I had an awful time in high school. I loved the school I went to, but there were a few upperclassmen that treated me like absolute shit — and that included my on-and-off high school boyfriend. When I say they treated me like shit, I’m talking tampons on my car, shrimp in my mailbox, egging my car and house, etc. They also called me a slut for sleeping with upperclassmen, and all the while, on the inside, I was struggling with my internal homophobia.
I am gay. I am a lesbian.
I had so much internalized fear and hate, that on top of all of the bullying and my struggle with my body image, I hated myself. I began to abuse substances. I began to binge and purge. I worked out too much. I became extremely skinny. Everyone complimented my looks — I specifically remember people telling me that they wished they had my determination to be small. They didn’t know what I was doing to myself to get there.
I was partying constantly. I hated myself for not being normal — for wanting to be with my girl friends romantically instead of my boyfriend. I failed an English class and made a D in geology that semester. I was placed on academic probation. From that point on, all I did was study, and exercise — and of course, drink. My grades got better, but I was using a doctor-prescribed pill called phentermine. It suppresses hunger and is a stimulant, which was just what I needed, in my eyes. I was living on Lean Cuisines and Lean Pockets and 5-10 cups of coffee a day, and running a 5K every day at the gym. One day, my best friend (and life saver), Heather, found me passed out on the floor because I had taken phentermine and forgotten to eat.
She dragged my ass to counseling, and I absolutely hated her for it. We seriously almost stopped being friends. But thank god she did it. I ended up getting the help I needed.
My therapist and I looked further into my self-loathing. Turns out, I was a lesbian (at that point, I was identifying as bisexual to save my five-year relationship). I hated being romantic and intimate with men, and I hated myself because I hated it. When I ended up coming out, it ended my long term relationship with my boyfriend. It was so incredibly painful, and I thought I was going to lose everyone. While not everyone in my family is supportive of me being part of the LGBTQ community, I feel more myself than ever. I feel alive.
I currently live in a two-bedroom house that I pay for with my loving and incredible partner. We have two dogs and a cat. This doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days anymore, but after clearing through the tangles of internalized homophobia, compulsory heterosexuality, an eating disorder, anxiety, and depression, often, if I am having a bad day, it’s a whole lot easier to pinpoint what’s wrong now. I have coping strategies. I choose coping over living through all of those complexities again.
The five-plus years of cognitive behavioral therapy has led me to where I am today. My journey has been a long one, but it doesn’t have to be that way for everyone.
It does get better, but it isn’t always easy. Being queer is radical. Loving yourself is radical. Being an unapologetic, queer, self-loving woman is the best I have ever felt about living this life that I live.