Picture Little Shawn, twirling in ecstasy with the spice girls in their ears, attached to their purple ipod nano (I had convinced myself that loving the colour purple was totally not a queer trait – “Oh I only love the dark purple and not the lighter one that girls like”)… I recently unlocked this very precious memory. It felt like I had just opened a door to a room filled with treasure I had long been searching for.
I opened the dust-covered–cobwebbed door into a memory that brought me to tears. Most of what I recall from my childhood seems to be an intricate weave of emotions that only hold memories of torment, trials and tribulations. This little glimmer of hope was a memory of 8 or 9 year old Shawn beaming at my mum’s jewelry, exquisite heels, and collection of 90s statement pieces. I recall locking the door to the room and putting on a careful assortment of accessories paired with heels that were 5 sizes too big. Looking back at it now, it feels like a snippet from a very dramatic movie about a little kid who was indulging in a pure moment of being their true self in an environment where they became very good at being something or someone they are not. The only difference was, it wasn’t a movie.
My latest mental health journey has led me down a path to healing that little Shawn who indulged in being themselves in secret. Although I am now in a position where my confidence in my sexual identity and gender expression is rapidly growing, there are still nuances of trauma that dictate my emotional nervous pathways as a 26 year old.
Sometimes I fall into deep pits of darkness where I cannot see any light. The feeling of abandonment approaches me like a slow-moving storm but I cannot move from it, because it feels like I am steeped in soil, buried alive. As much as I try to love myself and be enough for me as an adult, sometimes I just want a genuine embrace and words of affirmation from the people who raised me. I had to trap little Shawn away for too long in order to protect them. I now see that it was detrimental to my growth.
At the age of 12, I had to lock little Shawn away. Words like “stop walking like a girl” and “if you dare bring a man into this house you are no longer my son” got tattooed into my brain, and that is when I knew I had to grow up and protect this kid from this harm. I had to grow up and emotionally raise myself to build the resilience I needed to survive the years to come.
I am still spending my 20s figuring out who I am in my own skin. The skin I have adopted is not mine, it feels so foreign, like sandpaper constantly rubbing on my true coats of consciousness.
All little Shawn wanted was to bring their whole self to the world, to grow and glow, indulging in everything this beautiful planet had to offer, just like my brother and all the other kids around me whose parents cherished every single cell in their bodies. For far too long I have put up with conditional love, love that has been laid on me with “I love you, but…”.
Unpacking all these layers in the last year after moving away from home has revealed the marvelous parts of my existence and identity that were never loved. While unpacking, I will also need to embrace that some of these parts might not be loved in the future, especially by the ones I am so extensively hurting mental health, trying to bring them over the fence to me.
I am now trying to go to a place where my efforts to change the very doctrine that drives these people’s harmful “morals and beliefs” are not worth my sweat. I too deserve a long, healthy, and fulfilling life.
This odyssey hurts, but I am looking forward to the blissful interactions with little Shawn as I tread through these clouds. I am thankful to my subconsciousness for holding onto these heavenly memories, I had no idea little Shawn was so brave, and I am excited to unravel these as I go.
When I think about that dust-covered door I mentioned early, I picture my childhood bedroom door. A door I feared to open as I was not ready.
I am now ready.