Always on the Edge of My Seat

I’m an antsy person. I’m the man who can’t sit still, the guy shifting often in his seat. I pace. I chew my nails.

There’s nothing wrong with me. It’s a condition, and it will not affect our friendship. This is my vulnerability.

As a teenager, I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder coupled with depression. I didn’t have a complete grasp on the diagnosis, as I tended to sleep as often as I could, even in class. I was able to stay focused, so it wasn’t a deficit of attentiveness. But I was—and am—a nervous person.

Crowds bother me. I enjoy the company of people, especially that of friends, but being in the middle of mash-up of people almost makes me paranoid. If I’m walking in a crowded mall, however, it doesn’t bother me as much. Maybe it’s not the crowds, but the disorderliness of crowds.

If I’m in a long line, I almost forget everyone behind me, and everyone in front of me is an anonymous mess of bed-heads and neck pimples. If I’m working a job behind a counter, and there is a huge line of customers, it doesn’t bother me. Maybe it’s because I know my place … my role.

Idle time is nerve-racking time. I was grounded a lot as a teen, but I’d keep myself busy organizing my baseball cards, sorting my comics, arranging my cassettes, amidst breaks to shoot pool. Even now, if I have long tasks, I need my breaks. I need my walk around the block. I need time away from time doing time-consuming things. If I don’t, you’ll see me drumming on table-tops with my fingers.

Can’t you just sit still? my dad would condescend.

And he knew my diagnosis. Heck, he’s the one that took me to the counselor, to get treatment and medication. And if my own dad would have impatience in dealing with me, you could imagine how I feel about every other person that might catch wind of this unconscious behavior. I know I’m nervous, but I try not to show it. But sometimes it shows without me realizing it’s visible.

So, I’m being vulnerable … which makes me a little nervous. If it looks like I have a full bladder and could barely contain myself, please realize that I might just be a little anxious.

I’m coping with it. Just know that I was born that way and we’ll play along just fine.

– Originally published at:

Abandoning the Tough Guy

I grew up on typical guy films: action, horror and organized crime.

My father wasn’t much involved in my life after I had left home in my late teens, so the men in film were sort of surrogate fathers to me.

Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson.

All were—and are—captivating actors, able to portray their characters precisely.

Sadly, as an impressionable teen and young man, you start seeing these films not for the fiction they are, but rather as documentaries and training videos.

Even in high school, several inches under five feet tall, I’d stand up to bullies and jocks with a foul mouth and a puffed chest.

Sometimes, they’d just laugh at me.

Other times, I’d get a justified beating for it. Usually, the beatings weren’t as bad as I’d get at home, when I lived there.

Into my adult years, I had a growth spurt and started attracting females.

I dated often, seeking a suitable spouse, but most of these relationships and/or friendships would end.

Sometimes they’d end upon my walking away or I’d get dumped.

I was a generous type, almost clingy and insecure, so I’m sure that played into it, regarding the confident, experienced ladies.

Sometimes, I’d imagine W.W.S.R.D. (What Would Sam Rothstein Do?), the lead character in the film, Casino.

Of course, if something about the woman wasn’t right, I’d kick her to the curb.

I don’t know if my religious upbringing had anything to do with it, but I’m sure I felt that I had entitlement, that I deserved something excellent and perfect.

In a way, I do deserve someone awesome, but it didn’t come in the form that I thought. I had met a friend, and we had chatted online for several years.

Through this time, my mind developed, and my emotions became more mature.

This woman endeared our friendship, and encouraged me in all of the dreams of mine I shared with her. Just shy of my thirtieth birthday, I asked this friend to give me a shot.

At this point I had not dated anyone in several years, the time I spent developing my character.

I didn’t necessarily set out to internally grow, but it happened nonetheless. This maturity attracted my friend to me, and we ended up getting engaged the same day we finally met in person.

Something changes when you’re not trying to be something or someone else. I had to become a man on my own, without mimicking tough guys on TV.

I’m not an action star, I’m not a monster, and I’m certainly not a corrupted person of power.

But I’m somehow great and big in my wife’s eyes.

– Originally published at:

Author | Essayist | Activist | Humorist | Model | Artist

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