How To Soak a Couch With Blood (Money, Part 9)


This is a good blog post for me to have to write. The reason is I’m terrified to write it.  I know I am going to have to remember some unpleasant things. That’s a good thing because what I want most in the world right now is to get back to writing for real (scrips and such). I want to birth all these stories that are whirling around inside me. I want to set them free so that they can go out and live lives of their own.

The main reason I do not sit down and write is because I am afraid. I’ve shared this with you before and I think I’ve figured out, for the most part, why I’m so afraid. I won’t get back into it now. I can already see that I am trying to avoid writing about what I need to tell you about next by going off on some diatribe about the fear of writing. But the point is, if I can sit down and write the next part of the story, I will have conquered the fear for one day and actually written anyway.

You should just know that I have, in the last hour or two, engaged in just about every avoidance behavior I have at my disposal. That’s not at all uncommon for me. This, however is all part of the process and I am willing to be patient although that is not always easy. That is why I say the blog is saving my life. I believe God is behind all of this in ways I don’t yet fully understand. Which reminds me, I haven’t really written that blog post yet, have I?—my treatise about God. Maybe I’ll just do that today instead. No. Nice try. Deep breath. Write.

Here is how to soak a coach with blood:

When I look back on me at the time of these events, when I was struggling so, I can see where my life would seem just so absolutely out of control to anyone— and indeed it was. I was low and only digging lower with most every “solution” I tried. But at the same time, I can see that deep inside that very troubled young man was someone who very desperately wanted to live, wanted so much just be happy and alive. But everywhere I looked, all I saw was Problem. It was as if I saw the world through lenses that colored everything with what was wrong with the world and with the incredible mess I had made of my life. But as I said, there was also a resilience in me I actually think I have had since birth. It has shown up for me in the most dire of circumstances. It is the life force inside me. It is the warrior. As you know, I was basically living in a state of constant psychological distress and I was more or less drunk or high all of the time. So that being said, please remember that all of what I was trying to do to get out the mess, was not coming from a place of stability and health. That’s why I get so angry at people who judge the homeless, the drug addicted, and the mentally ill. “Why don’t they just make better decisions?” This condescending question most often comes from people living lives of good fortune (and some measure of privilege) even when they are convinced it was all of their own hard work and diligence. I know why those who struggle don’t do better. In many cases they simply can’t.  I have been there and I understand. I will never judge them again.

I had been depressed for as long as I could remember. Having recently escaped the bed of a man fifty years my senior and hating myself for what I had done there; still reeling from the abject terror  of growing up gay in a place like Walker County, Alabama; suffering the psychological ramifications of having been subjected since birth to an inordinate amount of erroneous and damaging ideas about God; having my genuine self be unwelcome and unwanted in my own homeland and culture; having suffered physical and sexual abuse since childhood; having all my relationships in my life be mired in codependency; drowning in alcoholism and drug addiction; a victim of my own homophobia, having been kicked out of school; buried in debt; and without any solution of how to get out of the hell I was in, I had what I thought as a good idea. Again, I can see where you will probably think it was just more of the same insane behavior but in it, I see my incredible desire to overcome and to survive, even in that deplorable state. Here is what I came up with:

The only time in recent memory I could remember not feeling like I was under a titanic weight of depression was when I was under the influence of MDMA (street name “ecstasy,” or “X” —the kids these days call it “E”). For the handful of hours I was rolling on the waves of its effects, I was free of the despondency that had become a constant in my current existence. If I had had the resources and the access, I would have done Ecstasy every day, side effects be damned. My life had become so hopeless, most of the time I couldn’t even imagine any solution as to how to get out of the trouble I was in. The weight of the depression made any possible plan to change the things that were wrong  seem somehow out of reach.

Here was my plan: I’d find a hit of X and take it. During the few hours the drug would allow me to be free of the heavy weight of the depression, I’d write down the solutions I came up with on how to fix my finances, the relationships, the school thing— all of it. Then, when the drug went out of my system, I knew that I’d feel hopeless again but I made a commitment to do whatever the paper said. I would stick to my solutions I’d written down and maybe, just maybe everything would start to get better. It may seem silly and riddled with drug addict logic but I have deep compassion for that guy. He was doing his best, trying to save his own life. Something inside him wanted to live. It teaches me to have compassion for this current-day version of me. He too is trying to save his own life.

So I scraped together $8 and called the drug dealer. (yes kids, $8) He delivered the goods and I decided on a day to execute my plan; I would do it the next night. I found an empty Daily Planner notebook that no had used. In this I would write my solutions. It is possible that I felt just a little hope that things might be about to get better, that tomorrow would be the beginning to my new life.

The next morning I drank a lot of orange juice. Vitamin C vamps up the effects of MDMA. I tried to keep as positive an outlook as I could manage so that I would go into the trip with a “good vibe,” as much as those were still possible any more. I also didn’t drink that day. When I was doing X was about the only time I didn’t drink. The reason is, it fucks up the high. When I “rolled” (the termed we used for being under the influence of MDMA) I would drink tons of ice water, constantly chew minty chewing gum, and light one cigarette of the end of another.

Mims came by that afternoon. He had taken up juggling and wanted to show us what he’d learned. He was clearly a master already and I asked how many years he’d been doing it. “I just tried the first time this week!” he laughed, delighted that he had found something else he was naturally good at. There was nothing boastful about this, he would have been as delighted for anyone else making a similar discovery. He was just infused with a joy for living. This made me love and hate him all the more. No, not hate, just envy. Mims was not the sort of person anyone could hate.

Gay Man in Doorway came by in the early evening. He didn’t come in, he just stood in the open front door. That’s where he gets his name. I lacked the emotional energy even to retreat into the bedroom so I decided I’d just sit on the couch and try to tolerate him for what seemed like it was going to be (and I prayed that it would be) a short stay. He stood there in the doorway for what was probably five minutes but seemed like five hours. His hissed about this and that, rambling on to Bonnie about some inane bullshit— probably fabric or pop music. He made 95% of women look masculine and I hated myself for hating him for it. But I hated him more. I just wanted him to go away. Eventually he did.

Bonnie went out for the night and Andrea decided to turn in early. I had told her my plan and she had probably had the same thoughts most (quasi)-sane people would have but decided it best if she just got out of my way. I took the hit of X, sat back on the couch and waited for the drug to take effect.


Then nothing.

Then just a mild few minutes of a very watered-down version of what I had come to expect from the drug.

Then nothing again.

Oh no, oh no, oh no! This was supposed to work! This was supposed to be my solution!

I sat there on the couch filling like I’d doubled in weight, then tripled. I was just being sucked down, down, down into the greater depths of despair. I wanted this to work!  I needed  this to work.

Another weak version of “a wave” (term for the intermittent crescendos of bliss one experiences on MDMA) came over me but it was gone as quickly as it came.
Fuck, fuck, FUCK! 

I need a solution, I need a solution.

I remember the Sunday supply of vodka in the cabinet above the refrigerator. Blue laws in Tuscaloosa prohibited Sunday liquor sales so Andrea and I would often “lay by in store” so we (most often I) could stay drunk on “the Lord’s Day.”  It was nothing for me to consume the supply before Sunday ever made it around. This would just have to be one of those days. I needed to be fucked up and if the X wouldn’t do it, I knew the vodka would. I went into the kitchen and grabbed the bottle, directly marched back to the living room, no need for a glass. I took of the cap and tossed it across the room. I wouldn’t be needing it any more. I turned the bottle up and probably emptied half of it on the first pull. There really was no difference in my ability to drink hard liquor and to drink water in those days. It scared everyone who saw it. Fuck em. Fuck it! Fuck it all!

I looked on the coffee table at the empty day-timer notebook into which I had intended to write my “plan of action.” I laughed at it, at me, spat on it. I took a Marlboro Red from the pack, fired it up. It burned my throat a little bit. Good! I had come to love anything that burned going down. It signaled relief, albeit temporary, but relief. I knocked back another quarter of the bottle, then finished if off. I let the empty bottle fall to the floor. I fell back into the nasty floral print, white wicker couch and waited for the vodka to numb me. But the numbness didn’t come. Even alcohol had failed me this time.  Another pitiful excuse for a “wave” came courtesy of the shitty hit of X. It didn’t even bring any of its signature euphoria, just a craving for another cigarette. I grabbed the pack. Empty. No, no, nooooo! I looked around for my wallet. I’d just have to get to the store for another pack before the rest of the vodka hit me. Found the wallet. Empty. Devastation. Familiar.

Except for when I was escaping Waverly’s, I hadn’t cried in months. I was too depressed to cry. But something about that crumpled up pack of Marlboros and that empty wallet brought on the waterworks, then—“no! NO!” I was talking out loud to myself. “Dry it up you fucking faggot! Pull it together you fucking little girl! What would Mims do? What would Mims do?” But Mims was not in that room that night. Mims was no where to be found. But you know who was in that room? Gay Man in Doorway. I looked over to where he had stood earlier. In my polluted and twisted mind, I could still see him there. I could hear his hissy s’s and see his faggoty affectations. I stood up and walked toward the door. Before I really realized I had my fist pulled back, I sent a punch into the closed metal door.  The pain shot through my wrist and into my forearm. I thought I heard Andrea stir and moan in the bedroom and I immediately stood frozen and silent, my mouth and eyes open wide so I could hear better. When I was convinced she’d gone back to sleep, I turned again to the door. It was if my blow had turned the door into a mirror (or maybe it was a little hallucinogen offered up by the weak hit of X). But in the mirror the reflection I saw wasn’t the skinny hippy wannabe whose teeth I brushed almost every day, it was him!  It was Gay Man in Doorway! It hit me light a freight train and I feel to my knees sobbing again, again speaking to myself out loud, “That’s who you are, that’s who you are you faggot, that’s who you are!!”

Every bit of anger from an entire life of abuse came together in the form of a red ball of fire inside me and I stood straight up from the floor. I stopped crying as if a switch had been flipped. It’s hard to describe the emotional state I entered then. I think mostly I was calm.

For most of twenty-three years of life up to that point, when I had wanted to take my own life (as I often had) there was one singular reason that always prevented me from doing it: Mother. Whenever the relentless bullying at school got so much I felt like I simply couldn’t face it another day and that I really would just be better off dead, I’d always end up thinking of her; what would it do to her. In my mind, my mother’s emotional state has been my responsibility since the time I could speak. It was her fault I had to go on living! Her fault!

On September 1 of this year when I announced publicly that this might be the last year I was willing to live, one comment on the blog (or Facebook link to the blog) was “don’t you do that to your sweet mother!” I almost threw the computer across the room and I purposely did not go back to see who left the comment lest I transfer some of my hate of my mother onto them. You heard me right, “hatred of my mother.” Don’t get me wrong, I love her more than most sons love their mothers but for keeping me alive through all that suffering over the years, I have hated her too and often.

On that night in Andrea and Bonnie’s little cottage apartment, the volume of my despair spilled over the lip of the cup of my codependency with my mother. I said, again out loud, “She’ll just have to work it out!” I’ve sense thought about it many times and I think that somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I had hoped that if my mother loved me (and I had no doubt that she did and does) she would eventually come to the conclusion that if I had been hurting that bad (and I was) she would not have wanted me to suffer any more. That was the justification I gave myself, when it came to my mother, for what I was about to do.

I have always had this peculiar ability to know where anything is in the house. I may not be able to balance a checkbook or file my taxes but if someone is looking for something, I can usually remember having seen it. “Where’s my stethoscope?”  “Closet. Top shelf!” The night I’ve been telling you about, after I had “fixed” the problem with my mothers impending grief, my mind went to the third drawer in the kitchen and to something I had seen there the last time I replaced the screwdriver. I went to the kitchen and pulled open the drawer. The light flashed on a small silver rectangle of metal and my eyes zoomed in on it like a heat-seeking missile. I grabbed the dirty razor blade and head back to the couch.

I few deep breaths and I was ready for surgery. I made little circular motions with the blade as I worked up the courage for the first strike. “Come on, do it you fucking faggot, do it!” 

I pressed my tongue against the back of my clenched teeth and an explosion of air came out with the first slice that connected. The red line that appeared on my wrist looked like someone had put it there with a red ink pen. I had often fantasized about cutting myself, not necessarily as an attempt at suicide but perhaps as an act of violence on the boy/man I hated so much. I’m sure it can’t be as simple as that but at least I knew that it was finally happening. I had always imagined that somehow it would hurt very much. But it did hurt! That first slice sent a wave of pain straight from my wrist to my spinal chord and then to my tortured brain. It actually shocked me a little. It made me hate myself more. It was further proof of what a “pussy” I was. “You can’t even do this right you faggot piece of shit!” I started to make the slicing motion again making several more superficial wounds. The burning spread out over my wrist and started to travel up my arm. I worked up the courage and gave my left wrist a good solid whack. This time is was a manly wound, this time it was real. Blood gushed from this one and made all the little scratches look weak and insignificant. I hit it again with a determined slice and then switched the blade to my left hand and gave my right wrist a few good whacks. The slicing motion together with the bleeding wounds were starting to make a mess and I loved it. I love the sight of my own blood. I was finally doing it! After all those times of thinking about it, the pain would soon stop. I was relieved and horrified, watching myself form outside of myself.

Then I had a horrible thought that brought me right to the center of the moment. I hadn’t left any kind of suicide note! I laughed. I had had delusions of being some great artist/writer/actor person at points along the way yet here I was about to check out permanently with out even a sayonara! I grabbed the pen I had intended to use in the notebook. “Boy things never really turn out like you think!” I was sort of surprised at my mirth, but fuck it! The bill collectors couldn’t find me now and no one would ever call me faggot again.

The blood made the pen slippery in my hands. I’d write my last missive as the life poured out of me and onto the floor. The first stroke of the pen brought another surprise. It wouldn’t write. I laughed again. I thought about how that was the pen I was going to use for my list and how that was just another example of what an epic failure my life had been. I looked around the room for something else to write with. Nothing. I went back to the kitchen, leaving a trail of blood on the floor behind me. Opened all the drawers. Again, nothing.

Back on the couch I grabbed the dried up pen again. I pulled the notebook toward me and thought of what to write. With a pen that actually worked I could have said more, but I knew the situation demanded that I be succinct and to the point. Using the dud pen as a quill and my blood as ink, I dipped the tip into one of the gaping wounds on my left wrist and thought about what my parting comment to the world should be. I pressed the bloody pen to the page and painted the first word: “It’s.” Another dip and the letter N. The next dip and two more letters and so on until I had scrawled a simple sentence. “It’s not worth it.” That was to be the last anyone heard from me, my message to the world.

The picture attached to this blog post was taken tonight and is of the actual note and razor blade. I’ve kept them for twenty-five years now to remind me of where I have been and of where I hopefully would never find myself again. September 1 of this year proved me wrong on that account although I did decide to take a different action this time. This time I spoke up. This time I put it out there to the world what was going on with me.

I never want to forget the depths of my sorrow during the roughest of times. I hope I never get completely to that point again. This blog and the actions I’m taking around the goals are my fervent attempt to keep that from happening.

The two pieces of utility chord in the picture, I had been wearing as braclettes— something Mims did which I mimicked. On him it was a subtle sign of his “outdoorsy” nature. On me it was a ridiculous mascarade, one more symbol of my trying to be something I wasn’t. I hacked them off with couple of the early strikes with the blade.

Having finished my suicide note, I lay back on the now blood-soaked couch. I looked at the mess I’d made and thought about the fact that it was the next in long, long line of messes that had been my life. This was a big mess, but this would be the last. I slumped there counting my breaths, wondering how many I had left— and hoping that someday my mother would understand.

See y’all tomorrow.

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