As the summer moved on, I did the same. I was searching for myself, and discovering new things in several aspects of my life. Rhett made me feel like I could safely express my dark side, and Mike helped me feel like I was cool, and helped me connect with new people. I did my best not to mix these two worlds together, as they both presented their own unique components to my self-discovery.

My world with Mike began to expand, the people on the computer would periodically have get together’s where we would all meet in person. Mike and I would frequent these together as much as we could. Mike and I were at the point that we were both popular in this community, and people would look forward to our presence. I felt that Mike was the reason I was in this position, so I was always weary of jeopardizing this relationship by exposing the side of me that felt like a twisted mess.

During this process I began to get to know some of the girls my age that were also involved in the computer world. I began to set my sights on trying to get to know a girl named Kim, even though she lived in a city that was long distance from my town. Initially I hadn’t told Mike about my interest in Kim, as I wasn’t sure I had any kind of chance.

Mike and I were at a pretty large gathering at a restaurant called “Zeke’s” in his hometown. The night went well, I began getting comfortable expressing myself, and Mike and I developed a reputation for being somewhat of the life of the party. I fed a lot off Mike’s confidence, and in doing so really started to feel better about myself.

After we left the party, Mike told me that he was approached by a girl named Sarah, and she had asked him if I was interested in her. Mike, not knowing I was hoping to acquaint with Kim, thought he was doing me a favor by telling her that I was very much interested in her, and that I talked about her frequently.

Despite the fact that I had learned how to create a great facade of confidence, internally I was still insecure and uncertain. I didn’t want to hurt Sarah’s feelings, she was a nice girl but my feelings were more towards Kim, and I tended to stay loyal to an idea.

The day after the party Sarah began reaching out to me on the computer and I wasn’t sure what to do. Ultimately what happened was we agreed to go on a date. I remember we went and saw a movie called ‘Nell’ it was about a woman who lived in the jungle. Not my first choice of movie, but she wanted to see it.

Once it was over, her parents were waiting for her in the parking lot, I could tell she was optimistic that I would kiss her, but I told her we would stick to a hug because her parents were right in front of us in their vehicle. She would later tell me that she scolded them for being the reason we didn’t kiss.

Mike picked me up, and I tried to get some advice on what to do. I remember that I broke things off over a message on the computer, basically using the reason that the long distance aspect was to blame. I really didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but it just didn’t feel like a great fit for me at the time. The thing was that Sarah and Kim lived in the same town, and were friends with each other, so the long distance thing wouldn’t really make sense if I pursued Kim, but regardless I was still focused in her direction.

As I began focusing on talking to Kim, Rhett began talking to Sarah. We would still see her sometimes at the BBS parties, and if Mike wasn’t around then Rhett and I would become the energetic duo. Rhett had a tendency to do small things that would make me seem inferior, or rude. Rhett and I would tend to make fun of people after the parties, and I would try to be mean with my words for the sole purpose of pleasing him, and making him think I was funny.

Often times Rhett would go and tell the people we were mocking what I had said about them, omitting his own involvement. I never made a big deal about it, and always tried to brush it off, maybe this was because I was accustomed to this type of relationship from my childhood bond with Mitch. The power of that conversation I had with Rhett told me that he was the only one who really understood me, so things like this could easily be overlooked.

Over time Rhett really tried to assert more dominance over me, I saw it a bit at the time, but would always dismiss it. Each individual incident, comment, or behavior could all be written off as minimal once I reflected on the first night I ever experienced therapy. To me, having someone to talk to about anything and everything, outweighed the circumstances he was creating in our friendship.