Friends in Black

I spent nights with my stomach in knots, crying and begging god to take away my “affliction”. The following days, I would act like nothing was wrong. I confided in no one. I wouldn’t accept that I was even possibly bisexual until two years later when I realized that all the prayer and tears brought nothing but more of the same. Parts of me were begging to be released into what felt natural. I had a friend, Brittany, that I met at church. We were instantly drawn to each other, the all-black wardrobe helped you find friends among sheep in Sunday school. Brittany was depressed due to her environment at home; her mom sounded like a monster when I’d hear her yelling in the background during long phone calls.

One Sunday, Brittany brought a friend to church. We didn’t fit in, but he gave so much less of a fuck. He dressed in all black, just like us. He could smell the gay on me, maybe he caught me checking him out. He made reference to it a few times, but I ignored him. In this particular youth service, we ended up in a group activity where we were paired up with another person, and they would tell us a few things about themselves, which we would repeat to the rest of the group. Mike was paired up with this shy little Indian girl, MJ. We were all sitting on the gymnasium floor, I don’t remember who I was paired with because I was preoccupied sitting next to Mike and MJ. I wasn’t sure what he told her, but heard him say, “Just throw it in there, it’ll be fine.”

MJ had an uneasy look on her face as Sister Kunty approached and asked what she had learned. She started, “Well, Mike has two sisters, Hot Topic is his favorite store…and he’s (said as quiet as I was in reading the definition of ‘gay’) bisexual.” Promptly after the exercise, Sister Kunty escorted Mike out of the gym and told him he was welcome here, but could not showcase his sin to the other children. I remember feeling a sense of relief as I hugged him goodbye, I was so scared of being found out. We had so much in common, but I wasn’t ready to have an honest conversation with anyone, I didn’t even know my truth yet.

As cliché as it sounds, most of my friends shopped at Hot Topic and some of us cut ourselves in bathrooms. It was stupid and hurting oneself is never a good idea, but in those moments when I was overcome with emotions I didn’t understand, I would carve things into my thighs with a razor blade. Sometimes they were just lines, sometimes words like “they hate me”, whatever the moment called for. The psychology behind cutting makes sense, some people say that it gives a sense of control to the cutter when they feel helpless. For me, it was the only way I knew how to get out of my mind and away from the intense emotional pain I was feeling.

When we lived in the suburbs, I would go on walks and hide in alleys of grass and power lines to get away long enough to smoke a cigarette. Chance had found a couple cartons when we were 14. Let me just say that both of these are terrible examples of how to cope with emotion and I hope anyone going through the same struggle will reach out to a friend or even myself instead of harming themselves. Though I would cut myself, I never gave a second thought to killing myself in my teens. I made up my mind early in life that if someone made me feel shitty enough to off myself, then doing it would just be letting them win. I was far too stubborn for that.

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