Today’s Out October Project story comes from a man who fought so hard to be someone he wasn’t, he denied himself the right to believe the truth about himself. In the end, it almost cost him his life. Here’s a great story of courage and hope, that teaches us that it does, indeed, get better, when you believe in and become yourself.
Catch up on all the other stories of hope, truth, and courage here.
I guess these stories all start out the same, I always knew something was different. Somewhere in my early teens was where I became more in tune with what was going on, but I was absolutely convinced that possibly being gay was something I could control and if I was going to admit anything to myself, it was that I was maybe bisexual.
During high school I had a steady girlfriend, we had a lot of friends and times were good. My high school girlfriend and I broke up the summer after graduation. I went to a community college for the first two years and became best friends with a girl. We eventually started dating. I then transferred to a university. The long distance relationship was easy for a reason. Eventually we both finished school, and after five years of being together I asked her to marry me. We had been living together for two years at this point and it seemed like the next logical step. Around this time I became very anxious, and I wasn’t sleeping well at all. I went to the doctor and he prescribed me some anti-anxiety medication.
Looking back at this exact moment in my life has always been tough for me. I was in such denial, I didn’t want to be gay, I didn’t want to be bisexual, but allowing myself to think that being bisexual meant that I could choose, and since I didn’t want to be gay, that must mean that I’m straight. So life went on, and so did the medication. My doctor, without really asking any questions continued to prescribe a cocktail of medications to conquer my anxiety and to help me sleep. I continued to get through each day, with my best friend, my fiancé. We were engaged for three years before we finally married, and yes I was still medicated, to control my anxiety. We both had great jobs and we got along just fine as any two best friends would. Then she became pregnant. I was twenty-seven years old.
Five months into the pregnancy my anxiety became increasingly worse, panic attacks were more frequent. I really started to emotionally unravel. I was by this time getting through each day, but medicated, I could still not feel anything, I had no emotions, it had been years since I truly felt anything. I became depressed. My head was so clouded with guilt, I was finally allowing myself to admit that yes, maybe I was gay. My thoughts were repetitious, “God what have I done?”
The guilt was so intense, words cannot truly express to power of the guilt. I was driving to work one day, and I made the worst decision of my life, I took my seat belt off, and veered off the road into a telephone pole at fifty miles-per-hour. The rationalization seemed perfect. I can check out without embarrassing my wife, my daughter, my friends, and my family. The life insurance would take care of them. The pain of losing me would certainly be less to them than me coming out.
Somehow I survived the accident. I kept my secret. I was more scared than ever.
We had a healthy baby girl the following spring. Life went along, my medication continued. I went through each day never really feeling anything; the medication took care of any and all feelings.
Then later that summer the governor of New Jersey came out as a gay American. He was married had kids, and was talking publicly about this. I really started to emotionally unravel. I was by this time barely emotionally getting through each day; I became depressed.
Here I was with a house, two cars, a little girl, and I was married to my best friend. One morning I woke up and had one of the worst panic attacks. I wouldn’t have wished it on anyone, and I thought I was going to die. I slowly realized that I couldn’t handle, what I thought I could control, my sexuality, I wasn’t bisexual, I was gay. I didn’t want to be gay.
Then one night in the spring I sat my best friend, my wife, down and told her. It wasn’t planned, it just happened. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. We cried together for hours, there was no yelling, no screaming, just sadness. I moved out a month later. It was surreal.
The next six months were the worst. I stopped all medication, I was feeling again, but all I was feeling was tremendous guilt and embarrassment and it was crushing. It was hard, but it slowly got better. For the most part, my entire family, my friends, and my estranged wife’s family — believe it or not — were supportive. Slowly things were easier, very slowly.
A little over a year after my wife and I split up I met a man who had just come out to his family. We were the same age, twenty-nine, and we instantly connected. The panic and stress about being gay subsided and I slowly began to feel again, to be happy, and to really be in love with someone.
True love is something I never had experienced. I never felt it was something I deserved. I guess on some level it’s something I still sometimes have a hard time accepting. We are still together almost five years later. He is my soul mate.
It has taken years for me to begin to forgive myself for what felt I should have worked out much sooner, it’s still something I struggle with.
My ex-wife was unbelievably supportive. Her family was there for me, my family rallied around me, my friends rallied around me, and things got better. I knew I had a little girl who was calling me daddy, which I needed to live for.
Lessons I’ve learned? Where to start… Be who you are always, don’t wait. Masking feelings is not healthy, it made things worse. Humans are meant to feel things, your body is talking to you, listen. Regrets? Yes I have many, many of which are obvious.
If you ever get to the point where things seem to be so dismal that you can’t imagine anything ever being right again, stop. Breath. Realize there are people in your life you love you, no matter what, it’s a hell of a leap of faith, I know, but things will get better. I promise that people you never thought would support you, will surprise you and possibly be your biggest support. The world deserves you, whoever you are.
Be happy, you owe it to yourself. I never thought I would be here, now, writing this, but with this anti-gay surge which is ever-more present, I needed to share my story. I wish I had someone to tell me this story on that morning on my way to work, that things will get better, you can do this, and you will survive this. I can’t change my past but hopefully my story can get through to one gay person who is struggling.
So listen up, you will be alright, you will be happy. Believe me. I’m living proof.
Remember, there are always options.
The Trevor Project: a 24-hour hotline for gay and questioning youth: 866-4-U-TREVOR (488-7386)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
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