Do You Feel Confused Or Misunderstood?
Growing up and figuring out who you are is hard. Being part of a misunderstood minority is harder.
Perhaps you have one of these thoughts…
I know I am different. I have prayed to be “normal” just like everybody else. I even tried to be straight, which made me miserable. No matter how hard I try I cannot change how I am.
People call me names, I get singled out, bullied and ignored.
I don’t feel safe walking down the street, in my school or at my job.
I suffer from anxiety and depression, and at times wonder if life would be better if I was just not here…
I just want to feel good in my own skin, have healthy loving relationships, and have a future without being rejected for something I didn’t choose and cannot change.
I don’t want to change myself, but everyone around me makes me feel like I should.
Or, maybe you’re a concerned parent. You might be thinking…
My child just announced they are gay/lesbian/bi/trans/non-binary. What am I supposed to do with that?
Maybe this is just a phase, other kids go through this, too…right?
Did I do this to my child?
This is not how I raised my child, and this is not how I imagined them growing up, getting married and having kids.
I’m religious…what does this mean for my child’s soul?
I am open to loving them but this is new territory. What do I need to know?
My family, friends, church, coworkers just don’t understand.
What if I lose relationships over this?
I love my kid, but I don’t know how to love and support them now—I need help.
Whether you’re someone who’s struggling with the idea of coming out or being LBGTQ, or the parent of someone who is, do you wish you could talk to someone who understands what you’re going through, and who can also give professional advice?
Understanding Your Child’s LBGTQ+ Identity Can Be Hard
Surprise and a sense of not knowing how to handle your child’s coming out is almost universal. All of your imagined hopes and dreams for your child most likely need to be altered in a significant way to accommodate their new reality. Your child might struggle with opening up to you about their reality and what they’re going through because they fear that they won’t be accepted—by both you and their siblings. Unfortunately, rejection can be common for children and teens, and the consequences of this lack of acceptance can lead to serious depression. You’re child might also be afraid to open up to you because of what they see other families go through. For some kids, telling their parents simply isn’t an option for them, at least until they live on their own.
Just as losing important relationships and connections are scary to you as the parent, your child had been wrestling with this problem for a long time BEFORE they found the courage to confide in you. The fact that they shared this with you, invites you to reply in a trusting and loving manner. Most LGBTQ+ people who have already come out will tell you that they also struggled with the fear of rejection—even those who come from loving and accepting families struggle with the fear of disappointing their parents and finding their own place in the world that is safe and loving.
And remember, your child is still your child, and they will be moving forward in life just like everyone else—them identifying as LGBTQ+ doesn’t change that. I can help you come to terms with this new perspective of your child and help you learn ways to support them on their life journey.
It Can Be Difficult To Understand Your Own Identity
Understanding your own identity is one of the hardest things you will go through growing up, and it can be even harder when you are LGBTQ+. Sometimes when you remain closeted about who you are, an unintended pattern of behavior takes hold. Like so many others, you might deny your feelings and emotions, suppressing those that seem out of line with how you think you “should” feel. Ignoring or suppressing emotions as they arise can sometimes lead to you not properly processing thoughts or feelings, which can then lead to feelings that are out of proportion to the situation. This would be hard for anyone to navigate.
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Not only is it hard to engage in and maintain healthy relationships when you constantly have to hide who you really are, but it can be difficult to simply live a “normal” life. You might not want to share your feelings to those around you if you are still coming to terms with your sexual identity. But you still have life to deal with—careers, relationships and life transitions are still going to come up, and those alone can be hard for anyone to deal with, which is why seeing a therapist can help you understand the right steps to take.
It is beyond difficult to go through this confusing time in your life alone. With help, you can learn how to alter ineffective habits that cause you stress and turmoil, and you can gain effective skills to help you work through emotions in a healthy way. Fortunately, I’m an experienced therapist who can help support you through this with LGBTQ counseling.
I Am An LGBTQ Therapist Who Can Relate
Everybody needs a safe place to simply be their authentic self. A place where you can explore your inner thoughts, feelings and experiences without judgement. A place where you won’t be rejected for being yourself. At It All Connects Counseling, I strive to create that safe place for you with LGBTQ counseling.
Not only am I professional ally, but I also have “skin in the game.” I have LGBTQ kids. I was THAT parent who was surprised to learn this new reality from my children, and I wanted nothing more than to continue to love them in spite of all I didn’t know. However, it was not easy—I struggled with what I was taught, my beliefs and the potential of losing important relationships. But this paled in comparison to my children’s experience.
I recognized what I didn’t know and chose to reach out and educate myself. I have done extensive research, read books, sought supervision and consultation groups, attended trainings and I continue to educate myself and my clients. I also tapped into my community’s resources and joined the local PFLAG group (Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gay) and most recently was invited to join the board.
I see myself as an an ally and advocate, and I work hard to provide a safe space where you can be vulnerable with me. Whether you’re a parent going through what I did, or if you’re someone learning to navigate your own sexual identity, I’m here to listen and help you work through this so you can begin living the life you want.
You May Have Concerns Regarding LGBT Counseling…
I want to come out, but I’m afraid of rejection…
The number one concern for both LGBTQ individuals and their family’s is that of rejection.
Rejection is scary for everyone. As humans we require human contact for our very survival. The threat of losing our social support and community can be terrifying and traumatic. We all need a community of safe people who look out for each other’s wellbeing. Part of counseling is developing a healthy support system, even if that means starting with zero support and building from there. Coming out can lead to a radical change in your support group and who is included in that group. Just because those around you aren’t supportive, does not mean that no one loves or supports you; it can take some time, effort and guidance to find that support, but it is very possible.
What if I’m not out yet? Or, What if my child has not come out yet?
The goal of counseling is not necessarily to come out. The goal of counseling is self acceptance and making healthy and loving connections, especially within the family. I will never push you to come out, because it isn’t necessarily the right answer. I will provide the time and space for you to decide what is best for you, and to help you sort through the mixed emotions that come with the territory.
Coming out is a process, not a one time declaration. It may be safe to come out to one or two people now, and perhaps later you’ll feel safe enough to come out to a few more. Learning when to come out and who you feel safe enough with to come out to is all part of the process. I can help support you as you make these big decisions.
If you’re a parent, you might feel lost as your child learns a new language to describe their internal reality. They might initially express something like, “I think I am gay”, but over time that may change. That’s okay—I am here to support you through the confusion and the learning process, and also to help you learn how to better support your child.
I don’t know if I can accept my reality…
As a parent this new reality can turn your world upside down. However, how you accept your child’s identity will radically impact your child’s health and wellbeing. Statistics have shown that self-harm, addiction and suicide are higher in the LGBTQ+ community than others. But parents who are supportive and accepting can help their children feel safe and happy throughout their lives. It is essential that you give yourself the option of growing into acceptance.
There is a truism that what you fight against, gets bigger. Your child’s sexual identity is only one factor of who they are, but it can feel much bigger as a teenager or young adult. But in the big picture of life, sexuality is only one part of what makes us human. By putting down the criticism, we can begin to see the beauty in front of us—our child.
LGBTQ Counseling Can Help You Find Answers
Reaching out for help is the first step in understanding and continuing to love yourself or your child. If you’re ready to explore how to love unconditionally with an LGBTQ therapist, I encourage you to call for your free 15-minute consultation at 330-705-9521. If we are a good fit then we can begin the journey to acceptance and healing.