Andy and I were reading back through some of what we wrote in Knots 3, which was mostly about Dillon's trial, and we wondered how, after everything that had happened then, we were here getting ready to do it all again. There's a saying that goes something like this: Those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. A quick look on the Internet might make it perfect, but you get the idea.
Here's some of what I wrote:
After I had sex with Thomas for the first time and we were in that vacant house, he said he loved me. I wrote:
"I should have said more to him, but the idea of love scared me. Andy said he loved Dillon. Dillon said he loved Andy. Andy said he loved me. Thomas said he loved me [when we were having sex]. And it all made me feel cold inside. Love, at the time, seemed like something to be feared because, except for my parents, love never seemed like love. Love only seemed to hurt people, and I didn't want to be hurt. Sometimes I thought Gina loved me and Emily loved Andy, and yet, we'd never even had sex. The trial would test all our feelings for each other and maybe then we'd know if love was real or if the knots we tied in our lives had choked the love out of us."
I didn't realize I had written that love only seemed to hurt people, and I didn't want to be hurt. Maybe that's what was wrong with me my senior year in high school. Everyone talked about love, but I didn't see much of it. Or I didn't recognize it. In the end, I think the knots I tied choked the love out of me.
I was on the stand testifying when one of Dillon's defense lawyers asked me a question and ended it with the word `son'. I wrote:
"It's beyond me why people who are not your parents think they can call you `son'. But I guess it was better than him calling me a hedonist and sodomite, which of course I was. Life is like that though. You learn from your mistakes. I'm not sure if it was then or later, but I decided it was time to be myself again. So much in me had changed since that first night of sex with Andy. There was no way of knowing if change was possible now that I'd had a dick in my mouth and in my ass, but I was going to at least give it a try. My parents were probably going to ground me forever and that might make it a bit easier. The lies had to stop. My life needed to get back on track. But a lot of crooked track lay ahead of us and then of course, there were all the knots we were dragging up that steep hill that I dreamt about. All of that flashed in my mind as I watched Banta [Dillon's lawyer] smile as if he'd gotten me to do just what he wanted."
I said I was going to be myself again. Well, you already know that despite my intentions, I wasn't. If anything, I was worse. You'd think I was a prophet when I said, "a lot of crooked track lay ahead of us and of course, there were all the knots we were dragging up that steep hill." The stress was beginning to wear me down. Nights were spent tossing and turning and occasionally dreaming of the sack of knots I was dragging behind me.
When we were in the car after my testimony at trial, I wrote:
My dad looked in the rearview mirror. "We've always trusted you to tell us the truth, to talk to us about things. What happened? One day we think we know everything about you and the next it's as if we don't know you at all."
"Do you hate me?" I asked.
My mom turned and reached out to grab my hand. "We could never hate you."
I began to cry, weep really. "I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Things just happened. I didn't mean for them to. You might not hate me, but I hate myself."
There's the problem right there. It wasn't until I went back and read it again that so much of what I did all came down to hating myself. I used to be proud of who I was. I had positive feelings about who I was. But everything changed. Like I said, I knew my parents really loved me. I could count on their love, so hurting them made me hate myself all the more. Self-loathing can have terrible results, especially when we aren't fully aware of it.
I told my parents I was sorry when we got home that day, and they put me on the spot by asking me what I was sorry for. Saying you're sorry is so easy. But truly being sorry is another thing. These quotes should be posted on my wall to remind me of what I wrote. But then, I wrote these as an adult, and at the time, I was only a teenager. Like they say, hindsight is 20/20. So here's some more 20/20 hindsight; this is how the `I'm sorry situation' went:
"You're not getting off that easy. What are you sorry for? Tell us."
I folded my arms across my chest and looked up at the ceiling. "I don't know. I'm just sorry."
My father raised his voice. "Think, Matt. You said you're sorry. What are you sorry for?"
It's strange because I was saying I'm sorry, but the problem was the list was so long. I didn't want to say it.
My dad looked across the table at me. "Well, Matt. What are you sorry for?"
The tears came out of hiding and began rolling down my cheeks again. "I'm sorry for not telling you about Andy and me. I'm sorry for lying. I'm sorry for blindsiding you. I'm sorry for betraying your trust. I'm sorry for all of it."
My mother reached for my hands which were folded on the edge of the table. I extended them to her, she took them, and held them in hers. "Is there anything else?"
The tears continued. "I'm sorry for hurting you, for changing the way you see me, for not being the Matt you love."
She patted my hands. "You'll always be the Matt we love. It's your actions that are hard to love. Can you imagine how we felt when we found out that not only were you having sex with Andy, but you had sex with Andy, Thomas, and Randy?" She looked so sad as she said, "The lawyer was right when he called it an orgy. I'm not sure what else you could call it. Have you fallen so low?"
What could I say to her? At the time, we just thought we were having fun. We did have fun. But it was an orgy nonetheless. What else could you call four guys having sex? I said, "I didn't thinkó"
She didn't let me finish. "Yes, Matt, you didn't think."
There it was. Yeah, I didn't think. But looking at that list now after dredging it up from my subconscious and writing about that day, I see it even more clearly. The list of why I was sorry was long, is long. Somewhere in the conversation I remember thinking they had a traitor in their midst. I'd betrayed their trust. Betrayed their love. Lied and did things they never expected of me, and for that matter, I never expected of myself. The knots had been tied, and like I said in Knots, book one, most knots can be untied, but it's a slow process. It was somewhere just before my planned foursome with Colt, Andy, and Thomas that I began to think it was time to start untying the knots. The question was where to begin. The logical answer was to not participate in our planned foursome, but like someone who is on a diet, I told myself, I'll start after I eat that whole pie (our foursome).
The day Thomas broke his ankle shows just how selfish Andy and I had become. Here's what I wrote:
Things were really going well until Thomas went up for a rebound and came down and broke his ankle. Andy and I rushed to him. He was screaming, and I hate to say, all I could think of was, there goes sex with Thomas. Andy later told me he thought the same thing. What selfish assholes we were."
Things hadn't changed much. Like they say, "The world is full of good intentions." And were we really any better months later when we turned to prostitution, and then after finding some redemption, going back to our old habits? It was hard because sex was fun and pleasurable. Like my dad liked to say, "You never get anything for nothing." How true. It's like life is a set of scales. The goal is to keep everything in balance, but when you weigh one side down the other rises. It's kind of like that law in physics that says, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."
Then there was the time I met with my parents to tell them I was going to have sex and they'd have to accept it. I can't believe I did that, but it's just the way things were and still are.
My fingers fidgeted again. "Well, it's this way. I'm not sure if I'm gay or bisexual. But I do know that I want to continue having sex. You have made it clear that you are going to prevent me from doing that, but I don't think it's right. What's done is done as you said, and it's too late to turn back now. Andy, Thomas, and I have something special that goes beyond sex, but keeping us apart isn't going to work for anyone. I know you love me, but I think I'd be angry if you said no."
"No to what?" my dad asked.
They might love me, but they sure weren't making this easy. "No to our getting together to play basketball, going swimming at the pond, and having sex. We're friends, and we're going to have sex. Maybe it's not the way you'd like it, but that's the way it is." It felt good to finally get that off my chest.
But my mom was no fool. "What about Gina?"
"We're meeting under the elm tree in front of the school on Monday."
She frowned. "Are you leading her on?"
"No. I'm going to talk to her the same way I'm talking to you. She felt betrayed because I didn't trust her. She was also upset because I gave Andy my virginity. She didn't quite say it that way, but that's what it amounted to."
A sad look crossed my mother's face. "Do you understand how she feels?"
"She's hurt. But like I keep saying, there's no going back. I'm just hoping we can be friends."
"Is that why you're meeting under the elm tree?"
My dad smiled. "Matt, I hate to say, but that sounds a bit romantic."
I smiled too. "Yeah, it kind of does, doesn't it...But it's not romance. Right now I don't feel capable of romance. It's all about sex." It seemed so strange to hear those words come out of my mouth. I was only fifteen and yet everything that happened changed me and made me see life in a new light.
My parents' faces looked so sad.
I went on. "I never thought it would come to this. I love Andy, Thomas, and Gina but not in the way everyone talks about love. I'm afraid I'll never be able to love."
"Matt," my dad said. "You are still the same boy we raised to be honest and mature. Sometimes young people make mistakes and their lives change. But there isn't any need for you to just give up on yourself. You're only fifteen. You have a lifetime ahead of you. There will be plenty of time to fall in love and we'll accept whatever you decide. But we want you to go slow. When you talk about having sex, are you thinking you might have sex with a lot of different boys?"
I looked down. "I don't know."
"Have you thought about it?"
"What answer did you come up with?"
"I don't know. That's it. I look at guys differently than I did before. Hell, I look at girls differently than I did before. It's something I'll have to figure out."
Mom put her hand on my forearm again. "All we can ask, Matt, is that you tell us what you're doing. We know sex is powerful, but we don't want you to be promiscuous and have sex with anyone and everyone. That's not good for you. Do you understand that?"
"Yes and no."
"What do you mean?"
"I suppose if I loved Andy and he was my boyfriend, I'd just have sex with him. Same goes for Thomas. But since they're not, maybe I'd like to have sex with other boys or even some girls. I don't know. I'm one confused fifteen-year-old."
My father managed a small smile. "We understand what you're going through. Like you said, what is done is done. We'll have to make the best of it. Your mom and I can accept that you will have sex with boys. While we don't like the fact you're having sex at all, we'll be understanding only if you promise that you won't become some teenager who has sex with anyone and everyone. And you need to promise to have safe sex. Can you promise us that?"
"Yes. I promise."
I may have promised, but I broke the promise. It was even worse than any of us imagined. We became teenage prostitutes for money and pleasure, and the only good thing to come out of that was being forced to see Dr. Walker. Then of course there was Megan. They were worried about me leading Gina on, but Gina wasn't the one I lead on. It was Megan. I wish I'd have kept my promise to my parents.
But like I said, hindsight is 20/20. The question was, "Would I really stop all this after our foursome, or would I be like a dieter, change my habits for a time, and then go back to the way things were before?
I was beginning to think that maybe I should follow Andy's example and start seeing Dr. Walker again. I resolved to do that after the foursome.
It was good going back and reading what Matt and I had written during the trial. Even though he and I are writing about what happened in high school in the present, in our twenties, a lot of what we've written surprises me as I read through it again. It must have been a subconscious thing because I don't remember writing it. It was like looking at myself all over again.
We haven't gotten to it yet, but Dr. Walker once suggested we keep a journal. I wish we had, but we were teenagers with other things on our mind, and writing in a journal seemed like a dumb idea. I wish we'd have done it now. If we hadn't been writing it down now, we probably might remember the incident but not our feelings about it. Our feelings were what was important. Here's an example from the day they told me I was through testifying:
"They kept me in the back of the courtroom for about an hour before the bailiff came and got me. `Mr. Gibson, you're excused and are free to go.'
"I almost felt the same as the day I found out about Dillon. I felt empty, and just like with Dillon, it was my own fault. At the time I wanted to blame everyone else, but I knew it was me. I could have told Matt no when he was going to give me his virginity. I didn't because I was scared and angry and empty. I was selfish because I wanted him and willingly took what he offered. I'd always wanted him. Maybe that's why what we did took away the thoughts of suicide. That week with Matt was special. I was having sex with my best friend, the same boy who'd turned me down when I tried to seduce him. Problem was, it all eventually turned to shit."
See what I mean? If we'd have waited much longer, I'm not sure I'd remember most of that. But I still wish we'd have kept a journal when we were in high school. Yeah, I knew I was angry. You can't forget that. But the scared and empty parts are what I didn't want to forget. Matt gave me his virginity, and all I remembered until I read this again was that he did it to keep me from committing suicide. I'd forgotten about the part where I thought I should have told him no. I knew how much of a sacrifice it was for him. But it didn't stop me. Maybe it wouldn't have made any difference, but I should have told him no at least once. But I needed him and wanted him, and yeah, eventually everything turned to shit multiple times.
I have to admit that I'm enjoying this reflection on the past. I think Matt said earlier in this chapter that "those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it". I guess our learning curve was steep because it took us a long time to learn from our past.
I'd forgotten that Thomas had always been on my mind. I know Matt mentioned earlier our feelings about his getting hurt, but I was seriously thinking about getting Matt and Gina together so I could have Thomas to myself. Here's what I wrote:
It felt like I was being kicked in the balls every day during Dillon's trial. I realized that while Matt was my best friend and I loved him and he loved me, there wasn't any romance between us. He seemed stuck on Gina for some strange reason. I couldn't figure it out. After all the sex we had, I felt a little put off. It was almost like he didn't find me attractive. Of course I knew better, but I was looking for a real boyfriend, and I began to think about Thomas every day at basketball practice. He seemed to like Matt, but while I had caught them having sex in that vacant house, I still didn't think the relationship was going anywhere because Matt was always sniffing at Gina...I hate to say, but my thinking was that if I could get him and Gina together, Thomas and I would have a better chance.
I guess I'd changed some. But sex was still a driving force in my life. Here's something else I wrote about Thomas after he broke his ankle:
Thomas sat in a chair in the corner of the gym where he could listen and watch basketball practice. It was sad seeing him sit there with his cast and crutches. His operation was going to be on Wednesday. I thought he must be one horny boy, and I could help him jack-off if he'd like. And of course that's just what I told him when a ball rolled near him, and I ran to pick it up. He smiled and said, "Asshole."
I still found it hard to believe Thomas talked that way. Like I said, he had an innocent look. I replied, "Too bad you're on the injured reserve. Otherwise, I'd dribble your balls and let you shoot baskets into my mouth."
That got another smile. "You know what, Andy? You're still an asshole, but a funny asshole."
I replied, "That's music to my ears when it comes from you."
Coach yelled, "Gibson, quit bothering Thomas, and get your butt back here."
Sometimes I forget how funny I could be. I suppose it was the only way to get through some of the crap we'd brought down on our heads.
In the end, despite hindsight being 20/20, we decided to ignore the possible consequences and have our foursome as soon as we could find a time and place. I couldn't wait.
I have made terrible mistakes that have hurt the people that I cared about the most, and I am terribly sorry. I am deeply ashamed of my terrible judgment and my actions. - Anthony Weiner
You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space. - Johnny Cash
If you don't learn from your mistakes, then they become regrets. -- John Cena
If you like this story, contact me at email@example.com I answer all emails.
I'd like to thank Lisa for taking the time to edit Knots 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. As the author, I take final responsibility for all parts of the story, including any errors.
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales, is purely coincidental and no slanderous intent is implied.