not finished, i would like some input on it and see what ideas are out there to improve it
|Violence: self denial and self discovery|
My name is Bud Cordova. I am an E5 in the United States Army. I work in several different medical fields. I have my hopes, dream, and fears. But of all the aspects of me people still label me purely based on my sexuality. They fail to see past that one simple fact and look at all of me as a person.
I am 23 years old. People don’t realize it but I am truly blessed to see 23. Too many dark fears and close calls to count. That to be alive today is the greatest gift I could ever receive. I almost did not make it this far. It could of ended seven years ago with a single blade. Yet here I am today.
I grew up in a small town in northern New Mexico called Chamisal. Chamisal is a rural area and very traditional. People still say “Yes sir” and “No sir” when asked questions. The majority of the customs have been present since the Conquistadores first ventured into the area. The society as a whole in Chamisal is a very religious Roman Catholic community. The people in Chamisal mainly as a whole are farmers or tradesman.
Growing up I had both my parents present. Neither of my parent’s where abusive or distant emotionally. They showed up to all my sport events, concerts, 4-H meetings. My family had “traditional” sit down dinners every night. I had chores, homework; I had to have a job. My mom and dad encouraged me to always do my best in everything. They disciplined me when I was in the wrong but never unfairly.
My family is very closely interconnected. We never had a structure where you never seemed to know what the other people were doing or going. We spent our time together and enjoyed being with the family. Did we always get along? No. There were times when I wished I didn’t have to go and do that with the family, yes, but I did it any ways because it was family and it’s thicker than water. My family never hid what was going on or what they were thinking.
From all aspects of life on a farm and school I had community service pounded into my head. Whether it is by digging ditch for a neighbor or picking trash from the side of the highway, I learned the community is only as good as you are willing to make it. I learned to give to those who are less fortunate than me. To sacrifice myself for others when I they need help or even simply someone to talk to.
Here in the community from church, family, and friends I also one other important value: self resentment. No one actually made me learn this other then how life makes us learn most of the cruel facts about it. I learned from them I was an abomination. Something that was wrong and not normal. I was taught that no matter what I did I would always be wrong and hell was my only destination.
I remember being 16. School had just let out for the summer and I was sitting in my family’s usual pew at church on Sunday morning. The father was giving his sermon and in it was damning all gay’s to the eternal flames of Hell. I looked to my family sitting beside me, I watched my own mother say “Amen” with the rest of the congregation. It was during this time that I had started to realize my attraction towards guys over girls. Watching her say that one single word to the sermon was earth shattering. It was no longer others she was damning to burn but me her own son. Her flesh and blood she condemned to the depths of Hell never to be saved from its fires.
After hearing the damnation of my soul I redoubled my efforts in community service. Anything I thought would give me extra credit with saint peter to avoid Hell. It didn’t seem to matter how hard I tried though I could not seem to make myself attracted to the girls around me.
This whole time I yearned to tell someone any one the fatal words “I am gay”. I would cry myself to sleep at night over how I could be this way. I wanted so desperately to be normal not wrong. I didn’t want to go to Hell. I did not want who I was. It was not what I was supposed to be. How could I ever hope for my family’s approval when they couldn’t accept a small part of who I am?
I stayed quiet and never once acted on any of my urges or desire to tell anyone. Not in the community could I ever hope to be accepted. I knew that if I told I would be disowned and cast out. My family, the one thing that is the most important to me, would all turn their backs on me as soon as I spoke the words “I am Gay”. I vowed to ignore it and never mention it to anyone.
A few months of this go by and then on MySpace I meet a guy. He was attending the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell. His family was from Los Alamos. He wanted to meet next time he was home for a casual encounter. I had never messed around with anyone at this point aside from kissing a girl last year on a dare. So I had no idea what to expect from meeting him. When finely my chance came for us to meet, it was just me and my sister at home. My parents had gone to Colorado for the weekend to visit my brother and his family. I told my sister I was going to meet a friend.
I drove 45 min to Espanola. The whole time I’m telling myself I was wrong, that the fires of Hell would have my soul if I do this. Multiple times I almost stopped and turned the car around and giving the guy a piss poor excuse on why I didn’t show up. But that nagging curiosity kept pulling me forward. Almost before I knew it I was parked in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Espanola where we had agreed to meet.
Here in the middle of the parking lot as I sat there I was a combination of excitement, nervousness, and disgust. I wanted to get out of the car and vomit in the middle of the parking lot. I was unsure about what to expect and close to panicked. When he showed up I forced myself to appear calm as I got out of my car and slid into the passenger seat of his truck. When the door closed I knew I had sealed my fate. Speeding out of the parking lot I could feel the cold sweat beading on my forehead with the fear of what was to come. We drove around for a few minutes while he looked for a spot he felt was “secure” making small talk the whole time. I know he was trying to put me at ease but it only increased my nervousness.
When he parked the truck and turned it off, I was near terror. As he leaned over and kissed me I almost ran from the vehicle. Yet the moment his lips met mine it sent a thrill through me I had never before experienced. Almost before I knew it clothing had disappeared and that night in the front seat of a truck I lost my innocence.
Afterword’s while driving home the emotional pain and humiliation I felt was so deep. I couldn’t believe I had giving up any chance of heaven. Once home I instantly jumped in the shower to try and cleanse away any sign of what I had done to myself. There I cried and prayed over and over as I scrubbed my skin raw hoping to retain what innocence when I lost.
The next day was a Monday, school day. Even though none of my friends knew what I had done the previous night I felt as if they were all watching me. I could feel their eyes on me and that every whisper was about me and what I had done. I knew I had crossed the line from where I stood all I could see was the fires of Hell in my future. I had willing given every chance of peace and love away in a single instance.
I tried to laugh and joke with my friends. To act like nothing had changed with me. Finely I could take no more. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, to die, to have the humiliation end. To help with the pain I told my best friend Mary “I am gay”. In response I got a shoulder shrug and a “so, that is important to you as a person how?” This simple response left me dumb founded. How could this religious girl take my deepest secret and act like it was nothing. That it was nothing in the scheme of thing. But even then the pain never when away, my family I knew would never give me a shoulder shrugs and ask “so?”
While all of this was going on I still couldn’t deal with what the bible and the congregation was telling me about being gay and eternal damnation. I tried so hard. Yet every time I would read the Bible I could feel my self esteem break a little more. I was disconnected from family and friends. Things I use to love where no longer interesting or pleasurable to me anymore. Yet somehow I was able to hide this depression from everyone around me. Not one of them knew or guessed the pain I was locking away inside of myself.
No one even guessed after I started cutting. The cuts were thin lines at first, hardly more than scratches. Yet it was the act that I could do something to express my pain and feel it. The pain that I was feeling was no longer just emotional but it had a physical presence, a physical representation of the turmoil I was feeling inside. They rush I would feel as the knife slide thru my own skin. The way I could see what my emotions and pain look when it was trapped inside me not let loose into the physical world.
When the cuts where noticed it was not the cuts but an observation made by my mom. When she told me I need to start wearing long sleeved shirts when I fix fences because I was getting pretty scratched up. So to hide them better I moved my cutting to places less visible on my body. Once I moved them the cuts began to get deeper. Yet every day my isolation from everyone was getting worse and worse. I felt so alone, as if everyone around me could see me yet all they held was hatred in their hearts towards me when they looked upon me.
One weekend my parents and sister left for Colorado leaving me alone as I volunteered to stay home and do chores while they were gone. I had the weekend to myself. I spent it reading from my bible that first day. By that evening my depression had worsened and hit a new all time low. I had no one to even talk to that might understand what I was going through, no one to even offer “it gets better”. I was alone in my pain and isolation.
I wanted my life to end. I didn’t want to continue living and to shame my family for the abomination that I was. The fear of them and how it would look for the family was my biggest fear. I couldn’t stand to cause them any pain for what I was. The torture had grown to the state that I couldn’t even bare it any more. Suddenly I knew how to end it and that was all I could think about. I had nothing that could save me and no one to help me. Not even one person I could turn to beg for help from.
I grabbed a five gallon bucket and brought it into the kitchen. I grabbed one on the knives my dad uses to butcher the kills he makes from hunting season. Not wanting them to know why I was ending it I decided against a note of any kind. Just let them find me in the floor and to be done with it was easier. I thought that if they didn’t know why it would hide permanently the pain it would cause them otherwise.
Kneeling on the floor over that bucket and slowly digging the knife into my wrist I was scared but sure of this choice. The whole time reciting the words I had heard at school and read in books. “Not to cross the street but to go down the road”. I pulled it up my wrist and then laid the knife down, unsure if I had done it right or if I needed to do both arms and multiple times.
I watched as the crimson source of life that flowed in my veins drizzled into the bottom of the bucket. I cried for how unfair it was. I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want to be gay. I didn’t want to be wrong yet somehow I had ended up that way. I was sure that this was the best way to end everything and spare any further pain to myself or my family.
I saw the blood pooling in the bottom of the bucket, mixing with the tears drops that fell from my eyes. The whole time I am thinking this is it, here is where you end and your family will only have a slightly less painful memory of you then if they knew. It didn’t seem to end fast enough. I was wondering if I needed to cut myself again to speed it up. The whole time a nagging voice in the back of my mind kept screaming at me to stop.
The voice was telling to quit and that there was nothing wrong with me. That no matter what I was not a mistake or an abomination. It was telling me that I was supposed to live. That this was not the way I was to die. I will swear to you that the voice I heard that day had not been my own or from my own thoughts.
As to how that voice got me to stop I still cannot explain. Just when the decision to end my life for what I was I found acceptance for who I am. I guess though that in a way I did kill myself that day because I chose never again to hate myself for being me. The person that had been depressed and willing to take his own life never rose from that floor.
I managed to get the bleeding to stop after an entire roll of paper towels. And I vowed never to hate myself for what other people have to think or say about who I am. There are more qualities to me then just my sexuality. The one that rose from off his knees that day decided to let his actions and how they helped others speak for him and to not care what others thought of him because of his sexuality.
But with this revelation came the shock of knowing I can never tell my family. I could never harm my family with the truth of a small piece of me that would damage them and their relationship with me. I knew it then that my life would be a lonely existence as I would never be able to lean on a lover for support around my family. No one I cared for would be welcome to family events. I chose to accept this fate and let life lead me where it will.
The next summer I enlisted into the United States Army National Guard under the DADT policy in 2006. I knew that I could never share my personal life at work and that it would be challenging. But I wanted to act as a medic and help both on the front lines and in the community when I was home.
I served proudly and gave it everything I had. Then once more the pain of not being able to tell my fellow soldiers, my battle buddies, this one little secret was painful when I watched them bring their lovers to unit events I had to create excuses like “they had to work” or a “sick relative” so as they wouldn’t ask to many questions.
Then came a day this year that I didn’t think would ever come to pass, the repeal of DADT. Never again would I have to lie about myself when one of the greatest values the army instills is personal integrity. Lying and hiding are harder on a person then being able to be honest and open about who and what they are. It darkens on to ever be honest and open with the people around them till the point of being able to lie straight to people faces and never once even think about it.
When the repeal happened I made the mistake of watching several news clips concerning the repeal. During the course of watching this I kept getting angrier and angrier. I lost all rational and posted all over my Facebook, without hesitation or thought of the repercussions, about me and my then boyfriend.
That one single thoughtless act caused the most harm to my family. The one thing I had tried in all ways to avoid. I had been thinking up until that point of telling them after I had finished a rotation overseas with a NATO mission in Europe. Yet I jumped the gun and even before I could speak to them about it my entire friends list knew.
I never meant to harm my family especially my parents. I grew up with them as my support and my safe haven in times of trouble. Now due to a thoughtless action on my part I hurt them. Do I regret some of the things in my life, yes, but on the same note I would not change any of it for it has made me the person I am. Above all I wish for people to come to know and judge me not by my sexuality but by who I am as a person. I have come to accept myself for all my imperfections and all I have to offer other people.
I hope that in time my family comes to realize that I am still the same person as I was before they found out. That yes I am gay but it’s a small part of who I am over all. I try so hard to help others and that I have thoughts and opinions that are my own. And most of all I love who I am and where I am at and going with my life.