My Coming Out Story

It all began with Star Trek.

No, seriously. I had been a Trekkie since childhood when the animated series had its brief run. When ST: The Next Generation came out in 1987, I wasn’t so thrilled at the new crew and ship at first, but I soon grew to love it. Nevertheless, I wasn’t involved in ST fandom until late 1991 when I bought the ST novel “Q-in-Law” by Peter David.

I was hooked! Somehow I got in touch with fan clubs, ordered fanzines, and began writing my own fanfiction (this was back in the day before the Internet — at least, I didn’t have it). I was fortunate to have some of my stories printed in fanzines. I joined a fan club for Dr. Beverly Crusher on TNG, and when Deep Space Nine came out, I was fascinated with Major Kira, so I joined a fan club for her also (they both had been started by the same person).

There were a number of openly gay/lesbian members of the fan clubs, which was interesting to me because I had never (knowingly) met anyone who was gay. They seemed perfectly comfortable expressing their attraction to characters/actors of the same sex, and with time, I began to be comfortable too. (I had known since my teenage years that I liked both girls and boys, but didn’t think much about it) In fall of 1993 I “confessed” to the club that I was attracted to Kira — an important act for me, though not surprising to the other members!

In our fan club newsletter we sent messages to one another and I became friends with several members in this manner. On New Year’s Eve 1993 I received an unexpected phone call from one of the members who lived in Canada. It was a very pleasant call, and something started then.

So began a steady stream of letters and later cassette tapes between Texas and Ontario. By April, the attraction between us was out in the open, and extremely long phone calls were added to the communication. I realized soon that I wanted to meet her — I didn’t just want to, I was desperate to meet her, so much so that I tried to take out a loan on our car to get the airfare (did I mention that I was married at this time?).

My husband realized I was serious and chose to let me go to Canada for a week. The visit was all I could have hoped for. When I returned home, I made it clear to my husband that I wanted to leave him. For the following six weeks, we discussed and argued the situation, made plans and broke them, and sought to keep the unpleasantness from the children, who were 6 and 7 at the time.

One weekend I drove off to Dallas because I just had to get away. While there I met my girlfriend’s brother (who, coincidentally, lived there with his partner), explored the local “gay neighborhood,” and looked around for an apartment. I returned a couple of weeks later and stayed with her brother so that I could attend a Lesbian Health Fair and a group called Sprouts which was for women coming out or questioning their sexuality.

I moved into a Dallas apartment on July 1. My husband had insisted on keeping the children with him so they wouldn’t be exposed to “bad influences.” I knew what he meant, but when I agreed, that was not my reason. I let them stay with him because I had no job, no way to take care of myself (my apartment was prepaid for 3 months), and definitely no way to take care of 2 fairly young children. Plus, the rest of their family was nearby, and I felt that the stability of the extended family would be important for them.

Even though I was more than 100 miles away (the legal cutoff used to determine visitation rights), my husband agreed that I could see the children every two weeks, either in Dallas or their home town, talk to them on the phone twice a week, and have them a month in the summer. He didn’t file for divorce right away; he hoped that I would see the light and come back to him. I regret hurting him that way — there have been times I’ve thought it would have been better if we’d never married, but then we wouldn’t have the children that we both love dearly.

So that’s my story… the first part, anyway. What happened after I moved to Dallas is another story, to be saved for another day.

30 Wednesdays of Truth Day 8

Day 8 : Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like sh%#

When I was a child, of course, it was my abusers who made my life hell. There is no comparison.

In adulthood, I have generally been well-treated. The only exceptions were 1) my children’s stepmother, who alternated between very nice and very mean (I think she had BPD!) and 2) two people with whom I had addictive relationships, who similarly treated me well and then badly (they probably had BPD too, lol).

I must also mention that sometimes I’ve treated myself like sh%# and abused myself. I’m learning not to do this, though.

 

Coping Skills — Wise Mind

Wise Mind is a concept from Marsha Linehan, the developer of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). From the first time I read about it, I liked Wise Mind. It is balanced, it does not glorify logic over emotion, it validates both thinking and feeling, and it is especially good for anyone who tends toward black and white thinking.

This is a common thinking error, whether it’s called “black and white,” “either/or,” or “going to extremes.” It means looking at people, events, even yourself in a two-valued way, allowing no gray, no in-between, no “this and that.”

Wise Mind was very hard for me to grasp and infinitely harder to practice. I spent my life before age 30 bouncing between Rational Mind and Emotion Mind, not even knowing what I was doing. Then after I read the DBT Skills Workbook I recognized what I was doing but I could not stop it.  Over time I learned to achieve Wise Mind occasionally, then often, then frequently. The key was to practice it consciously when I wasn’t under stress, when I wasn’t overwhelmed with emotion, but I could express emotion appropriately.

Achieving Wise Mind means acknowledging the role of rational, logical thinking and the role of emotion at the same time. If I am using logic, perhaps by making a list of pros and cons, and I notice unpleasant feelings in my body (stomach ache, headache, etc.) but I’m not ill, I need to open myself to emotions and find out what I’m feeling along with the logic. Most importantly, I do not judge myself for the feelings!

Likewise, when I feel out of control emotionally, I know that I’ve lost Rational Mind somewhere. I can regain it by engaging in tasks such as objectively describing what I see or hear around me, pausing for a moment to breathe deeply, even counting or thinking of multiplication tables. The last ones may seem silly, but they work! Emotion Mind doesn’t do math, lol.

Is it always bad to be more in one mind or the other? No. There are many times — for example, taking a test on history or math — when it is best to be 90% rational mind and only 10% emotion. Likewise, sometimes the opposite is best, such as during a romantic dinner or perhaps a funeral. Wise Mind is balanced even with exceptions!

Music Monday — AIM — Peter Cetera and Chicago

Last Thursday evening K and I went to a concert — Peter Cetera (of Chicago and solo fame) with the Dallas Symphony. It had been a very long time since either of us went to a concert; when the orchestra started playing I could feel the music washing over me and I got this big silly grin on my face because I was so happy to be there.

The first Chicago song I can really remember was “Baby What a Big Surprise,” which reached #4 in the US in September 1977. I don’t think I had started writing down the Top 40 at that point, but I did pay more attention to the artists than I had earlier in my life.

Chicago has had so many big hits, I don’t think I can point to one as my favorite. There’s “25 or 6 to 4,” “If You Leave Me Now,” “You’re the Inspiration” — and others. Cetera sang those three and others, including solo / duet hits such as “The Glory of Love” and  “Next Time I Fall” (with Amy Grant).

But my very favorite Peter Cetera song is “After All” (with Cher) which is from the movie Chances Are. It’s a strange movie and I’ve only seen it once (unusual for me, if I like a movie). A couple are celebrating their first anniversary and the husband dies in an accident, but gets reborn immediately. Twenty-three years later, he (Robert Downey Jr.) meets his former wife (Cybill Shepherd) and suddenly remembers his life with her. Complications and hilarity ensue (it’s a romantic comedy).

The words from “After All” really speak to me and my life.

Well, here we are again;
I guess it must be fate.
We’ve tried it on our own,
But deep inside we’ve known
We’d be back to set things straight.

I still remember when
Your kiss was so brand new.
Every memory repeats,
Every step I take retreats,
Every journey always brings me back to you.

(chorus)
After All the stops and starts,
We keep coming back to these two hearts,
Two angels who’ve been rescued from the fall.
After All that we’ve been through,
It all comes down to me and you.
I guess it’s meant to be,
Forever you and me, After All.

DID — Meet Seren

Five years ago I was diagnosed as having Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly called Multiple Personality Disorder. DID is usually associated with childhood trauma, such as abuse or neglect (I have no desire to write about the trauma itself, as it could be triggering). Dissociation occurs along a spectrum. At one end is the common, ordinary type of mild dissociation such as “driving by autopilot.” At the other end is full-blown dissociation into discrete personalities. There are also other forms such as fugue, amnesia, depersonalization, and the vague term “dissociative disorder not specified.” (these may change with the release of DSM-5)

People with DID may lose time, find clothes and other items that they don’t remember buying, meet people they don’t remember who say they are friends, or hear voices in their heads (as opposed to voices on the “outside” which are more typical of psychosis). Frequently the host personality does not remember the trauma that resulted in the fragmenting of the self; instead, the other personalities hold memories and feelings that were too overwhelming for the child.

Through therapy I’ve learned to communicate with my parts and make friends with them, as well as work through the feelings each one had held for me. Before that, current events sometimes triggered the old feelings because I perceived them as being similar to old events. Naturally, these old feelings were very strong and almost impossible to cope with at first.

I plan to let my parts introduce themselves here in my blog, or at least the ones who want to. First is Seren.

My name is Seren, short for serendipity and serenity. I am 13 years old, but I’m learning to be older. When Daddy left, I was sad and mad. Every day I walked home from school by myself and watched TV and ate. I gained weight and it was embarrassing.

I didn’t pay attention in school, so I made some bad grades even though I usually made A’s. Mommy took me to a doctor in town who gave me antidepressants*.  But he was a stupid doctor and I asked her to take me to a real psychiatrist. So for about 2 years I went regularly.

I had some friends that I talked to by telepathy. Melinda and Jamie and John and Patty and Kamera and Kamala and others. I think now that they probably weren’t real, but at the time I thought they were. After awhile I didn’t talk to them anymore. Also, I believed that I was a princess from Estonia in a parallel universe, but for some reason I was stuck in this universe. The people over there loved me and they liked to watch my life. It was like a movie Anita saw later named The Truman Show.

I get depressed sometimes still but at least I can express it. I like to write poetry and I love Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allan Poe. I also like art and music a lot. My favorite group is ABBA.

* – it was one of the old tricyclic antidepressants, Elavil (amitriptyline)

Sitting sad and lonely

In my barren pasture far away

The world has turned its back on me

I am the sheep that went astray.

I know I’m not like all the rest

I’m out of step and out of line

They ask me to explain my ways

But how can I tell what’s in my mind?

No more colors left for me

Greyness everywhere, bleak and dark

The landscape that I see is dead

Like a wint’ry day in a frozen park.

I’ve passed that point of no return

There’s no hope left for me, I know

Don’t try to help me, let me be.

I just want to hide in the warmth of the snow.

5-Minute Friday: My Own Path

I have usually tried to follow my own path, even though sometimes it was not in my best interest. My hobbies, my music, my clothing, even my thoughts and feelings, were often chosen with the distinct purpose of being different.

I felt that the only way I would ever be noticed was to be eccentric.

Otherwise, I thought, I would just fade into the background.

Sometimes I wanted to fade away, and at those times I went along with the crowd, concealing what was truly inside me. But I always felt like a stranger, a part of the world but separated from it by an invisible membrane. Even when I tried, there was something in between me and everyone else. Whether I fought against it or lived with it, it was always there.

Now I have a son who, I think, has grown up with a membrane around him too. He makes choices with an eye to getting attention, even if it is negative attention. In fact, he prefers the negative because he doesn’t feel worthy of anything else.

I look at him and wonder, how will I ever reach him? How can I help him see that he doesn’t have to be separate, or a stranger, or a person that just doesn’t fit in? How can I invite him to become a part of our world?

Perhaps I will have to push through my membrane in order to get through his. I’m scared, but for his sake, I will face my fears.

Harmony through Nature: Seven Steps to Stillness – Beliefnet.com

Harmony through Nature: Seven Steps to Stillness – Beliefnet.com.

I’ve been a fan of Beliefnet.com for a long time. The site provides information and resources for the worldwide variety of religious practices, as well as an interesting questionnaire to determine what religions are closest to one’s personal beliefs (there is a caveat that states they are not responsible for one’s immortal soul, lol).

A number of daily or weekly newsletters, such as a daily Bible reading and weekly Buddhist prayers, are available from the site. The article referenced above explains ways to use nature to meditate and find peace. In my opinion, they could be used by members of most religions as they are not dependent on any particular dogma.