So I couldn't decide if I wanted to post my story or not. There's the relief of having it out there for anyone to read, having it no longer be a secret, but then writing it down kind of sucks because then you have to go through the whole thing again in your mind, you know? Not that I don't do that all the time, anyway.

I was raised Catholic, very Catholic, going to church several times a week, never missing Sunday Mass--my mother even has her own kneeler for her prayer and she does a full rosary every day. And I know a lot of people say that as kids they felt stifled by the Catholic church, but I never did--I felt at home there and very comfortable with the rules and teachings. But I also felt different, even though I couldn't quite put my finger on it until I was in fifth or sixth grade.

I realized when my friends were talking and starting to brag about kissing girls that I wanted to kiss other guys. I'd never liked girls as anything other than friends, but I had crazy crushes on my male friends, and that bothered me. I wanted to know if it was normal, if it was OK, so of course I went to the church, to the priest who I'll call Fr. Steven here, because he was my friend and I knew he wouldn't get mad at me for how I felt. He was the "cool" priest, the young one who played basketball with us and talked to us like we were his equals instead of just sixth grade kids. So I told him how I felt, that I didn't like girls, that I wanted to hold hands with other guys, kiss them even. And he said it was OK as he was getting ready to put his hands on me.

I'm not going to go into details, but at first he was pretty gentle with me and even though I hated it I knew it couldn't be abuse--I mean, it's not like he was physically hurting me or anything, and besides, I'd already told him that I was attracted to men so what did I expect? But I found out that his gentleness was just a way to make me trust him, to lure me in deep enough so he could do what he wanted. He got violent and extremely abusive, sometimes I think the things he said to me hurt me more than the rapes ever could.

And, of course, I internalized everything. It was all my fault--I believed it, and he told me enough times that I had started it, that I wanted it, that I deserved it. I tried to stay away as much as possible, but it was so hard--I'd get into screaming matches with my parents about not wanting to go to church, and I couldn't tell them the truth about why I didn't want to go. And my mother would send me to him so that he could talk to me about not wanting to go to church, which made him even more abusive. She didn't know, of course, but I hated her anyway.

It felt like I didn't have control over anything, especially over my own body, so I exerted control. I was actually proud of myself when I could make myself go without food for a day, two, three--I felt strong and in control for the first time. I felt defiant. I started cutting myself, which created even more shame than the abuse but it was such a relief to do, it was like it depressurized the situation. I think maybe it was also a way to punish myself for the abuse, since it was my fault (in my mind).

By the time I was 14 I was only eating a quarter cup of cereal a day, sometimes with an apple slice, sometimes without. I ended up passing out in school and got taken to the hospital and the whole thing got crazy--my parents were hysterical when they found out I hadn't been eating. The cuts that I'd done such a good job of hiding were noticed by the doctors, of course, and my parents were hysterical over that, too. They sent me to a shrink who, with my help, decided that I was doing these things because my Mom had cancer (she's fine now, thanks for asking). So the symptoms were treated, but I never told the truth about the abuse and I just tried to tell myself it never happened. After the hospital he never tried to touch me again--I think maybe he was scared at how messed up I was and was afraid that he'd get caught because of it.

And for awhile I could almost convince myself that nothing had happened. I got a couple girlfriends and played sports and hung out with my friends like a normal guy would, only I knew every second that I wasn't normal. At partied I used to look around at my friends and think, "If you only knew the things I've done..." I got a (secret) boyfriend for the first time my senior year, but I freaked out on him and we broked up in a really bad way. I already drank a lot with my friends and used drugs socially, but during the breakup (I drew it out for months before I finally let him go) things got really out of control. I started cutting again, I stopped eating, only I knew how to do it so that I wouldn't pass out again, that no one would know. I did any drug anybody set in front of me--I think it's easier to count the days I was sober that year than the days I was high. I was in a continual fight with my parents over my grades, my attitude, the fact that I'd be gone sometimes for days at a time. They found out that I was gay "accidentally" (they'd been tapping my phone line to see if I was on drugs and overheard me talking to my boyfriend) and my home life was one gigantic screaming match.

I was going home with any guy who expressed a desire to be with me, drinking anything they gave me, smoking or snorting or taking whatever. It didn't matter what it was as long as it made me disappear from myself for awhile. And then, in the middle of a cocaine nosebleed I had this moment where I saw my life so clearly. I don't know if it was the drugs or an angel on my shoulder or maybe just the right neurons firing in my brain but everything was calm in my mind for the first time in a really long time. And I looked around and knew, really knew from my gut, that I had to stop or I'd die. That the secret I was keeping was eating me from the inside out.

Not that stopping my addictions was easy, but it got easier after I started telling the truth. Not that telling the truth was easy, either--the first time I told anyone I actually threw up. But it's been two years now and I'm at the point where I actually have good days--before I was just hoping for a not-miserable day, a good day was too much to ask for.

--Janos