;so I Kept Living.

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I am a couple days late writing this. I was away from this platform on Suicide Awareness Day (aka September 10th), and yesterday I was busy with other things, rather than writing. 

Trigger Warning. Bullying, suicide and depressive moods will be discussed below.

I’ve never quite felt like I fit in anywhere. I’ve always been labeled as different, and when I’m not high from the thought that no one else out there is anything like me, I’m low and lonely. There are times when I feel like I’m alone, but what keeps me going is a faith in the weirdness and novelty of humanity. I have faith that somewhere out there, there are people that will understand me in a way that I’ve longed to be understood in since I entered public school. While this faith alone is not the sole thing that has kept me alive, but I will discuss my other inspirations below, this faith is sometimes the brightest, most exciting reason I get through my lonely ruts.

I was born and have been trapped in the Southeast of the United States since the start of my existing in the body that I have today. I hate it here, the backwards-ness of society, the criticism of social and technological progress, the judgement, the overwhelming pressure to conform to a way of life that was only deemed acceptable 70 years ago, and the people here have not gotten the message that society has grown and changed since then. I’ve longed for another life since I can remember. I’ve longed for another place since I first learned of the constraints of the place that I happened to be born into. When I was younger, I found that I could relate to Lilo from Lilo and Stitch a bit too much, and around the winter holidays, I was more excited that I could watch Rudolph again than I was for Santa Claus or even for the snow, because Rudolph comforted me in a way that most popular culture figures simply could not, at the time.

As the workload in school kept increasing with my age, I found that my peers looked more to me for answers for tedious busywork, and I was happy to provide, if only for the few seconds of attention that the more popular kids bestowed upon me. Suddenly I found that during class, I had a good amount of people to talk to, but at recess, no one invited me to play games. Instead of begging for attention, I took to the swings and flew by myself for the half hour of free time in between classes. Eventually I found at least one person to talk to at any given down time from school, but there was always some complication with that, my ‘chosen person’ was either a few years younger or older than me, or they had a large group of friends that I never quite fit in with, or they ended up moving away. Eventually even the girl that I had grown the closest to moved away during our Junior year of High School.

This led to me being pretty lonely throughout my time at public school. Eventually all I could find was a sea of superficial friendships with superficial people, and the older we got, the more I noticed that they fell into the Southeastern US culture, and the more I did not fit in with that culture at all. My Junior and Senior years of high school I rarely did anything outside of school with any of my peers. Maybe you would think that this is where my depressive moods began, but you’d be wrong.

I don’t really know when these dark, sad moods began because my memory’s moods and images don’t really match up (for example, sometimes I can remember things that happened in life, but I don’t have many emotions attached to them and sometimes I remember feeling a certain way very strongly but I can only remember a single picture of where I was at the time). I suspect the depressive moods began in elementary school, because while I had felt left out since I first entered school, the first overt bullies that I can remember entered my life from 3rd-5th grades.

By middle school, I hated myself, or at least my personality, and I knew it. Now I longed for a new identity more than ever. I wished I wasn’t so quiet. I wished my boring brown eyes would magically change to some more interesting color. I wished I could wake up one day and fit in with the most popular kids in my year. I started idolizing mean girls who started wearing makeup and short shorts long before I did. I thought that middle school social hierarchy determined who one was to be for the rest of one’s life, and I was afraid of being some loser for the remainder of mine. I had no idea how shallow my wishes were, but somehow, even despite all my outward efforts to fit in, I always managed to stand out.

I began daydreaming about taking on a new identity and running away around the time I was 7. At that age, with the imagination that I had, I dreamt of morphing into another creature and disappearing in a way that no one would ever find any trace of the mortal that I used to be. It were these daydreams that started my lifelong obsession with mermaids. I visualized that I woke up to find that I could become finned at will, and I dreamed of running out to the lake that is beside my childhood home and leaving everything I ever knew behind, in favor of something more, something gentler, something increasingly colorful, something with a more distinct cultural flavor than the one I had been born into. Every day after school, I spent hours on an ancient computer at my house searching ‘become a real mermaid’ and other things in general that had to do with the myth. Eventually I found spells that promised gills and fins, but I repeatedly was disappointed. To this day, I love the idea of the Fae (mermaids, dragons, faeries, etc.), and I remain intrigued with any depiction of them in media. I was always fascinated with the idea of reincarnation (even before finding Paganism) so I imagined what it would be like to disappear from this life and find myself in a completely new life, somewhere far away, call it the dreamers disease if you’d like, but sometimes I felt very serious about leaving myself behind.

My suicidal ideations started somewhere between middle school and high school (again sometimes my memories and strong emotions don’t match up, or I get one but not the other). Eventually, I started hating more about myself, wishing more parts of myself away that my visions of leaving the place that I loathed evolved into some part of me leaving the whole of my body, leaving no where for me to go. This vague wish grew into a death wish. I found a whole new type of vision, a dream in which I died. I never knew how calming thinking of my own death would be until I really considered it. Most of the time, in my head, no one person caused my death, not even me, it was from an accident, usually a car accident in particular. Sometimes I even imagined what the accident would feel like, what my last few moments would feel like, as my nerves lost sensation, as my breath lost it’s ability to sustain me…

WHY I KEEP LIVING

1st-12th grades sucked, just not as equally and in different ways than they had sucked previously. As the years progressed, the external bullying decreased, but my mind’s warping affect on me increased. What started as wishing for something else turned into wishing for nothing. That was the most dangerous part of it, when I realized that I didn’t NEED to take some part of me with me in the act of leaving. Even struggling with suicidal ideations, I still found a way to love myself, and I feel like Paganism has really helped with that, more than I know how to express in words. I came from a faith in which humanity was flawed from one simple biological act that two people did before history was even concerned with becoming history (the story of Adam and Eve, anyone?). Once I found Paganism, I had permission to experience joy without giving thought into some unjust concept of sin. I had permission to be wrong, without some eternal burning punishment waiting for me. I had permission to explore without worrying about going ‘too far’, as long as I didn’t harm anyone in the process. Most importantly, I had permission to be myself and love myself without having to hold myself up to some crazy standard that no mortal could ever attain, but would still strive themselves to uphold. No more did I look at the world and see sin, I looked upon the world and found beauty! In many ways, Paganism is the reason why I’m still alive today, Paganism has saved my life many times, and through Paganism I’ve gained a faith in humanity, especially of the crazy, artistic, open-minded, Pagan sort. Through Paganism I’ve met so many wonderful human beings that I actually fit in with. The LG(B)T community has helped me in similar ways, so they have honorable mention here, but even when comparing the two communities and how I fit with them, the Pagan community is where I find my deepest, most true home.

I realize that maybe if you’re not Pagan, you may not relate much to my previous explanation on why I keep living, so here are some things (in bullet form, I’m kind of tired of writing in standard form for today) that keep me inspired…

  • Glee… Everything about Glee.
  • Panentheism
  • Fascination with mythology
  • Awesome youtube videos starring passionate YouTubers…
  • LGBT fandoms
  • Fandoms in general
  • Lucy Sutcliffe
  • Stevie Boebi
  • Connor Franta
  • Grant Gustin
  • Ally Hills
  • Ally Hills Music Videos
  • Cole Sprouse
  • Dylan Sprouse
  • Nick Jonas
  • Gabriella Lindley
  • Meghan Hughes
  • Tumblr
  • Photography
  • Faking It (MTV)
  • H2O: Just Add Water
  • The Flash
  • The Secret Circle
  • Heroes
  • Heroes: Reborn
  • Pretty Little Liars
  • Young & Hungry
  • The Secret Life of the American Teenager
  • Merlin
  • The Vampire Diaries
  • Asian Food
  • Pizza
  • Vegan Food
  • Chocolate

 

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To Whom This Does Concern,

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You’ll probably never read this in your life, even though ever since we stopped talking, I’ve been drafting this in my head. Yeah, I’m that much of a sentimentalist. It’s been years since we were anything more than strangers. Maybe it’s the fact that we are now a longer distance away from each other than we’ve ever been in our lives, we both finally got out of that horrid town! Maybe it’s the fact that ever since our graduation, I’ve been overly criticizing the past. It’s been over 5 years since we’ve had a cordial conversation, I’m not proud of the way I ended things, with no explanations. You have to understand that I was going through a lot, and you were befriending girls that had mastered makeup and looking attractive much earlier than I had. 

I wish we had something more than we did. The only thing I could ever claim you as is a middle school crush, just some guy with the brightest eyes that I had ever seen, with a stark contrast between his complexion and his dark hair. Some guy with a scar on his face, a mark that he tried to hide in pictures, but I always dreamt about telling him that the fact that it’s unique makes it beautiful. ( Editing Note- Okay so looking back on this now I realize it slightly sounds like I’m describing Harry Potter… But I swear this was a real person, no HP fanfic here, so sorry.) Too bad at the time, I thought the opposite about myself. If only I had known back then that my being odd was as much a gift as that scar. Maybe things would have turned out differently. When we met, I thought you had this realness about you, where you didn’t care about what a large majority of people thought of you. That was refreshing to me. The only problem with what we had, in retrospect, was that neither of us had any idea of who we were, or who we were to become. I was some shy girl who spent her days trying to distract herself from the void she felt about her lack of self-concept, you were some big force that kept me distracted from my own self-loathing. Every night, I wished for you. Maybe I wanted you because I wanted you to fix my lack of identity, maybe I thought that having you want me in that way would somehow complete my identity, solve my inner crisis. For that, I am glad we never had a definable significant relationship, but still, on my more lonely days that seep into nights, I think about what could have been, if we had found ourselves together, if we had grown together in our self-discovery, rather than grown apart. Maybe I would be a very different person now, if that had happened, and when I really weigh the consequences of having you around vs not, I usually end my internal debate with the fact that I wouldn’t change who I am today for anything, even if that meant losing you again. Since I was the one to cut off our friendship, that act in itself carries a lot of meaning for me. That was the first time that I had ever truly stood up for myself, and the fact that I stood up for myself to you of all people, the person who at the time had the most important opinion of me out of anyone else in my life (or at least so I told myself), meant that I could finally stop caring about what the people in my life that had rejected me since who-knows-how-long thought of me. In another way, what I did was cruel. You reached out to me (after ignoring me for quite some time, I might add, which only made me think that you had been drooling over other, more attractive girls) and I texted you a short sentence. My reply to your request for my company marked the end of our years old friendship. Maybe I was being jealous. At the time, I didn’t think that I mattered that much to you in the first place. I thought that you would just brush our relationship, me, all of it off. I thought maybe I was freeing up your time for more desirable pursuits. I was going through a lot at the time, struggling with baggage of bullying, low self-worth, even some repressed memories, although of course you’ll never know that. Mainly due to my extremely low self-esteem, I thought that by ridding you of my presence I was actually boosting your reputation, and you obviously cared more about popularity than you ever did about me. (If you, whoever may be viewing this, have read my last sentence and you’re thinking that what I thought of myself at that time was twisted, you’re lucky, because I didn’t, at this point, recognize what a warped thought that was, in fact, immediately after ending this very important friendship, my very next action was googling ‘I hate my personality’. I was at a very dark place.)

(I think it is important to note here that the person I’m writing about never bullied/abused me in any way, in fact, even in my painfully embarrassing moments of trying to impress/seduce him, he tried to maintain our friendship, up until the time in which he started to ignore me… Our relationship is not something that I would classify as toxic, but the general environment I put myself in in order to impress him was toxic to my own well-being, and I became dependent on comparing myself to other people in an unhealthy way in order to try to have a certain falsehood around me that may, in turn, get him to find me more attractive, which ended up working 0% of the time, if you were wondering.)

Ending our ‘relationship’ freed up something of mine too, although I did not realize this until a few years later. Suddenly, I was free of the undue influence that I was giving not only you, but also every other narrow-minded popular kid in our class. It took a few months to grieve the loss of a relationship/distraction, but finally, I realized that in my grieving process, I had tuned out most of the other people at that school who had been rejecting me constantly, while I was playing a minor role in their lives, consistently getting absorbed in their needs and their drama, but reaping no rewards/social benefits because of my effort/care/attention into their troubles. In grieving over you, I somehow found the beginning of healing from the destructive thought process that years of bullying had programmed inside of me. Suddenly, I realized I was free to make my own choices about my identity, and that lead me to explore my identity (including the basis of my sexuality, which lead me to accepting that I am not straight sooner than I might have, had I been preoccupied with what closed minded peers would have thought of me), which has made me who I am today. I think I will always miss you, or at least the idea of you. I think I may always gravitate towards people who are somewhat familiar in characteristics towards you, because you were the first guy to really intrigue me. On some level, I will always feel like that awkward middle school girl (aka- the person I used to be) towards you, even though we are now in different cities, far away in age from those pre-teen days, even though nothing came out of my potent feelings for you, beyond a fleeting friendship. I only hope that I will be brave enough to open myself up fully to another person, like I did back then, in the future. I hope I stay strong enough to go wherever that may lead me. To tell you the truth, I’ve been terrified of opening myself up romantically since we grew apart. I know that must sound crazy, you were only my middle school obsession after all, we weren’t even old enough to have anything remotely serious. Throughout high school, I secretly hoped we’d have the same classes, that our teachers would pair us up together, we could get to talking again. Coax a relationship out of a forced assignment.

That never happened, although I got small attractions to other people. I never acted on them, always dreaming of what could have happened with you. Always fearing that there was some big thing wrong with me, something that made me give up on you, but not wanting to find out. No one wants to figure out that they are damaged goods. I don’t think I’m ‘damaged goods’ anymore, but I’m afraid that I’ll never get back the ability or drive to open myself up to emotion, as I did as a pre-teen. I’ve built up walls since then, as I’m sure you did too. I’m simply waiting. Waiting for someone who is intelligent enough to understand why the walls are there, someone who can complement the person I am today eloquently enough to seem attractive to me. They still haven’t arrived yet, but I get glimpses of them through a lot of people, usually people I meet online.

The community that I’ve found through social media gives me hope that I’m not forever alone… The large party school that I’m at now that is glazed over with American mainstream extraverted culture; not so much. So I gravitate more towards the internet, try to find people that are more my speed. Maybe attempt at getting straight-As here, just so I can transfer away from this huge school, to a place that is more suitable for weirdos like me (and, if I’m honest, the person I thought you were). I’ll be farther away from you than I am now, but who cares about that anyway, we haven’t actually talked in over 5 years. Maybe by then (by the time I transfer out of here) I’ll be closer to people who are actually what they seem to be like, people who wouldn’t put on a facade for anything, people like the person you were, before you changed. Thanks for the memories anyway, even if I can’t claim you as anything more than a star in my middle school daydream.

Signed,

The Girl You Knew and the Woman You Don’t

As Long As She’s Happy…

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I guess this is just some backstory before I get into the main point of the post: I’m queer. I’ve always been enamored with feminine girls, and to somewhat of a lesser extent, feminine guys. I myself identify as cis-female, and I tend to be at least somewhat more feminine than not. This did not used to be how I would present myself to the world, as I grew up rather as a tomboy. Not because I actually wanted to appear more masculine, but because I was afraid to talk to girls my own age, and I (or at least I thought at the time) needed somewhere to fit in, so I chose to take up the interests of my male counterparts. Even amongst the guys, I was weird. I loved theatre, anything to do with the arts. Most guys in my primary school loved trading cards and Power Rangers. In some ways, these differences made me very lonely in my younger years, even when I participated in theatre classes, I was the youngest kid there, with quite an age gap between me and the next youngest students. Eventually I decided that a social life was not to be my main focus in school, instead I turned to my studies (or at least as much as one can in the 2nd grade). I became geeky, although a few of my more impatient teachers made me feel ill equipped to become an official Nerd, so by the 3rd grade, I was between focusing in on classes, and branching out to nervously try to impress girls, yet being so nervous that I usually just embarrassed myself, attracting critics. Not having much of a social life in these years made me turn to films when I couldn’t get my fix for performing arts. Movies were a favourite pastime of mine…….

In watching children’s movies, I was more interested in stories like ‘Peter Pan’ and ‘Lilo & Stitch’ than in the movies where the princess falls in love with the prince. In non-cartoon favourites of mine, where the girl finds her love in the end, I’d always feel ambivalent towards the leading male in the movie. Often times, I’d think ‘he’s just not pretty enough for her’, but as long as she was happy, I was content. This philosophy, ‘as long as (insert person’s identifying pronoun here) is happy, everything will be ok’, affected how I viewed many facets of my life over the next years.

 While my peers and the majority of my family would judge someone based on some external standards that the person in question may or may not hold as a justifiable rule in their own life, I judged people based on how happy they were, and on how happy they made the people in their life. To this day I think it is very wrong for someone looking in from the outside of a person’s life to judge them based on exterior standards, even if the ‘judger person’ holds these standards to a sacred level in their own lives. People need to focus on others’ happiness, and how they are using their happiness to affect society at large, not on how another person is or isn’t upholding one’s own personal laws and regulations.

Unfortunately, this idea, of putting someone’s personal happiness above any kind of criticisms as to how a person lives their life, is unheard of in some contexts. My family is one of those settings where a person’s happiness is disregarded, in favor of some controlling dogma. This has been so problematic for me. “As long as she’s happy” has never been a phrase that I’ve heard any one in my family say to anyone. In my family, happiness is not a good enough reason to do anything different. In my family, to remain in good graces, one must do exactly what has been done for generations beforehand. In my family, the progression of society is looked at in distaste, as sinful, as provocative. This definitely plays into dynamics about my being queer, and them being backward. I haven’t come out to them. I likely never will. While I crave a close bond with some real life community (I haven’t yet found a pagan or queer safe haven), I know I can find one elsewhere, without needing to compromise who I am. Just another reason to dread family reunions. Just another reason to long for a way out. Just another reason for my urge to not tell anyone, pack my bags, and take the next flight to England, or Canada, or California, or anywhere away from the Southeastern US.

There are many other settings where happiness is seen as something that should be traded for an ‘acceptable lifestyle’, such as high school, forceful religious institutions, and in oppressive corporate settings. We should not be forced to change how we live our lives for someone else’s perceived control over us, however, it is useful to note here that there are certain times in which changing one’s goals/priorities can be more beneficial than not, like getting behind a cause bigger than oneself, or trying to meet requirements for a job that would increase one’s standard of living, however no one should ever feel pressured to conforming to someone else’s ideals if there aren’t too many incentives to do so. Conformity for the sake of ‘fitting in’ is dangerous. Losing your identity due to society’s whims and trends is not worth it. Becoming a product of society at the time will make you historically forgotten, and dead to generations to come. Be different, until you can be better, make sure that while you are bettering yourself to keep that spark of weirdness. Wyrd is fate, after all. Most importantly, focus on being yourself, making others better than they were before, while remaining in their own weirdness, and making the world an easier place to be happy in.