Anyone who knows me or who knows anything about me usually knows that my pre-teen and teen years were incredibly difficult. I dealt with neglect and abuse in my family, starting from about the time I was 10. I was sexually assaulted twice before I even became a teenager. I was queer. I was suicidal and was a self-injurer. I struggled to find safe shelter sometimes. Few people seemed to notice, even though after I gave up trying to use my words, I still used my eyes to try and tell them constantly.
I'm 40 now, and in a whole lot of ways, I felt older at 16 than I feel now. Some days, I am truly gobsmacked that I survived at all, let alone with my heart and mind intact and rich.
A lot of why I survived is about having gotten support.
In hindsight, I knew when I was around ten or eleven that I was queer: that I had and was experiencing growing sexual and romantic feelings for people of all genders, not just those of one of for those of a different sex or gender than me, feelings I'd continue to have throughout my teen years and my adult life to date. I didn't have the language for it then, though, even though there were queer adults in my orbit I could have gotten it from, adults I naturally gravitated towards without realizing a big part of why was because I saw myself in them and I really needed them.
I was thinking about all of you a lot last night, and was feeling something about you I realize I've never had the chance to share. When I'm working with you, while I always leave wishing for much better things for all of you, I also leave always feeling very inspired by you, and reminded of good things about myself when I was your age I often do forget and really shouldn't, and which I also really didn't know back then.
I hate, hate, hate that phrase. Nearly everywhere I go or look as a young adult sexuality educator anymore, I run into it incessantly.
Let me be clear: I don't hate doing all that we can, to help people of every age to avoid pregnancies or parenting they do not want or do not feel ready for. I'm so glad to do that, and it's a big part of my job at Scarleteen and elsewhere when I work as a sexuality and contraception educator and activist.
Yesterday, after working my second job at the clinic, I was effectively kidnapped by my co-worker Gigi and her ten-year-old daughter Sophia, whom I adore. She calls herself Big Sophia around me, my pug (scroll down this page for a visual) being Little Sofia. We wound up driving from their place to my neighborhood for dinner, which is a pretty long haul.