Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Teenage Dreams

Hello all,
I’ve never understood why we celebrated the 21st birthday more than any other. I get it if I lived in America cause I could finally drink and would officially become an adult, but as an Australian, it seemed hugely redundant. I had my first drink at 17, I first voted when I turned 18 and I checked my V-card out last year. All of these token indicators of my adulthood I had already passed, so what was the point?
   However, that all changed as I approached my 21st birthday this year. I don’t think I could say that this has been my favourite year, as it has been one of transition. Officially, my uni course that I have been over the past three years comes to an end in two months. I will be forced out into the wide world for the first in my entire life, no clear system to back me up and that’s unbelievably scary. So, I have spent the year fighting against the demons which have secretly plagued my higher study.
   I’ve always thought I knew what I wanted to do. Since I can remember, I’ve always been making up stories about anything. The elderly neighbour across the road became a superhero, the roadmap carpet thing in the attic became the sight of an epic tragedy which seemed to amuse my parents and my walk to school became like a radio serial with an extensive cast of characters. Those characters became a second family to me, and when everything went wrong in my life, I would torture them, but they would leave on and I would teach myself about the power of resilience. Eventually, I decided to tell their story and set to work on recording everything I could remember happening. Since I started in 2009, I’ve written one complete 100,000 word novel based on them, as well as planning out 12 seasons of 13 novels and incalculable arc plots and expanded universe ideas. They are my babies, but I don’t think I ever entertained the idea that they would never see the light of day in the form I currently had them in.
   Earlier this year, I finally, finally told my boyfriend, Finn, about my babies and their terrible, beautiful, hopeful lives. He gently told me that what I had planned was far too extensive to ever be realised, so I’ve worked steadily to cut back my series from 144 novels down to 40 or so. This is still too many. It seems odd to me that the adventures of Maize, Cameron, Tex, Ella, Dani, Phoenix, Kyle, Gabriel, Paris and all of the others may never be known to anyone but me. But it wasn’t just the hugeness of the saga that made me question everything I believed in.
   No, that honour had gone to a single tutor late in my second year. She was mean and horrible and hated everything I wrote. She gifted me with my second worst mark ever, secondary only to maths. What was worst about this was that she was right. Not just that. It was that her criticism had affected me so deeply, so blindingly that it shook my faith in what I was doing. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know I haven’t got exactly the highest level of self-esteem in the world (just look at the title), which makes my target goal of being a writer incredibly silly. With building or science or accounting, you don’t put your heart and your soul into it, but with writing, it’s me.
   One of my friends (Holmes) has said to me that he loves reading my blog because it’s basically like listening to me talk. There is no gap between who I am and what I write. Thus, criticism is like being told I’m ugly or stupid but that, in itself, is stupid. Of course I’m going to be criticised. Her critiques were valid, I am terrible at description and the piece did need more contexts, but they challenged me, they shook me, they destroyed me. The bigger problem is that in the same week I got a 39/40 for a script I’d written. I don’t remember that as much. It’s the bad stuff that sticks.
   As such, I have began to question my entire life, wondering whether I have made some of the worst decisions of my life. I think this is something that all writers feel, but my friends seem to be more secure in themselves and their positions to be able to cope. But I don’t have anything else. I only know how to write, and I don’t even have that most of the time.
   The worst thing about this is that my marks really don’t reflect this. I consistently get really good scores for my writing and the reception it gets when it’s read in class is usually fantastic, so why do I hate my writing that much? I don’t know.
   But if I’m not writing, what am I doing? I’ve considered doing a film and TV course, but that seems like a waste of time, another inevitable delaying of the moment I have to accept adult responsibilities and become a mature and contributing member of society.
   I think that’s what being 21 represents to me, the moment where everything tells me to become an adult. University is ending; I have to get a job. If I choose to continue onto that film and TV course, then I’ll have to work night shift. If I have to work night shift, I’ll have to learn to drive and get a car to be able to get home. If I want to move in with my boyfriend (which I do), then I need a job and money. But the idea of working fills me with fear. So many people. So much stress. So much fear.
   Turning 21 seems like the moment I am forced to choose a path. What type of person do I want to be? What do I want my future to look like? Do I want to have kids? I don’t know. I have no idea what I want to be. I am trying hard enough to live day-by-day with a brain that seems destined to rush to the most insane option. I am too busy trying to convince my brain that Finn isn’t dead or hates me, that my phone is simply being a dick and not receiving his messages again, to focus on the idea that doing writing may have been a really, really bad idea.
   I don’t want to be an adult. I am childish and immature. One of my favourite movies is still The Adventures Of Elmo In Grouchland. One of my favourite TV shows is Five Minutes More. I am immature and I am proud of it. I am really happy to spend my days watching Mad Men and going to bed at 1 in the morning, rather than working till 5 in the morning, sleeping till 3 in the afternoon and then working from 6 again. I don’t want that for my life. I don’t want to be an adult and I don’t give a fuck who knows it.
   Except maybe I do.
  It is because I’m young that I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing. To me, turning 21 is like graduating from high school. I was so afraid of leaving that place, that system that had held me for six years. They were six years filled with terrible, terrible memories which I’ve spent more than a few hours in a counsellor’s session deconstructing, but I felt like I belonged there. That having the crush on that very straight boy in my lit class was my entire purpose in life, that it was good and right that the height of my social status was as the nerdy Doctor Who kid. So, I cried when I graduated, because I really didn’t want to leave. I didn’t cry because I had loved it there. I cried because I had finally, finally figured out how to belong and that was being ripped away from me for a wider, scarier world. I cried because I had to work out how to do this all again.
   That’s why turning 21 is scary. Because it’s new and I don’t do well with new. I like structure and belonging and rules and suddenly it feels like everything is being ripped away. My writing, my characters, my University, my friends, my favourite shows (Glee, Miranda, Parks and Rec and Hannibal are all being cancelled), my sanity, my structure, my boyfriend. And this may be the most stupid thing I’ve ever written. Because they’re not being ripped away, I just have to change the way I do them.
   My saga and my characters are not dead, they’re just being cut down a little bit to make them more accessible. They’re not leaving me, they’re standing with me like they always have, helping me to adapt to a terrifying new world.
   University is ending, yes, but that’s the door to something far more exciting. I’m not gonna deny that moving on’s gonna be hard. I’ll probably cry at graduation and I’ll spend the first six months scared, but then, like I always have, I’ll pick myself up and move on to something that has the potential to be something far greener and more beautiful.
  The friends that I have made are not leaving, they will not abandon me and I will not abandon them. And to all of you reading, that’s a promise. As I approach my 21st birthday, I realise that I don’t think I’ve ever thanked you for everything you’ve done for me. You people who saw something you liked, something beautiful in me mean everything to me. So, to each of you, from your popcorn juggling, chair-ballet master; your time warp dancing, cuddle couch buddy who once kissed you or who drunkenly said your girlfriend had nice boobs; your gossipy friend who tells you outrageous details about my sex life and thinks it cool that you want to be a crazy cat lady; your friend who gets drunk and gets jealous that you’ve seen my partner naked but who I also ask opinions from; your friend in awkward interactions who thinks it should be mandatory for every conversation to end in “I have nothing else to say to you” and walking off, I thank you. I love you all, I really do. The fact that I’m even here and able to have an existential crisis on my 21st birthday is thanks to you. You all saved me one time or another.
   My favourite shows are being cancelled, but I can re-watch them over and over and over again, especially that one Parks And Recreation about gay penguins.
   My sanity was always questionable to begin with. Look at what you’re reading. A super depressing post which somehow managed to become life-affirming. I swear, it’s like a house style by this point.
   My structure will shift and change, but it will remain. And that’s okay.
   And, of course, Finn. I don’t really know what to say. You changed my life. Before you, I was this bloody terrified, lonely young guy who you saw something in, something you fell in love with. And while most of the time, I’m not exactly sure what that is, I thank you for it, from the bottom of my heart. I love you every single second of every single day. You are the most perfect person I’ve ever met. You found me, pulling me, kicking and screaming a little bit I’m sure, and I became a better person because of it. My friends have said I’m happier since I’ve been with you and I feel that difference. I always know you’re there to love me and inspire me or slap me round the head when I need it. Your constant refusal to let everything that happens bring you down is beautiful and the way you will not let go of your dreams for anything is inspiring. I love everything about you. And while I can be bitchy and horrible and steal your clothes, I thank you for standing by me. And even if you can’t make my birthday party, I know that that doesn’t mean anything, because you are more than an appearance at an event.
   So, 21 is scary as hell. It’s the moment you become an adult, the moment you’re faced with responsibility, where the cracks beneath your feet begin to show. But it’s in the moment that the ground crumbles underneath me that I realise that I will never fall. I have people willing to hold me, to pull me up from hell.
   I usually hate my birthdays. They’re the moments I seem to realise how lonely I was. The year I tried to kill myself was because I thought I was alone. The first year I started Uni, I got about 2 birthday messages via Facebook. But this, this birthday feels different. It feels hopeful. Like this one is less a reminder that I’m growing into an adult and that everything is collapsing, but an indication of all the reasons why my Universe will never collapse.
   I used to dream as a teenager that I would be alone, that I would be unhappy and that my characters would be the only things that kept me alive. However, as I become an adult, I realise that teenage dreams suck. I am allowed to wish for more than that. I am allowed to be more than that. I am allowed to make an impact on this world. And that’s what I’m gonna do. I will not be forgotten. I will not be simply an adult. I will not allow it for myself.
   So, that’s what turning 21 is. The refusal to allow the encroaching adult responsibilities to control me. I like that. I like that a lot.

So, Steve, what did you think of that one?
   Actually, I’m not called Steve anymore. Changed my name. I’m Ethan now.
  Ah, that is exciting. I like that name, it’s cute.
  Shut up.
   Will not. So, Ethan, what did you think?
   I’m seriously considering changing blogs. It was so much like every other one of David’s posts, an inspiration trip.
   Indeed, Ethan, I can’t help but agree with you. This blog is like his therapy now and that’s just not acceptable, is it?
   No, Jim, it’s really not. Particularly on this, his 21st birthday! We cannot have it.
   No, we can’t. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
   Depends. Are you thinking that we should continue the fine 21st tradition of embarrassing the birthday boy or girl?
   Yes, yes I am. If he’s going to embarrass us with his confessional, we might as well do the same with him, right, Ethan?
   Indeed, Jim. So, in celebration of David’s 21st birthday, here are 21 deeply embarrassing memories from the vault.

1.       When I was in year 9, I realised I was gay after another guy flashed his balls to me in gym. Gotta love all boys schools.
2.       When I was in grade 6, I decided that the teachers should get rewarded too and created the Terrific Teacher Award. I was such a teacher’s pet.
3.       When I was in grade 3, I cried because mum refused to take me to go see Piglet’s Big Movie and I believed that I would never get another chance to see it because it was only in cinemas. This is still one of my most damaging memories.
4.       When I was about 10, I used to imagine that all leaves were letters.
5.       When I was in grade 6, I jumped off the sandpit boat in our backyard, landing on a nail at the front and ripping my private parts open. I was unable to stand, so my brother went inside and told mum. She replied that he can crawl it. We have huge stairs leading up to the backdoor. You will never know pain like that.
6.       One of my earliest memories was when I almost drowned in the deep end of a pool. I have largely refused to go swimming ever since.
7.       I frequently walk into sliding doors. They just don’t see me!
8.       When I was in year 10, I freaked out a substitute teacher because I looked up a horror movie called Suspiria in IT class and watched the opening double murder. She didn’t see the arty side.
9.       I managed to get out of my primary school production (where I was to sing ‘Turning Japanese’) after I threw up.
10.    I managed to get out of an oral presentation because I bit my fingers until they bled so profusely I had to go to first aid.
11.    When I was in grade 6, I was rather proud of my obsession with teddy bears. I still have several of them which sit proudly above my DVD cabinet. Totoro is creepy though. He just stares at me all night.
12.    When I was in grade 7, I was obsessed with Ugly Betty. I didn’t realise I was gay until year 9. This now seems like an early sign.
13.    When I was in kindergarten, I went to a friend’s party dressed as a mermaid, not a merman. Mum still thinks this is partially the reason why I’m gay.
14.    When I was in grade 6, I chose to spend my lunchtimes working on a bullying project over spending time with the girl I was friends with at the time. Many of my high school friends said that after I told them this story was when they realised I was gay.
15.    That same girl taught me how to sing the entirety of Anastasia’s ‘Left Outside Alone’. I still get a touch nostalgic whenever that’s on the radio.
16.    When I was in year 12, I watched Eurovision for the first time, crushing hugely on a guy called Alexander Rybak (so pretty). Here I realised an unspoken problem of being gay, having the same interest in men as your mum (shudder).
17.    Since at least grade 9, I have no door on my bedroom, even though I have a boyfriend. We still get up to shenanigans when he’s at my place.
18.    When I was in grade 9, the only thing that kept me going on a gruelling week-long camp was the idea that I was going to go home and read this random Doctor Who novelisation (Enemy Of The World, by the way). To this day, I still haven’t read it.
19.    Taylor Swift’s ‘You Belong With Me’ is probably still my favourite song of all time. I remember I used to listen to the radio all day, every day just on the off chance they’d play it. Ah, the days before CD’s and digital music.
20.    My first words were, apparently, “Golly golly” and “Mama, dada.” Random, I know.
21.    From 2010, to my birthday, I have seen 957 films, 110 individual series’, read several books and downloaded over 20,000 tracks of music. I am officially a nerd.

   I just realised something, Ethan.
   What is it, Jim?
   He’s just used this blog again to block his friends from ripping out an embarrassing story at his party.
   Oh. I suppose you’re right. That is embarrassing. Still, if it means they can find something else, it will be even more terrible!
   Oh, Jim, that’s brilliant. I literally cannot wait. Now, to close... Wait, what’s this? An envelope?
   Hand it to me, Ethan. I’ll read it. Oh my. Are you planning on doing anything near Christmas?
    Not really, probably, just going home to spend the holidays with my family. Roast pork, should be lovely. Why, Jim?
   It’s... Not like that, Ethan. You’re... Not my type.
  I’m sorry. We’ll talk later. Anyway, dear reader, we have an announcement to make. Our author has been hard at work on something incredible, a true gala event. What do you think about that, Jim?
  Don’t answer me then. I, however, cannot wait. But what is it? Well, David mentioned in the blog post that he had just seen his 957th film. To celebrate reaching the grand 1000, he will present an epic countdown. 250 films. All of them reviewed. Two weeks of incredible movies.
   Two weeks?
   And we’ll be hosting?
   Of course, wouldn’t miss it for the world.
   Oh, Jim, that’s so awesome. I can’t wait.
   Neither can I. And neither will you, valued reader, want to miss out on this very special event. Over the coming weeks, several little goodies will be released to keep your appetites wet. This is the most ambitious thing this blog has ever tried to do, so I really hope you enjoy it.
   Me too.
   So, there’s a lot to look forward to. As David mentioned in the post, turning 21 is about looking to the future. Let’s raise a glass and toast. To a bright and happy future. You agree, Ethan?
  Indeed, Jim, indeed.
   Hope to see you all again soon. Love and thanks, from me, Jim.
   And me, Ethan.

Love and thanks,
David Gumball-Watson

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

A Queer Little Dream

Hello all,
I’ve got something to admit: as a general rule, I really don’t like queer films. Of the 100 or so films I’ve seen that feature gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgender, I’ve liked (and I mean really liked) only about a quarter. While this doesn’t sound like a terrible percentage, many of the 75 films left would have a strong presence in any list I make of the worst films I’ve ever seen. There is, however, a reason, a contention I have to explain this huge disparity.
   This is something I’ve thought a lot about. I’ve done multiple university essays examining the power and difficulty inherent in queer representations on screen, but it was only recently when I sat down to watch the Circuit that this became something I needed to discuss. Made in 2001 and directed by Dirk Shafer, this is quite possibly one of the worst films I’ve ever seen (something of an achievement, considering that it was the 940th film I’d watched). It concerns a young ex-policeman’s introduction to the gay club culture, addiction to drugs and subsequent spiral out of control. There is some mileage to be found in this idea, particularly when it’s discussed in comparison to body image, one of gay culture’s most problematic and pressing issues, and I’m sure it would make a very powerful film in the right hands.
   Circuit is not a powerful film. It’s a bad film. There are so few redeeming features that it’s hard to know where to start. It tackles many key issues in regards to contemporary discussions and debates prominent to the queer community (HIV/AIDS, tendencies to be sexist/racist, body image, objectification, drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution, plastic surgery, internalised homophobia, top/bottom stigma, love vs. casual sex and physical abuse to name a few) without tackling any of them in a way that feels sophisticated. It’s like the film’s writer read an article about all of the things gay men fear and decided to put them all in two hours without exploring them. It’s stupid and annoying.
   This is particularly true in regards to the film’s ‘exploration’ of objectification. This is one of those things that fascinates me whenever I go to a gay club and I think there’s a fascinating intersection between this and body image problems. Circuit tries to discuss this by explicitly making its characters say that male objectification is a bad thing and then have terrible body image, which is terrible because it does the thinking for us. However, even worse, is the fact that this comes shortly after there had been an unbelievably long montage of a hot guy showering, which included close ups of his nipples, ass and abs. It was like the camera was this close to giving him a bj. This felt like objectification in that it served absolutely no purpose other than for the audience to salivate over the guy. It was incredibly uncomfortable and voyeuristic; particularly seeing it was a private moment with no other characters present.
   Don’t get me wrong, here is a very good film in the idea and examination of the way that drugs, alcohol abuse, endless partying and plastic surgery are connected to objectification and self-loathing within the queer community but it isn't this movie. Add to this mix terrible acting, shitty dialogue, ill-defined characters who are simply cogs in the wheel of message creation, bad filmmaking, too many subplots and a runtime that feels like it’s never-ending (130 minutes has never seemed so arduous), and it becomes a steaming piece of cinematic shit. This was an endurance test of epic proportions.
   However, there is one very interesting thing about Circuit. It’s a post coming-out film. None of the characters emotionally tell anyone that they are gay. They just are, which is a part of the film’s message (if you can call it that). Many (if not most) queer films deal with the almighty coming out, the moment one accepts that they are gay and goes about telling those close to them. There’s a whole genre of films which are all basically the same, a version of the classic coming-of-age story but with a gay twist, culminating in a proud coming out. My favourite gay films (Latter Days, Brokeback Mountain, Shelter) are concern coming out stories, or first love. There is, however, a huge gap in the market for a story about gay people in the period after coming out, about what it means to be gay after you’ve accepted it.
   A lot of the gay community and writing about gay people is heavily involved with the coming out process which is all well and good (and very important) but it doesn’t give you an idea about what it means to live as gay. What does it mean that I like the same sex as me? Is there anything different in me, as a man, living and loving a man then there is a straight couple? What does it mean to be a good gay or a bad gay? I can name only a very small handful of post coming-out films and none of them are particularly positive.
   I’m not saying that we live our lives by looking at films because that isn’t necessarily the case, but it is interesting to note that there is a huge gap in the market. The problem with this is that films like Circuit are left to fill this gap, and are therefore subject to harsher judgement. But I think there’s something even more complicated going on here.
   To be completely honest with you, even the label ‘gay movie’ is stupid and redundant to me. Since being in a long-term relationship (year and three-months on the 21st, hell yeah!), I’ve discovered that being gay is not so different than being straight. Okay, so physically it is, yes, but the problems that Finn and I have had are not so different from those of straight couples. Honesty, insecurity and trust are all things that are not unique to the gay or straight communities but are universal to the human experience. Filmmakers don’t seem to see this.
   Therefore, there is a big difference between films which are about gay characters and films about characters who are gay. There is a very, very big difference between these two approaches, something I will now demonstrate with two short story synopsis I just made up.

1. Joseph, a builder, has a wife, and two kids, but he is beginning to fall for the contractor, Matthew, who is openly gay. They have passionate romances but Joseph is torn up by the guilt inside him, and so turns to overeating.

2. Joey, the CEO of an office, tries to deal with the hospitalisation of his brother after an attempted suicide as well as his own depression from unresolved childhood trauma regarding his father’s bipolar. While trying to cope with this, he learns that his boyfriend, Matt, wants children.

There is a world of difference between these two scenarios. In the first synopsis, Joseph’s sexuality is the most important thing about him. He struggles to accept his sexuality as well as his responsibility to his family and his wife. There is also some indication of body image, so this story would be about the difficulties of living an authentic life when social pressure requires normality. Every action he takes is because he is gay.
   In contrast, the second synopsis focuses more on the idea of Joey’s family and the generational trauma of mental illness. He seems a more real, flawed human being who is dealing with problems like work and family but who comes home to a man. Undoubtedly, his sexuality plays a part in the story (he is in a relationship with Matt) but even that is a closer examination of the theme of family. He has a life outside of the way he identifies. It is simply another part of him, exactly like it is for 90% of straight characters we see on screen (women are a possible exception to this argument, in that they are frequently presented as secondary to and whose relationship with male characters is the most important thing about them, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish).
   This is the reason I loved films like Latter Days, Shelter and (to a lesser extent) Brokeback Mountain. While they are coming out stories, they feature other aspects of the characters’ lives and how their sexuality interacts with that. For all its surface about religion’s treatment of gay men, Latter Days is more a film about how we live as spiritual and hopeful beings, while Shelter is more a film about family, parenting and responsibility than it is about what happens when you start sleeping with your best friend’s sexy brother. Brokeback Mountain works because it makes homophobia explicit and queers a very straight genre in the Western, creating something beautiful and profoundly moving. These are films that sees their characters as something more than gay, but they are the exception.
   This may seem like a trivial thing (after all, any representation is good representation), but it means the world to me. A couple of months back, I gave a speech where I basically argued that being gay was not the most interesting thing about me. That is something I really believe. Don’t get me wrong, I love my boyfriend Finn with the passion of a thousand suns, but I don’t think he’s the most interesting thing about me (but yes, this blog has been biased towards him. He’s very important to me), nor is the fact that I want a Finn not a Kira.
   But I love films. I’ve seen just under 950. That’s more interesting. You get so much more of me if I were to I say that (such as the fact that I’m an epic nerd because I have seen that many films and that I know that I have seen that many) than you would if I were to say I am gay and I have a boyfriend named Finn. That’s a big step for me. Realising that is, to me, a huge step in accepting one’s sexuality, realising that it’s not what you’re all about, that you can be more than gay.
   For films and entertainment to deny this part of us, they are denying all of us. They are seeing us as only gay. In a way, it’s homophobic to point out someone is gay and to define them by that. We do it too, and I think that should change too, but one step at a time. I suppose it’s always been a little queer dream of mine; to, one day, see a post coming-out film about a guy that just happens to be gay and content with it. It’s like how I always prayed for just one film about Asperger’s that ended with the main character in a relationship. It feels like an emptiness, which would be so easy to fill. It’s about breaking out of the mould and being brave enough to do so.
   There is hope, though. Josh Thomas’ TV show Please Like Me is a truly exceptional example of exactly what I’m talking about and the new film Holding The Man could break this trend. From the trailers it doesn’t seem likely though (still, it looks amazing). But for the larger part, the queer film market is filled with stories of people coming-out or realising that the party, drug-addicted lifestyle is the way to do. If that’s our future, heaven help us. So, Hollywood, Bollywood, Dollyworld, I don’t care who, please just fulfil this little queer dream of mine? Maybe then, I can shift that percentage to something like half of the gay films I watch I enjoy. Always keep positive, I say.
   Anyway, sorry about that. A little bit of a rant is always fun, but after a several month break, it might scare a few of you off. I hope not. So much has happened in the past few months, mostly in regards to throwing my future around, debating what I want to do with my life and trying to deal with money shortages. The usual for a University student, basically. Quick Finn update, we are still very much together and going strong. I know this is cliché, but I swear I love him more every day. And yes, I have been more honest, respectful and trusting. Promise.
   Lastly, a quick hint. You know how I said I’d seen under 950 films? Well, I may have something special planned to celebrate my 1000th film. I had hoped for that to be around the same time as my quarter-life-anniversary (or, as it’s more commonly referred to, my 21st birthday), but it may be closer to Christmas now. Either way, it’s something I’m working really hard on and I can’t wait to see what you think of it. But that’s enough hints for now.
   Hope your last few months have been spectacular, sending you all my love.


David Gumball-Watson

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Hold On For Dear Love: Part II

Hello all,
And welcome to the second part of 'Hold On For Dear Love'. This picks up exactly where the last one finished, so if you haven't read that, make sure to read that here. So, without further ado, I shall continue.

The Return Of The Passionate Man Kiss
I don’t know if this is a common problem or not, but one of the hardest aspects of facing this, our first real argument (in slow-motion. Without the yelling), was the knowledge that I had hurt him so deeply. It was something that I really struggled with. We had caused one another so much unbearable pain that it seemed impossible to return to the feelings of joy and happiness that I had associated with him. It resulted in two very different reactions. Mine was to become needy and a tad clingy, needing reassurance that our love was strong, while his appeared to be a bit more distant, allowing time to heal all wounds. Like much of this month, the answer to this problem lay in compromise and honesty.
   It began the next Sunday when Finn was showcasing his company’s game in the city. As I’m in the city every Sunday (having joined a film club. Again, watch this space, I may do a blog post on that), I decided to drop by. He seemed pleased to see me, but was distracted by some people looking at his game. Honestly, this had been what I was hoping for, that he would be too busy to talk to me, so I said goodbye and he hugged me before I headed off to watch a film about a bi-polar dad that frustrated me.
   After the film, I walked around the city, wasting time until 3 when the exhibition finished, not wanting to get in his way. Stopping into JB Hi-Fi, I heard Marina & The Diamonds’ ‘I’m A Ruin’ playing and realised that it was perfect the summation of what I was feeling at the time. I’ve currently listened to this song 16 times since then and it has become the anthem of pain.
   At 3, I headed back to the stall just as they were closing up. I said he looked sexy, but he later revealed that he found this embarrassing in such a professional situation (which was true. In my defence, the exhibition had closed when I said it). As I helped him pack up, I gave him cookies and felt a bit like the team mascot. It is after all an adorable little skeleton reaper.
   We caught the train home together and talked about a couple of the lingering issues from the previous day. I pointed out that he had seemed distant, but he said he hadn’t meant or noticed it and allowed me to cuddle up to him on the train. As he gets off the station before I do, I figured that he would get off and I continued on. However, when we approached the station, he said, “I thought you were coming with me.” I beamed as I walked off the train with him. As he dropped me off home, we kissed and it was amazing.
   However, it wasn’t until the following Friday that true passion returned to our relationship. It was Good Friday and the gay club that we’ve been to many times was having a Boylesque show which he wished to attend, with or without me. True to my promise to give the gay community a chance, I said I would love to go. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it and when we got there my worst fears were confirmed. It was sexualised, drunk and nothing like what I enjoy. My dancing is like watching a full body bobblehead doll and my boyfriend’s attempts to get my legs to move were fruitless as best. I drank a bit, but still I wasn’t enjoying myself, partially because of all the people pointing out how adorable a couple we were. You would think this would be a good thing, but there’s something so condescending, particularly when I said we’d been together almost a year. It’s like I became a little baby which everyone had permission to faun over.
   It was while I was in this heightened emotional state that my boyfriend said we were going to be catching a maxi-cab with the group we’d gone with and so wouldn’t be leaving til 3. I felt my brain panic and began scratching my thumb. The difference this time was that it lasted a very, very long time and I subconsciously started scratching to the beat of the song. Ironic that my nails could feel it, yet my legs couldn’t. Eventually, I scratched so deeply that I ripped a layer of skin from my thumb which I told Finn about. He pulled me aside and asked if everything was okay. I assured him that it was. Basically, I lied. This was our night and I wasn’t going to let my insecurities destroy it for us. And boy was I glad I didn’t. At about 1, I had that magic drink.
   There’s a common misconception about being drunk which basically says it happens in stages. You go through tipsy to smashed to completely off your face. I’ve never found this. No, my drunk scale goes not drunk, not drunk, not drunk, very, very drunk. And it usually only takes that one magic drink to get there. It’s almost impossible to tell when you’re going to be like Arthur pulling the sword out of the stone and become completely drunk. It’s like a roulette game, but it is one that is most definitely worth playing. Because not drunk at a gay club me isn’t fun. My uni brain goes into overdrive as I consider Boyleque as an example of the gay community’s obsession and sexualisation of the male body leading to unrealistic body expectations (this was particularly relevant to me because it was something I’d picked on Finn about as well as my own body image issues). However, very drunk me is far more fun. Very drunk me is cuddly, affectionate and quite silly. Now, guess what happens when very drunk me meets very drunk Finn? He’d got this way shortly after entering the club, but as soon as I got in on the act, you couldn’t pull us away from one another.
  Just under a year ago, I had revealed my feelings to Finn by getting very drunk, leading to a drunken make-out session which has been affectionately termed the passionate man kiss. At no other time in the 11 months since had we ever had a passionate man kiss. There had been sexy man kisses and romantic man kisses and dizzy man kisses but there had never been a drunken passionate man kiss like that night. The feeling was electric, charging us up as we couldn’t keep our hands off one another. In a crazy drunken instant, we had rediscovered the intimacy that I thought was lost after I had hurt him so badly. It was the first time since the argument that our interactions hadn’t been defined by it. It was the first truly hopeful moment we’d had.
   In the week or so since then, we’ve faced the ongoing issues in our relationship and there has been hardly any day which didn’t lead to a heartbreaking D&M where we considered our future together. Then the other day, I slept over at his place and we spent the next day together before he dropped me off home and I realised with a sudden jolt that this was the first day we’d been together where we hadn’t faced the possibility of us separating. It was the first time that the pain didn’t define us and we became stronger. It was the first day of our future.

Lost And Found
At a later counsellor’s appointment, she argued that this, while being my worst week of the year, was also one of the most important. This was the moment, the hard, painful moment, that was the key to my future. This was the week where I had to contain the feelings I was having in order to survive. This was the week I realised that I was stronger than pain and that it didn’t define me anymore. This was the week I realised what I was fighting for, that losing Finn would be unbearable and that my taking him for granted was really not okay. However, this was also the week that proved that despite everything going wrong, that despite the rain and the storm and the void, that despite everything, I would survive. And not just survive, but that I would live. It was the week I finally
believed what Derek said to Meredith when he proposed to her in Grey’s Anatomy; “You say you’re all dark and twisty. It’s not a flaw, it’s a strength. It makes you who you are.” I realised that my pain was not strong enough to defeat me, it is what makes me brave. It is the week I finally realised a bigger part of me; that I am not the quiet, sad, emotionally stunted teenager in the corner, that I am on the journey to becoming someone better and that that journey was not an impossible task.
   For Finn and I’s relationship, its importance cannot be overstated. This is the moment we moved out of the honeymoon phase and were truly forced to decide what we really want out of our relationship. It was the moment we grew confident enough to speak openly about our future as a couple, that forever was potentially a very long time away and that more realistic goals would be more healthy. That’s not to say that this is over, that all the problems and issues we have have been miraculously solved. It’s not. We are still two vastly different people who do the world in very different ways, but there’s the feeling that sometimes love is enough. There’s this quote from The Mary Tyler Moore Show (which is something that Finn despises) which I think sums up my feelings about this. When asked why he has never cheated on his wife despite being married for 20 years, Lou Grant says “I don’t know. I guess I love her. I figured that, there are enough things in life where you... cop out and compromise and make excuses. There’s gotta be one thing where you say, “Is this the way it should be? Yes or no?” And if it matters enough so that it’s “yes”, then that’s what you do. I love her. So that’s what I do.”
   I love Finn, despite our differences. I love the way he smiles, the way he laughs. I love how he’s obsessed with his hair. I love how he doesn’t judge anyone, unless they’re from a religious organisation. I love how he is proud to be gay. I love how he dances and lip-synchs to Sia’s ‘Elastic Heart’. I love how he’s the kindest, most gentle person you’ll ever meet but he leaves scream metal. I love how he’ll try anything at least once. I love how he never gives up on anything, most of all his dreams. I love how he arranged his room. I love how when he sees any animal, he becomes a pile of adorable. I love how he’s so peaceful and goes with the flow. I love how he’s not afraid to be vulnerable. I love how he holds me. I love how he kisses me. I love how he dresses. I love his voice. I even love it when he’s embarrassing (like the way he dances to Sia’s ‘Elastic Heart’). I love him. I love everything about him. Finn, I love you in a big, embarrassing, awkward, perfectly imperfect way. Or if Shonda Rhimes was writing my life; “I love you... in a really, really big... pretend to like your taste in music, let you eat the last piece of cheesecake, hold a radio over my head outside your window, unfortunate way that makes me hate you... Love you.”
   So, I will whether the storm. I will be a better man and a better boyfriend. But “I know you don’t understand me. I don’t understand me” (Dammit, Shonda Rhimes, you wordsmith). I love him, so that’s what I’ll do. Because sometimes love is enough to whether even the hardest of times.

Love and thanks,
David Gumball-Watson

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Hold On For Dear Love: Part I

Hello all,
At about this time last year, I wrote that, after writing almost exclusively depressing things, it was incredibly difficult for me to talk about happy stuff, about pure unadulterated joy. Now, I face the opposite problem. You see, the last month has been one of the most difficult I’ve faced in a very, very long time. I also believe that it was also one of the most important in terms of my personal growth as well as the development of my relationship with Finn. However, in order to get to the happy place, there was a whole bucket load of heartache to get there. But as I experienced it, I found it nearly impossible to write despite having numerous blog title ideas. Now, however, as Finn and I approach our one year anniversary on the 21st, I feel ready to share the details of what ended up being our first fight...

Kicking The Puppy In The Pit
Even before everything went down, I knew something was wrong. It was a Tuesday, our regular date day and Finn had a doctor’s appointment. When it finished, he called me up and said that he wasn’t hungry, so he was going to pick me up a little later and we’d go out for tea. Usually, he’d pick me up anyway and we’d waste time at his or my place. But not that Tuesday. I knew something was wrong, but I buried it.
   An hour or two later, he picked me up and we got pizza, before heading to a local park. By coincidence (or, as I later discovered, by his planning), this park was also the one where I’d had my best day with him (as described in last year’s Children Of The Eurovision post). Still, as we ate our pizza there was no real signs of what was to come. I talked about Dolly Parton and how I wanted to go to Dollyworld and whether or not he’d come with me. He said he wouldn’t, but I reasoned that it had a zoo, considering he loves animals. It didn’t really work. After we finished tea, he said he needed to talk to me and that we should move into the backseat. I jokingly said, “you’re not going to break up with me are you?” Sometimes, I really need to shut my mouth.
   So, we move to the backseat and the first thing he says is “the way things are, I don’t think our relationship is going to last very long.” Now, my brain has a tendency to blow things out of proportion, to vastly misread situations and to panic needlessly. For example, if Finn hasn’t texted me in a couple of hours then my brain panics. I reassure my insane brain that it’s nothing and eventually he texts me back. The problem with this situation was that my brain wasn’t over-reacting. It wasn’t being crazy, it was processing everything exactly as he said it. And my brain melted. It went absolutely totally blank. I stopped thinking. It was a surreal feeling that terrified me as I believed that I was going to lose myself here. So, I started scratching my thumb in order to have some connection with reality. Thankfully, I don’t have particularly sharp nails, so I didn’t permanently damage myself. Did hurt though.
   While I was dealing with this, Finn pointed out the (incredibly reasonable) problems he was having. He stated that he believed a relationship was built on three main foundations. These are honesty which I was doing fairly well at, except for telling my friends far too much about our sex life. I have a tendency to tell my friends everything and then tell him “oh, I told my friends this about you the other day.” I told you I was dumb.
   Next was respect. This is something that I’d seen coming for a bit. Because I’m a terrible, terrible person who liked to pick on my boyfriend for absolutely no reason. This wasn’t just a sly jab between lovers, no this was mean comments about stuff he couldn’t change. And looking back on it, I feel incredibly bad about it. It was something that my friend Sabrina had told me to stop doing, but I didn’t listen. Cause you know, the whole really dumb thing.
   The final aspect was also arguably the most important. This was trust. It’s also something that I’m really bad at. A lot of this has to do with the fact that I dislike myself at the best of times, so my brain can’t accept the fact that Finn is with me and loves me, so it naturally assumes that whenever he goes out clubbing or anywhere on his own, that he’s going to leave me and find someone better. This is baseless which had been proven the week before. As I was attending a friend’s birthday party, I was unable to go with Finn to a gay club. My brain went a little crazy, but I managed to calm down until he informed me that he was staying out until 3 in the morning and getting very, very drunk and I lost it completely. Tears, thoughts that we were over, the works. The next day, I called him and told him how I had reacted, while he reassured me that he hadn’t done anything. In fact, he’d even turned down the opportunity to cheat when it was offered to him. He is not the cheating kind and this is more about my brain’s stuff than it is about him. However, this naturally made it almost impossible for him to believe that I trusted him.
   So, after this speech, I learnt that he thought I was too honest, didn’t respect him and didn’t trust him. The problem with this is that it was all correct. If I had been him in this situation, I would have gone to this conclusion. However, this information broke me. This was partially because I’d seen this coming.
   After that gay club night, I’d been talking to my counsellor about working on my trust issues and personal insecurities. I’d seen the bomb that was about to go off and had attempted to defuse it, yet it went off anyway.
   However, the main reason this upset me so deeply was that it seemed like an ending. Assume you’re Finn for a second. If you have this boyfriend who treats you terribly, who doesn’t respect you or trust you, then why would you stay? So, this is where my brain went. This is it. This is my relationship over. We are over. And it’s all my fault. And it was absolutely devastating.
   As he finished talking, he asked me to say something. Listening to the tone of his voice, I think he wanted my reassurance, that I had understood. And I wanted to say something so desperately. Any word would’ve been nice. But, of course, my brain was in shutdown. I didn’t know what to say. I scratched my thumb trying to pull myself back to the real world. He continued trying to get me to talk, and I finally managed to look at him. He looked so sad, and evidently I must have too as he said, “Don’t look like that. I feel like a kicked a puppy.”
   Puppies mean a lot to me, to us as a couple. Ever since I wrote my first (and favourite) blog post about us entitled ‘A Puppy In A Pit Of Tennis Balls’, baby dogs have become a surrogate symbol for my relationship with my beautiful boyfriend. So, naturally, this comment sparked a new blog post shaped connection in my brain. It went, Kicking The Puppy In The Pit. This was such a sudden, violent and evocative image that I immediately fell in love with it and much of the rest of that evening was spent working out how to write a blog post on this as opposed to actually being connected to the reality of the situation.
   I eventually had to get out of the car. While trying to comfort me in my silence, Finn put his hand over the thumb I was scratching. Whenever I have huge emotional turmoil, going for a walk helps for some reason. So, I decided that I was going for a walk. I managed to calm my brain down enough to tell Finn where I was going. However, as I grabbed the door, he asked whether I wanted him to come with me. This was one of those moments that felt huge and metaphorical, like denying him the chance to come with me would destroy us. So I sat in silence. He eventually took it upon himself to come with me.
   We walked in total silence, me thinking about all the good memories we’d had here, and wondering how things had got this bad. It was freezing, but I hardly felt it. After a while, Finn said he was going to wait, while I walked on ahead. I nodded slowly and pulled my phone out of my pocket, calling Sabrina. She didn’t answer and as I looked back, I saw Finn with his head in his hands. He was crying.
   I had never seen him cry before. Well, not from something emotional. Last year, when he was in hospital, he’d cried from the pain but that was different. What made this so horrible was knowing that I had caused this. And I couldn’t deal with it.
   I sunk to the ground behind a feature wall and sobbed uncontrollably. I thought it would never stop. I had caused him so much pain and it was all my fault. It seemed unbearable. Realising that I was being stupid, I stood up and walked back over to him. As I dusted myself down, I realised that my butt was soaking wet.
   Finn was still crying when I got back to him. I tried to lighten the mood. The problem with me when I’m emotionally devastated and trying to cheer people up is that I get sarcastic, cutting and talkative. It ain’t pleasant. So, naturally, I made a joke of my blog post title idea. This was probably the worst thing I could’ve said and he started crying again. I pointed out that I am terrible when people start crying. Basically, when I get upset, the filter in my brain melts away. Weirdly, the same thing happens when I’m drunk...
   Eventually, he managed to calm down and we hugged. We didn’t talk it over yet, were just taking comfort in one another’s arms. Sabrina called me back and Finn told me to take it. I told her the facts of the story and managed to calm myself down enough to go back to him. I suggested we go back to my place and cuddle on my bed. So, we drove back to mine and cuddled while looking at pictures of people with weird eyes.
   This may seem odd. We didn’t discuss what was brought up. To me, it was still raw. I didn’t have answers for his questions, my brain was still recovering from its collapse and I didn’t want to ruin what had become a pleasant, if somewhat tainted, evening. However, this denial could only last for so long and we both knew it. We knew that the second we left one another that night, that the demons that we’d been carefully pushing down were going to come storming out with a vengeance. As he left, we wished one another good luck and promised to see one another tomorrow when things had settled down a bit. As I got into bed alone, I was shocked because my brain didn’t do the bad stuff. It was calm and I fell asleep fairly easily.
   The next day, I was down but in terms of what had happened the previous night I was calm. It occupied my mind to the extent that I decided to base the creative non-fiction piece I had to write for class on the incident. I didn’t really consider the points he had raised but decided that seeing him that night would help lift my spirits (as had happened every time I saw him). So, after Uni, I went to the local library and waited for him to pick me up. I was comparing the prices for the Maude boxset when he turned up and I instantly knew that I had made a terrible mistake. Because instead of his face filling me with the usual, kissable instant joy, I wanted to cry. The pain became almost overwhelming.
   We went back to his car and he suggested we get tea. I nodded, saying this would give me time to talk to him about the issues. There was a lot of problems with this plan. The first was that most of the places we usually go to for tea we didn’t want to go to as the joy of that place would instantly die for any future occasions. We eventually decided on Schnitz as it was a place that I already have fairly awful memories of (linked to another time where Finn had caused me pain, which is a story to complicated to tell her). We barely talked during the meal, both dreading what was to come. After tea, we decided to walk around the park behind the shopping centre. We also have memories of this place, so it became yet another emotional and difficult to deal with situation. We were more honest with one another, which led Finn to point out that we don’t actually have very much in common and want different things out of life. That there is a serious, huge point which I plan to address in a different blog post, but let’s just say, there was more than a little bit of truth to those words. It was truth that upset me.
   Eventually, we decided to go back to his car. It was still only about 8, so I suggested we go back to my place and cuddle again. He said he didn’t feel like cuddling. Now, for the whole night, I’d been in control. I hadn’t cried. But this? This broke me. I cried. I knew it was wrong, it was going to hurt him, that it wasn’t fair, but I couldn’t control it. After recovering myself, I said, through my tears, “You can just take me home, if you want...” This set him off, so we sat there quietly crying, while trying to decide what to do. Eventually, he decided to drop me off home, figuring that the car ride over might help. I agreed and as he started the car, I began to hate the Universe. Because, at that exact moment, what started playing on the radio? Cher’s ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’. Seriously? Damn you, Universe, damn you.
   We got back to my place and I grabbed my bag and went to open the door. Turning back, I said softly “I’ll text you.” This was all it took. We both completely lost it. Total, uncontrollable, unending sobbing. It was the most painful, difficult moment in my life so far. And this includes the times where I cried in a gutter because my dad hugged me and when I was sobbing while stuffing my face with McDonald’s fries because mum had abandoned me in the city. I knew what had to be done, but at that moment, I was so far from being able to leave that car, so I decided to do the only thing I could think of doing; I called Sabrina. She acted as a mediator, forcing us to talk and come to the realisation that, at that moment, we had to get out of the car. I told him I loved him as I grabbed my bag and left him crying.
   As I got inside, I threw my bag down and went into the kitchen to make a coffee, barely holding myself together. And then, my brother came in, asking if I’d got the Pixar dominoes from Finn’s mum and I started crying. He rushed into the lounge and got Mum who asked me what was wrong. She pulled me into a hug and I returned to being a child. Every polite thing I’d learned vanished, and I gave into a world of pain and ugly, ugly crying. I’m talking tears, snot and drool all mixed into one big ball of sad. I remained like this for half-an-hour while she tried to coax the truth out of me. When I managed to calm down, I watched some episodes of a sitcom before dissolving into pain again when I realised that it was 11 and Finn hadn’t texted me goodnight. This was the one thing I can always count on, ever since that very first serious text after our drunken man kiss. Every night, without fail, at around 11, he texts me goodnight. And this broke me. I texted Sabrina, begging her to make the pain go away as I wished her goodnight. As soon as the message went through, I got a text from Finn wishing me goodnight. And I cried again.
   Seriously, I swear I lost like three kilos in sad, salty tears over those two days. It felt like there was nothing I could do, that we were doomed to separate within moments. Basically, it felt like the end.

Emotional Mini-Golf Sounds Weird
It wasn’t the end, however. But it wasn’t an easy fight either. When I woke up the next morning, I read that Zayne Malik left One Direction, Jeremy Clarkson had been fired from Top Gear, Looking (a show Finn and I had loved) was cancelled and the Lushlaws (the Youtubers who had a small part to play in Finn and I getting together in the first place) were separating. Seriously, it’s like the Universe was giving me signs. And I hate the Universe telling me what to do. So I basically went fuck the Universe (excuse my French) and was more determined than ever to stay with Finn. On the bus ride over to Uni, I wrote down all the things he had brought up and figured out how to address them. For the first time since that emotional conversation, I saw hope. I saw a way forward and it filled me with joy.
   This joy was softened somewhat when I texted Finn about seeing a way forward. That was one thing that never stopped despite the pain. We kept texting one another, just talking about what was going on in our daily lives. Not exactly confronting the issues head on, but retaining a sense of normality despite the elephant sitting in the corner. So, I texted him, all hopeful and happy. He said it was good, but that we should take things slowly. This was a good thing in some way in that it allowed me to calm down enough to continue with Uni. That Thursday was defined by uplifting highs and devastating lows, which left me exhausted.
   Friday saw me attending an emergency counsellor’s appointment where we discussed all that had happened and what my plan going forward was. After this meeting, I felt ready to talk through these issues, but she rightly suggested that it might be better if we were to do something fun together first. As luck turns out, Finn and I were unable to meet that night as he had an early working morning, so we decided to meet on Saturday and do something fun before a d&m, although not necessarily in that order.
   I panicked Saturday morning. To me, this felt like d-day, the most important day I had so far faced in my relationship. Talking to mum didn’t help matters. She’d become so stressed about my potential break-up that she’d given herself a headache the night before. Realising that freaking out probably wasn’t going to be at all helpful, I listened to Sara Bareille’s ‘Brave’ on repeat, willing myself to be brave. The thing I was most concerned about was crying the instant I saw him. It terrified me, but I assured myself that that wouldn’t help anything.
   I heard his knock at the door and my heart entered my throat, while I pushed it down. I opened the door and he was standing there. We stood there awkwardly staring at one another for what seemed like an eternity, before finally I asked him to hug me. He said he was dirty (he works at a kennels). I said I don’t care and held him close. It was incredible. My fears disappeared and I was able to calm down and be comfortable around him.
   He got changed in the bathroom before sitting down beside me on my bed. I asked him what he thought we should do first. He suggested lunch. I thought this was a good idea, but pointed out that I had meant whether we do the D&M first or if we do something fun. He said that if we talked stuff through, we might be emotional and emotional mini-golf sounds weird. I laughed and nodded before we headed out to Subway to lunch.
   We played mini-golf and didn’t mention the pain. We were able to forget about it and just enjoy one another’s company. It was just perfect and helped lighten the mood. Oh, and he won, of course. I was doing so well at the start too.
   After the game finished, we knew what had to be done and walked over to the park next to the mini-golf. I’d never been to this one before so if we ruined this place with terrible memories, it really didn’t matter. We sat down on a park table before he pointed out that there was a swinging tire free at the playground. It was a bit squishy but this was probably a good thing as we were forced to sit closer together. I sat up as I told him my plan.
   Honesty. While talking to my counsellor, I realised that honesty was probably my biggest problem in that I am too honest. Whenever something goes wrong and my brain goes insane, I tell Finn, making it seem like a huge problem while it’s not. She argued that I had to work on containing my problems. This is why I like this counsellor, because she’s the first one to admit that I am probably always going to feel like this.  My brain is probably always going to jump to the worst possible conclusion and I am probably always going to get very depressed as a result. For me, it’s more about managing it, predicting when the chaos is coming and trying to cut it off at the pass before it becomes a flood. This also involves not telling Finn whenever my brain collapses while it’s happening. My brain doing stupid things when he goes out till 3 in the morning is not the problem. The problem is calling Finn up the day after and telling him about it. Most people probably have crazy brain. What they don’t have is the desire to tell their partner about it. It’s just a dumb idea. So, I said that I would try to be a little less honest, letting him know that my brain did something a little stupid but not dwelling on it.
   There is, however, another thing to consider when talking about honesty, because it’s something Finn has a bit of trouble with. He can’t stand confrontation and so it builds up until it comes out in a torrent of pain. The problem with this is that my brain doesn’t cope with this sort of explosion and so shuts down, meaning that he doesn’t get what he needs (in this case, some changes to the way we treat one another) and the problem is exacerbated. This isn’t his fault, but it is an issue. In order to combat this, I suggested the re-introduction of the Honesty Policy. This was something Sabrina had suggested when Finn and I had just started going out. It involves telling your partner instantly if they do anything that hurts or upsets you. Dealing with these smaller issues when they happen is something that I can cope with, it’s just when they get unleashed in a torrential downpour that  we have a problem. He nodded, and I moved on to the next issue.
   Respect. I made a promise to stop picking on him, but as I wrote up the plan I realised that it was more than that. Support for his dreams and ventures is also a big part of respect, which was something I have always been terrible at. It’s not that I was resistant to his career as a game creator or his dream of becoming a drag queen, but it wasn’t something that I was openly supportive of either. So, I said to him that I would be more open to exploring the world of gaming and the gay community, which I’ve had a needlessly judgemental attitude of in the past. He again nodded.
   And the big one, trust. This was more about honesty I think as well as letting him know that it was something I was working on changing and that it was more about whatever the hell was going on in my brain than anything he was doing. He nodded again. While talking, he added a couple more things to the pile of pain, but the overall feeling I got towards the end of the conversation was hopeful, particularly because he kissed me. Now, this wasn’t any kiss. It was long and passionate and deep. It was beautiful, and as the tire started turning around became dizzingly romantic. Literally.
   But still something felt off. After the D&M, we went back to his place and he didn’t hold me. He didn’t kiss me. Even though we were romantically rekindled, it didn’t feel that way. It still felt like something was broken. And it wasn’t going to be easy to get it back.

This piece was far too long for one post, so I've had to split it into two parts. The second half will be uploaded tomorrow.

David Gumball-Watson