It’s been a pretty strange journey to get here.

I remember when I first realized I could distract myself by keeping stupendously busy. It was spring of 2004. I was taking 18 hours of classes, helping plan the first FWA, and serving as an officer in the fraternity.

I had no time to feel sad or angry because I always had something to do. Of course I didn’t realize that at the time. I just did it. The more shit I threw myself into, the less I felt. Rather effective coping strategy … for dealing with massive internalized self-hatred.

I have existed like that for 19 long years.

Better than drugs or drinking, but holy fuck did I ever try THAT too. Sometimes I’m surprised my liver still works. Those “coping strategies” worked until about June of last year.

Years ago a friend once said about me in a journal post: “I don’t know how [she] does it, [she’s] like a machine.”

I never wanted to answer because any lie would sound egotistical as fuck. But the truth - that I was hiding from myself, completely gripped by fear and just running through every single fucking day like a madwoman - was somehow even worse. Because holy shit let me tell you, when you are trying to hide from every single difficult or uncomfortable feeling in your life, you can do some pretty fucking amazing things. Many people choose drugs or drinking. I chose work and hobbies.

Hauling servers a state away in the middle of the night? Let’s roll. Shit’s broke? Who cares it’s 2am and I’ve been awake for 20 hours, shit’s broke, let’s fix it. On multiple boards? No problem. Doing all this while trying to be a partner and parent? I’ll make a good effort!

I would literally work all day, come home, do family shit. And then, when everyone went to bed, I would do my second job, my consulting gig. We didn’t even remotely need the money. I fucking PERSONIFIED the hustle.

The nice thing was I could focus on code. Logic. Cold. Uncaring. Working as predicted. And if I could focus on the code for whatever reason, I didn’t have to focus on the feelings. The squishy, frightening, confusing, sinful, evil, nice, comforting feelings. I could lock every hard feeling, difficult emotion, and definitely all the BAD THOUGHTS™️ behind a wall and just pretend they didn’t exist.

And that’s the really shitty part of this whole thing: objectively, by most measures, I have been massively “successful” in life. But how much of that success is because I just fucking HATED myself and would do anything I could possibly do to avoid being alone with my thoughts? How much of that success is because I never felt like I was enough and I just had to keep fucking RUNNING every day?

And I talk about self-hatred a lot here. If you had asked me at any prior point, I would have told you I didn’t hate myself, I hated X. But as I dug into my BEHAVIOR? I continually sacrificed myself, mind body and soul, to hold others up. I thought it was being noble.

I wanted to be liked, and I thought the path to doing that was just to continue sacrificing everything and hiding myself, even when I knew it wouldn’t matter. And maybe I thought that, if enough other people like me, then maybe I will, if not like then maybe stop hating myself.

And how much of that success would I trade to not have spent 28 years just RUNNING through life because it was all that I knew how to do?

Every day of my life I’ve worn a mask that projected what I thought people around me wanted to see. In some cases my mask was thinner. Kiran was a pretty thin mask over the real me, but a mask nonetheless. And masks always obscure the details and, after long enough, just hurt.

Every single day, my first thought in the morning was RUN. Hide. Blend in. Fit in. For TWENTY EIGHT INCREDIBLY TIRING FUCKING YEARS I have attempted to run, hide and fit in anywhere I was with varying levels of success.

That was what made last year so different. It was the first time since 1995 that I’ve felt like I could … if not stop then at least slow to a walk. Maybe try to look ahead to something other than what fire I have to fight next or where I can get my next avoidant fix.

One year ago my life blew itself apart as every single one of my carefully placed coping strategies, laid out over a lifetime of denial and erected with a stunning level of self-hatred, collapsed all at once. Though if I am being truthful, thanks to the pandemic, there probably wasn’t much left to support that bigger angry egg shell. They were primed for collapse regardless, it was just a matter of when.

And as I picked through the shattered wreckage of my life, and with a lot of help from my therapist, my loving wife, and my best friends … an altogether different picture emerged. One that was perhaps the most honest ever.

At a certain point it’s just not worth keeping it inside anymore. I don’t know if I can and, even if I could, I am pretty damn sure I don’t want to. Even though this journey may seem like it’s just starting, really, it’s been twenty eight long years just to get to now.

And … now it’s time for the next chapter.

Though this journey has been massively painful at times and by far the most difficult thing I have ever faced in my life, it has also had a lot of joy and a lot of healing. I am beginning to find peace as the hurricane dissipates.

Possibly because, for the first time since April 1995, a young woman is very slowly poking her head out the doorframe of the her bedroom. Which lacks a door. Because she got caught. It took her 28 long years to overcome that April night in Tennessee, but she finally did it.

And if you read this far I thank you. There’s a lot more to this, some of which is known and some unknown. Some things I may share further, some may stay private. I hope you will all stay with me as I allow this next chapter to unfold. ❤️

Which is a metric TON of words to say…

Hi. It’s Kira now. 🏳️‍⚧️

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When I wrote this, I was listening to:
Faith Hill - Take Me As I Am

Kira is an Alabama-based collie dog permanently stuck in 1999. Her hobbies include software, trains, and doting on her wife, daughter and far too many cats. Lover of comfort foods, science fiction, alternative rock and progressive rock. Often wandering around without a clue. Proudly weird, proudly queer. 🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️

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