30 in 90, So Help Me God

Here it is, fabulous readers – the word I hate to talk about.

It’s the one four letter word I actually don’t use (all the others are fair game).

But, I’ve gotten out of control.  And with my newly tucked tummy, I want to get the rest of me back on the band wagon.   The plan at the moment is to try to lose 30 pounds in 90 days.  Realistic?  Maybe.  It’s going to be a struggle, but I think when I stop and recognize all the junk that has creeped its way back into my daily eating, it will be a big step just to leave the crap out.

Stay with me as I go through the diet grumpiness and the exercise soreness (oh, Jesus, did I just commit to exercise?).  If I don’t have you guys motivating me on and keeping  a watchful eye, I’m not sure I can do it!

The Tale of Charlie McCarthy

You know how you hear stories told time and again, throughout your child, and those stories become the fabric that makes the quilt that is the story of you?  This is one of my stories.  Well, not mine exactly, because it didn’t happen to me, but it is a story that I heard so many times, I think I had it memorized by the time I was freshly hatched!

My dad was a little boy, and Christmas was coming.  My grandmom, his mother, asked him, like mothers everywhere do, what he wanted for Christmas.  My father gleefully answered that he wanted a Dolly Darfy.  She asked him a few more times, and each time, she got the same answer.  My dad wanted a Dolly Darfy.

Christmas was quickly approaching, and my grandmother searched everywhere for the mysterious Dolly Darfy.  Store clerks looked at her as if she had two heads.  Neighbors suggested a boy shouldn’t be playing with dolls.  Row after row in shop after shop, the Dolly Darfy remained elusive.  And when she’d go back home, tired and frustrated, she’d ask my dad, “Wouldn’t you like a baseball glove, Johnny?” “No, I want Dolly Darfy!”  ”How about some roller skates?” “No, Dolly Darfy.”

Christmas came, and under the tree, there were all sorts of wonderful gifts, but the sadness on my dad’s tiny face told the whole story – there was no Dolly Darfy.

At some point after the holidays, my grandmother had my dad in tow while doing some shopping.  She let him wander over to the toy department of a local shop, and she heard him yelling excitedly, “Dolly Darfy!  Dolly Darfy!”  My grandmother rushed to see one of these mysterious Dolly Darfys, and when she arrived at my father’s side, there it was.  When a three year old asks for a Dolly Darfy, he means Charlie McCarthy, the famous Edgar Bergen ventriloquist dummy that was wildly available as one of the most popular toys that Christmas.

As I said, I heard this story often.  It was told every Christmas in our house, just like “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” is told in other homes.  We heard the story at practically just about every gift giving occasion.

And then there was eBay.  I searched for months, trying to find one that might have been available when my dad was a kid.  Even eBay couldn’t help me there.  When one would pop up over the many months of searching, it became much too rich for my pocketbook.

I finally settled on a Juro 1968 version of the much told about doll, and excitedly purchased it for my dad.  I can feel the heat from the radiant beam that crossed his face even now, all these years later.  I don’t think Ann, my stepmother was as pleased that I found yet another item to collect dust in the house, and the grandchildren, well, terrified just about covers their feelings towards poor old Charlie.

And now, he lives with me.  My stepmother, long tired of dusting the old guy off, wrapped him safely in plastic and brought him to our house.  I sit on the fence, debating whether or not he’s a keeper.  The story and the memories are so real, I don’t even need to hold Charlie in my hands to feel the excitement my dad felt when he was a small boy.

But while the internal debate rages on, I sure do like looking at him, remembering the joy he brought to my dad, even after 60 years.

Can A Girl Get A Little Morning Consistency With Her Coffee?

I am a creature of habit.  I generally wake up the same time every day – even on weekends and holidays.  I get the same drink at the same Starbucks every morning.  I like to visit the same theme park every time I go on vacation.

So when I tell you I have enjoyed for most of my life Channel 6 Action News in Philadelphia, you can pretty much guarantee the accuracy in that statement.  I’ve been with them longer than Jim Gardner has been with them.  I cried real tears when Jim O’Brien died in that terrible accident.  I watched Lisa Thomas-Laury and Marc Howard from the beginning of the 5 o’clock news format.  These have always been my go to people.

So what’s up with my morning newscast?  Channel 6 in Philadelphia seems to be going through a bit of a morning news show crisis, in my opinion.  Some mornings, I wake up to the funny and talented Matt O’Donnell, along with co-anchor Tamala Edwards.  I have to admit, it took a bit of time for me to warm up to Tam – she swallows quite often during her newscast, and being a bit of a saliva-o-phobe, that kind of grosses me out.  But I love Matt, David Murphy, and Karen Rogers (who is as big a Disney fan as I am!).

You know, I can’t just decide every Friday to wake up next to George Clooney – it’s always Jim.  So why, it seems like nearly every Friday for the last long time, do I not get to wake up to my morning news team?  It seems like every other day I’m hearing, “Matt’s off today” or “In for Tamala Edwards…”  It’s not that I mind seeing Brian Taft or Sarah Bloomquist (gosh, I love her!), it’s just that if I’m going to wake up every morning in the same bed, in the same bedroom, in the same house, I want the same consistent courtesy out of my morning news team.

And it’s not just the weekday newscasts they’re messing with.  Some Saturdays, I get Walter Perez.  Walter and I go way back, as he was also on the local station when I lived in South Florida, and I like seeing his familiar face on the weekend.  I like seeing Nydia Han on the weekends.  But I don’t like a revolving door of news anchors.

I think for someone to build trust in their local news broadcast, they need the same familiar cast of characters.  For years, this city tuned in to see Jim Gardner, Dave Roberts, and Gary Papa.  I get that people grow old, retire, succumb to illnesses, move on to other opportunities.  But Action News seems lately to be having an identity crisis.

Let’s get this news broadcast into some decent therapy.

Budget Valentine Gifts for that Man oh Man of Yours!

Alright, I know he leaves the toilet seat up; brushes his hair with the last three fingers on his left hand; wears the ugly Hawaiian shirt he bought on a cruise in 1993 whenever you tell him to “dress up”; and he emits the most noxious odors from various parts of his body at the most inappropriate times.  But you love him, it’s Valentine’s Day, and you want him to know how much every inch of pudge layered over his six pack abs means to you.

But have you seen your budget?  If it costs more than a Happy Meal, chances are, you can’t afford it.  But that’s okay!  I’m here to help you figure out what to do for that wonderful man of yours on Valentine’s Day!

The way to any man’s heart is, well, through his stomach.  Valentine’s Day is no different.  If you want to win your guy over, feed him.

You know that chunk of your grocery budget dedicated to healthy snacks on Sunday while he watches sports?  Use it to buy some sports fan food – nachos, chicken wings, chips and dip.  It’s only once a year, and he will be tickled to see the snack tray that is usually filled with rabbit food and rice cakes is loaded with his football food favorites!

Do you live with a Mr. Fixit?  Check out your local hardware stores for some great free classes that your tinkering honey might enjoy – and they come with the added bonus that you might actually get some of those items off of your honey-do list!  Ask at customer service at your area Home Depot or Lowes to see what upcoming classes they have, and choose one that might be of interest to your handy man.  Make sure when he comes home, armed with his new found knowledge and a brand new area of expertise, you’ve got a cold drink and a hot kiss waiting for him!

Is your guy the stereotypical bookworm?  Chances are in his busy life, he doesn’t get much quiet time to read and enjoy the latest Stephen King novel.  Your local gourmet store probably has sample sizes of some exotic coffee or tea – many samples being only a dollar or two.  Grab his biggest coffee mug, put in the coffee sample, a couple of cookies stolen out of the kids’ cookie jar, maybe a good cigar if he smokes them, and then stop by the library to pick up a book or two he might enjoy reading.  Don’t forget to give him a night off to enjoy the solitude while he sips his coffee and enjoys his book!

How many times have you said to your cuddly computer geek, “If you don’t get off of that computer now, I’m going to cancel your subscription to World of Warcraft; burn your Asheron’s Call t-shirt; toss your Civilization cheat guide in the trash; and tell all of your friends your 9 year old had to show you where to plug in your iPhone charger!”  Oh, is that just me?

Well just in case it isn’t, just like the avid reader, the avid gamer probably gets a lot of flack for taking time for himself on the computer.  This Valentine’s Day, let him have it.  No, don’t punch his lights out – let him have some computer time, uninterrupted, your gift to him for being the sweetheart that he is!  Let him eat dinner at his desk, bring him a couple of Red Bulls so he can stay up all night if he wants, and let him be.  He will really appreciate the night to himself – so much, that it might reflect well when your anniversary rolls around!

You don’t have to think too far outside the box to come up with an inexpensive Valentine gift for your sweetie.  Give him what you can’t really afford to give him on a daily basis – his own space to do his own thing.  He’ll appreciate that much more than another pair of silk boxers with Valentine hearts on them!

Putting a Price Tag on Love – Inexpensive Ideas for your Valentine Kid

As if it’s not enough that we’re just recuperating from the pressures of what to buy whom for Christmas, now Valentine’s Day is staring us in the face!  No one wants to look like a cheap sucker when expressing their love on Valentine’s Day, but in this economy, with your good friends Mr. Mastercard and Miss VISA expecting a little something to reward them for how loyal they were to you during Christmas, what can you afford to do?

Let’s run it down by the list of people who might be expecting gifts and see if we can’t help you show them that you care for them with a champagne heart but a beer pocketbook.

Gifts for the Kids


Drugstores all over America make it easy for you to treat your littles to something sweet for Valentine’s Day, and because kids don’t really get the whole gist of putting a price on love, you can get away really inexpensively here.

1 – Walmart has a Valentine aisle – as does Target, Walgreens, and CVS.  You’ll find $5 plush toys, .99 candy filled hearts, $1 Valentine socks, and other inexpensive goodies.  You can fill a gift bag for your kids for under $10 and have it bursting with Valentine treats.

2 – Valentine clothes – We almost always get Valentine PJs for our girls, mostly because they usually need new PJs, but also because we can find for less than $20 (and sometimes for less than $15) a cute Valentine set of Pajamas and a stuffed animal, so we avoid the candy and sweets route.  You can find Valentine PJs, t-shirts, and socks at stores like Target, Walmart, and Old Navy.  I kinda like this little t-shirt for $5!

At Old Navy – http://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=64713&vid=1&pid=818880&scid=818880012

3 – A Coupon Booklet – Treat your child to a Frosty at Wendy’s, a hot apple pie at McDonald’s, a trip to the library for story time, or even a pedicure and manicure, courtesy of Mom.  You can fill a book of coupons with free or almost free things that your kids will love!  Promise a picnic at the park on one coupon.  A popular coupon at our house is the Get Out of One Chore coupon, where your child can redeem the coupon to get out of setting the table or walking the dog, without risking allowance!  You might even offer to play that horrendous board game they got for Christmas – you know, the one that you’d rather skip playing in favor of a root canal?  Just keep reminding yourself that it’s all in the name of love.

4 – Special Valentine’s Day Meal – You probably have red plastic table cloths or red napkins left over from Christmas – or you picked them up for 75% at an after Christmas sale, so go ahead and decorate your table!  Dress it up in reds, pinks, and whites for a festive themed setting your kids will love.  Then when they sit down to a meal, it doesn’t have to be fancy, just Valentiney!  Use cookie cutters to cut heart shaped sandwiches with their favorite filling, or put that art school degree to work and shape a meatloaf or a pizza for your special kids.  Use food coloring to put a Valentine hue into mashed potatoes, biscuits, or muffins; and consider a dessert with strawberries!

The thing kids love most is your time.  If all else fails, read them an extra bedtime story, take time to listen to their playground tales, or volunteer to be the guinea pig as they try their hand at being a beautician.  Kids know that you love them when you make time for them, and your time is the one thing that really doesn’t cost you anything.  It is the best – and the cheapest – gift you can give your kids on Valentine’s Day – and every day.

A Very Disney Valentine’s Day

You know I love a dose of Mickey Mouse, wherever I can get it!  We ran into Walmart today to pick up ONE thing (famous last words), and while browsing the Valentine aisles (which, by the way, were nowhere near where that ONE thing would be), I came across a few things that will make this a Mickey filled Valentine’s day for you and your sweetie!

First were these adorable swirl lollipops.  They came in flavors like watermelon and strawberry (check the labels when you buy, because they are all the same color), but the tops were just too cute to pass up!  As cute as I thought Minnie was, the Mickey with the flowers behind his back were just so sweet.

Okay, so my photography skills could stand improvement, but without the red ribbon in front of this one, it’s kinda cute.  The bottom is two pink hearts, and the Mickey head, made from some squishy, gummy type candy, is dipped in a chocolatey type substance.

Now that I see this out of the context of the G rated store, it could be a little obscene looking.  You might not want to send these in to the class – especially if the class is filled with Tweens, prone to hysterical outbreaks when something is misconstrued.  Okay, these were way cuter and way less pervert looking in the store – but hey, it’s Mickey Mouse!

I thought these were so, so cute!  These are individual sized boxes of wrapped candy hearts.  The boxes are about the size you might give in school or maybe just to your kids (do you give your kids Valentines?), and they feature Mickey and Minnie prominently on the front.  I loved these, and if they had been a little less expensive, I thought about getting them for my students.  Instead, I got these:

The ONLY character Valentine’s they had out yet at Walmart were these, and I snapped them up for my class.  They are Mickey chocolate (colored red) lollipops that you can put into the accompanying Valentine cards.  The cards themselves were kind of old fashioned looking, and I thought the kids would like the candy.

There you go – you don’t have to go all the way to Disney World to find Disney treats for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day!

Insomnia – Not Just a Legitimate Concern

There are true insomniacs – people who genuinely and legitimately cannot sleep.  And then there are people like me.  I am on the go pretty much constantly during the day, so when I finally do lay down to go to sleep, unless I have the television on to keep my mind distracted, my mind wanders to a variety of things that make no sense.

The other night, I decided to turn the television off, and I hoped I might just drift off to sleep.  An hour later, I put the television back on, and was probably asleep within ten minutes.

What kept me up for that hour?  I knew you’d ask, so I jotted it down.

1 – Why on earth would people want to use a bidet?  Yes, gentle readers, bathroom habits kept me awake.  We don’t generally use a bidet here in the states, but there have been bidets in virtually every European hotel we’ve stayed in.  Seems to me that it’s hard to use them, you end up drippy, and even Charmin wouldn’t be an effective way to dry off.  And how sanitary are they?  Inquiring minds…

2 – Why can’t they tarp my street?  I live on a side street off of a main road, and while I applaud the Bellmawr Municipal services, if they can tarp over the field for the Eagles to play on, why don’t they tarp over my street, then untarp it when a snow storm is over?  Just have a team of people rolling up the tarp at the end of each blizzard, with a truck leading the way to gather up the snow.  Then I could pull out of my driveway onto nice, dry streets.  Fabulous idea.

3 – Who would read this stuff?  People are always telling me I should write a book.  About what?  What do you guys want me to jot down that you’d pay real money for to download on your Kindle?  Do you want me to write a Disney guidebook, to join the plethora of Disney guidebooks out there?  Or do you want me to write about the crazy crud that happens to me on a routine basis?  What is it that people want to read, really?  Stephen King I am not.

4 – Why can’t I make a latte like Starbucks?  It never tastes right to me.  And there has to be a way to make it at home just as good.  Without having my favorite barista Sandi move in with me.  But I do have a fold out sofa….

5 – How freakin’ lucky am I?  Married 20 years; three amazing daughters; wonderful parents and in-laws; and friends that I love.

And on that note, I put the TV back on before I sappily cried myself to sleep.

Suicide is Painless – Except for Everyone Left Behind

This is not the first time our family has been touched by suicide.  When Brighid was in elementary school, the brother of a friend killed himself because of bullying.  Just about a year after that, the father of another of Brighid’s friends killed himself to avoid scrutiny of some of his business practices.  It’s painful on levels you can’t imagine unless you go through it.  It’s the feeling of having your hand out for someone and barely being able to touch the tips of their fingers before they are swallowed up by the sadness.

The first time Angela came to my house, it was with Sandi and a book about relationships.  It wasn’t the typical relationship book – you know, noted psychologist and relationship expert Dr. So and So.  It was Steve Harvey.  Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man was going to be Ang’s guide to a great romance.

Angela spent all the time I knew her looking for something.  She married at 19 because she had dual citizenship between the US and her native Brazil, and she thought she could be helpful to someone.  In the beginning, her eyes gleamed when she talked about him, a broad smile crossed her face.  But it wasn’t the happiness and contentment she had hoped to find.

Over the next few years, she cried out for attention, landed in hospitals, battled with demons.  But it always seemed like she was going to find the right path.

Most of my conversations with Ang were at the drive through at Starbucks.  But I’d go in the afternoon, on my way to get the kids at school, when I’d be the only one at the window.  Ang would hang out the window, breathing in the outside air, and chat with me about men, about her health, about life in general.  When she said she was leaving Starbucks, I congratulated her; wished her the best with her new life; and hoped that it had meant she found true love, real passion, and the contentment that always seemed to elude her.

She didn’t.  Her spirit remained restless until the end, when the seduction of an instant and permanent peace was too great.  It pulled her in, held her tightly, and it didn’t let go.

Angela walked to work often, and one day, on our travels through the area, Jim saw her standing at a light, waiting to cross a busy intersection to get home.  He had me turn around at the first light to go back and pick her up, but by the time we got back to where she had been, she was gone.  Before we could help her find a way home.

She was gone.

I hope, Angela, that you have finally found it – the peace, the contentment, the comfort that you didn’t find here.  Rest in peace.

I Am Posting This Because It Made Me Cry RIP Bill Zeller

This is difficult to read, I won’t lie.  The absolute anguish that this man lived in is devastating – it is beyond comprehension.

Had he not at the end of this letter asked that it be reposted, I might have thought about not posting it, but it was the last wish of a dying man that his pain be known.

Here it is:

The Agonizing Last Words of Programmer Bill Zeller

The Agonizing Last Words of Programmer Bill Zeller
Bill Zeller was a talented programmer whose work we’ve featured on Lifehacker. He took his own life on Sunday and left an explanation that I think it’s important you read.

Zeller was a victim of sexual and psychological abuse. It’s clear from his writing that the abuse left him unable to interface with the world in any way that didn’t leave him feeling he was too sullied to have the same experiences that he thought others had. He had a self-described “darkness”, which despite his prostration it’s clear he handled more ably than perhaps he ever realized.

Programming was a solace, but only temporarily. Zeller never felt he could escape the things that had happened to him because he carried his torment with him everywhere.

I think a person has the right to live or end their life as they choose. If Zeller really felt that suicide was his only option, so be it. But as someone who has had similar experiences in my own life, I want to say to anyone else who feels the way Zeller felt: You can’t escape your past. Not completely. But you can deal with it. You can contextualize it. You can learn how to prepare for the times when you feel like it’s not even on your radar and then it totally broadsides you.

And you can talk to people. You really can.

Bill Zeller

I have the urge to declare my sanity and justify my actions, but I assume I’ll never be able to convince anyone that this was the right decision. Maybe it’s true that anyone who does this is insane by definition, but I can at least explain my reasoning. I considered not writing any of this because of how personal it is, but I like tying up loose ends and don’t want people to wonder why I did this. Since I’ve never spoken to anyone about what happened to me, people would likely draw the wrong conclusions.

My first memories as a child are of being raped, repeatedly. This has affected every aspect of my life. This darkness, which is the only way I can describe it, has followed me like a fog, but at times intensified and overwhelmed me, usually triggered by a distinct situation. In kindergarten I couldn’t use the bathroom and would stand petrified whenever I needed to, which started a trend of awkward and unexplained social behavior. The damage that was done to my body still prevents me from using the bathroom normally, but now it’s less of a physical impediment than a daily reminder of what was done to me.

This darkness followed me as I grew up. I remember spending hours playing with legos, having my world consist of me and a box of cold, plastic blocks. Just waiting for everything to end. It’s the same thing I do now, but instead of legos it’s surfing the web or reading or listening to a baseball game. Most of my life has been spent feeling dead inside, waiting for my body to catch up.

At times growing up I would feel inconsolable rage, but I never connected this to what happened until puberty. I was able to keep the darkness at bay for a few hours at a time by doing things that required intense concentration, but it would always come back. Programming appealed to me for this reason. I was never particularly fond of computers or mathematically inclined, but the temporary peace it would provide was like a drug. But the darkness always returned and built up something like a tolerance, because programming has become less and less of a refuge.

The darkness is with me nearly every time I wake up. I feel like a grime is covering me. I feel like I’m trapped in a contimated body that no amount of washing will clean. Whenever I think about what happened I feel manic and itchy and can’t concentrate on anything else. It manifests itself in hours of eating or staying up for days at a time or sleeping for sixteen hours straight or week long programming binges or constantly going to the gym. I’m exhausted from feeling like this every hour of every day.

Three to four nights a week I have nightmares about what happened. It makes me avoid sleep and constantly tired, because sleeping with what feels like hours of nightmares is not restful. I wake up sweaty and furious. I’m reminded every morning of what was done to me and the control it has over my life.

I’ve never been able to stop thinking about what happened to me and this hampered my social interactions. I would be angry and lost in thought and then be interrupted by someone saying “Hi” or making small talk, unable to understand why I seemed cold and distant. I walked around, viewing the outside world from a distant portal behind my eyes, unable to perform normal human niceties. I wondered what it would be like to take to other people without what happened constantly on my mind, and I wondered if other people had similar experiences that they were better able to mask.

Alcohol was also something that let me escape the darkness. It would always find me later, though, and it was always angry that I managed to escape and it made me pay. Many of the irresponsible things I did were the result of the darkness. Obviously I’m responsible for every decision and action, including this one, but there are reasons why things happen the way they do.

Alcohol and other drugs provided a way to ignore the realities of my situation. It was easy to spend the night drinking and forget that I had no future to look forward to. I never liked what alcohol did to me, but it was better than facing my existence honestly. I haven’t touched alcohol or any other drug in over seven months (and no drugs or alcohol will be involved when I do this) and this has forced me to evaluate my life in an honest and clear way. There’s no future here. The darkness will always be with me.

I used to think if I solved some problem or achieved some goal, maybe he would leave. It was comforting to identify tangible issues as the source of my problems instead of something that I’ll never be able to change. I thought that if I got into to a good college, or a good grad school, or lost weight, or went to the gym nearly every day for a year, or created programs that millions of people used, or spent a summer or California or New York or published papers that I was proud of, then maybe I would feel some peace and not be constantly haunted and unhappy. But nothing I did made a dent in how depressed I was on a daily basis and nothing was in any way fulfilling. I’m not sure why I ever thought that would change anything.

I didn’t realize how deep a hold he had on me and my life until my first relationship. I stupidly assumed that no matter how the darkness affected me personally, my romantic relationships would somehow be separated and protected. Growing up I viewed my future relationships as a possible escape from this thing that haunts me every day, but I began to realize how entangled it was with every aspect of my life and how it is never going to release me. Instead of being an escape, relationships and romantic contact with other people only intensified everything about him that I couldn’t stand. I will never be able to have a relationship in which he is not the focus, affecting every aspect of my romantic interactions.

Relationships always started out fine and I’d be able to ignore him for a few weeks. But as we got closer emotionally the darkness would return and every night it’d be me, her and the darkness in a black and gruesome threesome. He would surround me and penetrate me and the more we did the more intense it became. It made me hate being touched, because as long as we were separated I could view her like an outsider viewing something good and kind and untainted. Once we touched, the darkness would envelope her too and take her over and the evil inside me would surround her. I always felt like I was infecting anyone I was with.

Relationships didn’t work. No one I dated was the right match, and I thought that maybe if I found the right person it would overwhelm him. Part of me knew that finding the right person wouldn’t help, so I became interested in girls who obviously had no interest in me. For a while I thought I was gay. I convinced myself that it wasn’t the darkness at all, but rather my orientation, because this would give me control over why things didn’t feel “right”. The fact that the darkness affected sexual matters most intensely made this idea make some sense and I convinced myself of this for a number of years, starting in college after my first relationship ended. I told people I was gay (at Trinity, not at Princeton), even though I wasn’t attracted to men and kept finding myself interested in girls. Because if being gay wasn’t the answer, then what was? People thought I was avoiding my orientation, but I was actually avoiding the truth, which is that while I’m straight, I will never be content with anyone. I know now that the darkness will never leave.

Last spring I met someone who was unlike anyone else I’d ever met. Someone who showed me just how well two people could get along and how much I could care about another human being. Someone I know I could be with and love for the rest of my life, if I weren’t so fucked up. Amazingly, she liked me. She liked the shell of the man the darkness had left behind. But it didn’t matter because I couldn’t be alone with her. It was never just the two of us, it was always the three of us: her, me and the darkness. The closer we got, the more intensely I’d feel the darkness, like some evil mirror of my emotions. All the closeness we had and I loved was complemented by agony that I couldn’t stand, from him. I realized that I would never be able to give her, or anyone, all of me or only me. She could never have me without the darkness and evil inside me. I could never have just her, without the darkness being a part of all of our interactions. I will never be able to be at peace or content or in a healthy relationship. I realized the futility of the romantic part of my life. If I had never met her, I would have realized this as soon as I met someone else who I meshed similarly well with. It’s likely that things wouldn’t have worked out with her and we would have broken up (with our relationship ending, like the majority of relationships do) even if I didn’t have this problem, since we only dated for a short time. But I will face exactly the same problems with the darkness with anyone else. Despite my hopes, love and compatability is not enough. Nothing is enough. There’s no way I can fix this or even push the darkness down far enough to make a relationship or any type of intimacy feasible.

So I watched as things fell apart between us. I had put an explicit time limit on our relationship, since I knew it couldn’t last because of the darkness and didn’t want to hold her back, and this caused a variety of problems. She was put in an unnatural situation that she never should have been a part of. It must have been very hard for her, not knowing what was actually going on with me, but this is not something I’ve ever been able to talk about with anyone. Losing her was very hard for me as well. Not because of her (I got over our relationship relatively quickly), but because of the realization that I would never have another relationship and because it signified the last true, exclusive personal connection I could ever have. This wasn’t apparent to other people, because I could never talk about the real reasons for my sadness. I was very sad in the summer and fall, but it was not because of her, it was because I will never escape the darkness with anyone. She was so loving and kind to me and gave me everything I could have asked for under the circumstances. I’ll never forget how much happiness she brought me in those briefs moments when I could ignore the darkness. I had originally planned to kill myself last winter but never got around to it. (Parts of this letter were written over a year ago, other parts days before doing this.) It was wrong of me to involve myself in her life if this were a possibility and I should have just left her alone, even though we only dated for a few months and things ended a long time ago. She’s just one more person in a long list of people I’ve hurt.

I could spend pages talking about the other relationships I’ve had that were ruined because of my problems and my confusion related to the darkness. I’ve hurt so many great people because of who I am and my inability to experience what needs to be experienced. All I can say is that I tried to be honest with people about what I thought was true.

I’ve spent my life hurting people. Today will be the last time.

I’ve told different people a lot of things, but I’ve never told anyone about what happened to me, ever, for obvious reasons. It took me a while to realize that no matter how close you are to someone or how much they claim to love you, people simply cannot keep secrets. I learned this a few years ago when I thought I was gay and told people. The more harmful the secret, the juicier the gossip and the more likely you are to be betrayed. People don’t care about their word or what they’ve promised, they just do whatever the fuck they want and justify it later. It feels incredibly lonely to realize you can never share something with someone and have it be between just the two of you. I don’t blame anyone in particular, I guess it’s just how people are. Even if I felt like this is something I could have shared, I have no interest in being part of a friendship or relationship where the other person views me as the damaged and contaminated person that I am. So even if I were able to trust someone, I probably would not have told them about what happened to me. At this point I simply don’t care who knows.

I feel an evil inside me. An evil that makes me want to end life. I need to stop this. I need to make sure I don’t kill someone, which is not something that can be easily undone. I don’t know if this is related to what happened to me or something different. I recognize the irony of killing myself to prevent myself from killing someone else, but this decision should indicate what I’m capable of.

So I’ve realized I will never escape the darkness or misery associated with it and I have a responsibility to stop myself from physically harming others.

I’m just a broken, miserable shell of a human being. Being molested has defined me as a person and shaped me as a human being and it has made me the monster I am and there’s nothing I can do to escape it. I don’t know any other existence. I don’t know what life feels like where I’m apart from any of this. I actively despise the person I am. I just feel fundamentally broken, almost non-human. I feel like an animal that woke up one day in a human body, trying to make sense of a foreign world, living among creatures it doesn’t understand and can’t connect with.

I have accepted that the darkness will never allow me to be in a relationship. I will never go to sleep with someone in my arms, feeling the comfort of their hands around me. I will never know what uncontimated intimacy is like. I will never have an exclusive bond with someone, someone who can be the recipient of all the love I have to give. I will never have children, and I wanted to be a father so badly. I think I would have made a good dad. And even if I had fought through the darkness and married and had children all while being unable to feel intimacy, I could have never done that if suicide were a possibility. I did try to minimize pain, although I know that this decision will hurt many of you. If this hurts you, I hope that you can at least forget about me quickly.

There’s no point in identifying who molested me, so I’m just going to leave it at that. I doubt the word of a dead guy with no evidence about something that happened over twenty years ago would have much sway.

You may wonder why I didn’t just talk to a professional about this. I’ve seen a number of doctors since I was a teenager to talk about other issues and I’m positive that another doctor would not have helped. I was never given one piece of actionable advice, ever. More than a few spent a large part of the session reading their notes to remember who I was. And I have no interest in talking about being raped as a child, both because I know it wouldn’t help and because I have no confidence it would remain secret. I know the legal and practical limits of doctor/patient confidentiality, growing up in a house where we’d hear stories about the various mental illnesses of famous people, stories that were passed down through generations. All it takes is one doctor who thinks my story is interesting enough to share or a doctor who thinks it’s her right or responsibility to contact the authorities and have me identify the molestor (justifying her decision by telling herself that someone else might be in danger). All it takes is a single doctor who violates my trust, just like the “friends” who I told I was gay did, and everything would be made public and I’d be forced to live in a world where people would know how fucked up I am. And yes, I realize this indicates that I have severe trust issues, but they’re based on a large number of experiences with people who have shown a profound disrepect for their word and the privacy of others.

People say suicide is selfish. I think it’s selfish to ask people to continue living painful and miserable lives, just so you possibly won’t feel sad for a week or two. Suicide may be a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but it’s also a permanent solution to a ~23 year-old problem that grows more intense and overwhelming every day.

Some people are just dealt bad hands in this life. I know many people have it worse than I do, and maybe I’m just not a strong person, but I really did try to deal with this. I’ve tried to deal with this every day for the last 23 years and I just can’t fucking take it anymore.

I often wonder what life must be like for other people. People who can feel the love from others and give it back unadulterated, people who can experience sex as an intimate and joyous experience, people who can experience the colors and happenings of this world without constant misery. I wonder who I’d be if things had been different or if I were a stronger person. It sounds pretty great.

I’m prepared for death. I’m prepared for the pain and I am ready to no longer exist. Thanks to the strictness of New Jersey gun laws this will probably be much more painful than it needs to be, but what can you do. My only fear at this point is messing something up and surviving.

—-

I’d also like to address my family, if you can call them that. I despise everything they stand for and I truly hate them, in a non-emotional, dispassionate and what I believe is a healthy way. The world will be a better place when they’re dead—one with less hatred and intolerance.

If you’re unfamiliar with the situation, my parents are fundamentalist Christians who kicked me out of their house and cut me off financially when I was 19 because I refused to attend seven hours of church a week.

They live in a black and white reality they’ve constructed for themselves. They partition the world into good and evil and survive by hating everything they fear or misunderstand and calling it love. They don’t understand that good and decent people exist all around us, “saved” or not, and that evil and cruel people occupy a large percentage of their church. They take advantage of people looking for hope by teaching them to practice the same hatred they practice.

A random example:

“I am personally convinced that if a Muslim truly believes and obeys the Koran, he will be a terrorist.” – George Zeller, August 24, 2010.

If you choose to follow a religion where, for example, devout Catholics who are trying to be good people are all going to Hell but child molestors go to Heaven (as long as they were “saved” at some point), that’s your choice, but it’s fucked up. Maybe a God who operates by those rules does exist. If so, fuck Him.

Their church was always more important than the members of their family and they happily sacrificed whatever necessary in order to satisfy their contrived beliefs about who they should be.

I grew up in a house where love was proxied through a God I could never believe in. A house where the love of music with any sort of a beat was literally beaten out of me. A house full of hatred and intolerance, run by two people who were experts at appearing kind and warm when others were around. Parents who tell an eight year old that his grandmother is going to Hell because she’s Catholic. Parents who claim not to be racist but then talk about the horrors of miscegenation. I could list hundreds of other examples, but it’s tiring.

Since being kicked out, I’ve interacted with them in relatively normal ways. I talk to them on the phone like nothing happened. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I like pretending I have a family. Maybe I like having people I can talk to about what’s been going on in my life. Whatever the reason, it’s not real and it feels like a sham. I should have never allowed this reconnection to happen.

I wrote the above a while ago, and I do feel like that much of the time. At other times, though, I feel less hateful. I know my parents honestly believe the crap they believe in. I know that my mom, at least, loved me very much and tried her best. One reason I put this off for so long is because I know how much pain it will cause her. She has been sad since she found out I wasn’t “saved”, since she believes I’m going to Hell, which is not a sadness for which I am responsible. That was never going to change, and presumably she believes the state of my physical body is much less important than the state of my soul. Still, I cannot intellectually justify this decision, knowing how much it will hurt her. Maybe my ability to take my own life, knowing how much pain it will cause, shows that I am a monster who doesn’t deserve to live. All I know is that I can’t deal with this pain any longer and I’m am truly sorry I couldn’t wait until my family and everyone I knew died so this could be done without hurting anyone. For years I’ve wished that I’d be hit by a bus or die while saving a baby from drowning so my death might be more acceptable, but I was never so lucky.

—-

To those of you who have shown me love, thank you for putting up with all my shittiness and moodiness and arbitrariness. I was never the person I wanted to be. Maybe without the darkness I would have been a better person, maybe not. I did try to be a good person, but I realize I never got very far.

I’m sorry for the pain this causes. I really do wish I had another option. I hope this letter explains why I needed to do this. If you can’t understand this decision, I hope you can at least forgive me.

Bill Zeller

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Please save this letter and repost it if gets deleted. I don’t want people to wonder why I did this. I disseminated it more widely than I might have otherwise because I’m worried that my family might try to restrict access to it. I don’t mind if this letter is made public. In fact, I’d prefer it be made public to people being unable to read it and drawing their own conclusions.

Feel free to republish this letter, but only if it is reproduced in its entirety.