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I’m not sure how to go about this, so I guess I’ll start at the beginning. Fair warning though, it’s pretty long and gets depressing along the way.
I was born in a small town in South Africa and grew up in a rather conservative family. My mother is heavily religious and has grown progressively more so as the years have passed. My father? Well, he spent time in the navy, the army, played a lot of sports when he was younger etc. You know, one of those stereotypical macho men. I also have one sibling, a sister.
Thinking back, a lot of signs were there that I wasn’t exactly like other boys. I remember when I was very little I’d sneak into my parents’ room and go play with the jewellery in my mother’s jewellery box. Sometimes I’d even try wearing her shoes. The first time she found me, she thought it was cute and funny. The second time? Yeah, not so much. She made it clear that I was not to ever do that again, because little boys weren’t supposed play with jewellery and heeled shoes. There are a few other instances I can recall as well, like playing make believe with my sister and being really upset that I couldn’t be the princess in our games.
During my early primary school years, I also shied away from sports, and often found myself spending time with girls my age. I also had an embarrassing reputation as a bit of a crybaby, as I was often easily emotional. Then we moved and I tried to push all of it back. Told myself I’d change. I’d make myself change. And I tried, but without much luck.
High school didn’t really help. Again, I tried doing the sport thing. Tried to live up to all the stereotypes. Ended up playing in the orchestra instead as well as focusing more on academics. Peer relationships were also weird. I always had to hold myself back from really expressing my emotions around others, so never really felt like I totally fit in, especially around my male friends.
On the flip side, on more than one occasion I found myself being the comforting shoulder to one of the girlfriends of those guys after an argument, yet it was always purely platonic and supportive in those instances. I actually had one girl who was very interested in me romantically, but I just… Couldn’t. I just wasn’t comfortable. She just thought I was terribly shy, but the truth was that I just had no idea how to give her what she wanted. And, of course, in the back of my mind, there was always this feeling when looking at the girls around me that bugged me. It took me a long time to realise it was envy.
University, the same story. I actually had an opportunity to meet with a psychological counseller, but I chickened out and fled. I was just so terrified of the reaction of my parents, especially as they were paying for all of my studies, if something like this came out then. So, I once again bottled everything up, tried to bury it deep and forget. You can probably imagine how that went.
I started doing everything I could to numb myself. Started smoking a lot of weed. Spiraling down, isolating myself from more and more people. No longer really caring about work or anything like that. I mean, yeah, I could still hold down a job, but nothing with any long term promise. And I always did it reluctantly. I just had no motivation, no enthusiasm for anything. Even TV shows, books and other things that used to hold my interest no longer held any appeal. I basically just existed, kind of meandering along while more and more people got tired of putting up with me until I was mostly alone.
This pattern went on for a long time. And, of course, I thought about suicide. A lot. I mean why bother to keep going when it’s just going to be more of the same each day? It also didn’t help me that I’ve never been the most manly of men. At 30 years old, I’m 5’10”, so reasonably tall, but I’m barely 150lbs (despite having some fat around my waist and a few other areas I want to lose) and don’t exactly have a big build. My sister once even commented that I have a “girly” lower half due to the fact that my hips are wider than my waist (even with the previously mentioned extra fat) and upper torso. I have never, ever been able to find men’s jeans that fit properly. Either they don’t fit properly on my thighs and hips, or they’re too loose around the middle/too long in the leg. So, that just added more embarrassment, especially as my sister chose to drop that comment in front of my brother-in-law.
And this was basically the pattern to my life for a number of years. Numbing myself while steadily growing more distant to everyone around me. But recently I had a bit of a health scare that I guess gave me a wake up call. I realised I want to keep going, but not like I have been. So, I finally stopped fighting it. And while I know I am only at the beginning of my journey, I already feel better than I have, mentally, in longer than I can remember. I actually want to do things again. Experience things again. I have not been able to say that in years.
Anyway, I just really needed to get this all off my chest. I’ve never been able to do so before, so it feels good to let it out, regardless of whether it goes beyond me just venting my emotions. My father would probably disown me if he knew, and my mother would probably blame the devil or something. So, to whoever is still reading, thanks for sticking around to the end of my ramble.
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