Mum and dad fought a lot. My father often refused to leave money for food; my mother would get in a fight with him to the extent of fainting, and I would be left behind to tend to her, more than once. Somewhere, in all of this, lurked my cowardly aunt and a problematic older brother. I knew I was alone from my early childhood. This feeling is like a black hole in my gut, the existence of which I feel constantly. No one has time for you, your thoughts are irrelevant, no one will come to help you, you must do as you are told, you are just a child, no one cares about our opinion.
The obedience and the hysterical need to please everyone followed me to the playground; and thus I ended up at the bottom of the social ladder. My sexual identity doubled the amount of bullying. I didn’t even know what I was more ashamed of: my sexual identity, abusive father, good-for nothing mother, or the fact that I saw a savior in every man.
TV saved me- turns out, somewhere far away, in a place called New York, life is vibrant and full of “weirdos” like me. At least that is what I saw on MTV. As soon as the wave of fights passed, I would turn on the TV and dream of growing up, running away.
Life would become just a bit brighter for a moment. While growing up, I discovered that you can make others love you, if you please act how they like: shut up and not act “girly” around your father, become the most compassionate child for your mother, don’t stand out to much at school and playground, yet mix a bit of yourself here and there, so you don’t end up miserable. Fighting and resisting is futile.
I applied the same attitude to my work: obey the tyrannical types with zero resistance; be a poster boy for a more compassionate boss, and don’t agitate the rest. I turned out quite talented, so I began building my career. Successfully.
I was “almost the leader” everywhere I went- talented, yet the second best. This should have been good enough for someone with my past. I should have been grateful, yet something was always missing. This emptiness always bothered me, this black hole, the feeling of being damaged. I didn’t know what it was. Now that I am so far from Georgia, i understand what that feeling was- I was never fully me: at home, I had to be exemplary and remarkable; I had to suppress my radical ideas at work; for my friends, I had to be needed; for my boyfriend- so interesting, understanding and unique that he would never leave me. For two years now, I can’t shake off the feeling that nothing in my previous life was real, as I was not the real me to anyone.
Time changed everything: my parents passed away; my friends got married and hanging out with me became the last item on their to do lists; personal life built on fake premises didn’t work out; pandemic stopped work, so being “the second best”, and suppressing myself for others didn’t give me enough means to independently support myself. The dream that my efforts would make everything right; that my sexual identity would no longer matter; that I would be seen and accepted; that I would make everyone love me, died just like that. I was left all alone, so I bought the plane ticket.
Today I am where the dream of survival began — in a distant city, where I have the right to marry and have children, where I often hear that I am very talented, interesting and handsome, where people are very surprised by my difficult character, my hesitation when sending CVs to jobs, my changing moods. People here can not understand why I still don’t have my own business, or why I lock myself in my room for days at a time, and what is stopping me from enjoying my life.
Night after night, I lay on my bed, trying to find the strength to forgive myself and asking myself the same questions: Why didn’t I smash everything on my father’s head? Why didn’t I leave the good-for nothing mother, who forced her unfulfilled desires on me? Why did I put up with so many insults from those around me? Why did I sit around and consider other people’s opinions instead of getting involved in activism and fighting for my rights? Why did I spend so much time on my friends and not on myself?
I know that I would not have emerged as a victor, had I chosen to fight, but I would have gained self-respect, which is the basis for anyone’s healthy existence- Be who you are, uncompromisingly, unapologetically, through fighting, even through physical abuse, but rigidly, loudly, till the end, headstrong and proud. Because in the end, we still have to live with ourselves, and if you are not true to yourself, everything else was in vain.
When my boyfriend introduces me to his friends, I am amazed to hear about their problems and I keep thinking: Is my hard past, my worldview and my previous life a trauma that I will overcome and go to bars and clubs so cheerfully laughing or complaining about stupid things? Or is it already a part of my personality, with which I can do something important and make the way easier for others?