It's been nine years now since everything involving Malachi started, and around six since you left. I never got the opportunity to apologize for that wall of text I sent you. For a long time, I thought I would. Thought it would be another long stint of silence before you reached out again, like you'd done previously, so I opted to give you space and wait.

and wait.

I believe it was around October of that same year that I realized you probably wouldn't be coming back. Truthfully, there was a long period of time where I felt that this was a good thing. At that point in my life, you represented my inhibitions, my doubts, the voice in my conscience which told me not to do something, or that it wasn't worth it, or that I wouldn't succeed at something so I shouldn't bother. When I came to terms with the idea that you wouldn't be coming back, part of me felt sad, worried, betrayed, frustrated with myself, but a greater part of me felt this kind of weight lifted, an openness or sense of freedom in your absense that I hadn't ever considered. I imagine you probably felt similarly, considering you never unblocked me.

I have a girlfriend now. I've known her for around five years, we met just a few months after I started hormones. She's my best friend, my closest confidante, my muse, intellectual sparring partner, the first thing I think of when I wake and the lingering idea on my mind when I drift off to sleep. She's one of the most traumatized people I know, and I've had the privilege of watching her evolve into the person she is now. I pray she continues to allow me into her life moving forward, and that I never truly know everything about her. She's put a lot of work into recovery. Addressing what happened to her growing up, and I mean EVERYTHING. Recently she's taken to reaching out to some of the people she knew as a teenager, with mixed results. It's the reason I'm even making this page, honestly. Seeing her briefly reconnect with the people in her life from years ago, apologizing to some, reintroducing herself to others, it's been really cool. It got me thinking about you, the kind of person you knew then, our relationship and its gradual decay after Malachi.

When discussing it with other people, I've always maintained that you weren't a bad friend. Unfortunately, you were also all I had. I'd sensed that our friendship was waning for a long time before I hit that wall of frustration. You said it yourself, I was your rock for the longest time, a stabilizing and supportive presence in your life. I'd always done my best to make myself emotionally available for you, made time for you even if it came at a cost to me, because you were all I had and I didn't want to lose you, couldn't even THINK about what I'd do if I lost you. But throughout our friendship, especially so after that man, I never felt that my efforts were reciprocated. Hell, I tried to limit your exposure to my struggling as much as I could, because I didn't think anyone would want to care or help anyway. You contributed to that feeling, any time I decided to take that dive and try and confide in you, you'd push me away, tell me that you couldn't help or be there for me, so of course I internalized it. I still struggle a lot to ask for help. It wasn't just you, everyone in my life irl at that point treated me that way, so if my own best friend wasn't willing to be there for me, then why the fuck would anyone else?

I was just as traumatized as you were about everything, but the only person I could talk about it with was you, and you did everything possible not to bring it up, not to acknowledge it with me. In hindsight I recognize that everything regarding it must have been insanely triggering to you, the album I made about it included. Don't worry, I've divorced myself from those feelings now-- it's not even up online anymore. On top of that, you were struggling with body issues, anxiety/depression, general insecurity at that time, hospitalized for your mental state, etc. I guess that's why your pain felt more "real" than mine-- there wasn't a single person in my life at that time beyond you who even gave a shit. You had your dad, who worried about you, who paid attention to you. You had the scant relationships you maintained at school, despite being a lonely teenager. You had other friends online, people other than me, to connect with. Despite it all, there was a support net who cared enough to notice when you were destroying yourself. My parents were actively working through their divorce, my siblings didn't know what to do, I didn't have any friends at school to talk to about it. All I had to address and process that trauma was my music, and you didn't want anything to do with it. I'm sure you don't even remember telling me to my face that you hated it and thought it was awful, but I've carried that sentiment with me for six years now. If my own best friend hates what I'm doing, then why wouldn't everyone else? I still struggle to ever share anything I'm working on because of it. I barely post online, can't show other people what I look like anymore. Everything I do marred by that same sentiment, that nobody will like it, that nobody will care, because you didn't then.

I don't blame you for it. You had the wherewithall to share those demons with me, and even then, I know you didn't tell me everything because you felt guilty for it, felt that you shouldn't be showing those parts of yourself to someone else who was just as vulnerable. But I carried those demons then, and I do now. I still remember the kid you were then, and I don't blame them for the way they handled our relationship. Shit, I probably remember a fair bit more than even you do from that period of our lives. I carry my own shame with me. It's pervesive, reaching into every facet of my life, my relationships, everything I am-- malignant, festering shame. I'm 23 now and only just beginning to address it. I see the way it impacts my relationships, hurts the people closest to me. Still no regard for myself in that way. Holding confession for everyone but myself, keeper of regrets, most of all my own.

I still listen to Perturbator. His musical DNA can be felt in everything I make, he was there to score my loneliness, my joy, rage, euphoria, all of it.

I'll be graduating from my Masters program this summer. Oh, right. I remained in-state for my undergrad, got my degree in Music Media last year. I was accepted into Berklee's program for Music Production, Technology, and Innovation. It's why I'm setting this page up at all, actually-- needed to establish a virtual hub for all my work online, make an EPK, that sort of thing. Hoping to find a job in a studio somewhere, although I'd love to become a mastering engineer. It's better for your ear health in the long run compared to mixing, or so I've heard. I think I'm the most stressed out I've ever been in my life currently! Looking forward to the end of my time in academia (forever?) and entering the work force, I have no desire to pick up a Doctorates after this.