I Wasn’t Gay Enough
The chances of even being conceived are 15-25% in any given month. So I can only imagine that the chances of turning out the way you are as a person are even slimmer. What are the odds that I developed any one particular quirk or characteristic? How much of it was nature versus nurture? Can you calculate these numbers with so much variability in how someone turns out in terms of personality? A lot of what circulates in my mind is how who I am doesn’t fit in well with the idea that others have of me. I tell you that I’m a white male and you form an image in your head suggesting what I probably look and maybe even act like. I tell you I’m a white, gay male. How does that image change? And were your assumptions correct in the changes you made? What’s worse is how people often deny that I can be gay since I didn’t meet their expectation of what they thought I would be like. So, I struggle to find people that I feel comfortable around. I think this assumption or expectation placed upon me, alongside being the kind of person that doesn’t want to disappoint anyone, puts me in an awkward position that ultimately makes me feel the loneliest.
I often feel estranged by my own characteristics. When someone tells you that they’re gay there’s an automatic stereotype of what society has programmed you to imagine in your head. You begin to apply misconstrued ideas of what it means to be gay to that person and when you finally meet them, only to discover that they aren’t a damn thing like what you pictured, confusion sets in. The worst part is you don’t think of questions that might challenge those misconstrued notions but instead you default to, “Oh, well they don’t seem gay”; as if the trope of being gay was correct and they, as a person, were not. Since when has [insert your preferred stereotype of being gay] ever had to be a requirement? And why is it that if I don’t fit the mold of what you thought being gay meant then I’m not adequate enough to be or must not truly be gay? That I must be confused or going through a phase… My point is that I’m not what people expect when I tell them I’m gay. I’m, what the gay community calls, “straight-acting”. Even the people who I should be able to resonate with most, the same people who hate when anyone outside of the gay community labels them, finds themselves labeling each other, myself an outlier, included. I’m straight-acting, like I wasn’t gay enough to make the cut. I’m not even sure what it is I'm trying to talk about here.
Because I’m straight acting, is it a result of being raised to act that way? I’m not attracted to effeminate men -- is that a result of being raised to think it wasn’t okay to be like that? Was my true nature to be more effeminate before it was scolded out of me and I was forced to behave a certain way? Had I never been taught to not like the effeminate traits in men would I find myself attracted to those types of men? What I’m really asking is how much of my personality is mine? How much of what I “choose” to like or dislike is actually my choice? At the present moment I can look at someone or something objectively and make a decision about how I, the non-impressionable me, feel. But what about other things that I learned from childhood that carried over into my adult life? Part of me disagrees with this sentiment because the present me can still look at an effeminate gay man and with strong conviction note that I am not attracted to him. Although, I guess I’ll never know if that was ever truly my decision or if that’s just how I was raised to look at the world: men act like this and women act like that. There are no blurred lines. Never questioning it. But I can see now, the present me, that there are blurred lines. There is, in fact, a gray area and it’s rather broad. And yet I still cling to the notion that I like “straight-acting” men. I suppose it would be important to acknowledge that I can recognize how the world is and maybe I just genuinely have a type. I could leave it at that and move forward. I think that’s how I’ve dealt with this thought process in the past before today, hence writing it down for the first time.
This still isn’t getting at the root issue I can feel bubbling up within me. I’m not even sure what it is that bothers me. I think it has to do with this idea that I’m straight-acting and why. Am I actually straight-acting or was I just trained to be that way? And do I do it because it makes everyone else around me feel more comfortable? Internalized homophobia, branded into my brain as the ultimate “please-others” and “stay-safe-stay-hidden” multifaceted tool. A rip in the time-space continuum might occur if I ever, God-forbid, allowed myself the grace of just being me; whoever me is. Regardless of the issue at hand, the point is that I think it’s unfair that I was ever made to feel the need to act a certain way so others won’t be uncomfortable. I notice it most when I’m speaking to straight men. And before you get too far with your thoughts of, “Well life isn’t fair” or “You don’t know that they’re straight”, just shut the hell up. You know damn well, as well as I do, that the body language, tone of voice, and overall demeanor are dead give-aways to a person’s heterosexuality because we both live in the same patriarchal society that they do and we both learned the same ways of how a “real man” should act. Yes, there are exceptions, as I literally stand before you as living proof and almost disprove my point. But there’s an element of instinct to it. An instinct from your gut intuition that tells you your certainty of their heterosexual normalities. And no, life isn’t always fair, but this begs the question: why do we always put behavioral expectations on each other? It’s as though we created the unfairness ourselves. And so, internalized homophobia was even instilled in me as a value to uphold. When I speak to other straight men I change my body language: chest out, supine posture, and a blocky, shoulder-led walk that never engages the hips, almost robotic. I speak with a deeper voice. I use harsher words and express bro-dom by saying, “dude” or “man” or “bro”. I deliberately shake hands and forcibly squeeze just a bit harder than they do. Why?! Yes, to make them feel like they’re in the presence of another heterosexual male creating a false comfortability that I’m “just one of the guys”. But also to make sure I stay safe. They cannot be trusted. I cannot show my true colors and be in their presence. I never thought much about being afraid of others. I’m not afraid of much to begin with. But as I grow older I realize that a lot of my own behaviors are self-preserving. I don’t act more masculine toward other men to assert dominance or because that’s who I am but because it keeps me safe. If they don’t know, then they can’t find a reason to hurt me. The hurt could be of any type: abandonment, physical abuse, verbally accosting me, the list goes on. It’s all fair game and they make the rules. I’m curious to know if this is also why I’m not attracted to effeminate gay men; because they, by their very nature, would out me if I were seen to associate with them. How cruel: To know that I am subconsciously being coaxed into not living my truth and missing opportunities of a lifetime with others for the sake of my safety because I was raised in an environment that inadvertently taught me that I am not supposed to love myself. At what point did I choose safety over a life worth living? And is this depravity what leads me to choose poor coping mechanisms? Such as smoking a cigarette on a cold night’s drive on the winding backroads that take me through each thought slowly in an attempt to digest them well. The ocean as my destination and I gaze into the starlit sky, listening intently to the waves crashing on rocks below as I debate falling in. Even in the crisp, cold air, the ocean seems so inviting. Imagining my lungs filling with salt water and diatoms brings me back to my physical body and I take another drag of that damn cigarette. I guess the smoke and the sea water serve the same purpose but I chose the slower, sneakier death. Even here, I’m still too afraid to confront what might kill me.
What It’s Like
"Well at least your doing something about it. Are you seeing the results you wanted?"
No. It's not like that. You spend all this time trying to figure out what's wrong with yourself. You spend days, weeks, months just hoping it'll pass. And finally you get so low you begin to realize that you should see someone for help. So you make an appointment. The formality of it all seems to put your mind at ease; like the truth of what's bothering you might finally be unveiled and a solution will be born from the light you can't seem to find on your own.
So you show up, nervous and anxious. Not really knowing how this works, if this works, where it all leads to. And you spill your guts to a complete stranger. But you made it a point to yourself years ago to remain heavily guarded and you find yourself unable to explain it all in that one hour of scheduled time. Explain something that you don't even understand. This stranger just has to take the pieces of your complicated, infinite-piece puzzle and tries to fit them all together. They try to connect the dots in your mind so you can start making sense of what's been bothering you. Of what's been holding you down, holding you back, prolonging a seemingly endless darkness that you've fought tirelessly for days on end. But there are no dots. And drawing lines aimlessly makes a scribble.
At the end of that God-forsaken hour you don't feel like anything was accomplished. But you feel good about having made the effort for going. And the stranger uses that moment of good to convince you of the need for another hour-long appointment. So you agree and you leave to allow your already mushy mind the opportunity to digest what just happened.
After you get in the car you begin to understand that these hour-long talks only jumble what you thought you had a grasp on. And suddenly you're back to square one with no idea of what it's like. What it's like to feel good. What it's like to just be okay. What it's like to have your sense of what life could be for you... So you take a deep breath and start the engine.
Seeing the results isn't a part of the process. You start to think maybe there aren't any results to see. And you wonder why you still forfeit an hour of your time... Not that it mattered because that hour wouldn't have been used to figure this out further anyway. The hope that this stranger can make sense of your mind and emotions for you diminishes. And now you just go because it's become routine. Now you just go because at least you can say you're doing something about it. At least you tried to explore what might change for you. I suppose that's what it's like. I suppose that exploration is in vain but also worthwhile.
So, no, I'm not seeing any accomplishing results. And no, I'm not sure I ever will. But I keep waking up. And I keep going. Maybe one day I'll forget about this all. Maybe one day I'll be okay again. Maybe one day I'll know what it's like...
I think the hardest part about, and I don't use this word lightly but I recognize the feeling and think this word is suitable, loving someone whose feelings towards you are uncertain is that we get really caught up projecting our own feelings onto them. It's harsh because our hearts are pounding out of our chest for this person. And that kind of feeling is so hard to deny that we can't fathom another possibility where they don't feel the same way about ourselves. We forget to let the universe handle it for us. We forget that just being ourselves, exactly as we are, is enough. And we put ourselves through every possible scenario to try and cope with the idea of it not working but then that damn heart muscle starts pounding against the sternum again. And we follow it like the youth at a rave on a body high, jumping rhythmically in place to the bass.
So we feel guilty almost for having let it get this far in our heads.
And you just want to look at them and yell, "Don't you feel this too?!"
But the trouble is that the heart has reasons which Reason knows nothing of.
And we don't get to choose.
It's frustrating because you want it to work out but we won't have the faith in what's meant to be, will be.
That lack of faith is what crushes us.
I do a lot of thinking. And being gay, falling for guys that are total, *straight*, sweethearts, has been my entire life experience.
So I really do get it. More than anyone I might argue, that loving someone who can't see you in the same light, is heart wrenching.
I think what makes it even harder for us is that we're intuits. So even though we fall victim to our own hearts it's also because we can feel what they feel.. and part of them really does love us back .. but they have different reservations, different hindrances. So they can't act on it the way we wish they would.
It's important to know that what you feel, and feeling what they feel, is legitimate.
Your soul and heart know what we can't see. It's not that we're wrong and that they don't feel the same way... It's just that their life isn't meant to be a part of ours in that way. It's bittersweet. Because you learn that you're capable of so much love and have that to give but also, it takes that much love and more to be selfless and let them live their path without you.
Why I Don’t Love Myself
This is a loaded question and frankly I don’t even know where to begin. Not loving myself is so much more than just being unhappy with the way I look, my low financial status, not being exceptionally talented with some God-given ability, or any other superficial trait. Although those contribute to the root of it all, I know they can be changed with good habits and some emotional elbow-grease. It’s hard to say exactly what the root cause is. I suppose the cause is that I haven’t moved passed some sort of trauma. I’ve often thought about what that trauma could be.
I think it’s deeply rooted in the trauma of my childhood. And then smaller instances that occurred all throughout my life. As a child I was often shamed for just being myself as my parents tried to mold and shape me into a heterosexual male with masculine tendencies. My father would scold me for running like a girl, for how I liked when my grandmother painted my nails, or for that time I put chapstick on in the same fashion my mother put on lipstick. Once, I clipped my own finger nails and made them pointy so I could pretend I had nails like my aunt; my mother chastised me for that, yelling at me in question, “YOU don’t do that, only GIRLS have nails like that, do you want to be a girl?!” To be honest I wasn’t sure at the time because in my eyes being a girl was the same thing as being a boy.
I was often treated differently than my sister even though, at the time, I wanted the things she had like her dolls and play house. I liked my toys too, of course. Toys designed for the stereotype of what it meant to be a little boy such as dinosaurs, planes and trains, baseball gear, and the like. But she got to have things I also wanted. And I never understood why it was “wrong” for me to have “girl” things. I wanted to feel pretty and dress up barbie dolls, too. My parents doted on her when we were kids. They came home with gifts for her but not for me. If she needed new clothes she got them but I was made to make my own last longer. I used to only ever get one pair of shoes a year or wouldn’t get new ones until I grew out of my worn down, holey, old pair. It wasn’t so much that I wanted more attention... Just the same kind of attention and without judgement.
When I was young my sister and father would talk over me incessantly. They never realized they interrupted me. I usually ate dinner in silence because even when I was asked a question, someone would speak over me. So I’d just shut up and eat my meal. I never really got to speak my mind or have an opinion. And for a long time I thought that that was normal and just how I was supposed to be treated.
I remember in kindergarten some fellow kids and I went to play a game of “House” where one of us was the mom, another the dad. Some of us were the “children” and Ricky played the dog as our “family” pet. I remember saying I wanted to play the mom role. I wanted to “make the kids lunch for school”. But the other kids told me I couldn’t because I was a boy. Even from the youngest age of my peers I was told no because my gender didn’t fit the profile. I never understood that and I still don’t.
From the sound of this all you may be wondering if I’m transgender. There’s nothing wrong with being transgender however I’m definitely not. I’ve explored that option for myself and I know, truly, that I am perfectly content with being a boy. But really what the above is getting at is how in those moments I was just being myself. Alongside my masculine traits I have a feminine and maternal demeanor. I think the reason I don’t love myself is because I was taught, inadvertently, that I’m not supposed to.
As I got older I remember the first time I learned what “faggot” meant. I learned in the cold and musty locker room of my sixth grade P.E. class that I had another name and it wasn’t associated with anything pleasant. I learned about it as I was already nervously changing in front of the other boys and forcing my gaze down at the ground, asking myself, “Why do I want to watch them? Why do I feel like this about the other guys?” Discovering that I was a faggot and learning that it was a negative thing to be one only furthered me to shut out who I am at my core. And I would continue to struggle with my sexual identity all throughout middle and high school and even most of my college years. A few indecent reminders from other students would keep me in check and force the issue of who I was attracted to back down my throat. Again, I wasn’t allowed to be myself and I believed them; believed them enough to hate how I felt and for being the way that I am.
I think when you’ve spent the majority of your life learning to disapprove who you are, you begin to question why you even exist. And since no one can answer that to any satiable extent, especially for themselves, you begin to find false truths in not deserving good things or even being alive anymore. Even after I finally accepted being gay as who I am, I struggled immensely to express myself. I still carry myself in the blockish manner a boy would (stereotypically) walk in. I still keep my nails trimmed and my hair crew-cut short. I still look for things in masculine colors and I still try to mask any evidence of my feminine side. I spent the first 22 years of my life drowning myself so that I could fit in and be accepted by the people I loved like my friends and family; using internalized homophobia as a tool to stay safe and hidden. I expect it will take me just as long, if not longer, to fully embrace who I am and finally allow myself the honor of loving myself. But I often wonder if the damage is irreversible or if those scarred and closed wounds can be reopened to mend properly for a final time. So, no, I don’t love myself. But I haven’t fully learned how to yet, either. And honestly, I don’t even know where to begin. I suppose coming out was a good first step. As of now I’m just looking for the next steppingstone to leap to.
It’s Not The Bits That Bother Me
There's a room in my head. The door is closed tight and locked shut. I threw away the key a long, long time ago. But I didn't realize that the lock was made operable by words. Words of another and of others. Voice command specific to syntax and the unintentional, ignorantly provided, context of the given situation. Those short, bitter words unlocked that door and unleashed the destructive mess behind it. You said, "It's not the bits that bother me", and my mind implied the rest of your unspoken intention: "...it's just you". It's not the bits that bother you, it's just me. And I broke. What is so wrong with me that it isn't my "bits", or rather my gender, that bothers you but instead it's me that bothers you? How am I so intolerable? What about me is so wrong that you won't be with me the way I lay with you in my head every night? How can I change? How can I be right? If not my bits then what? I'll change, I swear I'll change... I'll change... And I spend time mulling this over. Like the muscles of my stomach I churn this over and over and over again until the macromolecules of what you said cannot be digested further. And I've been cleaning up this mess from the opening of that door; gooey sludge mopped up, reopened, old wounds stitched back together, opening windows and turning on fans to focus the white sage smudging of my mind for the last two weeks. And I've had to calm, tame, redirect, push back, manage what came out of that room back into its dark corridor. It was my heart. I kept my raging and wild heart in that damn room. As it lays dormant now I forget about it. This time I locked the door but I kept the key. And this lock is no longer so easily coaxed by your words; your proverbial tendencies that I am all too familiar with. And I've been hardened. Callused to your every whim. Maybe from this loneliness, or maybe from all the cleaning up I did, or maybe from the apathy, or maybe from my bits. I've concluded that as deeply as I wanted to change for you I no longer am slave to you and your words. Because I cannot change. Because there is nothing wrong with me. I don't need you, I don't want you, and I have moved on. That door is locked and will stay that way. I'm not mad or broken anymore. I'm not holding this against you. I'm just tired; done. And I've checked out of your hotel.
I Don’t Want It to Be Like That
I don't want it to be this way. I've struggled over the years to let someone in. And I found you by some chance or the grace of God's miracle. I picked you based on a whim and a gut instinct that you had what it took to be with me. I've been vulnerable with you. I showed you a part of me that I can barely look at myself for. And you seem to waltz around like this was never uncharted territory. Like that part of me is nothing special to see. The same ol' same old. Another man to lay with. Another man to score your prison walls with a rock for, as you tally up the amount of bodies you had sex with. A body you call your own as you've forever scarred the brain it came attached with. And you admitted to cheating on others in the past. You did the very act that betrayed yourself and knew had betrayed me, too. I explained myself in the hopes that you'd see me for me. Hoping you would understand the severity of what I chose to show you, chose to give you, only to talk to me like it couldn't have been a big deal. Not an ounce of remorse or a flicker of guilt in your eyes. I don't want it to be this way. I know you've changed since and you haven't betrayed me [yet]. I know you're still working on yourself and trying to be better because you fight your own demons everyday. And I want to believe you'll treat me differently. I want to believe that you'll care for me the way you could have, had you never been hurt before. But for some reason I feel heartbroken and defeated. I feel like I've placed my eggs in the wrong basket. A basket with holes that no one intends on weaving back together because the patch-work warranted buying a new one instead. I want to see this work. And I will do my best to accomplish that. But I don't know when I'll be able to let my guard down. And I don't know when I can just be vulnerable with you or how I'll make it work. I just know that I don't want it to be like that.
Can’t Quite Come On
It's like that cold sweat
First period PE class
And the shirt sticks to you like cling-on plastic wrap.
And the sun's out but the air is prickly
With shards of ice fragments shredding your skin
And you're running that damn mile
But you only achieve some timed goal
You never got anywhere from it
Like being in the right place at the wrong time
Can't quite ever run away
Stop trying to stop it.
I'm right here.
And that wise guy
He cracked some words off that fucked smirk
He said suck it up
Get with it
Before you miss this opportunity
But I've been here
Giving you every fucking chance
And you swing at me, not with me.
Those quaker leaves keep fluttering down my neck
And it aches
The whole damn body aches
Like some contortionist with Rheumatoid arthritis
If it never matters
And you're just wasting away
Then do something for us both
It's so much more than a quick end
And I'm sick
But I couldn't throw up enough
Expulsion of that rot that keeps curdling inside.
The dry heaves
The runny nose and tear ducts gaping
The brain and heart stabbing and raping
COMEON. COME. ON.
I'm just lying there
The room is still but I am spinning
I have shooting stars in my eyes
And the feathers of my wings
They Fall hard like rocks
But I'm looking to you for an antidote
To cut the nausea
I'm looking at you with the heaviest hope
The impending doom of my slipped footing
Always looking for you
It's been a while now
That damn itch again
The palm of your hand or the edge of your index and pointer finger.
Can't quite scratch it hard enough
Can't quite cut it deep enough
Can't quite bleed me dry enough
Can't quite be in the wrong place at the right time
And I'm sobbing
The fucking swirls of hot slush in my head just can't quite shut the fuck up.
A spool of noodles slowly sticky right out of my ears.
It's like a useless rage in a snow storm
And I'm just waiting
Like some dumb stump
In a blinding blizzard that only you can see in
I can't quite breathe.
Convulsions force the air down my throat
Clenched fist on one hand
Squirming fingers the other
Like the twitch from no sleep
Because sleep won't come to me
But pills do.
And I grasp my torpid state
You don't have to deal with it
And I don't have to look at you
I just can't quite come on.
There's a seed in my mind that I keep watering unintentionally. I can't help it. Maybe it's that cat-like curiosity that pursues its growth. Watching what unfolds with each specialized leaf. And the seedling just grows as it was meant to do. Feeding off of me as its source of soil and the undesignated watering from my curious nature. I watch it grow and try to study the meaning behind each interpretation of every leaf, branch, and stem. A growing plant that strives for the light it only gets on my good days.
I often think about a life with you. I knew from the start of our first encounter how uncontrollable my incessantly beating heart would rage for a life with you. Even the things you do that our world marks as annoying are precious to me. And I can only see you with glasses made with perfectionism lenses. You are ideally perfect for me and doubts of this have never existed.
Yet you don't reciprocate what I see. You can't. And I turn to my seedling for advice on the matter. On some leaves I see the recognition of my love for you. On other leaves I learn that although you recognize how hard I've fallen for you, you don't feel the same way. I learn that you're perfect for me and that I am not perfect for you. Some leaves tell me you don't see me at all; that I'm just a zero, a mere placeholder in your life. And I begin to wonder how my heart is capable of such deception. How is it possible that what I see and feel is strictly one-sided? And I ask my seedling but it has no answers for me. So I water it once more and wait for a new leaf to sprout in the hopes that it will have a term for understanding you.
As a good day passes by my seedling gets the light it desperately craves for the slightest microsecond. And a new leaf came to be. I anxiously begin reading the lineage of its veins and try to make sense of its colors. I find that how I see you, and the made up life we have together, is a projection of what my heart feels. Because my heart is not your heart the certainty that we are a match is actually not so certain. And my bones ache and quiver because they know something is skewed. They know it cannot be possible that I feel so strongly about you and you have no notion of us. So I wait for another leaf to show me your side of the story.
Over the years I've grown keen on the art of reading body language. And I've mastered my intuition to guide my senses. You flirt back and I am dangerously aware of it. You tell me that you've entertained the idea of us as I have done since meeting you. My bones are screeching to assert their correct and wise presumptions. My heart is aggressively yet slowly throbbing. There was recognition after all. And we both knew it. But something doesn't sit right with you. You're afraid of us. So you leave our life alone and I succumb to the quicksand you lured me into.
After suffocating from a breathless heart, I try to understand the purpose of having grown my seedling. It's a tree now. And the roots are thick and tangled throughout the depths of my hollowed mind. There are too many leaves to study and none of them offer any clarity. I'm left to wonder why you wouldn't choose our life knowing it would be great. Hot tears roll down my face and water the tree again. A leaf fell down and gently grazed my hands. It read that love is blind. That I can't blame you for not understanding. It read that the death of this leaf marks the beginning of a new love. With the deepest breath I reached for a fallen acorn and I planted it nearby with strong reservation. Reluctant to try again, that cat-like curiosity pursued its growth. And now there's a seed in my mind that I keep watering unintentionally.
When the reactionary response is deeper than the stand alone "jaded" we call it numb. Numb to the inflections of our voice, numb to the searching of the cause, numb to what the brain screeches, numb to the reading-into-you-deeper, numb to the basic need, numb to heart aches from pumping too hard and too fast, numb to the throbbing from the inside of our ribcage behind the sternum, numb to the rejection, and numb to the capacity of love I could have given you.
It's easier. You've come to expect what they'll say. Expect the circumstances they're in and how it never involved you. It's easier now. You're well practiced in the art of not existing; of not being seen in the spot-light you shined so daringly on them. Never did it occur to them, all of what you wished for us both, and never did they think of you as anything more than the acquaintance of our hand waves. A simple gesture we personified as its own human character which somehow learned to speak for itself. And it's easier to accept what wasn't there in the first place.
But numb isn't the end of it. Numb turns into resentment. And we begin to see what could be ours in a dark hue; clouded judgement deemed hateful by others because we're annoyed. But it's not a true annoyance. It's the festering monster consuming us from the inside out. Monsters that only feel content when others have what I'll never get. An experience designed by the human condition. An opportunity to feel satisfactory in our own image, our shared relationship with you. And we'll never taste it even for as many times as it is hung in front of our gaping mouths. Our misery looks to expire in the misery of others. And suddenly numb was never the worst part. Because our resentment forces us to acknowledge just how rotted the depths of our loving insides have become.
There is no more heart to give. There is no more waiting with patient hope. And there is no more neck jabbing anguish from that lump in our throat. A fear of dying alone is just a factoid to look forward to. Because with no one to let down or leave behind, it’s easier.
Mistakes I’ll Make
By definition, intelligence is marked as the trait of applying what one has learned from past experiences to future endeavors, pushing the agenda of success. Most would argue that I am intelligent but I couldn't be dumber than a pile of rocks. And I get stuck between the notion of knowing the heart loves without reason and the fact that I can't make you love me. It's impossible to describe the sensation of loving someone else so intensely that you can only grasp the concept of how you feel by assuming they love you equally so. And yet they do not. And when you are forced to face their immutable preference for someone other than you, you can physically feel your heart sink within your chest. The rib cage expands, the other organs move to become more compacted, and the throbbing heart falls in pieces: each ache is a physical rendering of it tearing apart. You become awkward and act nervously anxious. You can only think of ways to exit the scene in the hopes of not making a scene as your made up world implodes. And you don't know how to use your body or how to show you're immune to their indifference toward you. But they noticed your shift in demeanor and they began to wonder why you came.