May 17, 2001
Today they told me I’m antisocial and that’s why no one wants me.
I think that’s what it means. Ms. Danielle said I have something called RAD. She said it means I can’t make friends or family because I don’t understand. She tried to say it nicely and that maybe one day I can make friends and family and stuff but I think I might not.
I think I actually just can’t make friends or family with humans. I think I can only make them with people like me and like us. I hope that’s what it means because I don’t want to be here anymore and if I can’t make friends and family with people like me then it will be the same up there.
I said I think too many times but that’s what I was told to do. Ms. Danielle said that it might help me if I write to someone who I miss or can’t talk to so I can try to express my emotions in a non-violent way. She said being violent is apart of RAD and that it’s because I don’t understand love. I think that’s not right though because I don’t think anyone gives me love. I only get angry when they get angry first. I think.
Was I violent when I was with you, Mom? Ms. Danielle said it starts because I was never shown love as a baby. I think I just don’t remember it. I really think you loved me because why else would I be put in a place where no one could find me except you? I think you loved me and kept me safe. I don’t think I was violent with you.
Sometimes I think maybe you did want to get rid of me. I know the space ship crashed and stuff and maybe you got hurt, but sometimes I think maybe you weren’t on it at all. Maybe I was violent with you. Maybe I was a problem. Maybe I couldn’t understand love with you either and I was broken from the beginning.
I’m sorry if I was. I’ll try harder.
P.S. There’s an older boy with this family named Dylan and he read this letter and made fun of me because I thought I came from a spaceship but I didn’t even punch him because I didn’t think you’d approve. Or maybe you would approve since he was a bully.
P.P.S. I kicked him in the balls just in case you would approve.
P.P.P.S. Sorry for saying balls.
October 30, 2004
I’ve written you so many times to say a million things to try to get a little bit better but this time feels the most important. I’m going to rip this to shreds the moment I’m done because if anyone else reads this, I’m screwed.
You remember the two kids like me I told you about, Max and Isobel? I know I told you that Ms. Danielle was probably right because I still haven’t formed any meaningful relationships outside of the only two people of my species. I’m still violent. I’m still bad. I’ve tried really hard, but I can’t help it. I can only be so nice when people are so mean and then when people ARE nice to me, it feels like a trap. Isobel and Max feel like a trap.
Last night, we were camping and a guy took Isobel and Max killed him. He really just killed him. And I didn’t know what else to do because I didn’t want to lose the only two people that I’ve been able to get close to, so I covered up. I hid a body, Mom. I don’t think I even care that someone’s dead, I only care that Max and Isobel might not like me anymore. Is that wrong?
I wish you were here with me, Mom. I don’t know where you are, but I need you. I know it’s stupid to say I need you when you haven’t been here in forever, but I know that Ms. Danielle had to be wrong about you and that you loved me. You would tell me that the way I’m feeling is okay. It’s okay to be scared of myself. It’s okay not to care that a man is dead. It’s okay to only care about Max and Isobel. It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.
I’m okay. I only had one outburst this week. They burned me for it, but it was only one so I’m making progress. Ms. Danielle might be right about me not being able to get attached to human beings, but I’m attached to aliens and I can be a little less violent for them. I can. I can. I can.
I know you believe in me, Mom.
December 24, 2007
There’s a boy and he’s human and I don’t understand.
I’m not attached, but I’m paying attention to if I do. Maybe Ms. Danielle was wrong and maybe I can get attached to humans. Alex is human and I WANT to get attached to him. I want him to show me affection even if I have no idea how to return it and even if I respond to it badly.
I’ve done a little more research on RAD and did you know that people can overcome it? It takes a lot of people showing them care and it takes a lot of therapy to help process it all, but I think that because I’m so aware of what I have that it makes it a little easier to fix. At least I hope so because if Alex wants to be friends and tries to hug me or hold my hand, I don’t want to feel awkward about it like I do with everyone else.
That’s what happens with all the girls at school and I know I’ve told you before. I’m sorry that you’re hearing way too much about your son’s sex life, but I have no one else to talk to about it. Last week, Katarina Livingston asked me to the drive-in and I said sure, but the entire date I was just so uncomfortable every time she tried to cuddle up to me that I stormed off. I know that was wrong, but I couldn’t help it. I didn’t want to do something even more stupid and push her because I was close to doing that.
Even worse, Maria DeLuca sat too close to me when we were doing our science project last month and she kept pushing her knee against mine. I know she didn’t mean anything by it and I know it just meant that she wasn’t scared of me and that she was comfortable enough to touch me, but I wasn’t comfortable enough to BE touched. It was stupid. She was being nice. She’s pretty and nice and I broke my pencil stabbing it into the desk because she wouldn’t stop being pretty and nice.
Isobel and Max hug me all the time and I don’t care. Well, I mostly don’t care. Sometimes the touching is too much, but I never get as uncomfortable with them as I do with other people. I never get as angry.
The point of this letter wasn’t to tell you that stuff. I don’t like telling you that stuff because I don’t want you to be upset with me. I’ve kept it to myself for 8 years and now suddenly I’m being too honest. I’m sorry.
The actual point of the story was that Alex keeps his distance from me. He doesn’t try to touch me, but he’ll smile at me and he’ll let me borrow his pen, but he doesn’t even let his hand touch mine when he gives it to me. He’s able to be just as nice or nicer without trying to touch me. I want to see if his touch makes me angry or if I finally found a human who doesn’t make me angry or uncomfortable. Maybe he can be meaningful to me.
Sorry if that sounds stupid.
September 1, 2008
Ms. Danielle was wrong.
I love him, I love him, I love
Hi. I’m never gonna send this to you. Even if I could, I wouldn’t know where to send it to. You’re far away from me and, if I had to guess, you’re in San Antonio because that’s where the Air Force has their basic training, so I hope the view is nice.
I held you last night and I miss you already. I still feel your fingers on my skin and I want them there. You’re the first human being that I’ve ever grown attached to, the first person whose skin belongs on mine. You don’t make me uncomfortable. You don’t make me angry. I want you to touch me.
Please come home and touch me.
I’ve never written to someone that wasn’t my Mom but you’re the one I want to escape into tonight. I’m laying in the back of my truck and I’m so sad, but still happy. I’m happy because I know I’m not broken. You’re my exception, I’m able to love you and hold you and touch you. God, you can touch me. You can touch me and I don’t get angry. I get happy.
I’m sorry I keep repeating myself. I’m just so excited. Even though you’re far away and I can’t talk to you and even though my hand is fucked and my life is fucked, I’m still excited. Because all that’s fucked but my feelings for you aren’t. I’m not broken. You showed me I can be loved here and I can accept it.
I can accept it and you and your kisses and your touches and your love. I love you. You are everything to me. So come home to me safe and sound and I will be waiting to smother you in affection I didn’t know I had to give.
March 12, 2010
I’m sorry. I’m still violent. I got arrested. I hurt someone.
May 6, 2011
I hope you still love me. I’m sorry I was wrong. I’m sorry. I thought I was all better because Alex could touch me, so I could learn to be touched by other people too. That should be it. I should be able to touch someone more than an angry fuck before I leave but god forbid I do that.
Stephanie (whose last name I don’t remember) bailed me out of jail last night for some reason. We’ve been talking for a few nights and I guess that meant something to her, I don’t know. She bailed out after I punched Wyatt Long for calling me a name I don’t wanna write because you don’t need to hear it. After she bailed me out, we were kissing in the back of her car and she said she wanted to go slow. And she kept touching me, Mom. Like, too much touching.
I could feel it getting harder and harder to stand and I eventually said I didn’t want to. I knew if it didn’t stop, I was going to hurt her, and I didn’t want to do that. But she said it would be fine and she kept on. She kept on touching me and touching me where I didn’t wanna be touched and I felt bad because she just bailed me out of jail and I owed her something. I owed her something and she wanted sex.
She kept telling me it was okay and to just let it happen and I really tried. I really tried to let her touch me and I tried not to feel so angry and uncomfortable, but the longer I let it fester inside of me, the worse it got and I started crying in the back of her car with her hand down my jeans. I was crying because I was angry. How stupid is it that I couldn’t just enjoy it? A pretty woman wanted me and I wanted to leave, how pathetic is that? So I let her and she let me cry. She told me she thought it was sweet that I cried during sex.
It took too much of me not to lash out at her to get her to stop. I don’t know if I’ll be able to control myself next time.
I’m 20 years old and I’m still scared of myself. Please help me.
February 14, 2015
Alex is asleep beside me on Valentine’s Day and I think he’s really healed me this time.
I feel better than I ever have. He woke me up with kisses and I wasn’t scared. I know every other time I thought I was better, he would leave and it’d be just as bad, but this time feels real. It feels permanent. It’s terrifying and sirens are going off in my mind telling me to leave before he does, but then he smiles at me and I think it might be worth it. I know it’s stupid, but I’ll take whatever he gives me, even if it’s a few days every few years.
I know that sounds bad, Mom, and you’re probably saying I shouldn’t let someone just do that, but Alex is different and this time is different. This morning he brought me flowers because it was Valentine’s Day. I got a present on Valentine’s Day that wasn’t a palm-sized teddy bear from Isobel.
I love him, Mom. He terrifies me, but I want to trust me. I feel like I trust him.
I need to accept his love.
I have accepted his love.
He came across that letter I wrote you a few years ago about a girl named Stephanie. He dropped his phone in the crack by my bed and found it instead. I don’t know how much he read since I took it back pretty fast, but I still expected him to laugh at me. I mean, a guy who didn’t wanna be touched by a pretty girl? He should’ve laughed. Instead, he held me for 5 hours straight. I didn’t say it then but I want him to stay.
When he wakes up, I’m going to ask him to stay with me. He heals me. You’d love him.
P.S. I messed up. I yelled at him. I called him names. He’s gone.
June 3, 2015
The last thing I said to him was that he was a coward for leaving and that he shouldn’t come back.
The first thing I saw this morning was ‘Airman Alex Manes MIA After Bombing’.
November 30, 2018
I met you. I knew you loved me. I knew it. I miss you already.
I hate to not talk about that moment and instead talk about Alex, but I need to. He’s been home for awhile now and you saw him.
Did you like him?
After everything, I’ve come to the conclusion that I shouldn’t be with him anymore. I do love him and I want what’s best for him, and I don’t think that’s me.
Too many times when I look at him, he just seems so angry. I remember all the times he left me and I remember every time I thought he healed me. I don’t think he’s my savior anymore. I think he was one big stupid exception because he was nice to me. No, it was more than that. I don’t know. I’m confused. He’s confusing me. I need someone who won’t leave me.
They told me when I was little that the only way I’d ever get better is if I have someone willing to work with me, and he leaves me too much for that to be the case. It reminded me that Maria has been here everyday forever. It feels like a joke that I’ve spent nearly every night with her for 9 years and never formed that meaningful relationship. I care about her, I do, and I want her to be happy, but I never tried before.
I’m gonna try now. You’d like her, Mom. She’s nice.
P.S. It’s been a few months, but I failed.
May 1, 2020
I’ve written hundreds of letters since I was a kid, but none of them were meant to be read. This one is. This one's for you and I hope it helps.
When I was 10, they told me I would probably never make and sustain any meaningful relationships with another person and that I would always struggle with attachment and affection. For awhile, I thought that was fine, that I would get attached to Max and Isobel and I’d be fine. But even with them the attachment didn’t come easy. I still struggle with their affection‒I feel like I have to earn it. I didn’t realize I did that until recently. I thought being aware of my issues meant I could handle it. Instead, it made me more paranoid.
When I met you, I thought you were an exception and on good days I felt like you fixed me. You see, I
have an aversion to touch. It makes me uncomfortable and sometimes even angry. With you, it seemed to just bypass all that. You felt like a cure to all my problems for so long. Now that I’m older and I guess wiser, I realize that’s not what happened. You were just the first person who got it. You’ve never touched me unless you knew 100% I was okay with it. My attachment to you wasn’t as instant as I remember it, it was slow and built over years and years of reassurance. You’re not my healer or a savior. You just try.
I’ve been in therapy‒real, bi-weekly therapy‒for the last year to work on my issues and that helped me realize I was viewing you so wrong and that’s why we were stuck in that stupid cycle. It’s not completely your fault and it’s not completely mine. We’re both just trying to survive after a childhood of bullshit.
The main purpose of this letter is to say that yes, I pushed you away. If I felt it was too much, I’d push you away and then blame you when you left. I wanted you to deal with my problems while I barely acknowledged yours. I am so so so sorry for that. I want to change it. I feel like I’m finally in a place where I can properly handle my own mental health while also making room for your feelings as well. I’m open to learning about you and the way you do things and why you do it.
I love you, Alex. You are my meaningful relationship. You’re not my savior, but you are the one who proved to me that I could . I’ve made so many mistakes and I want you to know that I’m ready to work on us if you’re able to. If you can’t yet, tell me. I want you to be okay first. We have to be okay as ourselves before we can be okay as us.
Maybe this was a stupid letter to write and maybe you’ll just throw it away. I’ll understand if you do. I just want you to know that I am open and willing to work with you on us. I’m open to trying. I hate being away from you.
I’m getting better. I’m accepting. I’m trying. I’m ready.
Love always and forever, Michael