I got an invite to come back to Michigan for a Christmas party from my aunt. It brought back memories of hanging out with my family. However, it also brought out some frustrations, mainly from a socially conservative lifestyle to delayed progress in my life. I politely declined (mainly since I already had plans to go to California for Christmas).
I live in Nevada now and moved out three years ago, mainly to start a new life. At the time, I was frustrated with the lack of direction in my birth state, from having a job to a lovelife. I needed something different and made the move, packing everything in my car.
That invitation resonated with me because I'm trying to let go of my past. Numerous failed relationships, struggles throughout my schooling, and difficulties finding an excellent job led me to start over. This invitation would've brought back those memories (and burned through plenty of money).
Traumatic relationships involving broken trust, bullying and anti-LGBT language, and numerous fights led to me leaving. There were even some fights within my family that hurt my soul. At times, I've done these things myself, but I express remorse and regret over these incidents.
To put it into perspective, 32% of LGBT students are bullied on school property every year. 26.6% are cyberbullied, with both statistics being more than 10% than their straight peers (17.1% on school property and 14.1% online, respectively).
That's why I didn't want to go. Starting over can be done by people of all ages. Whether you're 18 or 65, it's never too late to change. I wanted a fresh start in my life with a quality job, which I finally have.
Plus, healing takes a long time to do. Being called a "queer" or "faggot" hurt, even as a straight person. Nobody wants to be put in such a position, especially when you're younger and more vulnerable.
Who knows? Maybe I'll come back to Michigan when the healing's done. However, I have my own traditions in place; I head out to California every Christmas and clear my mind. I'm looking forward to going this year, leaving the past behind and starting a clean slate.