by anonymous | Jun 5, 2019 | Adult Bullying, Anger, Bullying, Coping With Bullying, Emotional Abuse, Family, Feelings, Gay Is Okay, How To Heal From Being Bullied, Sexuality, Things That Are Bullshit, Trauma |
I have wanted to post here for a long time. I have a story. It is a painful story. Maybe it’s painful only to me, I don’t know. I’ve been so humbled by the stories I have read here and felt unworthy, like my own problems can’t possibly be as bad. I have followed these writers – I will not call them bloggers because to me they are writers as impactful and as important as any that were found on my bullshit high school reading lists.
They do not know that they have been lifelines.
They do not know that they have given me validation. They do not know that they have made me feel like part of something bigger. And I have felt unworthy to speak in these forums because I have not suffered the same losses, the same blows, the same sickness…how could I be part of this tribe? But today, in this strange world of Twitter that I am still trying to understand, someone gave me the invitation and therefore the permission to post here.
Ed note: Please, you’re all invited to post here. We want you to share your stories, big and small. Your victories, your celebrations, your dragons, and your sadness too. Don’t be intimidated Pranksters. If I’m Your Aunt Becky, that means we’re family (sorry). You are all welcome to come in and stay.
Today, someone fucked with my kid.
Maybe this is the way, the opening of the floodgates, where I feel important enough. Maybe this is where my story gets validation. And I will tell my story, most of which has nothing to do with this incident.
And I want to tell you all so many of my stories because it has taken so long for me to realize that I HAVE a story, that my shit was fucked up, that I got a raw deal, that some of how I am is because of what happened. But right now none of that matters, my story is not important, my hurts are not important, nothing is important except the fact that someone. fucked. with. my. kid.
My kid is gay. I am gay. What these two things have to do with one another, I could care less about. The Bean (my kid) is a carbon copy of me in so many ways. We love hard, heavy and openly. She has been raised as a political kid in Washington, DC, where there is a rally or march every other week, and if it is something we believe in – from gay rights to women’s rights to immigration rights to arts funding to DC statehood – we march for it and we are loud and do not back down.
I taught her that.
I taught her about gay bashing and Matthew Shepard and Brandon Teena and the Trevor Project and all the horrible things that happen to people because of how they love. I taught her to be the head of her Gay-Straight Alliance at school. We matched in our rainbow outfits for the Marriage Equality March. The youth-friendly Gay Pride after-party has always been at our house. She knew she could fight because her mama was always there by her side.
Mama was not with her today on The Metro with her girlfriend.
It was a beautiful day here today. Finally, the humidity had broken and I was down at The H Street Festival, one of the city’s biggest festivals. Bean was supposed to meet me at H street but she is slightly geographically challenged and by the time she figured out where to go, it was time to go home. I told her that I’d meet her at The Metro and ride home with the two of them.
As I got off the train, I noticed that Bean and …we’ll call her Banana…were in the car ahead of me. As I moved to catch up with them, Banana noticed me and said “That man messed with us.”
Oh, hell no.
I bypassed the checkout and went straight through the emergency exit and demanded, “Do you have a problem with my daughter?”
To which he responded, “Children don’t need to see that gay shit on the train.”
I discovered that when he said something to Bean, she said something back to him. So this truly classy gentleman, in his fifties made a fist at my seventeen-year old daughter and told her to “step to him.” This man was also still in his security guard uniform with his name tag. He was a douche-bag security guard at an amusement park.
The details are kinda cliché, but suffice to say I turned into every inch the stereotype of a pissed off black woman.
I grew an extra vertebrae so I could roll my head, my finger grew an inch or two to help me point at his face and I learned all kinds of different ways to conjugate “motherfucker.” Eventually, Bean saw me pulling an Arizona Iced tea bottle out of my bag and pulled me toward the car. That was after he informed me that if I was any kind of mother, I wouldn’t have a gay kid, and what my daughter and I both needed was some of his twelve inches, and I needed to bend over and take some of him because I needed to be put in my place.
I told this story to my friends on Facebook and Twitter, and the tears in my eyes right now are not because of the incident, but because of the amazing outpouring of support, piss, and vinegar that I’ve gotten. My friends are contacting Six Flags, where Mr. Antonio Washington works, demanding that Mr. Antonio Washington be removed from working around kids. My friends are re-posting my note so people know this kind of hatred and ignorance is real. They are sending love to a little girl that many of them haven’t ever met.
And what is that little girl doing ? She sat on her mommy’s lap for about 5 minutes. Mommy was busy yelling on the phone, Tweeting and trying to fix all of her favorite foods at once. And she was okay. I overheard her on the phone.
“He didn’t know who he was messing with. My mom is so mad and you don’t mess with my mom.”
I read her Facebook Status, “Some asshole was dumb enough to bash my mom’s kid. He’ll be sorry.”
I listened to Banana “Man, your mom doesn’t play around!” They just made Pizza Rolls and popcorn and are being WAY squeal-y watching horror movies.
Just got off the phone with Six Flags General Counsel. At 9:30 on a Saturday night.
So I guess, to be cliche and because I love NPR , This I Know Is True:
Just because you were an 18-year old teenage mother with a GED and a crack-addicted mother in the murder capitol of the world, you can still be a good mom.
I’m a good mom because I taught my kid to fight for her rights – her rights as a woman, as a black woman, as a black/Latina woman, as a black/Latina gay woman.
I’m a good mom because she knows her momma is never too far away and will KICK THE FUCKING TEETH OUT of anyone who messes with her.
I’m a good mom because, at the end of the day, she still wants to sit on my lap and play with my hair.
As Aunt Becky taught me, we are, none of us, ever alone. The outpouring of rage and support over this has been amazing. I have seen this story, in the matter of about two hours, be posted, tweeted and spread across states and continents. There are warm and fuzzies everywhere and most of you don’t even know the Bean.
I have a story. And there are people out there to listen.
Now someone pour me a shot.
by anonymous | Jun 4, 2019 | A Letter I Can't Send, Coping With Bullying, Family, Gay Is Okay, How To Heal From Being Bullied, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Teen Bipolar Disorder, Teen Bullying, Teen Depression, Teen Eating Disorders, Teen Suicide |
Dear Mom and Dad,
I have waited a long time to write this. High school, college, my first job, my first apartment.
Your firstborn is finally an adult.
We’ve addressed the issues before. Usually at the kitchen table, or as you stand in my doorway while I cry in my bedroom. I have yelled. I have called you assholes, terrible parents.
I blamed you for fucking me up.
You did fuck me up.
I am an adult now, so it isn’t your job to parent me any more. To teach me acceptance of self. To tell me I am beautiful; perfect the way I am. To tell me I deserve only the best. To tell me that guy who broke my heart is crazy for letting me get away. To tell me I am a catch. A good person. A talented artist. A fountain of possibility. A woman with an amazing life ahead of her.
You weren’t there for me when I was bullied in middle school and high school. You wrote it off as “being a kid” or “well, that’s high school,” but I was a kid. I was in high school. That’s all I knew. I didn’t have your hindsight.
When I found the note in the garbage during science class, the one that was written about me by two girls in the class, you weren’t the ones who held me and told me it would be okay.
You didn’t acknowledge the pain that I felt when I read those words – ‘she’s such a stupid bitch. I wish she’d just like jump off a cliff.’
You told me they were being stupid and childish. You told me to brush it off.
You found the suicide note that I penned at 11 years old. You were going through my stuff. I was so mad at you. You sent me to therapy, and we never spoke of it again.
When I was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder, you didn’t help me shoulder the burden. You didn’t cry with me. You didn’t buy any books on the topic. You didn’t do the Walk for Mental Health charity 5k that I KNOW happened several years ago.
Why didn’t you do that?
When I overdosed in college and you came to pick me up, you silently drove me home to your house, two hours away, where I stayed the entire weekend to “get away from everything.” On Sunday night, you asked if I was okay.
I’m okay. Two days ago I tried to kill myself, again, but you know, sure, okay, I’m fine.
And then you put me on a bus back to school.
And we never spoke of that weekend again.
I stayed in therapy.
When I gained all of that weight, because of the PCOS, and I was sad, miserable, and feeling less than worthy of anything, you bribed me with a new car to lose 20 lbs. You didn’t tell me I was pretty. You didn’t tell me size was just a number. You didn’t tell me to go out and have fun with my friends, to not care about what I looked like, to know that it was the inside the counted the most.
You told me you’d buy me a car, and when I starved myself for two months, you handed me the keys.
You never told me it would get better.
But then there was your second child.
I know now that parents have favorites. Do you love all three of us? Of course you do. If something were to happen to any one of us, would it break you? I would hope. But when all three of your kids stand in front of you, you know who your favorite is.
He is your favorite child.
He grew up bubbly, fun, surrounded by friends. Smart, adorable, well-behaved. Charming.
I hated him from the beginning. Remember the time I spilled hot soup on him when he was three? Remember the time I yanked a huge chunk of hair out of his head when he was seven?
I was, undoubtedly, your angry child.
But somewhere along the path of growing up, he became my favorite too. When you guys didn’t care about my broken heart, he did.
When I needed help with stats, he always knew the answers.
When I was in my darkest moments, fearing the end, I remembered that while I idolized him more than he looked up to me, I had a little brother to take care of.
He encouraged me when you didn’t. He took me seriously when you brushed me off. He laughed at my jokes. He asked to spend time with me. He got to know me beyond being his sister and your daughter.
All the while, he shined. Confident, secure, compassionate; he encompassed everything you’d look for in another human being. He made for great company.
He is gay.
You didn’t bribe him to change. You didn’t encourage him to shy away from his friends because he was getting used to his new skin. You just didn’t.
He was still beautiful. He was still talented. He was still smart. No matter what he “was” – he was still your son. My brother. And you loved him for exactly who he was, exactly who he is, just as you did before, just as you always will.
The acceptance was instant. It was non-negotiable.
He was surrounded by your love – the same love I lacked when it came to my yearning for your acceptance. Your non-negotiable support.
I resented you. I resented him.
In the wake of the recent suicides within the LBGQT community, I am so thankful that my little brother was one of the few who was enveloped in love and support from the very beginning.
That he became so much more that could define him other than his orientation.
That his life was so filled with possibility, he never wanted it to end.
You did not grace me with an abundance of love at the times I needed it the most. Perhaps it was because I was your first – your oldest – your first “go” at all things parenting. Perhaps you had no idea what to do, so you chose to do nothing. I know that as a child, I was different. I had different needs. As an adult, I can understand that. And I can empathize.
But thank you for being exactly the type of parents my little brother needed.
If you had been different, if things had been different…well, I don’t know how to even write the words that follow. I can’t write them.
All I know is that I am grateful for him – the one person that in my darkest hour will tell me, “Caroline…it gets better.”
My little brother.
by Band Back Together | Nov 14, 2018 | Anger, Anxiety, Child Abuse, Depression, Emotional Abuse, Fear, How To Heal From Being Bullied, How To Help With Low Self-Esteem, Psychological Manipulation, Sadness, Self Loathing, Self-Esteem, Shame, Stress, Trauma |
I have had so much on my mind lately.
So many things make me question my worthiness. I don’t even know. I don’t even know what I want to say. Usually I pull out my journal and just write until my hand cramps. Everything that comes from my head through my fingers. Usually it doesn’t make sense. But I need to get it out.
So that is where I am today.
First. I have missed the Band so much. I am so grateful it is back together again!
I was fired last year from a job I HATED! but loved at the same time. I was a teacher in a 2-year old classroom. I loved my kids. Even on the worst days they made me smile.
People left, got new jobs. People were hired that didn’t like the way my classroom ran. They didn’t have the heart for 2-year olds. They accused me of some shady shit and state got involved. It was bad. I cried every day for a few months. I was terrified!
I mean, this is what I know I was put on this planet to do!
And it was taken away from me and ruined by some 18-year old snot nosed little bitch who didn’t want to work where she was told. I could go into a rant about entitlement here but that would be another post for another day. Ultimately she made up things that just weren’t true.
And to deal with it, I was fired. I was HEARTBROKEN! I was losing my kids. I couldn’t tell them why. I couldn’t tell the parents why. It was absolute bullshit! I was so hurt and angry. These people I worked with I thought were some of my best friends!
Guess what? I’ve talked to them maybe 5 times in the last year. They don’t care; I didn’t matter.
That is when I get into my head. See, I have heard my whole life that I don’t matter. That I am not good enough. That I am ugly and clumsy and not proportioned right – and too skinny, and too fat.
I was told I was stupid.
I believe all of these things to be true.
If the people in my life who are supposed to love me the most say these things to me as a child, they have to be true.
I don’t have relationships. I have people around me who I know I am not good enough for. I was just starting to actually build some self-confidence, believing that I was worthy of a friend.
Once again, I was told I am a terrible human; I don’t deserve friends, don’t deserve to do what I love.
I really thought my ‘friends’ wouldn’t disappear. I thought I might actually matter enough. And reality, once again, slapped me in the face.
It made me realize that I don’t have a single true friend. Someone I know I can call any time of the day and talk or cry or not talk or laugh.
I constantly feel like a burden. I don’t have a relationship with my own sister. Sure, I love her, I want to be her friend, but I am not even worthy of that. I feel so incredibly alone….. Even surrounded by people.
I know if I weren’t there, no one would notice. Or they’d be talking crap about me.
I have a new job now that I absolutely love and I work with some great people. But my walls are even higher than ever now: I can’t let anyone in. I can’t be devastated like that any more. It’s crushed me.
It’s happened more times in my life than I can count.
And here I am, rambling again.
I even suck at writing. I just wish I had a person. Someone who really cared. Someone I could give all my secrets too. Even the ones I am not so proud of. The ones that make me terrified.
I just want to feel worthy of someone.
To know that I matter.
by Band Back Together | Oct 10, 2018 | Adult Bullying, Bullying, Child Sexual Abuse, Coping With Bullying, Emotional Abuse, How To Heal From Being Bullied, Loving An Addict, Psychological Manipulation |
I don’t know where to start this, but I need to put it out there to start healing.
I’m now 42 years old and I’ve always needed mental health care; I hear voices and I see things that aren’t there. I was molested and raped as a child and again as a teenager. I couldn’t cope, so I began self-harming – just to feel something; anything, however this behavior was never allowed in my house.
When I was 16 and tried to kill myself, my parents took me to an ER out of town and then swept it under the rug. Never to be spoken about again.
In 2004, I took a job with my father as my boss.
See, I’ve also always been a high-functioning addict and I wanted so badly to NOT be the black sheep in my family; I wanted my parents to be proud of me. So I took this job. I worked so hard for many years. At work, people thought i was a “princess” because my father was our boss. Little did they know that I got all the shit jobs that could never be done late or missed. Even when my oldest child collapsed with leukemia, I was given a laptop and worked from her hospital room.
My husband and I use pain clinics, but if we run short, I’ll buy some to help get us through the month. Plus, I’ve always had bad panic attacks and I smoked weed to help out with those and help me sleep.
Last year, a woman wanted me fired and gone.
She broke into my Facebook and found a conversation, between my husband and I, that we’d had about a year before. She took pictures of this conversation, then showed them to my father. The conversation included information about me being bisexual and about buying weed and a pill.
I was fired, as was my husband. I was disowned by my entire family.
The same family that KNEW that I had mental illnesses, heard voices, saw things, and that I experienced black-outs during which I did and said things I’ll never remember. They didn’t offer me help – they set me out, cast me aside. After running my life, (they controlled what I wore, what vehicle I drove, what I did with the kids…etc.) they washed their hands of me and walked away.
My brother also works for our father – did I mention we were all cops? I was not a cop but I did time-keeping for the jail and registered sex offenders.
My brother had me pulled over 48 hours after I was fired and disowned, he had his people tear my truck apart searching for drugs and other illegal stuff. All they found was a single pain pill that belonged to my husband. I told them it wasn’t mine, my husband told them that it was his, yet they still wrote me a citation for possession.
So I went to court, for the first time ever – I had never been in trouble before. I’d never even gotten a speeding ticket. The lawyer took me aside and told me the only plea I’d be offered was 11 months 29 days for misdemeanor probation. I took it. Even though I’d brought the pill bottle to show them the pill was legal. I knew if I tried to take it to trial they would give me jail time. I was an example to be made.
It gets worse.
The press got wind that we’d been fired.
My parents had the woman who had hacked my Facebook handle the press.
It went national and none of it was true. They said we were on meth. That I’d been arrested.
It was single worst time in my life.
Our landlord evicted us.
We had another trailer lined up in the county next to ours because we couldn’t go ANYWHERE in our other county without being followed by local police.
At the last minute, our future trailer fell through. We put everything we owned in a storage facility and officially became homeless. We rented a long-term motel in the neighboring county. We were both drawing unemployment so we just hid in the motel, licking our wounds and trying to figure out what our new life was going to look like.
For the first time in my life, I went to the local mental health facility and made an appointment to see someone. The blackouts where getting so bad that I’d broken into my mother-in-law’s apartment and stole money – I have no memory of any of it. They diagnosed me with post-traumatic stress disorder, Type I bipolar disorder, insomnia, and schizophrenia. I was prescribed Vraylar (a new medication to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia). It has made such a difference in my life.
Then the next thing that struck us down, the unemployment dried up. No one said that it didn’t last all year. I worked there for 15 years my husband worked there for 21 years and we got a whole 6 months of unemployment.
So we go from living in a long-term motel, to living in our Honda. We had our pug and beagle with us and that was it. My husband’s mother decided to help us get a rent to own trailer, so we went to an estate auction (a little 85 year old lady had had a heart attack in her kitchen and died) looking for furniture and things like a fridge, stove, washer, dryer. We’d lost all of that when we lost our trailer.
When the time came, they started bidding on the actual house and no one made a bid.
Suddenly, my husband’s mom raised her hand and bid $30,000 on a $100,000 house. No one else bid. My husband and I sat rock still, holding hands so tightly that the color was seeping from our fingers. For 10 minutes, the auctioneer continued asking if anyone else had a bid. They didn’t want the house going for that low.
Finally the auctioneer said, “SOLD FOR $30,000!”
My husband and I grabbed each other and his mom and together we sat in our new back yard and cried and thanked God.
I managed to get a job at a gas station that’s within walking distance from our new house. I make just enough to pay our lights and water. I’m trying so so very hard to get us into the green, to get my husband’s guns out of pawn, and to get some money to help my grown kids out if they need it.
Truly, this has been the worst year I’ve ever known. I spend every evening wishing that I could speak to my parents, while knowing that they won’t answer me. I even tried sending an email last month saying that I was sorry for embarrassing them and that I loved them more than life, and got no answer.
But even though it’s been the worst year, it’s also been the best.
I got fired from a job that made me so unhappy, I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror. Now, I work at a little gas station with no stress, just fun. I had forgotten that work could be fun.
I got disowned by my parents and completely slandered in the news. But, that meant that I’ve stepped out of my parents control. For the first time IN MY LIFE, I wear what I want to wear, go where I want to go, and say whatever I want to say. I went from homeless for the first time, to sleeping in the Honda, to owning my own home. No mortgage, no nothing!
It’s the light of my life! Now no one can evict us; we have our own home!
I went from never having any sort of mental health care, with blackouts so bad I turned the only mother-figure in my life against me due to something I can’t even recall, to feeling almost normal. I didn’t know that I NEEDED mental health care. It’s amazing that I do NOT hear voices, I don’t see things that aren’t there, and I’m neither severely over-emotional nor completely numb.
I guess the moral to my story is this: I’m learning and I hope that my story helps anyone else going through the worst things they’ve experienced. That if you are going through things that you can’t imagine making it through, if life has you by the balls and you can’t breathe without the weight on your chest, if you want to crawl under the bed until the sun rises. Just hold on. Hold on tight.
Things WILL get better. It may not work out the way you want – heck, just look at my living situation! – but it will work out in a way that you never could have guessed.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have problems. I’m still depressed, I miss my family so badly it hurts. I still don’t sleep (and when I do, I wake up screaming from nightmares that the last thing I said to my parents will be the last thing I’ll ever get to say to them.)
But for the most part, life is getting better, I’m enjoying my job and my house. My husband and I are doing well. I can’t wait for the next chapter to come. I know there will be more struggles and hardships but I’ve learned that things will work out, maybe not the way I wanted or thought it would. But, I’m going slow and finally, finally, I have hope.
For those of you out there in the bad place, go slow… hold on… and have hope.
by Band Back Together | Aug 30, 2018 | Anger, Anorexia Nervosa, Anxiety, Bullying, Coping With Bullying, Eating Disorders, Emotional Abuse, How To Heal From Being Bullied, Restrictive Eating Disorders, Stress |
I began dancing when I was 4 years old.
My great-aunt owned our dance studio, so for the girls in my family, dance was non-negotiable.
The first few years of ballet we just had to go for one hour a week, and let’s be honest, you don’t do a whole lot of ballet when you’re 4 and 5 years old. It’s like cat herding. The fact that they were able to keep us all in the same room at the same time was a pretty impressive accomplishment.
My older sister started 3 years before me, so for the first few years, I always went to her class too. I watched her dance with her peers and with one of our cousins, I watched their feet, their new tricks. I would imagine how in 3 years I would look just like her. I would be graceful, balanced, thin and my great-aunt would shower me with the same praise she did my sister and cousin.
But as time passed, I didn’t turn into my sister.
While she grew boobs and a tiny waist, I grew out. I didn’t get the good body or the great balance. I was the chubby girl who couldn’t hold her releve without tipping a little. I was the chubby girl that gave 100%, but always came up short.
My great-aunt began to notice that I was chubby and made it a point to remind me of it regularly. When it was nearly time to start ballet on pointe, she told me that I either needed to lose 10 pounds, or wait a year. I was 10.
I had to wait a year.
I picked up extra ballet classes in hopes of improving my technique, of winning the favor of my great-aunt. The extra classes turned into extra opportunities for her to criticize me. To criticize my size, to remind me that I was not graceful like my sister or my cousin, both of which carried on the family tradition of becoming dance instructors for the younger kids.
Each week I prepared myself, I put on my invisible armor which was dented from the last class’s slightly veiled insults. “Oh Katie, well, I guess that’s better than last time.” Or “Katie, you know that you would be able to do that even easier with less weight.” Sometimes she said it only to me, sometimes she stopped the music and hurled the words at me in front of all the other girls in my class.
I tried to quit, but my mom, who was so well intentioned, told me to keep trying. I kept trying, and to my credit, I did improve. For 14 years I went to ballet, the last few years spending over 8 hours a week in that studio, being told I was not graceful, being denied solos, becoming the first person in my family to not be offered a job to teach there.
At the end of my 14th year, I went away to college.
When I went to watch the dance recital the the next summer I was 60 pounds lighter, I hadn’t had a period in 10 months and I was dangerously underweight. I was out of control.
I was starving myself.
I was anorexic.
I can’t give ballet all the credit for the anorexia, because truthfully it was initiated by a need to control something in my life because I was spiraling into depression I couldn’t climb out of. So I counted calories, and by counted, I mean obsessed over them, I controlled them. I started running. I exercised twice a day.
And the weight fell off.
But when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see a thin girl. I saw the chubby 10 year old who wasn’t allowed to start pointe with her peers. I saw the ungraceful girl who couldn’t keep up, who wasn’t good enough.
It has been 9 years since I quit ballet and 9 years since my first bout with an eating disorder. I say first because eating disorders aren’t like the flu, they don’t just go away. They sit under the surface waiting to re-emerge, to re-devastate your self-confidence.
I am older now, stronger maybe, but I still see a chubby girl in the mirror. When I gain 5 pounds, I can’t see anything besides failure. When my weight goes above 135 pounds, I literally cannot stop the thoughts of starving myself, of going to any length to be thinner.
To be the graceful ballerina that I always imagined I’d grow up to be.
To be what I couldn’t be all those years ago.
by Band Back Together | Jul 16, 2018 | Adult Bullying, Bullying, Childhood Bullying, Coping With Bullying, How To Heal From Being Bullied, Teen Bullying |
Dear Gay/Bi/Curious Teenage Prankster Who Is Being Bullied By Bullshit Bullies,
Chances are, you don’t know me from a hole in the ground. In fact, a hole in the ground may look more familiar than I do, but I am Your Aunt Becky, and while we may not actually be related by blood, I have adopted you along with the rest of the Internet. It’s okay. Don’t worry. When I show up to your house for some family gathering and get rowdy and drunk and sing God Save The Queen, I’ll distract your parents so you can sneak some rum into your eggnog, okay?
Anyway, I hate to bother you with a boring letter since you kids like your text messages but what I have to say is important and I hope that you listen to it. Or parts of it. Tune out what doesn’t matter to you, but please, listen to at least a little bit of it. I may not be particularly smart, but I have lived about twenty different lives, so I’ve picked up some insight along the way.
Your teenage years are not the best years of your life.
What seems like a permanent and dire situation now, the things that make you hurt and ache inside, those things will stay with you, but the hurts and the aches, those subside over time. These are the things that will fortify you. They will strengthen you and they will make you a better person. Eventually.
I know that it seems like there is no other way out, believe me, I’ve felt that way before too. I’m willing to bet that most of the people who are reading this column right now have felt this way at some point as well. Maybe it’s not the same. Maybe we cannot understand precisely how you feel because we are not you. But even when things seem so bleak and so empty, even when all that you feel is a deep chasm of pain, it will pass. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next week, but it will pass.
Things will get better.
Physically, my heart hurts when I see statistics like sexual minority youth are bullied two to three times more than heterosexual youths. In our lifetime, (yes, I am using the royal “our” because I am rightly assuming that you will be around to make fun of my obsession with bacon for a good long while) I would be willing to bet that this number will drop as bullying is taken more seriously by schools and parents alike. Certainly, that does not help you right at this very moment, as you are hurting from the devastating effects of verbal, emotional and even perhaps physical abuse, I know that. Let every unkind word, every insult, every horrible slur thrown at you strengthen your resolve to help the next generation.
You know that you must be part of the change the next generation of children who will grow up to be in your shoes some day. You can and you will.
These are not the best years of your life.
The best years of your life are yet to come. The years ahead of you will be long and they will be beautiful and they will be brimming with love. The suffering that you have withstood at the hands of cruel bullies and those who do not understand you will leave the sorts of scars that may never be visible to anyone but those who know you best. Those silent scars will only serve to help you as you can turn all of your pain and channel it into something greater, something positive. There is a whole world out there beyond your high school, beyond your small-minded town who will welcome you with wide arms, who will love you as you are, and who will accept you simply for being you.
It’s hard to remember all of this, I know, because even now, at age thirty, my high school years winking merrily in my rear view mirror, I struggle to remind myself that it’s not the end of things when I have a bad day. I have to take a breath and remind myself that it’s not going to break me when I’m bullied by someone. The days when I get harassed simply for being me aren’t bad days at all; because they make me stronger. Sometimes, I have to take a step back from the situation, let all of that hatred flung in my face wash over me and and allow it to strengthen my resolve to do more good.
These horrible bleak days are going to make the rest of your life that much better.
I want you to know that somewhere, Your anonymous Aunt Becky is rooting for you, kid, and she loves you dearly. You’ll learn that the world is a good place. High school may not always be, but the world is. I’m sorry that things have to be so hard for you and trust me, if I could take on those bullies, I would do it in a second (don’t doubt me on this). I have a loyal Prankster Army who’d back me up. Bullies are bullshit. No, let me rephrase that: bullies are FUCKING bullshit, and you don’t deserve the suffering they’re causing you.
There’s a big world out here, kid, and we can’t wait to meet you. Please remember that high school is temporary and the rest of your life, well, it’s wide open. We can’t wait to see what you’re going to do with it.
Please, do not give up hope. There is always hope.
If you’d like to talk to someone from the Trevor Project, here is the Phone Number: 866-4-U-TREVOR
And, loves, you know where to find me.
Your Aunt Becky