“Don’t say that,” I said, “you know it’s not like that.”
“Then what is it?”
“It’s… it’s just different. You don’t hurt me the way alcohol does.”
“I thought you said it yourself that drinking didn’t hurt you. Besides, I did hurt you. You were crying just now.”
“I was stupid for saying that back then. My dad-“ My voice broke, and this time I did feel that I was close to crying again. “Never mind.”
Matt leaned back into the pillows again, and patted the space next to him as a gesture for me to lie down. I accepted the invitation and snuggled up to him, but my lips remained sealed.
“Why don’t you,” Matt started, wiping a strand of hair from my forehead, “just talk about it, about everything, for once? I know this might sound weird but, I actually like seeing you cry. It shows me that you’re letting loose, instead of bottling it all up inside like I know you’re doing whenever you give me one of your blank faces. Won’t it be nice to just let it all out once? To actually maybe lift some of your burdens, instead of going from coping mechanism to coping mechanism without ever actually solving anything?”
“I don’t want to use you as some kind of therapist. You’re just my boyfriend, you don’t need to solve my problems for me”, I muttered.
Matt gave me a kind of sad, yet warm smile, and squeezed my hand softly. “Still, you helped me out with confronting Nina, so now I want to be there for you. I won’t fall over if you lean on me just a little.”
I started playing with Matt’s fingers as not to break down crying again. If only I could gather myself a little, get myself under control, I actually wouldn’t mind it to vent for a little. But I didn’t want Matt to see me like this: like a weak, emotional wreck.
“So, you were about to say something about your dad”, Matt picked up the conversation again.
Still playing with Matt’s fingers, fidgeting with the ring he wore around his index finger, I decided to be honest and tell him what I was thinking of: “My dad- my real dad- died in a car accident because he was driving under the influence. He was an alcoholic. I didn’t know until my mother told me this week. I… I’m afraid of ending up like him.”
Somehow, as I finished my sentence, the urge to cry had lessened, and because Matt didn’t say anything in response yet, I kept talking: “My mother doesn’t seem very fond of me drinking, but she doesn’t try as hard to stop me as some other moms might. I don’t know if I’m thankful for that or not. I feel like Jason doesn’t like it either, but he just uses my drinking as an excuse to get angry at me.”
“Your relationship with him is pretty bad, isn’t it?”
I sighed. “Yeah. Not only him, but I feel like because of him and the situation that I’m in, my relationship with my mom is now also at an all-time low. Jason and I got in a pretty big fight when he found out when I was gay, and my mom didn’t even really stop him.”
“I understood that’s why you got so angry with Nina for indirectly letting him know.”
“Yeah. What I said back then was a lie, by the way. He did hurt me- physically too, I mean. I think I still have a bruise from it on my back.”
Matt’s hand suddenly tightened in mine, and he looked at me with big eyes. He didn’t seem to know what to say.
With a crooked smile, I said: “Maybe I did kind of start it. I spat him in the face first, but he was asking for it!”
There it was again, that tired, pained look on Matt’s face. “This is really not okay. You should like… call the police or something, if you’re getting abused at home.”
Somehow, the word “abuse” really shook me. “Jeez Matt, it’s not that bad!” I said, kind of shocked at the idea of calling the police on Jason because he beat me up once. “It’s… we fight, not… well it’s not like he beats me up before going to bed every night or something. I kind of ask for it sometimes. I’ve said some really stupid shit to him.”
“You’re now blaming yourself for your stepdad beating you? Lars, sweetie… you might indeed be a frustrating little shit sometimes- no offence”
“None taken.”
“But that doesn’t mean you deserve to get hit for it. Even if you started it- he’s still supposed to be a responsible adult that should know better.”
“I didn’t say he wasn’t a crazy psycho. I just… don’t want you to think of me as some defenseless little kid who gets hit by his daddy for no reason. It’s all a little complicated, I don’t know, I guess it’s not even Jason that really bothers me. I never liked him from the start. It’s more so the fact that he has pulled my mom to his side that hurts me. I can’t believe he got her to agree with some of the shit he was saying about my sexuality.”
“You think your mom changed under his influence?”
“Yeah, no doubt about it.”
“Do you think you changed under his influence as well?”
“Huh? Me? Maybe… I never really thought about it. Do you think I’ve changed?”
Matt shrugged. “I don’t think I’ve known you well enough before he came into your life to say that, but I feel like your substance abuse got worse.”
“That’s not him, that’s the shitty situation he put me in that made it worse.” I shrugged. “I’ve been drinking on and off since I was thirteen. Things weren’t always super smooth back then either.”
“Were you already struggling with your sexuality back then?” Matt asked curiously.
I thought for a second. “Maybe, but maybe that came later. What about you? For how long have you known you were bisexual?”
“A while,” Matt calmly said, “I think since I was fifteen, sixteen maybe. I had a little crush on one of my co-workers at the grocery store I worked at. I remember buying him a Valentine’s Day gift, but never going through with actually giving it. He shared the chocolates he got that day with me, though. I later found out that they were from his girlfriend.”
That made me smile and chuckle. How cute. With a long sigh, I leaned my head against Matt’s shoulder. “Thanks for listening to me. I feel… relieved, now that you know.”
Matt’s face cleared up upon hearing that. He seemed so happy that he had helped in some way, it made me reconsider for a second how in the world I had deserved someone like him. “I think it might help to tell that to your mom too, everything you just told me.”
“She already knows that Jason hit me. She acts all holy like she wants to play Switzerland, but I think it just means that she chose Jason’s side.”
“No, I mean your feelings, tell her those. Without judgement or blame. Just tell her that you don’t want to loose her love to Jason, to this situation. You sound like you really feel as if you’re alone in this situation, that you’ve lost the support that you need so desperately from her. Tell her that. Be honest.”
“You think that’ll work?” I asked, a little incredulous.
Matt shrugged, making my head that was on his shoulder go up and down. “You already said it yourself: I’m not a therapist, I don’t know. But do you think it can hurt to try?”
I didn’t know what to think. On one hand, I wanted nothing more than this situation at home to be over and to follow any advice Matt might give me in the hope to help things forward. On the other hand, I felt myself somehow experiencing resistance to what Matt proposed. Maybe I was afraid that it wouldn’t work, but maybe I was more afraid that it would. Maybe I was scared that after all this suffering, a solution as dumb and simple as just telling my mother about how I felt, would actually work. Wouldn’t I then hate myself for never having thought of it before? Wasn’t I such a dense fucker and a bad son if I had never thought that all it would take to strengthen the bond with my mom again, was to just talk about my feelings with her?

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