Friday, July 26, 2013

The closet claims many victims, not just the occupant - A follow-up to a post I wrote almost 2 years ago

The Eric I knew is on the right.

Back in October of 2011, I wrote a post titled: The closet claims many victims, not just the occupant. A few days ago I noticed an uptick in traffic going to this post and could not figure out why it was getting so much attention now. Then I got an email from reader, SammyJo, telling me that 20/20 had done a television piece on the same Eric Myers story I had relied on when I wrote about him back in 2011. 

Of course I went immediately online, found the 20/20 piece, and watched it. It was quite agonizing to watch, far far more painful and unsettling than reading the original 3-part story in the Arizona Republic newspaper back in 2011. There is something quite powerful and disturbing about actually seeing the total destruction the closet wreaks on so many lives. (I have embedded the 3 parts of the 20/20 series below for you to watch or you can go to my original post to read the 3-part series that appeared in the Arizona Republic in 2011.)

Before I go any farther I need to explain why this story caught my eye in the first place. I have a very small personal connection to Eric (Lillevig) Myers. I was one of his high school classmates and admirers. I didn't hang in his circles, nor did I have a crush on him in the romantic sense, but I absolutely loved, loved, loved this guy. He was our class clown, student body president, cheerleader, and general fun guy to be around. He certainly made going to school a whole lot of fun and he definitely made a huge impression on me. I cannot tell you how many times over the past 3 decades memories of this adorable guy would periodically pop into my head and make me wonder about him and how he is doing. There are not many people from my high school days that make me do that.

So anyway, I watched the 20/20 series a few days ago and literally got sick to my stomach. It was impossible not to see and feel the horrible pain he put his family through by abandoning them, especially the daughter who agreed to be interviewed. And it was just as horrific bearing witness to the train wreck that Eric had become. The crazed man looking back at me on the TV screen and calling himself Eric bore absolutely no resemblance to the vivacious young man I remember in high school. It was at that point that I realized what a naive young girl I was back in high school. I had absolutely no clue that the funny, happy-go-lucky, class clown/class president that I had so admired and loved was just acting for dear life to cover for the frightened young boy who was dying a slow death inside. 

I do not in any way want to diminish the pain Eric's children went through nor am I in any way condoning Eric's decision to just run away. But as I watched the 3-part series below, I cried, hard at times, not just for Eric's children, especially the daughter who was interviewed, but also for Eric. He had to be so desperate to do what he did. He truly seems to have suffered some kind of horrible psychotic episode as a result of spending so much of his young life denying and hiding who he was. He lost so many years of his life struggling to conform to what he believed his family, his friends, his church, and society in general wanted him to be. And in the end, he lost whole lot more: his family, his reputation, and his sanity.

Am I making excuses for Eric and what he did? Absolutely not. He had a very real responsibility to his family. And by doing what he did, he caused horrible gaping wounds on the very people he should have been protecting. And those wounds will probably never fully heal. But as I watched Eric's story unfold on the screen, I could not help thinking about the damage we, as a society, have caused by forcing our glbt children to hide who they really are simply to make us comfortable. And that damage can have a tremendous ripple affect. Just look at Eric's family. This is not family values. This is forced destruction masquerading as family values. And but by the grace of god, my son did not have to endure the hell Eric did, nor does he have to live with the guilt of destroying a family he should have been protecting, as Eric will have to do.  

My heart aches for all the victims in this story - including Eric.  

Part 1: I Escaped My Life: Runaway Family Man

Part 2: Runaway Family Man: A Daughter's Pain

Part 3: Runaway Family Man: Back From the Dead


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