When Devyn asked me to write a blog post for It Gets Better Week, I doubt he expected to get this. In fact, I was very reluctant to agree to writing anything, but I thought back to being younger and wishing that there was someone out there who would tell me that everything gets better. I want to be that person for one of you. I'll be honest and say that I don't fall into the LGBTQ umbrella, but I support Equal Rights entirely, and I have since the day I realized that people who weren't society's definition of “straight” didn't have the same rights as everyone else. Many of my closest friends are gay—one of them being Devyn himself, who I love dearly.
Today, I'm not going to talk about things getting better for the lives of young people in the LGBTQ community, though I know that they do because I've seen lives change first-hand. Instead, I'm going to tell you about a struggle that can be just as dark and internal and terrifying, and I'm going to tell you that it gets better.
Let me just put it out there, right up front: I was molested for six years of my childhood. Specifically from the ages of five to ten, nearly eleven. My abuser told me that if I told anyone—anyone—I would be hated by my family and no one would believe me. He had painted a picture, for several years, that I was a chronic liar of a child. He told me the abuse was my fault, because I was so pretty. Because of him, I repressed years of my childhood, only to have it come rushing back when I was in a sexual education class in high school.
I have struggled with it for years and continue to, still. My abuser is still a part of my life and I have to see him on a regular basis. I don't even know if he remembers what he did to me. I'm in my twenties now—more than ten years away from the end of the abuse—and it is still something I have to live with every day, and something I have to see every time I look in the mirror.
For a long time, I couldn't talk about it at all. I wrote about it to friends in IM, told a friend through e-mail, and chatted with a RAINN Online volunteer when things got too tough to handle. I never spoke about it out loud, until one night when someone asked me why I had such irrational fears of people. I answered “I was molested as a child” and the rest came pouring out. I think I can compare this to the fear that a young person might have with verbalizing the fact that they are gay. Until it comes out of your mouth, you can almost pretend it isn't real. But the past is always real—and the thing you have to remember is that your present is the thing you will soon know as the past. You have to live it to the fullest in order to get to a point where you will be happy when you look back.
Eventually, you will find that. It does get better.
I don't want to be cliché, but the things in your past that hurt you are the things that make you stronger. Yes, I have commitment issues and irrational fears and anxieties, but I'm living my life the way I want to look back and remember it, and I think I'm doing pretty well for myself.
I may not have been bullied for years for being gay or different, but I can honestly say that no matter how dark you feel your corner of the world is when you reach that cold, awful hour, it will always get better. There is always a light that will come in the form of one person (or more) who is on your side. Even if you don't know that person right now; even if you have had it drilled into your head that you are the one with the problem; even if you think that you are the one to blame for the relentless bullying and abuse, just remember: It's not you, it's them.
It will get better, and you will be stronger for it.
RAINN Hotline - Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network