No cause is too lost.
July 2010 is when my story begins. That’s the month my family and I packed our bags and moved from the wonderful city of Irvine, California to Springville, Utah. It was quite the change for me. Even though we moved just two states away, it felt like a whole different country. Everything was different. I remember being so nervous the first day of fourth grade, my heart pounded with each step I took. My assigned seat was next to one of the cutest guys in my grade; let’s say his name is Michael. I remember dropping my pencil, and Michael, being the cute gentleman that he was, picked it up for me and gave me that classic charming smile. I skipped on home that day with the biggest grin on my face. I couldn’t wait to tell my brother. My older brother was my idol. I worshipped the very ground he walked on, and I wanted to be just like him in every way. Well, he talked about girls all the time, so of course I was super excited to tell him all about Michael. I couldn’t wait to show him that I was cool too. But when I did tell him, he looked confused instead of happy. He then said these words that I still remember to this day: “Wait… you like a boy? That’s not normal. Boys are supposed to like girls.” And that was the last time I would ever talk to my brother about boys.
The next few years would be the hardest of my life. As a kid, of course I had self-confidence, I was a kid. But as I got older, my self-image shattered. I was bullied at school every day. I had no friends. I was just that weird “gay” new kid that nobody liked. I didn’t even know what gay meant at the time.
My situation at home wasn’t much better. My family was under immense financial stress. My parents would pray every day for enough money to just buy groceries. My father was under constant pressure to provide for his family. He felt like he was failing as the head of the household. So naturally, he had no time for patience. I grew up absolutely terrified of him. Being around him was like walking on eggshells, even the slightest stumble would cause the whole carton to break.
My older brother wasn’t much better. The day I told him about Michael was the day he decided to make it his mission to torment me every second he could. He told me I was an ugly, fat, waste of life that was just a burden to this family and to this world. He told me that everyone would be happier if I were gone. And I believed him. He was my idol after all.
I distinctly remember one time in primary school at church, my leaders taught a lesson about families and how they can be together forever. That honestly scared me. My family scared me. After the lesson the leaders went around the room and asked the question “Does your family love you?” And of course, every child said “yes.” But when it came to my turn, I was puzzled. I didn’t know. I knew that they should, but it surely didn’t seem like it. So I said “I don’t know.” My leaders laughed, thinking I was just being a smartass. But I wasn’t joking, I legitimately did not know if my family loved me.
Years passed, and I began to hate myself even more than my brother hated me. I hated myself for being gay and having these “corrupt” feelings. I hated my body. So I began to starve myself and self-harm. I would avoid mirrors like the plague, because I just couldn’t bear to see my disgusting face. Instead of swimming, I would sit on the beach chairs because I didn’t dare take off my shirt.
And if all of that wasn’t bad enough, I had an entire organization telling me I was a mistake: My religion. I belonged to the LDS church at the time. Although I was very religious and believed in God with all of my heart, I hated church with a passion. I felt so invisible and unloved there. People pretended to put up with me, but I knew they actually hated me. Every Sunday I would come home and feel sick to my stomach, like I had eaten really, really expired food. I would try and make up some excuse as to why I couldn’t go to church, and sometimes it worked. But mostly it didn’t. My parents would force me to go. They said they were doing it for my own good, but nothing about church felt good.
I remember the Sunday after gay marriage was legalized. Every talk and lesson seemed to be about how the world is becoming corrupt, and how gay people are corrupting it. I couldn't understand. How on earth is love corrupt? How is caring for someone so deeply that you want to spend the rest of your life with them a sin? Because even though I was very religious, this was also the time I was discovering that I was attracted to boys. It felt disgusting to hear so many people say so many horrible things about people like me who just wanted to love. But if god wanted it so, then we would have to follow, no matter how hard it was. The thought of eternal damnation scared me. I wanted to go to heaven. So I would get on my knees every night with tears streaming down my face, and pray for me to be normal. Pray for my horrible, sinful feelings to leave. Pray for the pain to stop. But it never did. I would then collapse onto my bed and sob myself to sleep while thinking about how I wish I were not alive. At 10 years old, I was anorexic, self-harming, suicidal, hated, insecure, invisible, alone. Nobody seemed to care. This continued on for over a year, and I think the only reason I am alive today is because I didn’t have access to something that would painlessly end my life.
After years and years of fighting, my parents finally allowed me to stay home on Sundays. I haven’t been back to church since. Being free from the church is honestly one of the most refreshing feelings. I still have to deal with very religious people every day (because I swear like 80% of Springville is Mormon), but at least I’m free on Sunday. At least I don’t have to walk into a building every week that that makes me feel like an unloved mistake. I was very religious once upon a time. But I chose myself over an organization that wants me to change. I chose my happiness and refused to believe that leading a loving life would grant me eternal suffering in the next.
That convinced me to come out. Being in the closet was one of the worst feelings in the world. I felt like an invisible hand was slowly closing around my throat. I had to wear a mask every day of my life. I was absolutely miserable, but I was terrified of being “gay” and of telling others that I was, because for all my life being gay was such a horrible thing. Everybody used the word as an insult, so it must be a bad thing... Right? Wrong. I began to let go of years of torture, darkness, and hate, and slowly learned that it was okay to be gay. I started to accept myself for who I was. I came out freshman year by telling my friends that I had a crush on a boy, because I was too afraid to say the words, “I am gay.” But eventually, gay become something wonderful to me. It was who I was. I used to be so terrified of everything. I felt so invisible. But coming out changed all of that. Don’t get me wrong, it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. But now nothing can stop me! I feel so free. I don’t have to hide myself anymore. I CAN BE ME!! And that is the most important thing I could ever be.
Later on during my sophomore year, I joined my high school’s color guard team on a whim. My best friend wanted to audition, and I thought, “why the heck not go with her?” I honestly didn’t know what to expect. But I was greeted with was the most amazing group of loving and talented people, who accepted me for me. I was immediately family and color guard became my safe place. It was the one place I could truly and undeniably be me. I’ve never felt such a positively amazing feeling before. I developed such wonderful friendships and fell completely in love with the sport. The decision to just go out and do something just to do it ended up being the best decision I have ever made.
There is no such thing as a cause too lost.
4 years ago I was at rock bottom. I hated myself. I had no friends and barely a family. I starved and harmed myself. I had no hope and absolutely no will to live. I was a complete lost cause... Except I wasn’t. I am a work in progress; there are some scars that might never heal. But I’m only headed one way: Up. I’m learning to love myself, even the scars and the ugly sides. Because being me and loving me is the single most important thing I could ever do. I am so incredibly lucky to have the most wonderful friends and amazing boyfriend to support me through everything life throws at me. I am reconnecting with my family and making amends. I’m learning to love my body, no matter the shape and to screw everyone that cannot accept me for me. I absolutely love living. 4 years ago I didn’t think those words would ever come out of my mouth. But here we are. I LOVE LIVING! Life is amazing, and full of surprises. I know you’ve probably heard it a million times, but I’ve lived it: IT GETS BETTER. Life is one hell of a journey, but I’m learning to love it. And don’t you ever try to tell me that a cause is too lost.
Because there is NO such thing as a cause too lost.