Category Archives: coming of age

Genesis of a Voracious Reader

If I had to pinpoint where my love of reading came from it would have to be because of my father. As a kid he’d read me bedtime stories like the typical fare: Jack and The Beanstalk, Hansel and Gretel, etc, mixed in with tales of Brer Rabbit and stories he’d made up on the spot.

Growing up I always saw him with his head in a book and this sparked my interest in reading. At first I raided his book collection, picking what I liked and then when I was in middle school I discovered the library and practically lived there.

I devoured the horror and science fiction sections until discovering the Mythology section and falling in love with it. Roman, Greek, Egyptian, and Norse I read about them all and couldn’t get enough.

When I stop to think about it now I completely skipped young adult books and dived right in to adult books. I guess I found them more interesting than the books for kids my age.

In high school I discovered a whole new world of stories online and would spend hours on end reading one after another. These stories let me know it was OK that I was attracted to other guys and that I wasn’t alone.

I was deathly shy and theses stories provided me a safe space to explore my budding sexuality and not feel like such a freak, but at the same time I couldn’t help but notice that the characters in these stories were all the same blond haired, blue eyed muscle bound guys who instantly found a lover on page one.

After awhile I grew tired of these stories that tread the same path and never finding protagonists like me, so I decided to try my hand at writing for the other geeky LGBTQ kids out there who were longing to see diverse character like them.

But Still I Rise

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
— Confucius

I was nine years old the first time I thought about killing myself. I was in the hospital with another infection and couldn’t stand being poked and probed again. So when the phlebotomist came to draw my blood I stole the finger pricker. She got another one and wound up getting my blood drawn anyways.

The object in question was a straight piece of metal with a jagged point on the end where you stabbed the patient’s finger. As I looked down it I thought, “I just want all this to end.”

School was one of the few places I felt safe. I did well when I was there and loved to learn. However when I entered junior high things changed. I got picked on for “smiling too much,” and “acting white” i.e. getting good grades and using proper grammar. I stopped raising my hand in class and wore a scowl or blank instead of a smile.

I came down with a major case of depression the summer before I turned thirteen. I didn’t want to do anything or even get out of bed most days. My family thought it was hilarious and made fun of the mopey teen.

When high school started things got worse. I stopped caring about learning and wanted nothing more than to be done with that hell hole. Every day was a constant battle. There were times I’d come home, lock myself in the bathroom and cry. Music was one of things that kept me going.

Suicidal thoughts and depression are things that plague me to this day. Recently I slipped onto a four month funk and I have clawed my way back from the abyss. I’m better now and realize asking for help isn’t weakness.

I don’t know what problems you’re dealing with but you’re not alone. There are thousands of people just like you struggling with similar issues. I know it my seem like things will never get better. But they will if you make them better. Dealing with depression has taught me I’m stronger than I ever knew. And here’s the secret: so are you.

The strength to carry on and continue to rise in the face of obstacles is something we all have. Sometimes our hurt or anger blinds us to this fact, but dig deep enough and it’s there under all that crap.

It’s so easy to get caught up in our misery and wallow in it, trust me I know. For the longest time I blamed everyone else for my problems, thought the world was out to get me and that I was owed something.

I was a professional victim who wasn’t happy unless I found offense in something. Cynical and jaded I only saw the negative in life and loved to complain and criticism without offering solutions. Then something changed.

A few years back I read The Cather In The Rye. We were never assigned it in high school, thank the English gods. After finishing the book I had two reactions. First, what a pile of crap. And second that I saw entirely too much of myself in Holden.

I didn’t want to be a great big phoney like him. So I made a promise to myself that I’d stop blaming others and take responsibility for my actions. I examined myself and when I found things I didn’t like, such as being out of shape and not writing as much as I wanted, I made a plan to change that.

I don’t claim to be an expert. Over the years I have stumbled and went backwards. But I pick myself up and continue moving forward. And so can you. I hope my story has helped you in some way.

What obstacles have you overcome in life and what things do you continue to struggle with? Leave a message in the comment and I’ll respond back.