The Courage to Tell Your Story

Bullying is a cause near to my heart.

You see, I went through a lot of it growing up.

A lot.

When you hear stories of children who went to hell and back with bullying, abuse and somehow still came out of it, I’m among them. I certainly see myself as more than just a survivor of those experiences, but they are a part of my history and they’ve given me magnificent understanding of love and given me a vast desire to share it. I now want to use the things I learned and the strength I gained from it, to help propel others forward in a positive direction.

I don’t want to go into details about what happened then though. Not just yet at least.

My focus is on empowering others here and now with that story, so I jumped at the chance to contribute to a series on television called, “Bullied, Battered and Bruised,” on Rogers TV where I talk about my experience with bullying in relationship to religion.

I want to say at the outset that my faith has evolved into something that felt more accepting and welcoming of all faiths, so while my past experiences focus on Christianity, my present includes much broader horizons than one faith.

We were given a few minutes to speak about our past and present in relationship to bullying.

My piece spoke about homophobia in the church, and the bullying that I experienced at the hands of other believers.

Before I share what I said, I think it’s important to note that while this reflects some Christians, not all feel the way some did, in my past. I encourage you to check out the NALT Project (Not All Like That), featuring videos of Christians offering encouragement to the LGBT community.

My story, as I told it on the segment airing this Friday:

I never asked to be gay, I just was. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that I am now and I’m proud of the woman I’ve become, but it wasn’t always so easy to accept who I am. 

Bullying is most commonly associated with schools and classmates. I had to deal with bullying from adults who were trying to teach me about God. My faith became my prison and a source of shame and self-hatred for many years. 

When coming out, my family were actually relieved that I finally did it because they knew very early on. I used to joke that I wish they would’ve told me sooner. Really the only ones who I had problems with were people from churches I attended. Not all Christians are like that, but the worst forms of bullying were from those places for me. Those things that got in my head and tried to get me to believe that this part of me that just wants to love, is so horrible in the eyes of God. 

That I’m disgusting. 
That I’m an eyesore. 
That I’m not worth it. 
That who I am at my core was being rejected by my Maker.

I remember being told that I was “prayed for” like I had some illness that needed healing. I was something that no one wanted to touch. Literally. The women around me sometimes treated me completely differently, as though I were preying on them despite my having zero interest in them. There was so much shame and one person went so far as to send me a message saying that they were praying I would die rather than act on the “sin within”.

I had so many friends at that time and many of them were visibly uncomfortable with my talk of being okay with the fact that I’m a lesbian, so the bullying wasn’t just getting into my head, it was tearing at the fabric of my social life as well. People who I regularly hung out with and celebrated life with were suddenly disinterested in anything to do with me. It was the coldest form of rejection I’ve ever known. It made me stronger but there were nights where I remember crying and asking why God didn’t love me too. 

I sat up for hours at a time praying to be ‘cured’ of what I came to believe was a horrible thing. I remember praying that I die. I thought suicide was one of the only options because I was that disgusting and that much of a disappointment. I felt that way because I let those bullies take up precious real estate in my mind. Thankfully, they didn’t win in the end. 

What breaks my heart is that it wasn’t just me. This isn’t just my story. There are so many others that this is the reality for. I’ve come out the other side, but what about all the young people who still face this hatred? Where are their pillars of strength? Who do they turn to? Who will be there to remind them that their God loves them, too.

And if you have been the bully, you can change it. That’s the beautiful thing about it. You can literally change the future. Think about that for a second. You can change the future. You can make the world a better place. Like here and now. Today you can start.

The irony is that now I know that it was just people who said they knew I was disgusting and not the God I believed in. Thankfully, all the other signs in my life pointed to my being loved through and through and now I know that any group who claims to know the truth for anyone other than them, are just fooling themselves. 

If you’re watching this and can relate, you’re not alone and there is so much more life to see and it’s important that you’re here. My being a lesbian is literally the least exciting thing about me. It’s easy to feel though, like it’s the only thing people see but I can promise you that people will start taking an interest in things like who you want to be in the next 5 years or what your favorite music is or what your interests are. I know because I lived it. 

Follow your love because that love triumphs over the greatest of bullies and hatred, no matter the form. This is my story of rising up and of triumph. It’s one small glimpse but it’s important to know that you’re not alone. We’ve got your back. I’ve got your back.

This post is a bit of a departure of my normal posting, but I couldn’t help but share this incredible opportunity to share love and share what I’ve been up to this month and last.

This post, also leads well into another post upcoming.

Stay tuned, stay uplifted and remember to use your voice.

Even if it seems like no one is listening I can guarantee you that at least one person is hanging off of every single inflection of the words coming out of your mouth, like a sweet nectar for the soul.

Life is meant to be shared, so share on.

Don’t wait for the spotlight to come to you. Share your love wherever you are and as often as you can.

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On The Wings of Miracles,

~Cheryl~

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4 responses to “The Courage to Tell Your Story

  1. Yep, bullying comes in all flavors, from all types of people, including those from whom we thought we’d receive the MOST love from. I’m grateful that you’re sharing your story with us and I’m helping you spread the word on “sharing life.”

    P.S. New fan here from my friend Steve Rice. 🙂

    • I completely agree, Lakesha and thank you for sharing 🙂 I greatly appreciate it! Steve is amazing!! I’m so glad you’ve had the chance to experience his writing and all the life he has within.

    • Thank you! I feel like it’s so important for the world to know about how much power we have to change any bullying situation and to know how to bring a little more love to the table. More than that, it’s important to show how bullying doesn’t just happen in school or to youth. Love having you as a reader! 🙂

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