Being gay. Being bullied (written by Bridget)
BLOG TAKE OVER
I am so glad that I have opened up my blog for you to contribute. Writing has helped me massively with my mental health and this gives others the opportunity to write and share their journey from a different perspective. I am truly inspired and encouraged by what I have read. I have no doubt you will too.
**Please remember local and national support services are available if help is required**
Thank you Bridget for your openness in ‘take over 9’
I have always been bullied. There I have said it.
I only recall one hug from mother – ever. I was perched on the edge of the bed as she tended to my baby brother. I was fiercely instructed not to move despite begging for the toilet. I got a slap, and then the hug came from guilt as the 3½ year old sobbed apologetically.
I didn’t know what gay was when I was very young but I was able to recognise that I wasn’t like the other girls. Everyone called me a tomboy. Never a choice, just who I was. Girls teased me for being more like a boy than most boys were.
Growing up gay in Glasgow was a taboo. I had secret romance. Later, she moved to London and was tragically killed. Nobody knew about us, or how much I hurt. I was unable to grieve openly. I didn’t even go to her funeral.
My mother was “informed” that I was a lesbian. She was livid. Deny it on the bible or be disowned. The shame of it would break dad’s heart. I was 16 and naïve. She still has no idea to this day that I lied.
I was too short to be one of Strathclyde’s finest (police), so looked at the RAF – a good job with accommodation – escape. Under 16’s needed parental consent. She refused to sign the forms and dad wouldn’t cross her. I got the forms for the Navy instead, she refused them too. At 18 I got the RAF forms again. She rifled my room frequently and mocked me when she found them. I was incapable of discipline. I couldn’t take orders. Homosexuals can’t serve, she sneered. I tore up the forms. I asked dad why she hated me. He couldn’t understand why I would think that.
I had no job at the end of a YTS placement. Mother said I must really be crap. I got a job. She said it would never last. I tried so hard to please her to no avail. I struggled into my twenties when I bought a flat. You’ll never leave me, she said. I did, but by then I had long shut away “me” and my persona was one that met everyone else’s expectations. In the solitude of my own home, I cut myself.
I was diagnosed with endometriosis, mother laughed despite the prospect of never being a gran. I worked with a man that became my partner. We shared many adventures and drank.
I fell pregnant on honeymoon. I had a lonely 9 months while he continued to go straight to the pub after work. When the baby was 6th months I asked him to be more home-centric – he said he was what I married and told me to deal with it. We fought often.
I worked part time, my boss didn’t like me. I had trouble for a year until the day I woke up crying.
I was 34, it was a Tuesday morning. I found myself trapped in a recurring dream which I recall as far back as childhood. I can only describe it as an avalanche – chased down by an ever-increasing and over-whelming presence but always managing to outrun it in time to wake up. It engulfed me. As the fear of helplessness and impending doom hit me, I awoke, sobbing uncontrollably. For no reason I could fathom. The doctor signed me off – work related stress. I didn’t want medication, he didn’t recommend counselling and I was signed off for a month, all of which I cried, barely able to leave the house.
My beautiful little girl would “fix me” with her hugs. When I eventually stopped crying and ventured out I slowly morphed from a weak tearful person to an inhospitable creature. The frustration, anger, rage, hurt and bullying of 30 years spilled in a torrent of vitriol at anyone in the way. I told people what I thought of them – cared nothing for their feelings. I was hurt and I wanted to hurt. I trashed the house often – it was easier to hide than self-harm.
I returned to work after 4 months because I ran out of tears. I became ruthless. I was headhunted and without hesitation nor discussion with husband, I changed job. I travelled 4-5 days and weekends were devoted to my daughter. I immersed myself in work, and my barriers became impenetrable. My avalanche was gone. When Gran passed away, I shed no tears. I took pride in this strength, not realising that I really was no better. Devoid of emotion. Nothing got in, and nothing got out.
I met a woman who became the catalyst for a spectacular change in my life. Not since my teenage sweetheart had I felt so comfortable in someone’s presence, and for the first time ever – it all came out. Through talking to her it dawned that I had all along and still suffered with my mental health.
I couldn’t be this person any more, tired of hiding, tired of fulfilling the expectations of others. I needed to cry and couldn’t. The rage building was worse than before. My avalanche came back, and I lashed out at others again. One day I walked out, left everything, even my daughter whom I loved and cherished dearly. I drove to the opposite end of the country to start a new life with the woman who listened.
I. Am. Gay. I wasted enough of my life not being “me”. The following few months were incredibly hard but cathartic. When I learned of the suicide of a close friend, it hit home just how fragile we are. My partner makes me feel worthwhile and makes me believe in myself. I am now 6 years without an emotional relapse, all because I have someone who listens and loves me for who I am despite my faults.
Nowadays I do exercise and sport to help. It might be meditative pilates, weights, or running. Some times I go into the woods and scream it all out. It’s my release. I went from 14st unable to run 20ft to losing weight and happily jogging half marathons. I play football again after 30 years which I love. Bad days are cancelled out with a hard run now, and when I run with a buddy, it’s a bonus.
Lessons I learned
Talk about it. Don’t bottle it up. You are not alone. There will always be someone who will listen. The people that matter don’t mind, and the people that mind don’t matter. Help each other. Bullies only do it because it makes them feel powerful. There is nothing to be ashamed of by being who you are.