Sometimes, I feel like I don't belong even here. I read these posts and I can relate to nearly all of them. But I think my experiences were stranger, in some ways. I hardly remember the abuse by a teacher, which lasted from eight to ten, probably once a week. What haunts me more are the years from eight to college. For a long time, I rarely spoke. I had almost no social skills. I would watch other people's conversations with awe and confusion. I didn't understand how they knew what to say, how to act. As a teenager, I took many long walks. I seemed to vanish into the faces I passed on the city streets. I was happy, during those moments, because I ceased to think, to be alive. I had crushes on men. I fantasized of things like passing notes to them, since I couldn't talk: "Can we go on a date?" Then, we would have sex. I had no idea what typically occurred in between.

I was mad. I was also intelligent. I was the best student in most of my classes in high school. I was one of the most attractive boys in school. I went to an arts high school, and I was one of the best painters. On one level, I thought I was worthless. Yet, I also knew I was better than anyone.

I starved myself when I was around fourteen, just as my grades improved markedly and I realized I was gay. At first, I was bewildered by the handsome boy I spotted in the mirror. Gradually, I fell in love with him. I glanced at him in every reflective surface. I wore concealer everyday to cover my acne, so I would be more perfect, and dreamed of plastic surgery on my ears. Our relationship became sexual. I masturbated to mirrors almost exclusively. Gay porn made me tremble and feel nauseous. I only felt comfortable with my own flesh.

I grew obsessed with a boy in high school. I was a sophomore when I first saw him. He was a freshman. I wrote poems to him. Two were published in the school literary magazine. One won second place in a citywide competition. Of course, I never spoke to him. But I knew I loved him. I don't think it's a coincidence that he resembled me: a blond version. I read these poems now and they're saturated with images of rape: "Been a year trembling - feared bleeding, eyes so stark - Still wish they left a mark, as they turned away."

College was a traumatic experience, but a necessary one. Freshman year, I came out, began speaking, and emailed love poems to a virtual stranger, who happened to be straight. Sophomore year, I tried to sort through my madness. I needed answers. I blamed myself for always being crazy. I've never told anyone this, but I began communicating with a ouija board daily. Different "spirits" would talk to me. At first they were cruel and tauntful. Eventually, they offered advice. I have no doubt that I was doing it myself: but not consciously. Sometimes I would get a friend to do it with me. Once, while I was playing with a girl, who I was sort of attracted to, the plastic piece spelled "Scott was raped." She was shocked. I shrugged it off. I remembered the abuse a few months later.

Many of my questions to the ouija board were about whether, or not I was good. "Am I good person?" I asked continuously, frantically, in my messy, claustrophic dorm room. Some
"spirits" would say yes, some would say no. One answered "yes, but you love yourself only." That stayed with me, as cryptic as it sounded.

In my mind, freshman year is marked by the miracle of speaking again, and the shock of the email. Sophomore year is all about the ouija board. Junior year was dealing with the abuse, with the world seeming so much darker. Senior year came the breakdown.

I had the flu. I dropped to ninety-six pounds. I thought I had started a riot on campus by not flinching when a black student abruptly sat next to me in the cafeteria. I kept telling myself that I was exactly like Michael Jackson, except I escaped my hell by not becoming famous. I thought I had made the news, and assassins were out to get me. After the bus ride back to school, following Christmas break, I ran over to a police officer terrifed I was going to be killed. I was admitted to the local psychiatric ward for two weeks. I completed my requirements at a university where I live.

I turned twenty-seven two weeks ago. I haven't had a breakdown since college. I'm stable: some would say, emotionless. I've got a steady job. I want to be a writer. I'm always writing short stories. I had one, miserable, relationship from January to April of this year. But other than that, I've been alone. I haven't had sex since April. Before that, I hadn't had sex in two years. Before that, it had been another two years. I still have my looks. I'm intelligent. I'd like to think I'm a good person.

"You love yourself, only." I wonder if it's still true. It suggests self-absorption. That I'm narcissistic. That I don't care about anyone. It's not so. I'm the only one I can trust. I'm the only one who won't hurt me. When I was young, my self-esteem was shattered. But there was a part of me that said, "Come on, Scott. You know you're smarter than they are. You know you're more attractive." It saved me. I didn't sleep around. I worked hard. I had to be moral. I had to be perfect.

I had no confidence. There were feelings of worthlessness on one side, arrogance on the other. But one would pull me back whenever the other led me astray. After I wrote the email, freshman year, I apologized. I became humble. Several times, I would let men get close to me, men who only wanted to use me. But I withdrew. I was too good for them.

It's outlived it's usefulness. I want to love someone else. I want to spoil someone: man, or woman, I don't care. I want someone else to care about me. I want to admire someone else. I want to hold someone. I want someone else's body to feel natural to me.

What happened in that locker room? The pedophile was the swimming and gym teacher. My school had a pool where our class swam every week. He would take me into the locker room while they swam. I only remember fragments.

What happened in my mind? He had sex with me. But I didn't see him. I saw myself, an object of lust, and "love." It wasn't love, of course, but I didn't know that. He decimated me. He twisted my sexuality. He made me hollow, like a shell. He murdered me. No matter how perfect I became, I was only a shadow of who I was. He made me long for myself again.

Maybe I can't love another until I've recovered more. But secretly, I think love will heal me. This emptiness is sometimes unbearable.

"You love yourself only." I'm not quite sure what it means, but it sounds like the saddest thing in the world.