Holidays, Social Anxiety and Being An Introvert; the Gift That Keeps On Giving

Do you know anyone with dyslexia? It’s not that they can’t read or write it’s that they literally see the words differently than we see them? They learn differently, interpret differently. If no one takes the time to diagnose them they could spend their entire life feeling like they can’t read or that they’re dumb.

That’s what being an introvert is like, it’s being in a room where everyone is reading and writing and you want to learn, you want to read but you see the words differently. Whether it’s being around people or hating crowds or noise you never get comfortable.

I’ve been a loner most of my life. I remember turning eighteen and my mom bought all this food and a DJ and when no one showed up to the party she looked sad for me and I felt so bad telling her that I didn’t tell anyone. The two friends I had that showed up looked at me like I was crazy, “Why didn’t you tell us? Everyone would have come.” Even then I just liked being alone, at least that’s what I thought it was.

Now here I am years removed from that moment and it hasn’t gotten any better. I don’t really maintain friendships well, my body language is horrible and even when I have to talk to people I can come off as cold or uncaring.

 

Something I rarely write or talk about is the perception people have of me. Since I was a child I’ve been called everything from gay to arrogant to mean to stuck up to anti-social, even crazy; the list goes on. I usually ignore most of it or use humor or insults to push back. The truth is though, often times all I wanted was to fit in. To not be the guy that walks into a room and doesn’t talk to anyone or tries to start conversations and people feel as though you’re mocking them or uninterested.

It’s as if you’re locked inside of your own mind. You know the right things to say and do but your hands and face and energy give off this vibe that betrays what you meant. I’ve spoken to people for hours at a time and even with that I can tell they aren’t comfortable around me.

What makes it worse is that I’m smart and funny. I don’t say those things in an arrogant way, I say them because it’s confusing to people. How can you be an introvert when you don’t have a problem talking to women or making a crowd laugh if you’re talking about your book or giving an interview? How do you explain to people that you have to force yourself to do those things? That your heart is beating out of your chest and you find solace in the quiet after the storm.

Holidays just amplify it, even family look at you as though you think you’re better than them. They wonder why you don’t come around or leave early. Everyone takes you so seriously that even when you joke it’s taken as sarcasm or being an asshole.

I’ll end this with a story. It was a couple years ago, my grandfather passed away that January and I took it hard. There wasn’t anyone to talk to or grieve with, everyone just sort of assumed I would be okay. A couple months later my aunt died and after the funeral I just didn’t want to be alone. I went over my cousin’s house because I knew that’s where a lot of my family would be and literally everyone there was surprised to see me. People I’d grown up with and had sleepovers with acted as though it was the weirdest thing ever. I listened to inside jokes from years of them hanging out, I watched people speak to me as though I was their neighbor that went to college and was coming by to give my condolences. How do you make a situation more awkward? You tell people, “Hey! I’m right here! I’m trying!” I wasn’t going to do that. That’s what my world is like.

That ladies and gentlemen is a rare glimpse into unfiltered Demez. It’s wanting to stop by a friend’s house on a Sunday afternoon and not, it’s looking at your phone all Thanksgiving and realizing not one person text you to say ‘Happy Thanksgiving.’ It’s calling someone to say “I’m sorry for your loss” and they laugh at how uncomfortable you are. It’s knowing there’s a good chance most of your relationships will fail because your tormented by the need for affection and the curse of isolation. It’s seeing people enjoy life and wondering why you weren’t invited knowing that if you were there, they wouldn’t be having the fun they’re having.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

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Dreams Are Just Reality Waiting to Happen

My actual writing career started with Facebook notes. I would write them every morning before work. I literally mean every morning. I had this whole routine where I couldn’t sleep so I would just lie in bed and look at the TV on mute; then I would get up, go to my computer and write a story.

The first six or seven months no one really read them and I would tag people and talk about it but nothing and then something really cool happened. I was at work and my phone started to blow up and one of the stories I’d written was getting shared. Now I would wake up and write and people would look forward to my words.

I could literally see them sitting in traffic or at their desk, drinking their coffee or orange juice and reading my words, my words. I would live and die with every like, share and comment.

Those Facebook notes at the crack of dawn got me a book deal, a blog that does good numbers and changed my life. If I’m being honest I have no idea if I would be writing on the level I am if it wasn’t for that.

I didn’t take any literature or English classes. I still confuse sentence structure and tenses to this day. I never loved writing because I thought it would be cool to have my name on a book or it might get me cute shy girls. I loved writing because it always came so easy to me and it feels like the most natural thing in the world. Don’t ever give up on your dreams.

The Week Houston Stood Still

I was born the year Hurricane Alicia hit Houston. My grandmother would tell me stories about us not having lights and being flooded in for a week or so. I was only around six months old so I don’t remember any of it but I’ve often wondered what it must have been like for them. The stress, the fear, the anxiety, the nervousness.

On Thursday night I came to work for a 6:00pm to 6:00am shift. I haven’t been home sense. I have no idea if my house is underwater, I have no idea if it’s perfectly fine. What I have come to accept is that I’m going to survive either way. What I’ve come to accept is that my city will be bigger and better than before either way.

I feel like I haven’t felt the warmth of my woman in months and it’s only been a weekend. I feel as though I haven’t seen my mother’s smile in years or heard my God Children’s laughter. I’m constantly cold because we’re all constantly wet. I’m constantly checking my phone to make sure no one I love is stranded or hurt. I’m constantly looking out of windows and doors hoping to see sunlight or clear skies. I say these things not to complain but to say that we’re all feeling the same emotions. The same sense of helplessness, of loss, of uncertainty.

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I’m working with a Hispanic guy who’s father and sister are trapped in Monterrey, Mexico. A Kenyan who now lives in Katy, a Ethiopian that lives down the street from where I grew up but in the gentrification section. I Mexican guy that doesn’t speak Spanish and loves comic books and tattoos. These are the five men I’ve shared food with, walked in waist deep water with, told everything would be alright when they’re worried about their families. There have been no conversations about elections, about race or about status in life.

Everyone ten minutes or so I hear helicopters flying overhead. I see alerts on my phone for flash flooding. Every time I look out the backdoor I see that the water has risen just a tad bit more. None of this scares me, none of me makes me second guess coming to work or not leaving when I had a chance. I think about the roads we closed and what would have happened had we not and someone drove into that water. I think about responsibility and sacrifice.

We all have a role to play, be safe out there.

Love Isn’t Always Being Strong Enough To Stay; Often Times It’s Being Strong Enough To Let Go

I’m not sure how old I was when I started to relate to love songs. Not understand what sex was or heartbreak was but I listened to the words and could literally relate them to my own relationships and situations. Love is universal, you can speak different languages and be from different religions and still understand what your heart is speaking.

If you’re at home or at work or hiding in the bathroom trying to get a break from the kids, I want you to imagine with me. Imagine where you would be right now if you didn’t let go of a love you thought was irreplaceable? Imagine if you didn’t find the strength to leave that guy that wasn’t affectionate enough, the woman that only called when she needed something. Imagine if God would have answered your prayers when you said you couldn’t live without him. Happy Endings aren’t always relationships prospering, sometimes the Happy Ending is you being able to walk away.

We live in this world now where technology has made everyone feel more closely connected when the truth is technology is often a barrier to the connections we so deeply seek. Twenty years ago if you hurt someone you love you called their house and when they didn’t answer you went to them. You talked or argued, you broke up or made up, but it was real. Now not answering the phone means text and tweets and Facebook post. Relationships that should have ended just thrive in limbo.

I believe I’m going to be an amazing writer not because I can create characters out of thin air. I believe I will be an amazing writer because I’m transparent like every great writer before me. You have to take off the mask and the filter and tell your story. The good, the bad, the ugly. It won’t always be flattering and romantic but it will be a story people can relate to.

It doesn’t make you weak to fight for someone you love when you don’t feel like they’re fighting as hard for you. It doesn’t make you a savage to tell someone that will give their last to you, “This isn’t working anymore.” We have become a generation that gets our advice from meme’s and actors that give us words we want to hear instead of getting advice from our hearts.

When the day comes that you feel more comfortable sharing your day with strangers or friends then with the person you’re with. Sit down and have a serious conversation with yourself. That’s not only loving the person you’re with but loving yourself enough to know, it’s time to let go.

Belize: A Beautifully Lazy Place

Being a writer can be exhausting at times because I tend to overanalyze everything. From service being a tad bit too slow to the water being not quite fresh enough. So I made a promise to myself that this weekend I would do a better job of living in the moment. Instead of worrying about what’s not going right, I’m going to worry about what makes me smile.

Feeling my toes in the sand, the breeze on my face, all the things you feel when you’re not trying to feel.

Day one in Belize was all about getting settled in. It started at 4:30am in Houston with a plane to Miami, then a plane to Belize. When I arrived I was in relative shock at how small and intimate the airport was. The runway scenery was barns, livestock and grass. There was no air walkway, they pulled up steps to the plane. We walked off a 757 onto a runway that looked as if it was just built the day before.

Just to clarify, none of this felt like a bad thing. It all felt organic, everyone was laid back and happy to arrive. It didn’t have the normal anxiety and hustle of a regular airport.

The information I received told me that the resort would be about a 15-20 minute ride from Belize City but that doesn’t really prepare you for what’s about to come. From the airport you board a single engine plane that holds around 12 people. The seats are small and every ounce of the plane is accounted for, even the co-pilots seat.

After the plane ride, which will feel as though you’re literally flying on the wing of a commercial airplane, you’re transported to a boat. The first thing I noticed was how amazingly beautiful the water was and the smell. The scent smells like what you think the ocean should smell like. The boat ride feels as though you’re going somewhere that’s a secret, somewhere undiscovered by chains and corporations.

The moment I arrived there was hotel staff waiting on me with a drink and outstretched hands. There are no cars out here, no loud music, no yachts with partying college kids. This isn’t that type of place. This island, this resort, this vibe, it’s for couples and families that want to get away from the noise. I was on the plane with a family of six from Wilmington, North Carolina that was here for a week of fishing and deep see diving. A couple I met at the pool was here to go cave hoping in the Mayan Ruins. You won’t find luxury shops and town cars, most people get around on golf carts and bicycles. There’s only three streets in the entire city.

Day one in Belize was quiet, nothing overwhelmed me but nothing underwhelmed me. For a man that takes solace in that, I can’t complain.

Where Are the Rules For Knowing How To Let Someone Love You?

The house dark, all the lights off, the television on mute watching him. Netflix for the fourth night in a row because the cable isn’t on. A beer on the floor next to him, a bottle of whiskey on the table beside him. There’s no sleep because stress has a way of being the enemy of sleep.

She wants to hold him, wants to be there for him, wants to love him. She wants to take the stress from his body and swallow it. Make it hers. When he hurts, she hurts, when he’s sad, she’s sad, her mood is a reflection of his.

Sitting next to him, her thigh touching his, her hand tracing his, her jokes awkward because she knows when he’s like this he goes into his shell. A shell she’s sure she’s cracked until moments like this. Until the moments where she knows he needs her the most and he won’t accept it.

Maybe it’s pride.

Maybe it’s arrogance in him believing he can do it all alone.

Maybe it’s him not wanting her to feel as though he’s not the man she thought he was.

Absorbing the anger in his voice, the sarcasm in his words, she still just needs to be next to him. She still needs to break down the wall. It’s tiring, it’s frustrating, it’s their love story.

Kissing him on the cheek, lying her head on his lap, they lay in the silence. Her presence saying everything words can’t.