Sorry I don’t fit the stereotype of coming out as gay.

Well… I’m not actually sorry. It’s not really any of your damn business, now is it? But, realizing that I’m straight impacted my life in ways I never imagined. I am officially out of the closet and I love it.

A few days ago, we went on thunder break on my job as a lifeguard. All nine of us crammed into the tiny guard shack and chatted away. We were soon joined by Matt, who had been enjoying his day off in the soccer field next door. He tore off his wet shirt to stay warm and kept talking, but I couldn’t stop staring.

My eyes just kept tracing over his abs and the little bit of hair making a treasure trail on his lower stomach. I could feel that little burning sensation in the pit of my stomach. He turned me on.

I saw him shirtless every single day and had even objectively admired his body before. Maybe it was seeing him in his plain clothes and the little peek at his briefs that got to me. Frankly, I don’t care. He is only and will only ever be a good friend.

But a better question would be: Why did I question my own sexuality to begin with? I’ve never once been attracted to a female. I’m not a virgin. I have been turned on by guys before.

It’s because my mother called me a dyke. That’s where this all started. Her constant comments made me wonder if she was right. I mean I’m not particularly girly. I don’t wear make up. I don’t crush on guys easily. A couple other people have asked me since if I am a lesbian. That made me question it, too.

But the thing is I’m not. I knew it all along, but still felt unsure. My mother’s behavior towards me and the topic, perpetuated my behavior that confused the people who then questioned my sexuality later on. Just because I was a bit more of a tomboy as a kid, society and my own parents boxed me up into their little stereotype. But trying to fit a square peg into a round hole doesn’t work.

Getting that turned on just by looking at a guy…. theres no way I could be a lesbian.

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They’re not coming. Really, they’re not.

You probably hid in the bathroom so the other parents wouldn’t insist on waiting with you after the birthday party. You sat on the grungy toilet and held up your feet whenever you heard a sudden sound, careful not to touch the nasty stall. You listened to the endless chatter and friendly goodbyes until, finally, the coast was clear.

Then you waited.

And you’re still waiting. But, Mommy is never going to put you first. So get used to being forgotten. Get used to hiding from the other parents. Get used to walking home. Grow up, because in the end the only person there for you is yourself.

You remind me of myself at your age. I wish I could save you, but I can’t. Even if I called CPS and you moved in with the Brady Bunch, you would still struggle with the ultimate question: Why didn’t Mommy love me the way I am?

So grow up and love yourself.

I can’t save you or Emily. Her mom is sick too. Bipolar Disorder. I see myself in her too. If I had escaped at her age, I wouldn’t have fallen so far.

Emily is a good kid, a coworker of mine. She doesn’t deserve to be mind fucked. Neither do you. At sixteen, she can apply for emancipation now. I’ll support her as much as I can, but in the end it comes down to how much she wants it. It would break my heart if she wound up trapped in her mind the way I am now. God knows her dad isn’t a lick of help.

That reminds me, your daddy won’t save you either. He will always choose your mom or himself.

Please Emily, save yourself. I love you, just the way you are.

Please, just stop waiting.

Health. I’ve always been in tip top physical shape, but my life is beyond unhealthy.

Growing up, I lived for my mother. She lived for herself. I never earned her approval, and even worse, she convinced me that I was such a horrible person that she wanted to kill herself. So she did.

Although her suicide attempts weren’t successful, I fell into a never-ending trap of trying to become the daughter she dreamed of. I changed everything about myself, but it was never good enough. My looks were “atrocious”. My personality was “awkward” and “nerdy” and “selfish”. I was a “damn dyke” in her eyes before I even knew what the word meant. This was a nice day with mommy dearest, and I’ll not bore you with the nastier bits.

I learned how to hate myself and I did a damn good job of it.  I lived life as a teenage insomniac who squirmed in her bed at night with unbearable self hatred. My body literally couldn’t hold all of the disgusting feelings I kept. I eventually realized that all the parts I originally liked about myself were the “unacceptable” bits in my mothers eyes. As a freshman in high school, I couldn’t even recognize myself.

By the time I realized I wanted to be me, I was lost in a world of pleasing others. It was like using a shovel to dig yourself into a hole, then figuring out that a shovel wont help you climb out.

One of my main purposes in life had been to protect my little sister from feeling the way I did. As I transitioned away from living for my mother, I only tripped and fell into another hole, stuck living for another person again.

I threw myself into work and school and lived a full life. Essentially I avoided having time to think about who I was, to put aside the disgusting feelings. I was ugly and I knew it but I planned on doing the best I could with what I had. A pessimistic sort of optimism, huh?

I’m about to be a sophomore in college. This summer I am working as a lifeguard at the local Y. Every day my bikini line shaving job and uneven breasts are displayed to the world. My tan lines are horrific and my hair gets pool-frizzy.

At some point this summer, it just clicked. There was a ding in my mind that said “I’m pretty”. I felt confident and ready, without anything in particular to be ready for. I just felt pretty.

I know that looks aren’t what matters and so on. I know that many people think of words like “pretty” as objectifying. But to someone who has never felt that way in their life, it was more of an enlightening wake up call. I’m more confident with guys and people, not because they might like my looks, but because I like my looks. It’s easier to socialize when you don’t feel inferior to everyone around you.

I started to do more things for myself. I started to let my sister take care of herself more, since I spoil her too much anyways. I started reaching out for the things that made me happy, because I craved that pretty feeling. Living for myself, I think I’m on the verge of a healthier lifestyle.

Feeling pretty is the key to breaking out of my cage, because a good appearance proves that my mom is wrong about me and who I am.

 

People naturally want to protect others. So if, for instance, there really were a velociraptor on the loose, most people would simultaneously hide and call up all their loved ones to warn them.

However, short of a natural disaster or prehistoric beast wrecking havoc, the lines of when to help or allow others to help you is a bit blurrier.

Personally, I lean towards the independent side. I would love to be able to claim it is from this huge confidence that I can handle anything that comes my way. Really, I would. But a lot of the time it’s not the truth. Nobody is that perfect.

In reality, I am just too stubborn, too afraid, and just don’t know how to ask for help.

Maybe it stems from the fact that people are always coming to me for help, even people I don’t know. I need to look like I know what I am doing for their sake and I honestly want to help.

Maybe it stems from the fact that I was always told to keep everything a secret. Problems were not to be shared (especially outside the family)and whining was never tolerated. Not to mention it is unfair to place burdens on people you love. Up until last spring, I never told even my closest friends the most pressing problems in my life.

Maybe it stems from the fact that there was never anybody there for me to rely on, so I told myself I would just do everything myself. Fake it till you make it. Always act like you know what you’re doing and you will find a way to accomplish it. If you don’t do things for yourself, they won’t get done. My first car crash was just a fender bender, but four police officers and five firemen were involved. I was terrified. My dad was over an hour away and I couldn’t call my mom who was five minutes away. She had been unstable the day before, and to be honest I was afraid she would attack a police officer and create a whole host of other problems I had to take care of. In the end, you have to take care of yourself because you never know if someone will be there.

Maybe it stems from the fact that I wanted my sister to believe there was at least one capable person in her life who she could come to. God knows our parents were fair-weather. She looked up to me. Asked me how to do things. I had to explore the world and learn how to do things so I could take her hand and guide her through. Eventually that ended when she got older. Though she still does ask me things, it is as a best friend that I answer her.

No matter why I am the way I am, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m handicapped. In this social world, I don’t know how to accept help from others. Some friends push me away thinking I don’t trust them. I do. I just don’t know how to confide in them or ask for help.

Some friends think I’m arrogant. I’m not. I just pretend I know what I’m doing. I just pretend I’m not scared.

Some friends think they can dump every single little problem on me because I either have no problems or I am mature enough to handle everything. I have problems. I handle them with a good attitude but that doesn’t mean I never get stressed or upset.

Some friends try to be there for me, but I can’t. I just can’t.

Mostly it’s because the less you rely on people, the less you confide in them, then the less they know about you. And if people don’t know what’s important to you, they can’t use it to hurt you.

I learned that one from mommy dearest.

I love snakes and spiders. I find the dark to be comforting. But I have my fears just like anyone else.

1. Showering with the door unlocked.

I’m starting to conquer this fear. Mostly because at my dorm the door to the bathroom didn’t lock. But I still can’t do this at home without standing there petrified, listening for sounds.

The reason: When I was twelve or so my adventurous spirit often got the best of me. Between bike crashes and tunneling through thorn bushes on a whim to conquer, I came home that day looking like a war veteran. My knees and elbows were stripped of all skin and somehow I managed to bang up my shoulder as well. There was a small gash in my shin and my entire body was covered in cuts from the thorn bushes. I liked to think I had conquered them, but maybe they had gotten the best of me that day.

I trudged upstairs to clean off the mud and the blood, vaguely aware of my mother shouting at my dad in the background. They were always yelling. I hopped in the shower and started singing to myself.

I didn’t hear her coming. I didn’t hear her coming at all. I felt a heavy whack to my head. The next thing I know is pain. I’m on fire. Everything burns and my mind goes into overload trying not to feel.

My mother is shouting. Why is she shouting? I’m trying desperately not to cry as I slump on the floor of the shower, my hands running desperately over my skin. I wanted it to stop. I needed the pain to stop.

Her monologue goes on. She leaves after screaming at me to scrub the shower this instant.

A few minutes go by. I dont know how, but I managed to lessen the burning. I adjust my position and my hand bumps into something. I glance over and see a gallon sized bottle of bleach dripping onto the shower floor. The lid was lazily trying to fit down the drain.

My mother didn’t know and didn’t care, but she had literally poured a gallon of bleach into my wounds. I guess she thought the lid was on.

In the morning, she didn’t even remember being angry with me. I didn’t bother explaining. I just learned my lesson and moved on with life.

She can’t remember, but I can never forget the most physically excruciating experience of my life.

My dog died today. I wanted to cry a lot.

Pepper was like a sister to me and we grew up together, putting up with all the things my real little sister would do to us, like dress up and playing school. She never failed to brighten my day and is irreplaceable to me.

That is why I am angry. My bipolar mother always needs to be the one with the most pain. She always needs to be the victim, the one everyone pities.

And so even though I am mourning the loss of someone dear to me, I had to spend my time comforting her as she explained to me all the reasons why she thought my pain was lesser than hers. How she obviously loved and missed Pepper more. Quite the flair for dramatics this one has.

She spent the day belittling my pain as she indirectly reminded me yet again that in a household with a bipolar parent, you are not allowed to have feelings and pain of your own. In every moment in my life where I should have had strong feelings, either good or bad, I have been forced to set them aside to take care of whatever she was feeling that day.

Every homecoming, my prom, my graduation, junior olympic qualifiers for volleyball… every major moment in my life revolved around my mother’s feelings. Each homecoming she made me feel ugly before I left, and I had to take care of her because she was in a bad mood. My senior prom I suffered through the entire weekend with glass in my feet because I was too busy taking care of her to remove it.

She refused to come to my graduation and support me, her child, because she was too ‘ashamed’ of me and the school I was going to. She was ashamed I wasn’t in the top five percent anymore. Oh no! I was in the top six percent of a class of a thousand students in one of the toughest schools in the state instead! The horror! Yet every single parent of my friends came up to me and said how proud my parents must be of me, so I had to smile and agree. I had so many ropes and honors and decorations and I should have been proud and supported, but instead my mother’s feelings came first.

My dog died today. I wanted to cry a lot, but I didn’t have the freedom to.

My greatest fear is coming true. My bladder screams profanities at me as fear flicks my eyes in every direction, searching for an escape from this metal cage with ugly carpeting. Oh God, don’t let this happen. The help button has already been pressed and all I can do is wait… but I can’t help but stand on my tip toes and push on the ceiling. Wow! I’m stupid. I have definitely seen one too many action movies. I wouldn’t  know what to even do if I managed to get on top of the elevator, maybe take a leak up there so nobody will ever know my shame.

The scene plays itself in my head as I settle back onto my heels. It’s the same scene that plays in my head every time I step into an elevator, only this time it is a reality: The rescue crew finally opens the doors of the elevator after less than an hour. One grabs my hand to pull me to my feet, only I resist. After a moment, I realize it’s a futile effort and I give in and get to my feet. I see his eyes travel to the puddle I was quite literally sitting in. I see him pretend he didn’t notice, but we both know what just happened. And I am mortified. What sort of teenager is so incontinent that they piss themselves in public?

I hear a frustrated grunt and glance to my left, yanked out of my thoughts as I remember: I am not alone in this elevator. I eye the woman next to me. She is portly with red hair and her eyebrows are graying, putting her somewhere around fifty. Out of nowhere she lets out a frustrated shriek and kicks the wall of the elevator. I flinch slightly but don’t have time to recover as she turns to me.

“I can’t believe I’m stuck in this fucking elevator. When I get out of this I’m going right back upstairs to give my ungrateful bitch of a daughter a piece of my mind,” she shouts as if I’m the one she is angry with.

This was not what I was expecting from a stranger. I unconsciously take a step back only to find a cold wall blocking me in. Trapped.

“What do you think you’re looking at punk?” the stranger danger bellows in my ear, shooting a line of shock through my body. She’s gotten close. Much closer than I like. I murmur comforting words. Generic things. I know how to calm people down.

Her anger turns back to her daughter and I get more information than I ever would have wanted  about their relationship. Her daughter is allegedly a horrible person who wont even let this red-headed lady spend time with her grandchildren. Her daughter doesn’t appreciate everything her mother has done for her. She ruined her mother’s life. She is a waste of space. She makes her mother want to kill herself. She can’t do anything right.

I just keep murmuring comforting words.

Suddenly, this stranger is no longer a stranger. This stranger is my own bipolar mommy dearest telling me what she thinks. I close my eyes and try not to hear as it’s pounded into my head that I ruined my mother’s life. Trying not to think doesn’t block out the fact that I am an ungrateful bitch. I open my eyes and I’m trapped in my closet, mother standing in the doorway. My mother who knows me well enough to know what words hurt the most. I cringe as she throws it in my face that I’m the reason she wants to kill herself. I can’t do anything right. I’m a waste of space.

A waste of space who really has to pee. My twitching bladder gives my mind a reality check and I really open my eyes to look around me. I let out a long breath as I remind myself that I am in an elevator and this woman is a complete stranger. Though, she is a complete stranger who has not run out of breath even with all this shouting. I marvel at this feat as I inspect the ugly carpet once again. Would my pee stain this forever? Will I be forced to face my shame every single time I enter this elevator?

Thankfully this question remains unanswered. I hear noises from outside the elevator and feel thumps against the metal. Help is here. My bladder just might write them a thank you note. And best of all, that woman finally shut up.