My life has been shaped by one question: what’s wrong with me? Because of this, my thoughts often dance between what should have been and what ought to be — who I am and who I want to be.

You see, I have been under attack for as long as I can remember. Carefully crafted attacks aimed at keeping me from seeing who I really am.

But before I get too far into all that, I want to start from the beginning — before I realized that I was being attacked, and even before that when I simply wanted to play.

I can’t remember a time that I was free from the bitter curses of this world. I close my eyes, and they are there. Their words have not lost their power. Their probing questions still unanswered. Their ability to hurt me, remains.

I tried in vain to fix who I was. When they made fun of the way I walked, I tried to walk differently. When they mocked the way I talked, I tried to deepen my voice, whispering to myself, “More chest, less nose!”

When they called me faggot, I would retaliate, and after growing weary of the battle, I would simply ignore them.

I longed to be someone else. To not have to carry the burden of different. It was so heavy.

I soon began to pursue perfection. Not because I wanted to, but because it was demanded of me. In my perfection, I would no longer be an embarrassment to my family. In my perfection, no one would make fun of me.

But perfection lied.

Perfection doesn’t exist.

What exists is the pain of pursuing the impossible.

What exists beyond that? The grace of God.

It was by the grace of God that I found a community. Our stories were different but the same. Little by little, God began to reveal the truths about myself. Though hard to accept, I know that who I am is okay. That I am okay. Much of this transformation in my identity is still taking place.

Knowing something is not the same as believing it.

But this is my exodus, and my shoes haven’t worn out yet.

What good things do you like about yourself?

* Photo courtesy kryshen, Creative Commons.

About the Author

  • Your line, “Though hard to accept, I know that who I am is okay. That I am okay,” resonates with me. I realized that I am same sex attracted when I was 16 years old. For many years, I thought that was what needed to be fixed in me. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, and it may have taken place gradually, but eventually I realized that it was okay to be same sex attracted. I hope that has freed me to be open to God’s grace showing me where I really do need to be changed and to his further grace working to sanctify me. It seems that you are blessed to have come to the awareness that who you are is okay much sooner than I did.

    • I feel like the human version of spell check or auto-correct. Except everything about me is underlined in red and I keep trying to change the spelling and nothing works!

    • Ya, its like this secret that you carry,except everyone knows it, and there’s nothing you can do about it except try to live a normal life. except you’re not normal. But that’s ok! normal is shwarmal?

  • This is a beautiful and sweet little piece of blog you’ve written here, Bradley. Start to finish, it’s poetry. I look forward to reading more from you.

  • I love my sarcasm (mostly). I love that I love nature and cities alike. I love that I can eat pizza and cookies and not get fat. Just a few to start!
    Yours was of the newer crop of Xanga stories I didn’t as thoroughly familiarize myself with back in the day. Looking forward to hearing your story anew all these years later! You’re awesome, Bradley. Stoked you’re here with us.

    • haha try eating arbys and not gettting fat…
      yeah, i came right as xanga was ending! Im glad i made it in the super cool kids club!

  • Hey, Bradley! I used to painfully strive for perfection, too. I still struggle with perfectionism sometimes! To answer your concluding question, I’ll list some of the things I like about me. I like that I was gifted with intelligence and creativity. I like that I am imaginative, passionate about things, deeply reflective, and that I truly care about people.

    • sometimes my body literally becomes a polygon. my actions become robotic when i try to be perfect.
      Thanks for sharing!

  • Thank you for sharing, Bradley! Your struggle is the same as so many of us and resonates with us. What you have to say will minister life to others and inspire and encourage. I feel privileged to read your story.
    Things I like about me? Depends on the mood I’m in and how good my day has been. Mostly I struggle with being me and liking me at all. But when things are good then I can like me quite a lot. I’m a little artistic, very sensitive (is that good or bad?), like reading and writing, love animals and birds and gardens and trees and flowers and outdoors – sorry, it’s more what I like than things about me I like. Lol! Tons of other things too, I guess. Still trying to like me. It’s been a hard process.

  • Yes. To the constant question of “what’s wrong?” and to the trying to change, to be perfect. Though I’ve been considering how to live with SSA for awhile now, I’ve only recently begun to understand how perfectionism plays into this as well.
    I like the weird flip in my hair, I enjoy my high metabolism, my smile, my ability to connect with other cultures. Thanks for this.

  • I like being old and content even though I’m still gay. It takes a while to get there and I almost didn’t make it. I still have time to mess it up, but I’m thinking the outlook is rosy.
    Just be YOU man! Jesus made you as you are for reasons no one can explain except maybe His Father.
    You are fearfully and wonderfully made! (Psalm 139). Ride the tension of it. When someone asks you how you are, say, “perfect”.
    You are perfect. You bear the righteousness of God – a gift – He loves you.
    What more could a man want right?!?

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