[Previously on The Diary Project: I met a boy in a bookstore, Bradley. He lived in Alaska, I lived in New York. We wrote each other letters. We got all smitten. I visited him in Alaska. I came home to New York with a broken heart. Great, we’re all caught up now.
Here’s the thing. Brad and I had a close friendship before things got romantic. And when things didn’t work out in Alaska because he wasn’t ready for a serious relationship or whatever, I told him how important it was we maintain the friendship. I even told him, “I’m going to need you to get over you.” (Yes, I said those actual words out loud; I was a melodramatic 18-year-old goth, what do you want?)
We stayed in touch after my Alaska visit (which was in April), and he had a trip planned to New York in May. We were supposed to hang out and possibly try to get tickets to Saturday Night Live because The Cure was the musical guest. It all sounded like a decent consolation prize considering my broken heart. I was actually really excited for his impending visit, despite its platonic implications…]
May 11, 1996
Saturday. I’ve been hanging out at home by myself. Hopefully, I’ll go out tonight. I’ll call Chad in a couple of hours to find out if he can go to the Batcave (a friend’s band is playing).
Brad was supposed to arrive on Wednesday. I wouldn’t know if he actually did because I haven’t heard from him. (And tonight The Cure are appearing on Saturday Night Live—he mentioned how he’d love to try to see them).
At first I was extremely upset and angry. Well most of the depression is gone now (thanks mostly to my mother, her healing powers got rid of a lot of stress and negativity). So it’s predominantly anger now. I’ve tried to reason that maybe he didn’t bring my phone number, but I realized that he knows my address by heart, so he should have tried to track me down by now. And if he does have my number, then he is purposefully avoiding me.
[Let’s talk about Mom’s psychic and healing powers… I do believe they’re real, to an extent. Sometimes I believe more than other times. In my late adolescent and early adult years, I believed in them a lot more. I needed to, especially when at the mercy of a big, bad broken heart. I don’t recall exactly what this ritual involved, but there were definitely candles, and possibly an egg.]
The more I think about it, the more pissed off I get. I hate the feeling I get every time the phone rings (at this point I don’t even know what I’d say if he did call or show up). He has never been this inconsiderate before.
I don’t know if he understands how much this has hurt me. Now I’m not hurting anymore as much as seething. I don’t care what personal shit he has to work out, this is just incredibly rude. Especially after I flew all the way out there to visit him. I even made him an in-flight package a couple of weeks ago. And in his last e-mail to me he wrote: “see you in a few.”
[Before I flew out to Alaska, he sent me a package for the long flight, with a couple of books, and I’m not sure what else—probably candy and a mix tape. So I did the same thing before his trip to New York. While we didn’t make a concrete plan stating when/where we were going to meet, in my mind, there was no question that we’d see each other.]
True, he didn’t specify days. It could be months, years. This thing is, he knows how much I care about him. If that freaks him out, fuck it. It’s not right to say he owes me, but there is a factor of having decency, common courtesy.
It’s upsetting to know I’m not a priority, it fucking hurts. At least it did. I don’t want to let it hurt anymore, he’s the one in the wrong, he should have the pain. I have never before wanted to call him a bastard but I can’t help it now.
It’s awful because I held the trip to Alaska in such good light, but this… turn of events has tinged it with bitterness. It’s sort of tainted the beauty of those memories.
I’m not going to rationalize this further or make excuses or anything. The only thing that scares and infuriates me more than my inner debate of whether I will forgive him or not is the very realistic possibility that he may not come asking for my forgiveness. We’ve dealt with everything so openly up to this point. I can’t take this bullshit. It makes me want to throw things. Bastard.
And this is where I recall that thing 18-year-old me said: “the person capable of making you feel great joy is also capable of the opposite.” Welcome to the opposite.
Being stood up is the worst. Because at first, you’re not even sure you have a right to be upset. What if the person standing you up got hurt? What if there’s some other kind of emergency? At first, you’re worried. And that worry never fully goes away if you don’t hear anything, but it’s mixed in with a cocktail of other emotions. There’s disappointment, of course, and varying doses of anger, maybe embarrassment. Sometimes there’s even a dash of shame, that you must matter so little to the person standing you up, you don’t even merit the flimsiest of excuses. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the last time I experienced being stood up, but it was the first, and by someone I cared about, so it hurt like hell. It was like being rejected by him all over again. And it wasn’t even the regular sick feeling of being stood up once, at a specific time. He was in town for at least a week, so it was like being stood up for days on end, over and over again. I was crushed and questioned what I might’ve done wrong (did I miss signals that he didn’t want me in his life any more?). I even visited the bookstore where we met, on the off-chance he might show up there at the same time again (he didn’t).
Looking back on it now, maybe it would’ve been worse if we saw each other again during that time. I was eagerly anticipating his visit, but maybe too eagerly. Maybe in the back of my mind (not that far back, even) I was hoping it would reignite something romantic. But even if it didn’t, he was an important part of my life and having our friendship continue meant a lot to me. Having him disappear on me like that was like having the floor drop out from beneath me. It took my heartbreak to this whole other level. Maybe because that thoughtlessness removed the bit of hope I nursed that we’d get back together (if you could count us “together” in the first place, considering the distance). Maybe because it opened up a delayed reaction to dealing with the end of our relationship. In any case, while I vented a lot of anger in my diary, there was still plenty of grief, too, and dark emotional issues I’d be dealing with for a long time to come.
April 25, 1996
Hung out with Dave on Monday. He’s thinking about the Prom (Brad will be here from the 8th to the 22nd. Prom’s the 30th). I had a good time. Then I got home and it was as if I just ran out of cheerfulness. It was awful.
[I mentioned David before. We talked about going to the prom together and I won’t lie, the idea attending the dance an actor who had a starring role on a cable show that had a cult following was pretty appealing. I wasn’t interested in him romantically, I just loved how insane he was and thought we’d have a blast. In the end, he didn’t end up going. I’m still not sure if he was actually expelled from Hunter for setting that fire in the hallway or he left for other reasons, but he didn’t think the school would be cool with him showing up at the Prom. Also, his girlfriend was not entirely comfortable with the idea, even though she knew we were platonic. I only met her a couple of times and she was kind of aloof toward me, but maybe she was suspicious I was trying to steal her man (I wasn’t). She actually became a more successful actress than Dave and is currently playing a supporting role on a Shonda Rhimes show.]
Since then it’s been off and on. I try to tell myself there are many things to look forward to (Switchblade Symphony at the Bank this Saturday, Valve at the Batcave next Saturday, Brad’s visit, college). I try to tell myself I’m just being a brat and have no reason to be depressed. Maybe it’s delayed hurt. My insides finally catching up with my outsides. But I don’t want to be like this. I hate it. It’s such a shitty feeling, a shitty state of mind. I don’t want to be a cliché, doom-and-gloom goth. I’ve got to stop being so self-destructive. I’m doing this to myself. I have to tell myself to just stop.
Or maybe I should have told myself to feel my feelings and stop suppressing the heartache. It was all well and good to recognize the good things in my life, but I thought Brad was the guy for me. Regardless of how unrealistic that dream may have been, it was over, and I hadn’t truly faced the reality of that. I tried to use logic to pull myself out of being depressed when I had just cause to be that way. It was the first time I had ever been in love, and while it ended fairly amicably, it still ended. I had every reason to be sad about it, but I kept resisting and trying to keep the hurt at bay. One way or another, sooner or later, it was going to keep coming out until I properly dealt with it. And I didn’t know it at the time, but it was going to take years to recover from this.
I do recognize the irony of using goth music to cheer me up. Even though at that point I was dying my hair black, the majority of my wardrobe was dark, and most of the music I listened to was gloomy, I continued to resist the goth stereotypes. Yet I was obviously drawn to this subculture because I felt an affinity to the darkness of it, on an aesthetic and emotional level. I mean, if it walks like a goth, talks like a goth, and mopes like a goth, it’s a goth. As much as I tried to smile through my purple lipstick and deny it, I was going through a depression, and while my feelings (suppressed and otherwise) were genuine, I was ticking all the boxes on the goth checklist. Luckily, things were about to get a little bit better for me. Unluckily, another emotional curveball was on the horizon.
[I debated leaving this entry out. It was written during a dark time and paints me in a rather morbid, petty, envious, and depressed state of mind. Things were tense at home. But as The Breakfast Club put it, “Everyone’s home life is unsatisfying. If it wasn’t, people would live with their parents forever.” So I’ll go easy on the judging if you do. Except for the fact that I was 15 and still misspelling “Tuesday.” There’s no excuse for that.]
Teusday, March 30, 1993
I’m kind of bored. Even though it’s past 10:00 I don’t feel like going to sleep. Sometimes I wish I would get like no sleep the whole week and get all pale. Then I wouldn’t eat for like a week and get all thin until one day I just pass out in class from exhaustion and starvation. I have a really sick mind.
[That and I read way too many young adult novels about girls with cancer, eating disorders, and less common maladies like cystic fibrosis. I won’t say these books glamorized illness, but there was a macabre appeal to the ailing protagonists. They had a sickly skinny beauty, garnered a certain amount of sympathy and attention, and were revered for their strength through adversity. Or mourned for their short and poignant lives if they didn’t beat the disease. Either way, I can’t deny the allure of being such a tragic and admired figure… except I wanted the fast track where I could just not eat or sleep for a week instead of going the whole illness route.]
Joyce and Duane really like each other and could be going out any day now. Just as soon as she breaks up with her other boyfriend (Bitch. Oops! Did I say that? Oh my. Actually I really don’t have much against her but she just gets to me. I don’t even know why I’m mentioning her in my diary but I need something to talk about.
[Well, we can always talk about my inability to close a parenthesis and the frustrating experience that occurs as a result. What we shouldn’t talk about is how unpleasant all this covetousness is. Trust me, I know.]
I’m not in a very good mood, and I don’t really know why. Life, I guess. Just everything. Vacation is coming up soon. Good. I want to just sit around doing nothing for a while. It will be nice not having so much stuff to do. Damn, I’m so moody. I wish I weren’t me.
The more things seem to change, the less they really do. I could say those very same words these days; still moody, still stressed, still need a break now and again. Life still has its moments where it kicks my ass, with one crucial difference: I don’t want to be someone else. Not the sick girl or the popular girl or whatever other girl seems to have a more fascinating life than my own. I’m riddled with imperfections (hello, human here) and might wish some things were different, but overall, I am cool with being me.
Sunday, November 24, 1991
I’m not very happy. I just seem to be depressed a lot. Maybe it’s that the guys in my class hate me and tease me during science. Maybe it’s that I don’t have a boyfriend. Or something else. Sometimes I just can’t express my feelings. I’m afraid I am unable to try to figure out anymore or I’ll start sobbing. I’m overreacting. I’ll be okay soon. I know I’ll get out of this slump. I am by myself a lot, but that’s alright. Things have to get better, don’t they?
Dark days. Kids get picked on every day and you grow up and move past it but at the time it’s happening, it’s the worst. I thought Hunter would be a place where I could continue to assert my individuality, but by 8th grade, I was learning otherwise. Being heavier (I gained back the 10 pounds I lost over the summer) was one liability. My fashion sense was another. I found the generic clothes of my peers dull and spiritless, and looked to 90’s sitcom character Blossom as my style guru. Mayim Biyalik’s portrayal of quirky Blossom Russo was an inspiration to me because her ensembles were a reflection of her personality: colorful, offbeat, fun. And I’ll be honest, I loved that she wore lots of wacky hats.
My own foray into unique fashion did not go so well. I already had a preview of meanspirited adolescence in the second half of 7th grade, but it was nothing compared to this. Science was particularly brutal because our teacher was one of those laid back guys that let us run rampant, didn’t do much actual teaching, and turned a blind eye to classroom shenanigans. Which was great if you had friends to goof off with, but not great if you had no friends in that class and were the target of ridicule. There was name-calling, drawing hurtful caricatures of me on the blackboard, throwing things at me. At first I found it confusing, because I genuinely thought I looked cool and would be positively regarded for asserting my personality by dressing differently from the other kids (sample outfit: babydoll dress over biker shorts, purple velvet hat, fabric scarf). The other kids did not agree. Unfortunately for me, the other kids were mostly made up of boys, several of which I had a crush on.
I did have a few friends in the 8th grade, but felt increasingly isolated, and being teased wasn’t something I talked to them about. I let that shame, sadness, rejection, and frustration slowly pull me down and erode my self-esteem. It was one thing not to be popular, but to be this unpopular was a shock to me.