The First Night of the Rest of My Life

2013 was certainly an eventful year for me.  I started things out with a bang.  Sabre and I started dating on January 1st and I couldn't imagine a better way to start the new year.  I never thought I would stand a chance with a woman like Sabre.  Our first date was one of the most memorable nights of my life.  I remember being so incredibly nervous all day.  We had been texting pretty much the entire day.  We took a few hours off to sleep and recover from the night before.  In the wee hours of the morning, I had finally gotten the guts to ask if Sabre would want to go out with me.  It was the first time I'd gotten a date since I started transitioning.  I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to pull it off!

I'm pretty sure I changed my outfit about three times before I actually decided on one.  I wanted everything to be just perfect.  My hands were sweating when I pulled into the driveway.  I showed up at Sabre's house right on time (gotta make a good impression!) with flowers in hand.  I shook her dad's hand and greeted her mom.  Then Sabre came around the corner.  She looked incredible!  I said hello and presented her with the flowers.  I don't even remember what we talked about before we left.  All I remember is thinking, "Don't say anything stupid!"  I hadn't told Sabre where we were going that night because I wanted to surprise her.  Originally, we were going to eat at Legend's.  But I had forgotten that most restaurants were closed for the holiday.  So we went to Olive Garden instead.  

As we got seated, Sabre asked me if I had cheated.  I wasn't exactly sure what she meant so I asked her.  "How did you know Italian is my favorite?  Did you ask Christina?  Because that's cheating!"  I assured her I hadn't asked her best friend for tips on how to impress her (although the thought HAD crossed my mind).  This night was all of my own making.  We talked all through dinner.  I had anticipated that awkward silence that normally accompanies first dates.  Nothing felt awkward about this night, though.  It all felt very right.  I knew before the end of dinner that I wanted to marry this woman.  I knew I didn't want to rush it, but I knew it would happen some day.  The beautiful woman sitting across from me would one day be my wife.  Never did I think, "What if she doesn't WANT to be my wife?"  Somehow, deep in my soul, I knew she was the one.

After dinner, we went to Family Video.  We both really love movies, so we made a rule for the night.  We had to rent movies that neither of us had seen.  Let me tell ya, THAT was a challenge!!  I feel like we spent almost an hour in the store trying to find movies that were new to both of us.  Eventually, we settled on some and went back to Sabre's place.  We popped in the first movie and laid together on the couch.  something about this movie just wasn't quite right.  The menu was in Spanish!  Huh?  Yeah, I picked the movie and it was in Spanish.  To this day, when we see The Odd Life of Timothy Green, we both just burst out laughing!  After that we watched Rock of Ages.  We talked through most of the movie.  We had to skip back to re-watch a few of the scenes.  After we finally finished watching that movie, we put in Brave.  We talked through the entire movie.  By this point, though, we didn't even bother skipping back to see the scenes we missed.  We were just enjoying the conversation.  After we had watched all the movies (or at least played them through), we flipped to the late night TV shows.  What kind of first date includes cartoons?  Well, that would be ours.  I was awesome.  It was wonderful to sit there with Sabre's head in my lap, me playing with her hair, just talking about our lives.  We have so much in common.

We didn't really realize how late it was until Sabre's mom came into the living room the next morning at about 6:00 ready to go to work.  I'm pretty sure I scared the shit out of her.  She wasn't expecting me to still be there!  After a good laugh, her mom went to work and I got ready to face the day.  That's right, I still had to work.  I was an opening kitchen captain at Cane's and had to report to work at 8:00 each morning.  Under normal circumstances, that would make for a LONG day.  But these weren't normal circumstances.  I had just spent the entire night with the most beautiful woman I'd ever met. And she acted like she enjoyed my company!!  I was on cloud nine all day long. I couldn't wipe that goofy-lookin' grin off my face.  And after I had gotten home, taken a shower, and had a little snack, I went back over to Sabre's house for dinner.  Her mom is a fabulous cook!!

From that day to this, Sabre and I have never spent a night apart.  It hasn't been all butterflies and rainbows, but it has been the single most important relationship in my life.  She has taught me how to be a better man.  She taught me that it really is okay to stand up for myself.  She reminded me how to have fun.  We have laughed so much since we've been together, I feel like we should both be sporting six-packs!  I never thought I could be in love with anyone the way I am completely in love with Sabre.  She has my entire heart and will keep it for as long as she will have me.  One day, I will marry this woman.  This beautiful, strong, funny, smart, and sometimes infuriating woman will be my wife.  We laugh, we love, we fight, we get on each other's nerves and I am confident Sabre is tempted to kill me some days.  But, we have made it longer than anyone thought we would have lasted.  

No one thought we would make it out of the "cupcake phase" but we are here.  More than a year later, we are stronger than either of us ever imagined.  We've been through a lot together.  In many ways, we act just like an old, married couple.  We go to bed early and sometimes creak when we wake up.  More than one night a week, our bed smells like IcyHot because our joints feel older than our years.  But we also love like an old, married couple.  We know when to leave each other alone for a while.  We hold each other when we have nightmares.  We divide all the household chores evenly.  We have to work our budget together.  We make up after every single fight, mostly because we know that it didn't have to lead to a fight.  We are learning from each other and learning how to help each other.  There are things that I never would have been able to do without Sabre's support.  I'd like to think there are things that Sabre wouldn't have been able to do without me.  

It is beautiful and complicated, this thing called life.  But having someone to stand by your side makes things much more bearable.  And honestly, much more beautiful.  I've come to admire Sabre and her family.  They are some of the strongest and most loving people I've met.  From day one, they welcomed me into the family.  I'm honored to be a part of this wacky, fun-loving, loud-as-hell family.  And you know what, I think that maybe, just maybe, Sabre might get the opportunity to be a part of my family, too.  But more on that later.  For now, I'm going to put my computer away and just enjoy an evening together with my girlfriend.  Thanks for listening tonight, friends.


A Year in Review

It's been more than a year since I posted a blog.  Once again, this is MUCH longer than I intended.  It has been a very busy time in my life.  I've gone through many changes.  Some good, some difficult, and some have brought me to a place I never thought I would ever see.  So, where to begin?

Since July of 2012, I have changed jobs.  I started working for Sitel in May 2013.  This was a step up from fast food for me.  Sadly, this job is not what I was hoping it would be.  Without getting into all of the details (which, quite frankly, awakens anger in me), let's just say that I don't want to work for a company that allows the things that are happening to just happen without any consequences.  Also, it's very difficult to make a good life for me and my family on the salary there.  So I am looking for a better paying job.  If you are reading this and you need some help in your work place, please let me know.  I am an extremely hard worker with an ability to learn quickly on my feet.  (Why, yes, that WAS a shameless plug for employment!)

The holiday season was very difficult for me in 2012.  That was the first time I spent Thanksgiving away from my family.  Luckily, I had a great church family who kidnapped me and took me away for the weekend.  There is nothing like good food and great friends when you are going through a tough time.  I was very fortunate to have these people in my life for that time.  I owe them a lot for helping me to get through some of the roughest months of my life.  

2012 was also the first time I wasn't at the late service with my parents and my brother on Christmas Eve.  We always went as a family.  It didn't matter how things had gone that year.  We could have been at each other's throats mere hours before the service, but we always made peace for a couple of hours so we could bring in Christmas morning the right way.  Again, I was fortunate to have a wonderful church family to fill the void.  While I knew it wasn't the same, it was a huge relief to be somewhere I knew I would be safe and loved for just the person I was at the time.    I was at all three services at my church that night.  I didn't really feel very much the first two.  But the third service was very hard for me.  It was a candlelight service, just like the one my parents were in just a few miles down the road.  I cried during Communion because I was one of the servers.  In my parents' church, I cannot partake in communion, much less participate as a server.  It is a very beautiful thing to be a part of.  After the service was over, it was just too much.  I had to find a quiet hallway so I could just cry.  It wasn't right.  I was SUPPOSED to be with my family that night!  I couldn't really put into words what was wrong, but that didn't matter.  Three very special people just found me and wrapped me in their arms.  They just held me while I cried.  I don't know what I would have done if those people hadn't been there that night.  Words cannot express my gratitude.  If you are reading this, hopefully you remember that night as well as I do.  I thank you very much.  You three made it bearable to go home and actually sleep on what had been the most painful night of my transition.  Thank you.

There WAS some good that came out of November 2012.  I met the love of my life!  I met Sabre the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Christina was going by to drop off some gas money because Sabre had taken care of the pets while we were away.  She'd been talking about Sabre for months at this point.  I couldn't wait to meet her.  The first time I saw her, I remember thinking this was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.  Her smile lit up the room (and still does) and her laugh was contagious.  From that moment, I couldn't stop thinking about her.  I wanted to ask her out, but I was a chicken shit so I didn't do it.  The first time we really got a chance to hang out was on my birthday.  That was a great birthday!!  I got my first birthday cake and got to have lunch with a lot of friends who meant a lot to me.  That afternoon, a group of us got together to go watch Les Mis at the Warren.  Wow, talk about an emotional film!  Although Sabre and I were at the opposite ends of the row, we both remember that day very well.  After the movie, we went to Freddy's for custard.  Sabre and I sat across from each other.  We had both ordered the same thing.  We kept catching each other's eye and looking away.  There was a moment, though, that we looked at each other and I think we knew.  Something happened to me that day.  I knew I HAD to be with this woman.  The next day, I would get such an opportunity.

New Year's Eve was another difficult day for me.  One of the men who was like a grandfather to me had died and his funeral was that day.  The funeral was down in Purcell and I didn't want to go by myself.  Christina volunteered to drive down there with me.  It was very difficult for me to be back in the town where I grew up.  It brought back so many memories and I saw so many people who helped raise me.  Many of the people in that room did not accept that I am transitioning.  They still saw me as that same little girl they helped raise.  My brother was there, he hugged me.  My dad was there, I'm pretty sure he only talked to me because my brother told him to.  My mom was there, she wouldn't even look at me.  Her Sisters tried to convince me to go up to her and talk to her.  I couldn't do it.  The ball was in her court at that point.  I also knew that this funeral was not the place to do it.  I wouldn't bring up that kind of pain in an already painful situation for everyone in my family.  To make that pain a little easier to deal with, Christina and Sabre took me shopping.  You see, I was going out with the two of them and another friend of Christina that night.  I definitely needed an outfit that was as awesome as the women I was driving that night.  

Sabre remembers me being very, very loud that day.  I don't remember that, but that isn't saying much.  I can't really remember a lot of things day-to-day.  After a lot of deliberation, we got the right outfit and we went back to the apartment to just relax until the festivities started.  That was the first time I'd gone out with friends on New Year's Eve.  We didn't leave until late that evening and we tried to go to Bricktown.  That was a mistake.  After a little while of waiting in line, we realized we weren't going to get in to any bar in time for the new year.  So we drove back down to Norman.  We ended up settling on Logan's.  I saw a few people from Purcell there, which was weird.  But all of them were fully supportive, which was good.  It certainly made things much less complicated that night.  I'm not much of a dancer, so I pretty much guarded the purses and drinks.  There were a couple of times the girls pulled me onto the dance floor.  My favorite part was when Sabre taught me a new move (she knows the one).  

We had been talking about finding someone for a New Year's kiss all evening.  Becca wanted a military man, so I wasn't the one for her.  I couldn't kiss Christina because she's like my sister.  That just left Sabre.  And, quite frankly, I was excited!  I wanted to kiss her more than anything!  She looked amazing that night.  I couldn't keep my eyes off of her.  We made flirty passes at each other, but nothing really happened until midnight. I was at the bar about a quarter til, trying to get the girls some drinks before the big moment.  Christina dragged me away and told me to come watch the ball drop.  When midnight struck, I wanted to kiss Sabre, but, again, I was too much of a chicken shit.  Luckily, Sabre wasn't.  She just grabbed me and we shared a quick kiss.  It was my first New Year's kiss.  I was on cloud nine.  When we left the bar, we went back to her mom's house to spend some time with her family.

Well, since I was the only one sober enough to drive, I got elected to make a cigarette run.  Sabre offered to go with me.  Again, I was totally and completely okay with this.  When we got back to the house, we sat in the car for a couple of minutes and just talked.  Long story short, Sabre told me she liked me.  She looked terrified.  I remember thinking, does she really think that I don't like her, too!?  When we got out of the car, I stopped her and I said, "The feeling is mutual."  She looked so relieved.  We stuck around for a little while longer.  Sabre went to bed and I drove the other two girls home.  I was SO happy!!  We texted until 5:30 that morning.

And that's how the rest of 2012 went for me.  More later about how 2013 turned out later.  For now, I must bid you good night.  Thanks for listening.



Once again, I've gone far too long without an update.  Lots has happened in the last two and a half months.  Some good, some not so good.  First things first, I FINALLY got my own apartment.  It's so nice to have a place to call my own.  For the first week I was there, I slept on the floor, but it was my OWN floor, dang it!!  So that was alright.  Less than a week after I moved in, I got hit by a car.  I'm alright...don't worry.  I walked away with some damage to my elbow (which was more extensive than I thought at first) and a totaled bicycle.  It was a hit and run so I didn't get any information from the driver.  That was incredibly frustrating.  I am finally able to go back to work.  By the time I get back on the schedule at Raising Cane's I will have missed three weeks of work.  Talk about stress....how the hell am I going to pay the bills?!

This takes me to some more not so good stuff.  I was freaking out about my financial situation.  A whole lot. It sent me into a depression and made me feel like a completely different person.  The first month in the apartment is supposed to be a time of great rejoicing and all that jazz, but for me it was frightening.  I had no idea how I was going to keep a roof over my head or the lights on or the cell phone working.  So as soon as I felt like I could do some work without hurting myself too badly, I asked around for some jobs.

This brings me to some good stuff....really good stuff.  Yard work in June in Oklahoma is no fun.  Everyone knows that.  But it was something I had to do to pay the bills.  When you're raised by my parents and taught the lessons I was taught, you do what you need to do to make things work.  There wasn't a lazy bone in my body in June.  I was exhausted all the time.  Fortunately, a few people needed some stuff done around their houses and yards and junk.  It was a wonderful opportunity for me to work for what I needed.  In three jobs, I earned more than half my rent.  My last check from Cane's covered a little more, and my parents were able to help out with the rest.  Now that I had a roof over my head for thirty more days, it was time to figure out the rest of the bills.  I posted another reminder that I'm willing to work.  A few days after one of my jobs, I got a phone call from a friend at church.  There was an angel at the party I worked.  She and I got to talking after the guests left and we got to know each other a little better.  I asked her, jokingly, if I could have a job.  She said she lived too far away or she would have a job for me.  Back to the phone call...I started crying when my friend told me the angel had sent me a check.  The amount is more than enough to cover the electric and cell phone bills.  

I should also say this:  I have been looking for a second job since before I ever moved out.  I hadn't gotten so much as an interview.  After applying at more than forty places, I was getting extremely discouraged.  I've NEVER had a problem finding a job.  A part of me wonders if my transition didn't have something to do with it.  Some of the people I spoke with were extremely excited to hire me until after they found out my legal name.  I don't know if it was just a coincidence...I'm hoping they were excited to hire me and their bosses told them they didn't need any extra help.  That's what I'm hoping.  But a part of me still wonders....a lot.  

It's hard not to see the world through a transgender lens.  People all over are having a hard time finding a job.  I found out that the employment rate for people in my age group is only 35%.  That's crazy!  So, probably, it was just a matter of numbers.  Numbers are not prejudiced against any group of people.  I just happened to be a victim of numbers.  That's one reason, though, why I want to get my name changed as quickly as possible.  Once that happens, there will be no doubt at all in my mind about people judging me because I'm different.  I don't say that to be cocky.  But a lot of times, the only reason people even find out is because my name is legally different.  I am passing almost 100% of the time now (which is great, since I'm not even on hormones yet!) and when I have to show someone my Driver's License, it kills me.  When I have to mark my sex on an official form, it kills me.  I absolutely hate it.  I know, I know, it takes time.  But something as simple as a name change can help the process go much more smoothly.  I'm hoping I can afford to do it soon.

Back to the job situation.  I couldn't find anything.  I was searching every single day.  Newspapers, online, word of mouth...anywhere I could think to look.  Then there was an ad for a company called Vector.  I'd never heard of them before, but the base pay was great and the schedule was flexible.  So I applied.  The next day, I got a phone call asking if I could come in for an interview.  I was there at five that evening.  Long story short: first interview was great, she asked if I could stay for the second interview.  That also went well. It was my first group interview so I wasn't sure how I would do.  The manager was extremely impressed with me.  I was happy I made a good impression.  He was very excited to welcome me to the team.  So I have a job now!  What am I doing?  I'm selling knives. Isn't that ironic?  I kinda thought so.  Anyone who knows me well enough to know what I mean should get a good laugh out of that.

So I have a little breathing room for July.  My bills will be completely paid by the first part of next week.  I'm cleared to go back to Cane's.  My training will only take about a week and then I can start making sales calls.  Things are moving along.  I still have a really long way to go and much left to do.  I'm not out of the woods yet, but I'm beginning to see the light at the end.  I have learned, in the last month, that if I just do one day at at time, making the most of every opportunity I am given, things will be okay.  They may not be okay until the day before rent is due, but they WILL be okay.  

Oh!  I almost forgot!  My voice has already started changing pretty dramatically.  A month ago, I was singing first soprano comfortably (vocally speaking, I hated singing with the women because I don't fit there) and now, I'm singing with the tenors....comfortably.  I'm even doing two duets on Sunday.  The male voice sounds so different to my ear.  I'm getting the hang of it, though.  The mechanics are the same so that helps.  And those I'm singing with tell me I sound great, so that's a good sign.  Hopefully this means I will be able to keep singing when I start on the hormones.  Pretty sure I will end up being a bass when it's all said and done.  Which is crazy, but exciting!  Just think, how many guys can say they were able to sing in every single section over the span of 8 months?  Pretty cool, huh?


Life's Little Reminders

This is a tough night for me.  I've realized that I can't do some things the way I wanted to...not yet, anyway.  I have to learn how to be patient with myself.  I've also got to learn how to deal with these reminders in a more healthy way.  I'm getting a little personal here, but isn't that what blogging is all about?  Giving you a glimpse into the way my brain works.  It's a scary thought, really.  

I've recently been visited by mother nature.  She brought a little gift and it sucks BIG TIME!  I've talked to another guy about it.  His experience is very similar to my own.  He would get severely depressed every time he was on his period.  It was just another reminder that he was stuck in the wrong body.  That's exactly how I feel.  These are the things that make it the hardest for me.  It isn't necessarily the people, although that's hard, too.  It's the physical reminders that I'm not where I want to be just yet.  That it will take time.  While I'm finally okay with admitting who I am and happy to begin living my life for me, it is hard with those limitations.  I also tried to switch to the tenor part in my church choir.  It was okay the first night.  I didn't feel very much pain at all.  I figured it had just been a long time since I'd been in my lower register.  As the week progressed, though, and I practiced more and more, I realized that I was in pain after every song.  That was hard to admit.  I want so badly to be able to sing with the men.  But I still have a female voice.  God has blessed me with the gift of song, and I am grateful.  It just sucks that I can't sing where I feel like I need to be.  It sucks that I have to wait even longer to be able to do it.  I've waited for five long years to be able to say who I am.  Now I have to wait for at least a few more months before I can begin to make some of those changes in my life.

This isn't going to be an easy journey.  I've known that from the very beginning.  But I had no idea that it would be this hard to transition in the every day things.  My name and the pronouns are something that will just take time for everyone to adjust to and I'm not really worried about that at all.  But the fact that people still expect me to act, look, dress, behave in a certain way simply because I am still biologically a female...that frustrates me to no end!  I think that's why it hurts so badly when I find I can't do things to help the transition along, such as sing with the men in the church choir.  These things seem insignificant to most people.  To me, they are huge. Maybe I am just making mountains out of mole hills, but it seems like a pretty big deal to me.  

I have to learn to be okay with where I am right now.  Right now, I still have to deal with nature's gift to women.  I still have to sing soprano in the church choir.  I still have to mark "female" on all important paperwork.  I still have to sign my name "Gretchen Reiswig".  That sucks.  That's not who I am.  That's never been who I was.  And still, until my name change becomes legal, that's who I have to claim...at least on the important stuff.  When I pull out my license to prove my age, I still have to deal with some very confused looks from clerks.  I still have to explain my situation to people who are unaware.  These are things that I have to learn to deal with in a healthy way.  These are my struggles.  Yes, my family is important to me.  It would mean the world to me if I had their full support.  Yes, my relationships with my friends mean everything to me and I am grateful for the support network I have found.  Yes, I know my God still loves me just the way I am.  But I have to learn to be okay with the fact that my body still doesn't match my brain or my heart.  I have to learn to focus on the positive things in my life rather than the negative reminders that only make me depressed or angry.  That's way easier said than done.  I know I'm not alone in these feelings.  I'm sure that everyone who has ever transitioned has fought with these very situations.  I know that people who haven't transitioned have also dealt with similar feelings.  I have to learn to remember that I am not alone in this life.  On these nights when I feel all alone and depressed, I have to reach out.  I have to call the ones I know will be there.  I have to get off my butt and do something productive.  I have to continue to live life.  I can't stop living just because of these reminders.  


Feeling My Feelings...It Sucks!

This has been a really weird day for me. I haven't really felt like myself. A good friend of mine attributes this to my extra exposure to the sun yesterday. While that might be part of it, I think there is more. I've been through some pretty tough stuff in my life, specifically in the last few months. I've made some major changes. Most of these changes have been for the better. For instance, I haven't had a cigarette in over a week, cut myself in over a month, or drank myself into a stupor. I've also been trying to make sure I get plenty of sleep. The drugs help with that, but I have to be willing to give myself eight hours to let them work. That's hard for me sometimes. There are nights when my brain just won't shut up and all I want to do is get it all out on paper. That's a really good thing for me. Writing is almost always a good thing for me. There are times, though, when it can hinder me from feeling better. When I've been writing for hours and I don't feel any better, it's probably best for me to just go to bed. Things will look better in the morning. Or at least I'll have had eight hours when I didn't have to think about whatever was bothering me. Then there are nights like tonight, when I desperately need an outlet. I choose writing.

Shane's death has really shaken me. I've lost enough friends to know that grief is normal and that it's okay to be mad and confused. I get that. But there is something different about this one. I'm not sure what just yet. Usually, deaths put me out of commission for weeks, unless I can “cope” with any of my vices. I think that's part of the reason this hurts so much. I can actually feel my feelings. That sucks. I freaking hate it. I have to face my feelings. It hurts, it's scary, and, quite frankly, I just don't want to do it. I don't want to admit that he is really gone. I don't want to admit that about any of them. I don't want to say goodbye. But I know I have to one day. I know that I will only be haunted by their memory until the day I can let them go. Knowing that in my brain and being able to connect that to my heart are two different things.

Sometimes, I just wish I could not care about the people in my life so much. Sometimes, that's the easy way out. If I don't care, then it won't hurt when they walk out of my life forever. But that's not me, damn it. My heart aches for people. I hate it when people are hurting and I will do whatever is in my power to help whenever I can. I can't just not care about people. I am called to love them. An old mentor used to tell me all the time, “No man is an island.” What I do affects other people. If I withdraw from society and just do what I want to do, then I'm not helping anyone, including myself. I might be the only light that some people will see in their lives. If I choose to keep that light hidden, they might live in darkness forever. No one likes that. It's not fun. It's lonely and it's miserable and just isn't worth it. So I have to care about people.

But what do I do when I am hurting so badly that I can't care about people? No matter how much I want to, I just can't right now. I love my friends and family, I don't think that's ever been in question. Most of the time, I love being around them or even just texting them to say hi. Today, it was all I could do to get up and go to church. Anyone who has known me for more than about ten minutes knows that I just don't miss church. It's where part of my family is. It's the most peaceful place in my life. That's where I draw wisdom, love, and compassion from those around me. In that sanctuary, I hear important lessons that will help me through the hard times. This morning, though, all I wanted to do was stay in bed and not talk to a single person. I didn't, though. I got up, went to church, tried to interact with fellow human beings, and just took the next right action. That's what I've been doing all day, just taking the next right action. Well, I'm trying to, anyway.

I went to coffee with an old friend right before we went to a meeting. I thought it was going to be a great time. It probably would have been if I had been able to be present in the conversation. But my mind kept wandering. I kept thinking about Shane. It's just not fair. I feel like that's all I can say about it, but that's not the only feeling I have. I can't seem to be able to communicate my feelings accurately. I think this is a skill that comes with practice. For so long I tried to hide my emotions and just pretend like everything was okay. Well, I was drowning inside. I couldn't ask anyone for help. I wanted to, but something stopped me every time. I'm trying to learn to reach out to the people I love. I'm trying to keep the communication a two-way street. People can tell me they love me all day long, but unless I take the step to ask for help it won't matter.

I feel like I'm whining about the same old stuff. I feel I sound like a broken record when I tell the stories of my friends' deaths over and over again. My heart is screaming out but my mouth won't produce the sound. I hate that they are gone. Yeah, I'll see them again someday, but that doesn't really do anything for me right now. I want to be able to talk about them and then lay their memories to rest. Not to forget about them, but to quit carrying them around with me all the time. I feel like they are haunting me, but I know that's only because I refuse to let them go. I don't know what I need to do, but I know I need to do something. For now, all I can do is list their names. Each of them brought something special to my life. They all made a difference to me, either in their lives or through their deaths. They've touched me in some way. Christopher, Amanda, Daniel, Stacy (and unborn child), Eli, Maggie, Jake, Linda, Shane, Jamie, Stacie, Jeannie, Ted...the list goes on.

It pisses me off that I've only been to two weddings in my whole life. TWO! And I can't even list all the funerals I've attended? That's freaking backwards. These are the things that get to me. It's not necessarily the temptations in my life or those people I hung out with when I was drinking. It's the loss of life that affects me so deeply. When people are hurting, I hurt, too. I'm just so sick of pain. Yes, my life has gotten better in the last few weeks. I've given up some bad habits, picked up some good ones. I've also strengthened my support system and am taking an active role in my recovery. But still there is pain. Still there is a need for expression that I can't always fulfill. Nights like this one, if I'm not writing or talking to someone, will put me right back in the hospital. Nights like this are what break people like me. I feel like I've talked and talked and still haven't been able to say what I'm feeling. It's an attempt, at least, and it's better than what I did in the past. Take from this what you will. Someday, I hope to have wisdom to pass along to my friends that might help them to not hurt so badly. I just have to get through my own pain first. This is a step in the right direction.