Through the process of completing a class for my graduate program, I had a very eye-opening experience concerning my sexuality, my faith, my eating disorder, my emotional hurt, etc., and knew that others in my position would benefit from the words circling inside this 10-pound bobble on my shoulders.
I have studied, researched, and listened to the many theories and stories regarding where the "problem" lies in how sexuality/trauma/behaviors are developed. My family dynamic fits "perfectly" with the stereotypical reason "experts" give for why I am gay or why I hurt. My parents' divorce, living with my mother, and some sort of emotional hurt between me and my father caused, among other things, a "distortion" of my sexuality.
As far as I'm concerned, "experts" falsely babble the same old song and dance. If my sexuality is derived from emotional hurt or broken relationships, then the finger pointing goes in all directions, and that long-winded and, yes, crappy theory comes into question. Remember Prayers for Bobby, anyone? Bobby's father was incredibly devoted. Many others identify with this experience and are a direct contradiction to the perpetuated myth of why we turned out how we did. I'll say that emotional pain from hundreds of life experiences, not one person or event, has been at root of many of my life's past problems, including my eating disorder.
I will present at my first LGBT conference this month, and although I'm excited to do so, I'm more thrilled to share the epiphany I've had. I believe it applies to many, especially those with situations that millions go through: teasing, body perfectionism, eating disorders, problems with acceptance, doubt, etc.
Since beginning advocacy, I've routinely put myself out there, including my flaws and other "skeletons," to open the doors of recovery for others. During this process I've come to the conclusion that this has created an atmosphere of "me, myself, and I."
The truth is that I'm terrified. I'm scared to let go of the post-illness accomplishments and my past hardships and obstacles, out of fear of never again having the blessings that have come out of them. Questions often surface, such as: What will come next? Will that ever happen again? And, most importantly, who will I be without the positive labels ("survivor," "advocate")? I need a new journey, not to "one-up" the other, but an alternative that makes me 100-percent happy.
I, like many others, have said that everyone else had the problem. I know I've been dependent on the journey that brought me to where I am today: the disorder, the hurts growing up, the circumstances around treatment, and sharing that over and over again. It's become, as one woman stated, my new drug. I feed on those past experiences and try to move forward in something that held me back. Truth be told, my past simply distracts me (maybe you?) from new possibilities. Could it be that opening myself up to something new, something unknown, something out of my comfort zone and out of my control is what scares me?
I want the boy I was 15 years ago and those of you reading who relate to my experiences with bullying, teasing, self-harm, emotional trauma, and isolation to know and own the fact that I'm with you in your struggle. Allowing people to push us down in fear places us on a "journey" that prevents us from moving forward, so we're frozen and stuck. We ultimately choose to stay stuck by believing that our vision of now is somehow deserved, or better than it could be. I wholeheartedly believe the best individuals are often handed the toughest lessons in life, but we come out stronger and happier and are able to realize what truth's authentic definition encompasses.
Instead of asking to be taken from the face of obstacles, we must ask and/or pray for the strength to endure. Feeling emotions is tough, but drowning in "what has been" isn't getting us closer to how great we can be. For example, I could have easily continued to embrace, support, or endure what I was "supposed to" do in my life's circumstances. However, evaluation is a wonderful way to curb the "supposed to" mindset with the "don't have to" mindset.
I could've carried the torch of family alcoholism, but I didn't. I could've embraced traits of anger with everyone, but I didn't. I could've continued using one group's moral compass as my own, but I don't think I will. I'd be looking to them, to their opinions and their acceptance, when it came to my life, actions, and beliefs. I would ultimately make them my barrier to figuring things out that make sense for me. I also was "supposed to" want an unrealistic, athletic body, and all the traits that encompass a "perfect" person, but I decided not to. You don't have to, either. My point: indulge in what journey you must take. Don't accept the journey someone else wants to paint for you.
We don't always get what we want or see what we desire, but that's what we're meant to have revealed. We cannot waste time envisioning something we're fearful of or wishing life's image were clearer.
I and thousands of others are with you when you are lonely and when the outlook appears desperate. Just when you believe you've lost your way, find strength that's evolving and presenting itself its multiple ways. Whether a shout or a whisper, the answers are always there; we just cannot fear finding it. This question remains: are we willing to consider that where we are now is right? When we focus on the negative, the positive or unique opportunity isn't with us; it is absent.
This article may sound like the "same old tale" for a gay individual, single mother, teenager suffering from self-harm, or someone with an eating disorder, but remember that each "tale" is unique, and that makes the journey worth it.