My books were heartfelt attempts to give something back to the world and offer something of value to people who might have related to my experiences—coming out, struggling to define a career or caring for or losing a loved one. As with any project I take on or job I do, I gave all I had to those two books, or as much as I had at the time.

But when I disappeared, drugs and grief were not the only reasons.

The truth is that something very deep inside of me was slowly coming to the surface. Through the pain and sorrow of the loss of both Joan and then my dad; through the frustration and disappointment of my failed music career; through the haze of my dependence on prescription drugs, I began to realize a truth about myself that was so frightening that I became completely paralyzed. In turn, I became so disgusted with my inability to stand up for myself that I retreated further into drugs and the smallest circle of friends and family I could manage.

This truth that was slowly emerging had a hazy beginning. Since I was a child, I'd been aware of a part of me that did not fit. At first, I thought this sense of not fitting in was about me being gay. But as time went on, and I tried different ways of "being a lesbian"—from lipstick to stone butch—I had to admit to myself that the "something" nagging at me was a lot more complicated than just my sexual orientation. Even when I was active in the gay community, I never felt completely at ease. There was something else about me that didn't make sense, something that was much more profound and a lot more threatening. And it took me years to put my finger on what about me felt so disturbing.
©Chaz Bono 2011, reprinted with permission of Dutton, a member of Penguin Group U.S.A.


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