via HuffPost Gay Voices, by Troy Roness
But dark clouds gathered in the distance of my sky, and I had no idea a "perfect storm" would soon begin my Stepford-like existence.
For the first 16 years of my life, I was exposed to emotional trauma at home and bullying and teasing in school, and I became very good at trying to make everyone happy.
I wore many hats when tackling my ever-changing surroundings. My mother always instilled in me that there was nothing I couldn't do. I was always encouraged.
Sure, my parents pushed for solid academics, but like all parents, they wanted me to succeed. I embraced being respectful to everyone I was surrounded by and used humor to attract attention in an attempt to separate myself from my insecurities.
I played every sport possible and was even named "Senior Athlete of the Year." However, this "jock" was nervous, hated his looks, and was forced into internal seclusion despite his outward demeanor.
I never realized I was struggling. Everything I was feeling, good, bad, or otherwise, was simply pushed down and nearly unnoticeable.
Fortunately, I was introduced to faith, true faith, during my teen years and embraced all it had to offer. The Lord took my heart at the age of 18 and never let it go. I'll never blame my faith for obstacles I've endured. In fact, it's what keeps me going through the most difficult of times.
Staring at myself in a mirror, I internalized my shame, guilt, and insecurities. I believed my appearance defined my existence.
The perfect grades, the perfect body, and appearing flawless would somehow make me complete. I've learned, though, that we aren't mean to be "perfect"; we're meant to be whole.
College is everyone's opportunity to be free, thrive on their own, and separate from their roots, right? Well, with no idea of where life would take me, I spiraled into an addiction to exercise, paired with anorexia -- aka "eating disorder not otherwise specified," or EDNOS.
Yes. I'm a guy with an eating disorder, a jock, a Christian... and gay. One of the major contributors to my illness was the internal fight where faith was my guide and being gay was incredibly wrong.
However, I could never simply throw it away and believe that's why I've struggled for so long.
In an appearance on Dr. Phil in 2009, I sought help and endured six months of residential treatment to begin my recovery. I addressed emotional trauma, my parents' divorce, perfectionism, self-hate, bullying, and family alcoholism.
However, throughout that time, and even the year after, I never addressed the internalized homophobia that manifested out of my desire to please God.
Contrary to popular belief, eating disorders aren't about looking good. Through extreme exercise and trying to control what I could, the physical, I nearly killed myself, twice, by pushing my body to the brink, enduring self-punishment and starvation.
I've drawn my own conclusions about the responses I'll receive concerning my sexuality: avoidance, hatred, acknowledgment, and pity. Just FYI, I'll take any of those responses but pity. It's taken so long to be where I am and to find my voice, so I'll never regret the journey here.
Telling a few loved ones that I'm gay has been interesting, but most people who know me are learning this for the first time as they read this piece. Aug. 31, 2010 was a first step.
On that day I received the craziest response: acceptance. That's the response I'd feared. Odd, right? Even more terrifying, though, was that that person had "wondered" about my sexuality for some time.
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