real life

'For years my life revolved around male validation. Secretly, I loved women.'

This post deals with suicide and might be triggering for some readers.

At 10 years old, I discovered that male validation gave me a sense of purpose and fulfilment.

I was one of the weird outcast kids at school. I looked different because I hit puberty earlier than most, and I was into Japanese music, anime, and the emo scene and aesthetic. 

I did okay with my schoolwork, but I didn’t fit in very well. I felt very anxious, lonely and depressed. I was missing the validation that I needed from my teachers and peers at school, so instead, I sought validation on the internet. 

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I began chatting online to adult men around 2008, which was during a time that we were still learning the dangers of the internet that we are now very much aware of today. 

I did whatever these men asked me to do. You can fill in the blanks. I knew what men wanted, and the thought of receiving validation and praise from them filled me with excitement. I didn’t enjoy it or get any kind of pleasure from it, but I felt compelled to keep doing it. 

My experiences during those times inevitably left me with a lot of trauma. Trauma that didn’t get unpacked and healed until I was in my twenties. 

As a child, I couldn’t possibly understand the situations I would get myself into, how dangerous and harmful they were, and the potential risks and consequences. 

And because I didn’t get the help that I needed at the time, I didn’t learn or understand anything. I didn’t understand the thoughts and emotions that I was experiencing and became a highly anxious and stressed person. 

I kept living and breathing for the male gaze for many years. My life revolved around male validation.

I always knew I was supposed to like the opposite gender, and I thought I was supposed to try to appeal to men. 

But I never once thought about if I actually liked boys. I just wanted them to like me because it made me feel good and that I was an okay person. 

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It was addictive, and my sole reassurance that I wasn’t worthless. It truly made me feel so relieved when a boy or a man was attracted to me. 

Who am I without the precious gaze of a man? These false beliefs about myself and the world around me didn’t begin to change until I became completely vulnerable in therapy many years later. 

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I can see it all so clearly now in hindsight. I would spot an attractive enough guy, and it was like a subconscious thought of, “it would feel good if that guy wanted me”. 

I would absolutely throw myself at them like my life depended on it. I tried to become who I thought they wanted me to be.

In the bedroom, I would dissociate from the experience, and after it was all over, I felt accomplished, yet empty. 

The cycle repeats with another man. Again and again and again. That sense of accomplishment and fulfilment was obviously very short-lived, so I always had to have a new man lined up to meet soon. Otherwise, the emptiness I felt inside would consume me.

Any human can only keep up with this way of living for so long. I was repeating my trauma, denying my true self, identity and sexuality, and I had no purpose except to get drunk and sleep with men.

No matter what I would do, who I would meet, what would happen, that emptiness would never leave me. I did not feel like myself, yet I didn’t have a sense of self. I was so miserable. I couldn’t grasp where it all stemmed from, and my head was a complete tangled mess. I wanted an unshakeable feeling of 'this is me', but all I could feel was an emptiness that burned through me. 

I don’t know how else to describe it, but it felt like I had a burning black hole inside my chest. So unbearably empty.

A stubborn voice inside would never go away throughout the chaos in my life, my brain, and my treacherous relationships with men. 

I was deeply ashamed of it and couldn’t tell anyone about it. It had always been there, but I kept pushing and forcing it down inside myself and ignoring it. It would not shut up about my feelings for women and all the confusing and distressing thoughts and questions that come with that. 

I was in love with women. 

I always had been. I adored everything about women.

I would have preferred to try to live a half-life with a man I didn’t really love than admit that I was gay. I forced myself to fit into that life and forced myself to want it. Not fitting into that life would mean that I’m a failure. I chose to go against my true self, and it made me a miserable person.

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I was deeply ashamed, disgusted and repulsed by my attraction to women. 

I just wanted it to all go away so that I could be 'normal'. I became a very angry person and my boyfriend of two years didn’t deserve that. 

I went into that relationship feeling in love with the idea of things working with a man, and I stupidly hoped it would silence the nagging repressed lesbian inside me.

I knew in my heart that I wasn’t meant to be with a man, and could never love them fully and honestly. I knew I was in a forced relationship, and I felt myself pushing down, squashing my true self and identity. It made me feel so bitter and irritated.

I loved him so much, but I was never in love with him. I loved our friendship and living together, but the realisation of having to regularly have sex… forever? Why can’t we just be roommates! My lesbian porn can’t even make this life sufferable! 

My psychiatrist told me I had to eventually leave him in order to be fair to him and myself, but I didn’t put her words into action until several long months later because I was so afraid of hurting my boyfriend. The thought of hurting him while simultaneously admitting that I’m gay was my worst nightmare. 

Unfortunately, we can’t get anywhere good in life without doing uncomfortable and scary things.

I eventually came out and told him I think I might be gay. It took a lot of courage to share that, and I was a blubbering mess. But he chalked it up to me still recovering from my trauma, and that if I just keep going to therapy and talking more, then I’ll be able to have sex with him again. 

I half-believed him. I went along with that plan, but my mental health never improved. No matter how much therapy I did, I could not bring myself to have sex again after so many sexless months. 

I wanted to end my own life. I thought I was broken, and I couldn’t see any reason to stay alive except for my mum and my mum’s dog.

Inevitably we decided to have some time apart, and I went to stay with my parents. I was horrified by the thought of not having a boyfriend to make me feel valid as a functioning human woman but equally horrified by confronting my looming gayness. 

After a few days of sobbing and talking to my mum a lot, I decided it was only fair to all parties if we split up. I never wanted to have sex with him or a man ever again.

When this reality finally set in a few months later, I bawled my eyes out in the shower after watching A Secret Love on Netflix. I was so f**king happy. I finally felt safe, secure, and so f**king free. 

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It was all over. I didn’t have to do it anymore. I was done with pretending to be someone else. 

From there onwards, I began to really develop a sense of self and my own sense of purpose without a man. 

My mental health rapidly improved, and for the first time in the longest time, I wanted to be alive. I couldn’t believe how much happier I felt, and I was hit with this desperation to share my story with others. 

I wanted to help other people find their way to feeling happy and wanting to be alive. I am definitely not a psychologist or any kind of professional in anything, but I have hope that my story can inspire others to never give up. 

I wrote a memoir called Sexuality Hijacked, and it tells my story up until now at 23 years old.

It shares my experiences with child grooming, eating disorders, alcohol abuse, living with borderline personality disorder, coming to terms with being a lesbian, and more. It is currently available on Amazon Australia as a paperback copy, and the ebook version is on PayHip.

If the thought has ever crossed your mind, I’m telling you now, definitely do not ever suicide. Don’t give up on life. I promise you can be happy someday, and you will be relieved to be alive.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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