Tara pressed the Play button on her blue iPod before tugging the AKF sweatshirt over her blue-streaked hair. Tears fell from her eyes as she shoved the long sleeves up her arms, her gaze catching on her left forearm as she ignored her phone when it began to vibrate; she knew the caller was almost certainly her boss, just as she also knew his call would be to beg her to change her vacation dates. The loss of another manager weighed heavily on the franchise and they needed her there because he needed to be elsewhere.
Guilt still compelled her to do as they asked, to push her personal life aside and be there for them, but she couldn’t force herself to do it… not again. Not this time. She had to take care of her own house first. Shoving the thoughts aside, she tugged the shirt down over her belly.
It buzzed again, but the trilled purr of the gorgeous feline who shared her bedroom offered a pleasant and momentary distraction from her thoughts. She whirled and bent to lift the calico into her arms, nuzzling her wet face into the cat’s side, and as if her furry companion knew she needed comforting, the purr grew louder.
“Almost time, babe.”
She looked up at the door, finding the comforting visage of her girlfriend leaning against the jamb. Nuzzling the cat’s soft fur, Tara gently set the animal on the bed, giving her a good scratch. She nodded. “I know.”
She nodded again. “Mina, I am. I’m worried… really worried.”
“You shouldn’t be, sweetie. Your mother knows you both so well, and she says to talk to him.” Mina crossed the room. “Tara—” She lifted her hands to push a lock of Tara’s fiery hair over her ears. “She definitely wouldn’t steer you wrong. Not after everything you’ve been through. She thinks he’s ready.”
Tara bowed her head, leaning her cheek into Mina’s touch. “She asked if I had a girlfriend.”
“Right?” Mina smiled, her lips turning up at the corners. “She loves you and she wants you to be happy, baby.”
Tara took a deep breath, reaching back to grab her satchel. Tossing the strap over her head, she murmured, “I can do this, right? I can do this.”
Wrapping her up in strong arms, Mina pressed a kiss to the crook of Tara’s neck. “You can do this.” Another kiss to Tara’s temple. “I promise.”
I’ve always been depressed. In fact, I think I’ve suffered from depression probably as long as I’ve been a writer. If not, it’s a pretty close contest.
I didn’t have an easy time of it in grade school or junior high. I’ve been overweight most of my life. To be fair, I’m not as overweight as some people. I fit in one airplane seat. I can wear most of the things I want to wear and do most of the things I want to do. The only restrictions I bear are my own, and when I look in the mirror, I don’t cringe… most of the time.
Some days are harder than others.
Those words are often the mantra a depressed person tells themselves. Those words are, sometimes, the only words to get them through the day.
Kids are mean.
Those words ring true, too. Kids are meaner than hell, and I took the brunt for whatever they could find. I have a club thumb and the days they didn’t feel like calling me “fatso,” they zinged me for that. I was a bookworm, a nerd, a fat kid, too quiet, and my parents raised me somewhat sheltered, so I didn’t know any of the popular music or television shows until I was about fourteen. You can only imagine what growing up like this did for me in the 1980’s. My parents didn’t do it to be mean, but it happened. I was bullied and the words… well, they hurt. They did massive damage I still deal with today, and in my younger years, this was killer.
I was fortunate enough, as life dealt a succession of trials and tribulations this past year, to have added cushioning when I fell. That cushioning came in the form of a man I truly admire, Jared Padalecki, and the birth of AKF, or Always Keep Fighting. I didn’t realize a man who always smiled could be just like me, who had to really think about it to see the glass as half-full. As AKF went into full swing, I would save money to get a permanent reminder to do just that on my left forearm. On good days, it reminds me I am strong. On bad days, it pisses me off just enough that I realize the reminder is doing its job: I am good enough. I am worth it. I am strong. My story… it goes on and on. We aren’t done yet and my stories are not all told.
Tara Webster and her girlfriend, Mina Bennington, travel to visit Tara’s parents in Texas, where Tara plans to finally come out to her father. On their first day there, Tara is attacked outside a tattoo parlor in Deep Ellum, and in self defense, she kills her attacker. A life-long sufferer of severe depression, the trauma sends her spiraling into a web of guilt, pain, and despair. Will she be able to muster the courage it takes to always keep fighting, or will she no longer refuse death?
My snippet today is from Bescreen’d in Night again. 🙂 This time, it’s from the beginning. It’s sweet, and it gives hope… and a sentence-ish over the six.
“Tonight, we tied ourselves together in the oldest way possible.” David’s hands fell to Jonathan’s chest, he leaning in to hold Jonathan’s gaze captive, amber to blue, as he pressed a kiss to Jonathan’s lips. “Tonight, in my mind—”
“I became your husband and you became mine?” Jonathan finished, quirking an amused eyebrow.
Tears of joy sparkled in David’s eyes, his smile shining like a sun as he answered, “Yes!”
“Babe…” I love you so much. “I’m going to marry you someday, I promise you. One day, I will give you Shea.”
Welcome to the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia! Today kicks off my second round on this Hop, and it’s good to be back! Last year was amazing, and I hope to see many rainbows this week! The Hop runs from May 17-24, and it looks like a great turnout again! Much love and support are to be had!
Last year, I wrote a piece called Always Keep Fighting, which you can find by clicking on the link. In the last twelve months, much has happened in my life, both good and bad, but one very important thing happened only last month on my birthday.
I came out to my family in Texas.
My plans were to do it over the Christmas 2015 break, on a vacation I wanted to take so badly to see them—I’d not seen my parents in over three years. I wrote a mockup of how it’d go and called it Glittering Soul. I felt like a walking open wound, nerves raw and infected. I worried that all the building I’d done on my relationship with them over the last fifteen years was soon to be swirling down the drain, that I’d be truly alone.
My plans fell through when HR didn’t approve my vacation in time, which began a new wait… ye gods, that was killer for me. I’d already been waiting since October, when I’d made the vow to be honest, to never keep myself a secret ever again. The bout of depression I’d been swimming through prior to the holidays grew worse, and on the morning of the seventh (I think) of January, I found myself losing the battle of the day before the day had really even started. It was a Rise Against and Hozier day, and as I was getting ready for work, all I could see was how bad I was, and for a plethora of reasons. I’m almost forty-one. I’m not one of the beautiful people. I’m not successful. My writing is mediocre at best. I’m hidden (or is it hiding?) in the basement of my best friend’s house. I’m never going to be more than this. To top it off, I’m all alone. Still. Come out or not, I’ve no-one to share it with and I’ll probably never find her.
[Digressing for a moment, on Memorial Day of 2015, I decided that I wanted to make and be my own anti-depressant, so I designed a tattoo based on three things: blood and fire, Winchesters, and Within Temptation. Their translation is below:
My anti-depressant works quite well. On good days, it makes me smile because I know I’m strong, I know I’m a “fire sign, man, a fire sign!” and so I burn hot, and I know I can keep going… and I know how far I’ve come. On bad days, it pisses me off because why the hell did I put some stupid symbol on my body forever? Why the hell did I choose that one? Stupid logo. You’re such a stupid person, why the hell should I keep fighting? And scars? My scars are ugly and that’s why—why the hell did I put that there?!
Yeah, it works pretty well, I’d say!]
Going back to what I was saying, that day, I was wishing like hell I’d put it somewhere I couldn’t see it. The day was a normal day, but for my mental state. Nothing spectacular or terrible about the shift. I came home, ate my dinner and watched my Winchesters, trying desperately to draw strength from the brothers, and I saw a comment on Facebook from my friend Anna—“Oh, David…”—and what little positivity I had gleaned from my little happy place took a flying leap off a cliff.
If there’s one thing I’ve always had to keep me somewhat sane, it was music… and David started it, he rescued me when I was twelve with his Heroes and Never Let Me Down albums. Losing him was horrendous for me, and coupled with all my terrible what-if’s… I spiraled for an almost unbearable three months.
The week before I left on vacation, I spoke with one of my friends. Her girlfriend lives with her and they’ve been together for years. I asked them both about coming out, and my friend said hers was nothing. Her girlfriend’s was a different story, one many of us know all too well, one ending with her not speaking with them anymore. I remembered in that moment, my best friend’s advice from way back: “tell them when you know you can exist without them, because you might have to.”
I did what I could to prepare, but the environment Texas is currently in, politically, made things rough. I traveled at night, so the morning would be long. I made it through Easter and the next morning, my mother took me to lunch at my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant in Grapevine. I didn’t plan for the conversation to be right then, but after the server took our drink order, my thoughts drifted to “what if I told her here?” and I guess she picked up on it, because she asked me, “What is it?”
I must’ve blanched. I felt my heart move up into my throat and I think I could hear it. My mouth went dry. I felt my eyes sting. I rambled. “Well, I… I want to talk to you about something. I mean, I need to—I’ve wanted to for a long time—I-I-I—”
My mother’s face broke into an expression of concern. “Just say it. You’ll feel better.”
I knew she knew then. I knew it. Didn’t she? “You do know… don’t you?” is all I could manage. The tears in my eyes blurred my vision as I mentally begged all my gods that I wasn’t about to lose her. Not her. Not my mother.
She furrowed her brow. “That you’re gay?”
I blinked, sniffled, and nodded. “Yeah.”
“I’ve known for a long time. I’ve just been waiting on you to tell me.” She smiled at me. “You know, I’m always going to love you and I’m always going to be proud of you. Do you have a girlfriend?”
(screenshots of the text I sent my best friend just minutes after we left the restaurant)
Over the course of the next three days, I experienced much the same reaction with my grandmother, my little brother, and even my father. None of the hatred I expected to be subjected to, came from any direction when I came out of my Texas closet… and as I was flying home, I realized one very important thing: it shouldn’t be like that.
I shouldn’t have to worry about what I wear—I should be able to wrap myself in a Pride flag and run down the street if I wanna, or wear my NO HATE IN MY STATE Texas shirt, or just one of my AKF shirts. It shouldn’t be an issue of If I wear it, will I get attacked? Secondly, I shouldn’t have to worry that I’m going to lose my family because I love someone. Something my daddy said to me when I spoke to him really sticks out. He said, “The greatest command the Lord gives us is to love one another and the second greatest command is to never judge. How can I follow His commandments and not love you? How can I follow His commandments and shut you out because you love someone? I am not the Judge, He is. I am your father, and I couldn’t live with myself if I hurt you for loving someone.”
I never intended to ramble on this long. I never intended to do anything but assure you that we are here for you. The end should never be your answer. Your fight should continue until you cannot fight anymore and then your cry for help will draw our community to your aid. Love is love, remember?
Another thing to remember? YOU ARE NEVER ALONE! I love you. We all do. One day, homophobia, transphobia, biphobia—I hope those will be a thing of the past. Until then, I stand with you, beside you, and I’m proud of you.
You are worth it. Your life… it’s beautiful! Your song… it’s perfect. Live on the breath of a hope… your spaceship knows which way to go. I promise.
I promised that I’d post again, because I’m finally writing again. 🙂 This is good. This is from a short story called Through Her Sunken Dream, and it’s about the effects of severe depression. It’s also two females in the lead this time, my second foray into that genre. Hope you like!
P.S.–I went a little over the six. Apologies!
Her vision blurred a bit, scaring her since the room was already dark. She shuffled over to the line of light with the moving shadow Tara figured must be her girlfriend. Her hands searched for the doorknob, slipping on the metal handle two or three times before managing to unlock the door. As it opened slowly, Mina careful of her proximity, Tara whispered, “We were snuggling… weren’t we?”
“You said you needed to pee,” Mina answered, keeping her voice calm, but her facial expression told Tara of the terror filling her. “I’m going to turn the light on, babe, because I need to see you.”
“I’m cold,” Tara told her girlfriend. “Can I have a blanket?”
Seventeen year old David has been best friends with Jonathan for as long as he can remember, but the day he sees
the pastor’s daughter press a soft kiss to Jonathan’s cheek everything changes. Overcome by jealousy, his explosive
reaction reveals a deeper connection that sends their relationship spiraling down into dangerous territory.
When their clandestine love is discovered, they have nowhere to turn for help. The brutal circumstances of their
parting test David and Jonathan’s covenant to each other in unimaginable ways. Forced to face their fears, it is in
their darkest moments that the two young men discover that the courage, hope, and strength they need to to fight for
their love, has been the foundation of their covenant all along.
Carly from Carly’s Book Reviews has this to say about The Covenant:
5 out of 5 stars
“That many young people are forced to hide their true selves for their own safety is a bitter truth that Phoenix tackles head on. The malevolent reaction to their love is both disturbing and heartbreaking. Jonathan references the depth of emotion found in the Greek concept of agape love when describing his feelings for David. Their love is pure; forged in the fires of prejudice and hate.
The Covenant will strip you bare and then carry you up out of darkness and into the light. It’s one of the most powerfully emotional stories I’ve ever read. Built on a foundation of love, it’s the type of story meant to be read more than once because you’ll discover something new every time. It isn’t for the faint of heart but persevere until to the end and you will walk away with a deeper understanding of compassion, strength and hope.”