Thursday, April 7, 2011

Three Years On

Today marks the third anniversary of my debut on Blogger, an event that, encouraged by a generous mentor and driven by my own relentless need to share, would prove to have a major impact on me. Blogging marked a shift in the way I viewed my life and consequently in the way I lived it; in a way that mere journaling could not, it forced me examine myself in a critical, accountable manner.

Most of this was because I had an audience.

A diarist may pour his heart and soul into his writings, but generally speaking those writings are seen by no one but himself and whatever progress he derives from them comes exclusively by way of reflection.

A blogger, however, benefits from many voices. Those voices add to one he puts forth, shape his narrative arc with support, advice, and, when needed, gentle criticism.

I have been routinely touched and amazed by the number of people who take the time to read what I say and then share thoughts of their own. I am often surprised to look at my statistics page and see that I've received visitors from all across the United States and from as far away as Malaysia, Australia, France, Germany, and Britain. That is deeply heartening.

Both longtime friends and more recent ones have been a valued part of this experience. Your input helped me understand when I was doing something wrong. It also helped me realize truths I needed to see: that being gay was nothing to be ashamed of, that self-acceptance was beautiful, that the abuse perpetrated on me during my childhood was completely wrong and utterly inexcusable.

Thank you for that.

As always, no commemoration of this day would be complete without my acknowledging the debt I owe to Jo(e).

This phenomenal woman is a testament to what good parenting and good living can and should be. I first encountered her when I was a nineteen-year-old college sophomore just beginning to work through serious emotional problems, and our correspondence not only led directly to my establishing this blog but also constituted a major revelation.

Before I met Jo(e), I'd experienced precious little in the way of wisdom, kindness, or understanding from my elders. Most of them had earned nothing but my contempt. Then along came this intelligent, giving English professor filled to bursting with empathy, this person who showed me what a real grown-up was supposed to look like. She was a successful professional, a lovely writer, and managed to be a wonderful mother to her children while still nurturing herself.

Her example gave me something to aspire to. It gave me hope.

And for that, I will always hold her in the highest regard I am able to convey.

Thanks as always, Jo(e). You played a bigger part in my turnaround than I think you realize.

For a turnaround indeed occurred.

If there's one thing this blog has chronicled, it is a path of immense change. The nineteen-year-old boy who opened his first post by marking himself blackened has gone away, a phantom of misery and suffering that I doubt I'd be able to recognize today. I have progress left to make, but the life I lead now is defined by laughter, by smiles and affection and plenty. It's a good life, one I strive to make better.

So, for those of you who don't know (or perhaps would like to be reacquainted), my name is BrightenedBoy, but you can call me BB. BrightenedBoy was my second pseudonym, one I adopted when I discarded the initial moniker BlackenedBoy. For a long time I felt that this shift to the lighter BB was a natural one that was good for me to make, but as I've reflected on it I've come to believe that I should have remained BlackenedBoy. I am not a one-dimensional creature composed solely of happiness, for the trauma of what I endured still forms the mold of everything I am, even in my times of joy. That's not a bad thing, either. I have been BrightenedBoy for a long time now, though, and BrightenedBoy I will remain.

I am twenty-two years old, and currently a college student at a major university in the American South, where I'm studying political science and journalism. For a variety of reasons I will graduate in December of 2011, a year and a half later than originally intended. That can be mostly attributed to my adding a minor to my degree in 2009 and taking a semester off from school in 2010 to pursue an opportunity with a major record label.

When I'm not in school, I live with my parents, David and Marie (not actual names). They also reside in Southern State, along with two of my three siblings: Thomas (aged 15), and Pie (my sister, aged 7). My cousin, Beautiful Cousin (aged 20), attends a university close to my parents' home and stays with us so she can commute. They are all about an hour and a half away from my university’s campus, where they live in Mountain Town, a rural and isolated community remarkably cut-off from the extremely affluent area immediately to its east (the Goldlands).

Another brother, Powell (aged 21) now lives in Western City as he works through the consequences of some very bad decisions.

My profile picture for 2011 was taken last summer, when I went to visit a fellow blogger in Marble City. It shows me as I like to be, in shorts and a tee-shirt, with soft heat on my shoulders and a golden sun illuminating my flaxen hair. I'd like to think that it will be a fitting symbol for the next twelve months.

And now, a year in review:

April, 2010: I turned twenty-two years old and was presented by my friends with a poster bearing the name of then Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele.

May, 2010: I left Local Records. I also concluded my spring semester at Major University. Though I did not know it, it would be the last time I was enrolled until the following January.

June, 2010: I began a public relations internship at Major University and also started work at the Mountain Town Book Shop.

July, 2010: I wiled away countless days with Laquesha and Norwegian, two close friends from Major University who happened to be in the Mountain Town area for the summer.

August, 2010: Suddenly and very unexpectedly, I was presented with a huge opportunity from a major record label that was considering extending me a recording contract.

September, 2010: At the very end of the month, I was informed that the record executives who'd been considering me and with whom I'd met had decided not to offer me a deal.

October, 2010: Major domestic discord and a violent incident with my mother led me to essentially stop speaking to my parents. During this time I was happy to get away to Major University, where I made several weekend trips to party with my friends.

November, 2010: I registered for spring classes at Major University.

January, 2011: I resumed classes at Major University.

February, 2011: I moved onto campus after commuting from Mountain Town for nearly a month, and was lucky to find a genuine friend in Patrick, my new roommate.

March, 2011: I began searching for literary agency internships in the Goldlands region for the summer.

Thank you for being here for me, whether it's been for three years or only a few weeks, and thank you for allowing me to be here for you. For what you share, on your sites and on mine, I am very grateful.

Being a member of your community has been a privilege.


Just me said...

This is so great! I've only been blogging for about 6 months and already I can see what an impact it's having - 3 years must make an amazing difference! I'm glad you've come so far, and also that you have a way to SEE how far you've come :)

laura b. said...

I, too, have found the input of fellow bloggers to be extremely helpful. I have always loved writing, but bringing my thoughts to blogging is a very singular experience.

I guess you and I have been acquainted here for about a year? During that time, I've so enjoyed your comments to me and reading your honest and insightful posts.

I'm glad you Brightened...and I don't think anyone could mistake your for one dimensional. Keep on keeping on, BB!

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

This was so well written. I have been around Blogland for about 18 months now and I've been following your journey almost since I arrived. I have seen huge changes in you. You have gone from angry and sad, to hopeful and your spirit feels so much lighter. I know you still have some things to work on, but don't we all? Think how boring life would be if we didn't.

I look forward to following along for more of the ride...congrats on the 3 years:)


secret agent woman said...

I treasure the support I get from the blog community. I guess that's why nearly five years later, I'm still at it.

jo(e) said...

Aw, I was offline when you wrote this so I'm just reading it now.

It's been so wonderful to watch your growth over these last three years.

naturgesetz said...

It's great to have this summary. I think I found your blog about the time you changed your name to Brightened Boy. Progress is never uninterrupted, but I'm happy for all the positives in your life.