Ah shame, I
know knew your name, old friend enemy.
I grew up in a house where everything not ‘normal’ was expected to be hidden. What do I mean by that? Things that were expected to be hidden from the all-seeing “they” were strong emotions at both ends of the scale i.e. from anger to love. Any problems, big or small, were to be kept quiet about, lest “they” find out. A front of happiness should be kept up at all times. The thing was, this was expected inside the house (it was never a home to me), not just in public.
Consequently, I was in some ways even more fucked-up than the average teenager. I had the usual rampaging hormones and feelings, but was even less well equipped than most of my peers to deal with them. So I became ashamed of some of the things I was feeling.
Then something made the shame worse. At 15, I realised I was pretty much equally attracted to boys and girls. A short time later, all the many shades between boy and girl joined my mental list of desirables (remember, dear reader, that gender largely rests between the ears, not the legs). Soon after, I met my first boyfriend. I also met my first serious girlfriend around the same time. She was from the Indian subcontinent and her skin was almost ebony on colour. She was beautiful, and I think she may have been the first girl I loved. Then my parents met her. That was when I discovered my family were racists. More shame.
Shame barely begins to describe what I felt if I allowed myself to think about all this back then. So, mostly, I buried it. But it was like the bubble underneath the wallpaper. You can push it down, but unless you deal with it, it will just pop up again somewhere else.
It took me years to get straightened out. I self-identify as pansexual now and feel no shame about it. The old shame is like a memory of a memory now, almost gone. Almost.