It wasn’t supposed to be this hard; the recovery process, the struggle with sexuality, faith, or life in general. No, this isn’t a pity-piece; it’s merely an open and honest self-reflection. It’s the antidote to the venom from the unlikeliest of people, places, and circumstances. In 2012, I finally came out. In today’s society, though, that really isn’t a huge revelation or development that renders much thought or discussion, unless you are someone of high public profile, who can push the political sails in a preferred direction.
I thought life would systematically improve after disclosing my sexuality, one thing over another, like a domino effect. After all, disclosing my sexuality was the last psychological hurdle (I thought) I had in order to maintain my survival. I had stopped engaging in the damaging behaviors associated with an eating disorder and compulsive exercise, I had addressed the emotional trauma, and I was healing from a lifetime of emotional setbacks. But, the notion of everything being “all better” has been nothing short of beyond the supposed finish line.
What I, at first, failed to realize was how substantial the emotional, psychological, and spiritual battle was that would emerge with finally being open. No wound of any conscious human being is ever self inflicted by questioning reason, life's events, God’s allowances and purpose, or the “what if’s” our existence offers. Is it really all that uncommon to question why I am gay? Or, why I struggle with my sexuality and why that struggle (and being open about it) is completely okay?
In looking past the tired and frayed use of the term “self hate”, I'm positive many in the LGBT community wonder, or have wondered, about this at some point in their lives, but hesitate to pose a discussion due to shame; the very thing we are supposedly guaranteed freedom from following our decision to embrace openness and honesty. Look, many people struggle with their sexuality and with being gay, and I happen to be one of them. Five years after finally being open – day in, day out, accompanying every decision I make and forever evident when I fold my hands before I sleep, that struggle remains. The only difference between the past and the present for most is the fact that everyone is aware of your journey, but not always able to help. And, instead of worrying about how my life will end up or who will exit it because of my being gay, the battle now involves how I’m supposed to accept that I am “meant” to be gay, and that the struggle is merely a response to exposure to faith – and if I believe or question otherwise, it’s simply stupidity.
Strangely, because I urge more discussion about this, attempts to silence are given reason because it “hurts the cause” or “jeopardizes progress”, or because I obviously hate myself. But, I (and many others) cannot find comfort in throwing away faith and will not abandon the one constant that gives me purpose. The choice between choosing faith or choosing sexuality is like going without water or air – neither is possible. That ultimatum is incredibly black and white; a kind of thinking all of us can do without. That thinking leaves people choosing between being emotionally starved, physically starved, or spiritually starved; and none of those choices are ideal. We don’t have a choice; the “choice” is really opting for the one which we can semi-live without, merely existing, unhappily. We have to know that individuality and living one's best interpretation of themselves is central to healing and happiness, but when it comes to straying from the established herd and it's herdsman, especially on faith, God, and spirituality, questioning and discussion don’t exist.
Recovery has been incredibly rewarding and, at times, it has been so intractable that I often wonder what true emotional and spiritual peace really means? Why can’t we open ourselves up to the notion that questioning and the expression of doubt about what we are “supposed” to do, feel, and be, is the very point of the recovery process?
In coming out I focused on everyone else’s reactions, and how this would somehow make all the recovery hurdles all better. Treatment taught me that recovery is about mending our broken emotional bridges and taking the time to figure out the prescription to self heal. How can we do this when an elephant-sized societal pressure attempts to tell you, to specify, what you should believe about your own individuality, your personal, social, and spiritual values?
I chose to walk the hardest road when heard the consistent clicking of my own feeding tube in the middle of the night; and I chose to keep going when I heard the audible gasps and subsequent silences of my roommate laboring to breathe and to stay alive in a recovery center. This illness constantly makes you question if you're actually sick enough to deserve help, but when you are on your way to being “okay,” the culture of the LGBT community tells you that you are sick if you question a subject as sensitive as questioning “why?”. Pondering so many realities forces change; and change, for the most part, is exactly what has always been screamed for. Unfortunately, the only “change” that is accepted or pursued is the change that current culture sees fit.