WEEKLONG COUNTDOWN LIST: THE 5 MOST SIGNIFICANT TURNING POINTS/MOMENTS OF MY LIFE SO FAR

List topic by @jenna! If you wanna do your own, long press on the title but please be sure to give Jenna credit also!
  1. Here's how this works: Today (Mon) start your own list and just include the *first* of the five items on the list, then for each day this week add one item and build up anticipation for your #1 life turning point/moment, which you would get to by Fri. Does that all make sense, I hope??
  2. I know it's tough to do a ranking with a topic so huge, so don't feel like you have to rank them and also feel free to switch the order around as the week goes on if you change your mind. For me, the most important thing is experimenting w/ what it's like to do a "countdown" of one item a day for five days, that's the fun part. (I hope lolz)
  3. 5. Leaving Senior Week early (June 2001)
  4. I was with all my closest friends, crammed into a scummy motel in Ocean City, MD and they were all drinking for the first time (we were the good kids so we were a little late). I hated it and called my dad to say I was hitching a ride with some other kids to come home early.
  5. This was the first decision that set me on a path to becoming estranged from my high school friends. It was me setting myself apart, for the first time & far from the last. They were the partiers, I was the party pooper. 💩
  6. *I decided last night that I had really started out doing a list of turning points/moments regarding relationships - dating, friendships, family - and that I could do a whole *separate* list about turning points relating to my professional life as a musician, student, etc.
  7. So there are HUGE turning points - deciding to take a semester off after high school, walking into the piano store and meeting my studio mentor Bob, leaving Berkeley, etc - that would belong on an overall top 5 but that are sort of in another category. I'm gonna keep going with all turning points associated with personal relationships...
  8. 4. Getting out of my car and walking into my friend Allison's apartment (December 2010)
  9. I had been dating Taryn for over a year, and we now lived together with her dad. In some ways, things between us were better than ever, but I was coming to terms with the truth that I wanted someone, and had just learned she wanted me too.
  10. So I sat in my car outside my friend Allison's place, on the night of her birthday. I knew that if I went inside her apartment, something would happen. I knew that I would cheat on Taryn. And I thought and thought, and I took a deep breath and opened the car door and got out.
  11. I told her the very next day, and although it was awful, we survived and dated another year and change. When she slept with someone in August of the following year, she cited my cheating as the motivation. And I later learned she had fooled around with a girl she knew shortly after we first got together. She cheated on me both first, and worse.
    (First - with her friend early in our relationship; worse - sleeping with someone in 2011 when it hadn't gone that far with Allison & I)
  12. But none of that mattered really. What mattered is that I faced down that moment of truth where I decided I was willing to sacrifice what was overall the healthiest, most rewarding, and most enduring partnership I'd ever had with another person. Nearly three years of sharing music, sharing everything. The closest I've ever come to marrying someone.
  13. We probably wouldn't have lasted forever even if we'd never cheated, so it went the way it was meant to go, but still - I came as close as I've ever come to a life I've always wanted, looked at it deeply, and still got out of the car.
  14. 3. Finding out about Eliot & Laurel (October 2007)
  15. I dated Laurel for seven months after moving out west to Santa Rosa. Eliot became my best friend around the same time - he was sort of a replacement for Marc back in PA, who I was kind of estranged from at the time, and these two relationships meant the world to me.
  16. Laurel and I broke up after she went off to UC Santa Cruz, and it was rough but in retrospect ours wasn't that important of a relationship for either of us. What left a mark for good was the night I found out, on Facebook, that she and Eliot had started talking and were becoming a thing.
  17. I remember calling him, standing in my mom's driveway, and hearing the truth. My best friend and my ex were dating. In love, in fact. And they've been together ever since.
  18. I was never really able to pick up the pieces with either of them again. Laurel and I got to a point of being cool at least, and Eliot and I have had a few lone meetups in the years since, always fun and rewarding but flecked with sadness about all the sacrificed potential that both of us knew our great partnership had.
  19. He's truly one of the only friends I ever loved, in the deepest sense. And the loss of that friendship, in that particular way, has made it difficult for me to trust dudes ever since. I grew up in a house with my mom and sister, so I've always felt more comfortable in female company. But the pain of the Eliot & Laurel situation upped the ante.
  20. Now, I'm back to having Marc in my life, and he and Aaron are my enduring best male friends. Aaron has a level of personal honor and loyalty that reassures me I would never feel betrayed by him, and I work hard to always offer him the same respect and love. Marc is unpredictable in all senses, but we are still here for each other.
  21. Otherwise, I always connect better with female friends. I seek them out. I trust them *as much as I can trust anyone* (see tomorrow's entry). But I have so much baggage with dudes, and so much fear of once again experiencing the pain of an ex dating a friend, that it's become a huge, defining element of who I am.
  22. I even tend to still be so weighed down by memories of this pain that I had to disengage from a List guy awhile ago because I was so vividly reminded of what I experienced by just observing his and my ex's simple, innocent, not-actually-a-big-deal online interactions. Male friendships are just complicated for me, is all. Sorry this was so long!
  23. 2. Starting that conversation on Twitter (February 2016)
  24. I struggled to think of what moment or choice I really wanted to write about today. So much of what I deal with in therapy is the idea of loss and lack of control over the hardships and tragedies of life, and so with that theme in mind there are lots of different moments that feel equally relevant for this top five.
  25. There's my dad's car accident when I was three, my parents' divorce when I was five, my mom's heart attacks in 2011, splitting with Taryn in 2012, my uncle's passing later that year, and most significant of all my dad's passing in 2014. Any of those moments deserve a spot here, for shaping so much of me and how I interact with others.
  26. I decided it had to be the straw that broke the camel's back - that most recent breakup loss from last year - to appear in this spot. Because that's the moment that finally sent me into therapy. Maybe a long time from now, the loss will shift to appearing as insignificant to me as it already seems to others who are in my corner. I'm sure it will.
  27. But for now, the recent chain of events that all tie in to me joining this app feel the most impactful of all experiences of loss in my life so far. Not because of losing a person or a relationship, but because of the kind of *message* the pain from it all continues to send.
  28. That message says: "It is all meaningless. You cannot trust anyone. You cannot trust anything anyone says. Life is cruel and unfair." That's the message I take on everyday as a person in therapy, a person fighting for his chance to be fulfilled, whole, and at least relatively happy.
  29. And I only got to the place of finally standing up and saying, "NO - I will work to have a better life than this" by living through that chain of events:
  30. Joining the app in December 2015. Meeting her right away, but just being friends at first. Watching my mom go back into the hospital, and helping her fight through it until she was in the clear again. Then sending that message late one February night on Twitter and beginning the conversation that led to B and I dating.
  31. Going out west in March to be with her. Her anxiety peaking. Then mine. Then starting therapy. Then breaking up. Then back east, then sort of still dating, then space, then the eruption of all the drama in August.
  32. Being humiliated publicly as I try to make a genuine apology on Twitter for blocking people with whom I'd had conflicts. Then, days later, seeing those parody accounts, made by her friends and unveiled literally on the exact anniversary of my dad's death, which I'd listed about the day before and so the timing was 100% intentional.
  33. I'm trying to have a movie marathon in his honor, but I'm shaking in a theatre corridor because I just saw her friends' words about me on a parody account called @predator, saying "I get others to take care of me" and "I prey upon younger ladies by convincing them I'm a tortured artist."
  34. Even song lyrics from Coyote Hours, about my dad's death, are thrown back at me by Emily, Tom, Dave, Frank, Lindi, the whole lot. And on this day of all days. Then suicidal ideation leading my mother & I both into the hospital. Running the tests for her heart because of the stress from the ordeal. The @predator account then bullies my sister, too.
  35. Then I finally hear the whole story - a Facebook group chat of 20 or so Listers assembled in August to trash talk and plot the downfall of guys on List they don't like, especially me. And the worst knowledge of all - my ex was actually a part of it. She may not have been enthusiastic, but she took part. Watched and condoned it all.
  36. Told them a few true things, like how I'd asked her not to tell anyone that we'd broken up (out of anxiety about the ensuing gossip) and how I'd spoken openly about my struggles with suicidal ideation (which they amplified into describing as me "threatening self harm"), and they also casually tossed around other assumptions and diagnoses.
  37. None of these details of the chain of events matter. I know I'm supposed to shut up about it, because my bitterness & anger makes me look bad, maybe even as bad as them. And as I've recently admitted, the several angry emails I lobbed at her over the last few months, as I finally let myself get angry about it all, really do make me as bad as them.
  38. I realize that it is a situation for which I will never truly feel a sense of justice. I realize that I will never get apologies from most of the people involved, or a truly meaningful apology from her.
  39. I realize that, by dating her, with the friends she has, by being a dude who has struggled and spoken of suicidal ideation and been mildly manipulative and whined and thrown pity parties for himself on social media...I realize that I will have enemies for life.
  40. People who will never hesitate, given the opportunity, to lean over and whisper to someone, "You know he's a total scumbag, right?" Etc etc etc. I watched, during the Chris K debacle in Aug/Sept, as they posted lists where they used emotionally charged language to make his faux pas sound like felonies.
  41. And I know they could use the same tactic about me now and onward into the rest of our lives. Enemies forever. Public humiliation. The loss that broke the camel's back. None of it really is the point of this entry on my list.
  42. The point is - once in my life, a person and I said we were in love and spoke about spending the rest of our lives together, and then a little while after that she was in a group chat that bullied me and made me out to be a monster two years to the day after my dad died.
  43. How do those two co-existing truths not just...unmake my world? How would one trust again, like...EVER?? Please do me a favor and really think about it for a second in your own context. How would you feel if this had happened to you?
  44. Think about all the fretting over things like deleting a tweet that didn't get any likes or the slight of being unfollowed and REALLY think...how would it feel if this had happened to you?
  45. That's my reality, living with those truths. And so, my daily mission to not let those co-existing things convince me that life is FUCKED and UTTERLY POINTLESS...is the most important work of my life up to now. I have to keep fighting for a chance to be truly WHOLE. I have to keep going.
  46. And, although I had nothing but my own starry eyes in mind back on that February night when things with my ex began, the moment I sent the first message I was actually guaranteeing that I would finally seek help and choose life over the darker things. That's why it's one of the ultimate turning points of my life.
  47. 1. Deciding to live with my dad (May 1995)
  48. My mom had main custody of me from K-6th grade. I visited my dad on weekends, while he was living in the suburbs of Cleveland. My mom's house was in Erie, where I was born and had so far spent my whole life. During the year of sixth grade, she and I moved in with a guy she was dating, who lived on a farm a bit outside Erie.
  49. "The farm year" was a strange one, primarily because of the surroundings and a newfound, foreign popularity at school (I'd gone from being invisible in my K-5 elementary school to being the 'cool city kid' at this new rural ((redneck)) school) but made stranger by having almost no contact with my dad.
  50. There had been drama between my grandma Veshecco and I that spilled over to become drama with my dad, and I'd said I didn't want to see the Vesheccos anymore. My sister was out of mom's house becoming a grown up. Suddenly, mom and this farm routine were all I had.
  51. Then finally, in the spring, I visited with my dad after he'd had a particularly risky back surgery and a long time spent recovering in a full body cast in Pittsburgh. Upon making a full recovery, he had been offered a job to serve as a special deputy general counsel to his old friend Tom Ridge, newly elected governor of Pennsylvania.
  52. Ridge had formerly served as one of the assistant district attorneys under my dad when dad was DA Of Erie County (and, if the name sounds familiar, Ridge would later go on to be appointed Secretary of Homeland Security under George W 😬). Dad was getting ready to move to Harrisburg, PA for the job.
  53. Shortly after dad and I reconnected, I told my mom that I wanted to live with him. She agreed that it was the right time in my life for that to happen. My dad was thrilled. I got my rescue from the farm, and moved to Harrisburg with dad in the summer of 1995.
  54. While awaiting the finishing touches on our house, we lived in an unused corner of the governor's mansion - a jarring change from living on a farm with horses and cats. Tupac, Green Day, TLC, and The Cranberries were on the radio. He showed me grown up movies. We quickly settled into a life as two bachelors.
  55. I believe we're always playing out various sorts of karma in our lives....maybe that's our way of doing something that is close to a "mission" or "destiny" or "fate." Who knows. But I know that it was far more than just "the right time in a young man's adolescent life" that led me to ask to live with my dad when I was 13.
  56. That particular dad, those particular circumstances - out of necessity of the debilitating struggle of life in the chair, often needing to spend evenings or even full days bedridden...trying to make the job in the general counsel's office work but eventually needing to take leave and finally quit due to health complications...
  57. ...the long, long road that led to my dad's final years, the road that leads to the person I am today - a person who in some ways raised and took care of himself, who learned to be an adult in a most unique environment - that road began when I made that choice. My first adult choice, you could say.
  58. But it's not about choosing a life that had a sort of tragic destiny attached to it. I am so grateful that I chose to make my dad the central figure of my life for those formative years. They are the most precious gift now, those years. I could never begin to regret them.
  59. From 1995 until 2004, I lived under my dad's roof. Bonding, fighting, laughing, crying, sharing, listening. And if I hadn't chosen that path, I may have not cared about him as much in the following ten years that proved to be his last.
  60. He may have become a more and more distant figure in my life, fading into the background while I stayed on the farm and lived out god knows what sort of life as an Erie, PA person.
  61. Looking back at this point, the choice to live with my dad starts the whole story of my adult life. And I don't like all parts of the story, but I like that part.
  62. ***THANK YOU SO MUCH to the folks who embarked on this list experiment with me this week! I really feel grateful to have read all the reflections you shared and to have had a reason to share mine. I know it covered a lot of heavy, sad territory but that's ok. It's been really inspiring and made me feel closer to you guys. Much love as always 💜