Oct 17, 2018
This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.
We’ve known each other for a long time now.
As a child I first met you through the distance in my young mother’s eyes as she struggled with her own pain.
Normalcy wasn’t in the plans for me.
As a teenager you mostly left me alone, so long as I didn’t have fun, rebel, develop friendships, fall in love, individuate; you know, teenager stuff. But at the time I was OK with this as you had by then already convinced me that fun and normalcy wasn’t in the plans for me.
From a teenager to a young man starting out in the world, you had my grandmother repeatedly tell me that I have “the gift,” “the sensitivity.” This “specialness” was handed down to me like a priceless family heirloom. But even back then I intuited, at least on some level, that what I was really being offered was a deep rooted inheritance of shame, stigma, secrecy and silence. So, I hid you away in a closet.
But you weren’t cooperative and willing to stay hidden. In my twenties you started coming around much more frequently, like an uninvited house guest who just shows up, takes up all of my time with their own problems and leaves behind messes for me to clean up. (Un) Fortunately, I discovered that alcohol seemed to temporarily keep you away. So I drank. And then I drank some more. But each morning I’d wake up feeling abused, only to find you there in bed with me. Those mornings turned into weeks and months, and I grew to learn that you weren’t ever returning to the closet.
Then you attacked. It was the summer of 1996. That wasn’t nice.
The attack taught me that you aren’t just a malevolent energy on the periphery of my life, but that you were, and are, intent on destroying me.
But you didn’t, because I wouldn’t let you.
And you won’t because I am determined to fight for my happiness.
I may not win every battle with you, but I will win the war.
That was a lie.
It has taken me many years, but I am now much stronger then when we first met. I am stronger in part because I now see you as you truly are: A bully. And like most bullies, you are a coward and a liar:
You told me I’d never be happy or be fun, and that no one would want me as a friend: That was a lie. You told me I’d never find that special someone who would accept me for who I am: That was a lie. You told me that having kids would be a mistake: That was a lie.
You told me I needed to save every penny for that day you attacked again and I wouldn’t be able to take care of my family or myself: That was a lie.
Mostly you told me to NEVER tell anyone my secret, especially at work: That was a lie.
In 2015 I started talking about you at work, and suddenly your power over me diminished. I’ve learned since that, because you thrive on shame, stigma, secrecy and silence, talking about you is a direct challenge that you do not like. In the lonely shame of our pain, you expand in our bodies like the malignancy that you are, changing the way we think, feel and act. But by speaking your name out loud and to others, my pain has become my purpose and power, and my vulnerability has become my strength.
I’m in charge.
I will continue talking about you at work and in my personal life because I now know I’m not alone, despite this being one of your biggest lies.
So, while I acknowledge that you will likely always be in my life, know that you are no longer in charge.
I’m in charge.
And I’m determined to fight for my happiness.