The Past Is Never Dead



On Wednesday, March 23, David Michael Conner wrote a frank and brutally honest essay about how life was not getting better for him in the years following high-school. The essay prompted hundreds of e-mails, comments, and letters with various reaction. Now, David Michael Conner responds.  


COMMENTARY: I am alone. Right now, and most of the time I don’t have to be somewhere, I sit idly, mindlessly in my apartment. Real, rich housewives from Bravo television country keep me company, sort of, with their constant bickering and bragging. Being alone with one’s thoughts as often as I am can make a person think dangerous thoughts and do risky things — like send off extremely personal, confessional essays to The Advocate.

I’ve written for before, but I’ve never revealed so much so publicly in my life. I’m not sure I should have; some things are best reserved for the therapist’s office. But what’s done is done, and despite feeling a little too exposed and hearing from a few people who think I should get over myself, I’m not sorry for having “come out” as — well, whatever you want to call it. Depressed. Unstable. Self-loathing. Self-indulgent or self-absorbed, even.

But I’m not sorry. Because, for the first time in my life, I’ve heard from people — scores of people — who have written to me on Facebook or my personal e-mail to tell me that they feel exactly the same way I do about not fitting in, not being good enough. About it not getting better for them. I’ve heard from people from age 20 to age 60 telling me that their lives are the same, at times just as desperate.

I’ve also read the comments here, which have ranged from empathetic to sympathetic to disbelieving to nearly vitriolic. The only one that really bothers me came from JDB in Minneapolis, who read what I wrote as “a refutation of [Dan] Savage’s ‘It Get’s [sic] Better’ campaign.”

I can’t — and wouldn’t — deny that I wrote my commentary on It Gets Better "in the haze of depression" (and several new medications). I’ve been acting out recently, erratically and oftentimes inappropriately — but never, ever disingenuously. I’ve been acting out by telling the unfettered truth to anyone unfortunate enough to ask “How are you?”

But the point, which I really only glossed over in my earlier piece, was not to undermine the It Gets Better campaign. As I stated then and will reiterate here, I think the campaign is well-intended and valuable. It’s a proverbial carrot for young people whose lives are hell right now. Who, other than a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, would argue with such a noble effort?

What I meant to point out, what I think someone needs to begin discussing now, is what “it” is. The day-to-day teasing, bullying — torture in some instances — probably will get better. It did for me, anyway, and as I explained before, I found temporary solace during my college years. “It” seemed better. By contrast, it was. But then the years went by.

Tags: Commentary