The rain splattered across my windshield as my wipers raced to remove the thousands of droplets so that I could see. Portland, Oregon tends to get a little wet. My hi-beams guided me through the old country roads; so far out they lacked streetlights. The night felt sinister.
I was on my drive home from my high school small group when I decided to text a good friend of mine. For about a week and a half, this friend had been treating me very differently.
I did my devotions before school everyday at the coffee shop just down the road from our high school. Around the time I would finish up, my friends would come and sit with me. He would arrive later, order his quad-shot caramel latte, and sit with us. He stopped.
During lunch, we and a few of our other friends would go off-campus, grab some food, and bring it back to the school’s parking lot. My friends and I would sit in the back of his lifted Ford Ranger, eat our lunches, and have a good time. These days, they left without me.
He distanced himself from me and stopped talking to me. I wished it had been something different, but I knew exactly what it was.
A week and a half prior, after failed attempts of calling my mentors, I felt overwhelmed by shame and said some words to him that I still regret to this day: “Dude, I messed up. I did something with a guy.” He had known that I was gay for about a year, but the whole time, we had been trying to get me a girlfriend. We failed.
He said he was busy, and he quickly finished our conversation. There, I began my descent, and as soon as an earthquake crumbles a bridge, we got to where we were, distanced.
A message came back and finally, I understood what he had been trying to do. His words tore me like lion devouring its prey.
“I don’t like the way you live and don’t feel like associating with you. I was just blind to the way you are I guess. Sorry man,” I read on my dimly lit iPhone screen.
My eyes began to water as I continued my drive back home. That night, I didn’t sleep. The blow to my already flustering guilt drove me into one of the lowest points of life.
“If that is what I’m to expect from my best friend, no one will know this about me. I’ll figure it out on my own,” I would tell myself.
These hurtful words provided the perfect foundation. On this statement, I built my walls. I pulled myself away and removed my loved ones from one of the most vital pieces of my life.
Starting from the ground up, I laid down a brick of rejection, followed by a brick of shame and a brick of depression; and the self-loathing-based cement held them firmly in place. Soon enough, I cut myself out.