Growing up, I had next to no real friends nor did I feel as though I had anyone that I could confide in. I had no role models, no close family members and certainly no one to talk to.
On top of my emotional challenges, I also knew that I was different than most boys, in that I was gay. I really struggled with my thoughts. I knew that being gay was not something that I could control but at the same time, I never quite understood what was happening at the time or why I was gay. During this time, there were no gay characters on television, role models or even support groups in school. I knew I was different but I never had a way to grasp what was happening.
I kept these feelings hidden deep inside of me. I never shared them, never explored them and certainly never acted on them. All through elementary school, middle school and high school, these feelings were hidden deep inside. My friendships with boys were always more concentrated, involved and intense. I can’t tell you the number of ‘crushes’ I had while growing up. I can tell you however that each and every one of them ended in heartache.
Because I was an extremely introverted young man, who would never stand up for himself, it made me a target at school for others to call me names. I would always cry as that was the way my body coped with any sort of pressure or stress. Words like ‘cry baby’ or ‘suck’ were repeated over and over by a cruel few for many years.
While in highschool, I had several times where I was bullied beyond the point of being called names. One particular day, I was followed home, all the while being called names. When I got home, the boys spit all over the front door to my house. It was humiliating to have to clean that up. I can tell you everything about this incident. From the weather, to the clothing I was wearing, to the names I was called, I remember it all like it was yesterday.
There were many times that I was pushed, had books knocked out of my hand, tripped, spit on, hair pulled out and even punched. All the while, I kept it in as I feared that reaching out would only make everything worse.
As much as I understand what bullying is now, at the time I always felt like this was only happening to me. I just figured that the world hated me, I mean I was locked in a basement by night and targeted at school by day. Day after day I would hold it all in and simply hope that life would simply get better on its own, just like magic.
To top all of this off, I was also being sexually abused by a much older man which took place over a period of several years. This is something that I kept locked away in my mind until recently. I am a survivor of sexual assault. One day, I hope to be strong enough to speak more openly about this.
Having no one to talk to, or confide in, I was hurting mentally for many years. My world was a mess and I couldn’t find a way to make it better. The reality is that I was crashing. I was falling apart and psychologically I was suffering with mental illness.
I had thoughts of an unknown future, depression, self harm and even suicide. Life was very dark for me during this time.