I don’t know how to start. Back then I didn’t know how to make it end. I truly wanted it all to end; the pain, the confusion, the loneliness was all unbearable and yet I kept bearing it till I felt like there was no life left in my soul. If there’s no life left in my soul, then why should I have to keep dragging this body around like a useless, unwanted boulder?
Nobody wanted me. Nobody cared enough to accept the real me because the real me was something despised by everyone in the world. I heard it all the time; sometimes subtle: “I hope you have kids of your own someday; then you’ll know the hell your father and I have to put up with!” — sometimes not so subtle: “God hates fags! All faggots should be lined up and shot in the head!”
I didn’t get it. I was taught to believe that God is love and that Christians are supposed to love their enemies and that Jesus died on the cross because he so loved us, and yet my own “Christian” parents would be physically and mentally abusive in private and then turn around and pretend to be so godly and pious in public.
I believed in God because God was the only thing I could believe in. I certainly couldn’t believe in the world with all its wars and ugliness. I couldn’t believe in my parents, who thought that love meant locking a 5 year old child in his room for days on end with only a mattress on the floor and a few broken toys instead of the usual fist and belt beatings. I couldn’t believe in friends who would make fun of me just so the cooler kids would be their friends. I couldn’t believe in the justice system, which was no more real to me than a speck of dust on another planet in another solar system.
The only thing that was real to me was the emptiness I felt inside and the overwhelming need to be “normal” like other boys, a normal that wasn’t normal to me because no matter how I tried to be normal, the messages I heard everywhere I went told me that I wasn’t.
I didn’t choose this. I didn’t choose to be unloved. I didn’t choose to be an outsider in my own world.
The older I got, the heavier the burden became, because I understood better and better what it was that made me different.
When the other boys began noticing girls and teasing each other about liking some girl, I stood silent in my envy of them — envy of being able to talk about who they had a crush on and who they held hands with and who they kissed and who they were going steady with; envy because I knew that if I mentioned who I had a crush on, I would find myself on the floor with more welts and bruises and cuts and broken bones than my father could give me in a whole lifetime. Worse than that, I knew I’d be called a FAG by everyone!
All kids have make-believe friends at some point in their lives and most kids outgrow them, but in order to protect myself from being emotionally hurt by the world, I drew further and further away from the real world and deeper and deeper into a world of fantasy where God was my friend. Why God? Because nobody is stronger or more loving or cooler than God. After all, He made the sun and the moon and the earth and the trees and the pretty flowers and the insects and creatures that I refused to torture to prove my “manhood.” (If appreciating beautiful things and being kind to innocent creatures no matter how small is unmanly, then God must be a real sissy like me.)
Those thoughts and ideas are what helped me keep going through every dreary, lonely day because I knew that it wasn’t God who was causing all my problems. It was the constant pain piled on me by the people around me that weighed heavy on my heart and drained my soul like the night robs the ground of its warmth.
I don’t know if it was the loss of my best friend, companion and pet, Lady, the Labrador retriever who was the one creature on earth that earned my trust, listened to my problems and knew my deepest secrets — or if it was the loss of my sacred place in the backyard and almost everything I had ever known all in one day in the blaze of a dry season, or if I had already been there and hadn’t realized it. I was emotionally dead. I didn’t blame God or my parents or the world; I didn’t scream at the unfairness of all that I had been through; I didn’t cry for mercy; because every last drop of warmth had seeped out of my soul; there was nothing left to feel or hope for.
There was only cold darkness that was so deep that even my friend God didn’t have a searchlight strong enough to find me and bring me back home.
It was October, 3 months to my 13th birthday, when I lay in my bed planning my last day, not moving or sleeping, wondering what dying would feel like and imagining what would happen when my parents found my dead body. I thought that this was the only way to make them and the world sorry for never loving me, for all the bad stuff they did to me and all the bad stuff that they didn’t protect me from.
Finally the time came. I got out of the bed and I went and took a bath and brushed my teeth so that when the doctors and morticians were handling my dead body they wouldn’t think that I was a dirty stinky person, then I swallowed a handful of my mom’s pills and went back to my death bed to wait for the end.
I was calm — more like devoid of feelings — as I lay there thinking about the past and being hit by waves of throat burning nausea and dizziness. Even when I started having hallucinations like a person with an extremely high temperature, I still didn’t care.
I remember my father walking into my room at some point while I lay there dying; he yelled at me to get my lazy butt out of bed and cut the dramatics and then left.
It sounds like a cruel thing to do, but maybe it’s what saved my life because for the first time in months I cried. I cried because the man who raised me from a baby didn’t even care that I was going to be dead very soon.
I can’t remember what happened after that, but my mom told me that I had gotten up out of the bed and called her and walked out to the hallway and fell and started shaking like those people who have epileptic seizures and I was in a coma for almost a week.
I’m not the only kid who ever felt this way and I surely won’t be the last, but sadly, too many kids end up where I thought I wanted to be: in the grave with nothing but a tombstone to show that they ever existed. These days I thank God for bringing me through it. My life has been hard but now I know and understand things that I didn’t then.
Now I have friends who like me for who I really am and I wouldn’t change my past for anyone else’s because it made me who I am today — someone who’s been there and can truly say that God is my friend and my teacher. He gives me the words to help others who are going through hard times to understand that it’s not God who’s putting us through all this, but it is God who brings us home.
To me it doesn’t seem fair that war vets who went off to kill millions of innocent people have their names on a wall, but there’s no wall, no memorial, no quilt, nothing, for the children who couldn’t bear the pain of not being loved and accepted by their world.