By the end of the summer of 2012, I was 28 years old, and the closest thing I'd ever had to a steady job was working as a fetish escort. I refused to move out of the house I grew up in. I hadn't managed to keep a single relationship (friendship or otherwise) that hadn't fizzled. My dinner consisted of Depakote and Topamax for my raging bipolar disorder. My vanity and narcissism was reaching an all-time high; I would spend hours just staring at myself in the mirror in fear for my boyish good looks, worrying that they might begin to change and that the pedophilic men in the world might no longer chase after me.
For my entire life I've been a self-destructive mess of the grandest proportions. I've sought out push-and-pull relationships with other sick bastards that would mirror those in my own family and complement my borderline personality disorder. I'd proceed to take them on an endless roller-coaster ride of emotional abuse. From 14 on, I led a double life as a prostitute, finding whatever older man I could to validate my existence and assure me that I was "young, little and cute." This spilled over to a stint working in fashion, where I would promiscuously throw myself at men to attain work and then demand to be taken seriously when all they saw me as was a whore.
Most of my days consisted of shaving my entire body to make it super-smooth so that I would look 14 years old, tanning myself, working out so that I remained skinny, bleaching my teeth and tending to my own palpable narcissism. I lived for the words "you look so young," and after a while those words were truly the only thing that kept me waking up in the morning.
That makes sense, given that most of the relationships in my life were such utter failures. Every person I grew close with initially worshiped me for my free-spirited, honest nature that often rebelled against the norms and standards of society, only to turn on me when they feared for their own reputation and felt that it was time to "grow up." My liberating views on sexuality, feminism and life at large were exciting in the beginning but ultimately scary for those whom I attracted.
With an endless rotating door of friends, lovers and lost souls coming through my life to use me for an emotional pick-me-up or thrilling escape before settling into their cozy adult life, I became more devastated with each passing one. The relationships all started with the same manic highs and ended with catatonic lows that paralleled the disorders I suffered from. I couldn't take it. All I wished for was a bullet for breakfast to end it all.
I needed a way out.
I started penning a suicide note. I sat down for two weeks straight and wrote down everything, exactly as it happened in my life, only changing names and places. My plan was to leave it for the world to find attached to my forehead above my sliced throat, hoping to form my own escape. I wasn't looking to expose anyone for the secrets they'd revealed to me or make anyone weep; perhaps I wanted to make people understand me, this vindictive monster they all thought I was, and to let everyone know how I truly felt, and ultimately to give the rest of the world something to relate to.
I knew I wasn't alone. Wherever I went, I kept finding people who were also suffering from the fear-of-getting-older epidemic. Whether in the fashion world, the "gay" community or my generation in general, the "Peter Pan generation," growing up ain't easy. For some reason, though, people just keep adhering to these awful societal norms that make them miserable, all for the sake of "growing up."
Everyone but me.
As I hammered out my suicide note within a two-week-long manic episode, it became the most therapeutic thing I had ever done. I put so much behind me and forgave so many people -- mainly myself. I ended up turning the note into a novel in the editing process and breaking it down into a trilogy, with endless allusions to the original J. M Barrie novel, Peter and Wendy. I hoped that this series would stand the test of time and almost become a Peter Pan for adults, as it deals with modern issues such as sexual identity and mental disorders, to help others feel less alone.
Suddenly, when I wake up in the morning, I am not as inclined to find someone to validate my existence by telling me, "You look so young!" Now I'm looking for someone to tell me, "I read your book. It made me feel so much better! I totally understand!" Sure, I still kill myself trying to appear youthful, and hearing "you look so young!" never hurts, but I'm working on that. That's why I'm Peter Pandrew.