The kitchen’s closed. Sorry. Maybe another cafe is still open? Check down the street.
So. My blog was sputtering along in obscurity, with maaaaybe ten or twelve hits every few days. Then the folks on the compound found it, and suddenly it got hundreds in a day. It made, not a lot of people, but people who were important to me very angry, so I deleted it. I spent yesterday very depressed, thinking about knives and blood and the beauty of their combination, as I do when I hate myself. I haven’t been this depressed since I got stuck in the Riyadh airport for two days.
Reactions today have ranged from “You shouldn’t have taken it down. I thought it was great,” to “ARE YOU FUCKING SUICIDAL?” [yes, I am, thanks for noticing] to icy silence. When these folks read here, they seem to have read it looking for themselves, treating it like a distorting mirror. If I said one thing that didn’t line up with their view of themselves six weeks ago when I met them for the first time, they got very angry indeed. If they weren’t mentioned at all, or if what I said did match their self-image, they were quite pleased. From what I hear, some of the people who were most offended didn’t actually read it at all.
To give a more detailed answer to the question, though:
I grew up in a family full of mental illness and suicide. Killing oneself has always seemed a bit drastic to me, but within the bounds of reasonable behavior. Much more reasonable than killing someone else, for instance. When I was eight, my dad planned out a suicide. He was going to drive off one of the bridges on his way to or from work, making it look like he lost control of the car so that my mother could collect the life insurance money. His pastor talked to him first, though, and told him that, given a choice between divorce or suicide, choose divorce. So I have spent most of my life with the knowledge that my father would rather have died than raise me and my six brothers and sisters.
When I was a kid, I read a ton of books. Many of the books in the library aimed at kids my age seemed to focus on kids who were recovering from accidents, and I wondered what my life would be like if I were in one of these. At different points later on, particularly in moments of transitions, I’ve spent a lot of time imagining myself getting hurt accidentally, though it rarely happened.
A little over a year ago, I realized that I had a major problem in my life. Even though I had been married for nearly eight years and my wife was pregnant for the third time, I am sexually attracted to men. I had talked with Jennie about it before, but she said that with enough prayer and mental exertion that attraction would weaken and die. She was wrong. The more I ignored it, the more I focused on her, the more prominent my same-sex attraction became. I knew that I had to tell her, and I knew that it would destroy her life. One afternoon, she took the kids off for the weekend so I could grade papers. I saw them out of the driveway, then I started looking for sturdy places I could hang myself from. The house didn’t have any. I considered tying myself to the furniture and lighting the house on fire, but thought that might be a little overdramatic.
A couple of months later, I told her, and she and the boys moved back in with her parents. I wanted to die. I walked around Asheville in dark clothes at night, looking for cars to jump in front of. No one speeds when you want them to. So when everyone was telling me to go out and experiment with my sexuality, I was sitting at home, planning suicides. I was also spending a lot of time with my acupuncturist, who told me that I needed to find a way to express the things I was feeling, or I was going to die. I started writing a blog as a way of keeping myself alive. I put all of my dirtiest, darkest secrets on it, and no one read it. I went for six months before anyone even commented. Then, gradually, a group of supportive friends formed around my blog, people whom I could tell anything and they would still like me. I had never had this type of friend before. Eventually I shared it with a few close friends, and even though I was afraid to do it, they still liked me afterward. I still had occasional flirtations with suicide, but they were briefer, if more intense. Once I drove to Florida to keep from breaking a glass jar and cutting my wrists with the pieces.
Back in October and November, my counselor friend decided to see me semi-professionally for free. He knew that I needed help, and he needed to try some new techniques he was learning about the relationship between mind and body. He helped me a lot, and I felt better than I had in a very long time. I’ve used some of the things he taught me here, but not as much as I need to.
Yesterday, after deleting my blog, I wanted to die. I spent a good bit of the day thinking through and planning it, even though I knew I probably wouldn’t do it. I went to the kitchen and picked up my largest knife, stroked its edge a few times, gave it a soft kiss, placed it back in its drawer and went outside. I was hoping to run into someone I could talk to about this. I didn’t see the person I was hoping for, but my officemate showed up instead, and he was very supportive.
One of my coworkers here was trained as a counselor, and when I shared with him this morning what I had been thinking of yesterday, he said that I needed to get some help. Just in case it hasn’t come across yet, I am an angry, rebellious, egotistical person who doesn’t like being helped. I shall have to be impressively cheerful around him to keep him from helping me against my will. Knowing him, that probably won’t work.
Ever since I showed up two months ago, people who don’t know any of this have been telling me that I’m likely to go crazy and shoot myself here. I didn’t need you to tell me that. They tell me that I need to find what will make my life continue to be worth living, and do that obsessively and unapologetically. And so, I write.
This blog was never about you; it’s about me.
In the past two months, I’ve been writing my first impressions about life here in Saudi Arabia, covering as many aspects of my experience as I can. However, I have not treated my coworkers with the respect and consideration they deserve. So, I had been setting the charge and laying the fuse, and this weekend someone lit the fire and everything blew up. A teacher I don’t know well came up to me yesterday and told me that she had found my blog and passed it around, and I had hurt the feelings of many people. I’m sorry. I should not have mentioned people or places by name, and I will refrain from doing so in the future. I have deleted everything, just to be sure that I don’t miss something that might offend someone. If there’s anything else I can do to make this better, please tell me.
Again, I’m sorry for the suffering I have caused. I have been dealing with a lot of my own emotional pain these last two months, and when people are hurting, they hurt others. This is not an excuse. I know that my perceptions are distorted, and that first impressions are generally inaccurate. I should not have written about you as I did. Please forgive me.
Hey. Did you know that you can delete an entire blog in a matter of seconds?