You’re entering high school where you’re the new kid, the school in a small country town in the middle of nowhere. You used to go to a small, private Catholic school in the area but there’s no high school education at that school. Maybe only a handful of people from that school decided to go to this high school along with you. You’re only friends with one of the few. The rest are those that you are happy to have out of your life, for the most part.
You’re in the closet.
The first few weeks of high school are difficult. You’re one friend isn’t in any of your classes, and it seems like everyone else knows each other. One class period you’re sitting alone in the back corner of the classroom, listening to the teacher lecture about poetry and other nonsense you don’t care about. The teacher decides that everyone should choose a partner and work on some work together. The class immediately starts shuffling around chairs and desks, calling out names and figuring out what to do and then there you are. You sit quietly in the corner, still staring towards the front while everyone is moving and noticed that no one has moved towards you. The class settles and everyone has a partner instead of you. The teacher decides that you can work with her at her desk and she can be your partner. You slowly walk through the barrage of desks and make it to her desk, embarrassed, and get to work. This isn’t the first time this happens.
You fly by the rest of first semester freshman year. Good grades. Made a new acquaintance or two, but nothing more.
The second semester is a bit more difficult. Now people know who you are, but not for good reason. Trying to ignore it the best you can, but a depression starts to form.
One time, you were walking down the hallway to your next class when you noticed a majority of the students in the hall staring directly at you. You kept moving as swiftly as possible without any stop. You knew why they’re looking, and they knew why you were something to look at.
The town, it’s a relatively small sized town of about 12,000. Surrounding the town are lakes and farms giving it a much more country feel. The town is full of mainly white Republicans who also happen to be hardcore Christians and most don’t accept things like you. You’re even Catholic and practice it, yet you can feel a sort of judgment from those around you at church. This internal struggle between what is “right and wrong” will forever be an issue for you.
The first summer break of high school consists of you staying in the house, because you don’t have a car. You spend almost every day playing Call of Duty or Halo online with your online “friends” in which you only know them by their usernames. You call these people your close friends, your only friends. You talk about your family problems, your school problems and almost all other problems to these “friends,” because they’re all you pretty much have. Summer slowly turns into fall and it’s time for another year of high school.
You do all right in the first semester passing each class at about a B level, nothing spectacular. You’re still friends with the one friend from the beginning who still hangs out with you at lunch period when she can. Otherwise, that’s about it.
You go from school straight home right when the bell lets out. Your parents won’t let you go out because school is your first and only priority.
You’re parents, born and raised Catholic, find out after you tried to explain it. They bring you to church, trying to “fix” you the best they can.
But this can’t be fixed.
You grew up Catholic with these conservative values. You even went on a mission trip that past summer with your one friend and dozens of complete strangers. You were torn with both sides of this internal struggle while on the trip. You sat in a room, tears tripping on your friend’s shoulder, in the middle of Tennessee crying because of fear, a fear of what others will think and of not knowing what to do. You came back to your hometown after the trip happy with the work you’ve done, but still as confused as ever.
Winter of sophomore year rolls around.
You see a counselor. Your parents decide this may help you if you talk to a professional about this “problem” that you have. You talk to him about your some of your problems but still don’t give him anything to really work with.
You don’t tell him about you or the fact that a depression is within you. You keep everything in and things are just bottled up for the time being. After weeks of counseling and no improvement, your parents decide to pull you from these appointments.
They don’t know what to do.
You don’t know what to do.
The cold of winter doesn’t help your mood. Christmas comes and brings happiness between you and your family, but it’s only temporary. It then becomes December 31st. You watch the clock tick into the New Year, a new year of the same old struggles. You hope for a better year this time around, but you can’t be sure it will be.
School comes back in session after the chilling winter break.
You have a new class schedule so hopefully you can try and make friends in these classes. You walk into the first classroom and see some kids you recognize and some you don’t. There’s no assigned seating so you sit down in the middle, hopefully making it easier to interact with other students. As the rest of the class comes in, the bell rings and class begins. You play a few icebreaker games, games you hate. You learn the names of everyone and things are looking better already. You learn some things about algebra from the teacher then class ends and you continue with your day.
You do the best you can to hang with your friend when time permits. She has quite a busy schedule being in basketball, but she does make the time for you. That time though, is short lived. Minutes a day cannot compare to a completely healthy friendship.
Weeks go by and that first class of the day is going well. You start to befriend this girl directly to the right of you. You say good morning to each other every morning as you walk in and take your seats. If there’s a funny joke told in class, you two look at each other and smile and giggle a bit. She actually is interested in who you are, but you both know nothing about each other. This goes on for a few more weeks.
One day in class.
She sits next to you in her normal spot and you say, “Good morning.”
She doesn’t respond. She doesn’t even bother to look at you.
You’re confused, but try to ignore it for the remainder of the class. Midway through class when the teacher gave everyone group work time, you hear your name murmured in her group. You look up from your book and see her group all looking at you. You can see them making out the words “gay” and “fag” by reading their lips. These words aren’t new to you. You realize you just lost your one acquaintance in this class for no good reason.
You still have your other and one friend around though. She’s been helping you through most of it, keeping you alive and strong. You want more though. One friend in this entire world can’t keep you going for much longer.
This journey has been far too difficult.
Feeling that you are broken, you are close to the end.
Your one friend knows. The whole school assumes it and spreads painful rumors, worsening your depression.
How can people be so mean about someone they don’t even know personally? Walking around school is harder than ever. The stares pierce you like knives. The words yelled hurt more. It’s too much.
You find a thick rope.
You find a strong bar.