I’ve reached a pivotal point in my memoir, the summer of 2008, when I was 22 and pure curiosity led me into (and kept me in) a [sort of] relationship that would up being really, really awful. I did not want to write about this time period or this particular individual—who for the sake the of this blog post I’ll call Dean—because I didn’t want to give Dean any credence and I was happy having convinced myself that none of it had really happened.
But as I thought about the themes that have appeared in my story—desire for belonging and acceptance, finding confidence in who I am regardless of what others think or say of me—it only made sense to include my two-month relationship with Dean. You’ll definitely read more in the book, but Dean was a guy I met through an online community. We hung out once at a club, literally dancing the night away, and were attracted to each other. We were pretty different with respect to virtually everything—political views, religious views, values, time and money management—but I was willing to cast all of that aside because I liked Dean and, quite frankly, I was curious as hell about what went into being in a relationship in general.
Dean and I had a great time for few weeks, until he broke up with me via text message (TEXT MESSAGE), saying that we were too different so we shouldn’t date, but we could be friends. I, for some reason, went along with that suggestion, assuming it meant that we would hang out and talk as friends. But we never hung out again or talked, only emailed about really personal things. As I shared some of my deepest secrets in the written word, I felt closer to Dean and myself, being vulnerable to us both. Ultimately, Dean used my vulnerability against me, becoming the “moral police” who indicted me for everything I did wrong, including shopping with a credit card and making a joke about wanting a cigarette.
I was livid at Dean for about six months, and even then, I wasn’t sure why I was so angry. Writing this book now helped me see that, like my dad, Dean made me feel like being my imperfect self wasn’t enough. He called me an imposter, something that I still struggle with to this day despite my vehement argument to him, and myself, that I was and still am being authentic. He refused to accept me for who I was, and because I was only 22, that made me question myself and shook my confidence more than it had been shaken since I was a little girl. Dean made me feel the way my father made me feel, and I hated him for pushing me back in time to emotions that I had buried so deeply.
I met my husband shortly after the end of the six-month lividity period. When Rustin accepted my flaws, I thought I was being punk’d (and I still do sometimes, don’t say anything), but I relished in the freedom. All my life I’ve wanted the people I love and just plain like to love or like me for me, which makes me feel worthy of being loved or liked. My dad made me question that worthiness, Dean made me question that worthiness, but Rustin left me speechless.