Ten years ago today I was sitting on a beach in San Diego, California with my cousin debating my existence.
Ten years ago, I was struggling with my sexuality.
I was lost and confused, trying to find some clarity; much of me believing I didn’t belong in this world. At the time, depression had boxed me in. I spent more time trying to navigate between right and wrong and how to exist without upsetting others than I did trying to let myself be me.
Everyday was a battle against my demons: I had grown to believe that God hated me and therefore religion couldn’t possibly exist in my life. I believed my family was disappointed in me, and therefore I was unworthy of their love. And I felt my friends were unsure of me. All of which lead me to doubt myself and my choices.
Unfortunately, despite the multitude of people in my life, I believed I was a disgrace to all of them. I knew I wanted to love, and couldn’t understand why that was so hard for people to understand. I spent most of my time apologizing for who I was, beating myself up for desiring someone of the same sex – I spent so much time doing it, I forgot how to live.
2004, call it my personal blackout. I was so out of my mind depressed that I don’t remember much of that year. It’s painful to think about, to know that I felt that lost.
Now, back to that sunny beach in San Diego.
Call it fate, God remaining by my side, or just luck. Unsure of many details, I know that it had been some time since my mom and cousin had spoke, but in 2004 they did. The result of their conversation was me going to San Diego.
Stereotypical lesbian moment, I listened to Tegan &Sara and T.A.T.U. on my CD player for the entire 6 hour flight.
Stepping off the plane, I knew nothing of my cousins life for the last few years, and she knew nothing of mine. Two strangers, we greeted one another as if we had seen each other yesterday. (Now let me insert here, that growing up, her and I were inseparable. When I was a baby, she was the only one who could make me truly belly laugh. We had a special bond, and I felt comfort in knowing that).
Anyway, she was busy with her life and I was confused and disoriented in mine. I spent everyday wondering the streets of San Diego and sitting on the beach. I remember eventually telling her about liking girls, I also remember waiting for her reaction to be judgement, only, it wasn’t. Instead, she looked at me and said “okay.”
Looking back, I can only laugh at the expression that was probably on my face. I was so used to waiting for people to voice their opinion about how it’s “wrong” that her simple “okay” response and wanting to hear more about my first relationship with a girl, stunned me. Despite whatever may have been running through her mind, she let me speak, and while I spoke, she listened. I think it was then, that I began to come back to life. Began to realize that my life was just that – my life.
My cousin and I didn’t spend too much time together, again, she had her life to attend to. But for the first time, I felt like I had my freedom back, I could do what I wanted, and didn’t feel like eyes were watching my every move.
On February 16th, 2004, she took me to a beach. I remember her getting excited over finding a hammock someone had set up between two trees, she sat in it and I snapped a picture. We walked along the beach for a few, until the sun began to set. We sat ourselves in the sand and pulled out our journals. We chatted while we let ourselves express whatever we felt necessary in our journals. I didn’t write that day, instead I sketched a very simple outline of the view before me.
I’m not sure why it was there or then, but it was there that my hope returned. Hope for life, for myself. Hope for better.
I returned from my visit to California with a new sense of self. I still had those demons, still felt the judgement from others. But I also felt alive again, I felt strong and able.
Now, let’s go back for a moment, don’t get me wrong, there were people in my life in 2004 who supported and loved me, people who had my back . But I was so unsure of myself and so depressed that I couldn’t see them. I only saw the hatred and judgement. So to my friends who were around in 2004, you know who you are – Thank You. Thank you with all my heart. To my family, I know we’ve had our moments of uncertainty; we’ve cried, yelled, argued, and debated, but through that, we loved.
So, if you’re still reading this, thank YOU. As you know, we all face our own demons. And just as we’ve faced them, I’m sure many of us have also overcome them. If you’re facing something right now, know that you’re not alone and know that you have the strength to get through it.
It’s through God’s grace that I’m here today. 2004 was a difficult time of growing. A time of change. I can accept who I am now, and that doesn’t mean that times are all butterflies and rainbows, the difficult times are still there, but I’m okay with them. The pain reminds me that I’m alive.
I exist now in 2014 with my head held high. With a belief in God, with hope for this world, for myself, and for everyone else who may be struggling. I believe that every day we can make a difference by existing, by sharing our stories, by loving and supporting one another.
We are all the same, this is our world, this is our time. Let’s cover it with what matters most: acceptance, kindness, support and love.
To everyone STILL reading this, everyone who is or has been a part of my life, thank you for your kind heart, it means more than you will ever know.
Hugs & Hope,
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”