The Deep-Seated Need to Realize: “I’m OK”

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I get to check just about every box in the “yes, I’m unusual” column. I’m a t-girl. I’m gay (a girl who likes girls). I’m into BDSM. I’m poly-amorous. I’m sexually intense when I want to be. It took me a long time to be OK with all this, and by implication, with who I am. Nowadays, I’m more than OK with it; I’m downright happy about it.

It’s been a difficult journey. I grew up in a highly repressed and repressing sub-culture that was hostile to transgender people, gay people, BDSM, poly-amory and sex for pleasure. Wow, was I a misfit. When I was younger, I was convinced that I’m so different that:

a) Nobody else is this unusual,
b) My attributes are considered bad, so I must be a bad person,
c) I’d better not let on, and
d) I’d better figure out what’s wrong with me, and fix it — so that I could become like all the cookie-cutter people.

Nowadays, I like to find others who are unusual in similar ways as I am, and who feel ashamed, isolated, and alone. I enjoy helping them discover that as to what makes them unusual:

1. There are many people like them
2. It’s not a character flaw even if bigots say so
3. It has very useful aspects too

The synthesized message is … “so now you can stop beating yourself up, and make peace with (and later, celebrate and enjoy) who you are.” It’s rewarding to see the relief and gratitude of the people whom I’ve helped break out of their self-imposed personal, psychological prison. And no, I’m not a counselor, and if you need one, go find one. Amateur psychology is about as safe as amateur brain surgery, for similar reasons. Still, sometimes my informal input is enough to be helpful.

Just hearing a well-substantiated “you’re OK” means SO much to people who feel bad about themselves, and isolated, and alone. They mostly feel that way because bigots in that person’s culture have been saying “it’s not OK” about the characteristics that the person has. For example, they hear that being gay is supposed to be bad, and it’s scorned and ridiculed — and they realize that they are gay, so secretly they are in that category, and then they feel ashamed of who they are.

It’s very rare that a young person rejects all the bigotry surrounding who they are; too often, the young person internalizes this negativity, and starts down a road of confusion, repression, secrecy, shame, erratic behavior, anxiety, isolation, sadness, anger … possibly leading to behavior in which the person self-punishes, such as by self-mutilation, self-inflicted pain, substance abuse, and even suicide.

If all this eventually gets resolved, then the first steps down the road to redemption is the person concluding that they are, themselves, basically OK. Some figure it out by themselves; others need to hear it from someone else. Either way, that’s the start of the road to health and happiness — the realization of “Wow, I’m actually OK.”

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