Thursday, February 13, 2014

Figuring it out

I think I now know why I started crying when I saw this sign the other day. 

It kind of caught me off guard at first and actually made me feel sad and depressed inside, but I couldn't put my finger on the reason why at first. I don't know if this ever happens to you, where you have this emotional reaction about something and can't really find the words to express why. It happens to me frequently and I always feel shaky at first because it catches me off guard.

But most of the time I'm able to piece it together if I have some quiet time. I like being able to figure out things for myself, but I'm now learning that there's no shame in reaching out to another person -- someone I trust -- and discussing it with them. I use to think that was a sign I was "weak," but Matty has really been pushing me to open up more so I can get past feeling I have to struggle through things all by myself.

Matty and I were in the living room the other day and he was talking on the phone to a friend of his while I was traveling all over cyberspace, just killing some time. And then I came across this sign and it hit me like a ton of bricks and my eyes welled up and I got that sad, sinking feeling in my throat that dropped down to the pit of my stomach.

I might have made some kind of guttural moan when this happened, because Matty looked over at me and all I heard him say to his friend was, "Hey, I need to run. Call you back later."

He came over and sat next to me and asked what was going on and I just pointed at the sign and then lost it. Just lost it. He read the sign and then put his arms around me and just held me close and rocked me back and forth. Then the waterworks really opened up.

He didn't pressure me to talk because he's learned that sometimes I just need to "feel" my feelings, even if it makes me feel shaky inside. So after I stopped crying, I looked up at him and let him wipe the tears away with his fingers, and then I heard him ask, "Wanna talk?"

I was all over the place at first when I started talking, but I finally was able to realize that this goes back to when I was maybe six or seven or eight years old and being made fun of because I liked to play with the girls better than the boys. Being called a "baby" and "sissy" was bad enough, but for a boy at that age to be called a "girl" was the worse humiliation on earth. 

Oh, and then you start realizing that the boys are cuter than the girls and you sort of like that feeling but are also disgusted by it and this leads to being completely confused by the whole thing. But you also realize that there's something really wrong and bad with this picture so you have to keep it a big secret.  

This makes you start realizing that you're not like the other boys, especially when you hear them snicker and talk about you behind your back. So you try really, really hard to stop thinking this way but you can't make it stop. So the only thing you can do is start withdrawing into this very tiny world that has to be kept a secret. 

Oh, and then you have to start pretending you're this whole other person, kind of like you're a fake. Believe me, it takes a toll on you when you're a little kid. 

So after talking to Matty about all this and hearing his take on it, it made complete sense to me why that sign up there threw me back to when I was a little kid. It's where I started learning that I had to hide myself, not only from other people, but even from myself.

It was a relief to understand my feelings the other night. It made me feel a lot more compassion for myself when I was that age and didn't know how to sort all this out. 

I can do that now, and, well, I'm damn proud of myself. And I'm damn lucky to have a man in my life who cares about me -- not the fake me, but the real me.

20 comments:

  1. It's always hard to deal with emotions when they blindside us like that. Especially when it's over something seemingly innocent. I'm proud of you too Brad. And grateful you have Matty with you. You two really take such good care of each other.

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  2. I think the real you is awesome and it just enrages me that you or any other child ever had to go through being told that you weren't "good enough." Good enough for what arbitrary measure of humanity, I wonder.

    I'm so glad you've made such a wonderful life for yourself with so much love and acceptance for the person you truly are. You are a lucky man, but you are also a strong, loving, and resilient one to have embraced the "luck" that you were offered and not let what was turn you into something false.

    Big hugs and love Brad! You deserve all the best and more :)

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  3. I know this post started out sad but what a finish! I feel like you had a huge breakthrough on self acceptance. It really does have to come from within but I'm honored that you share this with us. I LOVE that it's another affirmation that who you love is innate not learned and ultimately you listened to your heart & mind. I'm tearing up but in a good way. Big ((hugs)) Brad.

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  4. I was so angry when I read your post, Brad. I was angry that you were made to feel that you had to hide yourself. And my mind started wandering in the direction that Cris (above) did in that I became enraged that a child should be made to feel like less for any reason, let alone one that is a simple and perfect matter of nature. This needs to change. We need to change this.

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  5. Hi Bradley,

    I need to live closer so I can come over I give you a gigantic hug whenever I read your posts. :) I want to hug you and your younger self. I feel so much for "young" Bradley. Those feelings are traumatic for an adult to face; a kid has no reference point at all. Having had to pretend like that at such an early age is no way to be a child. I wish I could have held that child and assured him his feelings were OK.

    I am so happy your life has evolved into what it is now. You are taking enormous "baby steps" toward fulfilling all the promise in you. Plus you have a wonderful, caring man by your side to share what is to come. Continue on your path, Bradley, knowing all your feelings now, as then, are more than OK; they're perfect! :)

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  6. I, too, wish I could go back in time and reassure that boy that he is perfectly okay just the way he is. But you know what? It would mean more coming from you. It might be a worthwhile exercise for you to write a letter to your seven-year-old self. Give him permission to be himself, to be proud of himself. Tell him he's not a baby or a sissy or a girl. He's just a little different. And different is okay. Because contrary to what he believes, there are other beautiful souls in the world like him, and they think he's perfect. Most importantly, tell him that you love him. xoxo

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  7. You know what? I'll bet a lot of those mean people from your past don't have a fraction of the quality of life you have right now! How many of them are in loving relationships? How many have talent, goals, self-knowledge, communication skills, a solid education? Never forget: you've come a long way, baby, and you've left the name-callers eating your dust. :-)

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  8. Brad, you are amazing! I wish I could go back and hug that little boy and be his friend and let him know everything is going to be okay. One day he'll become you, which is perfect.

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  9. Brad - I love your heart so much. And, I love that you have Matty to give you the space to 'figure it out'. You guys know each other so well - know what the other needs, and gives it to them. This post is so insightful, and perfect. Those moments when we're young, those moments where our little souls are being shaped, are so important, yet we rarely realize it at the time. It's later, as you have now, that we can look back and say, "Yes! THAT was the moment where this happened to me..." etc... I love that you are constantly trying to learn about yourself, to become the person you want to be. I adore you!!!

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  10. I'm glad to know I'm not the only person this happens to. I've pretty much always kept things inside, I guess because I've never had someone like Matt to confide in. But as you grow and mature as a couple, you're discovering that you can lean on one another. That's a GREAT thing about love!

    Peace <3
    Jay

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  11. Big ((HUGS)) Brad! You guys are so lucky to have each other <3

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  12. As sad and angry as I am for the little boy that was made to feel like that, I'm so proud of the man he has turned into.
    You're an amazing person who is learning everyday to love and accept himself, and god knows, that's not easy to do.
    I'm glad you and Matt have each other to love and lean on, you're both very lucky.
    Biggest of hugs to you Brad (and Matt)!!

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  13. I hate that you were made to feel that way. I hate that anyone is forced to be someone other than who they are, not only by individuals who bully them into it and make them feel lesser because of who they are, but by a society willing to allow it. I'm so glad that you've come such a long way from that little boy, Brad, because you are an amazing person and your light should be allowed to shine. And I'm glad you have Matt to love and understand you, to give you the space you need to work things out and a shoulder to lean on when you need it.

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  14. I have that happen at times too, things that don't seem like they should be that big of a deal and suddenly you're a mess. I am sorry that you felt like that as a child, I am so glad that that is changing today, however slowly. But the fact that you have Matt there to love all of you for who you are, that he knows when to be there for you? I love that most of all. It is wonderful that you have each other, you make each other better people and that is one of the best things you can find with another person. ((hugs))

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  15. Brad I am so glad that you take the time to share your feelings with us. I have been thinking a lot about your past posts lately particularly your posts on makeup. I hardly ever wear makeup I work mostly outdoors with animals and it is just not practical plus I was always to shy to wear it any other time. I applaud you. My aunt often watched my son when he was young while I worked and she doesn't go any wear with out being completely put together and that includes nail polish. When my son was around 2 he liked having his great aunt put nail polish on his fingers and toes when he was visiting her. To him it was an amazing thing that made him colorful and special. No big deal to us until he decided to color his nails at home with marker, ever read the ingredients to markers? He has a cousin that is very shy and when my niece got her nails done with her mother my nephew wanted his done too. I never thought anything of it until my brother commented in front of my son when he was four that his son's painted nails were "just wrong, that's just wrong". He didn't say it in a particularly mean way but one look at my son's face and I could see the sudden indecision on his face like he had done something wrong. After that I paid much closer attention to my brothers comments (he lives 8 hours away) and I have since learned that our parenting styles differ greatly. Five words and it instantly changed by son's ideas about himself. It breaks my heart and that was 5 years ago. He's very sensitive and that was not the last time I have seen that look on his face. Over Christmas break this year he came back from visiting his Aunts with polish on his toes. The first time in a very long time. When he showed me the color I said "cool" and asked him how it made him feel to have his toes painted red. His answer "Its cool, I like it, makes my toes stand out and I just put my socks on so no one else can see it". We're still working on that. My son is a very active, creative, thoughtful boy who over the last year has for some reason become afraid to express his individuality. My hope is that by the time my son reaches your age he has become more comfortable with himself, an ongoing struggle through life, and he is as aware of himself and the person he wants to be as you are. I also hope that he grows up to be loved as much as Matty loves you.

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  16. I am constantly amazed at how good you guys are together and at figuring stuff out. Incredible at such a young age. So glad you found each other.
    :D
    ~Whitley

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  17. Hi Brad,

    I feel your pain and then some. I know what it is like to feel a perfectly natural attraction to the same sex, when everyone is saying you should be attracted to the opposite sex. Something you have no say about.

    But then it hits you, this insane notion blathered by homophobes (sometimes even your own family) that you are sick, worthless and rotten to the core. What could be more traumatizing and destructive to a kid?

    I am glad you were able to find a support system, as well as a wonderful, loving partner at a relatively young age. Some people never find either. You should feel proud and blessed the way you have overcome such adversity.

    Andy

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  18. Oh Brad, it breaks my heart to hear that you felt so bad you had to hide your true self. No one should ever be made to feel that way. We here are all proud of the young man you are….just the way you are.

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  19. Learning to be gentle with yourself is one of the most valuable things you'll ever learn. I'm so glad you're posting more often, Brad. Love your posts.

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  20. I love the last two paragraphs of your post, Brad, you are so right to be proud of yourself!

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