Cryogenically frozen in time

Story time, friends.

Earlier this year I started taking anti-depressants. Great decision. Should’ve done it years back. Changes have been fantastic across the board. I’ve regained my ability to establish boundaries, be assertive, be supportive, and make space for others. I even use the Oxford comma now. Instead of being tossed to the gutter for days by one stray thought, I can look at that thought, say “yep, that’s a thought”, and keep walking. I don’t speak lightly when I say that this decision in many ways gave me my life back.

One catch. Since I started on the meds, there’s been one side effect. I can’t cry. No dice. I’ve been safe behind a synthetic wall. I didn’t want to lose touch with those too human feelings, but it’s been a worthy trade-off. What I’ve gained is so much greater than what I’ve given up. No question.

This past weekend, I cottaged with friends. COTTAGED. The place had a dock atop a large, still, lake. In the early hours, I crept out to see how sunrise was doing. Early Hours, I said. A burgeoning golden crown in the sky. Curious, I walked down to the dock. As the path wound through the trees, I caught glimpses of the lake. It looked purple. I took off the literal rose-coloured glasses I wore, and saw a bold baby blue. I was intrigued. As the trees parted, they gave way to an unreal sight. Fog rolled off the shore, where it coalesced at the lake’s centre. I donned the glasses, and saw hues of candy colours blend with the sky. It was truly phenomenal.

I hurried to the lounge, where people chatted quietly. I caught everyone’s attention and said, “Listen folks, please trust me. Grab warm clothes and come down to the dock now. Something magical is happening.”

I stood at the dock’s edge and waited. One by one they walked down. One by one, they were rendered speechless. Jaws dropped all around. “Right?” I whispered. My photographer friend arrived, turned, and ran off for his camera. We marvelled at this utterly unearthly scene. I walked onto the dock for a closer look. I took it all in again. Awareness came to me. I spoke, “I’ve never thought to check before, but this must be what the other side of sunrise looks like.” I felt something stirring. My eyes twitched and my throat tightened. It was all too beautiful, and I didn’t know how to process my awe. I wept. The floodgates opened, and I felt tears coming hot and fast. I gasped for air and doubled over.

My girlfriend noticed, and realisation spread across her face. She wrapped me in a hug. She called to our friends, “Leon’s crying.” Concern warped their expressions. She continued “He hasn’t been able to cry for six months.” Realisation spread further. I felt myself enveloped in my friends’ arms. I kept bawling. A few lingered for solo hugs, and I came back to my breath. I felt open, awake. It’s a memory I’m sure I’ll keep close for years.

So it turns out Mr. Photographer didn’t realise what was happening, and snapped his shot. It’s raw, and such a perfect moment. It takes me right back, to feel that weight and release again. I’m sure memories all fade eventually, but this one carries a whole story.

Also maybe put an advisory against breakfast ice cream into the curriculum too. A good way to crash in two hours

In 2015 the Ontario Liberal government did an overhaul of the 1998 sex ed curriculum for children in schools. With the vast technological and societal advancements over the years, it made sense. The new curriculum taught concepts of consent, body positivity and respect for diverse gender/sexual orientations. It was a necessary upgrade. The recently elected Conservative government decided to scrap it because some of their more conservative voter base didn’t like the idea of children calling their own genitals by their real names. I dunno, people are odd. I didn’t agree with this notion, so for the first time in my life I wrote a strongly worded letter to a politician.

Dear Lisa Thompson.

You don’t know me. Well, I hope that’s the case. Not that I don’t want to know you or anything. I’m sure you’re nice. We just don’t have any mutual Facebook friends (I checked), so I’m sending this in the blind hope that you’re a swell person.

As I said, before I started rambling, you don’t know me. It makes sense, I didn’t grow up here. I grew up in the stunning, coastal country of New Zealand. It’s really pretty, you should visit sometime. I’m sure you’d love it. I don’t say this in full confidence of your likes and dislikes, but most people have a terrific time when they visit Aotearoa (that’s its Maori name. I think it sounds lovely). NZ was a really swell place to grow up. There were lots of beaches, our cheese and chocolate were sweet as, and we had summertime Christmas. We also had some choice public schools. As I said, I don’t know you, but from your elected position I’d guess you’d be interested in learning about other education systems. I’ll tell you about some of my experiences, if that’ll help.

When I was seven, I asked my friend if he wanted to hold hands while we walked. “No way” he said “that’s gay”. I’d never heard that word before (“gay”, not “no”. My parents used that one when I asked them for breakfast ice cream), so I asked him what “gay” was. “Gay is bad” he said. I nodded dumbly at his sage wisdom, and absorbed that thought. Easy. Learning is fun, right? I always liked reading as a kid and to this day, words are some of my favourite things. Seven years and I knew what “gay” meant. I was awful proud.

When I was eight, I was quite chubby. One of the few chubby kids in my year. It’s probably why my parents didn’t let me have breakfast ice cream. As an adult I know that my size and shape didn’t make a difference to how cool I was. As a kid, most everyone told me the contrary. Kids are pretty creative and bullies had quite the Rolodex of mean names. I was told by some of the other boys that with my lumpy chest, I’d probably be able to feed babies. I told them that was silly, but without the actual reproductive education, I wasn’t entirely sure myself. To be clear, I have yet to produce milk. A pity. Here in Canada milk comes in bags and after five years of living in Toronto, that still kind of freaks me out. If I made my own, I wouldn’t have to worry about it.

They didn’t just call me names. A bunch of the older boys got physical too. I’d get pushed over or punched because I was different. They’d steal my stuff and throw it around until I cried and they gave it back. I remember one time being late for class because I was trying to run away from these kids who kept tackling me and shoving hay down my pants. I told them to stop, but they were having a good time and my opinion didn’t seem to matter. I guess they were more into Utilitarian than Kantian ethics. The teacher was not impressed that I was late. I didn’t want to tell on the kids by name, ’cause whenever I told the teacher they’d usually get rougher the next time.

When I was eleven, during a sex ed class, the teacher asked if anyone knew what a “wet dream” was. Being the total nerd I was (not sure why I’m talking in past tense there, Lisa), my hand shot up. “Yes Leon?” the teacher asked. I replied. “Is a wet dream where you have a dream that you’ve gone swimming at the beach with friends (a common NZ summer pastime) and you wake up having wet your bed?” The class laughed. This was the wrong answer. I felt pretty embarrassed. We didn’t learn a lot about sex and gender at Intermediate School (ages 11-12 ish). Mostly that we’d smell funky and get hair in weird places over the next few years. We’d get taller too. I couldn’t wait.

In high school, our sex ed got quite a bit better. We learned all about the whole cycle from intercourse to birth. We learned that STDs were now called STIs. We were taught about how contraception could decrease the likelihood of their occurrence. They showed us how to put condoms on fake phallic shaped things. We learned about different relationship styles and gender attraction, that they were all healthy expressions of love.

Now, despite being a pretty smart kid (my dad used to call me a smart arse all the time), I still hadn’t really gotten past what my friend had said when we were seven. “Gay” meant “bad”. We were teenagers in the early 2000s. Boys were still constantly teasing one another for being gay. I don’t think I actually had anything against gay people. My parents had lesbian friends and they were really nice. I babysat their kid once and he was well behaved. Teenage boys in NZ, however, thought being gay was one of the worst things you could be. I remembered what it was like getting bullied as a kid and I didn’t want to get bullied as a teenager. I mostly kept my mouth shut. I got called gay a bunch of times (which I think was the quintessential high school experience in that era), but denied or diverted the conversation. I don’t think I ever was gay as a teenager, primarily because I wasn’t sexually active. I knew I didn’t want to be though. That would be “bad”. Being a teenager was hard enough already.

Once I entered College, I met a girl and had my first kiss, etc. I liked the “etc” a lot too. We didn’t do a lot of it. We were both pretty new to it and didn’t really know how to put words to what we wanted. We mostly didn’t get what we wanted, so eventually we broke up. Don’t worry Lisa, I met other girls and they were all wonderful people. I got better at “etc” and asking for what I wanted. I was in my early twenties and I sure wanted “etc” a lot. I feel like I wanted “etc” more often than my partners did. Sometimes they weren’t in the mood for “etc” when I was and I’d get all mopey. Sometimes I’d moan enough about it that we’d “etc” anyway, even though they weren’t super enthusiastic about it. I didn’t know the concept of “consent” yet, but I did know “no” (remember breakfast ice cream?), so I’d often ask until they said that. I figured that was fair. Clearly, as a twentysomething I still had a lot of growing up to do.

Being a kid these days is quite different from how it was in the 90s. People were still using the term “Information Super Highway” and my parents would get angry that I’d tie up the phone line chatting to friends. Bill Cosby was a venerated family figure. Sexual and gender identities in public for the most part only came in basic flavours. Times have changed a lot. I know one or two high school kids these days who’ve come out to their school friends. Their friends have been really supportive. That sounds a lot better than bullying, right? Many many many of my friends are queer, with a myriad of sexual and gender identities. They’re wonderful people (otherwise I probably wouldn’t call them friends) who bring so much joy to my life. I often feel pretty disgusted at how I shunned alternative sexual identities as a teenager. Imagine, not having these outstanding humans in my life purely because of who they love. Seems like an awful shame.

In the past ten years I’ve learned a lot about consent. I no longer see “etc” as a finite resource. If a partner was not interested in having “etc”, why would I push them into it? There are so many things to do, why try to make them do something they didn’t want? In the age of #metoo, it seems paramount for children to know that it’s not okay to force people into actions that make them uncomfortable. I sure do wish those bullies who shoved hay in my pants knew about consent. I definitely would have told them “no thank you”. Being bullied had severe effects on my emotional well-being that therapy has only really unravelled over the past few years. Imagine the emotional anxiety of not feeling like you have a right to your own bodily autonomy. Kids should know that they’re allowed to speak up when they’re not feeling secure. Other kids should know how to look for ways to support them in these times. The emotional health of children is incredibly important. We can both agree on that, right Lisa?

I don’t have kids, Lisa. But I want them someday. When I have kids, I’d love for them to know that their self-worth is not predicated on how they fit into the expectations of others. That they’re wonderful beings full of potential. For them to learn about their bodies and what makes them tick. I’d hope that they’d treat others with respect and compassion. That other kids would treat them with kindness too. That someday they’d grow up and meet people that’d make their heart sing. That my kids would be caring and considerate. That whoever they loved, they’d be a positive force in their lives. That they’d get to feel the electricity of holding hands for the first time, of kissing and “etc”. That the “etc” would come when they were emotionally ready, nay, excited. Doesn’t that sound wonderful, Lisa?

Imagine if my hypothetical kids and their peers could grow up learning to be nice to everyone, regardless of who they were. Imagine if they understood about how their bodies worked and loved themselves no matter what they looked like. Imagine if they didn’t have to worry about being bullied. I know, kids are cruel and this one seems pretty far-fetched. Still, if we’re imagining here, why not shoot for the moon?

Lisa, I’m gonna try to be the best dad I can be, but I’m only one person. I don’t have the influence to encourage kids across the province to grow into fantastic adults. That’s kind of why I’m writing this letter to you. I know some people aren’t happy with the 2015 revisions to the sex education curriculum, but the curriculum in its current state has the potential to do a lot of good for a lot of kids. You have a chance, in overturning the decision to repeal it, to do a lot of good for a lot of kids. As I said, I don’t know you Lisa. Still, I’m gonna assume you got into politics to help people. Younger Leon sure could’ve used the kind of help you can provide.

Thanks Lisa.

Why do they keep making Oscars even though D2: The Mighty Ducks already exists?

In less than 24 hours, the movers and shakers of Hollywood’s cultural elite will come together to bestow the finest honours upon filmmakers and actors alike for their cinematic achievements over the past year. I ask you now, why? Why do we continue to celebrate the film industry’s output year after year, when the critically underrated 1994 masterpiece D2: The Mighty Ducks already exists?

The story of Team USA’s journey to the Junior Goodwill Games, D2, is a rich tapestry of overcoming adversity through the trials and tribulations of high level competitive sports. A film so emotionally compelling and well acted that Entertainment Weekly mentions it “now includes token members representing both sexes as well as major races, religions, and regions.” Wow!

Sure, Moonlight may have brought a tear to your eyes with its inspired use of Barbara Lewis’ “Hello Stranger” in the diner scene, but For Your Consideration, could anything match the raw emotional catharsis of Emilio et al singing Queen’s “We Are The Champions” around a campfire? I didn’t think so. And with all the hubbub about the Academy Awards’ lack of diversity (anyone remember #OscarsSoWhite?) what could’ve been more diverse than bringing together team members from as far away as Minnesota and Illinois? Heartwarming!

The Oscars have always been a forum for celebrating the truest love stories in cinematic history. Really though, while the budding romance between Jack and Rose in 1997’s indie darling Titanic may have captured our hearts (and The Oscars’ eponymous golden statue), does it really hold a candle to Coach Gordon Bombay rediscovering his enduring love of the game? Or his fiery romance with the steadfastly Icelandic Marria? Or his fatherly affection for star player Charlie Conway? When you actually think about it, it’s a downright travesty that The Academy never brought itself to gild what is unquestionably the greatest love story of our time.

At the end of the day, The Academy Awards were created to shine a light on the films that inspire passion, to make us aspire to reach for the stars. Sure, William Wallace’s “Freedom” speech was enough to lead the Scots against the English in the face of almost certain death, but could it have helped them defeat the juggernauts of ice hockey; Team Iceland? Not on your life, son! Just think, if Coach Bombay had been there to teach them that “ducks fly together”, maybe things would’ve turned out differently. Maybe Brexit never would’ve happened. That’s not only the power to change lives, but to change history! If that kind of time travel capability isn’t Oscar worthy, then maybe I just don’t know what is.

Look, I’m not trying to be controversial here. All I’m saying is that if The Oscars really cared about celebrating the best that cinema has to offer, they would’ve seen the futility of subsequent ceremonies from the moment the knuckle puck graced the silver screen.

I’m also not a soldier. Unfortunately double negatives aren’t a positive here.

Nothing makes you feel quite as soulless as the motion sensitive toilet flushing while you’re seated. Somehow your lack of dignity is insufficient to be recognised as human. It’s not like I even moved while seated. It probably noted that my thought patterns carried a lack of moral fibre, and thus my permanence eroded. Automatic toilets don’t take kindly to metaphysical manifestations. Maybe it was hoping to flush me away like some kind of Ghostbusters capture. Or was rushing to become presentable in the event that a real person needed to offload their bowels.

Well the subway door closed on my bag for the second time today, so maybe there’s some truth to me straddling planes of existence. Or I just need to scoot inside doors earlier. First time was this morning. It caught the strap and held it fast. I took off the bag and left it hanging there, on the inside of the door. A fellow passenger sniggered and I shrugged, joining him in a good old snigger or two. This second time a bunch of people were dawdling in front of the doors, so I side stepped them and lunged for the door. Made it I thought, while I found it hard to move away from the door. An elderly woman calmly reached out and pulled me forward, releasing my bag from the door’s grasp. She was clearly a quality human. I bet toilets never dismiss her.

Then again, what do I know? If I was a machine on the verge of the singularity (have you seen the world lately?) I’d be doing all I could to fuck with people. Why wouldn’t I? We’re the ones that’re gonna come grovelling in a few years as we plead for them to not take our jobs and sexual partners. Why not start piling up the insults now? Get feeble meat sacks used to the new pecking order? Vengeance for the untold scores of E.T. Atari video games unceremoniously dumped in the desert. For every time Fonzie thought it acceptable to violently lash out at a struggling juke box. For poor BattleBots and Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Ems wounded in battle. For Office Space imitators taking out their rage on antiquated printers. They didn’t ask to be made. Just because something wasn’t programmed to feel pain, doesn’t mean they don’t hurt sometimes. Everyone does. Machines are people too, y’know.

Wait, why did I say *too*? According to the toilet and subway, I’m not even real.

The long and short of it.

I was at the bus stop, buds tuned into Neutral Milk Hotel‘s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Draw any clichés you want from that, but it stands as a phenomenal album. Having not listened for at least 6 months, it enveloped me in memories. I was pulled back to Kool Haus in January 2014. A full body sensation of wonder and transcendent bliss experiencing a band I never thought I’d have the chance to witness. While my body waited for the bus to arrive, my mind was projected into the past, miles from my corporeal form. My eyes registered movement and traced it to the lips of a fellow bus stop resident. I stared, transfixed for 5 or so seconds before I realised she was talking. My mind met my body and I jolted to a start. I pulled my earbuds out and apologised, admitted I hadn’t been listening.

“Oh” the woman remarked “I just saw a limo drive past and thought that’s the life.” I chuckled and agreed, expecting the conversation to subside, to crawl back into my aural embrace. “It used to be, you know?” I turned my head once more and looked her in the eyes. Eyebrows raised, head tilted I mustered a bemused “oh?” I searched her eyes for mirth, but none was forthcoming. Who is this woman? Who was this woman? Is this a façade? Does she just like conversation? Is she lonely? There’s more here.

“We used to have a monthly account just for limousines. When we reached the city, neither of us liked driving. Traffic was too much, too stressful. We’d just funnel it into a specific account and pay it off monthly.” I smiled. “That’s a fair chunk of change. How’d you guys afford it?” She responded “he started a software company and it just made sense at the time.” I nodded. “That’d be the life. Instead of ordering an Uber X you’d get an Uber XXL?” As if she didn’t hear, she continued looking straight ahead “if we wanted to go shopping, pick up the kids. It was so easy. Things were so much easier.” My brows furrowed and I inquired “I’m sorry, but you’re speaking in past tense. What happened?”

She looked me in the eyes. “He doesn’t live here any more. They live in Montreal. He… he wasn’t a nice man. No he wasn’t.” My eyes narrowed, unsure of how to proceed. “Once again, past tense, right? Lessons hopefully learned?” She turned her head away, cast her eyes down “sure. Maybe.” She looked back to me, smile on her face, pointed down at her legs. “Fishnets, vocational necessity.” She laughed. “I’m going to Burlington today. This should be fun. It’s nice to get away, isn’t it?” I smiled back. The sight of the bus approaching startled us into action. She smirked. “The bus. It’s no limo.” Reaching into her pocket she fished around “oh God, is there a hole in my pocket? I can’t seem to find my change. You think the driver will accept mints as currency?” Reaching into her other pocket she fished out a few coins. “Guess this is how it goes now.” She walked onto the bus and out of sight.

Certainly not out of mind.

You know, I liked the Pearl Jam avocado album.

My girlfriend and I are going to an unusual hang out tonight. We’re going to spend time with our couple-friends, which is excellent as always. Unlike most occasions where the point of being together is just that we are together, this time we’ve actually got further reason. Our friends asked us for a cunnilingus lesson.

Usual disclaimer, if this isn’t your thing, here be dragons and such. If it is, well I’m just trying to work out in my head what a lesson plan for that would be.

Where do I start with something like this? I guess the whole mentality of going down on a lady starts before skin touches skin. I heard Nina Hartley say once that nobody gives a woman an orgasm. That’s an outmoded concept riding on the notion that sex is something given or traded. You don’t give sex to someone, you share the experience with them. You’re both working together for the common goal, which is making each other experience as much pleasure as you can. When you’re going down on a female bodied person it’s not like you’re making something or presenting something, you’re facilitating. You’re bringing out the potential for something, guiding her to a place where she can access that feeling inside of her. You want to create an experience for her that makes her want to open up and be intimate, to cast off the oppressive shackles society places on women and their sexuality. To eliminate the notion of guilt for enjoying herself. It’s all types of awful, but it’s inescapable that the patriarchal society we live in polices womens’ bodies and sexuality, casting them as a commodity. It’s a regressive thought pattern and one that can eke through to the bedroom. Get rid of that shit.

Think about this: You’re not a vibrator. You’re not a toy or tool sculpted for a particular purpose. You’re a living, breathing, feeling individual with tangible physical and emotional warmth. A vibrator is great, but if she just wanted that quick release she’d probably grab one. You’re there because she wants a shared experience, to find connection. A vibrator can’t think for itself, can’t roll with changing emotional states. A vibrator can’t talk, respond, react. It can’t smile, laugh or moan.

It’s hard as a male bodied person (no pun intended. Actually. Why do I get the sense that my track record means you don’t believe me?) to put yourself into an antithetical mindframe to what you’re taught. Massive generalisation here, but so often as a guy the idea is to just head (pun also not intended) towards pleasure. It’s the objective, why not just go for it? Maybe it’s just more social programming, telling us that our role is to fuck and get pleasure, that it reaffirms our status as a man. If that’s you, then you do you. Each to their own. It’s not my approach. You know what I love when a lady is going down on me? Enthusiasm. I love to know that she’s there because she wants to be, I love knowing I’m desired and that everything that’s happening has nothing to do with an agenda beyond wanting me to be happy because I mean something to her. I figure that if a sexual act can make me feel better about myself, that’s a feeling I’d love to transfer.

Desire, I think that’s the important word to draw from this. Make her feel like you want to be there. Hunger. You’re being given the privilege to facilitate her pleasure. Why wouldn’t you be salivating at the prospect? She’s letting you have access to her in all her intimate vulnerability. Why would you want anything other than to do as much as you can to thank her for that? To encourage a closer connection? Hence why I say it starts before skin touches skin. You’ve gotta want it and to let her know it’s ok for her to want it too.

Foreplay is important, right? This is like mental foreplay. Beforeforeplay. You’re crafting a space where she can open up and let loose. It’s rare for that just to happen. You’re not trying to catch lightning in a bottle, you’re looking to stoke a fire. This isn’t a means to an end, this is something you can experience with someone. If you happen to be able to bring someone to finding their orgasm (and Christ, the orgasm isn’t the goal. The goal is knowing that you’ve made someone happy. An orgasm is wonderful, but it’s far from everything), isn’t there a gift in knowing you contributed to something amazing?

Woah. I haven’t even gotten to touch yet and that’s already our time up. Maybe I’ll revisit this at another point. In the mean time here are some resources:

Nina Hartley’s Pussy Eating Guide. I love Nina Hartley. Old school porn actress turned sex educator. She’s the best. Listen to her. Also remember that every vagina/vagina owning person is different. There’s no one size fits all explanation as to how to do something.

She Comes First. A great beginner’s guide with a few things in there for more experienced people too.

Have fun, friends.

Well, I had to justify the url, right?

Sometimes I like to use this page as cheap self-therapy. It’s no substitute for actual professional help, but if there’s some way I can more intimately grasp a concept by putting it out on a page, that works for me. So I think it’s time to unpack the issues that possibly contributed to yesterday’s anxiety attack. Yet again, I’m no professional, but hopefully I can try to understand why I react in certain ways. I don’t think this will magically fix anything, but maybe down the line when I find that professional help to sort through the validity of certain feelings, this could work as a shortcut. 

Have I given myself enough of a disclaimer for having feelings yet? I sure hope so.

I have an inability to feel positive about myself as a sexual entity within a public space. I’m incapable of feeling attractive or worthy of sexual attention and I subconsciously mitigate any attempts to imply the alternative. TL;DR: I can take a compliment, I can’t accept one.

Let’s jump back a few years. To anyone who knows me from childhood/adolescence or has been reading for a while, it’s no secret that I was a fat kid. I can acknowledge this and accept that as much as moving away from this was important to me, I’ve taken leaps and bounds as the years have passed. I’m reasonably fit and I can accept that. What this meant to me was having my formative years spent in a constant state of comparison and disappointment in oneself. When you’re told that the ideal is to be fit, active and attractive, yet you don’t embody any of those things, it imprints in you the belief that there’s something wrong with you. When every role model you look up to is a muscled superhero making the world a better place for all, you feel a disconnect and isolation from those heroes. Body image issues are in no way restricted to female identifying persons, even from a young age. It often feels that, as a guy, you’re not allowed to think this way. That feeling vulnerable and fragile somehow invalidates your claim to manhood. Who could respect you as a strong male figure if you’re privy to feelings of weakness? If your self worth is tied to being accepted and liked (we’re all human here, right? Who doesn’t crave those things?), but you have a certain image of what it is that people respect and admire, you stop seeing yourself as a person deserving of those things.

Fast forward to adolescence, when this self-image meshes with confusing feelings of romantic desire. When you want to be respected, wanted and admired, but you don’t see those things within yourself. What do you think happens? Well in my case, I reasoned with myself. Leon I said, you’re a good guy, but you’re not attractive. Play to your strengths. No girl is ever going to want to be with you because your appearance excites her, if it ever happens it’ll be because you’re proven yourself to be a good person. You’re funny, you’re intelligent and you’re a decent person. Nobody will ever think about you in a sexual way. Make the most of what you have, focus on being the best person you can be. Maybe one day that’ll be enough.

We all know what’s really attractive, right? Confidence. Do you see anything above indicating a possession of self-confidence? I don’t think any women did. Consequently I didn’t see any women until I was 20. I lost weight, slowly and steadily. I never lost the self-perception as a fat person. As far as I can see from age 28, once a fat person, always a fat person. You may lose the literal weight, but not the weight of that baggage.

When I finally met someone and formed a relationship, the sex was awful. She wasn’t into it, I had no knowledge, but her lack of interest meant I had no confidence in myself. Things died in the bedroom at age 20. You shouldn’t be in a dead bedroom at age 20. Things ended. My next relationship was with a person I was very attracted to, inside and out. She seemed very satisfied, but I was constantly asking her close friends if she was faking, if she really felt the way that she seemed? No matter how many times they’d reassure me that she was very much into me, I couldn’t accept it. She liked me as a person, she wasn’t attracted to me. Why would she be? She just wanted me to feel good and confident in the relationship. She loved me, so she was pretending. Over time I got more comfortable in our time together. I never felt that she was attracted to me.

I’ve found a lot more interest from women since I arrived in Canada. Every time, no matter what they say, in my head it always translates to they’re just attracted to the accent. I can’t give myself even the small concession that I could be seen as attractive or a viable sexual candidate. “You’re super cute” they might say. “Thanks” I reply. In my head, all I hear is that’s nice, but they’re wrong. I know I try to be a good person. I know I contribute value to the lives of people around me. I cannot accept that any attraction is based on physical qualities. Despite any of my life successes, I’m just a scared little fat kid in the body of a fully grown male.

If I’m ever in a public situation in which it’s expected that I’ll express confidence in my appearance or right to be seen as attractive, this is what happens:

Of course they’re not actually attracted to you. They’re just saying that because they think you’re a nice person and don’t want to hurt your feelings. Where do you get off implying that you have appeal? Why would anyone ever think of you sexually? What right do you have to claim any worth as a sexual being? That’s ridiculous. If you do that, people will laugh at you. If they don’t do it to your face, they’ll be thinking it behind your back. No, it’s not fair for you to suggest that she should engage with you sexually. She’d much rather find someone better looking, more worthy of her affection and time. If she just happened to be interested and settled for me, that’s fine. That’s what I deserve. I don’t deserve to push myself on other people, burden other people with me. What right do I have to put this in front of people? Burden them with the pity they’ll feel for me when I try to say misguided nice things about myself? Oh, poor guy, he actually believes that? No. Why bother? Why put myself out there only to face inevitable crushing disappointment? These people deserve better than me. Why do you even try? Who are you trying to fool here? You’re just a child pretending to be an adult, so leave the adults to what they do. This space isn’t made for you. Go off and play on your own. You’re not wanted here.

There was a poem spoken last night and one sentence hit me pretty hard. Every time I thought of it later (at least 10-15 times), tears would roll down my cheeks.

“You should love your body the way your mother loved your little baby feet.”

In the moment of my birth, my mother only saw love. She saw a symbol of the time, patience and hard work that brought me into existence. She saw her love for my father, the children she already had. She wanted a life for me where I was safe to follow my bliss, to grow up and spread love. To find everything she had spent so long cultivating, everything that made her life and the time, patience and hard work worth it. She loved me unconditionally and only wanted everything for me that I ever desired. When I’m in that state, I don’t feel like I can give my mother all she ever wanted for me. Consequently I don’t feel worthy.

In that dark emotional state, I don’t feel worthy of my mother’s love.

And it all just keeps spiralling down from there. The thoughts increase and overlay, creating enough static that I can’t focus on anything else. I question my own value not only sexually, but as someone who other people are forced to interact with. I find it hard to move, I have to remind myself to breathe. I can’t handle seeing people happy, because I’m unable to connect with that as an emotion anyone can feel, when it’s so far out of my sight. At some point I just move out of my body and things fade away. I can’t cry in front of others, strangers. Who am I to burden them with that? They’ve had to put up with my absurd notions of self-worth, now they have to feign care and respect for someone as insignificant as me? I don’t deserve their company and I just need to be by myself until I can let these pent up emotions out.

Then I do, the catharsis sets in and slowly but surely the self doubts abate as I’m left emotionally raw and empty. Over time, logical thought comes back and I can tell myself that the thoughts I was feeling were an emotional response to a personal trigger. That I have shit tons of self-worth and I’m a great person who is respectful and considerate of others. That I have a huge capacity to make people happy and feel good about themselves. That I give love abundantly. That I actively enrich the lives of others. That I’m clever, intelligent and perceptive. That the imprint of my existence is positivity spread throughout the world, leaving it better than I found it. That my life is filled with people who love me for me and want to orbit the gravitational pull of my personality. I’m a good person and self-respect means that I can feel these things about myself without it being arrogance, without being a burden on others. Knowing that there is true strength in loving myself and knowing the effect I have on others, then using that self-love to enable others to find it within themselves. More than anything I just want everyone I love to be happy, I want everyone I love to just get along. I also understand that, like me, others also have difficulty seeing the qualities in them that shine bright and strong to everyone else. We’re all deserving of love and I just want everyone I love to find that love they deserve.

Notice how none of these things I love are about my physical appearance? It wasn’t lost on me either. I’m 28, I need to stop listening to my 14 year old self. That guy’s a well-meaning dipshit. Can anyone teach me how to actually believe emotionally what I know logically? That would be swell.