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I timed my breathing to the incessant ticking of some antique clock to my left. Just five more minutes. I was almost free. “...So do you understand now? You need to choose God. To choose right.”
I breathe shakily, my heart pumping, my face red, barely holding back tears. He was wrong. My sexuality isn’t a choice. It’s natural. And if the Bible says that’s wrong, then I’m an atheist too, and my parents will have to deal with that as well. “You’re wrong.” I choked out. “There’s nothing wrong with me!” I screamed, covering my face with my hands.
He didn’t speak for a long minute, my whole frame trembling. “It’s alright, it’s only our first session. I’ll see you again on Thursday, and we’ll talk more about you. About how you began to have these thoughts, and what influenced you to feel that way, okay?”
I only nodded. I was too numb. Too emotionally exhausted. I needed sleep.
A month later sleep was no longer enough to rid me of the heavy exhaustion I felt after every session. Every word that man burned into me was like one of his cold hands settling on my shoulder, intent on being comforting but it only made me sick. I stopped socialising. Stopped speaking to my parents because they simply didn’t understand what they were doing to me. I cried myself to sleep every night, not knowing who I could turn to or when this torture would end. I soon learned even my friends were enemies.
I tried talking to my best friend. They were always understanding. I didn’t think it could get any worse. “I, I need to tell you something.”
“Does it have to do with why you’ve been so depressed lately?”
“Yeah, kinda...Well, I’m gay. I came out to my parents a couple months ago, and they started sending me to conversion therapy...It’s awful. Sometimes, I want to kill myself.” I stumble at the end, cradling my head in my hands and letting my sleeves soak up my tears. It’s silent, no ticking of a clock to tell me how long it’s been.
An awkward palm on my shoulder. “It’s okay, I’m sure the therapy will help. Just tough it out, and soon enough you’ll be normal again, yeah?”
The word normal echos in my head even now, holding my backpack against my front as the trucker beside me keeps his eyes on the road respectfully. “Kid, I won’t try to lecture you or anything, but just be safe out there, okay?”
“Trust me, nothing can be worse than where I came from.” And I’ll never look back.