October 2000

I’ve always had an overactive imagination… add that to being an insomniac, and you’ve got a child whose inner world is often more real than that without.

When I was very young I used to lie awake wishing that I could speak to myself… somehow bring myself in the future back in time to see me… to reassure me, to tell me what to do. So now, a bit older, I get to imagine going back to that little kid and sharing what I’ve seen. This piece is a reflection of those imaginings, in the form of a collection of letters to myself at various ages.

Dear Micheal,

Hi. I know you need some advice right now. The floor beneath your feet is falling apart, and things are changing so fast. I just want to let you know that no matter how much chaos is swirling all around you, you’re going to be okay. Inside yourself is the calm at the heart of the storm, and the best refuge you’ll have.

I can’t tell you everything that’s going to happen to you, or the choices you’ll have to make, but I will do my best to give you some advice about how to live through the turmoil that lies ahead. I’ll be sending you letters at important times, times that are crucial to the path that you’ll take through life.

Age 6

Hello again. I’m sorry I couldn’t warn you about Mom and Dad’s divorce, and I know that one of the things that hurt most was that they didn’t tell you before it happened. Soon they’re going to go their separate ways, and you’re going to move. You’ll meet your first best friend. Enjoy the time you have, and the people that appreciate who you are. Don’t listen too much to the praises from your teachers, just because you’re smarter than most people doesn’t mean you’re better than them.

Don’t worry too much about the road ahead, and just relax. Some words of warning, though. Don’t trust the people around you, they seem to love hurting others, especially you:

Don’t let anyone know the real you.

Don’t believe the words "I love you."

Don’t let them see you cry.

Age 7

I’m sorry that you had to move to Colorado, and leave your friends. I will suggest that you get used to it, though. You’ll be moving a lot, and the people you invest yourself in will be ripped from you. Don’t let yourself get too close to them, or at least don’t let it show when you do.

You’ve seen that Mom doesn’t really love you, that you’re basically a pet to her. Her new husband is really cruel, and you know it. She just doesn’t seem to see that. This is a road that you have to walk, Micheal. I will not lie – it’s going to hurt. Remember that I love you. And Micheal…

Don’t let anyone know the real you.

Don’t believe it when they say "I love you."

Don’t let them see you cry.

Age 10

You’ll have a friend soon… he’s your teacher now. He’s a good man, and will be watching out for you more than you realize. Keep being a good student, and try not to let your home life show up in your behavior at school.

I know things have been tough. He beats you to no end, especially when he’s drunk. He knows that it hurts, and he enjoys it. You see that part of this reason is because you’re different, and because you won’t change for anyone else. You’re stubborn, and it hurts you. You know this, but we both know that it simply can’t be any other way. The pain is immense, but you’ll make it through.

Remember that no matter how much he hits your body, he can’t touch your soul, your mind, WHO you are. You’ll come through this as long as you don’t let anyone get far enough inside of you to do any damage.

Don’t let anyone get to know the real you.

Don’t listen to the lie that is "I love you."

Don’t let them see you cry.

Age 11

So you just moved in with Dad. I’m sorry things had to work out that way, and I’m sorry his new wife doesn’t understand you. Remember that she’s only 12 years older than you, and really doesn’t yet understand how to deal with someone your age, much less someone who’s been through your life. Your new home isn’t so bad or as violent, and your school is great. You’re going to be making another good friend… but don’t get too close, your travels are far from over.

The people around you are going to try to hurt you because you’re different from them. You’re smarter than average and you don’t try to make yourself fit in with the majority of people. While this is NOT a bad thing, it makes the people around you nervous, uncomfortable, even afraid at times.

About your feelings toward other guys… I know you feel odd, even guilty about these feelings. Remember when you first learned about race? How stupid it was that people hated each other for it, especially since no one ever had a choice about the color of their skin? Well, this is the same way. You know what the word "gay" means, but right now you think these feelings are just a phase… or at least you hope they are, but fear they’re not.

You’ll remember forever how your best friend says that "gay people are disgusting and should be shot." I know that hurts… but Micheal….

Don’t let anyone know who you are on the inside.

Don’t believe it when someone says the words "I love you."

Don’t let anyone see you cry.

Age 12

Ripped away from your friends again. I did tell you not to get too close, but you’re so stubborn… you need love so badly. Just take steps not to let the hurt show too much tomorrow when you say goodbye. This next move is going to be very tough on you… that dream you had last night about the tree being ripped up over and over… the tree is you. Be careful of what soil you let yourself take root in.

I know that Dad continues to take out his frustrations on you… he doesn’t understand who you are, or how to deal with you, or why you can’t seem to fit in to his family. He says that it’s you who is "tearing his family apart"… just know that it isn’t you, but his inability to deal with you. Stay calm, even when they’re tearing your world down all around you. And please…

Don’t let anyone get to know the real you.

Don’t believe that lying phrase "I love you."

Don’t let them see you cry.

Age 14

I know the last two years have been a sort of hell for you. You’ve kept the knowledge of yourself so deep inside that you’ve begun to lose touch with it. The outer shell you’ve built is only going to get stronger, and the walls so tall that even you can’t see within anymore. You’re becoming an incredible actor, still able to manipulate people through telling them exactly what they need to hear. Counseling others is something you’re great at, even though you can’t seem to counsel yourself.

You’re about to move in with your grandmother. You’ll be okay, but since you’ve never really had a bond to either of your parents things won’t be much different. The freedom she’ll give you will be refreshing, but you’ve become so introverted you’ll take to freedom in an odd way. Try to regain interest in school, even if it does seem like a boring and pointless waste of time.

You won’t be making any real friends any time soon. Being a friend involves having a meaningful relationship… but you will have quite a few acquaintances… they’ll be friends with the face you show them, and nothing more. I know it’s so tempting, but

Don’t let them know the real you.

Don’t fall for the trick in the words "I love you."

Don’t let them see you cry.

Age 15

How do you like the magnet school? I know you still find it boring, but although you detest school you’re trying to make yourself interested. I guess that’s good. You’re going to fail to follow my advice this time, I know it. These people around you that you get to know so well…. You’re going to slip up a bit. Let a part of yourself out. I know you’ve been avoiding it, but by now you understand that you ARE gay. Just don’t let them in, even in the slightest. Don’t get too close to these people! I know you, you’re not going to listen. Just don’t be surprised if you get ripped away from them… after all, we both know from experience that history repeats itself.

It’s okay to understand others, just don’t let them understand you.

Please don’t believe those false words "I love you."

Don’t let them see you cry.

Age 17

Oh how the times are changing. Did I not warn you about getting too close? Bah, you never listen. Why can’t you see that I’m looking out for you? I see that you’re not really interested in classes anymore. I find it funny that you ace all the tests and don’t do the homework, that you just failed your English class because you didn’t like spending the time to write for the teacher. Next semester will be better, you’ll make that up and ace the second semester… but it’ll be at a different school, with a teacher who at least challenges and appreciates you. Enjoy the coming semester.

As far as people go, I know you’re holding up well. As much as you feel the need to let someone inside, the urge to have a real friend… remember that getting too close only gets you hurt.

Don’t let anyone get to know the you inside.

Don’t listen the traitorous words "I love you."

Don’t let them see you cry.

Age 18

A long gap, I know… but there was nothing I could say that would make you take things any better, or make any more profitable decisions. School’s over, college is starting… that renewed interest you thought you’d find… just isn’t there. Aren’t you surprised. But what remains is that need for communication from these people that you’ve gotten to know so well. You’ve molded yourself into a sort of machine, able to empathize and understand others, but only an observer, not a real player yourself. Through this manner you’ve made yourself impervious to being hurt by anyone but yourself. So why do you still feel this need for the lie that is "love?" Deal with it, because you don’t need it.

Don’t let anyone get to know who you really are.

Don’t believe the worthless words "I love you."

Don’t let them see you cry.

Age 19 (NOW)

Micheal… where did you go wrong? This illusion you’ve had for so long as being inhuman is failing, crumbling all around you. No one knows you’re gay, but you do. No one thinks of you as being lovable because you wouldn’t allow it. Your ARE human, robo-boy, and now you’re paying the price. The people you need so desperately are the same ones that you’ve spent all your life keeping so distant. And now you’ve pushed them so far away that they could never love you. You’ve made a bed of stone and ice, and now you must lie in it when all you really need is warmth. Ironic that you could inwardly be so "understanding" of yourself and completely deny it on the outside.

Oh god… what have you done? WHY can’t you just show someone who you are, open up to another person? Why is it that you can’t believe those sweet words "I love you?" Even though you want to so much, need to so much, why on earth can’t you just let someone see you cry?


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