Nightmares

I’ve been having consistent nightmares for about one month. I have them pretty regularly anyway, but they don’t wake me up and I don’t get up in a sweat when I do finally wake up. They don’t scare me- they’re just annoying.

I had one last night about my ex. It was very uncomfortable. I got the same feeling I used to get when I was with her. She would make me feel like a child.

My therapist has a new theory that my suppressed emotions from the past 10 years are coming forth while I’m unconscious. He might be right, I suppose.

Most of my nightmares are not about clowns or falling off of cliffs; they’re mostly about things, events, or people that I’ve had negative interactions with or that I haven’t grieved for.

Sadness and grief are my most suppressed emotions. Since starting therapy, I’ve started dealing with current sadness when it comes, but there’s a decade worth of events that I haven’t “dealt with”, so this is fun.

Internalized Homophobia

I had my first “Aha!” moment when I was in 6th grade. At that time, I didn’t even know what “gay” was.

The story goes like this: I was playing soccer with my team and an older girl named Caitlin was playing with us. She was from a more experienced team called Lightening and she had played with us many times before. This time, however, I found her in my vicinity more than usual and as she ran past me, I stopped in my tracks. I stopped running, I forgot the ball, I was just standing there like an idiot.

It was her smell. She smelled like flowers and it was intoxicating. I had NO IDEA what the fuck was happening, but I got it together and continued to play the game.

I told my mom about it immediately and she said to worry about those feelings when I was a little older and not to stress about it now.

I didn’t seriously evaluate what I felt that day until about 4 years later when I fell in love for the first time. It was incredible.

This post is about my internalized homophobia, though. So, let’s jump in. Between 6th and 10th grade, I learned more about what some of my family and community and a great deal of society thought about those who experienced same sex attraction. I learned more about God and his apparent disapproval of the same behavior. I learned more about sexism and double standards.

I learned that gay was not good.

Fast forward 2 serious relationships with other females plus a 3 month adventure with another girl. I was now 19. I found myself in a position to explore a relationship with a man. I took it.

I dated him for 8 months. I put everything into the relationship, but to no use. I was gay.

I have wished for my “gayness” to disappear before. I remember feelings of disappointment and irritation for not being a good person. Because gay people aren’t right. There’s something wrong.

I remember feeling angry and confused when people said that I was choosing this “lifestyle”. I still get so angry when I’m told it’s a choice. Who in their right fucking mind would choose to be looked at so disgustingly?

I feel like to my more conservative family members, they see me and think, “if only she would date men, she would be the perfect person, granddaughter, daughter, etc.” I’ve always done well in school. I don’t enjoy drugs and I don’t drink often either. I visit my relatives, I volunteer, I’m always employed, I have friends. I even went to church on my own accord for a few years and even now, even though I am not religious anymore, I have no problem going to church with family if they want me to join them.

But I’m gay.

I’m almost the perfect package. I’m almost the perfect granddaughter. Almost. There’s just that one little flaw. “If only she’d just come to her senses, accept the Lord, and realize that it’s unnatural to date the same sex. It’s disgusting. It’s not right. It’s not Christian. It’s not decent.”

“You turned my daughter gay”

“She wasn’t like this before you”

“You took advantage of her good nature”

“You’re disgusting”

“You’re too young to know this is who you are”

“You can be gay, you just shouldn’t act on your desires”

“I understand that you’re gay, but I don’t want to see it”

“It’s okay to be gay, just don’t wave it in my face”

“It’s only okay for women to be gay, but two dudes is fucking nasty”

After being told these things, it should come as no surprise that I found myself absolutely hating my sexuality. Everyone around me, it seemed, was telling me how wrong it was and how I shouldn’t act on it, especially not in public.

The worst types of homophobia are the indirect moments of it. For example, 99% of my family NEVER asks me about who I’m seeing or if I’m interested in anyone. When I was presumed to be straight, there would always be questions about the current boy I was interested in.

I also recently went through a breakup. It sucked. The woman I was dating is an amazing person and our reasons for breaking up were primarily distance and conflicts in our future desires (children, mainly). There is no bad blood between us, so I had nothing to be angry at. I was just sad. My family knew that I had been seeing her. They even met her. When I returned back home without her or mention of her, there were no questions. There were no “how are you dealing with this” or “are you okay” questions. I was disappointed because I thought some of my family was more okay with my “lifestyle”, but apparently not interested enough in it to ask how I was handling something very emotional.

In the past 2 years, I have learned to truly love my sexuality and the community it allows me to have. Being around other people who are on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum makes me feel most loved and safe. I don’t have to act straight or omit information when telling a story or talking about my hopes and dreams. I don’t have to answer uncomfortable questions and I’m not gawked at when out with a partner. I am so thankful for that community.

It’s a daily obstacle to assure myself that I’m enough exactly how I am. I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not and I don’t have to change myself to make others more comfortable in their ignorance.

I’m learning to live my life with pride in myself and I hope you do, too.

Why Therapy?

I went to therapy for the first time when I was about 9 years old. It was shortly after my parents divorced. I had my first panic attack around that time as well. I think most of it stemmed from separation anxiety I had when my mother wasn’t close by.

When I got a little older, I didn’t continue therapy because I didn’t notice much change and I was also told that I would probably “grow out of it”. To some extent, I think I did. I don’t have separation anxiety anymore, but I do have anxiety towards other things.

Not dealing with loss and grief has been a huge issue for me that I was recently made aware of by my current therapist. If we define “loss” as the “ending of something” (not necessarily death), then I have experienced a lot of loss in my life that I have chosen not to emotionally or mentally process/deal with. As a result, my body stores those emotions as anxiety and it gets periodically released as symptoms of anxiety, such as panic attacks.

For a while, I thought I was able to track my triggers (loud music, crowds, thunderstorms, tornado sirens, yelling/shouting), but over time, the attacks seemed to be more random.

I was able to count the number attacks I had during 2018-2019 on one hand up until the end of May of this year. As I was looking for a home, a job, and I was also dealing with (I actually wasn’t dealing with it at all) a fresh breakup, I found myself hyperventilating at the nail salon. The old familiar feeling was back in full swing.

2 weeks, a house, and a job later, the panic attacks and anxious feelings subsided. I’m 99.9% sure that my anxiety was caused by the stress of not having a home or being employed.

Let’s fast forward to today- to today’s therapy session to be exact. Today was one of the best sessions I’ve had since starting. I’ve discovered a lot of things in the past 2 months. I’ve also acknowledged a lot of things in the past 2 months.

  • I am hard on myself.
  • I have a fear of failure.
  • To me, setting goals+achieving said goals=success/life purpose

Today was the first step of me including all parts of me in an acknowledgement. What that looks like is: “I acknowledge that when I think about [insert whatever makes you anxious/scared here (for me it was elaborate solo travel)], I get scared and nervous, but I also have powered through similar things that have also made me scared and nervous.

Instead of saying “X makes me feel scared”, I’m including the fact that yes, I feel this fear, but I’ve also fucking powered through fear before.

I’ve shut parts of myself down over the years. I’ve shut down Grieving Megan. I’ve shut down Angry Megan. I’ve shut down Sad Megan. I’ve even shut down Excited/Hopeful/Optimistic Megan because I have a fear of getting my hopes up and then being let down and feeling stupid for letting myself get them up in the first place. I’ve silenced all these parts of me and the voices that belong to them. Today was a step in letting them be heard.