LGBTQ+, Mental health, Relationships

Ugly Truth 37: Loving a Woman Changed my Worldview

“It was terrifying to love someone who was forbidden to you. Terrifying to feel something you could never speak of, something that was horrible to almost everyone you knew, something that could destroy your life.”
-Cassandra Clare, Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices, #2)

Dear Readers,

For as long as I can remember I have been attracted to women. This energy translated in all kinds of ways including the trivial and experimental. When I was young, I could not determine if my preference was tied to my predisposition toward manic depression, the result of trauma, or the simple product of my incessant curiosity. Perhaps my preference for women was simply just that, a preference. I was not privy to the possibility of expressing my sexuality in a healthy way and so, like most young women, I found myself stifled and oppressed until the spillover became too great. Falling in love with a woman changed my worldview by leading me to discover my personal truth and informing my capacity to receive.

For decades not only was my sexuality snuffed out by others, but also by myself. My own ego and fear would be the final frontier between me and my true happiness, at least until I learned this type of self-sabotaging behavior is completely unnecessary. When I look back and see how glaring obvious all of this seems it almost feels silly. I was in middle school when I started spending the night with my lady friends. Growing up in the north woods of Minnesota I was completely unaware of same sex couples. So, even though I had a loud biological response toward women and girls, I certainly didn’t know how to navigate those feelings due to my lack of exposure. Add to that my mother’s mean intolerance for the very same reason and suddenly it isn’t too hard to imagine why I kept my mouth shut. As I grew older though, it became harder and harder to hide. I would often enter relationships with men only to cry myself to sleep at night. I spent a tragic number of years aiming to please others and it cost me greatly. At best, living dishonestly can only be described as a repetitive re-traumatization of self.

When I was sixteen, I met my first boyfriend. Not surprisingly he was an effeminate man and sexually ambiguous. Seemingly towing the line between male and female he would often take too long to fluff his appearance, wear eyeliner atop his envious eyelashes, and shave his under arms. Still, I maintained and often acted on my eye for women with consent from my partner. I continued this pattern of dating men while kissing women for many years before finally getting married in 2014 against the adamant counsel of my father. To no one’s surprise the marriage dissolved two years later, and suddenly I had no choice but to my face my personal truth. I am in fact a very gay woman. After a handful of lukewarm encounters, one fiery female romance, and countless nightmarish dating scenarios I gave up all together on finding anything truly meaningful. That is, until I met Alice.

When I met Alice, I was what I would describe as perpetually open-minded. Coming out for the second and final time left me in a state of strange infancy. I was vulnerable, fearful and excited by the days ahead. While I would never be foolish enough to turn away from the real thing, I also was not actively seeking a serious long-term monogamous relationship. In retrospect, a great many of my life choices have been a direct result of my inclinations toward the notion of love. At the seat of myself I remain a romantic and I will never apologize for that. However, this type of vulnerability often comes chock full of aching organs, bittersweet endings, and lessons hard learned. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t become somewhat jaded after being force fed a heaping pile of disappointment. Some part of me though, however microscopic, clung to the swirling daydream that lasting love could exist for me if I could somehow find the courage to live honestly.

My encounter with Alice was the most natural unexpected experience I have ever had in my life. Our conversations were playful and organic before evolving into the meaningful inquiry we all hope for. We began to chip away at our commonalities, our biggest fears, our hopes for the future, and our own points of strength that we promised never to compromise on again. We promised never to discuss religion and politics, and then characteristically proceeded to do so. No topic was too scary. Nothing was off limits. It wasn’t long before our hearts began to lean in and our minds grew curious. In the same shared breath and quelling anxiety, we realized we both had nothing left to do but meet in person. I never imagined being able to remember the night clear as day, but I do.

After sharing a quick and unflinching bond with this woman I had one last order of business. I had to kiss her. Lucky for me, Alice felt the same way I did and agreed to meet. We agreed to go in comfy clothes and half brushed hair in order to lower the pressure for us both. So, I put on my favorite red pants, my favorite oversized hoodie, tied my hair up in those tiny clips that always seem to fall down the drain, and drank in the biggest gulp of bravery I could muster before wandering out the door with all the false confidence in the world. I knew I wanted to arrive early because living with anxiety taught me long ago that I will never be the girl who loves to light up a room. I slinked up to the bar and promptly ordered two beers to calm my nerves. Her texts came rolling in as she got closer and closer. Ten minutes away…five minutes away…almost there. The suspense was killing me. Finally, she walked through that door, tilted her head only the way she can, and smiled that sideways smirk that still drives me wild six months later. All she had to do was say one little hello to me and in that moment, it was as if all my broken pieces were pressed back together. I was hers. I calmly invited her to get a drink of her own before retiring to the couches on the other side of the bar, but inside my head was swimming. We did our best to get to know each other better above the clatter and belligerence of the patrons. Some time passed until finally she leaned in through the smoke, pausing only to gauge my reaction, and kissed me for the very first time. Suddenly, everything I thought I knew about the world shattered. I had butterflies in my stomach, crawling skin, a cloud in my head, a spark in my heart, and tears in my eyes. I had no idea what was going to happen next, but I knew I felt relief in feeling that in a world that had so often made me feel lost and forgotten, I was finally home.

Alice would go on to be the strongest most loving, loyal, gentle and patient friend I’ve ever had. Never once has she made me feel like I was going to lose her, although the thought alone motivates me to do everything I can not to. She is always pouring into me and giving back in ways she may not even understand. Best of all, we are both rewarded for being nothing short of our genuine self. The truth is, I could never imagine the life I live now and yet here I sit – in a completely new city, with a completely new routine, and a completely new sense of self that can only be the direct result of her generosity and respect toward me.

Falling in love with a woman changed my worldview by leading me to discover my personal truth and informing my capacity to receive.

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

Lifestyle, Mental health

Polyamory: Exploring Free Love and Mental Health

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Dear Readers,

Similar to bisexuality, polyamory is often misunderstood as a selfish endeavor. However, indulging in this alternative lifestyle myself for a number of years suddenly revealed to me why I grew increasingly unhappy in my long-term monogamous relationships. Before I understood this about myself, I was intensely isolated by my confusion and complete lack of joy within my invariably badly-patterned relationships. As an abundantly loving person who has zero difficulty facing accountability, this became increasingly painful. So, what does it mean to be polyamorous?

Your Google dictionary writes, “Polyamory is the philosophy or state of being in love or romantically involved with more than one person at the same time.”

While pretty self-explanatory, polyamory relies heavily on consent and communication when compared to single suitors. The difference is that the individuals within polyamorous dynamics are communicating on a level of greater magnitude with more individuals, and a great deal of consideration for the other party. Some relationships celebrate dual dynamics or triads, while still others may engage in the pursuit of romance with the same individual- but not necessarily with each other. Some of these dynamics may include multiple sexual orientations, genders, and/or produce children, others may not.

The topic of consent includes the knowledge or awareness of their lover’s involvement with others and therefore, does not fall under the umbrella of infidelity or polygamy. Instead, it is accepted and embraced that one may love more than one person at the same time. Still more, some choose to participate in social hierarchy’s that celebrate a primary partner, while others choose to disperse equality evenly among their amorous partnerships.

A common misconception is that polyamory is a way to have your cake and eat it too. However, this lifestyle narrows in less on diversified sex and more on intimate open relationships. This juggling act often requires highly evolved maturity, interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence. Likewise, the personal labels, definitions, and dynamics vary greatly within the community itself, and therefore seemingly can not be netted into a true north.

Rachel Kieran from GoodTherapy writes, “Terms used to identify such relationships are as numerous as the individuals who endorse them, continue to evolve within cultures, and are often dependent upon the particular configuration of the couple, triad, or family at a given moment.”

In a world where we are talking about the various levels of sexuality, gender, and relationships it is important to remember that the perspectives and definitions therein are highly susceptible to context and subjective reasoning. Personally, I have found that dismissing labels or social explanation altogether while exploring my own happiness has served me greatly since I find them to be great exacerbaters of confinement.

Kieran continues, “We must challenge ourselves to confront our own values and stereotypes around sexual and relational diversity.”

So, what are the mental health benefits of an open relational dynamic? Perhaps the most obvious, expanded dynamics relieve the singular pressure often placed on one person in a conventional relationship to protect, provide, perform, and compromise. Also contributing to a healthy psychology is the emphasis on human communication, empathy, and a deeply intentional consideration for others. The awareness that multifaceted relationships produce toward one’s own truth and desire can offer a great sense of peace and freedom that may nurture any previously held depression or anxiety associated with the experience of embracing only one partner. Likewise, there is a great sense of community that may strengthen one’s sense of familial ties or resourcefulness in times of hardship for those participating in polyamory.

In short, polyamory explains the idea of free love in modern times albeit with a bit more depth and sophistication. It celebrates the power of permission and full-disclosure in our understanding of romance. It promotes self-examination and accountability. It challenges any previously held notions and relieves us of the chains of traditionalism while contributing to our intellectual wellness and sense of community.

Even for those who have trouble grasping this, the fundamental message that we love often, more than once, and in many ways seem to remain universal.

Visit the Source: Understanding Polyamory and Nonmonogamy in a Context of Sexual and Relational Diversities Presented by Rachel Kieran, PsyD
Understanding Polyamory and Nonmonogamy in a Context of Sexual and Relational Diversities Presented by Rachel Kieran, PsyD

What are your thoughts, opinions, and experiences regarding polyamorous identities?

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

Lifestyle, Mental health

The Neurodiverse

Neuro-Everything-Talk

Dear Readers,

We often believe there are certainties grounded in common sense just before we are made to feel remarkably impassioned by the lack of this truth. Neurodiversity is a biological concept so new and so controversial, the word barely exists in a modern dictionary. Put simply, it suggests that the contrasts found in neurodivergent brains, such as those that display indicators of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), developmental speech disorders, Dyslexia or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), are natural genetic variations in the human genome to be appreciated and therefore, not a disorder at all.

Instead, the concept of neurodiversity creates a shared space within neurological intellect that validates and embraces cognitive differences. It promotes alternative possibilities of definition by suggesting that some situations in biology may benefit from a mind with non-traditional wires. In my opinion, this topic has complex cultural implications worth exploring.

Among these is the suggestion that these differences can be painfully problematic in preventing social integration and therefore, we are obligated to intervene on the development of others. So then we must ask ourselves, to what extent is this type of imposition ethical?

As someone who used to practice Applied Behavioral Analysis as a registered Behavioral Therapist, I can recall moments of true internal conflict when it came to my core belief system, and the therapy I was implementing for my patients who would certainly fall into the neurodivergent category. How do you balance the promotion of healthy social or communicative function in the presence of clear disability, with the entitlement of each individual to advocate for their own needs? Is intervention warranted when self-harm or aggression is present? Are these maladaptive behaviors indicative of the internal processes behavioral science intentionally ignores due to the inability to concretely know or measure psychological events? For me, this philosophy clearly created more questions than answers despite intermittent moments of relief or success.

Alternately, detractors of neurodiversity are concerned that this term takes away from the increasingly apparent impairment associated with those of a low-functioning diagnosis. Likewise, they claim data does not support the neurodiverse of history. For example, are the occurrences of neurodivergent labels indeed increasing or is medical detection improving? Therein lies the problem of attempting to apply a fixed concept to a spectrum of variables.

A final concern includes the romanticizing of otherwise devastating illnesses that are responsible for vastly reducing one’s quality of life, as well as that of their caretakers. In his blog, “How “Neurodiversity” is Hurting Our Kids”, J. B. Handley observes these words from an individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder,

“The autistic community finds the whole idea of a cure abhorrent. There have always been neurodivergent people. They are not sick or wrong. They are disabled by the neurotypical world that thinks there is only ‘their’ normal, not by their different neurology. Please listen to the autistics who have the right to speak for themselves. Not those who want to eliminate neurodivergence. There is no epidemic. Just better diagnosis and recognition. In past generations we did not know what we were seeing or have the labels. It still existed.”

Handley goes on to dispute this claim and highlight the co-morbid physical afflictions associated with neurodivergent populations. However, this does not negate the value of sharing the voice of an individual capable to describing this phenomena directly from the source.

Rather than claim a side of this debate, I have no problem admitting to my readers that I simply do not know because I have not invested enough time in the research. That said, I don’t know that any of us can truly say we have. I attempt, instead, to be a non-bias conversation starter.

Discuss: What do you think of the concept of neurodiversity? Is it a concept or a biological fact? Does it add to the forward momentum of our species by way of resilience or adaptation, or detract from the validity of our disabled population? Can both be true simultaneously?

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!