IT GETS BETTER – BRANDON BENNETT

My fellow brothers and sisters,

I am saddened by the recent suicides in our community and angered by the reports of bullying from metropolitan Los Angeles and New York to not soPicture 017 populated areas of the Midwest.  Proof positive that vile behavior occurs no matter where you live; moreover, the sense of hopelessness and violation that this behavior leaves in the hearts and minds of those who are left as victims is absolutely tragic!

I’d like to expound on the recent epidemic of suicide as I believe many are left with the impression that suicide is simply an action in which a person is so depressed from hopelessness, societal oppression, and bullying, they end their life.  It goes way beyond that.  SUICIDAL BEHAVIOR deserves a much broader response.  If we really look at all of the suicidal behaviors associated with our community that is still very much oppressed in this country, we’re able to see that the action of ‘suicide’ compounded with many ‘suicidal behaviors’ amounts to a much larger emergency.  I HAVE NEVER ACTUALLY ATTEMPTED SUICIDE BUT I HAVE CERTAINLY INDULGED IN SUICIDAL BEHAVIOR.

Here’s a bit of my story:

I was reared from a devout Christian family and was always told that homosexuality (among many other things) was a sin; not just by my family but friends and their families as well.  I had girlfriends in High school but I continually found myself attracted to men.  I had absolutely no connection to what “gay” was, being brought up in a very small mountain town, so to self-identify with “gay” lacked any influence whatsoever.  The only connection I had to anything “gay” was watching Liberace on TV and I knew I was nothing like him!

The confusion I had about myself and this “attraction” towards men left me wondering if the Devil had entered my mind.  After talking with trusted friends, I was told that I was being tempted by the Devil himself and to pray to rid myself of these thoughts!  I never prayed so often in my life!!  The fact of the matter is, my attraction towards men only grew and the anguish that I put myself through was about to take its toll.

When I turned 18, I left home and moved to the big city for a great job!  Moving to the L.A. area and devoting my soul to my work seemed to be somewhat of an answer to what I was feeling inside.  In my mind, if I devoted 70 hours a week to a salary that paid 40, I would keep my mind off of those “devilish attractions” and according to my Father, gain social and financial power.  That “power” seemed very attractive to me as like any Son, I wanted recognition from my Father and after feeling so powerless and guilty over my “gay” feelings, any type of POWER seemed appropriate and gratifying.

The point here is I fought back my homosexuality with everything in me, until one day I just couldn’t.  I had become a judgmental person who was critical of everyone I came into contact with who did not live up to the rigid standards  that I had set for myself, reinforced by part of my family; my Father.  I was guilt-ridden for feeling what I felt for men and FEARED that I would slip and lose control if I even got close to a man who I was remotely attracted to.  I isolated from everyone except my family, and the Church.  I fought back every effeminate nature (even if it wasn’t there), every sexual attraction, and every emotion, until I was a total shell of a human being, operating by remote through judgment.  If you were not Christian, I didn’t associate with you, if you smoked, I did not associate with you, if you drank, I did not associate with you.

One day, I couldn’t take it any longer!  I thought about ending my life as I was convinced that I must have been possessed by the Devil and there was no way out for me, but I couldn’t bring myself to suicide.  I tried to think of ways to commit suicide but I didn’t have the nerve.  I remember thinking, I would rather break an arm than to feel this emotional pain, so if I could just injure myself somehow, that would distract me from my thoughts.  This is one of many “SUICIDAL BEHAVIORS” that I would experience.

I wore myself down to the point to allow myself to meet other gay men.  Anger and rage (anger= sometimes useful but ohh so dangerous) against my family, the church, and what I had become took over and I had become REBELIOUS!  Still, I fought the feelings until one day I allowed myself to be the natural person that I was intended to be.  That day was a revelation of truly allowing myself to be who I really was!  One of the purest awakenings of my life!

I was elated and found the courage to tell my Father, thinking that he would understand and want me to be happy!  Right?!  Right?!  WRONG!  My father’s last words to me were, “drive yourself off a cliff, you’ll be doing this family a great justice, ohh and get the hell out of my house.”  I was only allowed back if I repented and stopped being homosexual!  That was 20 years ago and I have not heard from my Father or anyone on that side of the family since.  Hurt?!  ABSOLUTELY!  Being disowned is not fun!  Growing to be who you truly are and what you want to be?  PRICELESS!  That “growing,” however, took many twists and turns.

After I was disowned, I fell into a very deep depression.  I thought about suicide often but instead I did something else which is a “SUICIDAL BEHAVIOR” to escape the hurtful reality that I thought I existed in.  I eventually drank HEAVILY, became an alcoholic, and then turned to other drugs.  Engaged in all kinds of irresponsible and risky behaviors that endangered myself as well as others without even thinking of the consequences.  Fueled by anger and the nearest gratifying thrill, I was soulless.  THIS IS SUICIDAL BEHAVIOR and I know there are MANY out there that can relate to my story!  SUICIDAL BEHAVIOR??  If you take life-threatening risks, you are engaging in suicidal behavior and you need help!

IT DOES GET BETTER!  Even for a stubborn person like myself who lived so many years in anger and spite, it DOES GET BETTER!  Today, I’m a grateful recovering alcoholic/drug addict who now has the opportunity to help others!  I survived being a harm to myself and others and that miracle is more reinforcement to give back and help wherever I can!  What a blessing!

Did I ever think 15-20 years ago that I would be sitting here doing what I do and writing this?!  NEVER!  While the current atmosphere may seem like it will never change, or that the pain will never go away, I am here to tell you that “this too shall pass.”

Our lives are moments of both bliss and tragedy/pain, and hopefully an appreciation of the mundane.  I have to tell you that it may seem that there is much more tragedy than bliss and that may be true for a variety of reasons, but an absolute appreciation of the mundane, is truly a spiritual awakening regardless of your beliefs.  If our moments of bliss seem to be  few and our appreciation of the mundane are many, then we know we can get through the moments of tragedy and not associate them with our “mundane.”  There is spiritual- and self-awakening at that very moment when all hope seems to be lost and we let go and let “God” or your interpretation of “God/Universe.”  It has taken me a long time to get to this realization.  It was not an easy thing…but simpler if I just let go;)   Almost every pivotal spiritual awakening that I’ve ever had has been when I am at my lowest moment.  You simply, “let go.”  I HAVE TO APPRECIATE THAT!

For years, I HELD ON!  I held onto anger and justified it.  Holding on to anger and despair whether justified or not will never allow your heart to be filled with HOPE:)

When we think we have so few moments of worth, we may accept nothing else in our lives but our misery, which leads us to believe that we have somehow been deprived and are forever cursed with people who continue to hurt us.  Perhaps our happiness has not come to us yet, but it will, if we stick it out!  Indeed, we need and deserve happiness and it will come!  If we can trust that a higher power exists (whatever that may be), we must be patient with life, patient with others who are worth being patient for, so that we can come to appreciate everything that life has to offer, even if we can’t see it at the moment, knowing deep in our hearts that things will get better.  We are really so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for!  We are beautiful beings deserving of happiness and acceptance no matter who we sleep with or who we’re attracted to!

When we can trust that we are not held captive in our current environment forever, we can trust that things will change and get better.  I know this is hard to believe when we are on the edge!  BUT IT IS SOO TRUE!!

Know that if you are on the edge and thinking about “suicide” or engaging in “suicidal behavior,”  help IS AVAILABLE!

Contact the Trevor Hotline 24 hours a day @ 866-488-7386!  www.thetrevorproject.org

If you are in Yuma, Arizona and even if you’re not, Michael Baughman is always available and has years of experience helping others with suicidal thoughts.  Contact Michael @ 928-246-4856.  Also see the webpage built at The Amancio Project for some very useful information on thoughts of suicide and what to do!  http://www.theamancioproject.org/suicidal.htm

Finally, you can contact anyone of us at Back to the Basics Please including myself, @ 928-550-3999 or via e-mail, http://bttbp.org/?page_id=263

We will be starting suicide prevention seminars at local Yuma area High schools and other areas very soon!

Thanks and be well!

Brandon Bennett

President / Back to the Basics Please, Inc.

brandon.m.bennett@bttbp.org

Web URL:  www.bttbp.org

928-550-3999

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