A couple of days ago, I put a message on Facebook: At 13 I thought I’d never be loved. I was wrong. I give thanks for not doing what I considered. People have been very kind in their reaction to this post, many telling me that I matter. The adult me understands this. The adult me understands that everyone matters. But the 13 year old that I was didn’t feel part of ‘everyone’ he felt only that he was the ‘only one.’ Alone in my thoughts. Alone in my body. Alone in my heart.

At 13, for the first time, I had a crust on a boy in my class. This came as a shock to me. I had always felt that I was different in some undefinable way, but the unknown became known. I liked boys the way boys were supposed to like girls. Flooded with shame I took the secret and buried it deep. It made me an awkward child and socially inept. I was odd. It’s hard to pretend to be normal. It’s hard to pretend to be typical. It’s hard to pretend to be a boy who likes girls. I lived a life of artifice.

And,

of course,

I hated myself.

And,

of  course,

I could see no future.

And,

of course,

I wanted the pain to stop.

I have no desire to talk about what I did then. Because it hurts to much. Even the memories from those times are ones of horror. Maybe 15 years after graduating I drove to the school where I lived in fear every day. I had not seen it since leaving town. Fear of discovery. Fear of hurt. I had endured that school. But when I saw it from the distance of years I was shocked at how small it was. The building stood looking innocent of the things that occurred within.

It was that moment that I began giving thanks.

And,

of course,

this was new to me.

And,

of course,

I began to cry.

And,

of course,

I knew I had survived.

Shame lies to us. It tells us that we are not worthy. It tells us that we are unnecessary. It hands us a means and show us a way to simply stop being different, being outcast, being at all. Shame needs to be silenced.

For those of you, this Thanksgiving,  who give thanks for the breath you take, for the lives you live, for the love you feel. I join you.

For those of you, this Thanksgiving, who give thanks for what you own, inside, rather than what you own, outside. I join you.

For those of you, this Thanksgiving, who give thanks for having the joy of making your way down the road to becoming. I join you.

I will dine with those I love.

That’s the miracle.

That I thought would never come.

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