I don’t think I realized just how “broken” I was until recently. Or rather, I don’t think I understood the origins of the many fragments that make me up.

I suspect my JW upbringing has a lot to do with it. A recent exercise in self-discovery allowed me to re-examine certain aspects of my life. You see, I was taught that I was not part of this world. That everything not strictly adhering to their interpretation of the bible was sinful and worldly. That’s a big part of the JW belief system, that’s why birthdays, national holidays, and any political involvement are prohibited. It’s also why I’ve missed out on a lot of popular culture and in some ways I’m stunted; anything before 2000 is hit-or-miss as to whether or not I’ve seen it. Confounding all that is growing up as a minority and being gay. It’s like the Russian nesting doll of compartmentalized psychosis. Did it lead to my introvert tendencies? :: shrug :: mayhaps… mayhaps.

It takes me a bit to warm up to people, in groups, to new places in general. I’ve written about the new gym before and how I’ve come to enjoy the vibe there. It took a few visits, and a few weeks of people-watching to understand the culture, the general flow of things, and figure out the dynamic personalities and how they work. I’m sure this is the same for everyone, especially when you’re the new person. It just takes me a bit longer.

Still, I can’t help but feel broken each time. I can’t help but always feel like the outsider looking in. It’s not always a terrible thing, and I like to think it helps develop perspective. It’s sometimes more comforting to be the third person in the room, the person in the audience rather than on the stage. Heck, it’s this dynamic that eventually gave me enough FOMO to step onto the stage; I got tired of always watching. It’s an odd duality, a balancing act. I try not to feel broken all the time.

Seattle feels like home. The PNW is home for sure. I’ve written many times before how much I longed for this place since I was twelve. It’s no wonder then that my arm tattoo is of the PNW. I finally got it finished, after having to wait for my Accutane treatment to end.

Minutes after finishing

I think it says a lot about my personality; my love of the PNW, my love of Seattle, my love of sci-fi, being part of the LGTB community, and my general disconnect from society.

“Why the abduction?” people ask. “Is that you being abducted?”

“I dunno,” I admit. “Maybe. Maybe it’s showing that I’m home, that I’m either going to die here or get abducted. My chances are 50/50, right? Or…” I think. “…that I’m just visiting. A sort of homage to humanity’s transience.”

“For someone who was never meant for this world, I must confess I’m suddenly having a hard time leaving it. Of course, they say every atom in our bodies was once part of a star. Maybe I’m not leaving… maybe I’m going home.”

Vincent (Gattaca, film)
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Skin Envy.

It sounds almost like a subplot of some SciFi film where the A.I. or robot experiences human envy. Cue your favorite BSG clip.

I’ve always had some degree of skin envy when it comes to my appearance.

“I wish my skin was that flawless.”

“I wish my hair was that fabulous.”

“I wish my body was that fit.”

Some things are within my control and over the past few years, I’ve taken steps to change what I could. I’ve started going to the gym. I started Accutane–I finished Accutane! Boy am I glad that’s over with. The side-effects were terrible, though moderate. Dry skin, eczema-like patches, damaged hair, the constant dry lips, joint and back pain. Hated it. But it’s finally done. It’s been over a month now and so far my skin is still clear. If all goes well, and my body has built enough of the medication, I’ll be mostly acne-free. If I do break out, it should be mild.

Vanity or self-care?

I’m tired of having an excuse to not feel confident, to not feel comfortable in my own skin–the one true thing I’ll ever own. Call it what you will, I think it’s important that everyone self-cares, and do things that help one feel more confident in their own skin. Again, it’s the only thing you’ll truly ever own. Confidence in your everyday life goes a long way, you can’t dismiss it won’t have a ripple effect in everything you do.

With Accutane done, I’ve gone back on my sweating medication. I no longer sweat puddles, but I still sweat a decent amount. I can deal with that. However, the real progress was made when I went in for botox injections for the sweating. It’s life-changing! Where prescriptions failed or came with terrible side-effects, this just works!

It’s just in time for summer. Too bad it wasn’t an option when I was still on Accutane and I went down to SoCal.

Yes. I went back to the place that causes so much mental distress. The place I often refer to as a graveyard of broken dreams and aspirations. It just never felt like home to me. I never fit in.

I went for my “baby” brother’s high school graduation. Yeah. Let that sink in. I left SoCal when he wasn’t even a teenager and return to this young man. Time flies.

The visit was brief and I only had time to visit a handful of friends. Enough that I was busy every day for every meal during my stay; Breakfast with this friend, lunch with that friend, dinner with that other friend. Next day, repeat.

It was surprisingly good to spend time with family. I’ve been somewhat the black sheep of the family. The “burnt pancake” as it were, being the first child. However, I found myself laughing and enjoying everyone’s company without any drama. We had a nice dinner celebration after my brother’s graduation. It was the first time the family was together since before I graduated high school. It was really surreal. Even my father was surprised by the family dynamics and commented afterward that he enjoyed the laughter.

It felt strange to be back. It felt odd to walk in my old footsteps of my home town. Seeing familiar places and faces. “There’s the sandwich place I stopped by on my way to work,” I’d tell myself. “That’s my old apartment. That’s where the movie theater was. That’s where I had my first date. That’s where mom used to work.”

It all came flooding back, unearthing more memories than I thought I had. It all felt so real and yet distant. Everything was not just another lifetime ago but, another person. Coming back was somewhat cathartic. A sort of reaffirmation that I no longer belonged in SoCal, but in Washington. I no longer fit in SoCal just like I no longer fit into old big clothes. The current me did not fit into the old skin of who I was.

The height of this emotional trip came when I visited my old high school with my best friend from high school. We caught up on life, talked about our careers, laughed at our old jokes. I felt like the new kid walking the campus grounds. Some things had changed, while others remained the same. A new performing arts building and school colors, but same old lockers. Same quad area. It was an amazing feeling to be able to reminisce with someone who had seen you through your worst and come out better. High school was such a terrible place for me. I hated it. I compartmentalized and internalized so many things. My one safe place was a teacher’s classroom most days. I used to hide there so much. There was so much angst and sadness in that old skin.

Coming back home was the second best part of the trip. Seeing my brother graduate, friends, and family was obviously the best part.

I came back proud of my new skin, learning to accept that I had changed and come a long way from who I was once. There are still aspects of myself that I’m working on, but on the whole, I’m happier and better.

Old skin, new skin… we all have to be comfortable in our own skin.

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