October 11 th is National Coming Out Day. Coming out is an extremely sensitive, brave, and ongoing decision one makes to be their most authentic self.
I came out approximately 10/11 years ago. I felt all the feelings one would feel; shame, fear, anger (towards self), and hopelessness. I had to come out to myself first, by acknowledging and accepting this is who I was, then to my immediate friends and family, and then to the world. I also continue to make this choice every day by being myself in the world.
Coming out is not always safe for everyone, I was lucky in my case it was. I had a support system that made an effort to listen and understand, without judgment. Funny thing is I still sometimes find this hard to do for myself.
Why is it important that I write this, identifying myself as a queer cis-female therapist? When we're in the process of exploring our sexuality/identity, all we can think about is how much our loved ones and the world is going to reject us, judge us, be disgusted by us, and cast us out. Yes, I felt this way about therapists too. As much as we like to think we're the least judgmental, we are ALL born with biases. When I made the choice to enter the social work field, I made a promise to myself that I would not lose who I was in the process, or ever. I've walked out of therapy sessions where I felt there wasn't genuine care/concern in the therapeutic alliance. In order for you to show me who you are, you need to know a little bit of who I am. How can I ask someone to be vulnerable with me, without identifying my vulnerability, the vulnerability we all experience as humans.
I say this to say, I care about you, I welcome you, I embrace you, I do not see you as "wrong". I do not judge you, I accept you, I AFFIRM you, and all of you.
I was born 31 years ago, but sometimes I feel like my story didn't start until I was 22. Fast forward to today and I am currently happy in a relationship with a woman. I understand now that I am constantly given a choice to continue to live by my values or against them. I value authenticity, I value honesty, and I value connection. And the truth is, living by my values means more to me than the risk of being rejected when it comes to my life. I knew that the fear of staying the same was greater than the fear of change. I knew when I became older and had less time, I would look back and wish I gave this one shot at life all I got, as who I am. I couldn't experience any of these values if I shut out parts of myself to myself and the world.
I am still learning how to be comfortable with myself in a world that wants to continue to send me messages that who I am is wrong, disgusting, and abnormal. I still look around in public places for safety before I kiss or hold my girlfriend's hand. I still feel the pit in my stomach as I share a public display of affection and know my friends/family are watching. Coming out is not just a one-time thing. Its not just on National Coming Out Day. It's a decision I make every single day and will make for the rest of my life.
This is my story, it's time to start yours. Whatever you decide to do, please know that I see you, I am here, and I am ready to support you through your journey