At age 13, I was raped by a member of my church.
The “molestation” (oh how I HATE that euphemism!) was covered up by the clergy with one well worded threat to me regarding my future.
I had my first crush at age 14 and would repeatedly punch myself in the groin when my hormonal body showed the effects of being in the presence of that person.
I started drinking at age 15 – rum and coke eased the confusion, anger and self-loathing I felt.
At age 18, I began conversion therapy in order to heal me of troubling sensations and desires that went against my Anglican upbringing. At the end of my second year, the good “Christian” counselor told me that the therapy wasn’t working and that as I was going to hell anyways, ending my life might be the best thing for me.
The government pulled the funding for the therapy because it was misguided and actually making things worse.
From 19 to 21, while attending university, I was more often than not found propping up the bar at Mr. Greenjeans in the Eaton Center. Being so close to Toronto’s gay village while attending Ryerson and denying who I was was confusing and painful – it was easier to be numb than see the handsome bears and get THOSE feelings.
At age 22, while working weekend nights at an electronics company, the company doctor provided me with a medication to help keep me awake on my night shifts while being able to attend midweek management meetings during the daytime. At the end of my shift, I needed to counteract the effects of the medications, so I turned to rye whiskey.
For two months in a row, I was employee of the month at the Jack Astor’s near my employer – I was there so often it seemed I worked there.
At age 23, I met the man of my dreams who patiently talked me through my issues as I accepted my homosexuality. I began to pick up the pieces, while medicating.
At age 26, I quit the electronics company and started at my current work. My prescription for amphetamines ran out so I medicated with coffee and bourbon to ease the withdrawal.
I continued eating as if I were on the diet pills however. I was always a husky child, portly or big – I soon ballooned to fat and morbidly obese.
My husband was diagnosed with liver cancer and had to sign a contract regarding alcohol intake before being put on the transplant list. He rarely had more than a beer with a meal so that wasn’t a problem for him.
The morning after my 30th birthday, I could not recall the two days prior and felt like shit. I vomited the contents of my stomach and a fair amount of blood.
I booked the week off work and with my husband’s help kicked EVERYTHING, dealing with the withdrawal by locking myself in the guest room and going through the physical agony.
I turned to food to ease my pain. Eating a large bag of Doritos and a 6 pack of cola if things got tough at work or I struggled with my sexuality.
Just before Christmas of my 35th year, my husband received the gift of life. After nearly dying due to an infection, he rallied and I realized that he needed me healthy to care for him.
While going for therapy to help me deal with our marital issues after the transplant, I began working on my food issues. I started by giving up sodas and lost 45lb almost immediately. I signed up for bariatric surgery and began to work with a dietitian, my doctor a psychologist and a trainer. I went from almost 400lb to the high 100’s. I’m hovering around 200 and am comfortable and happily active.
During all of this, I peeled back the layers psychologically until we got to the rape and my subsequent struggles with my sexuality. I did all of this with NO medications due to my history of chemical dependency and two suicide attempts while on anti-depressants.
At age 38, I was working for a person who had made off color comments about my husband and I, refused to let me work from an office close to the hospital where he was receiving treatment. Her reasoning was that our marriage didn’t count – when I and coworkers pressed her to clarify her statement, she began a two year campaign to make my life as miserable as possible. I had to leave the office and faced Human Resources more than once because of this individual’s attempts to impugn me.
In my 39th year, my husband succumbed to cancer after the third round. Let’s add grief counseling to my psychological treatment. After years of struggling with my faith, I found a spiritual home who accepted me for who I was – flaws and sexuality intact.
On my 40th birthday I rented a dumpster and purged the house, starting the ongoing journey to reclaim my home and establish Myke as a “me” instead of one half of a “we.”
My Dad died unexpectedly in November of that year. The minister who threatened me at age 13 was there as he passed. I tried to be strong but the cracks began forming.
One month later, after Dad’s funeral, I had a nervous breakdown and let a man I respect and admire greatly down as I couldn’t even do something that usually came to me as easily as breathing. That night, if it weren’t for Michael Morin keeping me talking, I would have killed myself – everything that made me Myke was gone.
After 27 years, at least 15 of which in some form of counseling, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Again I refused medications because I was already suicidal enough, and started Eye Movement Desensitization Retraining.
So here I am – the remains of almost 30 years spent covering up my past, trying to deny or destroy who I was.
Grief is difficult enough – losing my husband was hard, losing my Dad reopened old wounds that had temporarily scabbed over – but losing my voice and ability to express myself was devastating.
It’s been a difficult couple of years as I work through what I’ve gone through – I know it hasn’t been easy for many who are close – I hurt my brother and his family after a panic attack during Christmas 2015, I’ve made my Mom cry more than once.
But I’m trying. It doesn’t excuse my behavior and I AM trying to mitigate my anger, fear and rage.
However over 30 years of pain, confusion, rage, self-loathing and repeated attempts to medicate, cover up, change or destroy who I am isn’t something that a person can get over in a few weeks, months or perhaps years.
My mental and emotional health is a work in progress. Yes I have bad days and I wear my heart on my sleeve – after decades of bottling things or filtering them through a pill or liquor bottle…they need to be aired out and released.
So I’m working on getting over things – it may not be as quick as you and I prefer, but it is a work in progress. If you can’t handle that…get over it!