Overcoming (and Avoiding) Obstacles

For the past few months I’ve been on a slippery slope of depression. My mom has become extremely outspoken about her opposition to the LGBT community, and it is making me sick to the core. Every night I can’t help but wonder if she would still love me, and would want to continue communication with me. I can almost feel the negative response through my bones as I shake underneath my pile of blankets. During the first few weeks all I could do was cry, or feel like sobbing my eyes out. Now it’s just a dull feeling pain, and only stings when she herself provokes it.

I’ve already accepted myself for who I am, why can’t she? I know why she can’t: because she was raised to despise any other sexuality except heterosexual. She was brought up in such a strict household of going to church every single Sunday, that she thinks she is better than those who love the same-sex.

I can’t keep on recovering from her blows with Macklemore songs and coming out videos. I don’t have the privilege of being able to call the Trevor hotline because I don’t have the privacy to do so. My friends can only help me so much when they themselves don’t fully understand what I’m going through.

I’m in my current residence with my mom and stepdad for the next 9 months. Before anyone gets scared about suicidal tendencies in me, I have hope for the future. I do not want to kill myself. All I know is, I need help to get through this. I just don’t know how to get it. Anything that any of you may have to give me advice about, it’s more appreciated than you’ll ever know.

Thank you,

Hannah

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Indirectly & Involunarily Coming Out to Someone Close to You

A few months ago something happened that was not under my own control: I came out as bisexual to my dad.

My dad has always been supportive (to my knowledge) of the LGBT+ community. (Also sorry about not including the rest of the acronym, but I swear it just keeps getting longer every time I see it mentioned in a post) His philosophy was “if it doesn’t hurt anyone or involve me directly in any way, I don’t care about it”. Keep in mind that I live in the South, and things can get pretty homophobic down here. So when I heard his opinions on it, I wasn’t all that worried about telling him.

I worked up the nerve over the process of about a year of visits to speak my opinions about the LGBT community. From time to time I would bring it up, according to news reports and the like.By doing this I actually grew closer to my dad and Julia, his fiancee.

When victory at the Supreme Court came around, I had already come out to Julia. It was on that day exactly that she told my father that I’m “gay”. In her own retelling of the event, she and my dad were sitting in the living room watching the news report on it. My dad remarked “I don’t see what the big deal is. I mean, they’re just getting married. *Insert comment reflecting his own views about marriage thanks to his failed ones*” This is when my stepmom replies, “Well, it wouldn’t hurt for you to be more supportive.” My dad proceeds to go have a smoke break, then comes back in and asks her “Is Hannah gay?” And she replies, “Yes”.

I can’t express to you how much that bothers me because of how untrue it is. I’m bisexual. If I was gay, I would have come out to the 15+ people in my life as that. However, I am not.

She told me all of what happened around 2 weeks after it occurred because that was the next time I was to come over. She was so excited, and didn’t want me to freak out about it. But I was anything except ecstatic. I wasn’t ready to come out to my dad, and I gave her specific instructions not to tell him because I wanted to tell him myself. She even went outside with me to see how it all would play out. Looking back, I know I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but I should have told her that I just wanted it to be him and me. She already had the stolen honor of telling him the first time, why should she be there again?

When I finally go outside and meet my dad, all the while choking on my tongue and having an anxiety attack inside, I give him the longest hug I probably ever have given to him, and I correct her crucial mistake. I tell him that I am, in fact, bisexual and like girls and boys. “That’s fine,” he says. He goes on to say how he always sort of knew. I don’t recall what else he said because I blacked out like I’ve done in the past in coming out to people close to me.

I think the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard my dad comment about my sexuality was uttered that day: “Besides, aren’t those Converse high tops lesbian shoes?”

Skipping forward to last Friday, mid-Bible class:

My Bible teacher gave us the simple assignment of thanking someone who has raised us. I sent messages to my mom, grandma, Julia, my other grandparents, and my dad. My message to my dad and Julia is as follows:

“Thank y’all so much for loving me and accepting all of me. It means the world to me that y’all support me, and it keeps me going when things are tough. Everything is fine, but I just wanted to let y’all know that. I love y’all so much. Have an awesome day 🙂 <3”

My dad’s response left me in a puddle of tears in my school’s bathroom:

“Thank you, baby. That made my day. I’m so proud of you and always will be, and nothing will ever change that. I LOVE YOU.”

With the lack of confidence I have in my mom accepting my coming out, It’s incredible to hear that my dad does. My advice to people coming out is this: create a support group of people who love you regardless, then work your way up to the challenging ones. I can’t tell you anything about facing the hard ones, though, because I still have my own lions to tame.

I still can’t say I’m completely convinced that my dad believes in my bisexuality as much as he does my false homosexuality. All I’m saying is, if I come home with a guy for him to meet, it’ll be his own fault if he’s shocked half to death.

Through Society’s Mask

**This post contains triggers about eating disorders, self esteem, self harm, and more pertaining to these subjects.

***(I wrote this paper nearly a year ago for my English class, and recently dug it back up. I’ve decided to post it here because I believe many people can benefit from this. In this essay I don’t discuss how society can affect men’s opinions of themselves and the harm it can do to them because the paper was to be specifically about the effects on women. I would like to do a paper about this, however, and I certainly will if someone requests this. Feel free to express your own opinions on the subject in the comments. However, if I say something that offends you, I can assure you that is not my intention. Simply address it in the comments and we can discuss it. Thanks!)

Anorexia, Bulimia, self-harm; what do these things have in common? They are all caused by the influence of society. Everywhere you look, there are images of photoshopped women pressuring girls to be like them. Our society deems that women should rely on other people’s opinions to feel a certain way about themselves. Why some people say that this is healthy motivation for girls, I will never know. All I do know is that we need real women on billboards inspiring girls to be themselves.

From magazines to internet advertisements, unrealistic expectations of women’s bodies have spread like wildfire. Everyone is affected by the cruel, superficial outlook society projects onto this situation. All of the false advertising can seep into young women’s minds, and it can make them feel unworthy. What people do not see is how much photo enhancement goes into these pictures. The internet’s “magic diet pills” do not help young women’s cases either. Needless to say, their side effects may include: low self-esteem, suicidal tendencies, and eating disorders.

Society tells each and every female that they should live up to their friends’, families’, and even strangers’ opinions and standards. It is such a popular campaign that people actually begin believing it. These are the false gods of our world. What we should be doing is promoting self-respect and self-love. If you cannot love yourself, then how do you expect others to treat you respectfully? Society’s principles and commandments can invade the homes of influenced females. As if they do not receive enough pressure at school or work, they also have to listen to it at home. One small comment on a woman’s weight or appearance can change her own opinions of her body for the entire span of her life. Be wary of what you say.

Some people believe all of the false promotions can motivate women to improve the current states of their bodies. All of the “motivation” can cause eating disorders. Starving yourself is not going to do anything healthy to your body. No matter how low the number on the scale gets, there will always be a lingering desire to lose another pound. On the February 2014 cover of Seventeen magazine, a material for adolescent girls, an actress’s struggle with an eating disorder was shamelessly overshadowed by an article for how to get an “insane body” (BR Admin). This is how advertisements blur the focus of young women.

Some may think all the advertising can shed a light of reality on young women’s minds. I have news for them: women are not the picturesque Barbie dolls they portray on magazine covers. In fact, “the body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females” (“Eating Disorders Statistics”). Reality is certainly not a Hardee’s commercial or the cover of Vogue. Beauty is a combination of personalities, genetics, character, and grace. You cannot change who you are, but you can change your opinions on yourself.

Others may say society’s lies can become an “outward expression” for females. I do not believe self-harm can be regarded as so. This “self-expression” element of the act makes the victim feel as if it is okay to cut, burn, or inflict pain on themselves in general. The orange ribbon for self-harm awareness is there for a reason: too many people ignore or dismiss the issue. Those who have harmed themselves in the past may think even lower of themselves than before, merely because of having done so. Megan, a former self-harm victim, shared with abc.net about her experience: “Having such low self-esteem, seeing damage done to yourself really kind of justifies your negative existence.” In my opinion, these are the women—real, strong, beautiful women—who should be given the attention in our society.

My point is: women should feel comfortable in their own skin. Whether they are short or tall, overweight or underweight, they should love themselves. Regardless of what others think of them, self-respect is more beautiful than any diet pill or weight loss program. No one has the right to tell them who they should and should not be. Join with me in demanding real beauty in a fake society.

Works Cited

BR Admin. “Photoshopping: Altering Images and Our Minds.” Beauty Redefined, 2014. Beauty

Redefined. Beauty Redefined. 6 December 2014

<http://www.beautyredefined.net/photoshopping-altering-images-and-our-minds/>.

“Eating Disorders Statistics.” ANAD, 2014. ANAD. ANAD. 6 December 2014

<http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/>

Rice, Deborah. “New statistics reveal dramatic increase in self-harm hospitalisations for young

Australian women.” ABC, 2014. ABC. ABC. 6 December 2014   <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-23/alarming-spike-in-self-harm-in-australian-women/4902384>

The American Dream: A Split Second Lifestyle

Today my family ate at the dinner table per my mom’s request.

Shocker! Right? No? Okay.

Let me explain:

As a kid, I was raised by my grandma and my single mother. Every night we would eat dinner with my grandma’s current husband also. It was a very small house, but the amount of land my family owned on the property partially made up for it. Until my mother got married to my current stepdad, I shared a bedroom with my mom. A 10 x 10 room with a teenager isn’t a good situation to be in on either side of the problem. We weren’t the typical American family, but really who is?

Whenever we moved into my stepdad’s house I got my own room. This was one of the only perks provided to me in dealing with living with him for the past 3 years. Since we moved into the house my mom has this visual of the American dream. Let me tell you from my own experience, it doesn’t last very long. My mom hasn’t had a job in around 7 years, so her first resort was to be a homemaker. In no way am I criticizing that, though. She does more daily than I could ever do. Her second step into this American dream ideal was to generally become the perfect housewife. That’s when I realized she went a bit mental.

Skipping forward to Sunday, my step-grandmother’s birthday:

My mom suggested we sit at the table like we usually do for big holidays or birthday parties. I understand why she wanted to do this, and I was completely fine with it. That is, until I realized I’d have to socialize with a couple of members of my step-family. My step-grandma is a very religious woman. She’s a holiness pentecostal woman, and if that doesn’t tell you enough about her then I don’t know what will. (If you’ve never heard of the denomination of the Christian faith, let me explain: she believes that women shouldn’t cut thier hair, wear pants, or wear makeup. She believes in speaking in foreign tongues and the holy ghost. Lastly, and most irritating of all in my opinion, she thinks that wives should submit to their husbands.)

She soon began to drone on and on about how a woman experienced a medical miracle, and how the son of a bitch (in my own words) doctor became a holy vessel of God and began praising His name.

All the while this was going on, my stepdad was existing. I can’t tell you how much I despise him, honestly. On a side note, just to explain how douchey he is, he just sat there while my mom struggled in picking up a humongous weed-eater. Keep in mind that my mom has shoulder problems and could have inflamed it worse.

Maybe this isn’t the American dream she thought she was getting into after all.

The Gender Tag & My Own Experiences

1. How do you self-identify your gender, and what does that definition mean to you?

I identify as female. This doesn’t confine me to the gender roles that are associated with women. To me being a woman is powerful and beautiful, and that also applies to any other gender. I’m very confident in what I identify as.
2. What pronouns honor you?

I use she/her pronouns
3. Describe the style of clothing that you most often wear.

I tend to wear whatever is comfortable. Since I’ve cut my hair short into a pixie cut, I haven’t quite felt comfortable in dresses, but that’s my own problem with stereotypes I’ve heard throughout my life. I’ve always worn plaid and whatever jeans I feel like wearing, and rarely dress up.
4. Talk about your choices with body hair. How do you style your hair? Do you have facial hair? What do you choose to shave, or choose not to shave?

I’ve been growing out my hair a bit recently because I have a school homecoming dance next month, but will be cutting it back to a pixie cut as soon as it’s over. I don’t have facial hair because my sex is the same as the gender I identify as. I shave my armpits, and will usually shave my legs around once a week. However, I’ve been really interested in dyeing my leg hair thanks to Amanda’s Chronicles on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIR9Ah1RyxE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBqcr-JVDpc
5. Talk about cosmetics. Do you choose to wear makeup? Do you paint your nails? What types of soaps and perfumes do you use if any?

I wear makeup if I feel like I want to. I don’t wear makeup for anyone but myself, although I used to wear makeup almost everyday a few years ago. When I decided to stop wearing makeup daily, I felt almost like I was letting myself go. Soon my viewpoints changed, though. The less I wore makeup, the more I felt like I was truly being myself to others. I didn’t have to put on a mask for other people. I can now look in the mirror and truly think, “I am beautiful”. On the days I do wear makeup, I don’t wear much. I take on the approach “less is more” to enhance my own natural face. I sometimes paint my nails, but other times I won’t because I play guitar and have a nervous habit of picking all the polish off. I bathe daily, if that’s what the last question was asking. I usually don’t wear perfume, even though I own some, because I forget to put it on.
6. Have you experienced being misgendered? If so, how often?

I think I’ve only been misgendered once, and that was by a man in the shopping mall around Chrtistmastime last year. I had just gotten my hair cut off. I was shopping for a scarf with my grandma. The sales clerk asked me, with my back turned to him, “Need any help, guys?”. He didn’t see my grandma at the time, I assume. Once I turned around he quickly corrected himself and said, “Ma’am.” It didn’t bother me quite that much. I mostly thought it was funny because he ended up being too apologetic about it.
7. Do you experience dysphoria? How does that affect you?

I’ve never experienced dysphoria that I know of.
8. Talk about children. Are you interested in having children? Would you want to carry a child if that were an option for you? Do you want to be the primary caretaker for any children you may have?

I’m interested in adopting children of my own, but I’ve never wanted to carry a child. I think my partner and myself would both be the caretaker of children equally.
9. Talk about money. Is it important to you to provide for a family financially if you choose to have one? Is it important to you that you earn more than any partner you may have? Do you prefer to pay for things like dates? Are you uncomfortable when others pay for you or offer to pay for you?

For me it’s important to provide for my family, but I wouldn’t feel pressured to make more than my spouse. As for paying for dates, I think the best option is to split the check. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable when others pay for me because I don’t want to be a money grubber or anything. I prefer to pay for my own things so as to not feel that way.
10. Anything else you want to share about your experience with gender?

Story Time!

Now I don’t know if this qualifies as an answer for one of the prior questions, but I’m going to proceed anyways. Around June of this year I decided to start doing costume makeup. In the recent months I have been interested in cosplaying and genderbent character roles. The first time I ever made myself look like a guy was this past summer. I applied my makeup and contoured my face to look like Sam Winchester from Supernatural. I was so shocked with the transformation that I didn’t want to remove the makeup. At the time I started questioning my gender, and if I was genderfluid. I soon realized that was not the case. I may seem ignorant in that sense, but I haven’t had extensive experience with gender. I’ve never really questioned that aspect of myself because I never felt the need to. I’m glad, though, that I have decided to start applying costume makeup on myself because of how much enjoyment I get from seeing the end product.

My point is: as long as you’re comfortable with who you are, and are open to yourself, you can begin to love yourself as who you truly are.

An Unappreciated Death: The Passing of Someone Taken for Granted of

Before I even begin writing the whole of this post, I want to warn readers that this has extreme triggers about death. If you’d like to read a more light-hearted subject read my last blog post about my asking a ghost to prom here: https://somethingstoremember.wordpress.com/2015/09/19/im-taking-a-ghost-to-prom/

For as long as I can remember, my neighbor was always supportive of me. You could say that she was the neighborhood “Queen of the Grandmothers” because she expressed that sentiment toward everyone. I never knew her as anything other than “Big Mama”. She wasn’t heavy-set, and she certainly was never part of a Tyler Perry movie. She was one of the kindest, most beautiful-hearted women I’ve ever had the privelage to know. She supported my studies, and gave whatever she could for my schooling. Every year she would give my grandmother lunch money for me. She was the first person ever to want to buy a cake from me to “headstart” my culinary career.

Big Mama called all the time to tell us she was praying for us, or just to check on all of us. She could make you laugh with how long her voice messages ran. Most of the time they wouldn’t fit on the machine. The saddest part of that, though, is we never really picked up the phone when she called. We all simply ignored it because ‘she talks too much’ or ‘I’ll never be able to get off the phone with her’. Over the period of 17 years, I can count on both hands how many times I called her to talk to her, and how many times I came to visit her. Big Mama was one of the people who get swept under the rug; Like a duplicate Christmas present that you forgot to return within the 30 day period. With her, you always forgot to reciprocate the kindess and time spent.

I can’t say I don’t regret doing more for her because I ultimately do regret it. I wish I would have baked her favorite cake for her before she passed. I know I should have called her long before she was admitted into the hospital. I should have brought her the heartfelt warmth that she constantly radiated to others. I feel terrible that I never sent her a birthday card or even thought about her more. Even when I heard that she was in the hospital from breathing problems and (surprisingly) dementia, I made a mental note to visit her. Obviously, though, the plan never materialised. If I could have her back now without the realization of all this, I don’t know if I would do anything differently.

Somehow Big Mama slipped through the cracks of a busy lifestyle, and nobody in the world, especially her, deserves that. Love and appreciate those around you. Sometimes you don’t realize how much of an impact they have made on your life until it’s too late. Please don’t take them for granted.

R.I.P. Big Mama

-9/18/15

Victory Overshadowed with Fear and Excuses

“Yesterday, June 26, 2015, same-sex marriage became legal in all 50 states of the USA. I never thought that we as a society and a government could come so far so quickly. I’m extremely proud of our nation’s decision, and am absolutely ecstatic. From the websites supporting this victory to the many couples who were married yesterday, I am amazed. I would not have even imagined that gay marriage would become legal in my home state. As much as I wish I could have been in a pride parade of victory, or had a huge celebration with the rest of the LGBTQA community, I am sadly still residing in a largely homophobic region of the country, and am currently not “out” to my family as a whole.”

The above paragraph was my response to the legalization of gay marriage 3 months ago. I guess you could say I was delayed quite a long duration of time. Whilst writing the draft for the late blog post, my mom walked in on my typing. Fortunately, I closed my laptop in enough time for her to be oblivious to it. The fear I felt in that one moment was something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and it has been holding me back from blogging for a while. However, I have too much to say that needs to be heard and appreciated, that I’m willing to take the eventual risk. It all has to come out one way; it’s just the method of communication I use.

My plan for as long as I can keep this up is to write as many blog posts as I can over the weekend about anything and everything. I’ll queue them all in my drafts folder and post them as the week goes along so people can read them day by day. Hopefully this will work out for the best.