It’s been a minute since I’ve posted.
And it’s been the best choice I’ve made for myself.
A lot has happened since the last time I have posted. I switched careers. I moved. I got engaged. I started to heal.
Part of the most therapeutic part of my healing journey was to go back and tell the younger version of myself what I needed to hear back then. To let myself know that my trauma won’t define me. That I can stand in gratitude and in patience (no matter if it thins from time to time) and acceptance.
I’ve learned to forgive, even if it’s hard. I’ve learned to heal, even if some days the wounds tear open again. I’ve learned to accept, even if I don’t agree. I hope that everyone knows that there is beauty in scars…in progress…in a subtle exhale. This is my letter.
First off, I want to say that you are loved, you are safe, and you are okay. I know these things might have seemed foreign to you in the past, no matter how good at pretending you were back then.
I know you were a happy kid and just wanted to feel free and be happy and carefree. And you tried. You really did. And you did a good job at it. When you were goofy, man did you go all out on goofy. When you were confident, it shone brightly. When you weren’t surrounded by the pressure, you exhaled deeply. That version of you shaped who I am today. Bravo!
I know there were moments that felt like a pressure cooker, and you didn’t know how to escape. I know that a part of you knew something didn’t feel right without having to be taught that sensation. That when you were in grade school, you felt excited about tap dancing and tumbling and jazz class after school when others were heading to flag football. That even when you played shortstop on your Tigers baseball team, your mind was elsewhere. That when your dad took all those naps after knowing the version of him who used to be present with you and sit with you and read to you and watch movies and draw dinosaurs with you, you knew something was off. You were a smart kid.
For those moments, I’m sorry. I’m sorry you didn’t have someone around who lived that same life you were feeling on the inside. I’m sorry you had to hide a part of yourself for so long. I’m sorry that your dad changed and wasn’t the man you once knew. I’m sorry that your mom was still scarred from the previous betrayal and hurt and maybe didn’t know how to be there for you the way that you needed. I’m sorry that you felt silenced, even though there wasn’t a gag around your mouth. I’m sorry you felt shackled, even though your hands and feet could move freely.
I know that you’ve sat on the edge of your bed after a day of being surrounded by people and felt alone. I know that you dreaded bedtime because it meant that you would have to be alone with your thoughts and that even with your Ninja Turtles nightlight, the room felt cold and darker than the darkest night. I know that shadows and protective narratives became your best friends, which might I add, has turned you into quite the storyteller. I know you craved to exhale.
But now I tell you what you desperately yearned for at the moment on the edge of your bunk bed, trying to keep your tears and cries silent enough to not wake anyone else and keep the peace once more. I tell you that there is a moment where you get the breath, where you get to stand up, feeling free, where you get to experience true love and worth and acceptance.
I tell you now that you will go through trials and tribulations, through heartache, through confusion, but also through uncontrollable laughter, through incredible journeys, and find incredible love and acceptance from an entire community.
I am here to tell you that you can be both gay and a Christian and that your spiritual gifts from God remain stronger than ever. I am here to tell you that even through your father’s passing away, that you cannot only find forgiveness, but healing too. I am here to tell you that you will find a love from a partner who isn’t scary but peaceful and empowering and reassuring. I am here to tell you that the respect and the confidence and love that you have within yourself and for yourself will move mountains.
You’ve never gone to the beat of others’ drums, and I’m proud to say that it sticks with you. That trait of living for something greater, for wanting to find purpose, for never settling for less than what you not only desire but deserve sticks with you. And that because of that, you have not only inspired the next generation, but you inspire your friends and family to live the same way.
I am so proud of you, Tyler. You have so much to give and have made huge strides to give back to yourself and put yourself first. You’re learning how to not always people please, to breathe deeply, to live and stay in the moment, to let go of expectations, to listen to God’s voice deeper, to value the love and respect that you and your partner, Nick, have for each other, and that it’s never been about perfection, but rather growth.
You have been, are, and always will be an incredible person, Tyler. There is a thumbprint that you have that no one will ever be able to match, and because of that, you will leave this world a better place without even trying.
I remind us to this day that we are safe, secure, and loved, and I think back to when we were a kid—naïve and fun and free—what that felt like and still try my best to live that way for us. So, wipe off your tears, take a big belly breath in, and exhale, knowing that your life is not only anointed but full of love and possibilities. Sleep tight, little man. I’ll see you in the morning.
Your Future Self, Tyler
You are beautiful just as you are, my friends. Dan Coppersmith once said, “Be yourself. If you water yourself down to please people or to fit in or to not offend anyone, you lose the power, the passion, the freedom, and the joy of being uniquely you. It’s much easier to love yourself when you are being yourself.”
So embrace who you are and stand firm in the progress you’ve made. Focus on the victories that have come from your trauma. You are safe. And you get to exhale.