Around and around

My therapist gave me two books to read. The one that arrived first is written by a man named Joe Kort, a psychotherapist who specializes in the kind of internalized homophobia that is unique to gay men, built from a lifetime of negativity thrown our way. The second is still on its way but explores the connection between central tenets held in the mind that manifest themselves as pain.

I’ve suffered from chronic pain for over two years — the kind that makes even the world’s best doctors throw their hands up in defeat. Only acupuncture has managed to alleviate the symptoms, and only if I return to it every week.

So I had the idea that perhaps all of this is linked. What if deep-rooted psychological issues, whatever they are, have manifested themselves in the nearly compulsive thought patterns I experience (obsessive focus on the future, a permanent feeling that I’m watching my own life from a television instead of living it, and a crippling fear that without success I am nothing) that then give me stress and cause pain?

The general premise, based on my first session of therapy, is that I live perpetually right on the line between “manageable stress” and “fight or flight.” To solve the pain, I have to learn to manage my thoughts, which may (or may not) then allow me to rationally piece together what actually happened in my adolescent development to begin all of this.

That’s my hypothesis today, and I’m on a 30-day quest to see what happens if I try to break the cycle. This includes an hour of yoga each day, meditation (using the Headspace app), therapy and trying to spot compulsive thought patterns and quietly bring myself back to the moment.

But in the meantime, I’ve decided to live life as normal—which is how I ended up at NYC Black Party last weekend. Admittedly not my best move, but I had paid for the tickets (to the tune of $150) and couldn’t seem to sell it so…

In the beginning, it was a little too much to handle. My mind was overstimulated, and my body quickly grew tired so I needed to sit down a lot. But after a while things sort of normalized and I felt good once again. I started looking around at the scene — Black Party is a gay leather event, for those not familiar and while leather is absolutely not my thing (there’s one thing I’m not confused about, thankfully!) — and could enjoy the fantasy world the whole party aims to create, a world unto itself, and even came to understand what is going on with me is very likely some form of internal homophobia. I was able to separate out y feeling of “jealousy” or “frustration” when I looked at attractive guys and actually just feel attracted to them on a genuine level.

So there’s that, perhaps it was all just a drug-induced experience. Not a big deal.

At my second therapy session today, we again talked through the memories from my trip and the question of the “repressed memory” I thought I experienced. As we were wrapping, I was agitated and my therapist told me to take everything and put it away somewhere in my mind. It could be a box, a cabinet, or a place — and she suggested a few from my past.

“I know where,” I told her. It wasn’t just a place, but a time, and one I hadn’t thought about for years. Honestly, I didn’t even remember it.

The place was the hallway of my junior high school, when I was either in the sixth or seventh grade. And the time was when I was working on a project with this girl, let’s call her Carrie. She was a year older than me, really pretty and I had the biggest crush on her.

And as I started exploring this random memory that felt like the perfect fit for everything, I remembered that someone (maybe me, I can’t recall) had told her how much I liked her and asked her out. She has said no in the nicest possible way, and that was that.

I left therapy, walked home and suddenly decided to check Facebook for her. No luck, but my thoughts were very strong.

“Oh, I wonder if she ended up really hot,” I thought, and even had a moment of sexual desire. And then in a flash, I was back into women all over again.

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