This is Not the End;

**Trigger warning: self-hate and self-harm**

Growing up, my family never really introduced me to “homosexuality” or “gay” people.  I was so sheltered that I didn’t even really know that being gay was something that even existed.

When I turned sixteen, I was going through a super hyper Christian phase in my life.  I was going to church with my friends multiple times per week, and it was in the middle of all this that I met someone, whose nickname was Amy.  I was a writer, she was multiple times published.  We talked for hours and hours and hours about everything, and that’s when I got this really absolutely crazy stupid silly thought.

Wow, I wish she was a boy because then I could actually date her and we could be together.  And then I was talking to a friend who called Amy this word that I had heard, but didn’t really understand fully…. He called her gay.  He told me she had feelings for me.  And I thought, “Really?  That’s possible?”

And then my friend point blank asked me if I had a crush on her.  And that’s when I realized I wasn’t straight.

I started struggling with my sexuality, and it was apparently a lot worse than I remember.  My brain has blocked out a lot of that time, but when Alex was in town, I was showing him my collection of Bibles (because I have a habit of collecting them), and I showed him my first Bible from when I was confirmed into the Presbyterian church… it was filled with bookmarks with bible verses…

And each verse highlighted a section in the Bible where it condemned homosexuality.

really, really hated myself at that time.

And I took a lot of that out on myself through cutting and eventually burning.  There were times when my legs looked like I’d gotten into a fight with a weed whacker and lost.  I have scars that litter my left arm from shoulder to wrist that remind me of a time when I felt so alone and hopeless that I just wanted to feel something… anything… and I chose pain at that time.

I self-harmed on and off from the time I was 16 to about four years ago when I got out of an unhealthy relationship and believed, for a time, that I had made a huge mistake and that what my ex said about me finding happiness ever being gone was true.  I hurt myself a lot during that time until I got help.  And I’m proud to say that I haven’t slipped into those habits since then, but with any addiction and bad habit, there are times when I still think about it… just like I think about smoking again… but I don’t do it.  I find some other source to release the energy I need to.

Yesterday, I went with Erin to a local tattoo parlor and got my ninth tattoo: a semicolon on my left wrist.  It’s part of the Semicolon Project.  The idea is that a semicolon is a place in writing where the author could have ended the sentence they were writing, but they decided to pause and then continue on.  The author is me and the sentence I am writing is my life.  The semicolon is a reminder to keep going.  It’s a reminder of where I’ve been and how far that I’ve come.  It’s also a sign to others that I’ve “been there and done that.”

I posted about it all on Facebook, and one of my former students who graduated this past year responded saying, “It made me feel safe knowing I had you to come and talk to if I ever needed to. Going through high school, your classroom was always a safe place. You understood that sometimes what we were going through was too much for us to have to worry about class that day. You’re the only teacher I’ve ever had that understands we have other classes and other projects and sometimes we needed more time. Thank you so much, Mrs. H****-H****! You are by far my favorite teacher that I will ever have.”

I definitely felt emotional after reading that.  This is why I do what I do… and why I’m not ashamed to have my first permanently visible tattoo (in that I can’t easily hide it like my other eight), even if it is the smallest I’ve ever gotten.

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Posted on July 18, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. ❤ I'm glad you have learned to be the person you are, and learned to love her. I've seen this project around the net lately and every time I stumble upon it again, it makes me cry. It's such a beautiful idea, and a reminder, and a way to make those darkest times a little more visible, so maybe people still going through them won't feel alone.

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