This piece is an expressive autobiographical account from one of our blog's newest volunteer writers.
Trigger Warning: The following content discusses frankly the reality of living through abuse and sexual assault, and the realities of PTSD.
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Austin Davis, Documentary
Before I was born, my mother met my step dad at a bar. She fell in love at first sight when my step dad kissed her after she came out the bathroom, and they left the bar together.
By age 8, I knew I like boys. My step dad would pick at me a little bit, but not in an intentional way. He would always tell me: don’t walk like that, don’t talk like that, or quit acting like that.
I lived life on those terms, from 8-13 years old. As I got into middle school, I felt extremely outside myself, as if my soul had left my body. My mom would order me 18 wigs, and I would wear heels with with pants and all sorts of leather jackets and boots. I would get lots of stares and people would be so shocked; like I was a crazy person who had woken up the next day and changed myself, which I would, all throughout 7th grade.
I came back in 8th grade, even more extreme - I would hide my outfits so my mom wouldn’t know what I was wearing during school hours. At the end of the year of 8th grade, I found out there was a talent show. I was the last one to perform at the end of the two hour session.
Backstage, I had a hair stylist do my hair and a clothing stylist pick which outfit goes with which track I would perform out onstage. My friend brought her brother who plays drum and her cousins who play electric guitar. I did a whole free concert.
When I stepped out onto the stage, I was nervous. Everybody went crazy in the crowd when I covered nothing but Lady Gaga songs. As I did her whole album "Born This Way", I saw the boys who had bullied me every day shed tears.
At the end, I took off my leather jacket. Underneath I wore nothing but a short cropped shirt with black studded heels and a leather skirt with diamonds. The shirt said “Trust Yourself” in the front and “Be You” on the back.
I knelt down and took off my wig. Everybody was shocked and the teachers’ eyes lit up, because nobody knew what I looked like without the wigs I would wear on a daily basis.
I took a breath in, then I talked to my audience and gave a very personal speech. I told them “You shouldn’t have to feel pressure to be who you are. I feel like I could be brave for you. So tonight I want you to forget all your insecurities, I want you to reject anything or anyone who ever made you feel like you don’t belong or that you’re no good for anything or anyone, or that you can’t sing well enough, or that you can’t write a song well enough - you just remember that you are BORN THIS WAY.”
Then I performed one last song that meant a lot to me on Lady Gaga's album, the very last track called “Hair”. The meaning behind this song is the ability to be free as your own hair and to be true to your identity and be you as your own person. After I got done, I went backstage and cried.
I knew I needed to cherish that moment because it felt like it would never happen again, as much I would love to do it again. As years passed, I intentionally threw my wigs away, along with my crazy outfits, because I knew I had created somebody I didn't want to be for the rest of my life.
At age 18, I started to want to change myself physically. I started taking hormones to change physically into a female. After 13 months of taking them, I decided to stop taking them.
I realized that I needed to be me, and not have to change myself to be someone I’m not or have to change to be different.
Throughout my life, I have struggled with PTSD. I deal with fear every day and anxiety in public places. Every day, I wake up with a stiffness and pain that brings back the past. As a sexual assault survivor, my experience affected me in so many ways and affected me feeling love from so many that are around me.
Living in an age in which the common and the uncommon are constantly interchanging, I sometimes think everything is my fault or that maybe I deserved whatever happened to me in the past.
I am here today to reach out to the young and old and tell you that you are not alone. I am here for you all the way. Know that assault or the misfortune of tragedy is not your fault. After two years of searching for the answers to my chronic pain and the change I have felt in my brain, I am well enough to tell you that there is a lot of shame attached to mental illness, but it is important that you know that there is hope and a chance at recovery.
When I’m out in public, I always get stares from people in their cars driving by and I think to myself about insecurities, is it me personally.
Today, I woke up confused, lost, stressed, empty. I had no idea what made me felt that way this morning. I felt stuck in my own existence in my bed, like I had no way out and I felt trapped. I tend to doze off a lot, and I feel shallowly connected to my own existence.
When I look back on my life, I don't ever see things as I planned and don't see things about reality, because I was self-conscious about the world. Now I see things as very hard, because the world is the challenge, the biggest challenge that we're all facing.
I feel like my life is a platform. It’s like you want to have a good time, but there’s some pain you have to get through. And there’s stressful times for teenagers; especially with politics, society, the way things have been moving, the chaos in America.
I have had to go through the deepest part of my life. The part that I didn’t want to face. For the past two years, I have gone through a lot of pain. You leave yourself behind in a way.
The truth is I can always bring my past with me, that little boy who loves music. But I can never go back. I know my life will never be the same. I'm letting go of the person who I was before. Not letting go of me today, that's not what I mean.
What I mean is that my life is different now. I can’t walk down the street and be me. People are not interested in speaking to me about real human things like I am to you, whoever is behind this screen. And they don't want to know about superficial things.
I have to recognize myself. I have been feeling unsafe in my own body since the assault when I was 18, especially because when I leave the house, there’s people touching me, or yelling. But lately, I have been opening up about this.
My body doesn’t know the difference between a normal touch and being sexual assaulted, and it’s just something inside me that I have to work on every day.
I’m here every day on the internet; the internet is just like an earth in a way. We’re going to destroy it, it is dead, it’s noise, it’s like an toilet, it’s a garbage can where you can’t sort between what’s real and what’s not.
I’m watching all these kids dying every day in the world and I hop on the internet and it’s bunch of garbage, of the truth. I see that people are doing crazy things; shootings, rape, etc. When I see anything that is related to these things, I feel embarrassed to be a human on this earth.
But I enjoy talking to intellectual people at The Center who I can call friends, discussing or having conversations as humans, talking about something that actually matters. I feel that The Center is my cave. I don’t want to leave it, and when I do leave it’s like leaving the real me behind and like I've ended up leaving as somebody who I don’t want to be.
All these mixed emotions, and feeling all these different types of emotions - it worries me because where did these emotions come from? They broke into something that I own ( My Body). And I want them gone.
As I am moving my life forward, I do also have positive aspects and hope even though I know it will be hard.
Always remember to fight for what you believe in. You’ll be surprised at how much stronger you are as a person.
To end this documentary: if you have no shadows, then you are not in the light.
about the author
Austin Lee Davis is an Italian and Cherokee mix Caucasian whose passion is writing, both the written word and music. He cares about his community and works to be a spokesperson for it. He was born in Bakersfield, California and raised in the Bronx, New York City.
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