Posts Tagged anxiety
CK and I had a fun afternoon promoting the circuit party we were attending that evening. When we got back to CK’s apartment, CK, Hip and I relaxed listening to music and chatting before getting ready, however we didn’t have all that much time before we needed to go to Governor’s Island for Matinee.
I watched from the sidelines while CK and Hip played dress up. My work in that arena was done. I had to decide what I was wearing the day before when I packed my bag for the weekend. I witnessed CK try on roughly 30 different permutations of outfits before he finally got every detail just the way he wanted. Meanwhile, I was stressing about how I could make my outfit gay enough so I wouldn’t stand out but normal enough to feel comfortable in my own skin. Hip didn’t have much work to do either. Originally, he wasn’t planning to go, so he pretty much had the clothes on his back with a few embellishments from CK.
I wasn’t thrilled with the shirt I originally chose, and the shirt I got from promoting seemed like it would work out well for me. Apparently, CK had the same thought. We were worried we’d look like twins, but Hip assured us it was cute. After carving up his own t-shirt, he insisted on taking a scissor to mine, but I asked him not to. He surmised that he had better judgment than I did, but I stood my ground. I wanted to go to this thing feeling like myself. I wasn’t going to change that just for some event.
Sure, I was trying to fit in, but I wanted to maintain some level of individuality. Of course, since I was already on edge, this started an unnecessary argument. I was shutting down. He was making me feel even more anxious about the night, and that was the last thing I needed. Things got pretty heated until he realized what was going on. I was going to add a few more cuts in my shirt, but I wasn’t going to wear the strands of fabric he turned his into.
We finally settled on attire and were headed to the bar knowing drinks would be expensive at Matinee. I wasn’t thrilled with POSH, the location choice, as Broadway always called it Poor Old Sad Homos. I didn’t want to hang out with a bunch of creepy old ‘mos, but I’d never been so I didn’t really protest. We had a quick round of drinks before venturing to Governor’s island.
We walked across the island of Manhattan until we found the right subway stop to get us downtown to the ferry. My anxiety was getting to me, and on the way to get cash from the ATM, CK and I had a small breakdown. He pulled me aside to make sure we were cool before we got on the ferry while Hip made himself scarce. He managed to reassure me everything was going to be all right, and we were going to have a great time. I kinda needed that to snap me out of it. I was getting into my head once again, causing all kinds of problems. Sometimes a vivid imagination can be a curse. After that, things were better, and CK and I were actually talking to Hip about how we discussed what a marriage between the two of us might be like, such as the wedding party. Hip was thrilled to hear he would be included in this.
After a quick ferry ride, we were there. We made our way through the line and posed for a picture as we entered the party. When I noticed a Grindr Pride sign, I insisted CK and I snap a picture in front of it. We’d been joking about contacting them to do a testimonial like eHarmony commercials.
This was it. I was making my circuit party debut. As we came around the bend, the festivities came into view. It was a sea of shirtless men. I may sound stupid for saying this (and I wasn’t the only one to think this), but when CK told me it was a “water park,” I was expecting a lot more water. I wasn’t expecting water slides or anything, but I wasn’t expecting the entire party to be on sand and dry land.
The first thing we did was head to the bar to get a drink, and boy did I need it. Of course, as we predicted, the drinks were not cheap. I immediately wished I brought more cash. While I knew there were be an abundance of illicit substances, I wasn’t planning to participate. (I’m probably going to come across like a complete goodie-two-shoes here). I was, however, planning to get pretty hammered to loosen me up. I wasn’t going to be closed-minded, and if I felt comfortable partaking, I would. That being said, I’d never done anything other than pot before, and I was already out of my element. I thought one anxiety-causing experience at a time was plenty.
Alcohol wasn’t going to be the only thing to get me through the night. My friend D supplied me with a lozenge from a medical facility in San Francisco after his last trip there. I didn’t quite have any use for it until that night. I thought it would be the perfect thing to mellow me out. He told me all the hang-ups, but the benefits seriously outweighed any of the possible negative effects.
I unwrapped my lozenge and waited for it to kick in. D told me to suck on half, and save the other half for later, especially since it was my first time, but half way through, I wasn’t feeling a thing. I kept sucking on it until there was nothing left.
In the meantime, I was dancing and trying to have a good time with Hip and CK. We met a lot of new people, including one couple that recently wed. I was thrilled to hear that, as they were the first married gay couple I’d met in person, but I’ll circle back to them later.
While CK and I were dancing, a cute young blond boy came up and started dancing with us. It was plain to see he was feeling some sort of high. CK was facing me, and the boy came up and started dancing up on his backside. I wasn’t thrilled with this, and my heart started pounding out of my chest. I tried to be cool and remain calm. I don’t know why I get so worked up about these things, but it’s like a trigger. CK wanted to open my mind and suggested I get in the center. I would later learn, he thought I might enjoy being the center of attention like that, however I explained to him that was the last thing I wanted. It started off innocent enough, but then the guy began thrusting himself against CK’s backside, and I nearly lost it. I wasn’t going to go off on the kid or anything, however, I wanted it to stop. I wanted it to stop NOW! I think CK got the hint from my face and gently shuffled the kid away. Minutes later, the kid came up behind me and started dancing against my backside, but I turned around and politely shook my head no and said, “Sorry.” I could see it in his eyes — This kid was in another world.
It was then I knew I was in for a long night. I wasn’t necessarily worried what CK would do. I was more worried what others would do with him. I had a feeling our definitions of what was acceptable differed. I was petrified of witnessing something he thought was innocent, and I thought unacceptable. Everyone was in an altered state, just as I suspected, and I wasn’t exactly from the “anything goes” camp many of the other attendees were a part of. I needed to find a way to calm down, or I was going to drive myself clinically insane…
It had arrived. Although this would be my third year “participating,” I was legitimately scared. I wasn’t sure why it was so scary, but honestly, I was petrified for so many reasons.
My first interaction with Pride Weekend was a mistake. I was making my way to Governor’s Island for a polo match with my family when we found ourselves “stuck” in the parade route. The following year was the first year I was out when the weekend came around. It wasn’t pleasant as I witnessed my relationship crumble before my eyes like an out-of-body experience. I missed the parade that year, but I got a sampling of the other aspects of the festivities.
My fear was grounded mainly in the unknown. While I am a gay man, I do not participate in the typical gay culture. I’ve never been a big fan of gay clubs and what goes on there. I come from a background of a traditional relationship. In the gay world, that is like finding a diamond in the rough. The clubs seem to be the antithesis of this. They are a hot-bed of drugs, promiscuity and raunchy behavior. I know all gay men who go to bars don’t fit into this stereotype, but this stereotype is founded in truth. While I’ve been to a handful of gay clubs, and my comfort level was rising, I still had no idea what to expect. Never before had I been to a circuit party. I was venturing into the abyss, and this caused me incredible anxiety.
While I have learned to let go of the men in my past, I still carry the scars of my relationship with them. They’ve all hurt or used me in some way, shape or form. My biggest fear in life is being alone, and this fear is fed by thoughts of cheating, which is birthed from my baggage. The idea of CK with another man broke my heart. I had clear definitions of cheating, but there were worse things floating through my imagination — Like cheating in a form I feel is unfaithful, but the offender does not.
My relationship with CK was building a great foundation, however, the cement was still wet. We were only dating two months and ten days — Very young for any relationship. In the first month, I had strong suspicions I wasn’t the only man entering his bed. Things didn’t always line up and some of the clear indications were there, however, our relationship was still just forming. I knew there would be a transition period. While he told me he was only interested in me, and I was the only man entering his bed, I was aware how we met. I was also aware of his intentions before we even met through his first major slip-up on Grindr. I couldn’t expect monogamy from the first night — That wasn’t realistic.
While I was fairly understanding and looked the other way early on, I was not going to tolerate infidelity as our relationship progressed and strengthened. For starters, my heart wouldn’t be able to handle the pain, and lastly, it wasn’t safe for my health. I needed to trust him to be faithful. Outside the heartbreak, frankly, we were having unprotected sex. We’d been tested, but there are no guarantees. I trusted him with my life, literally, and if he was sleeping with other men, he was treating my life carelessly.
I sincerely had a feeling his intentions had evolved, but I couldn’t be sure how he would react when faced with temptation. I hoped I was the only man for him. As a result, I was petrified for the life of our relationship. I’d watched my relationship with N publicly combust the previous year, and I didn’t want a repeat.
I’m sure many of you reading think I am overreacting. It’s just a party… It’s just a parade… It’s just a weekend… Well, not to me. To me, it was a litmus test for the strength of my love for CK. I didn’t want that love to be tested, and I didn’t want to have to make a decision that could end my relationship with CK. He was my Superman. He was my world. If I lost him, my world would come crumbling down.
We had plans to go to a huge party at XL Friday night, Matinée circuit party Saturday, and the parade Sunday afternoon. I was venturing into this unknown abyss with faith and hope I could persevere. The thought of CK dropping X and losing control of his inhibitions with some other guy caused me great pain and panic attacks. The idea of another man’s hand groping his package caused me panic attacks. Picturing him dancing shirtless against another shirtless man caused me panic attacks. Every time these scenarios and many others entered my brain, my heart rate would increase drastically, I would start to sweat, and I would get light-headed.
All this added up to me being petrified and frustrated. When I asked CK what clothes I should pack to bring to his apartment for the weekend, and I didn’t get any cooperation or help. It all became overwhelming. To begin with, this wasn’t something I was looking forward to, and his lack of cooperation made me lose my sh*t. “Okay Babe. I’ll talk to you in the morning. Have fun tonight!” I said on the verge of tears as I hung up the phone on him.
I think that was the wake-up call CK needed. I don’t think he fully understood how much anxiety this all created for me. I voiced my frustrations for weeks leading up to Pride Weekend. I told him I was going out of my comfort zone, but I was willing to do it as long as I got some hand-holding. I needed help to get over this. It was just another fun weekend for him, but it was a big deal to me.
After a few minutes, he called me back. We discussed things a little more rationally, and CK’s tone changed. He finally realized I was struggling and tossed out the life-preserver. Now that I knew I had him in my corner, I was a little more relaxed, however, I still wasn’t completely comfortable. It was going to be a long, stressful and exhausting weekend both physically and emotionally. I bit down then and there, and braced for impact as I packed my bag and walked out the door.
When Smiles and I spoke on the phone Sunday night on his way home from a party in Connecticut, I asked him to come to my apartment for a special dinner Monday night. He told me he had to work, but he was going to leave early and we’d just eat a little later. I told him this was perfect since it would take some time to cook the roast after work.
I’d told Smiles about my standing rib roast before, and he didn’t quite get what it was. I explained to him the similarity of it what one might be served at a carving station at a wedding reception. He got a clearer picture, but it still wasn’t crystal clear.
I had a rib roast in my freezer with our name on it. I finally had a chance to cook it for us, and he was on-board. I was excited. It was a plan.
Monday morning, before work, I took the roast out of the freezer to thaw for that night. I planned out the accoutrements as well. I was very excited for our romantic night. It’d been a while since we spent time together. I wanted a night of beef, wine, couch, and bed. The thought sounded spectacular to me!
What excited me even more was the idea of my sanity back. I planned to ask Smiles that night where we stood. I didn’t need a title. I didn’t need to be his boyfriend. I just wanted to know where his head was at.
Much to my chagrin, at 1:00 that afternoon, Smiles sent me a text with some bad news. “Looks like I have people coming tonight so I’m not going to be able to sneak out. I don’t think dinner at 11:00 would be the bet. Do you want to have an early dinner here in the city before he show?” Very disappointed, I agreed with a “Sure.”
I was p*ssed. It wasn’t his fault, but I was a little crushed since I was taking so much care to plan out the evening, and it all went to sh*t. He suggested we do it another night, but came up with a consolation prize. He suggested I come over to his apartment for dinner instead before the screening. I begrudgingly agreed to the idea since it’d been so long since I’d seen him, and I sent my roommate a text asking him to put the roast back in the freezer.
When I finished work, I made my way downtown to his apartment. When I arrived, I was shocked to be received with a nice big kiss. Maybe he missed me. Maybe I wasn’t just a seat warmer in this relationship. There was actually emotion behind that kiss. I was happy.
I was a little anxious because I was still planning to ask him where we stood that evening.
He told me he had food in the fridge to make and suggested we cook that instead of going out for dinner. He preferred that since he wasn’t feeling well, and he was exhausted. It made no difference to me. Asking him my question in the privacy of his apartment sounded like such a better idea than in a restaurant anyway.
I ended up cooking the pork chops and asparagus for the two of us since Smiles wasn’t quite himself. We sat and ate — Him at his computer chair working while he ate and me on the couch. Not nearly the romantic meal I planned for the evening. When we finished, I helped him clean up and put the leftovers away. He started getting ready for the rest of his night, and we talked about my plans. He asked if I was planning to spend the night. “Well, I guess the first question I should ask is if you were planning to come to the screening tonight,” he added.
This was the first I was hearing this. I was quite open to the idea, but I told him, “I have nothing for work tomorrow. You were supposed to be coming out to Hoboken, remember.” “Right,” he responded. I reminded him I’d seen the movie twice now, but if he wanted company, I would come with him. I asked if he actually watches the movie, or if he does other things during the film. He told me he usually watches most of it. Things remained unsettled as he made his way over to the couch to take a quick nap on me.
That was my opportunity to ask him my burning question. Every moment I tried to open my mouth, I froze. Nothing would come out. I was suddenly transported back to when I sat on the couch trying to tell my parents I was gay. The anxiety was making my heart pound out of my chest. I tried over and over to ask him, but I couldn’t muster the courage. I’m not sure what I was afraid of, but it was driving me insane.
After a half hour of this, it was time for him to get up. I asked him if he wanted me to sleep over, or did he want to get some rest alone. We made a final decision. It was better he get some uninterrupted rest that night since he was so exhausted as much as I wanted to spend the night with him. He told me, “It’s very sweet of you to offer to see the film again to spend the night with me.” I liked hearing that. He recognized the sacrifice I was willing to make to spend time with him.
With that, I said goodbye, and he made his way to the screening while I made my way to the PATH — Without my answer.
I was so p*ssed at myself for getting so worked up about a stupid question. What was wrong with me?! Obviously, I needed someone to talk to. I tried Boston, my therapist. I needed him to talk me off the ledge and help me make sense of the situation. I couldn’t do it on my own. We talked it over for over a half hour and he convinced me I had no choice but to blatantly ask him where we stood. We even helped me nail down the phrasing.
When I got to the other side of the tunnel in Hoboken, I got a text from Smiles telling me he was on his way home. His friends never showed. My blood was boiling. We cancelled our dinner plans for NOTHING. I still had no closure on where I stood with Smiles. It certainly was going to be a toss-n-turn kinda night…