I remember the middle bedroom of our house where I lived from 12 to 17. Dark wood paneling, a single window, a closet, and a radiator. It was a cozy little shoebox and I loved it. I vividly remember the ages of 14 and 15 because it was around that time I contemplated suicide. I’m embarrassed to say it now but I figured the purpose of this blog is for me to tell my story of repression, suppression, oppression, and how I am finally living as my true self, so why not go deep?
To go back a little further there was a period of time in grade school where boys in the class turned on me and I became the single kid everyone seemed to make fun of and bully. You know, your classic throwing rocks at me as I walked home, calling me a fag, not letting me get off the school bus at my stop, and when I was finally able to get off some girl stuck her leg out and tripped me… BOOM, I fell flat on my face holding my clarinet case in one hand. I don’t know why the clarinet case stands out in my mind. I was full of RAGE. I had visions of taking that clarinet case and jamming it into her face until all I saw was her broken nose and gushing blood. The worst part of it all is that I didn’t even know who she was. I still don’t. She just joined in the bullying for no reason at all. But I didn’t, I got off the bus and cried the entire walk home, which was now longer because I was at a stop farther away.
Talk about annoying and humiliating. I was eleven. But such is life. These experiences make us who we are.
Bullying and teasing can be torture for a kid. You have family that loves you but then you go to school and there are all these people telling you that just by being YOU there’s something wrong with you, you’re not good enough, you don’t matter. It messed with my fragile mind already struggling with sexuality and feeling like an outsider. It makes you feel like you’re broken, a defective product, abnormal. And that can fester and fester and linger like the odor of a skunk’s spray, irritating, permeating. When hormones are involved and all you want to “be normal” the way society explains normal to be, and all you want to do is fit in, be accepted, be loved, be liked, be yourself… and you feel like an alien, a misunderstood outsider with no other human to connect to… life can feel like the worst most awful joke.
God, I would pray, why would create me if you were going to make me gay and gay is wrong and disgusting and an abomination to you? Why would make me if you’re going to make me defective and wrong and unlikeable and annoying? I just don’t want to live anymore… I just want to die.
Over and over, night after night, tears soaked my pillow case as I cried myself to sleep feeling like I would never find my place in this world, like I could never be myself, like no matter what I would always be a disappointment and a failure so why even go on living. I thought about suicide many many nights. I was depressed. It was just teenage melancholy. I was depressed. I had always battled the looming black cloud that followed me casting a shadow over everything in my life. Being gay and feeling like I could never actually BE gay only exacerbated my depression and melancholy. I thought many times about how I could never slit my wrists… too chicken… and how maybe I could find a bottle of painkillers and swallow them… painless, romantic in a sense. I’d take them and go to sleep peacefully.
But then one day a thought popped into my head: “If you do this there’s no coming back. It’s done. Final. Once you’re dead you’re dead. Your story on earth is over and done. There’s no second chance, no missing your mother, no asking for a do-over. Once you’re gone, you’re gone for good.”
The finality of it all hit me like a punch to the gut and it frightened me so badly I never contemplated suicide again.
I’m 36 years old now and it’s only after the passing of my parents, the maturity that comes with age, and the weariness of having no fight left in me that I gave up and finally accepted what I’ve known for as long as I can remember: I’m gay. And it’s okay. Looking back I remember vividly the emotions that so bound me up in fear and anxiety and had convinced me that death was better than life, that suicide was better than admitting I was attracting to guys. The sheer mental torment is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy but it’s part of my story, part of my journey, part of what makes me me and I’m okay with that. I was blessed to hear that voice in my heart and heed that warning and I want to be that to other young people that even in this modern day are still struggling with who they are, living in that same fear and self-loathing. It doesn’t have to be this way.
It gets better, I promise.