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Disconnecting

Posted May 09 2013 12:00am
I went to the movies by myself tonight, after a NAMI board meeting. I wanted to see this film called Disconnect. It was an interesting, thought-provoking movie about people crossing paths through the internet, and people not always being who they pretend to be, and it had a lot more to it than that too.

It led me to thinking.

I have mentioned before my former obsession with a guy named Kevin. I think I have also mentioned that my psychosis developed alongside the invention of the internet. When I was suicidal, I went to an internet message board called the ER in around 1996 or 97. I didn't even have my first email account yet when I went there. I met a lot of screwed up people there with various life problems. There was a teen named Kurt who killed himself. There was a Canadian woman named Mandy who came to Florida and went to Disney with me. Then there was this guy Kevin.

I look back on my life the past 15 years or so, and I can remember where I was when we had snippets of conversations that I still recall in great detail. I never met him, but I felt like I knew him well and he knew me well. Obviously, that's a bit unrealistic.

When I started talking to the New Zealander, Adrian, last year, I actually thought he was Kevin in disguise. Things get more complicated too because for a while I thought Kevin was my CIA handler, and I thought Adrian was taking over that job last year - to program my mind.

The thing is I really fell in love with Kevin years ago. I know how screwed up it sounds, but it was real to me. And last year, I really fell in love with Adrian.

Of course I've never met either one of these guys, and neither one of them talks to me now. But I am a person who has lived a lot of her life online, due to illness that made every day living difficult, and stunted my social growth. I had friends for years who were my only friends in the world, and they were online friends.

Now, I have real, offline friends. A few years ago, I had a few offline boyfriends. I have lived with a man who I thought I loved for a time. But when I think about important moments in my life, often times I go back to memories of emails and phone  calls with people who were a million miles away for all intents and purposes.

I hope those people are well now. Kevin and Adrian both have children and I hope their children are well. Sometimes it makes me sad that I'll never be a mother and I know I've mentioned that here before too.

I feel like there is so much connection you can get through the internet, but there is also disconnection. People stop writing to you. Stop responding to emails. It is not like you live on the same street and they suddenly move away. They just cut you off. Both these guys did that to me, and I guess it shouldn't surprise me, because it is obviously my own fault.

I've cut myself off from some people online too, I guess.

I used to wonder who was really writing emails that I got from this guy Kevin, because of my paranoia. My paranoia is so irritating to people that they would never want anything to do with me if I let them know all about it.

I guess it's weird that when I look back at my life, I see myself on the kitchen floor at my mom's house talking on the phone to a guy I would never meet who lived in Connecticut. Or sitting in Kinko's using their internet to email him because I had no computer. Or moving into my internet friend's ex-boyfriend's condo because I had nowhere to go. Or sitting in a library on a computer emailing my friends who were my lifeline.

I still have some close friends who I know either only through email (like Lauren) or mostly through email (like Greg), and I value those friendships. They don't disconnect.

I can't help but wonder what life would have been like if I had lived in the same town at the same time as Kevin, and he had wanted to meet me (which he never did), or if Adrian and I really met in New Zealand like I wanted us to this summer, and what might have come of that. But I know that in both these scenarios, the only person wondering what it would be like anymore is me - not them. They moved on.

I just wish I didn't feel so alone all the time.
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