CHAPTER TEN: THE WAITING ROOM

There I was sitting in the doctors waiting room nervously awaiting the news I didn't want to hear. My head was spinning and my eyes were frantically searching the room for something that would help calm me down, not even listening to music was doing the trick. When the doctor called my name I took a deep breath in, stood up and walked into her room. She greeted me with polite salutations but could see the desperate look in my eyes. I was terrified. I was heartbroken. I was confused. “Thomas, your results have come back and you’re in good health, except that you’ve contracted gonorrhea which we need to treat straight away”. Her words slowed down, the room started to spin and I was fighting back tears. She asked if I knew who’d given it to me, and sadly I did. It was a mistake that I’d made on poor judgement and with a broken heart. As soon as I got home I regretted having sex with that guy on my last night in Los Angeles, but at the time I thought it was what I needed to get over Nathan. I learned the hard way that it wasn’t. I was embarrassed and she could sense that. She reassured me that it was one of the most common sexually transmitted infections and that it was easily curable. She gave me the necessary injection and antibiotics to cure it, and I walked out of her room with my head down in shame. It felt like the morning after without the mild sense of empowerment. Instead I was more broken than I had been three weeks earlier on the streets of Hollywood, and I didn’t know what to do. When I got home I stared at myself naked in the mirror and hated what I saw looking back at me. I lost respect for myself. The bags under my eyes were dark, I’d lost heaps of weight because of my lack of sleep and eating, and I just didn’t have my usual spark inside of me. Who even was I anymore? My panic attacks started getting worse; I had to keep running to the bathroom at work to cry or have a series of heavy breathing attacks every half an hour. My sleep was distorted and I would only get a max of four hours before my body would wake me up with a severe anxiety attack or by bursting into tears. These emotions just didn't seem to want to go away.

 

I sat on my friend Michelle’s veranda feeling defeated. “I just don’t want Nathan to have such control over me anymore, but I miss him and I can’t stop thinking about him, it’s driving me insane”. She didn't quite know what to say in between my stream of tears and confused thoughts. “Have you tried having an honest and open conversation with him to get closure?” And the answer was yes, but sadly he just didn't see the benefit of having one. He had already mentally checked out of the relationship. It was easy for him because he did the emotional vasectomy of breaking up with me and I was left with the aftermath. What followed was a series of bad ideas. Too many bad ideas. I would go out, get drunk, have a panic attack. On repeat. I would throw myself at guys, have sex with them and never speak to them again, all because I was lonely and wanted to feel worthy of someone’s attention. I quickly got out of this phase and moved onto running away from my problems. So I would book spontaneous weekends away by myself to go to events in Sydney or Melbourne, trying to experience that temporary high. And while it worked for a little while I would always end up by myself at home and in tears.

 

“One day you will wake up and you won’t feel this way anymore”. that’s what all my friends tried to tell me. Deep down I believed them and I knew it would get better, but it was just too easy to think I would never feel that way again. And although he did make me feel amazing at the time, what I needed to realise was that I deserved better and that I would find someone who would end up making me feel better than he ever did. He gained confidence in himself through our relationship and learnt heaps about his feelings, and in a way I learnt the same. I finally learnt to love myself and that I was worthy of someone else’s love, because before that guys made me feel worthless and replaceable. I always felt like gay guys were just searching for something better and I was always their “in-between” stage. Every guy I’d had a fling with in the past went on to fall in love and go into a long term relationship straight after seeing me. I learnt that I let myself being walked all over, and that I needed to stand up for myself more. And I learnt that I am a lot stronger mentally than I thought. Yes, I may have been dealing with a lot of mental health issues after arriving back in the country, but I was alive and I had to embrace the positivity in my life. The way I looked at it was that I was lucky that I got to fall in love. It may have been brief but it happened and not everyone gets to experience that in their lifetime. I also got to experience heartbreak, which is another thing that not everyone gets to experience. It opened my eyes to the world and made me feel things I’d never felt. I was a new person but it would take me a lot longer to realise that.

 

My days started to turn into a monotonous blur. I would wake up, go to work, come home, make dinner, and hop straight into bed. Every day. On my days off I would only leave my bed to make food. I didn't want to see any of my friends or speak to anyone. But then occasionally I would decide to disregard everything and run away from my problems.  I’d fly to Sydney or Melbourne or escape to the Gold Coast for a couple of days, and indulge in concerts, partying, alcohol, and sex. Once these temporary highs were over I would come home and be absolutely broken again. It was like every time I would step foot into my house I was reminded of him and the pain he put me through. I was still so sad but I was also starting to get angry because he was ignoring me, it felt like he’d forgotten I was even alive. One day I snapped. I was done having no answers and him acting as though nothing had happened when he owed me an explanation. So I came home from work feeling angry, I was over being sad and depressed, so I picked up my phone and pressed call on his number. The dial tone rang and rang until It went to voicemail and I knew that he was ignoring my call. So I texted him saying;

 

“Hey, sorry for randomly calling but I’m really not coping with everything and just need to talk. I just really need closure, it’s eating me alive”.

 

I was honest and needed answers. Two hours passed and he finally replied.

 

“Hey Thomas, I’m going to be pretty honest with you. I’m not in the best place with my mental health at the moment and I’m just not sure if I’m up to talking to you. I’m sorry that you’re still really upset but I’m just not sure what you want from me; I don’t have anything else to say so I don't understand what closure you’re after”.

 

Once again he tried to deflect the conversation and turn it back on me so I tried to explain my situation a bit more.

 

“I really am sorry to hear that. But I am in a really bad mental place too and I just feel lost. Like I mean you broke up with me really randomly while I was overseas. It came out of nowhere and it was my first day and really fucked me up. I don't think you realise just how much of an effect it had on me. I kept breaking down everywhere and was just honestly broken.

 

I deserve an explanation to what happened and I’ve waited patiently. I’ve tried to give you your space and it’s taken a toll on my mental health now cause I’m not coping or processing this well. I’ve been worried about you and just been hoping you’re okay and tried to reach out and not once have you messaged to see if I’m okay even when I was in a country by myself for half of the trip trying to deal with a broken heart. I get why you broke up with me but I feel like there was something deeper and you just have to be open with me. Did you freak out? Did it just become too much? Or did you just not feel the same way about me anymore?

 

Like I get the distance thing but not wanting to talk to me is making me really sad and confused. It’s honestly making me feel like I did something wrong and I’m sorry if I did”.

 

But he snapped for his next reply

 

“Okay firstly you haven't done anything wrong like I have already said.

 

Now, I’ve been trying to be pretty understanding so far but here’s how I feel. You seemed fine in America if not happy and it would have been rude to ask how you were no? Like I was rubbing it in your face?

 

Sending me a message of “I miss you” is not fair to me. How am I meant to reply to that?

 

I feel like you’ve gone out of your way to make me feel as guilty as possible for breaking up with you and to be perfectly honest you don’t deserve anything else from me and it’s quite ridiculous to demand otherwise. I’ve had to read your directed instagram captions and your article where you seemed to have understood everything and made several assumptions about me. I’ve tried my hardest to do the right thing and felt like I have.

 

So honestly I am sorry I hurt you, I’m sorry you’re still hurting but I can’t offer you anything more”.

 

He still had no understanding on the situation and how it made me feel. He just didn’t get it and probably never will until someone brutally and unemotionally breaks his heart. But it was strangely the closure I needed to move onto the next phase of my life. Seeing him just genuinely not caring about me ignited something inside of me that was like “Okay, it’s time for me to stop loving you now” and I decided to finally take control. So that next morning I woke up and I didn't cry. I went to work and didn't cry. And my confidence slowly started coming back.

 

Some days were better than others, and I would sometimes have a minor breakdown but everything started to slowly come back together. I focused on writing again and put all my spare time into growing my website and it started taking off. I would work full time as a travel agent and then come home and work full time on my website. It was exhausting but it kept me busy and distracted. I would still think about Nathan every day but it started to become a little less and less. His birthday came around and I decided that it would be a good idea to send him a present. Yeah, I know. Not the smartest idea I’ve had but I still genuinely cared about him. I had a gut feeling that he was seeing someone but I wanted to reach out and do something nice to try and retain that friendship. So I sent him a t-shirt and some roses with a little note wishing him happy birthday and had it delivered to his house. I don’t know what I was expecting from this one last romantic gesture, but I never heard back from him. He never messaged me to thank me or made a comment about it. A bit disappointing really but I half expected it. I saw on Snapchat that he was away for his birthday weekend with his new boyfriend and my heart sank a little. The fact that he’d moved on so quickly and I still wasn't ready to go on a date terrified me. So I took a massive step and deleted him off snapchat because I just didn't want to see the constant life updates of him out clubbing or spending time with this new guy. I still had him on Facebook, Instagram, and had his number saved, but it was a step in the right direction.

 

For the next three months we didn't have any contact and then one day it happened. He officially came out as gay on Facebook and made his relationship official. For some reason it really hurt me seeing it all official, he still hadn't spoken to me about our relationship which ended six months earlier. But I was also proud of him, so I sent him a little text message to congratulate him as I knew how hard it was for him to come out to his family. He promptly replied and thanked me and that was it. It was the final closure I needed. It was over. He was never going to properly speak to me about the break up and I was never going to know what actually happened. He had moved on and looked happy and that’s all I could ask for. That day had a strange calm vibe about it, and I finally felt at peace with myself.

 

I’m always going to carry some serious baggage from that relationship, it gave me bad trust issues and it’s going to take me a lot to fully trust someone again. He betrayed my trust and disregarded my emotions, and that hurt the most. But I grew as a person and I learnt how to love someone else, I learnt how to be vulnerable, I learnt how to love myself, and I learnt how to heal. I still occasionally look back and reminisce about the good moments we shared together and smile to myself, but now he’s just somebody that I used to know. And so began the hustle.