21 November 2010

PE: My Story Part 6 - The Devistating Realization

While trying to hold together my friend's world, and feeling as if I was failing her, some close friends of mine suggested I talk to a doctor about depression. They knew me better than most and recognized that the view I held of myself was unhealthy and untrue. I trusted their judgment and started on anti-depressants. The first thing I noticed was that my hair stopped falling out- which was great. But then I realized that I was able to be introspective without feeling like it would destroy me.

One day I was walking with a friend and she was telling me about how she mentioned to another friend of ours how she was dealing with some tough stuff in relation to one of her friends (the one who had the schizophrenic episode). The other girl she was talking to wrongly assumed that she was talking about me and asked, "Has [Gay Mormon] come out to you?" My friend told me that was the second person that week that had asked a similar question. I reacted a little defensively as I had trained myself to do over the years, but asked why they thought that. The difference now was, the medication I was on made it so I didn't feel like I could just sweep this under the rug and make myself busy like I had always done before. It allowed this question to hang around in the forefront of my mind while I took a hard, honest look at myself.

Well, that night I didn't sleep. This was in July 2010. It was that night that I came to the awful realization that these feelings of mine were never going to go away. I realized then, that I could no longer pretend that everything was "normal" and that I would have to deal with this one way or the other because no matter what I did, this wasn't going to disappear. I had to live with it. I was devastated. Despite my best efforts, despite thoroughly convincing myself that I was just fine, despite all my efforts to sweep this issue into the corners of my mind to be forgotten, somehow, people still knew. I remember practicing talking without using my hands. To be less animated when I talked. I would force myself to try and react subtly and change the way I responded in conversation. This was after a brief talk with a friend about how sometimes I did things that could be mistaken as "gay." And despite all that work, people somehow saw right through me.

I entered a deep depression. I just wanted to drown out the world. I had never gone to the liquor store to buy alcohol before, but it was the only thing I could think of to try and drown out my pain. I bought a bottle of Jack Daniels (nasty stuff... the name makes me want to vomit) and went to a park and drank half the bottle.

I was so lucky to have friends that cared and sensed that something was seriously wrong. When one found out that I had gone to the liquor store, it confirmed that something was amiss. That night, three dear friends of mine nursed me to health as I lay on the floor of one of their living rooms, shaking and vomiting into plastic bags. They tried to find out why I had done this to myself and I responded. I said I thought there was a good chance that I was gay and asked what I was supposed to do. I was distraught. But they were so kind.

Over the next couple weeks I couldn't eat or sleep. Some days I would lay in one spot staring into nothingness, not moving. I was completely debilitated. I didn't know anyone who had been in my situation before. I had no one to talk to that could answer my questions. I was lost. The only link I had was to this guy that basically asked me out months earlier at BYU while I was working. At the time, of course, I turned him down. I was still convinced that I wasn't gay (even though I really did think he was cute, and was quite flattered). I looked in my facebook messages to find that correspondence and messaged him. He told me about a site that was popular among the gay LDS crowd in Utah and I got on it, desperate to talk to others about their experience. 

I talked to tons of guys. Each were handling the situation differently. And though I wanted badly to sit down in person with someone, I was too scared. I didn't know how to navigate that world- it was foreign to me. So it wasn't until I got a message from a guy who recognized me due to a mutual friend that I felt like I was comfortable enough to meet someone. I had hung out with him once before and knew he was normal enough, so we met, and I asked so many questions. He became a real source of support for me. He suggested I go to the BYU counseling center, so I did.

The counseling center was, for me, a really good experience. It was amazing to me that I could go to this stranger at BYU- a Mormon, married, and employed by the church- and tell him everything and have him respond in such a loving, non-judgmental, empathetic way. He was not interested in changing me. Nor did he suggest that I could change. He just sought to help me find happiness in my life, no matter what form that took.

But I still had no idea where to go from the point I was at. I had this deep desire to figure it out and start moving in some direction- any direction. I eventually got the guts to go to a gay social event at Utah University. It was definitely too early for me. The people there were so comfortable with being gay. It was written all over some of them. The way they talked, the way the dressed, the way they acted. I had taught myself to be homophobic all those years of suppression and denial. I was not like them. That was not me. I thought that if that is what it meant to be gay, I must not be gay. So I went into a mini-crisis mode where I started questioning and doubting again.

I knew I didn't fit in with the straight crowd either. Where did I belong? Was there no place for me? It didn't take me long however, before I gained composure and after going through the last month in my mind, and then my life in general, I came to the same conclusion I had already come to. I was definitely gay. Just because I didn't act and talk and dress like that group of guys didn't mean that I wasn't gay. Being gay doesn't come with a particular lifestyle any more than being straight comes with one. Once I realized that, I had to think of how I was going to approach my life now that I had finally accepted my orientation. This was a painful process. It was full of ups and downs. False hopes and unwanted realizations. And, ultimately, it almost led to me taking my own life.


BLB said...

"The people there were so comfortable with being gay. It was written all over some of them. The way they talked, the way the dressed, the way they acted. I had taught myself to be homophobic all those years of suppression and denial. I was not like them. That was not me. "

There was one time I was in a crowd of gay men and someone quipped to me, "Are you sure you're not a closet straight man?" The guy meant no harm, I'm sure, but it kinda stung. It's not like I feel like I'm doing anything different than anyone, so it shocks me that folks "notice" something.

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