Vera

“I bet you thought you’d gotten rid of me.”

Vera smirks, she perches onto her dusty, tattered thrown. It’s almost as old as I am, because Vera is the name of my anxiety and she’s been with me for as long as I can remember now.

Vera is an elf like creature. She’s tiny and I should be able to fight her, but I can’t and it kills me that she’s so powerful.

Vera is in my brain and in my heart. She’s in my chest and my stomach, my hands, my legs, my eyes. She is wherever she wants to be, and she knows she can take over me.

Vera’s hair is black and matted and her skin is greying. Her clothing is torn and she looks battered after all these years, and all my failed attempts to drown her out. I never succeed.

Vera’s voice is the part that fills me with dread the most. It’s louder than ever now, she demands to be heard. She screams and screams and screams over anything left of the rational thought process I’d tried so hard to build up. She will be heard. She knows how to get to me.

Her voice goes in waves and whirls until it fills my head and I feel it all the way down to my throat, and it’s choking me.

Vera gets angry with me, she’s screaming now. Was I incapable of looking out for myself? How had I let this happen? Why would I put myself in a vulnerable position? She says that now she’s back to protect me, to stop harm from coming my way.

Vera clicks her wicked fingers, her long black fingernails are touching my own and now suddenly, there’s pins and needles. I can’t feel my hands, and then it’s my feet and I’m trapped.

I’m stuck and I can’t get out and I just sit and I listen to Vera punishing me.

I let myself get like this.

This is my fault.

Why hadn’t I been afraid?

Vera asks me what’s wrong. When I won’t tell her, she yells at me. She yells at the top of her lungs and although she’s so small, her roar makes my whole body shake and I can’t stop.

I tell her what’s upset me, begrudgingly. She shakes her head and glares at me with bloodshot eyes, her pupils a sea of blackness into her dark soul. “Your fault,” she shrieks.

Her shrieking brings a tear to my eye, and another one, and another one, and another one, and they won’t stop and it could be hours before they do and that’s the scary part.

Vera wants more answers and she knows she’s got control of me now. She knows I can’t give in and give her the rational answer, even if I want to.

“There’s no point.”

“You can never fix this.”

“It can only go wrong.”

“She hates you. Why shouldn’t she?”

Now she’s clip-clop, clip-clopping on my heart with her spikey leather boots. She’s kicking and she’s thrashing and now she’s down on all fours and I swear this is the time she’s going to give me a heart attack and I’m going to die.

Vera screams that everyone is out to hurt me and that everyone secretly hates me, and I wonder if she knows how much I hate her now.

Vera flutters down towards my lungs and my stomach churns and she smirks at me. She knows that she has me under her spell now, and she’s cackling. She tells me I’m worthless and she asks me a question,

“Why would anyone want to be around you?”

She screams and screams and screams, and she won’t stop and I can’t think and she’s tricked me once again.

She knows she’s the winner; she’s always the winner.

She squeezes my lungs and a heavy black cloud weighs down my chest and my throat closes up and I can’t breathe anymore. I’m hyperventilating now and I can’t make it stop and all I can hear is this screeching inside of my head,

“This is your fault.”

“You’re so stupid.”

“You’re pathetic.”

My ears are ringing and it drowns everything out. The sound of my friend trying to calm me down and the rational thoughts are all washed away with every breath that I struggle to take. I know she’s won, again.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

Then sometimes there’s a thud, and my exhausted body collapses onto the cold, hard floor. Often it feels like the easier route because for a moment my eyes black out, and I can’t hear, and I have peace for just a few moments. Its peace, all the same.

And eventually the short staggered breaths even out, but the tears keep flowing and my body is full of this emptiness.

Now Vera is staring, beady eyed at my hunched over limp, lifeless body and she shakes her head and asks,

“Who wants to deal with an anxious mess like you?”

She turns away and I think that’s the end but somehow, somehow in between my sobs she finds the space to hurt me one last time.

Vera squeezes me tightly, her claws digging into my skin so hard that her words are left like tiny scars on my arm. She says,

“Don’t let this happen again.”

Now I’m alone with my thoughts, and Vera’s words keep swirling through my mind; I know she’s wrong but she always manages to take over me. Vera knows I’m afraid of putting myself into a position where she’ll come back again. She knows I’ll avoid facing my fears.

She knows she’s the winner; she’s always the winner.

Stop flaunting your sexuality

Why is there a need to validate our sexuality in this day and age? Why is there even a need to come out at all? Why can’t we just love who we want to love, be with whoever we want to be with? Why is it assumed that we’re all born heterosexual, with young girls being told that one day they’ll find their Prince; oblivious to the fact that for some it might actually be a Princess? Because it’s 2016 Ireland, and although people think we’ve made leaps and bounds since the Yes vote in the marriage referendum, we haven’t come that far yet.

We understand what it means to be straight, and we understand what it means to be gay. For decades we’ve been campaigning for gay rights, proclaiming that gay people were born this way and were not able to change their sexuality. Eventually, people began to accept that others were gay. They did not entirely understand it, but they got their head around the concept. Then along came bisexuality; people were finally comfortable coming out and admitting that they were attracted to more than one sex. There are many different sexualities out there, and it’s up to each individual to find onelesbian that fits their preference (or they may choose not to label themselves at all). We’re now aware that heterosexuality isn’t as “normal” as we once thought, so why is there still a need to say, “I’m gay.”?

After the success of the marriage referendum, some may think that the process of coming out is way too dramatized. That it shouldn’t be a case of proclaiming, “Look at me, I’m different!” When really, nobody actually cares and you’re not that different at all. It seems that now, if you come out people are thinking “What’s the fuss about?” Because it’s just another gay, bisexual or queer person. We know so many of them now, and that’s amazing. Coming out should not be dramatic, nobody wants it to be. But for many people, it is.

As much as we like to tell ourselves that the world is a kind, loving and accepting place, sometimes it just isn’t. Yes, people have become more accepting of the LGBTQ community since the marriage referendum, but we still have a long way to go. People seem to forget that, although our generation are overwhelmingly accepting, some of the older generation are still alive, kicking and not too happy about same-sex relationships. There are parents out there with a “not on my doorstep” attitude, and small town syndrome is still prevalent all over the country.

When young people come out these days, it can still be dramatic. They go into it knowing that they could lose some of their best friends and closest family members, and for some of them, they do. You might think it’s not that big of a deal because your family voted Yes in the marriage referendum, but for some people coming out, it’s a huge deal. And granted that it all goes well, that your family say they still love you and your friends couldn’t care less: if you’ve waited 23 years to come out and you’re finally comfortable with your sexuality, it’s a big thing. You should be able to celebrate that without complaints that you’re making a fuss.

There have head shaking and sighs about LGBTQ people throwing their gayness in your face since the beginning of time. What started with “I don’t mind gays, but I hate when they flaunt it” has turned to the likes of “I’m not judging you because you’re gay, I’m judging you know because you’re talking abolesbian3ut it on social media” as time has gone by. And what that boils down to is this; you are flaunting your non heterosexual sexuality by coming out and being visible. By having a presence, and letting people know that, “Hello, I’m Laura. I’m 26, I’m a nurse, and I’m gay.”

Ask an LGBTQ person about why they make such a big deal out of their same-sex relationship and you’ll get the same answer as you would from any heterosexual couple. When you’re in a relationship with somebody, they become a big part of your life. You’re proud of the person they are, you want to show them off and show others that you are together. It’s normal.

It’s not about flaunting anything. It’s wanting to show affection to your partner, to let them know that you appreciate and care about them. It’s about kissing them goodbye outside of the car, rather than hiding away inside. It’s about being comfortable holding your partners hand in public, just because you want to be close to them. It’s not a statement, and it shouldn’t be.closet

Ideally, we would love to live in a world where nobody had a problem with the LGBTQ community. But unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet. This is why people still feel the need to “come out”, to label themselves and this is why sometimes the process is still quite dramatic. We don’t want it to be, but in reality, it is. And until there comes a time where we have complete acceptance of the LGBTQ community, some feel that they have to ensure they are visible. That they can say, we’re here; we are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, pansexual, and whatever else. They still have to remind people that they exist.

The generation below us need to see that LBGT people are here, that LBGT people are visible, and most importantly that LGBT people are normal. They need to have someone to relate to, whether it’s a family friend or a famous Youtuber that they can identify with. With visibility comes the breaking of stereotypes, like the camp gay man and the big butch lesbian. It can only get better from here, but we have to be patient.

As much as we all want coming out to be a thing of the past, we need to respect that for some people it’s still a huge deal. Until it’s a thing of the past, the LGBTQ community will still feel the need to validate their sexuality. Because once upon a time, they had somebody they looked up to and thought, “He/she is just like me.” Maybe they want to help somebody too.