All that spilled over into high school, when I stopped telling my parents when my swim meets were. They took it as a sign of independence: their son was strong enough that he didn’t need hand-holding. But it was something else. I legitimately didn’t believe I was worth getting up or getting dressed for. I started making the excuses in my head: my parents would have to get up early, drive to Atlanta, and what if I didn’t win? Then it would all be for nothing. All their effort would be for nothing.
Spilled over still to adulthood, to boyfriends: I was plagued with men willing to date me as a backup, but I didn’t demand any particular importance. I certainly didn’t demand something as crazy as a Saturday night. They didn’t even have to make excuses for themselves—I already had them lined up. I had grown used to minimizing my impact. That was a good thing, right? Who wants to be bothered? If I could only curl into a space no bigger than a butterfly, then I would be the best son, the best non-boyfriend boyfriend ever.