The Lies I Tell Myself
-A letter to others who’ve done the same
On a standard day, the fact that I’m "different” crosses my mind at least a few times. Every time it does, there’s a little ache. I used to experience mind-boggling existential crises every other day but over time, it’s reduced to a dull ache at the back of my mind. It is not that the world has changed as drastically as the ache has, it’s just that I’ve gotten used to it.
The ability of humankind to get used to pretty much anything is fascinating to me. I kept telling myself it was fine, and to my surprise, it worked. However, it would be a while before I realized that the ache didn’t actually reduce; my threshold for toleration increased. This was my "normal” now, this ache that I’ve been carrying with me; this layer of stress and anxiety packed neatly and taken along, wherever I go. No wonder things that others easily carried, I struggled with. No wonder when people just took to the skies, I stayed on the ground. "It’s easy, just flap your wings!”, they said, but they weren’t carrying any invisible weight, I was.
They could just exist, I have to explain my existence. They could just love, I have to look both ways before I do and sometimes, even that isn’t enough. So yes, I lied to others, and to myself. I wore a mask, and that worked too. They assumed I was fine, they assumed I was the same as them. They had no reason to think there was a weight on my neck. It’s not surprising that they assumed that, because I did too.
I forgot about the weight. I lugged myself around, and fooled myself into thinking I was running. I was at war with myself for an identity, and ignored the scars that resulted. How clever, yet how gullible. How clever to have spun these lies, yet how gullible to have fallen for them myself. Not clever enough, however. The scars didn’t vanish, they were there, intangible. It was only a matter of time before my gaze fell on them, only a matter of time until the weight took its toll.
Eventually, it did. Eventually, I noticed my lies staring right at me. So I turned to face them, to face myself in disbelief and in awe - disbelief for how I managed to ignore the elephant in the room, and awe for living life with it. Now I speak my truth. There is a weight on my chest, and it sucks. Speaking my truth does not make the weight lesser, but now? There’s somebody to listen, to help me carry it. To those who hid the truth from yourselves, I understand, but try and voice your truth, so that somebody may listen.
Have you heard of the term "Minority Stress?"
It is the concept that living as a minority adds a layer of chronic stress on individuals.
LGBTQIA+ individuals could constantly be living under this stress, which is considered to contribute to significant psychological distress, and has also been identified as increasing risk of suicidality, substance use, and other mental health issues.
Please reach out to people if you can. Hibiscus Foundation’s pro bono counselling project has LGBTQIA+ affirmative counsellors. We can also help you reach out to other mental health professionals if necessary.