Once upon a time, I could not utter the word “gay”. Whenever I did, it felt like there were a thousand needles trying to force a way out of my chest. The same thing happened whenever I heard the word. It felt like I was at gun point about to have a heart attack from the sheer horror of being found out.
I hid. I dressed in unattractive clothing. I stayed away from people who behaved like me. All so as not to get any attention.
Having to identify with my gayness felt like a deep personal failure. I failed the world. I failed myself. I failed my family.
I vowed never to tell a soul about my attraction to men.
In search of answers, I read everything I could find on being gay. From Wikipedia to stories of people who suffered my ordeal. (And, till my dying day, I will continue to bless the creators of Google along with the awesome team that keeps it running).
One day, I read something about the part of the mind I have little control over: the subconscious mind.
This part of my mind contains every information I have come across since birth. It bridges the unconscious part of my mind to the conscious part of my mind. It is responsible for maintaining my heartbeat, my breathing, my skin cell restoration. And, it has complete control over my conscious mind; even though it doesn’t seem that way, it wins the conscious mind every time.
We are unconscious about those we get attracted to, the subconsious mind communicates this to the conscious mind and we become aware of how we feel. Responding to it based on our circumstances.
Some stupid book wasn’t going to tell me how to control my own mind. Especially not after spelling out gibberish. I set out to maintain my vow. Wherever it came from, conscious or unconscious, no one would find out what I felt about men. I would ensure my conscious mind won my subconscious.
It seemed to work for a while until emotions sufficed. They didn’t give a care what my conscious mind thought or what any part of my mind thought for that matter. They were just present and would do what they were designed to do.
As though grappling with my emotions was not enough, I had to contend with those who felt the need to poke their nose in what is none of their business. I wouldn’t lie though but i wouldn’t admit it either.
Growing older seemed to heat things up. With desires morphing from just a skip of a heartbeat to momentary episodes of hyperventilation accompanied by a rush of what I can’t put in words warming my skin whenever my eyes came across my definition of an attractive man (this definition seemed to broaden with time as well).
At some point, I got angry. The anger stemmed from why there was a need to battle with something I had no control over. The care I felt for myself revealed the path I was treading would only lead to more heartache. And, other people would suffer from the heartache as well. I unvowed my vow.
I didn’t set out to tell the world. I set out to tell myself. To own it and feel unsorry for it. The world seemed to change starting from this point. People cared too much about their own problems to entertain mine. These problems made them insecure. So, we shared something in common; we were all insecure.
Once I told myself, telling my family became less than impossible. It felt very daunting (It’s literally the scariest experience I’ve ever had). But, I felt the obligation to be truthful. When or if the opportunity presented itself, I would tell them.
The opportunity presented itself. Emotions poured. Nothing changed. The sun (still) rose the following morning. I was served breakfast. Everybody went to work.
The time I spent on hiding, feeling sorry and running away was worth nothing. My creative energy deserved better.
I deserve better. Those I care about deserve better.
I still don’t feel a sense of calm when I utter the word gay but I don’t feel the needles anymore.
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