NOTE: Matt has written two IFD stories before. You should read both incredibly powerful and emotional stories here and here before reading his newest one below. It’s so exciting that his new story is able to be published with his full name and photos.
When I last wrote here, around the start of I’m From Driftwood, I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), low self worth and an all around sense of despair. I was lost and looking for my way.
I’m glad to say that I found it. Much like the evolution I’m From Driftwood has had in the three years of my viewing from the sidelines, I have evolved and become a better person.
This story was inspired by my partner in crime, Ethan, who I don’t have the words to describe how much of an incredible, positive force he’s put into my life. He proposed on Christmas Eve. I said yes.
Without further ado:
I remember that my whole life I looked up to no one more than my father. He is just such a great human being. He led me from tiger scouts through my Eagle project, mentored me when I needed guidance, punished me when I deserved it and all around set the most positive example of a role model I’ve ever seen (I still gauge my actions on how I think he’ll react). He is the type of father who would bail you out of jail without even asking why you got arrested in the first place.
I don’t know what backwards logic I was using, but my whole life I was terrified to tell him, “I am gay.”
Maybe it was some off the cuff variation of “faggot” I heard him say… Or maybe it was because I grew up in Spring, TX, where people are conservative in a way that’s only slightly homophobic, but enough to where I was never comfortable with my sexuality.
After I experienced the trauma I saw in Iraq, it really made me put the pieces together and become true to myself.
I remember when I told my dad, I was so nervous. I did it through an email (I was still in Iraq… nothing like a few big oceans between you and Dad to make him tone down his thinking). I begged his forgiveness.
His response was:
So now that you told me via e-mail you don’t have to worry about telling me on the phone and you can just call so we can talk.
The great thing about being a caring parent is you can give unconditional love to your children.
Call me when you are ready.
I love you!
Immediately, I felt like an idiot. All of the time I wasted… The heartache I caused people… The idea that my dad would do anything but love me. That’s all he’d done my whole life.
I finally made it home and came out to people sporadically (DADT was still in full swing) and time after time, I noticed the pattern that people really did not give a shit that I was gay.
After a few months at home, and time to think about everything I experienced in Iraq, my PTSD flared up and I began to spiral out of control.
Everything reminded me of some bullshit event or another. I drank until I passed out so I wouldn’t remember the nightmares. I focused all of my attention on other people so I could run away from my thoughts. I lost sight of who I am. And the last straw, I was kicked out of a Military School for being drunk on duty (in my very weak and minor defense, it was 4:30 in the morning after a night of drinking, not 2:00 in the afternoon while writing traffic tickets).
I was forced into alcohol rehabilitation and therapy.
Since then, I have begun to experience what my therapists call “post traumatic growth.” It started when I came out of the closet. The brushes with death and constant fear of death taught me that life is too short to not be true to yourself and I’ve tried to live that way ever since.
I gave up on drinking as much and focused on bettering my life and the lives of my Soldiers. I gave up on finding a relationship and focused on making myself happy.
Ethan entered my life at that point and I haven’t looked back since. He’s the perfect compliment for me and an all around great person. The greatest.
While Ethan has been out for just about his whole life, he never really officially told his dad until recently. His dad told him that he is proud of him and will never stop loving him.
I can’t wait until our dads meet at the wedding.
NOTE #2: You can read more about Matt and Ethan’s wedding proposal and a lot more at Matt’s personal blog. As Matt mentioned in his story, he’s been a part of IFD since the very beginning, so a big congrats to him and Ethan from the IFD team.