Sometimes, when you live in Los Angeles, you end up at a stranger's house and it turns out to be Grimes's birthday party.
"I hope you brought a different shirt," an indie rock musician hisses at me right when I enter.
I was wearing a Sky Ferreira shirt, which apparently was a problem because Sky Ferreira was at this party.
I never saw her, but I changed into my friend's crop top anyway. I then looked around for Grimes, but every girl there looked exactly like her. It was like a chicer game of "Where's Waldo?"
It didn't really matter. I had bigger fish to fry at this party, like pushing away a great guy who was trying to love me.
Here's the short version: At 28, I'd never had a boyfriend before because I hated myself, and I hated myself because I was gay and disabled. Enter Jonathan, the first guy I ever truly connected with. He was hilarious, smart, and hot. And he was actually a good person! Gay guys who are funny, smart, and hot tend to err on the side of demon, but for whatever reason, Jonathan was sweet and kind. (I later found out that his parents were Zen Buddhist ministers, which explained a lot.)
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Jonathan and I had been dating for a month before I realized he was an awesome person I could potentially be with for a long time, so, of course, I dumped him.
If this doesn't make sense to you, congratulations! You are a healthy, well-adjusted person! To everyone else: You know what I'm talking about, right? You've been there, abandoned that.
I could feel it in my bones. Around the three-week mark of us being together, my brain started to identify him as "good" and "healthy," so I immediately began to withdraw. Self-sabotage often feels like an out-of-body experience. You watch yourself destroy something, but you feel completely powerless to stop it. You can't move, like someone's cut you off at the kneecaps.
When something like this would happen to me in the past, it was easy to justify it because the guys weren't a great fit anyway. But with Jonathan, it was different. I had to actually face the dysfunctional music and admit, "Oh man. If this doesn't work out, it's because I am fucked up." I could either take the time to do the work on myself or watch this happen 10,000 more times and then die alone.
Gay guys who are funny, smart, and hot tend to err on the side of demon, but for whatever reason, Jonathan was sweet and kind.
Growing up gay and disabled was not fun. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. But there comes a time in everybody's life where you have to Namaste and nama-LET-GO of your issues. Otherwise, you're just going to be standing in your own way forever.
This is an inconvenient truth to come to terms with. For so many years, I blamed everything on my disability, on the fucked up dating culture of Grindr and Tinder, on the internet, on the shallow gay culture I had no choice but to be a part of. And yes, while those things did play a factor, the main thing keeping a dick from being in my mouth was me. It was always me.
I'd sit in bed wondering why I was still single, not even bothering to consider that I played a role in any of it. "Why do only the wrong guys like me?" I'd ask aloud while stuffing Percocet in my mouth and closing the curtains.
That night, at Grimes's birthday party, Jonathan and I fought in the backyard while Solange DJed from her phone. I don't even remember what the fight was about, but I'm sure the subtext was me screaming, " JUST LEAVE! I AM TOXIC! YOU WILL DEVELOP AN INCURABLE RASH FROM LOVING ME!"
But he didn't leave. And neither did I. I promised that I'd show up for him the best way I knew how, and he somehow believed me.
No one talks about how hard it is to let yourself fall in love with someone. In TV and movies, people just do it; the problems only develop later on. This was not my experience. When I started seriously dating Jonathan, I saw him as an intruder in my routine. My lonely single life was comfortable and the only thing I'd known. Watching him try to wedge himself in was very unnerving. Looking back, I think a sick part of me really liked not liking myself. I enjoyed being sad all the time and taking pills and isolating myself. Life felt easier when the only person hurting me was myself.
My brain was, in a way, the ultimate frenemy, and I had to learn how to reprogram it so I could let myself be happy. A few months in to us dating, I found myself missing Jonathan on the nights we weren't together.
"I hate this!" I screamed to Jonathan in my kitchen.
"I hate that I need you more. It's bullshit."
"Babe, I don't think you need me more," Jonathan explained, calmly. "I think we're just more in love."
I realized he was an awesome person I could potentially be with for a long time, so, of course, I dumped him.
I stood there, momentarily stunned. Therein lied the difference between Jonathan's healthy brain and my poisonous one. I processed me missing him as "need," and he saw it as simply love.
For a second I felt angry. Felt angry that I was born into this world with a broken body which, in turn, caused me to have a broken brain. Felt angry that I couldn't see things for what they were, that everything I experienced had to go through the low self-esteem washer in my brain and come out two sizes too small. I wished I could be the kind of the person whose default mode wasn't self-sabotage and that every decision I made was done for my well-being and happiness.
But then I canceled the invite to my pity party and got over it. I'd spent my whole life being the victim, and that's no longer interesting to me. In order to get a dream life, you have to stop being a nightmare.