Year 10 was the year I began to think (mostly deny) that there was every chance I could be gay.

Not like Kookaburra-in-the-old-gum-tree gay but like proper omg-I-can’t-get-married gay. I can remember every torturous day of this painful and somewhat enlightening journey, so I’m about to tell you everything. Strap in (on) and get ready for the (p)ride of your life.

*Cue dreamy harp music*

I’m 15, lying in my cushiony double bed. The right side of the bed is full of clothes, the left side full of me. My laptop is on my chest and I am lightly dusted with the crumbs of the salt and vinegar family size chips I totally just annihilated. I’ve felt achy for a while–not a physical ache but the ache that settles in your core.

I’m on Tumblr to see every other angst-filled tween being sorrowful about their life and a gif of two girls kissing comes up on my dashboard. My face flushes red even though there is absolutely no one in sight. (If there was I’m sure they’d be more concerned about the extreme posture problems I’d have five years later–can confirm.)

The two girls are from Glee, the TV series I’ve made fun of for too long. I watch an episode. And then six more. And then I slam my laptop shut when I hear the front door open. Firstly, my face is red AGAIN. Secondly,  I think ‘omg how have I not moved in almost five hours?’ then I think ‘f#ck I didn’t get the meat out of the freezer,’ and then I think ‘wait, I’m watching a show about a musical high school –  play it cool damn it’.

And play it cool I did, for two whole years after that day. I went on a few dates with boys and kissed them too. With each boy, I repressed it even more. Until the whole boy thing wasn’t working. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t help but eye-roll every time they messaged me or called me or held my hand at school. This stuff was draining and so painful. I couldn’t love these people despite my efforts–and theirs.

With flowers, gifts and drawings they’d rock up at my door step to ask why I wasn’t replying or what they’d done wrong. I was heartbroken for them. I hadn’t admitted this to myself yet, so how were they meant to understand? This sh*t was whack and to date that is my biggest life regret–having people caught in my crossfire.

But then I dated a girl and we kissed and I finally got the breath back that I was completely unaware I’d been holding in for so long. I thought I was broken and totally incapable of liking anyone and then this girl life-slapped me in the face. We didn’t last very long, but I don’t think we were meant to. She gave me my first real life ‘ah ha’ moment, which is more than many people can do for anyone.

Then we arrive at April 2, 2015, the day I told my mum I liked girls because now I was sure. I was scared as hell. My breakfast was rising in my throat and my pulse was visible in my neck. I told her. I sobbed. I said sorry. She called me dumb for apologising and then was offended that I thought she didn’t know (something about ruining her street cred with knowing everything about everyone). And then she said ‘I couldn’t do it for you, baby. That was all on you.’

It was all on me. It was my decision and that’s how I chose to do it. I chose to wait until I was ready and until I was sure. My sigh of relief was epic. I honestly didn’t know my lungs had that capacity. I wasn’t broken!!! I was capable of love!!! I felt the most normal I had ever in my entire life!!! I love exclamation marks!!!

I took my time; explored a little, spent A LOT of time in my own head and listened to my instincts. When I think about how miserable and negative and completely arrogant I was in Year 10, I can’t help but wet myself. I was such a naïve kid with no idea what the ‘future’ even meant. And every time an ‘adult’ told me that it gets better–I wanted to elbow them in the nose. I’m happy now and if I could find 15 year old me under all of those salt and vinegar crumbs, I think I’d just let her know that the dumb ‘adults’ were right.

If you related to even one sentence in this whole sh*t storm of a piece, you’re not doing any of this alone. I wish I knew that five years ago.

by the courageous Ashleigh Brooks