Breaking Down The Facade Of Acceptance: Admitting I Feel Lost

Honestly, I am so tired. I’m just tired of everything. And I’m so damn sick of feeling heartbroken. I didn’t even know it was possible for my heart to hurt and feel numb at the same time. There’s this constant emotional ache, a longing to be back in my life in Chicago — to be part of things once more, to see people, to be hugged — and it isn’t going away. Things don’t seem as bright anymore.

I try to keep myself busy — I started working out today; I met up with friends and old acquaintances three times last week; I’m working at a temp job; I’m practicing guitar. I’m blogging. And yet, it’s not helping. Exercising, working — it just gives me more time to think about people in Chicago. Even playing guitar makes me think of the friend in Chicago tried to teach me how to play a few weeks back and the time a group of us tried to sing “Wonderwall” by the lake. Since returning to Minnesota, only one blog post hasn’t had something to do with Chicago, and that was one I’d written a while back and only posted because I needed to post something. When I’m with other people, I just want to talk about Chicago and show them photos of the people I left behind. I want to tell stories about how wonderful everyone is, and how much I miss them, and what I would be doing were I still in Chicago. But I also want to appear functional, appear as though I have things together and know how to be decent company, and so I just smile and chatter about anything else. I pretend that I have, of course, accepted that I’m back in Minnesota for the forseeable future, even though I truly haven’t.

I feel frozen and empty inside, like I’m just going through the motions. I was in Korean dance for ten years (blinding smile from the moment before we stepped in front of an audience until the second we were out of sight) and theatre for three: I can smile even when all I want to do is curl up in a ball and cry myself to sleep. I try to tell myself that things are okay, that being in Minnesota is going to be good for me, that I’ve moved on from communities I’ve loved, and I can do it again. But that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t want to be here. In theory, I know that there’s supposed to be a light at the end of this figurative tunnel, but I can’t see it, and I’m going nowhere.

Denial helps, somewhat — if I can just pretend that this isn’t happening, that I want to be here, that I’m only visiting, that I can move back in a year, and a year isn’t really that long, it pushes everything away a little. It feels like I’m running, and if I can just keep up, if I can just keep my emotions at bay, I can almost pretend that I’m doing okay. But I can’t keep up this mental running, and as soon as I stop, I just want to cry, and beginning to run again seems that much harder. I can’t believe that I’m actually not returning to Chicago tomorrow, or next week, or next month.

I feel like I’m trapped here. I have little money, no job prospects in Chicago, no apartment in Chicago, and too much stuff to move. Plus, my parents just moved me back, leaving nearly all of my furniture because we just didn’t have room to take it with us, and that feels very final — financial expenses sunk into moving me back to Minnesota.

People tell me that I can always move back to Chicago, that moving here isn’t permanent, but really what they mean is that I can move back in the next few years. And right now, even a year sounds like an eternity. It’s not about Chicago as a city: it’s about the people and the organizations in the city. Chicago will be largely the same if I move back in a few years; the people won’t be. I feel like I’m missing out on so much, and it’s tearing at my heart, a little more each day.

I miss hugs. I miss raccoon hugs — like bear hugs, only smaller. I miss hugs from the person who would always pick me up. I miss hugs from that one person whose hugs actually just make me happy for no particular reason. I miss bone-crushing hugs. I miss pretend dude-bro hugs that I think are hysterical — and the following real hugs. Tight hugs, gentle hugs, hugs that make me feel safe and protected, hugs that make me feel boyish, hugs from people who adore hugs, hugs from people who don’t really like hugs but tolerate them for the sake of queer community — everyone has a different hug, and I miss them all.

I continually ask myself what the hell I was thinking when I decided to move back to Minnesota. And then I remember that I was panicking about financial instability and needing a dependable job, and I hate myself a little. The idea of having a reliable job (not that I have one yet) doesn’t seem like such a priority anymore, not when I think about everything I gave up in hopes of gaining it.

I’ve been mostly silent about this for the past week. True, I’ve been fairly vocal about the fact that I miss Chicago, and I miss my people there, and I’m hoping to move back. But I haven’t really been honest about how I feel. For one, it’s not really polite conversation (“Are you excited to be back in Minnesota?” “Actually, I feel like this may have been the worst decision I’ve ever made”). Also, it makes me sound like a complete and utter mess. And while several people know I’m a mess (it comes out in my emails — I’m never sure how, but it just happens), I generally try to appear as though I’m in control of my life, and competent, and in a good place mentally and emotionally. People like happy people. Appearing as though things are going my way makes me look like I’m a success; admitting that I’m unhappy, and I don’t know what I’m doing, feels like failure.

But despite how terrified I am of appearing to be a complete failing mess who can’t get his life together, something clearly needs to change. And as they say, the first step is admitting that you have a problem. Well, I have a problem: I miss my Chicago life to an extent that is far greater than I know how to handle. And pretending that it will just get better with time if I ignore it hasn’t seemed to work. Thoughts?

6 responses to “Breaking Down The Facade Of Acceptance: Admitting I Feel Lost

  1. Some studies show that the first few years following graduation from college and trying your wings out in the real world are harder then most know. This is particularly true when college was a place of wonder and hope. I suspect that may have been your story. Sounds like you are doing all you can right now to move forward except expecting it to happen quickly. As I told my sons things get better and worse and worse and hopefully better. Stay strong, life can be good.

  2. 1. Nothing is final until you are dead.
    2. so what, you lost some shit when you moved, it happens to everyone, man.
    3. start saving for you to move back? Keep applying for jobs in Chicago–you never know what might happen! I mean it. Apply with Karrah’s address or something so they think you live there, and boom, headshot. I mean it, I really do.
    4. I saw this and thought of you, not 100% if it’s in your core focus, but it could be a start:

    ❤ hugs, Jacks

  3. whose hugs actually just make me happy for no particular reason
    Hugs! From people you like, and who like you! That is more than enough reason to be happy!

    I’m sorry that they are (you are, we are…) far away now… I remember the emptiness I had when I first moved to Evanston, under the shroud of tragedy, and my friends and support network were all back in Pittsburgh and I just wanted to go home. Evanston is only barely now starting to feel like it could be home, after six years, because of the people I’ve been meeting lately. Good luck finding the people who can make Minnesota into home.


  4. Yes, admitting what you want and what you don’t want is a start. Good luck with the journey. The coming back after something spectacular is always a problem, but new opportunities present themselves. Don’t be afraid to settle in. Don’t be afraid either of waiting second by second till you can get back here. In the mean time, thanks for sharing this.

  5. Hey Ryan! *hugs* whichever kind you prefer 🙂 sorry I had no idea you were this upset 😦 but if it helps, wow you really pulled it together. Not that that helps. It actually probably doesn’t. In a way I think we are all struggling. Maybe not in the same context/situations, but we all face our own tough issues. My advice would be take it one day at a time. If you can find something to genuinely smile about at least once a day, you
    are in fair shape. Also, maybe get involved with some trans groups in Minnesota. Not that I know
    a lot about what groups they offer, but at least you’d have a new social circle to tide you over
    until you head back to Chicago. Or if you’re just looking to keep busy, commit to volunteering,
    maybe at a local pet shelter since I know you
    love animals. It sounds really cheesy, but it
    actually does a lot to improve your mood. That’s
    all I’ve got for now, wishing you well and sending you hugs

  6. Pingback: 2011: A Year In Blog Posts | Beyond Bryn Mawr

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