Embracing the real u

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My greatest desire as a child and even now as a grown woman has been to be understood, to live without anxiety and fear, and to find a place where I am accepted, appreciated, respected and loved for who I am.

I thought I had fulfilled that desire when I entered into living a lesbian lifestyle in my late teens.  I lived and identified myself with this lifestyle for 17 years but never officially declared I was a lesbian. I fit in and felt like I was really a part of my new world. It was a world where I felt nurtured and loved. I was drawn to it.  It was a world much like college days where there is a new found sense of freedom to experience, discover and explore people and things that were once restricted at home.

As a child, a number of devastating events occurred in my life that contributed to me entering a life of lesbianism. I thought that I was “not good enough”, thanks to my father’s constant words of “affirmation”while growing up. He would constantly tell me, “You could have done better”or “You should have…” For many years of my adult life, I did not feel “good enough” no matter how smart people said that I was.  I could not receive true affirmation because the voice of my father became my truth.

I also experienced sexual abuse: incest by family members, molestation in kindergarten by the owner’s son and in preteen by friends of the family. I was exposed to things no child should be exposed to and it was never dealt with until later in my adult years.

Growing up I battled feelings of rejection and low self esteem all wrapped very tightly together by fear and anger. I learned to cover all of my feelings of inadequacies with pride and control.  I did not need anyone. I relied on myself to get what I needed.  I did not trust men because “they only wanted one thing”.  I set out to be my own woman yet all the while, underneath, I battled emptiness and hopelessness.  I amused myself with books, intellectual discussions and other pursuits to fill the void.  I lived my life through the women I surrounded myself with because I wanted to be like them.  I had dreams that seemed trapped on the inside of me that I could not give voice to. I kept looking for something from them that was already in me.  I was broken and needed help but did not know it then. I was my own woman and I was all right.

I gratified my emotional needs by being with a woman but I could not share that with everyone. My lesbian relationships were rooted in a deep sense of shame.  Needless to say, I managed to keep a healthy distance from my family. I lived my life a safe distance from home. I visited periodically, on my own terms usually with a “friend”.

I did not tell my parents or my co-workers although they may have known. As long as it was not discussed, I was fine. I lived a lesbian lifestyle, but to those I associated with, I was bi-sexual. Actually, I was whatever was convenient, bi/gay/or straight. It all depended on who I was around at the time.

Saying I was bi-sexual was more acceptable in my mind.  In that way, I seemed normal, you know, dating a guy or having a boyfriend.  But in my heart of hearts, I really was most comfortable with women and having a female lover.  There was a sense of security and safety experienced along with the exchange of conversation, and the feelings of being heard and included. Despite having feelings of shame and guilt, I enjoyed living a same-sex lifestyle. I liked the attention. I loved being around “successful” women who were doing their own thing.

In 1997, while speeding, drunk, on a dark winding road, I had a fatal car accident.  The car died and I walked away with minor injuries on the outside but the wounds I carried inside were many, and far deeper than I realized. I learned at an early age to “numb out” pain, first by denial of my existence and later in life by alcohol and marijuana.  As an adult, I partied hard and worked hard.  There was no in between.  I was the life of the party around people but still felt lonely and disconnected.  I did not share who I was because I was too busy being what I thought others wanted and I was also very guarded.  How could I share who I was when I had no clue?  I did not know who I was nor liked who I was, yet at the same time, I was crying out for someone to identify me, to tell me who I was and to care for and cherish the person inside me. With all the inner turmoil, I determined to take care of myself and to find love.  Many times I thought I did, but no matter how good it was initially, it was never enough to fill the deep-seated emptiness inside of me. I soaked my feeling of anger, loneliness and rejection in alcohol, and drugs. I shutdown.

My journey on the road to self-discovery began in a most unusual way a little over 11 years ago. At the time of the accident, I was an empty shell. Even my relationships were non-fulfilling because I had no idea how to give me – I gave things, but not myself. A couple months later, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  It was not something I planned to do, it just happened. That day, I went to church with my family because my brother became born again.  He encouraged me to go, so I did.  I figured if he got born again, I needed to take a second look at what this was all about. On December 31, 1997, I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.

I joined a church in March and began attending regularly. I began to get an understanding on the Word of God, but the issues I carried – the insecurities and the anger – were still very much a part of my life.  I did not act out in same sex attraction, but all the brokenness – the insecurities, the fear, the anger – remained.

Five months after I joined church, I was referred to the support recovery program at my church.  Why?  The person who referred me knew about my background.  Around that time, I was extremely anger with her and my parents.  She told me that the Lord had impressed upon her that I should join the support recovery program. In spite of being highly offended, I did.  My plan was not to stay.  I did not believe I had any “issues”.  After all, I was not acting out in same sex attraction. I had no desire to. I joined because she said the Lord had said so, and just in case it was true, I did not want to be disobedient.  My plan was to go for a while and see what this was really all about.

I was a “saved” mess who showed up for a few classes and stayed. It was a program designed to help those who walked in same sex attraction. My time in support recovery brought awareness to a number of things in my life and began the process of deeper healing to the root issues of my life. I learned from the leaders of the program how to be transparent and I was allowed to see their relationship with GOD in a way that I had not seen in other church people.  For me that was a relief and a blessing because when I first joined the church, I felt I was the only one with issues.  Everyone I met in the church was “blessed and highly favored” with seemingly no problems.  I, on the other hand, felt and knew I was a mess.

My story may not be yours, but if there is anything that I have shared that you can relate to, then you know that you are not alone and healing is possible. Running away from the pain of your past will not make things better; running to someone, something, and/or work, to comfort and fill the voids in your life will not be enough. Our birth and gender is not a mistake. We were planned and created for a purpose by GOD. He chooses us, no matter where we are at the time or where we have been.  He knows how to heal the brokenness of our lives. I believe GOD wants to do that for you if and when you are ready for Him to do so.  He loves you and desires to have a relationship with you.

After graduation I went back to the program and became a teacher. Today, I am the President of a program working with people like me who are deeply wounded and bringing awareness to church leaders of how to walk alongside people who struggle with same sex attraction and who desire to walk away from it.

–  It is my hope and prayer that this article will encourage you to find and celebrate your true identity in being created as a child of God, a young lady, a feminine being with much to offer.  May you find within, a woman with a deep capacity to love, not just self, but each other and who is not afraid to release and receive this love in a godly way; a woman who is listened to, heard and understood and one who is free to truly give and show herself without fear of being hurt or rejected.

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