There’s an article coming…. oh how it’s coming. The more visible I become in most any plus size community, from size acceptance events to plus size fashion, or the interweb “fam” in general, there are always going to be people who push back on my genuineness and positivity. And, I need to address why I think that may be and how I can fix it at some point. It’s on the way. It’s totally okay. I can take it. Some days are harder than others. Despite what some are saying, I never asked for a trophy or a pat on the back because I prefer women of size or because I actually open car doors. But, I think one of the reasons I am scrutinized is the illusion that I’m successful in all things (please reference all of my articles on how I was a fat nerd, growing up and still have major body and self esteem issues due to the myriad of shit I’ve lived… much like you… and you… oh and you…). But, that’s not what we’re talking about, today.
Today, I’d like to talk about failure. It’s so hard to think that with the confidence I reference, that I… Christopher Salute… fail. I’m like the “cool kid” in your high school, right? The sensitive athlete who was made for love, a thick Freddie Prinze Jr. (please tell me you get this reference) with a shorter hairline. I get it. I’m easy to poke fun at or try to tear down because it’s clear I don’t have any other obstacles. No real problems.
Well…let’s clear something up. I fail… a freaking… lot! And, I’m not talking about getting speeding tickets or mismatching my socks (because I don’t leave the house with mismatched socks, let’s be real). I’m talking about some big ones. I bleed… I cry… and I hurt, sometimes more than you can possibly imagine someone hurting. I think that may be one of many reasons people have a hard time relating to me, because my positive spin on “all things suck” is hard to put up with. You just think nothing bad happens to me. No, I choose not to let that shit get to me in public, because I know how dangerous it can be.
So, let’s get real for a moment. This is a part of my life I’ve been wanting to save for my book, but I think I can still get into some details without taking away from the larger story. And, if you were around a few years ago, you’ll note that it was a pivotal point in my life, the reason I went on a social media blackout for nearly two years and had to restart a lot of my life.
Do you know why I listen to white noise/rain sounds when I sleep? I do. So do a few friends and family members. Now you will. Welcome to my inner circle. I hope I get a holiday card, now:
The reason I can’t sleep is because I can’t be alone in my head anymore because of the way that I’ve loved. Let’s circle back and say that again. I loved myself into hurting. You know I’ve referenced a pretty bad break up a few years back. And, I’ve also referenced loving first. But, what happens when you love first and have your heart broken? When someone manipulates and destroys you so much and you continue to love them? So much that you can’t rest your eyes without tearing up anymore? Because you are so afraid of losing her that you decide that losing yourself is fine. Then, you give yourself to love after that, begging the universe for someone to fill you the same way you thought you were once filled, only to realize that nothing could ever compare… nothing ever would… because the whole fucking thing is an illusion… a spell you are under until the anesthesia finally wears off. You slowly realize that nothing, no one could do that for you because she actually never did. You just wanted to believe it. You were idolizing false gods under false pretenses when you should have been working on you. You should have been working on you…
There are few things that are a waste of time… That…entire part of my life… was a waste of fucking time. I didn’t say I didn’t learn a lesson.
The relationship is the book chapter. It’s too much to put into an article. There was a lot of bad. I was brought into the crazy. I lost myself, completely, and lived in her world. The more she pulled away, the more I met her on the bridge, to the point where I was loving with so much of myself that I left no room to actually love myself. I also left her no room to breathe. And, in the end, none of it was real. It was all a game I didn’t know I was playing until I looked back and said
“Shit… I saw every sign I could have possibly seen and continued to drive into one way traffic.”
We will talk about that, for sure, later, and in my book. But, the break up and aftermath we can discuss, now:
I was on a business trip down south when it happened. I was feeling unloved. My partner didn’t have time for a phone call or text for days, but had been on social media that day, flirting with an Instagram fan. This is a typical jealousy/attention conflict that the new me would probably just let slide, at least for a little while. This was one of many “beefs” we didn’t address and it really was time to end it.
But, man… did it suck. I was sitting in my hotel room that night, I remember, on the 11th floor. I was googling the amount of force I’d need to jump through the window and if I hit street level, wondering if there was there a chance of me surviving. The answers were inconclusive.
It didn’t matter anyway. I was a god damn wimp. I wasn’t actually going to do it. At least, from this angle, I don’t think I was considering it as much as I appeared to be. The story changes with time as my perspective and angle does. I just wanted to feel that feeling and hurt that hurt. I wanted to know I could end it. And, to know that I had an “out” if it became unbearable. But, I dug myself out, I guess, as a false testament of strength? I’m not really sure. I did, however, notify two of my very best friends at the time of my thoughts, probably the smartest and dumbest thing I could have done. Because, when I got home from the airport, I had an army of very well meaning family and friends who wouldn’t leave me alone for about a week (grateful, but embarrassed, you get it).
They took turns, like the watch of a base camp, making sure the suicide invasion didn’t make its way back to me. I had a very dramatic and really messed up conversation with my father, that week. He told me it would be okay, that he’d lost the love of his life (my mother) to cancer, and to give it time. And, I replied “You didn’t have to watch her fall out of love with you.” I told him he had it easy. Some say that the hardest thing to do is to mourn someone who is still living. But, this was not the love of my life, this was the lust of a lifetime, complete with sparkly bullshit daydreams. While I don’t have many regrets, I will forever regret saying that to my father who was trying to help me by sharing his vulnerability. It was nothing short of complete ass-holery (please reference my previous articles on this). The few other takeaways I remember vividly (I’m sure more happened that week):
- My incredible mother (you’ll hear me reference my mother as both living and dead. This is my stepmother. Mama passed when I was five. I don’t say “stepmother” because there’s no other living person on this planet who identifies as my mother) will find any reason to worry. I got a call from my father around this time and he said
“Uh…. ya mom called (they are divorced) and she says uh… your shoes are worn… and you only have junk food in da house… and she’s concerned about your well being.”
Old shoes and junk food… these are apparently the signs of the depressed! Spoiler alert: My shoes are shined impeccably, now.
- My best friend Thomas didn’t even wait to hear my cries. He started driving to Long Island from Virginia to meet me and stayed with me for close to a week until I felt good enough to be alone. High friggin’ five!
- When my brother wants to get real, he gets fucking real. He said some of the most powerful shit to me during a Summer walk with me, that week. We were talking about validation and how I never felt like I was anything more than my current partner, which is absurd on so many levels. He specifically said to me (more or less)
“The best project you worked on was Bold… you’re not giving it your attention. You’re spreading yourself too thin. Stop working on other shit and focus on one thing. If it’s Bold, great.”
What got me to this “point of awful” to where I needed to be on watch was trust and love. Yes, you read that right- trusting and loving the wrong person with the wrong energy.
The relationship started off in a state of pure bliss. It was ecstasy on every level: cruises and dinners and words of affirmation. The best sex I’d had to that point in my life and the pride of knowing that one of the most beautiful women on the planet was on my arm (yes, she was plus, notice I didn’t say “beautiful plus women” because there doesn’t need to be a qualifier there). I began to identify with the relationship until even my friends and students noticed a change in me. I was her partner and not Christopher Salute, bad ass human and soul on fire. Then, one day, the love was gone. As fast as we loved, we fell out. That is to say, if there was even love there. All I had left was lust. And, when the physical intimacy began to fade, so did we.
We started doubting each other and I definitely started doubting myself. By the time it ended, I didn’t know who the fuck I was anymore. I was completely lost. Everything I’d built up in myself since my previous separation and divorce went into the relationship I was in. And, when it all got spit out, it was unrecognizable. So was I.
I couldn’t breathe. My chest was heavy. My head was screaming. My body shook in pain. This was constant, hour by hour, minute by minute, every day. I binge ate, drank, and did whatever else I could to numb it. But, there was no break from it unless she called, texted, or emailed. Oh, and she did, to continue to tell me how awful of a person I was. To mock and taunt me, and remind me that it was over. Like a loose tooth, though, I wanted to play with it to feel the soreness. I wanted the reminder that it was there. It was the only thing that stopped the writhing. It was the only thing that helped me breathe again. She’d become my addiction, the Novacane I’d been substituting to fill the gaping holes in my heart I was tired of working on. And, to be clear, the hard work I had done on myself was shallow compared to where I am, now. But, shit…I didn’t know that. And, to have to start over?
I did a few things immediately. I started seeking the help of a relationship therapist, the infamous man who named my future lovers “Large Women from the Internet.” I also adopted (keyword here is “adopted”… I wanted to save a creature) a dog to give me a sense of responsibility and provide me with the unconditional love I so desperately needed. Joker literally saved my life by giving me his. I don’t even pretend that I was trying to be selfless. I was being selfish as shit, here. But, thank God we met. I’m being serious.
I also blocked the woman I broke up with so that I could sever the ties, completely. I rebounded with some casual intimacy (eh, we all make mistakes). And, I began writing again (Yes!). So, during the day, I would habitually check my phone in the hopes that she’d have made a new email address or found a new number to contact me on so that I could play with my loose tooth again. But, she slowly faded into the distance. This was a good thing.
The only space I couldn’t fill was at night. Now, I know what you’re thinking- feel the hurt, right? No. W-R-O-N-G. There is a time for that. This wasn’t a time for meditation and feeling the feeling. This was a time to numb so that I could get through the initial shock for a few weeks, likely months. Sometimes you need this. I don’t care what expert comes back at me with another theory. It was necessary.
But, I couldn’t numb the night time. No matter how many dog licks from Joker I got or how many casual encounters I engaged in, she was there when I closed my eyes. My head was screaming and my heart pounded as my anxiety hit hard. Have you ever felt hot and cold at the same time? Anxiety and depression? Complete silence mixed with the high pitched wail of your brain? It’s terrible. I lived my entire life without it. It’s like getting the “gout” (yes, I have this as a repercussion from my heart surgery and it’s the shittiest illness in the world). It’s always in you, and something triggers it (usually dehydration combined with some other garbage) and you have it for life, on and off, until you take your last breath. Eventually I learned to cope and I’m at a pretty healthy level of normal without medication (and… uh… no I’m not opposed. Do you. If it got to that point, I’m all for it). But, to begin, the only thing I could do was drown it out. So, I began to do a few things, at night:
- White noise/rain sounds on a white noise maker. I now have this on my phone, but I didn’t trust my phone to continuously loop. And, I needed to sleep. So, I bought this awesome little box that kicked ass and stayed plugged into the wall!
- Melatonin… eh, sometimes some hard Advil PM… eh… let’s not lie. I made my way down to melatonin after a cocktail of single malt scotch, a beer, two Advil PMs and if I had to, a melatonin gummy….or a few… the cherry ones are awesome. But, eventually melatonin alone worked great (yay for healthy coping!).
- My imagination. I find that if I write short or long stories every night in my head, picking up from the exact point I left off the night before, I can go to sleep. Poems don’t work. They are too complex with rhyming patterns and tempos. I get hung up on style and the silence comes back. But stories, I can write all night. When I have time, I jot the stories down. But, they exist in a land between wide awake and fast asleep.
These three tools helped me go from 2-3 hours of sleep a night to a good 6 or 7, sometimes 8 on weekends. They are what helped me survive the numbing. The numbing existed so that I could get to the painful feelings I needed to feel and learn from with a clear head and some logic. And, it all serves as a reminder that I could fuck up big time. Yes, Freddie Prinze Jr. needs to cope, sometimes. He doesn’t always get the girl.
Did it stop me from loving? Absolutely not. Do I still sometimes need one to three of all of those tools to sleep. Uh… yeah… you bet your ass I do. In fact, most nights I still write one of my many novels in my head as it’s without a doubt the best way to exhaust my overactive brain (I’m currently trying to see if there are non-narcotic ways to treat this, because I love my thinking but hate my lack of focus some days).
And, with every hurt I feel, I am brought right back to that failure. I still love with my whole heart. And, while no break up amounts to that one, while no human could possibly destroy me that way again (due to a plethora of reasons ranging from “I’m not a moron anymore” to me being more of a whole human), any reminder of hurt brings me back there. When you love fully you get hurt fully. I still maintain that the amount of hurt I felt is fine because I was being generous with my heart. I’m okay with it.
Some may not see this as a failure. They may look at is a “lesson learned” or just a break up. But, there are many ways I could have mitigated this and I didn’t. I didn’t protect myself. And, sometimes I still don’t. I don’t always learn from my mistakes. But, I try not to make the same mistake the same way. Recognizing your patterns is the first step towards changing your behavior, right?
So, there you have it. This is about as bad as it’s going to get. I’m proud to say I’ve never gone back to that place. And, I’ll likely not. It’s a long life and I’ve learned, over and over, that I am the prize. I am the magnet. I draw crowds, too, because I’m genuine and kind. I love with my whole heart and I treat my partners like platinum. But, anyone who thinks that I need to completely cross the bridge for them because they have been on TV or been in a magazine needs to remember that we’re all human beings. I mean, I play guitar, do martial arts and I love bacon. I’m practically Elvis!
So, feel free to take your jabs and see if I bleed. I promise you, I do. I have. I will, again. And, so will you. Maybe a little more understanding and communication and a little less putting our guards up will mean more love and less bad shit. But, what do I know?