Anniversaries are important to me. Every now and then I go back through blog posts and read what I wrote a year ago on a certain date or time of year. This spring semester has been full of that kind of nostalgic activity. My Papaw died at the end of February. Looking back and remembering how genuinely sweet and gentle of a man he always was helped bring peace. But not all of my reminiscing has been as tranquil. When I wrote the first blog post about my childhood I hadn’t come to grips with how far reaching the indoctrination of that stifling, poisonous environment was.
While I started opening up about my mental health struggles and eventually seeking help to deal with them, that wasn’t the only aspect of my life that was exposed last March. It was one year ago that I began coming out as– not straight. This probably won’t come as a surprise to most people; I haven’t been very secretive about my sexuality, but I haven’t ever actually come out. The exact terminology is a bit fuzzy, and the way I identify varies. Sometimes I’ll say biromantic lesbian, but more often the term bisexual seems fitting. Exact labels don’t really matter to me, as they change as a person grows. I like girls and feminine people almost exclusively and the general public really doesn’t need to know more than that. I would say they don’t need to know at all, but there’s a problem with that and it’s something I’ve been thinking about lately.
Invisibility is incredibly painful.
Not only is invisibility invalidating, it’s isolating. It isn’t good for me to be left to my own devices; they can be pretty nasty. Much like keeping my pain and past hidden left me feeling imaginary and craving realism, being completely in the closet didn’t last long. I started figuring out my feelings and it became obvious that hiding that part of myself indefinitely was not a viable option. When I first started going to meetings of our campus LGBT club I snuck in, careful that none of my friends saw me. Gradually, those meetings and other events became the majority of my social life. One year later, I’m the vice president of that club where a confused and scared Annie first found acceptance as a queer girl. I could, and probably will, write more about this process, but that’s not what this blog post is about. I want my self to be known for the same reason I blog at all. I share so that others can know they aren’t alone.
This year has been my hardest one in memory. At times it feels like I’ll collapse under the pressure and stress of resurrected memories and ideologies that have nearly literally killed me. Like so many other parts of myself, my self inflicted scars are more visible now. When you are taught from infancy that you deserve death, it is hard to come in as an adult and feel that you deserve not just life, but a happy one. Rewriting those recordings isn’t as easy as swiping a magnet over the tape.
Yet, when I look back at those writings from last year, I can see how far I’ve come in so short a time. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m not as scared of relationships and have allowed myself to be more open to being loved. With that openness and love and support, has come a newfound hope and, dare I say, happiness. And it feels good.