Becoming - A Short Story On Struggle
I don’t remember much from my childhood. Most of my time was spent distancing myself from other kids in my neighborhood. There is one day I can recall clearly. The sun was out, and the wind whipped through the playground as my legs pumped the swing. I could see another kid my age running towards me. “Want a push?” He said with a youthful tone. I blushed and responded with a nod. I could tell he wanted to be friends by the way he was looking at my from across the playground. Why not have a little fun with him?
As he pushed me, we talked about the new Sailor Moon movie that was recently released. I told him how my parents got me the VHS and he told me about his movie theatre experience. I had missed the movie in the theatre, and I could feel jealousy rushing through me as he spoke. The only advantage I had over him was that he wasn’t able to reference the movie like I was.
The park we met at was a hop and skip away from my second floor red brick apartment in Fridley, MN. I would watch him walk across the courtyard from my bedroom. I got this urge one day to run outside, and tackle him. With him pinned down, I demanded, “We should hang out sometime soon”. It was that easy. We soon had sleepovers, watched Saturday morning cartoons together, played outside with children from our neighborhood, and we even went to the same school. We were very close to one another.
One chilly Saturday morning three months into our friendship, I walked over to his apartment and something felt wrong. I rang his doorbell and nothing happened. This was very concerning because Saturdays were our days to watch cartoons on the CW. I was looking forward to his mother’s pancakes. I rang a second time, still no answer. His apartment was on the ground level and I was used to sneaking in through the window when his parents were home. When I walked to his window I noticed the apartment was empty. I assumed he was robbed and my body went into panic mode. I looked to the parking lot only to find his mother's car was gone. His mother never worked weekends, especially Saturdays. My face began to fill with embarrassment.
I went back into hiding after he disappeared. Life wasn’t the same without him. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and months turned into years, harboring this painful feeling. You may be wondering why I took this moment so harshly. As an 8 year old boy, I was sad because he was my first kiss and I felt abandoned by him leaving. He didn’t provide any explanation around his disappearance. He was just gone within seconds, like a dream.
For years, I neglected the feelings he gave me. In turn, people would bully me for being gay and with each slur his kiss would fade away from my lips. The bullying lasted for eight years and his memories didn't survive the pain.
Nothing could have prepared me for August 25th, 2011, when I began my journey. This was an awakening moment for me because for the first time I was able to tell my truth. At the time, I was completely unaware of what it meant to be gay or homosexual. I just knew I liked boys and I wanted to tell the world. I wouldn't tell my mother until 8 years ago today, October 11th, 2011. For months, my friends would push me to tell my parents but for some reason I was frightened. Somehow I got the guts to at least tell my mother, and to my relief she accepted me with open arms. Young and nervous me didn’t want to tell anyone else, so I asked my mother to spread the word. This is something I cannot thank her enough for doing.
After coming out not even my parents could protect me from the misfortune packaged with my sexuality. My mother and father loved me unconditionally, and some close family would support me, but some of my other family members distanced themselves from me. For years, I’ve found myself sitting and asking, why does everyone leave me? Why do they leave without an explanation? These feelings would soon became my life and everything I thought about. I would go on to date toxic men who would abuse me physically, emotionally, and verbally. My grades were starting to fall and my mental health soon became non-existent. If I had an addiction, it was toxicity. What can I say? I’m drawn to toxic behavior that everyone loves to hate.
All these events have made me think there was something wrong with me, that I was broken, until last week when I was attending a friend's birthday party and someone recognized me. They mentioned how they had been watching me since the beginning and acknowledged my growth and evolution this past year. In the moment I was flattered, but this random act of acknowledgement led me to think. I am becoming something more than what anyone could have manifested for me. I have come so far and grown so much that sometimes I cannot keep up. It is unfortunate that certain people aren't in my life but it ain't my fault that they left. I need to be gentle with myself and allow myself to heal, find closure, and move on.
I am a gay black man in America with talents that none of those people possess, and honestly it sucks to be them. I mean, have you seen me?
This isn’t a post to make you empathize with me, or to brag about myself. I am writing this in celebration of my individuality, my growth, of my health, of my success. I have experienced this misfortune and lived through this pain. To anyone who has supported me and filled my heart with joy, I cannot thank you enough.
I am writing this to acknowledge that I have been through some trauma and it does not define me. The person I am becoming is what defines me.
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