Monday, October 04, 2010

Falling stars: It does get better

It is hard not to be affected by the disturbing amount of recent suicides related to homophobic bullying.  The world can be such a lonely hostile place when your growing up gay.  School is hard enough to survive without having to deal with the self doubt, fear of exposure and outright hatred of others on a daily basis.

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


Reneé said...

Excellent post about it getting better.

Brian said...

Your posts on coming out are among my shine when you write them. There's a real depth of sincere feeling showing here.
Living life in compartments and a double life...I know what you are talking about, Aaron. I still do that every day. Difference is in middle age the social/emotional skills are more highly developed and I can cover up so much better.

Not a good thing for the long term, though. I've come out to several people recently, and each time it feels better and another part of the weight is removed.

I'm hoping many young gay men and women read this and get the help they need!