Like the creation of the world from the body of Ymir the frost giant in Norse mythology, the elements that made life on this planet even possible originated in the violent deaths of massive stars billions of years ago.
We are born from death.
We even owe the birth of our own home star and the formation of our solar system to the deaths of the star (or stars) responsible for the nebula that birthed it, a process that took 50 million years, give or take.
Most stars in the observable universe are about as big as our own—average. They lead mundane lives for the most part, about 10 billion years, fusing hydrogen into helium.
When one of these stars can’t fuse its elements any further, it expands to twice its original size, into a red giant. The outer shell is cast off, most of its matter is blown out into space, and the remnant shrinks down into a white dwarf, which will continue to shine for 80 to 100 billion years.
However, when a star greater than about five times the stellar mass of our star dies, it goes out spectacularly in a supernova, a violent explosion that scatters the star’s guts (and heavier elements) into the cosmos.
If the star is large enough, though, even the resulting explosion isn’t enough to overcome the star’s own gravity. The stellar remnant collapses on itself, collapsing right out of existence until an impossibly dense singularity forms—a black hole.
Like anything with gravity, they attract matter. But unlike most objects, black holes are dense and powerful enough to pull in even light: thus, why they are called “black,” because not even light can escape.
We now know that supermassive black holes lurk at the centers of most galaxies. They may even be vital to galactic formation.
Out of death, life.
That’s all to say, I had a meltdown on Friday evening.
It’s been a while since I had one, because all in all, my mental state has actually been pretty good lately. I’ve been able to focus on school and on developing as a librarian.
However, a few weeks ago I was invited to a dinner gathering hosted a gay couple who are friends of mine. The other guests were another gay couple, who did the cooking.
And it did not go well… for me.
Although my friends tried to include me in conversation, the other couple barely acknowledged my presence, bringing up topics like expensive vacations they’ve taken as a couple, discussions of couple’s issues, or challenges of gay parenthood as a couple.
The message was clear: as a single person, I was unworthy and invisible.
A normal, healthy person might say: “These people are pretentious, fucking assholes. Fuck them and their shallow snobbery.”
Instead, it felt like a validation of every insecurity I have about being single.
The meltdown in question happened at a small gathering at the house of the same friends who hosted the dinner party. They’re in their early forties and recently started up a sexual *whatever* with a local twentysomething guy.
Overall, it seems to be a good thing for them, with everyone getting what they need from the arrangement.
However, I am careful to remind these friends whenever they start to share details that I don’t want to hear about it.
For starters, it’s been ages since I had sex, and I arrived at the conclusion recently that I just can’t have sex with anyone I’m not in love with (and vice versa).
Meaning that, with most gay men as they are, and at my age and relatively nascent progress in rebuilding my life post-fundie Christianity, it seems unlikely I’ll ever find someone.
Or get laid.
So, as Miracle Max might say,
So, Friday night.
Maybe someone posted a couple’s selfie or a chipper new relationship status earlier in the day, but I showed up feeling hateful towards the world. My friends’ new boy was there, and I couldn’t stop from hating the three of them and their playful, flirty familiarity.
In short, towards the end of evening and after several drinks, I went off. And when I go off in that state, I can be nasty and cruel.
Which I was.
Basically, it’s beyond aggravating to see everyone getting what they want when things appear so bleak for me. To see how fun, easy, and recreational sex appears to be for so many men in this community, and knowing that that’s not for me.
Plus, it’s galling that virtually every guy I’ve dated is in a long-term relationship now (including Jay and Seth), which summons images of facing the next however-many years alone, braced against the icy and lonely winds of other people’s happiness.
It’s like a prolonged shot of some craggy shoreline in a bleak Bergman film. (Aren’t they all bleak?)
Right now, I feel rather like an emotional black hole at the center of my personal galaxy. I seem to attract good, quality people, and I’m reasonably attractive, but few can drift too close without getting hurt.
My formative years were about unknowingly internalizing the Christian belief that I’m a worthless, sinful piece of shit. Family and community life taught me that the basis of all relationships is fear.
Now I fear that love of any kind won’t be able to reach me without being mangled, or escape my gravitational pull to get out to someone.
How does one rewrite that script?
Today I watched a TED talk by Jean-Paul Mari about PTSD. He said: “You feel like you want to die or kill or hide or run away. You want to be loved, but you hate everyone.”
I may not have survived a war, but I did survive the trauma of fundamentalist Christianity. And I can’t banish the dreadful thought that I survived only to emerge dead on the vine.
That doesn’t ring intellectually true, but it certainly feels true…