Thursday, September 10th,
Hudson County, New Jersey was flooded with a rainstorm last night. So traffic seemed to suck last night. I was fifteen minutes late for my 6 am appointment with Dr. Gajera.
Dr. Gajera didn’t seem to mind that I was late, I was his last appointment. So when I arrived looking like a Cuban refugee who almost drowned trying to flee the Cuban waters, he was a little understanding. I was soaked. I had an umbrella; but in North Bergen, NJ my job is located at the bottom of a hill that floods when it rains. So picture me walking up that hill as its raining; trying to get through the flood in tan cargo pants. I was
“Did you swim here?” Dr. Gajera laughed. Today he was wearing the cutest brown Gucci button up and black trousers. There’s something really sexy about the way this man smiles.
“Black people can’t swim!” I smiled. “So I pretty much got here by inner tube.” He laughed. His smile was like stars to me, wonderfully magical. I can admit that I have a weird crush on my doctor.
We walked into his office. I sat in my favorite leather chair and clutched onto my favorite pillow. He adjusted his shirt and closed the door. I looked around the room and the lamps in the room. I remember the first time that I had visited Dr. Gajera, I walked into his beautiful office and stopped at the door. There was a ceiling light on in the office. We all know how uncomfortable bad lighting makes me. So I wasn’t trying to be a diva, but.
“What’s wrong?” He asked. I looked like someone had scared the shit out of me.
“Do you have lamps?’ I asked. He looked confused.
“Can you turn those on, and turn the ceiling lights off. I hate overhead lighting.” He swiftly moved towards the two lamps and turned them on. Then he turned the ceiling light off. I then walked into the office and sat in the medium-sized leather chair in the room. The other three chair options were not options for me. Now looking back on that first visit. I have noticed that Dr. Gajera always has the lamps on and that ceiling light off. My chair is always ready with my pillow. I like that I feel comfortable with him.
Tonight, he wanted to get right to it.
“So yesterday, when I called, you were in the middle of a crisis. What happened?” Dr. Gajera asked. He sat back in his chair. Absent was the notepad that I am used to seeing in his lap. This time, he sat gazing, legs crossed and arms resting on the arm of the chair rests. I took a deep breath. “Are you okay to talk about it?”
“I think so…” I started. I looked down for a moment, searching for words. Everything about Wednesday night was just so raw. I wasn’t able to process everything that had happened. “I don’t know where to start,” I said.
“When did you start having bad anxiety?” He asked.
“Last Saturday, a little before the LGBT festival,” I said. “I had been seeing someone and it turned south that Friday and I was still feeling it the next morning.”
“What happened?” He asked me. My heart jumped for a moment. I sat for a moment re-living that Friday. The emotions that I felt that night were intense. “I don’t really want to get into exactly what happened,” I said. “But I will say, that after attempting to come out of my shell and getting to know someone. It made me feel like I should have stayed away from people a lot longer.” Dr. Gajera nodded his head.
“Okay, so then what happened at the Festival?”
“I wasn’t going to go, but I was studying at the Starbucks trying to get my homework done. When I was done studying, I was headed home and ran into some people that I had once knew.”
It isn’t a secret that I have had a few issues with some people that I had once thought were my friends. I think that I can be a little difficult at times, but we can all be a little difficult. What makes me difficult is the fact that I literally wear my heart on my sleeve. So when I say that I care about someone, its genuine. The love I have for someone is never conditional and it has no boundaries. But when I stop caring, I stop caring. But I do not stop loving… It takes a great amount of strength to make me stop caring and calling someone. With these people that I ran into, It took a few years, therapy, Zoloft and Xanax.
The issue started when the people I was friends with, became friends with some people I used to know when I was a teenager. The people that I knew when I was a teenager were all into a lot of things that I was not into. So I stopped hanging out with them. They then decided to make me regret ever being friends with them and then separating myself from them. So I started to get threatening text messages and phone calls. I remember one incident where three of the people were at the library at New Jersey City University, and they confronted me outside. One of the guys pulled out a huge knife from his bag while the other two held me against the gates on Kennedy Boulevard. They cussed and threatened to kill me. But ultimately they let me go. Days later, their ring leader, Paris, called me to his house and decided to have a sit down with me and the rest of the people we had known. Things didn’t go so well. I remember one of the guys there, Earl tried to make me feel better after everything was done. But the damage was done.
The new friends I had at the time, fell into the “Justice is shady. Don’t trust him.” It did hurt for a lot of reasons. Both groups of friends were groups that I felt that I had helped in a lot of ways and not just monetary. It was traumatic. To make things worst, I had an ex-boyfriend who decided to tell false stories about me having a substance abuse problem and an abusive temper. Which was just false. Another example of someone I had taken care of who really abused me in different ways, and then made me seem like the villain.
“So you saw these people there at the festival?’ Dr. Gajera asked.
“I did. I stayed away at first, but I spotted someone I had known who really wanted me to stay for a little.” My friend Khris was at the festival and he’d spotted me while I was walking past a bar. Khris wanted to hang out since he’s never hung out with me before due to me reclusive behavior. I tried to say no, but he made it really hard for me.
“So you stayed at the bar with Khris.” Dr. Gajera asked.
“Yes and eventually I saw them,” I said. ‘My first panic attack came after seeing Brandon and giving him a hug.” I said smiling. “He was so drunk, it was so cute and funny.” I laughed. “Then came everyone else.”
“How many people did you run into?” Dr. Gajera asked with a smirk.
“I used to be really popular.” I laughed. “But not a lot of people, I saw about twenty people there that I used to be friends with and a few others,” I said. “I was overly excited to see my friend Ashley,” I explained that I had known Ashley since she was a baby and she has become the most beautiful women that I have known. ‘She is so smart, beautiful and genuine. She is someone else, who loves with her entire heart.”
When I stopped seeing the crew, it was a little hurtful to me, mainly because I adored Ashley. But I would always run into her and check up on her when I could.
“Then there was Tiger and Jaylen.” I laughed. Dr. Gajera shook his head.
“We’ve spoken about them before. So I understand the anxiety now.” He laughed.”Was there anyone there that you wanted to see?He asked.
“Jay*,” I said. “He and I had stopped talking for stupid reasons.”
“Why is that?”
“Facebook.” I frowned. ” One of his suicidal ex-boyfriends told Jay that I was secretly trying to hook up with him Behind Jay’s back.”
“Yeah! Like I was trying to get with him.”
“Were you?” Dr. Gajera asked.
“No, I wasn’t. But I think it’s ironic how that would have been an issue considering some stuff that had happened with Jay and a few of the people I used to date.”
“When did the anxiety get to the point that you couldn’t go to work?” Dr. Gajera asked changing the subject.
“Tuesday morning it started around 2 am. They were back to back and I got so scared that I went to the hospital.” I said. “I explained that I lived alone and I just needed a bed and someone to monitor me.”
“Anything happened on Tuesday?” He asked. I stopped. There was something on Tuesday, but I didn’t want to talk about it. I had felt rejected by someone and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I had also caused my bank account to overdraft without realizing it.
“A few things,” I said vaguely. Dr, Gajera sat up a little in his chair.
“When I called you Wednesday night, you were crying.”
“I was scared,” I said blankly. “I was afraid.”
“Afraid of what?” He asked.
“I don’t know. I was alone. and I didn’t know what to do.” I explained the events of Wednesday to him. I relived the torture and pain all over again. I told him about the phone call to my mom and sister and how I kept apologizing to them over the phone.
“What were you ‘sorry’ for?” Dr. Gajera asked.
“Everything,” I replied. “I was sorry for calling them crying. I was sorry for not being able to hold my shit together. I was sorry for being weak and vulnerable.” I stopped for a moment.
“Do you think that it hurt them to hear you like that?” He asked.
“I know that it did. Because I wasn’t able to convince them that I would be okay.” I said. “My mom felt powerless over the phone.”
“Why do you feel that you always need to keep things together?” He asked me.
“Because it is what I do the best,” I said. “Regardless of what I have gone through, homelessness, abusive relationships, bullying, gay bashing. I have always kept my shit together. If I were depressed and going through it. They knew it, but I kept it to myself.” I said. “I still managed to push myself. forward.” I said.
When I was homeless after my family left; I can remember not having the time to feel sorry for myself. I remember just going about my day as if none of the realities I was facing were killing me.
“But if I have the timeline correct.” Dr. Gajera started listing everything. “You went through troubled friendships, your family leaving and coming back. Then a mentally and at times physically abusive relationship and homelessness. Then troubled relationships with more friends. Your family moved to Florida and so on and so on.”
“With no break of sanity or anything positive?’
“The last seven months after Russell left, weren’t exactly peaceful. But I learned how to be alone. It was hard and lonely, but I think I needed that.”
“I need you to think about something. You’re putting your body and your mind through a lot of trauma.” He said. “I know that others have played a part in this, but you have played a role in all of this as well. Are you aware of the role you’ve played in all of this?”
“Yes. I am not perfect. My time alone has really given me time to think about things that I have gone through and see what I have done wrong. But I have always been honest about my fuck ups.”
“Why haven’t you been honest about how you have been portrayed to others?” I’ve always hated this question. It was always the one question that I hated other than being asked if I were top or bottom.
“At first, I tried. But I started to realize that it just made me look guilty. It is hard to change the minds of people when they have already made up their minds on what they want to believe.” I don’t like to waste energy on talking to people about things that they have heard about me. The truth about people that I have dealt with has always been revealed without me having to do anything to retaliate. My truth is my truth. My blog is my truth. This is my way of getting it out of me. I never cared if I was the only one reading it. The fact that it is out in the open was enough for me.
“So your only resolve is to walk away and distance yourself? But what does that solve?”
“I don’t have to hear it. It doesn’t make me feel better, but I don’t have to hear it.”
“You do not want to deal with it?” He asked.
“My job is to take care of myself, not defend myself against people who aren’t doing anything for me,” I said. “That is how I rationalize everything,” I explained that I have a big picture in mind. “Either you are trying to contribute and add shit to this picture, or walk away. I am perfectly fine with people walking away now.”
Dr. Gajera and I had been going back and forth for a while with thoughts on my anxiety and some different medications that he wanted me to try. I told him that I was fine with what I already had.
“I stopped using the Prozac, but I am going to continue it.”
“Why did you stop the Prozac?” He asked.
“I wasn’t able to perform sexually and I was always sleepy on Prozac.”
“Did you have any other side effects?’
“Nothing as important as not being able to keep an erection.” I laughed. “I had a bad moment recently and it was a little embarrassing. But luckily, I have many other talents.” I smiled. He laughed so hard and looked at the clock.
“Why do you always end our sessions with something disturbing?”
“How else are you supposed to remember our sessions?” I joked. “Besides, you might know a handsome gay doctor who needs a little love.” I continued. ” I come with references. And I will love to keep them, so maybe I will lay off of the Prozac.”
“I will keep you in mind. But I do like that you have been spending more time outside of the house.” Dr. Gajera said.
“I have no other choice. Free WiFi..”
I left Dr. Gajera’s office to the Hoboken rain. I walked around for a minute. I stood watching the people hustle trying to stay dry. Street lights, cars, buses and taxis were fascinating at that moment. The puddles left by the rain were rushing in a stream into the sewer drains. The aroma of food, the laughter of people talking and smoking. The puppies enjoying the shower. People walked by me and smiled, some looked confused. I was outdoors and I wasn’t scared of being seen by anyone.
Maybe it was a great idea to be alone for a few months. It is perfectly normal to take a break from people.But It has become very apparent that I am suffering from the effects of seclusion. Being alone and wanting a real connection with someone was all that I was after. Somehow, I stopped caring about having any of that. I started to accept that love and true friendship was not an option for gay men. In a world full of judgments, labels, materialism, discrimination, and shade; some gay men aren’t ready to change their mindsets for real happiness. I am okay with being alone for now… I think…