Saturday, October 6, 2012

Back to School: Very Vee

This month the Queer Etsy Team is presenting our personal tales from school to offer hope for LGBT students returning to school with trepidation.  May they learn from us that there is always someone out there who understands and supports them... Today's musings come to us from Vee of Very Vee and Very Vee in Stitches.


Image Source

So, let me state that I should have had this blog post done some time ago. However, I am running on the late as usual. It’s just I get easily overwhelmed.  Pair that with being overly ambitious and it’s a disaster. 

Why am I admitting to this, you may ask; because I have been this way my whole life.  I get a wonderful idea, something I feel passionate about, I get excited, and then poof I manage to put myself into a situation where I procrastinate.  It took a class at college to teach me that the real reason I do this is because I am a perfectionist.  When our dear team leader asked for blog volunteers I thought to myself “Hey I should do this. I have a story to tell. It’s something that matters.” Yet, I put it off. I have so much to say that I don’t know where to begin. So this is my beginning.  Thank you, dear Bunny, for being patient and kind. Thank you for those that are reading my words. I hope it makes some sort of sense to you, as a reader.

I suppose I should tell you my age now. We all know woman hate to do this. That seems to apply more lately as the gray starts to come in. I am now 32. It’s funny trying to figure out where to start in the story of sexuality and school. For it is a life story. It is a story full of lost, obsession, self hate, depression, anxiety. Yet, it is a story full of love, compassion, understanding, forgiveness, and joy also.  I shall tell you a bit about my life. I shall shed a bit of my skin. I shall and on that note, I will.

I was born to a very loving mother. She is all I could ever imagine a mother to be and more. She is the most “mom” person I know. For that I am beyond blessed. She is beautiful, kind, compassionate, and strong. She is all I ever wanted to be growing up. She is creative, and has a natural artistic talent. She often tries something for the first time and does something amazing. I was jealous of this talent. I could never see her mistakes. To me, growing up, my mother was perfect. She was, and still is, the shining star in my life. Since, becoming an adult I have learned to tame that jealousy. I can now see her mistakes and I am ashamed to say that sometimes I point them out to her. It is not meant to be negative, but maybe it just reminds me that she is human. It makes me love her even more. It’s so hard to think of those who have lost their mothers. It’s even harder to think of those who have been disowned by their mothers or those they love. I feel compassion for them beyond compare. If you are one of them stay strong. Be who you are and were meant to be. You are amazing and you are brave.

My father is an alcoholic. I would rather not get into the details, because it is a story of love, hate, and compassion. It is a story all its own.  I will say, for as much pain as my father has caused me, I love him. He has taught me to be strong and in an odd way compassionate. I am so much like him it scares me. I grew up hating that about myself. Yet, I now understand that some of the features I get from my father are my best. I do also get some of my worst from him. I get my anger and temperament from him. I also get my manic depression from him. I have spent much of my life being ashamed of my father, while I put my mother on a pedestal. I no longer carry that shame, and well, as for my mother, she is still on a pedestal, but it’s a more realistic one.

Because of things that happened within my family life, I became withdrawn growing up. I was easily distracted and not very sociable. I was often picked on in school. This started in grade school and lasted throughout my school years. My mother tells me I walked into first grade and stated “I can’t read. I hate reading”. I was taught to read that year, and my life changed. I became immersed in books. I read while I was supposed to be sleeping. I would stuff blankets around the cracks of my bedroom door, so no one could see the light. Silly girl I was; my mother knew. She encouraged me to read. I read many of her books. I read anything and everything I could. I developed a reading addiction. It’s one that I still have to this day and hope to die with. If something interested me in school I would research it. If we read an excerpt from a novel I would read the whole novel. I would read before school, during class, and after school. I would skip school and go to the library and read.

I was a smart girl, yet I was failing classes. I was lucky in that I never got held back. I was the girl in class that the teachers wouldn’t leave alone. I wanted them to just give up on me, to write me off as stupid, like I already had. Yet, they didn’t. Well, not until high school. Even, then it was a love-hate relationship. 

I kept to myself and had very few friends. The friends that I did have I was afraid to have over to my home. As I stated, I was ashamed of where I came from. I often felt there was no one to talk to and that no one understood me. When I got to high school this became a huge problem.


Image Source

High school was hell for me. I didn’t feel that I fit in anywhere. I was a mix of a lot of different styles and stereotypes. I wore gorilla slippers in school, because I was told I couldn’t walk around without shoes on. I wore multiple necklaces, and jewelry. I had my own sense of style, as a lot of high school children think they do. I painted everything I could. Painting became a way to express feeling I couldn’t seem to otherwise get out. Art was therapy. Art is therapy. I painted my body, others bodies, my locker, my clothes. I just felt I had this built up emotion that needed to come out. I felt like if I didn’t start to express myself I would explode. I felt empty and overfull all at once.

Part of this was the way I had always been. Part of it was my family life. Part of it was typical growing up stuff. Yet, there was another part of it, a very confusing and emotional part. I was in love/obsession with a girl. It started innocently enough. We both hung out with someone we didn’t really like out of compassion. It was this other girl’s birthday party and we went to a theme park. We hung out together, the two of us, all day and night. She was wearing a Janet Jackson shirt I thought was so hot. Janet was covering her breasts with hands. She had super short hair and a bandana on. I think it was red, but it may have been blue. It was tied in bunny ears in the front. I smile, even now, thinking of her that day. It hit me like a mother fucking train and I thought I was in love. It got worse; we’d talk for hours often daily. She lived in a city near mine and I wanted her to come to my high school so badly. I didn’t have many friends and I felt like I could tell her anything. I felt a closeness I had never felt. I also felt something else. I felt excited and thrilled to talk to her. My heart would beat faster, I’d blush, and I’d smile like a goon. I was the one who told her that I liked her, and not in the best friend normal girl to girl way. Then she told me she was gay and my heart soared.

She came to my high school eventually. This wasn’t because of me, I don’t think, but because of her own family life. It was like a dream come true. I was with her always. We’d hang out at school, and write each other 20 page letters. I’d sometimes take the bus to her house just to spend a bit of extra time with her than walk – a long way – home. It also was a distraction from my own family life. She was so charismatic. She is one of those rare people that others are just drawn too.  Many a straight girl fell for her. Everyone wanted to be around her. This could not have been easy for her in life either. She was a butch and I was not. I didn’t know what I was. All I knew was that she was everything to me and she was what I wanted.  Others wanted her too. I was obsessed. I was jealous and angry and insecure. I had never had a friend that close to me and I didn’t want that taken away from me.

Meanwhile, at the high school I was skipping classes daily. I learned not to go to homeroom and then I’d be marked absent and could attend or not attend any classes I’d like. I hated school. I thought the stuff that was taught was not accurate. I thought that a lot of my teachers were horrible. I had a teacher for science that fell asleep every class. Looking back on it, I’m pretty sure he had a medical condition. When I complained about it I was nicely told he had tenure and that was that. I hated the way that you were not encouraged to think, but instead to memorize and pass a test on said memorization. I hated everything there was to hate about school and more. I hated life. I spent my days wandering the halls, smoking, and reading under staircases.

When I came out as gay to my mother it was so hard. I was crying and couldn’t speak clearly. My mother was supportive, but also thought that it may be a phase. I knew it wasn’t. I don’t remember how, but in school I came out also. Coming out lead to such things as, being screamed at while walking down the hall from Baptist church going kids who had a prayer circle in front of the office every day, getting papers back with the word “DYKE” written across them while teachers claimed to know nothing about it, and general harassment. I was called names and asked stupid questions about my sex life. It was expected I all of a sudden HAD a sex life, because of my sexuality. I was asked how woman can make love without a dick, etc. I was asked very personal questions, from people who didn’t know me, and often in a negative cruel way. All I wanted was to be with the girl I thought I was in love with.

There became a group of girls who all dated each other in school. I was not one of them. They all seemed to center around the one I loved. She drew people to her. Everyone thought they loved her. She was very much proactive in being out. I was not. I didn’t want to be. I wanted to disappear. This is not because of my sexuality, but because that was who I had always been.

I started to lock myself in bathrooms and have panic attacks. My heart would beat so fast I would think I was dieing. I would sweat, and cry, and shake.  I kept it to myself, but it happened more and more. I had started to lie about everything. I had all these feelings in me that I could not release. There were things in my personal life I felt I couldn’t disclose, and so I lied, and lied, and lied. Once you tell one they grow, and grow, and grow. Suddenly, you are living two lives, but you aren’t really living at all. I wanted people to think I was happy. I wanted people to think I didn’t need them and I wasn’t alone.  I wanted people to think that I was alive and well. Mostly, I wanted people to think I was loved and didn’t need theirs. Mostly, I wanted her to think that. Mostly, I wanted her to see through all the hurt, anger, and pain and see me. I was a mess. I became a compulsive liar. I became even more empty than I thought I was before.

One day, during lunch I saw a girl who had markings on her fists. I asked her what they were from and she explained to me that she carved them. I asked her to do me, she agreed but never did. A few days later and I started cutting myself. I would cut and carve my skin. While locked in the bathroom I would empty a razor and trace patterns across my skin. I hid my cuts and scars. I thought they were beautiful, but ugly all at once. There is a song lyric by the Goo Goo Dolls that has always struck me “When everything feels like the movies, you bleed just to know you’re alive”. That was me. My life was a movie. It was fake and dramatic. I felt nothing and everything all at once. I cut and the panic attacks didn’t seem so bad. I cut and nothing seemed so bad. My legs and arms became full of scars. Yet, my heart had so many more. I hated who I was, and I hated even more who I had become. I felt there was no way out. I felt hopeless and so very alone.


Image Source

During this time there was a girl who did see me. She did understand me, and she loved me. We were friends. She loved me, and I loved her, but all I could see was the other. I was blinded. This girl, who was in love with me, made me laugh. She made me smile. She made me feel safe. She knows who she is and I thank her. We will call her… Lilly. Why? Just because. Lilly was my first kiss. She rocked my world. We lay on my bedroom floor one night and made out for hours. I was so thirsty, but won’t stop kissing her to get a drink.  She was soft, yet playful, her lips were beautiful and full, her touch soft and exploratory.  I should have seen her more, but I was too lost myself. I was lost in my obsession for another. I thought no one could ever really love ME. I was stupid, and young, and wrong. I played with her emotions. I wanted to like her. I liked entertaining the idea of her, but in reality all I could see is the other. I am sorry. Truly in my heart, I am.

I never did fully enjoy a real relationship with the one I sought after so badly.  We had some sexual moments, but mostly they were awkward. I was scared and uncomfortable and it didn’t feel right. It was not the safe exciting feeling it should have been. It was not like rolling around on the floor lip locked with Lilly.

One day I had a mental break. Nothing really bad happened that day; I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I couldn’t handle being so alone, being in love with someone who didn’t love me the way I wanted, the cutting, the lies, the panic. I had a panic attack, only this time I asked someone for help. My mother was then called and I was taken to the hospital. This is not what I needed. I was lucky enough, that next to me there was a woman actively trying to kill herself. Lucky you say? Why yes, luck indeed. I was lucky, because it made me agree with my mother that that was not where I needed to be. The hospital visit led to me counseling sessions. First, I had a really horrible counselor, than I had a wonderful one. I was put on medication, which I flushed down the toilet. It made me feel even more numb.

Here is a list of things that happened after:
  1. I got kicked out of school for no real reason other than I didn’t attend. I was put in a classroom full of drug addicts, abusive boyfriends, and people who didn’t give a shit. The school fucked up and didn’t realize that because my birthday is in September I could not even take my G.E.D like they said I could. I had to than attend this class for months, although I was ready right away. The other kids hated me, because I was smart and got to read all day.

  2. I ran away from home. I got on the bus one day and went and stayed in a homeless shelter. It was life changing in some ways, but not in a lot of the ways it would be to most. I don’t know if my mother has ever really gotten over this. However, she loves me and although she may not understand everything that has occurred she accepts me for who I am and the mistakes I have made. I also cut all my hair off, due to what I thought was a bad perm. I wanted to escape my home, my life, my lies, and everything there was around me. I wanted a new beginning. Unfortunately, life is not so simple.  I stayed with an amazing gay couple. I will forever remember them and be thankful. That DID change me. 

  3. I went to college. I would have been through a 2 year program by the time my class had graduated. I was not ready for college. I hadn’t even really had any real schooling. I got drunk, hung up and read a lot. I dropped out. This later haunts me. It’s another super long story.

  4. I entered into a bad relationship with a man. It started out from sexual curiosity and went from there. Again I wanted to escape. I than went on to have many other bad relationships.

Okay, so years later I went back to school. I had a hell of a time. I got very sick and had no health insurance, etc, etc. I won’t dwell on all that. What I do want so badly to share with you all is the power of love and learning. I LOVED college. At first I was very scared. I thought that I wasn’t smart enough. Then the procrastination/perfectionist problem was a HUGE issue. Again, I would get super excited and do TONS of research. Yet, my work would be late or often not even turned in. I was my own worst enemy. College was the opposite of high school. I mean, well, I still didn’t feel like I fit in. However, I was proud of that fact. A lot of the students would be on their cell phones during class, would make immature remarks, etc, etc. I was proud to be attentive and to learn. I wanted the knowledge the professors had to offer and than some. I should have thrived, and in some ways I did. In many ways, I did not. Some would say I even failed. I do not look at it like that. I did drop out again, but only after fighting some administrative fights that needed to be fought. I did finish classes and I did well. I finished with a 3.85 GPA which is not bad, considering that I wasn’t in school part of the time due to illness.

Unlike high school, where I thought I was stupid, in college I realized how smart I am. I struggled with this as well. I often felt guilty for not having to work as hard as others. I didn’t really give it my all, but I’d often get A’s. I could sit through a class and later ace the test without studying and this bother me. Truth be told, it should have, but not for the reasons it did. It should have bothered me, because the only person I cheated was me. I could have gotten so much more out of my classes if only I wasn’t afraid of trying. I have this overwhelming fear in everything I do that it won’t be good enough, that it can and should be better. It’s not put on me by others, but by myself. It has been my one struggle my life. I hold myself back. I still do today. However, I’ve gotten a bit better and I keep trying to.

In college I enrolled in a sociology class. It was sociology of the family. I loved the class. All of a sudden, everything about growing up and my family life and thus my LIFE made even more sense to me. Most the material was common sense to me, because I had lived it and could apply it. That began my love of social sciences. Although I am not in college anymore I continue to read, and read, and read. I love books that deal with social psychology, sociology, and psychology. I love books on social changes, why people are how they are, and cultures. College was not lost on me. Although I did not finish it opened my eyes so much.


Photo & Quilt by Vee

I reached out to one of my professors. I thought I had a crush on him, but that wasn’t it. We had a connection. We became very close friends. We’d have tea time daily and often sit in the gazebo at school. We’d email each other and talk about everything in life. He had faith in me and could see me for not only who I am, but who I could be. He amazed me. He was my rock. During that time he was married, but coming out as gay to himself and gradually over time to those around him. I believe I helped him in this process. He helped me see myself more clearly as well. We spoke of change in each other lives academically and personally. I made him a rainbow quilt and it was the perfect gift. We attended pride together, but I wasn’t really feeling it. The thing is, I don’t feel the need to yell it out. I understand that’s not what it’s about to everyone, but it’s just not needed for me. I’m still quiet and a bit withdrawn at times. I am now mostly at peace with myself though. He helped with so much of that. We haven’t stayed in touch as I would have liked, and we both swore we would. It saddens me deeply, for there are not that many people I’ve been truly close to in my life. He is special to me and will always have a place in my heart. I wonder often if I disappointed him, as children often wonder about their parents, but I know if he knew me now for who I am inside, I won’t have.

So, my blog entry has been really long. I don’t know if that’s okay, and I apologize. It’s a story, but it’s a long story. I have left much out. I have left out some of the harassment at high school to the point that we had to get a lawyer, some of the failed attempts at sex with woman, etc. However, I suppose I instead needed to share more the feelings. I want others to know they are not alone. EVER.  I am glad that some of the things I have dealt with growing up have more exposure, such as self mutilation, but yet sadden too because sometimes these things get sensationalized- like the emo culture.

This has been about my past. It’s interesting telling the story, because I’ve thought often times I should, but never do. What I’d like to do is tell you about who I am today. Today, I am a strong, intelligent, book-loving woman. I am in a loving relationship that is like no other I have known. I am with a man, but still find women to be beautiful and sensual in a way no man will ever be to me. I do not hide my sexuality, nor do I proclaim it from the mountaintops. I believe for me, and many in life, sexuality is fluid. I love who I am today, not because all I’ve been through, but because I learned from it. I changed from it. I can admit the hardest part and look you in the eye. I can look myself in the eye. I know who I am. I believe that often times, people are with others, because they are scared to be alone. They don’t know who they are, and they don’t love themselves. I bounced from one bad relationship to another, and finally I had enough. Finally I looked at myself and cried out “STOP!”  I took time to know myself and become myself. I think everyone needs to do this. Self-realization is an ongoing process and one I hope to always take part in. I understand others in a way that many do not. I am overly sensitive. I still get depressed, but I don’t give up. I know I am loved. I know I love myself for who I am, long, crazy, self-hating past, and all.

Years after high school – about 15 or more- I met Lilly again. We tried to be friends again. It didn’t work out. Sometimes I think your past is meant to stay your past. It got complicated quickly. I did, however, meet a friend of hers. He has changed my life dramatically. Things have been beyond rough this past year. I lost my job and have had a hard time getting a new one. I gained weight, and often hate my body because of it. I had some health issues as well. Through it all he has been there. He makes me laugh when I’d rather cry. He makes me smile. He loves me for who I am. I sing and dance and shake my ass and sometimes he laughs and sometimes he asks for ear plugs, but he accepts and loves me for EZACTLY who I am. Thank you.

Thank you so much for reading my long long semi life story. Thank you, Bunny, for your time and dedication to the Queer Group. Thank you, members, for sharing your stories as well. I participate in the group as much as I can, before it becomes too much. Thank you for all you do! Keep being you!

One last thing, thank you to all the teachers in my life! For some reason I am drawn to teachers. I am currently still in touch with a few of you, even my 5th grade one. Thank you for caring about your students and for working in a system full of head-banging-against-the-wall faults. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for realizing the failing kid in your class is often one of the brightest. I remember you all. Thank you for helping me to become who I am. You all amaze me. I’m proud to be the nerdy book-loving girl who hangs out with the professors. Even if we don’t pass, even if your funds are cut further, even if you see more and more drug use, pregnancy, and abuse each year you keep going and you DO make a difference, even if it’s not in the numbers.

To my mother, I love you more than I think it’s possible to love another person. Thank you for being exactly who you are.

Thank you to Kim, because I know you’ll read this. You amaze me. You started as a friend on Etsy and became so much more. You are the closest person to me besides my mother and the boy. You amaze me. Keep your head up and be proud of who you are and what you do. You are loved.

To all those struggling out there, wither it be with sexuality, depression, or life in general it DOES get better, but it takes work. Work it! You can do it!

P.S  : I am a hour past due on this. However, I managed to do it! J Go me! Ha. Remember to always look at what you HAVE already done. It'll help you do what you need to next.


~~

If you are being bullied and in need of help, there are many groups available to choose from:
  • First, if you are in crisis or considering suicide, please call the
    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
    or the Trevor Project at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).

  • You can find more detailed steps on finding help at StopBullying.gov.

  • You can find a list of helpful resources at GLSEN.org (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) .

  • To find a local source of help, the Safe Schools Coalition has a list of Community Based GLBTQ Youth Support Groups and Safe Schools Coalitions.

~~

Also this month:

~ October is National LGBT History Month.  Please visit our blog daily to learn more about our history.

~ October is also National Bullying Prevention Month.

~ October 10th is Unity Day; wear orange to show your support and remind others about the importance of bullying prevention.

~ October 11th is National Coming Out Day when we celebrate coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or as an ally. See the Human Rights Campaign website for resources on coming out.

~ October 19th is Spirit Day; wear purple on this day to support LGBT youth & stand up against bullying.

2 comments:

Mariana Romo-Carmona said...

Vee, what an amazing person you are. Thank you for sharing your life and all your struggles. And I am so happy that you are living your life and being so creative! Best, best wishes always!
Mariana

Kim said...

Vee, your story is not one word too long, and you told it beautifully. You've opened your heart here, and though that's never easy, I know it will mean the world to you if just one person finds hope or inspiration in your words. You give these things to me every day, and I have no doubt this will touch many.

I'm incredibly lucky and proud to have a friend so full of love, compassion, talent, and wisdom. Thank you for sharing your wonderful self, and thank you BunnyKissd and QES Team for posting this!