Basically, how I ended up the way I am.
I don't really know where to start- the best place would be the summer in between sixth and seventh grade. I'd been spending the night at a friend's house, and when I came home, my parents were having an argument. And not just an 'I'm-angry-at-you-but-we'll-kiss-and-make-up-later' argument, oh no. This was an 'I-want-to-murder-you-with-an-icepick' type of argument. It was actually a onesided argument, I think. The details are still a bit hazy, but I remember that my mother was screaming at my father. I couldn't make out everything she said, but I know I heard 'lying bastard', 'How could you just use me like this?', and a slew of other things that only managed to confuse the hell out of me. And he just stood there, staring at the floor.
"Mom? Dad? What's going on?" I had asked.
"Nothing, honey," Dad said, still not looking up from the floor. "Go up to your room, okay? One of us will come talk to you in a little bit."
I was still confused, but I headed to my bedroom anyway. I still heard my mom yelling, the only difference was that it was a little less clear what she was saying. At one point, I distinctly heard the sound of somebody being slapped, and hard at that.
By that point, I was scared out of my mind. Had my father gotten tired of the yelling and hit my mother? I'd heard of such things happening before, mainly when it happened to another girl in my grade's parents.
There were a thousand thoughts running through my head at once. What should I do? Is he going to hit me too? I'd never recalled feeling as much fear as I did then.
Not long after the slap, the fighting ceased, and moments later, my dad was sitting on the edge of my bed. I was frightened of what he was going to do until I realized that it was him who had been slapped, not my mother.
"Why was mom yelling at you?" I questioned him.
He looked rather sad. "Your mother and I are getting a divorce."
And with that one sentence, the world as I knew it came crashing down around me.
"But I want to know!"
"Well, okay. I guess you deserve to know what's going on." He took a deep breath, looking as though he didn't really want to explain this to me. "The reason we're getting divorced is because I've realized that I'm gay."
I wasn't quite sure what to say, and so I simply didn't speak.
"Yaz? Sweetheart, please say something," Dad said after a while, sounding concerned.
I still had no clue what to say, so I blurted out the first thing that came to mind. "I think I should be mad at you because mom is, but I'm not."
All my father did was lean over and wrap me into a tight hug. It lasted for a while, and it was nice. He pulled away after a while, ruffled my hair, and said, "I love you, Yasmine. Very, very much. And that won't ever change, okay?"
"Okay." I said back.
He smiled sadly at me and left the room.
The next few weeks were incredibly stressful. Dad had been offered a job in Portland, Oregon which he accepted, meaning that he'd be moving all the way to the other side of the country. The divorce case had closed as quickly as it opened.
But the main problem I had was my mother. When dad came out to her, something changed drastically. She was no longer the kind, cheery woman I had known all my life. She had grown bitter, cruel, and angry at the world.
It wasn't long before she took up drinking. And it wasn't much longer that she became violent.
She would never leave any marks that could potentially be seen by others; that woman was a lot of things, but stupid wasn't one of them. She'd tell me that it was all my fault, that if it weren't for me, she and my dad would still be together. At first, I tried to point out that it wasn't my fault she married a gay man, but that only made her angrier. Plus, it's never good to try and reason with a drunk. You won't win the argument unless they pass out before it's over.
By that time, school had started, and it was also hell.
I was bullied, but thankfully not much. The problem was that I was invisible. Not because I was shy or anything- I wasn't, it was just that people barely noticed I was there. I would get walked into, people would ask me if I was new at the beginnings of every school year, you get the picture.
About a month into the school year, the classroom phone rang. My math teacher talked for a bit and then hung up. He told me that I needed to go to the office, and that I probably wouldn't be coming back to that particualr school again. Puzzled and a bit scared, I got my stuff together and moseyed on down to the office, where my father was waiting for me. Apparently, he'd been able to get custody of me and I was going to live with him in Portland. I don't think I'd ever been so happy.
However, that happiness was short lived. The minute I walked into my new school, I was immediately labeled a freak.
It wasn't like I didn't realize that was possible. After all, I was the tallest person in my class, I liked books more than boys, and I dressed differently than my peers did. The boys wore t-shirts with stupid sayings and jeans so damned baggy that their ass was on display for the whole world to see, and the girls ran around in tank tops and skimpy shorts. Meanwhile, I was deeply in love with the clothes of the past. I'd save up all my allowance, and at the end of the month, I would either buy myself books, or more likely, raid the local vintage clothing stores, since we only lived a block away from the library.
And then there was the icing on the cake of social exile, better known as my hair.
After several weeks of debate and careful consideration, dad had agreed to let me dye my mousy brown pageboy a bright shade of turquoise.
Oh, how I loved it. It made me feel strangely more confident. But my new classmates didn't like my look at all, and I spent that year getting insulted, being tripped in hallways, and generally treated like shit. I'll be honest, it didn't bother me much at first. I figured that if I acted as though their actions didn't hurt me, they'd eventually get bored and leave me alone. Unfortunately, my plan failed.
I didn't tell anyone, instead choosing to suffer in silence. I gradually grew more and more depressed, and while I'm pretty sure was worried about me, he didn't know what was going on.
A few months before I moved in with my dad, he'd started seeing this guy he worked with. His name was Lucas and he was seven years younger than my dad, but it didn't matter at all because it would have taken an idiot to be unable to see that they were madly in love with each other. I liked Lucas quite a lot. Not only did he make my father the happiest I'd seen him in years, he was also kind and smart and witty as hell, and just a great guy in general.
One morning, when I was at what had to be one of my lowest points, dad had to go to work early and wasn't able to drive me to school. So instead, Lucas picked me up. He wasn't a very talkative person, and while he chatted with me a little bit, we generally didn't say much to each other. But he was even quieter than usual, which I though was weird.
Anyway, since he wasn't in the mood for conversation, I focused on the music he was playing at a low volume.
And boy, was I amazed by what I heard, especially one lyric in particular.
I am not afraid to keep on living, I am not afraid to walk this world alone.
"What's this music?" I asked Lucas as soon as the song was over, gesturing to one of the speakers.
"They're called My Chemical Romance. They've helped me through a lot of stuff. Why, do you like it?"
I nodded. "Very much."
On the rest of the way, he let me listen to the album, which I learned was called The Black Parade. A few days later, I asked if he could make me copies of the rest of their albums, which he was happy to do. It didn't take long for me to fall head over heels in love with the band. Their lyrics inspired me, gave me this burning desire to do and create and live.
Hearing MCR's music made me realize that I wanted to get involved in it as well, and so I joined my school's marching band, where I made some of the most wonderful friends a person could ask for. And one day, I was walking through the hallway, humming 'I'm Not Okay' to myself, when a shy, quiet boy who I'd never really spoken stopped me and said, "Hey, is that My Chemical Romance?" I answered that yes, it was indeed My Chemical Romance. That boy and I went on to become best friends.
Of course, the bullying didn't stop, but I suddenly found it much easier to survive.
My name is Yasmine Margaret Johansen, and I am not afraid to keep on living.