THEBATHTUBPROJECT

exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Month: November, 2020

John Hoffman

Name: John Hoffman

Age: 28

Pronouns: He/Him/His

How often do you bathe or shower?

Not enough. Not enough. Probably I’d say, on a good week, four. An average week, one to three. But I always try to trick myself into justifying it by acting like it’s for some environmental cause. But it’s not. It’s not. I just get lazy and avoid it, I guess. A lot of times I’m also just so tired when I get back home, that I don’t want to take the time and the energy to shower. I just want to get in bed. But then even that’s almost a copout because I’ll start staring at my phone for 20 minutes when it’s like, dude, you could have took shower in five, but you didn’t. So not enough. I would say that. But when I do shower, I take my time. So I make up for all my water-waste that I’m pretending to avoid.

If you were an underwater creature, which one would you be?

Okay, so this is the only one that I came up with an answer for prior. And it came up immediately. But my decision was an electric eel. And I don’t have any sort of fondness of it. In fact, I’m really scared of them. But I don’t know. The underwater is really scary to me. Just the fact that you can’t see anything and it’s unknown, and anything can kind of swerve right past your foot at any time. So an eel really, really terrifies me. And I think it’s because– did you ever play the Mario Game, when we were kids? Eels used to pop out in the underwater level and a fear was developed at a young age from a cartoon. So I think that’s the creature I would choose just because when I think underwater, that comes to mind first. Even though I’m afraid of it. But like, I don’t need to get over the fear of the underwater because it’s not like I can exist in the underwater anyway. So it’s like, yeah, go ahead. Be afraid of it because you don’t have to face it because you can’t exist down there. Maybe some fears people really do need to deal with and get over in order to just continue living healthy life. Like, if maybe, I don’t know, you’ve dealt with something traumatic or just something eating at you that you have to get rid of in order to continue going on. Maybe you do have to manifest those fears sometimes. Obviously, relative to what they are. But yeah.

What would that fear be for you?

I guess I’m fortunate to not have a ton of super present active fears even from the things that I’ve experienced like being attacked by men on the sidewalk or something. I guess that still doesn’t bother me. And I guess because it’s not as present of a danger for someone like me. But a fear that always sticks in the back of my head is going to prison. But again, why would you want to manifest that. That’s not a feeling you get over. You just try not to go to prison, so yeah. [laughter]

Where does that one come from?

I think maybe just propaganda about prison in media as a child. It’s kind of wild that we have dramatizations in America, reality TV genres that are also dramatizations of life in prison. It’s almost like they’re trying to control narrative from the get-go of what a prisoner looks like. And that has to be where the fear comes from I guess, seeing things like that. I’m sure you remember the video game RollerCoaster Tycoon. There’s a Prison Tycoon video game. It’s absolutely insane that that exists. But it has to come from that, I guess. Yeah. It’s shoved down your throat in American media and in life.

What is something you’re passionate about?

It’s a boring answer but I will just say music. That’s what I do with my life in the sense of a hobby and a job so I’d say that. And I mentioned, before the interview started, to you that I’m just now, this week, dealing with a breakup of 10 years. But it definitely is a ricochet of my involvement with music because I just committed so much time to it, endless time to it. And you got to have a partner who’s down for that too, and we learned through the years that she was not, so. I mean, it’s more personal than that. I was absent, not that I was passionate. There’s definitely people who can toe that line successfully and there’s plenty of people that do. And here’s my learning curve I guess, but. So I’d say that I’m passionate about music. I collect records, not obsessively, and run a recording studio, and I play in bands. But one of my bands is going to end because of the breakup because my partner who just broke things off with me has been developing a relationship with the drummer in my band since before September. Yeah. So my friend community just blew up, my work community just blew up, because he works at the same day job as me. Yeah. So I started writing a letter to him right before you were here but because I don’t owe him– I feel like I don’t owe him dialogue about it because it’s so cut and dry. I feel like I would just be affording him a privilege at this point. It’s like, “Dude, you’d know why you fucked up.” Plus he’s just a person that I’d given second chances to before. So it’s like, “I don’t need you. Here’s the proof.” So yeah. Music is my passion. [laughter] But I feel really good, I do, because of how supportive all my friends have been they’ve been so loving and helpful that I’m either distracted or just okay with it. Probably distracted. I’ll probably wake up in a month paralyzed in my bed with anguish of, “Oh, life is over.” But yeah.

What are your thoughts on trust?

My thoughts on trust have changed. Because, I changed. I changed because within– I guess like the cliché I always say about is I’ll trust you until I can’t. In general, I’m not a trusting person. I won’t open myself up to opportunities to be subject to a scoundrel that I don’t know, that’s why I’m surprised that I was okay with you coming over. You might have murdered me, but you don’t know until you’re there, I guess. And it’s still counterproductive to just not trust people. For the most part. I’ll trust my friends, but I won’t trust certain things to the elements. And mostly, I think that comes down more so to material things. I worry about my door being locked. I worry about things of that nature, but it’s actually not crucial at the end of the day. If something bad were to happen to your car, your apartment, or anything of the sort, yeah, obviously, that’s a tragedy and it sucks, but it can be replaced. So final thoughts on trust: It’s easy not to trust people, but I often think of people who have murdered other people’s children and those parents still forgive them. That’s crazy. If you can do that, you can do anything, right? You can deal with anything.

What is something you’re looking forward to?

Another possible another shutdown for COVID, just because I want to chill. I want to relax. I know deep down that it’s just going to get less relaxing amidst a second shutdown; that’s coming from the place of having been there for the first one. But like, the first shutdown, I kept working and doing everything exactly the same, but at least social life slowed down. And I just got to build forts to my living room and watch movies and things of that sort. I’m looking forward to that part of it. But I guess I’m looking forward to the things I get to do after we’re in the clear, like going back to traveling and playing music. That would be fun, which is convenient because that was such a big part of my life prior to Covid. I was taking it for granted. I was like, “God, I just want to sleep in my bed. I just want to be at home. I just want to pet my dog. I just want to do this, or I want to do that.” I don’t know. I’m sure once it’s back to normal, I’ll start feeling like I hate it again, but… You just have to keep your perspective in check, which is hard to do. So I’m looking forward to that. 

Not looking forward to the holidays. I hate Christmas. [laughter] I had an existential crisis during Christmas last year because I get super stressed out about the gifts I’m giving, like when I don’t feel hyped on them. If I’m hyped on it and it’s something I knew I wanted to give that person, it’s awesome. But when it’s just an arbitrary gift, I hate it. Like, last year I went to bed bath and beyond on all fucking places, on the west side of Cincinnati. The parking lot’s covered in trash. There’s people everywhere. And I’m walking into the store that I’ve never stepped foot into in my life to buy pillows as a gift for somebody. They did want them, so that was cool. And I wanted to just go in there and buy whichever ones were kind of expensive because I thought, “Oh, that must mean they’re nice because I don’t really know about shit like that, what makes a nice pillow.” And while I was there, I was just like, “Fuck this holiday. Fuck dealing with this right now.” Granted, it’s not like a real issue. It’s like, “Yeah, dude, you’re stressed out because you’re around all these people, but your child could have been murdered or something.”

Seelie Saberhagan

Name: Seelie Saberhagan
Age: 30
Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

How often do you bathe or shower?

On really bad mental health days, I can take up to three or four showers especially in the winter. They’re also a coping mechanism when my mental health is bad. I make a big ordeal out of my baths, so those are a little less frequent. But I definitely bathe daily except for when I was grieving, in which case, I was really glad I had dry shampoo [laughter] and shower wipes. They’re amazing.

If you were an underwater creature, which one would you be?

I’ve seen a few people talk about mermaids, and I’m really big into mythology. So I like the Celtic selkies. I feel like I’ve always identified with that because they have their seal skins. And I think about how you’d neither belong with your selkie people anymore or with humans and your children and everything, especially after you find your seal skin that was holding you there in the first place. So it’s like this in-between of sadness [laughter].

What are you passionate about?

Well, shit. Okay. I wasn’t prepared for that question for some reason because I think I have like a lot of things that I’m passionate about, but transparency, I guess, is really it. Being me and letting people know who that is has actually helped a lot of people come to terms with their mental illness and their trauma and their grief and all of that. Also, pretty open about doing sex work which makes some people very uncomfortable, but those people can suck the farts directly out of my ass [laughter]. You could also say that sex is my passion. I got my degree in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies while being a sex worker.

What is something you feel accomplished with?

Damn. Honestly, even though I don’t like me, openly being me is a big thing. I feel like I got to that point because of my studies. I’ve been very passionate about sex and gender. Sex my whole life, gender once I realized, “Oh, shit. That’s me.” I’ve always liked studying, and I even got some research published before I graduated. But along with that comes mental health because I have been mentally ill since childhood, it’s like, “What is the point of keeping my struggles secret?” Because someone else is going through this. Someone else needs a guide. Someone else needs to know they’re not alone. So there are a lot of people that don’t like that. There are a lot of people who don’t like me. And my biggest passion is personal growth. I hope that I can reconcile with those people on my journey towards being a better person.

What is something you’ve been struggling with?

So on August 27th of this year, my boyfriend of almost two years -who struggled with his own mental health shit and was in therapy and all of this, he went to attack our cat – not Egg, but Lily, his cat – and I tried to fight off by hitting him with my combat boots, as you do. He came for me, choked me to unconsciousness, and then hung himself. And I know he’s dead because he thought he killed me.

It was the worst night of my life, and it has been the worst three months of my life. I’ve got all these new triggers, like new trauma who dis?

I remember watching him spiral out that day about Kyle Rittenhouse- how that guy who died trying to stop him was hailed as a hero, but Dan spiraled out because the guy had multiple domestic abuse charges and worried people would see him as a hero if he did the same. All the time, his brain was running the same shit you see on toxic feminist twitter- all men are awful, death to all cis white men, etc. So when I see that, I start to spiral out too. I wish people knew that someone is seeing those things you’re writing and internalizing it and you’re doing damage- it’s not feminist to say men should die, especially if that’s going to lead to someone else’s abuse, which it absolutely did for me.

So, what I’ve been struggling with is grief and the grieving process as somebody who has never had to face it as directly as I live in the apartment he died in. Like I’ve lost people before, but out of sight, out of mind. So with Dan dying, I’ve learned about– he had his own grief. He lost his wife at 19. And then his best friend hung himself the same way at 26. And I’m friends with the widow. But essentially, grief is something I was never prepared for even though I feel like I got a crash course while dating Dan. I had no idea what the process was like. And even though everyone says I’m handling it really, really well, as you can see, I’m not all the time. And there’s just a lot of things that I wish more people knew about what grief is really like.

What does processing grief look like to you? And what do you mean by not handling it well?

So I really love The Good Place. And I’ve been really focused from season three on where Eleanor has to reset Chidi. And at the end of the season finale, which I hope you’ve seen– okay, that whole thing about waves. That is what grief is like. It is waves. It comes in waves. And most of the time, you don’t even see the wave coming, and it just knocks you the fuck out. You would not believe the things that hit me out of nowhere that are nothing. You expect things like the way he smells, but I don’t know. I wanted to be able to go through those receipts that were in my dad’s garage that my sister threw out. I just wanted whatever I can have because I don’t get any of the ashes. I don’t have any contact with his family. They treated me really badly after all of that. And I wish a lot more people knew that about grief is that those first three weeks. I watched that Patton Oswalt stand-up after his wife died. And he talks about this numb slog, not your long journey but the numb slog. And that’s what I was in for three weeks is that I had people here. But I really wasn’t present. And so, when everyone shows up at first– I mean, that first weekend, my phone was blowing up. And I did not stay sober. So I don’t even remember half the conversations I had. But a month, two months, that’s when it really sets in. He’s fucking gone. He’s never coming back. This isn’t just a breakup. I have nowhere I can go to talk to him. He has no headstone. I had to make my own altar out in the woods that we used to walk to. And it’s nice to do things on your own terms. But I feel like I’m making up the grief process as I go. So I guess people think that I’m handling it really well because I’m doing what I think works. But it is not as easy as it seems and not everything works. And there are so many things that I wish I could talk to him about. Specifically, I remember I kind of lost my shit because I saw that Trapt was having a concert specifically for The Proud Boys. And I was like, “I want to talk to Dan about this so much.” When you grieve, and you start doing the “he is”, “he was”, it’s usually about good things. Dan was hilarious. He was so smart. But I can say he was abusive. I can say he was an alcoholic and a porn addict. But it is so hard to– at the beginning, I came face-to-face with the abuse that I had endured for the last two years. And then, after that, you get the pop-ups of good memories, not the bad stuff, the good stuff. And that is the knife in your chest. Yeah. So that’s what I’ve been suffering from. Mostly, it’s the good because the bad is the stuff that you want– it helps you get through it and makes you want to forget it. But when you don’t have anything left to remember someone by other than pictures and stuff and songs that remind you of them, it’s like you want to cling on to everything, even if it’s the last words he said to me were, “You’re going to fucking die tonight.” I still cling on to that because it’s the last thing he said.

What do you wish other people would know about grief?

Those first three weeks. Don’t bring food. Don’t message. The food will go bad. I didn’t really eat for three weeks. I just felt no hunger at any time. If I did actually have a specific craving people would show with that food. So that’s good. Wait for someone to tell you they want something. But when it comes to the bombardment of messaging, it’s like I did not need that then. I need it now. Now, my real friends or also Dan’s friends dealing with their own grief, too. So it’s like we’re all in it right now and we need those strangers sending well wishes to be here now. Because, of course, everybody knows– of course, I know you’re sorry it happened when it happened, but are you still sorry now? Because now is the time that if I’m going to get through this, I need people. I have made so many great friends as a result of this from people just wanting to be there for me and it’s been so bittersweet. It’s been so bittersweet. And the people that came back in my life– my new boyfriend lives less than a mile away and he was my middle school crush. I literally saw him on there while I was checking my old Tinder messages with Dan and we got back in touch. My high school crush conveniently separated from his wife. So we were also talking for a little bit and have been hanging out, he’s become one of my best friends now. He helped me with getting back into music and finding new ways to cope. Things that during the abuse and my depression as a result of it, I just put on my own hobbies on the side. So now, what people need to know is one month, two month in, you need to help that person find who they are again because I feel so lost. I feel like I’m drowning in lots of ways.

What is it like engaging in relationships now?


Oh, fuck. It’s always the worry that is the trauma bond. I definitely can acknowledge that the new person I’m with has his own shit to deal with. And that I’m widowed at 30. So that was on my Tinder bio and all of that and people thought it was a joke. And then people would say things like– I initially got through with some really dark humor. And I have this joke about it that like– some dude on Tinder messaged me like, “Well, why did he do it?” And I was like, “I don’t fucking know. I guess I got the wrong mustard [laughter].” And I find it fucking hilarious, but it made that dude super uncomfortable. So it’s like, “Don’t date a widow if you’re not comfortable with them talking about the person they dated. If you’re not comfortable hearing about it or with dark humor because a lot of people cope with dark humor.” Like my friend, her boyfriend’s on this local podcast. And he had mentioned that when he lost someone to suicide that dark humor is where he turned to. And that was the weekend Dan died and I was like, “Wait. I can make jokes about this?” Oh, great.” And I mean, that’s the shit that helps you get through it, but it’s ugly and it’s not something a lot of people– I was dating someone who was widowed, obviously, but he was about to be 33– it was a way long time ago. And he dealt with it with dark humor. I remember we went to a bar once and he said– because I’d fucked a bunch of people that went to this bar and I was like, “Of all the people you fucked, who’s the person you least want to see walk through those doors?” And he was like, “Well, obviously, my wife [laughter].” And I laughed and I was like, “That’s so fucking funny.” He was hilarious. But that’s the thing is if you’re going to date somebody who’s widowed, you’ve got to be ready to hear and not expect that they’re comparing you or expect that they are. But if they’re with you in the here and now– I’ve talked to Ash, his friend’s widow, about this. And, Dan, when he dated her, thought that he was being compared all the time. And he was, but he always came out on top because Noah (his best friend) also sucked.
Yeah. So here I am dating the guy I’ve been crushing on since middle school and I don’t think he thinks I’m comparing. I am, but he comes out on top because he’s not abusing me. Imagine that. There are definitely differences. Dan was definitely more socially open and knew about non-monogamy and didn’t have any problems with sex work and had this really sharp mind for politics. And my new partner has other things that he does really well that Dan didn’t, and he’s been really trying. I’ve learned more about myself as a romantic partner with him in three months than I had in the last few months in couples therapy with Dan. I’m kind of a crash course in a lot of things- trauma, grief, sexuality, gender, stuff he hasn’t been around and that he’s trying so hard to understand. And while Dan was understanding about a lot of it, many of those things factored into the abuse- he would berate me for my gender identity, tell me parts of my trauma were deserved, things my current partner would never ever say to me. And I hate comparing, but my brain does it anyways. That’s just kind of part of dating but when it comes to being with a widow, like– (cat knocks lighter into the bath tub) thanks, Yoshi. That was really nice of you. Okay. Well, I guess that is that way and it’s– oh, shit. Here we go. You’ve got to expect that and roll with it. And on top of that, you’ve got to kind of roll with the punches. I won’t deny that I had my own suicide attempt after this happened because my mental health was– that night, it was either me or Dan. I wanted to die just as much, I remember thinking “I hope he kills me” way before he attempted. We even had joked about a murder suicide pact many times, and that’s how it played out. So dating someone who has trauma and mental health issues, you’ve got to be on board for what that might mean and know how to handle it. And, yeah, grief is ugly. And a lot of people say that it helps you to write good music or good poetry and I’m like, “No. Not really. All of my shit feels cliché and stupid. I feel like someone else said everything I have to say better. And music, I’m just not there yet. I think I’m good at talking.” So actually talking about it is helpful. But a lot of people just expect me to be over it or not post about it as much or whatever. It’s not like I’m posting about an ex-boyfriend. I’m posting about someone that I wanted to spend my life with regardless of the abuse and all of that. He was healing and healing sometimes, you go through therapy and it drags out stuff you aren’t able to cope with and you become violent, especially men because they’re taught to suppress emotions, that the only emotion they get is anger. And I knew what I signed up for, and I learned so much about how the world is failing men especially men with mental health issues and trauma. I stayed because I knew that he was trying to get better but also he was trying to break up with me because he wanted to kill himself. And I stayed for that because I wasn’t going to let him do that without a fight. And I definitely fucking gave him one and I have no regrets.

How is your mental health now?

It is a hot dumpster fire. Yeah [laughter]. Yeah. I decided to try to quit smoking cigarettes this week and quit drinking, and what a week to try to do that, am I right? So instead, I cut myself, which was a bad idea. And I mean, I’m in therapy. I’ve gotten in touch with grief support groups, which is really difficult with COVID right now. They’re all doing it virtually, but it’s every two weeks or something, which is really difficult. Yeah. I mean, I’m trying, but it is an uphill battle. It is very asphyxiating and it is lots of waves. Grieving in the midst of a pandemic means a lot of time alone, isolated, without the normal resources I would turn to- I probably wouldn’t have relapsed with self harm if I had the option of a psych ward.

What would you tell somebody who is going through this?

Ask for help. I didn’t have a lot of people help me clean up first and three weeks after it happened, on my birthday, I just looked around and saw how gross my apartment had become. Some of my friends helped me clean, some helped me paint, some helped me get back into baking (which is one of my hobbies). People know what they’re good at. Tell people to do for you what they’re good at. Don’t go through it on your own. That’s what Dan did and I still don’t know how he made it past 19. He locked himself in his apartment for months until he couldn’t afford his rent. Because he lost his wife in the 2008 recession in California in LA. It must have been such a nightmare. He was unemployed since he had been her caretaker and everything and he just went through it by himself. And honestly, I would not be at all close to mentally anything if I didn’t have other people. I mean, hell is other people, but also humans are social and we’re not meant to struggle on our own. We’re meant to ask for help and to be a community. One of the blessings that came from this is that so many of my friends networked to make sure I was okay, and now they’ve found each other, and support each other in ways I never saw happening. I just wish I had thought to have that network before Dan died, maybe he’d still be here if I had created it myself and been more open about what both of us were going through instead of hiding the abuse.

Name: Seelie Saberhagan

Age: 30

Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

How often do you bathe or shower?

On really bad mental health days, I can take up to three or four showers especially in the winter. I make a big ordeal out of my baths, so those are a little less frequent. But I definitely bathe daily except for when I was grieving, in which case, I was really glad I had dry shampoo [laughter] and shower wipes. They’re amazing.

If you were an underwater creature, which one would you be?

So I’ve seen a lot of people talk about mermaids, and I’m really big into mythology. So I like the Celtic selkies. I feel like I’ve always identified with that because they have their seal skins. And I think about like you neither belong with your selkie people anymore or with humans and your children and everything. So it’s like this in-between of sadness [laughter].

What are you passionate about?

Well, shit. Okay. I wasn’t prepared for that question for some reason because I think I have like a lot of things that I’m passionate about, but transparency, I guess, is really it. Being me and letting people know who that is has actually helped a lot of people come to terms with their mental illness and their trauma and their grief and all of that. Also, pretty open about doing sex work which makes some people very uncomfortable, but those people can suck the farts directly out of my ass [laughter].

What is something you feel accomplished with?

Damn. Honestly, even though I don’t like me, openly being me is a big thing. I feel like I got to that point because I got my degree in gender and sexuality studies. So I’ve been very passionate about sex and gender. Sex my whole life, gender once I realized, “Oh, shit. That’s me.” But along with that, it’s like, “What is the point of keeping my struggles secret?” Because someone else is going through this. Someone else needs a guide. Someone else needs to know they’re not alone. So there are a lot of people that don’t like that. There are a lot of people who don’t like me. And my biggest passion is personal growth.

What is something you’ve been struggling with?

So on August 27th of this year, my boyfriend of almost two years who struggled with his own mental health shit and was in therapy and all of this, he went to attack our cat – not Egg, but Lily, his cat – and I tried to fight off by hitting him with my combat boots as you do. He came for me, choked me to unconsciousness, and then hung himself. And it was the worst night of my life, and it has been the worst three months of my life. So, what I’ve been struggling with is grief and the grieving process as somebody who has never had to face it as directly as I live in the apartment he died in. Like I’ve lost people before, but out of sight, out of mind. So with Dan dying, I’ve learned about– he had his own grief. He lost his wife at 19. And then his best friend hung himself the same way at 26. And I’m friends with the widow. But essentially, grief is something I was never prepared for even though I feel like I got a crash course while dating Dan. I had no idea what the process was like. And even though everyone says I’m handling it really, really well, as you can see, I’m not all the time. And there’s just a lot of things that I wish more people knew about what grief is really like.

What does processing grief look like to you? And what do you mean by not handling it well?

So I really love The Good Place. Actually, they have a good place there, too. They will show you a Cincinnati. It’s the medium place. Yeah, it’s great stuff. And I’ve been really focused from season three on where Eleanor has to reset Chidi. And at the end of the season finale, which I hope you’ve seen– okay, that whole thing about waves. That is what grief is like. It is waves. It comes in waves. And most of the time, you don’t even see the wave coming, and it just knocks you the fuck out. You would not believe the things that hit me out of nowhere that are nothing. You expect things like the way he smells, but I don’t know. I wanted to be able to go through those receipts that were in my dad’s garage that my sister threw out. I just wanted whatever I can have because I don’t get any of the ashes. I don’t have any contact with his family. They treated me really badly after all of that. And I wish a lot more people knew that about grief is that those first three weeks. I watched that Patton Oswalt stand-up after his wife died. And he talks about this numb slog, not your long journey but the numb slog. And that’s what I was in for three weeks is that I had people here. But I really wasn’t present. And so, when everyone shows up at first– I mean, that first weekend, my phone was blowing up. And I did not stay sober. So I don’t even remember half the conversations I had. But a month, two months, that’s when it really sets in. He’s fucking gone. He’s never coming back. This isn’t just a breakup. I have nowhere I can go to talk to him. He has no headstone. I had to make my own altar out in the woods that we used to walk to. And it’s nice to do things on your own terms. But I feel like I’m making up the grief process as I go. So I guess people think that I’m handling it really well because I’m doing what I think works. But it is not as easy as it seems. And there are so many things that I wish I could talk to him about. Specifically, I remember I kind of lost my shit because I saw that Trapt was having a concert specifically for The Proud Boys. And I was like, “I want to talk to Dan about this so much.” When you grieve, and you start doing the “he is”, “he was”, it’s usually about good things. Dan was hilarious. He was so smart. But I can say he was abusive. I can say he was an alcoholic and a porn addict. But it is so hard to– at the beginning, I came face-to-face with the abuse that I had endured for the last two years. And then, after that, you get the pop-ups of good memories, not the bad stuff, the good stuff. And that is the knife in your chest. Yeah. So that’s what I’ve been suffering from. Mostly, it’s the good because the bad is the stuff that you want– it helps you get through it and makes you want to forget it. But when you don’t have anything left to remember someone by other than pictures and stuff and songs that remind you of them, it’s like you want to cling on to everything, even if it’s the last words he said to me were, “You’re going to fucking die tonight.” I still cling on to that because it’s the last thing he said.

What do you wish other people would know about grief?

Those first three weeks. Don’t bring food. Don’t message. The food will go bad. I didn’t really eat for three weeks. I just felt no hunger at any time. If I did actually have a specific craving people would show with that food. So that’s good. Wait for someone to tell you they want something. But when it comes to the bombardment of messaging, it’s like I did not need that then. I need it now. Now, my real friends or also Dan’s friends dealing with their own grief, too. So it’s like we’re all in it right now and we need those strangers sending well wishes to be here now. Because, of course, everybody knows– of course, I know you’re sorry it happened when it happened, but are you still sorry now? Because now is the time that if I’m going to get through this, I need people. I have made so many great friends as a result of this from people just wanting to be there for me and it’s been so bittersweet. It’s been so bittersweet. And the people that came back in my life– my new boyfriend lives less than a mile away and he was my middle school crush. I literally saw him on there while I was checking my old Tinder messages with Dan and we got back in touch. My high school crush conveniently separated from his wife. So we were also talking for a little bit and have been hanging out. And getting back into music and finding new ways to cope. Things that during the abuse and my depression as a result of it, I just put on my own hobbies on the side. So now, what people need to know is one month, two month in, you need to help that person find who they are again because I feel so lost. I feel like I’m drowning in lots of ways.

What is it like engaging in relationships now?

Oh, fuck. It’s always the worry that is the trauma bond. I definitely can acknowledge that the new person I’m with has his own shit to deal with. And that I’m widowed at 30. So that was on my Tinder bio and all of that and people thought it was a joke. And then people would say things like– I initially got through with some really dark humor. And I have this joke about it that like– some dude on Tinder messaged me like, “Well, why did he do it?” And I was like, “I don’t fucking know. I guess I got the wrong mustard [laughter].” And I find it fucking hilarious, but it made that dude super uncomfortable. So it’s like, “Don’t date a widow if you’re not comfortable with them talking about the person they dated. If you’re not comfortable hearing about it or with dark humor because a lot of people cope with dark humor.” Like my friend, her boyfriend’s on the Bastard Sermon podcast. It’s a local thing. And he had mentioned that when he lost someone to suicide that dark humor is where he turned to. And that was the weekend Dan died and I was like, “Wait. I can make jokes about this?” Oh, great.” And I mean, that’s the shit that helps you get through it, but it’s ugly and it’s not something a lot of people– I was dating someone who was widowed, obviously, but he was about to be 33– it was a way long time ago. And he dealt with it with dark humor. I remember we went to a bar once and he said– because I’d fucked a bunch of people that went to this bar and I was like, “Of all the people you fucked, who’s the person you least want to see walk through those doors?” And he was like, “Well, obviously, my wife [laughter].” And I laughed and I was like, “That’s so fucking funny.” He was hilarious. But that’s the thing is if you’re going to date somebody who’s widowed, you’ve got to be ready to hear and not expect that they’re comparing you or expect that they are. But if they’re with you in the here and now– I’ve talked to Ash, his friend’s widow, about this. And, Dan, when he dated her, thought that he was being compared all the time. And he was, but he always came out on top because Noah also sucked.

Yeah. So here I am dating Preston and I don’t think he thinks I’m comparing. I am, but he comes out on top because he’s not abusing me. Imagine that. There are definitely differences. Dan was definitely more socially open and knew about non-monogamy and didn’t have any problems with sex work and had this really sharp mind for politics. And Preston has other things that he does really well that Dan didn’t. That’s just kind of part of dating but when it comes to being with a widow, like– thanks, Yoshi. That was really nice of you. Okay. Well, I guess that is that way and it’s– oh, shit. Here we go. You got to expect that and roll with it. And on top of that, you got to kind of roll with the punches. I won’t deny that I had my own suicide attempt after this happened because my mental health was– that night, it was either me or Dan. I wanted to die just as much. So dating someone who has trauma and mental health issues, you got to be on board for what that might mean and know how to handle it. And, yeah, grief is ugly. And a lot of people say that it helps you to write good music or good poetry and I’m like, “No. Not really. All of my shit feels cliché and stupid. I feel like someone else said everything I have to say better. And music, I think I’m good at talking.” So actually talking about it is helpful. But a lot of people just expect me to be over it or not post about it as much or whatever. It’s not like I’m posting about an ex-boyfriend. I’m posting about someone that I wanted to spend my life with regardless of everything. He was healing and healing sometimes, you go through therapy and it drags out too much shit and you become violent. And I knew what I signed up for. I stayed because I knew that he was trying to– he was trying to break up with me because he wants to kill himself. And I stayed for that because I wasn’t going to let him do that without a fight. And I definitely fucking did and I have no regrets.

How is your mental health now?

It is a hot dumpster fire. Yeah [laughter]. Yeah. I decided to try to quit smoking cigarettes this week and quit drinking, and what a week to try to do that, am I right? So instead, I cut myself, which was a bad idea. And I mean, I’m in therapy. I’ve gotten in touch with great support groups, which is really difficult with COVID right now. They’re all doing it virtually, but it’s every two weeks or something, which is really difficult. Yeah. I mean, I’m trying, but it is an uphill battle. It is very asphyxiating and it is lots of waves.

What would you tell somebody who is going through this? Like is at the start of it.

Ask for help. I didn’t have a lot of people help me clean up first or whatever. People know what they’re good at. Tell people to do for you what they’re good at. Don’t go through it on your own. That’s what Dan did. He locked himself in his apartment for months until he couldn’t afford his rent. Because he lost his wife in the 2008 in California in LA. It was just a nightmare. He was unemployed and everything and he just went through it by himself. And honestly, I would not be at all close to mentally anything if I didn’t have other people. I mean, hell is other people, but also humans are social and we’re not meant to struggle on our own. We’re meant to ask for help and to be a community.

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