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The Things We Don't Remember

I don’t remember my first introduction to the idea of same sex couples. I don’t remember the first time I was told it was a “bad” thing.
All I remember is how it felt each time the conversation came up...
How I felt when I heard the “correct opinion” to have on the matter.
I felt...sad and confused.

It was like they held an apple in front of my face and called it an orange. I didn’t understand. I couldn’t see how they got from point A to point B, how any kind of love could be a bad thing. The argument felt flawed, but I couldn’t figure out why. So I just assumed they were right, and I tried. Really I did. I tried to understand and adopt this way of thinking but all I found was this sinking feeling that something was more than a little off.
I was forcing a puzzle piece into a spot it did not fit.
I was sitting in a math class trying to make 2+2=5.
It didn’t work; I didn’t work.

So I pushed it out of my mind. I told myself it did not apply to me. It does not matter how I feel about homosexuality because I am not homosexual. And just like that. I rejected an entire part of me I didn’t know was there. The possibility that I was the thing I was taught to condemn never crossed my mind.
It just wasn’t even an option.

Scientist say that sometimes when a person experiences something truly traumatic, the brain will dissociate. In an attempt to protect itself, the brain will detach from the present effectively blocking the event from memory.
I think that’s what happened to me.
You see, between all of the soul searching and logic analyzing, my subconscious flagged my brain, and my brain shut down. It knew that that kind of self-hatred is one of the purest forms of trauma there is.
I read somewhere that queer teens are 65% more likely to attempt or commit suicide than their straight peers, and I believe it. That’s what happens when home becomes a place you are not welcome... when the problem that needs “fixing” is a part of you. A part of you that makes you you, and you wouldn’t be you without that part of you.

I was raised in a catholic family. Correction.
I was raised in a capital “C” Catholic family.
There is a difference. Allow me to explain.
We were the church-every-Sunday Catholics...
the not-just-Christmas-and-Easter Catholics...
the “NO, you cannot wear jeans to church” Catholics.
We were the Catholic-school-from-kindergarten-to-twelfth-grade Catholics...
the fish-fries-in-lent Catholics...
the my-birth-name-is-MARY-CATHERINE Catholics...
and for the most part there’s nothing wrong with it... but...

The brain is an amazing thing. When it blocks things from your memory, it’s because it knows the circumstances are unsafe. Instinctually, it senses that you are not prepared to process this information yet. The brain hides the bruise knowing all you will do is poke it.

I was a sheep in wolves clothing:
Completely aware of the hunt mentality, but unaware that I was the prey.
Endangered by the pack, but saved by my disguise.
A disguise I didn’t know I was wearing.

They say when the memories came back, that’s when the real healing starts.
Like a bone being broken so it can be reset, the wounds burst open and the trauma hits full force again.
The healing hurts. And it throbs. And it is not pleasant, but it is necessary.
I’ve learned this myself.
I’m still learning this myself.

My freshman year of college, I met a girl. We weren’t particularly close.
We were in two different majors, had no classes together, but occasionally we would hang out in the same friend group.
One night we were hanging out in her dorm room, just the two of us.
I couldn’t figure out if she was being friendly or flirty, and it scared me.
It scared me because, for the first time in my life, I heard a little voice in the back of my head say, “Flirt back,” and I knew.
I knew it was time to heal

Copyright © MaryCatherine Naylor | Year Posted 2021