In the complex social structure of elementary school I was pretty much a weird dork. I had few social skills and ton of social anxiety. The bullying peaked in junior high. I was the shortest guy in my class with a newly found sharp tongue and the ability to run and dodge like the wind. I used these skills often. The funny thing about bullies is they rarely have the ability to self reflect and because I knew I was different from a very young age that is all I ever did. I may not have been able to punch my way to revenge but I could certainly throw a few verbal jabs at the assholes as they tried to take me down. I became and expert at pushing peoples buttons especially bullies, often to my own detriment. I took a supreme joy in the knowledge that despite the fact that i was currently getting: shoved in a snow drift, pink bellied, wedgied, pantsed, punched that i could get in the dudes head and piss him off even more.
During those years I also found that I could take pretty much whatever was thrown at me. A punch to the face or stomach just didn't hold the fear that used to. I had been punched before and I survived.
I came into my own in highschool. The bullying died down and I managed to come out of my shell a bit. I started the selection of friends who I would eventually feel safe coming out to. I was still filled with so much doubt, self hatred and confusion as to why I had these feelings. This all intensified when I started taking acutane for some really terrible acne. This was just before they discovered that it caused depression and suicides. I was on a really strong dose and ended up in a deep 12 month depression.
I wrote terrible poetry and dramatically considered how much easier it would be if i was dead almost nightly. I thought constantly about how I should do it. Who would come to the funeral? What would my parents say? Who would get my comic books? Now looking back I am sure I was like one of the goth kids on south park without the black clothes, eyeshadow and Bauhaus.
During this time I figured out a way to compartmentalize things really well. In fact few would have known that I was terribly depressed or struggling with my sexuality. I put on a really good front. While this worked great for survival back then it has led to many troubles since. It is hard to be a complete and happy person when you start boxing yourself up into pieces.
Eventually the acutane stopped and the depression faded to a dark hum of anxiety deep in me. I drank to deal with it (and drank more and more in university). There were times I felt like I would never escape especially when I started leading a double life; closeted to family vs out to friends. As I said nothing good comes from compartmentalization and even less good comes from double lives. Eventually I made my way through to self acceptance. I unpacked the compartments and started to live the life I never thought I deserved. Much of this difficult journey has been documented on this blog and my old tripod site.
There were many dark times and close calls. I treat this glibly now but back then it felt like I was in a dark pool at night constantly about to drown and just able to keep my head above water.
Eventually the sun rose and the pool drained and I was left to pick up the pieces I had chopped myself into for survival. Now nothing is perfect nor will it ever be my journey is far from over and I have much work to do.
If I could go back and sit with that sad teen sobbing in his bedroom writing bad poetry at 3 AM it would be this:
Everyone is broken to some degree and when they try and bully you or take you down it is not a reflection of how you are broken it is a reflection of them. You are not like the people around you but that doesn't make you a freak. You are not normal and you should never want to be. You are worthy to love and to be loved even if who you love isn't a woman. You need perspective. You need to forgive yourself and let go.
Here is a video from the You Are loved- Glowstick vigil for the youth we have lost. Via joe.my.god.