I am not who you told me I was, every time I looked into your eyes and saw reflected back to me the image of who you told me that I am. That is not who I am. You have never known who I am. If there is anything that I know, and there is so much that I don’t, it is that I am not what I have felt: my depressions, or hungers, my compulsions, despairs: they are not who I am, though they are wells I fall down into, for long times knowing nothing but their dark, cavernous mouths swallowing me up whole. Rage is also what I’m not, and there is so much rage. Days where all I do is swim through it, oceans of fire, praying one day it will end, that I’ll have strength to face what came before, before the rage. Neither am I the thoughts I think that tell me who I am. More often I’m the dreamer forgetting he’s asleep. My body’s mostly what I think I am, but I am not; this body that I’ve pierced and tattooed, raped and drugged, tried to kill, snuff out like a candle, or sell for sex because by then cash seemed like the only thing of value men could give. I am not that sex, though sex is what I found when I, abandoned, went looking for myself. I am not my scars, the scars that you, and I, and they, we all razored into me, even though for years that’s all I saw: not the house I was before the storm, but the ruins, the brokenness left standing, that’s left me wanting just to tear down all that’s left and start anew because there’s no way I’ll be whole again, not this time ‘round. I am not my story, even though I tell, or want to tell, almost everyone I meet “who I am.” I do not know who I am, have no idea, and grow weary of the language that I use in place of being me. Words like “victim,” and “survivor”: I am not a survivor, not of you, not of anyone. Or maybe if I am it is of me that I’ve survived. Funny, all these words I’ve used and thought were me—sooner or later they all become like boxes, and I am not a box. If I am anything I am bigger than all the boxes that I’m stuffed inside, or stuff myself, a marionette, inside. Boxes, no matter how immense, cannot contain the size of who I am, because I am immeasurable. That is all I know I am: immeasurable, even though I, daily, measure who I am by what I make, do, see, think, touch, taste, feel. I am none of what I make, do, see, think, touch, taste, feel. Perhaps if I am anything, then I am everything you did not want me to become, that you did not show me I could be, you did not allow me to explore, did not permit me to discuss, think. If there is sin in forgetting, perhaps then that is what I am: a sleeper, having sinned from choosing to forget. If I am anything, anything at all, I fear that I am much of what is coming to me now, a visitor I called forth. Today, if I am anyone’s house I am my own, and no one, not anyone, enters me, not even during sex, but myself.

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PETER GAJDICS has been published in numerous international journals, including The Advocate, The Q Review, New York Tyrant, The Gay and Lesbian Review/Worldwide, Gay Times, The Printed Blog, and Opium, where he won their 2009 500-word memoir contest. Peter has received a fellowship from The Summer Literary Seminars, and is an alumni of Lambda Literary Foundation's "Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices." He lives in Vancouver, Canada, and can be contacted at [email protected]

8 responses to “I Am Not Who You Told Me I Was”

  1. Marni Grossman says:

    Peter, you most definitely ARE immeasurable. More. Much, much more.

  2. Irene Zion says:


    Reading your words is more than emotional. It is physical. You put together phrases and sentences and paragraphs that scrape my skin until it bleeds.
    He and his actions undertook to define you, but he and his actions failed. They harmed you. They sucked up time that was yours and absconded with it, but they utterly failed to define you.
    You were stronger than he could have imagined and you grow stronger every day.
    You are a great writer, capable of extraordinary happiness.
    Revel in your rebirth.

  3. Ducky Wilson says:

    Thank you for writing this.

    I choose to forget, too. There is peace there.

  4. Avo says:

    I suppose some might find this disturbing, repellant, for the darkness imbuing the chaos. It strikes me, though, as transcendent, buoyant, freeing. You crush the normal indicia of identity one by one, and what’s left feels more like an utterly free energy force, at liberty to be anything, do anything.

    It soars, Peter.

    It somehow reminds me of another piece currently up, Brin Friesen’s “Dirty Secrets,” where identity is reborn in the boxing ring.

    Fine work!

  5. I’m with Avo – there’s something tremendously freeing about this. I’m glad you found your way to it.

  6. Tom Hansen says:

    Nice. Really good. Loved the flow, very compact and yet languid sentences.

    Loved this: “the brokenness left standing”

    You might enjoy my own brand of self-torture and lack of identity, on full display in American Junkie, out March 1. I’m gonna look into your book. Is it available in the US? As an aside, I love Vancouver, did my grad school at UBC. Ah, Minerva’s Deli and Moderne Burger on Broadway, I’m drooling. Sigh.

    • Peter Gajdics says:

      Thanks for reading my work, Tom. I will definitely check out yours. My book is still making the rounds of publishers. I hope to one day “announce” its release date.
      And yes–I also love Minerva’s!

  7. nancy leach says:

    I’ve had so many responses to this piece, from “I feel that too, at times..” to “now you have it!”

    Really, I can’t begin to comment. I think you’re brilliant and beautiful and I know that you will find peace… in the body, in the now, in awakening from the dream… I feel pretty freaked out about life myself at times and always find resonance in what you write. Don’t stop!

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