Student finds success and self in Asheville

By Kaytee Weidenfeld – Contributor
At a young age, Christiana Deloach considered herself the weird girl.

She never felt like she fit in.

Around five years old, she knew she liked girls.

From a strong Christian family, she wasn’t able to be herself, and felt the need to hide her true identity.

“I always thought there was something wrong with me,” she says. “And that’s why people don’t like me, even my family.”

She was bullied in school for it.

Several cousins she went to school with didn’t even want her telling people they were related.

She had no one.

In her 20s, she says she turned to alcohol for acceptance. She was shy at the time, and drinking helped her loosen up.

Deloach joined the Air Force when she was 18 years old. But she says the desire to be accepted led to buying friendships and lovers.

While in the military, she says she would drink, party, dress provocatively, give her friends money, even buy them things just so they would like her. She was able to hide her bad habit for a while, but not forever.

She was asked to go to rehab.

Deloach says she learned about the 12-step process and other tools to fight her addiction. She also participated in group therapy, her least favorite.

But Deloach says she was still drinking. She says she was kicked out of rehab twice because of it.

During her service, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, instituted by Bill Clinton’s regime, was the United States policy for LGBT+ service members.

“Back when I was in, if someone suspected you of being gay, bisexual, homosexual, whatever, all they had to do was tell someone,” Deloach says. “All they had to do was gather evidence and you were out.”

She says she was living with her girlfriend at the time, and a guy she worked with saw them together and threatened to tell their commanding officer.

She says she didn’t know what to do.

If they had questioned any of their friends, she says they would have found out. She was worried about getting a dishonorable discharge, but he never told.

Deloach served in the Air Force for 10 years.

After basic training she worked with security forces, then she says she took training classes with the medical department at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio.

There, she became a certified Emergency Medical Technician. She says her duties included performing physical exams, checking vital signs, drawing blood, medical exercises and preparing individuals for deployment.

After serving in the military for a decade, Deloach says she decided to leave in order to live a lifestyle that was more her own.

She says she just wanted to be herself.

She wasn’t a fan of having to wear her hair and nails a certain way. She says she wanted to show her creative side and be comfortable in her own skin.

After moving to Asheville, Deloach says she has started working on creating a better life for herself, and hopes to stop drinking completely.

“I haven’t completely stopped, but only having four drinks out of eights months is pretty good for me,” she says. “I think eventually I want to stop all together.”

Now 34 years old, Deloach says she attends A-B Tech Community College. She’s taking several Spanish and music classes.

After she graduates from A-B Tech, Deloach says she wants to transfer to UNC Asheville and study Spanish.

She says she wants to teach English as a second language. Her biggest goal is to land a job abroad with the Department of Defense Dependents Schools after she graduates.

When Deloach isn’t focused on school, she loves to read. She says her big Saturday night out is going to Battery Park Book Exchange with her friend Erica Gunnison.

Gunnison says they go downtown every once in a while, but not too often because they’re both busy.

She says Deloach is very motivated and career-focused, and never noticed drinking to have a huge effect on her.

“Maybe she has some internal conflict,” Gunnison says, “but she’s one of the most put-together people I’ve ever met.”

Deloach says drinking is one of the biggest challenges in her life and she still struggles with it every day.

But she says learning how to overcome it has made her a much stronger person.

“I think it’s made me stronger, maybe be more me, embrace my uniqueness,” she says. “Everything I was ashamed of before like being a bookworm, being different. Now I’m just like, ‘I’m me.’”

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