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9:58 p.m. - May 24, 2004
Faure in the background
Nine months of group therapy drew to a close tonight and though my eyes smarted periodically and threatened to spill during the evaluations, I held off until in my car. I feel a tremendous amount of sadness but this itself nudges some kind of happiness: I would never have thought I'd care so deeply for them. How often has that phrase run through my mind in relation to the group as well as my one-on-one therapy? Too many to count, beginning with the first session when I mentioned I was gay. I am not in a good place right now but I do not (yet) despair as I've thrown my faith and hope into a nutshell that this is the darkest hour and the light comes sooner than it did before.

Each of the four expressed worry that I'll not continue with group or individual therapy and this made me choke up. They do not know my last name but they know bits of me, they know my poetry, they know secrets I've never told anybody else - or admitted openly to myself. It is likely I will never see any of them again and yet they have a piece of me, they care for me, and in the end I can say I have finally learned that I do not have to be afraid of people. Maybe this is what I needed, a first step. It wasn't a magic wand to put my sleep issues to bed or talk about what happened as a child; it was opening up and not pushing away when the alarms sounded. To answer direct questions even if I struggled to match a word with the feelings, to work myself in circles because I refused to call myself a victim and have them wait patiently until I had nothing left to say. I've never experienced people listening to the me I keep locked up.

Driving across the bridge I thought about the Joads' first glimpse of California via the mountain pass. All their hopes lay in the valley below but the sun wasn't rising for them in the West. For me, I drive East from Stanford to home and develop the cliche yourself. From the high point on the bridge the salt ponds were gold and I took my hands off the steering wheel at 70 mph just to see if I would. A hundred little things like that collude into something I can't tamp down and ignore.

The end of group therapy. Two more class sessions and then the end of my Ph.D. Slight job prospects for the summer. An ugly body that is comforting yet nauseating at the same time. Poor social skills. Too _____ to make a relationship with Ryan II work. A creaky floorboard where there ought not be one. Things aren't jolly but they are not bleak, at least not tonight.

I told them how much they mean to me and how desperate I am to find the way out. It was hard to speak and for a moment I wished they knew how to sign because so much is captured in so little. I would have used my favorite sign, the one I don't show anybody because it makes people ask me to do it again and again, but like a talisman I hide it away. I am grateful to them and I hope some day I'll run into them on the street and rather than hurrying away I'll greet them and smile and we'll talk about nothing in particular, but there will be that knowledge we share and I can't feel alone.


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