Growing up I wasn’t like most kids. I was very shy and timid. I kept to myself, and sometimes I was afraid even to speak. Because I was such a timid child, I became an easy target.

Before my parents were married, my dad was in a previous relationship and had two other children. I remember his son, Rodney, came to stay with us at one point in time. I was about 5 at the time, and he was about 20. When my mom was at work, my dad would watch my brother and me, but this particular night I’m not sure where my dad was. I just remember Rodney sitting on my bed. I was standing in the middle of the room. He wasn’t wearing any clothes, and he signaled for me to come sit on his lap. Everything that happened after that moment just became a blur and something that I always kept to myself.

As I grew up and became a teenager and transitioned into an adult, I always wondered if this event in my life shaped who I am today. All of the relationships I’ve had with men never lasted, and the duration of these relationships were very short. When it came to intimacy, I strayed away. It made me feel uncomfortable, so I would just shut down and disappear. I felt broken inside because I felt like something was wrong with me because I couldn’t sustain a connection with these men.

I longed to feel loved and experience intimacy in way that fulfilled me, so I sought out women. My attraction to women began when I was in middle school, but I didn’t act on this attraction until adulthood. When I explored this side of me, I was introduced to a whole new world. The emotions were new and exciting, but the shame and embarrassment I carried kept these feelings hidden. At times, I wondered if these feelings were genuine. Did I find solace in women because I was abused by a man? My life for the next several years were spent wondering if my sexual identity was the product of my life and my experiences or just natural feelings.

It wasn’t until recently did I realize that my continuous questioning of my identity was pointless and unhelpful for my mental and emotional state. Right now I’m in a place in my life where I am tired of trying to figure things out and putting the puzzle pieces together. I’ve been trying to focus on what fulfills me and what brings me a sense of contentment.

I know what I enjoy and what makes me feel comfortable. My feelings may be viewed as unconventional and maybe even wrong, but I know what makes ME feel happy. I haven’t allowed myself to live freely and openly as I want, but I’m in the process of revealing certain parts of who I am. I am learning to be comfortable in my skin and just being me.