Friday, February 21, 2014

3 years later......

At eleven years old, this "thing" that settled inside of me without invitation was ugly. If I could describe it's characteristics, it had long, gnashing, yellow teeth and a face so hideous, nobody would want to come within miles of it. It's darkness rotted my insides and made a home and a name for itself inside of me every damn day. It was a nightmare I could never wake up from and it waited at my bedroom door each day to join me as a constant companion, that I loathed. I still remember this day like it was yesterday. I was wearing denim blue gap shorts, tweety bird keds and an embroidered white tank top. I walked into Dr. Winners office at 11 years old, after I had lost to my best friend in my 6th grade spelling bee. I sat nervously on a small couch next to his desk with a view of the Wasatch mountains outside of his window. "I think I might be gay." I being excruciatingly shy with blonde hair, green eyes and the "adorable" mormon girl identity, was terrified of what just came out of my mouth. I was scared that if the Dr could diagnose me to be "gay" then I must be gay. He was a stranger, but his "Dr" status made me believe that if I told him I could be gay, that the words "You are not gay" would come out of his mouth and I would somehow be "fixed" Doctors fix things, they write prescriptions for diseases and make them go away. I was willing to expose this deep secret with the chance he would make it better. This was my mindset at 11 years old. So, I told him, I spilled my deepest secret. Dr Winner told me that day, that I was not gay. He told me that everything would be okay and that is exactly what I wanted to hear, even though I already knew the truth deep down inside. He proceeded to diagnose me with OCD and prescribed me on the famous green and white pill, prozac. He did write me a prescription, and it did not cure the "disease" it just bought me time, which in some sense, I am very thankful for that green and white pill. This pill would be put on the counter next to my lunch money every morning; as I would depart to school for the next 6 years. It was the medicine that would somehow mend me on the inside and take away this monster. I was a good girl growing up, I pleased my parents and got good grades. I was on many athletic teams and had a wonderful peer group. As a member of the church, you are taught that if you live your life "Worthy" of blessings, that you will be saved. So, I made the decision within myself that I would be perfect. This would save me, being perfect would save my life. I would be saved from my "sin" of being gay. If I was perfect, then I could go to heaven and be with my family. If I was gay, then I was not perfect and I wouldn't be able to live with my family throughout eternity. A lot of pressure right! I adopted the identity of being the "yes" man, the people pleasure, the giver, etc. I wanted to be a saint, so that I could be saved from my hidden secrets. At 17 years old I developed an eating disorder and began to isolate myself. I always had many jobs and kept myself busy. I did as much as I could at that age to distract myself from my worries. After I graduated from high school, once team sports were completed, I fell in love with running. Not only did I fall in love with running, but it became an addiction. I could control this part of my life. If I vowed to go running every day, then I would be perfect. I went running every day, rain or shine and even on family vacations. I didn't miss. I had an obsession with the mirror, checking in with my tummy to make sure that I had not gained any weight. If I felt like I had gained weight, I would either run longer the next day or eat next to nothing. I constantly thought of food, I always wanted it, but had extreme guilt if I pleasured myself in eating what I loved. It was a constant battle that I kept losing. Growing up I remember a few vivid memories where I was in so much pain, that I didn't want to live anymore. There was a time when my family went to Florida to visit Disney World. It was our favorite family vacation spot; because it's the happiest place on earth, right? I remember my experience of posing for family photos next to Mickey and friends or after we took wild rides; I knew exactly what thoughts were going on in my mind. "I am so scared, because I am probably gay." These thoughts rep laid habitually over and over and over again like a broken record. I was unhappy standing on the biggest playground in the world. I would come home from school and sleep on our favorite sofa with my dog. I loved that dog, his name was Bernie and he would cuddle right up to me, sensing that I wanted to escape reality. I desperately wanted to go into dream world where no pain was felt. I dreamed of Narnia, it was my favorite fantasy world. I would put on the coat and act out the scenes and go to this world often. Here, I wouldn't have to return anytime soon. I could eat turkish delight and fall in the snow and rest. I loved to pretend that I had a wardrobe and I could walk through and end up in a place like Narnia. Bernie protected me and he understood me. When he passed away, that was one of the hardest things I went through growing up. I did plan in my mind at how I would choose to leave this life and who might come to say there goodbyes. I didn't feel like I had any value to this planet. I know now today, that even immersed into the darkest times, I would have ever chosen to end my life. I did have awareness of something special inside of me and ultimately that I would do special things with this pain in my life. I listened, even to the most subtleties of the voice so deep but so pure. It was the little smothered voice that said "keep on going". One day, it will all be worth it. In my athletic pursuits; I ran 8 marathons (including Boston and NYC) and biked Lotoja, a 206 mile bike race, 4 times. I was moving in the direction of being one of the top woman cyclists in the state. These events, community, and the discipline that I put into my training all these years, saved my life. It distracted me from my problems and ultimately numbed me. I could function enough to even be without medications. I was a well respected athlete and fitness instructor and took pride in my gifts. It was my identity, because that was the part of me that was fully accepted. My story, I knew would be one of the reasons why I was put on this planet. The "aftermath" or wisdom that I have gained from my own pain, is here for me to share. It is something that I can share, to help others find courage within to be open in who they are, without apology.. If someone were to tell my little 11 year old self, that being a gay woman and that the struggles that would lie ahead for me, all of the pain, the intense isolation and loneliness, would have been my biggest gift....I would have not believed them. Now at 32 years old, after coming out of the closet 3 years ago, can say, this is my biggest gift and treasure in my life. I am so happy to be who I am and the person that I want to be is happening, because I accept myself completely. This is for you, this is for the person whom feels alone. This is for the person who fights within themselves to get out of bed or afraid to walk alone. It is for the person whom has fear of not "fitting" in. You fit in here and what you have to offer is a gift, it is a bigger gift than you can imagine for yourself. This is for the gay person, afraid to come out and tell family, friends, religious leaders, teachers, etc. You are not alone. This is for the person being bullied for not being pretty enough, smart enough, skinny enough, rich enough; the list can go on and on. We live in a society where every day there is pressure to rise to a certain level, have a certain degree, or be more beautiful than another, or to be accepted. The need to "fit" in has become a serious epidemic. This is to the person whom wants to end their life, because they are afraid of being authentic in fear of what may happen. Yes, that was me. Now, I thank life for saving me and for leading me to the right people and extending many angels among my path. I was the little girl who was shy and pushed away touch and love because I didn't think I deserved it. I sent myself the message that I was broken and there was no possible way I could be fixed. I had to hide myself, numb myself and run far away from myself, so that I would never have to face myself. Let me tell you, you are not just your face, you are your heart, your soul, your bones, your entire being. I ask you to honor yourself and cultivate a deep rooted respect for yourself. You are not a victim to this day, your past or your future. You have every right to be who you are, whole heartedly. My biggest fear is that I will be rejected and left. I have found, the rejection comes within. If you reject who you are, your soul gets angry. Your soul cries and your soul becomes diminished. If you are courageous enough to be who you are and establish relationship with yourself, you will never be alone. You will never be left behind. In the commitment to being me; I have the right support and people around me now. These close friendships, community, my family can acknowledge my real self and my soul celebrates within this discovery.

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