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!

Mental health

Trauma Confession Series: Mourning

Grief of this sort is a necessary and restorative process that permits a person to bring new life and a renewed sense of hope to childhood hardship and deprivation. Looked at in this way grief allows us to cleanse ourselves of hurt and loss and continue to grow and to expand our sense of ourselves.

– Synergia Counseling, Victoria, BC

Dear Readers,

Welcome back! This is part III of a series exploring the impact of childhood trauma, what we can do to heal, and the insight I gather through my own journey. For further resource please also visit Trauma Confession Series: Overcoming Avoidance and Trauma Confession Series: Love After Abuse.

Forgive my absence. It has been my experience that the process of mourning childhood loss has devastated my ability to create content. Today, I hope to take a step back and examine what this means and why it’s important in the recovery process as it relates to surviving childhood trauma.

Grief or mourning often results while overcoming the avoidance of past trauma by confronting the truth of what happened to you. You may find yourself feeling sorrowful or resentful for the deprivation or abuse you experienced. You may feel an intense rage toward your perpetrators for what they took from you. You may experience significant disruption to your typical internal experiences and dialogue. This type of grief is different from traditional loss, and may present itself in the form of regression. Regression is described as a return to a state of consciousness that reflects the age or mindset you were in at the time of a painful or violating event.

Acknowledging these psychological phenomena as they are occurring can be a challenge. Many people may not even realize they are grieving due to the flailing it may cause, and may display outwardly uncharacteristic behavior such as irritability, agitation, sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, crying spells, flashbacks or depression. You might also notice frantic efforts to avoid psychological anguish such as increased distraction, substance abuse, or other self destructive patterns.

The important thing is to acknowledge, accept, and allow this grief to run its course while realizing the wealth of wisdom that can come from it. Acknowledging our mourning rather than trying to suppress it teaches us value of self. It allows us to accept the painful experiences we have endured by acknowledging they were unjust, undeserving, and have no bearing whatsoever on our worth. Allowing these sensations to well up and wane is extremely agonizing, but it also allows us due process. When you resurface again, you will be all the stronger and wiser for it.

This is not easy! This is legitimate self-work that requires exposure and suffering. It is no wonder why so many, myself included, prefer concealment or denial. Personally, I consider this one of the most difficult steps toward recovery from trauma, as it often results in a significant return of symptoms related to mental illness. Just as we must overcome avoidance by staying in the presence of pain, we must also acknowledge and empathize with the child in us who was slated or abandoned.

Synergia Counseling has published an exceptional blog on the topic of Adult Grieving in Response to Childhood Loss or Trauma. In it they explain the self awareness that may be lacking, the unmet needs of a thriving childhood, and the emotional or intellectual development that may halt as a result of exposure to trauma.

Acknowledge.

Accept.

Allow.

You will tremble, cry, rage, languish, and writhe – but – you will also stabilize, heal, resolve, strengthen and ease again.

Additional Reading:

From Bustle, 11 Signs You Might Be Repressing Negative Childhood Memories

From Psychology Today, 9 Steps to Healing Childhood Trauma as an Adult

**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!

Mental health

Understanding Triggers: 15 Bullet-Points of Conflict Resolution

“All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.”

John Steinbeck

Dear Readers,

Many of us with mental health conditions are considerably self-aware. Perhaps that is the benefit of therapy… to awaken and comprehend – to reconcile our internal storms with our external environment. Through out my own self-development I often found myself exposed to intrusive sensory experiences, crippling clinical-grade anxiety, and unsuspecting mood swings. When I began to learn and navigate the experiences that were afflicting my compromised consciousness, I soon came to realize many things along the way. This phenomenon is often referred to as post-traumatic growth.

So, what is a trigger? Psych Central reminds us,

A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma. Triggers are very personal; different things trigger different people. The survivor may begin to avoid situations and stimuli that she/he thinks triggered the flashback.

For example, I like to watch people fight on YouTube. Verbal conflict and physical abuse triggers me, so I use the learning experience as a conflict resolution tool in tandem with exposure therapy.

My take away?

•We could all use better parents and role models.

•Difference creates dispute.

•Communication and comprehension are skills that require practice.

•Behavior is learned.

•Maturity matters.

•Pain is relative and universal.

•Familiarity promotes empathy.

•Intolerance hinders hospitality.

•We fear what we do not understand.

•Fear clouds judgment.

•Judgment and discernment are not the same.

•Blatant dehumanization is consequential.

•Bystanders are just as guilty as perpetrators.

•You should never hit a woman until the fifth times she’s hit you in the face.

•They have the wrong lights at Wal-Mart.

What has your trauma taught you?

**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!