I wish I knew that things didn’t have to be this complicated.
Of course, in a more ideal world, that would have been obvious. It wouldn’t have been a life-alternating revelation to discover the feeling within myself—it could’ve been a simple coming of age point amongst many others I would experience.
I wish I would’ve known that having those feelings didn’t make me a horrific person. I wish I knew that when I was crying in my room over the dreams I couldn’t control, that I didn’t have to hate myself for them. That I wasn’t someone who would end up alone and abandoned by everyone who cared about her. Of course, some people would’ve left. Sadly I do know that some form of alienation would’ve been inevitable. When people believe something is abhorrently evil and disgusting, it’s not shocking they would want to disconnect from you.
Still, I wish I would’ve known that my true friends would not hate me or think I was unnatural, but would know the person I am and still love me. That they wouldn’t treat this as a problem to be fixed, but rather, as one of the many aspects that make up who I am.
I wish I would’ve known that repressing the feelings wouldn’t make them go away. That pretending they didn’t exist and never acting on them wouldn’t solve the deep-rooted feelings that were underneath. That the pressure would only build up until I cracked open, confused, and afraid of what would happen next.
I wish I would’ve known that in 10 years, the feelings wouldn’t dissipate. That no matter how much of a perfect show I put on that they and this would still be part of me—only now it would be tied up in a sea of resentment and bitterness and trauma.
I wish I would’ve been kinder to those who were living their authentic lives. I did my best, but couldn’t shake the judgment at times. I tried to pretend it was because I was living righteously, but the truth was I wished I could understand that part of myself better. I wish I hadn’t lashed out at those people and caused them pain. Even though I’m better now, I still can’t undo the hurt I caused them.
I wish I knew that even the most kind-hearted intentions of those who would say, “I can’t support that type of life” or “I just don’t want you to end up alone forever” may not have been the same as those who were completely disowned from their families but would still carry a heavy trauma of its own. Saying those things in a softer tone didn’t lessen the hurt. I wish I knew it was okay that it still affected me in ways I couldn’t fathom for years to come, and that I wasn’t alone in the struggle.
I wish I knew that being queer didn’t have to mean abandoning everything I had ever known. I could still love people, have faith, see others for who they are rather than what others claim is “correct.” That this discovery of myself didn’t mean that I had to completely tear my life to shreds unless I wanted to. And wanting to would also be completely okay.
I wish I knew I might waver or want to take my time figuring out all these feelings, and that I didn’t have to decide everything at once. That these feelings might change and become a myriad of things, and I had a right to experience them every step of the way. That I wasn’t an imposter, someone trying to pretend to be something I wasn’t.
At 17, I wish I would’ve known that even if things felt shaky, unsteady, and nerve-racking, eventually everything would be okay. Things would get better.
I wish I would’ve known that I would look back and be so, so proud of who I’ve become.