeling mentally and emotionally… constipated? Paralyzed? A mess, to say the very least. Where I once was able to channel my thoughts and feelings into writing with minimal effort, compiling a well-crafted paragraph has felt nearly impossible. I haven’t even been able to read an entire book since 2016. It’s a truly humiliating feeling for me.

I’ve been seeing a therapist since September. He’s fine. I don’t always feel like he’s able to follow along with the specifics of my weird, sparkly, gay AF life, but he’s given me some helpful tidbits. I’ve become better at recognizing whether my moods are based in reality or not, and stepping out of my own head to analyze my situations and give myself better consult. I don’t have a solid answer as to what may or may not be wrong with me, but I received a piece of paper from my insurance company with the words “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” on it, so there’s that.

This is my brooding face. Adorable, ain’t it?
Photo credit: Mélissa Kooyomjian Kemp

Meanwhile, I’ve also been having a very tumultuous relationship with my body. Early last year, in a fit of frustration, I impulsively purchased a membership to the most affordable and conveniently located gym. Despite the plentitude of doubt I had in myself, I’ve managed to stick with it. I can’t say I personally enjoy the process of working out, as many do. And I can’t say that my results are what I hoped they’d be one year later. But I can say that while my original motivations were based in vanity, I’ve found that my satisfaction has been derived from becoming stronger and doing things I thought my body would never be able to do.

That said, body dysmorphia is still one of the major antagonists in my storyline. When I started this journey, I felt small and weak. Now, while I’m still short, I am noticeably more muscular, but have also put on a lot of weight in places that I would really rather not (read: tummy). I’ve outgrown a great deal of my clothing, even items I just bought this past fall. When I arrived in Boston, I wore an XS t-shirt. Now, I wear a medium. T-shirts actually look better on me than they ever have, which is cool, but now I can’t find a single button-down shirt that doesn’t look atrocious on me. This is a very serious problem for a dapper gentleman such as myself, and I feel completely lost. In this time, I’ve gone through several hundred dollars in wardrobe adjustments (and colored my hair at least half of the colors of the rainbow), but I can’t seem to find an aesthetic that makes me feel like myself.<

Socially, things are fine. I have a great support system here in Boston, but I still feel… lonely… disconnected. I have some the most loyal and encouraging friends I’ve ever had in my life, but there are parts of me that I still don’t know how to share with those that I spend my time with. And it’s not that they wouldn’t care, but they wouldn’t know how to relate. My interactions with gay men are extremely limited, which is a bigger problem for me than I ever would have ever anticipated. And it’s not just because this means that my dating & sex life sucks. I’ve learned that queer comradery is something I deeply need in my life. And this may be the depression and/or anxiety talking, but the gay men I come across don’t seem to find me interesting (and most of them don’t seem so spectacular to me, either).

Burlesque has been both my primary source of joy and the main cause of stress in my life. In Boston, whether I’m performing in a show or just attending, I can’t think of a place where I feel more comfortable in my skin. But the political climate of burlesque nationwide has been incredibly tense as of late, and I’ve lost a lot of sleep over relationships that have been strained and shattered since I left New York. There have been times I’ve wanted to quit completely, and times where I feel like it’s all I have. But my community has lifted me up and shown me sides of myself that I’ve never seen before, and I can’t even begin to gush at how grateful I am for them.

What I’ve learned, though, is that I can’t let burlesque be my dominant creative outlet. Having a separate sexy persona is very empowering, and I would recommend it to anyone, but letting him take the reigns for too long has done a number on my own self-esteem. As much as I love my butt, I have a lot of other skills, traits, and quirks that I’m proud of and want the world to see.

So I’m trying to turn myself around again by putting all spare energy I have into reconnecting with the other aspects of my life that I’ve been missing… sex education, acting, writing. I still have a lot of work to do, but there are several sparks of good things to come that have me feeling hopeful:

  • This week, I gave a guest lecture on sex toys for a class on Sex, Society, & Health at Emerson College. This was my first time doing any kind of sex ed since leaving The Pleasure Chest and while I was rusty, it felt good to be back.
  • Next month I will be entering the workshop rotation at Good Vibrations here in the Boston area. Keep an eye out for details wherever I regularly talk about myself.
  • I’m acting again. Like, actually acting. Playing someone who isn’t me. I’ve been given my dream role, Puck, in a local production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. I never realized how badly I needed this until it happened, and I still get emotional when studying my text, but I’m feeling really positive about everything that’s going on with it.

These events have done wonders to help me feel just a little more like myself, and I’m starting to get a clearer picture of who I want to be and what I want to do. There are still countless components that need be uncovered before they can fall into place, but progress is progress.

Amidst all of this, I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog, and what’s to become of it. I can tell you right now that something needs to change. I have some ideas, but I’m not sure which of them are good. But I know that I’m leagues away from the person I was when I started writing this nearly ten years ago, and my goals have changed drastically. My brand ought to be altered accordingly.

My main question is whether I can be my genuine self in my writing and still appeal to an audience. It seems like everyone wants a blogger who harbors a mysterious surplus of positive energy that they can spread around cyberspace and still manage to keep their own supply well stocked. I don’t have that to offer right now. I don’t know that I ever will. But I don’t want that to stop me from using my experiences and ideas from entertaining and inspiring those who can benefit from it.

To summarize:

  • My mental issues are being addressed, but I’m impatient. I feel like I deserve more happy chemicals in my brain.
  • My body image is in the crapper, but I’m the strongest I’ve ever been in my life. I even have a visible tricep. This is nuts. Now I just need clothes to fuckin’ fit me.
  • Things are mostly great but I’m sad anyway.
  • Burlesque is a blessing and a curse.
  • Things are looking up.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading.

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