Once upon a time, I spent my rent money on a gun. I’ve joked my whole life that the only gun I would own would be the one I’d use to blow my head off, and I was ready to put my money where my mouth is. Um, literally. I found a little secluded spot in an unused lot on the outskirts of town, I had a handle of Jim Beam and a walkman with my “getting up the nerve for suicide” mixtape. I watched the sun set. It was poetic as fuck.Unfortunately, I don’t know dick about how to use or maintain a firearm. I’d drunkenly and clumsily jammed the bullets in the clip and while I was gagging over the taste of gunmetal and oil on the back of my throat, all I could get it to do was click when I pulled the trigger. I cussed a lot, drank some more, and then sudddenly and accidentally it went off in my hand. BLAM. Holy fuck it was loud. I peed myself and lost my nerve. I walked home and called a friend and cried and told her I was broken and full of poison and all the other nonsense things your brain says when it’s drunk and wants you to die. I returned the gun to the pawn shop the next afternoon at a $100 loss and got behind on rent.
“Hmmm. Well, you don’t look gay.” – admissions Doctor at Austin State Hospital
Fast forward to about a month before my birthday in 2012. An interesting thing about being white and read as a heterosexual-ish male; unless you have a drug habit or a police record, they’re awfully reluctant to commit you to a state mental hospital. Especially if you have no insurance.I was explaining to the admissions doctor that my partner (listed on my admissions record as “male significant other”) was my girlfriend, not my boyfriend. He was looking over the records and had cased me as some shiftless Gen Xer going through a mid-life crisis or something. He told me I should consider going back to college, maybe get a degree in social work or even become a psychologist like him. I seem incredibly sensitive and empathetic, to a fault, he said. Don’t I want to help people? Ugh christ dad whatever sure I’ll pick up some college applications on the way out if you’ll shut the fuck up.
I have a bit of an unconscious defense mechanism when talking to psychologists; I can’t even help but play down my symptoms because I’m scared of being locked up. Even sitting right there literally being prepared to be “locked up” I found it impossible to open up. Even with my brain obviously broken and near constant anxiety attacks.
When my parents divorced, both wound up locked away for periods of time. My dad came back with all these paintings he’d done. I’d never heard of him creating anything artistic before or after that. He was also looped out of his mind on medication tho; he would come to pick my brother at school and he’d only be wearing his underwear and house slippers. He’d park his truck blocks away, outside of the range of my mom’s restraining order against him, and stare in my brother and I’s bedroom window with binoculars.
“What are you even here for?” he asked. I was drifting off apparently. I replied that I was genuinely worried about what I would do with myself if I was allowed back out that door. I’d been binge drinking to the point of alcohol poisoning for a week straight, something absurd like five Mickey’s 40s or half a bottle of whiskey a night. I tried seeking treatment but all the meetings I’d found were really Jesus-y and queer unfriendly and I was quickly pushed out. At the “worried about what I’d do with myself” line, he begrudgingly signed me in, because that meant he had to treat me like a suicide risk. Even though he didn’t believe I was one.I got some blood tests and some pills and they gave me a blanket and an under-stuffed pillow. I was housed with an elderly chronically homeless gentlemen that spent the nights reliving drawn out arguments with his dead father from back on the farm from when he was a boy. He spent the daytime being a casually racist old crank, so I found it hard to be *too* empathetic to the guy. I spent the days doodling trees in the courtyard and the nights watching movies with the other inmates. I made friends with a girl that was said she was a distant relative of Kanye West, and that she was put there by the Illuminati so his fortune would go to white people instead of his blood family. She firmly believed that one day he’d get one of her letters and would rescue her. She told me that it wasn’t right that I was so unhappy, I was obviously an angel and that when Kanye West got her out she would treat me out to dinner every night. She told me that when angels come to live on earth, they are always sad because they keep being reminded of heaven and can’t wait to get back.I didn’t feel too terribly safe tho. One dude had a screaming fit that he didn’t want to share a dorm with a “faggot” (meaning me) and smashed a chair and a window. He got placed in a different dorm but later charged at me during an outdoor courtyard period and had to be tackled by the guards. Another dude tried to rip the only working phone out of the wall while I was on a call. I eventually gained privileges to use a different phone in an office away from everyone to call out sometimes. I didn’t throw fits or anything, I was just sort of moody and withdrawn, so the guards and counselors were usually pretty cool with me. One of the counselors said she would be willing to groom me towards working as a counselor there when I was released. She said that more than one counselor there was an inmate during rougher times of their lives. I frequently felt like I was suddenly let backstage to a whole other world than the one I was taught existed.At one point a nurse took me aside and said “You know… you’re on the state’s dollar now, if there’s any medical or psychological tests you want taken… you should do it now before we release you.” I coughed nervously and asked if they had a gender identity counselor. She winked at me and told me we could schedule bloodwork once the counselor signed off. It’s surreal how certain people just can see through to that part of me. In hindsight I did a pretty terrible job of hiding it while living as a “man”. The rest is history.
Looking through my notepad I kept I found a little poem-thing I’d written while I was there-
And Then I Learned All Angels Are Sad, And Everything Made Sense.
She was staring at me, uncomfortably long.
“You look so sad” she said
“Well,” I replied, “that’s kind of why I’m here.”
The first two tattoos I’d gotten were angels on each arm when I was 18
My 2nd year Psych professor wrote a long letter to my mom.
She said she was worried because I had turned in my class study paper
and it was on Gender Dysphoria
I was writing weird cartoons in class that concerned her
She told my mom that people
obsessed enough with angels to get them tattooed on
She told my mom I may be confused
she asked about the men in my life – asked if I had any role models
The Sekhmet Hypothesis –
torn between friendly weakness and hostile weakness
I’m not ok, you’re ok
There’s something wrong with me, there’s something wrong with everything
And then I learned all angels are sad, and everything made sense