My Name is Chris

My name is not Chris.

My Worst Moment: Hard to pick one worst moment, but how I found out would be right up there. I’d noticed some discomfort when I peed. A few days later, I noted a discharge on the inside of my underwear. I went to my doctor, who said the symptoms were consistent with either chlamydia or gonorrhea. Since one antibiotic could be used to treat both, I decided to forego having a swab shoved into my already-tender urethra, so I don’t actually know which it was. The bigger question was how I’d gotten it, because I’d only had sex with one person recently (or ever), and that was my partner, who’d been studying physics abroad for the last several months and had just come home for break. Sitting on our bed, I told her about all of this, and she shattered right in front of me. Through sobs, she told me about leaving a party drunk, walking home by herself…. What she couldn’t bring herself to tell me, she alluded to so that I understood.

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Chris’ girlfriend went abroad to study physics for a semester. When she came back, she shared what happened to her sending them both down a path of self destruction and anger. Chris declined to provide a photo. Art by @jaredbrashier

Several worlds collapsed that day. Hers, obviously. So did mine. I wanted to kill every man I saw on the street, just in case he might be one of them. I fantasized about knowing exactly who had done this, so that I could find them and perform the human equivalent of a cervical separation. I was sometimes almost literally blinded by impotent rage. I’d beat my head against the wall in the shower to make the images in my mind go away. We both started drinking heavily, she now back overseas and me here in the States. I was in graduate school at the time, and my work definitely suffered. I waited months to find out for sure whether I might also have contracted HIV or hepatitis C (I hadn’t). My stress level was so high that there are large chunks of time I don’t remember. There’s an entire Christmas that I just don’t recall at all, in spite of photos showing me some of what I was doing at that time. I’m lucky I didn’t completely destroy my career, between sagging productivity and probably making an ass of myself in front of colleagues. I’m also lucky I didn’t die, because suicidal thoughts and reckless behavior were a pretty common thing.

Screen Shot 2021-06-28 at 12.21.14 AMI’ve Given Up On: I’ve given up on recapturing all aspects of the person I was before this. Most of the time, I believe that most people are basically good. But, I also often feel that many men aren’t all that far away from dumb beasts. Not all, or even most, but many.

This Has Cost Me: It cost me that relationship, for sure, and maybe others. In the past, this has cost me sleepless nights from nightmares, uncountable liver and brain cells, and probably some other health effects yet to be seen. I’ve struggled to restore a semi-normal sex life.

Something You Should Know About Me: I’m a man in STEM. My partner was a woman in STEM. The costs to her and damage done are obvious, but know that the blast radius from events like this is huge, with lots of casualties.

Is There a Bright Side: There is. I’ve made it through all of this. I love the person I am, and every experience I’ve had has contributed to who I am now. In some ways, I have been forged in fire. And I’m so much fucking tougher than anyone would guess.

My Fight Song:

My Secret Weapon: I have a few. I have an amazing partner now who has been and continues to be a vital source of healing. I have incredible friends and colleagues, some of whom know about this, most of whom don’t. These are the positives. My other secret weapon is that I’m a cis hetero man, so shitheads will say things in front of me thinking I’ll go along with “locker room talk.” I’m also very observant, so I notice everything. These days, I remember just about everything, too. I am very committed to justice, and I can be very, very patient.