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Frozen by shame

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by out2019, Mar 24, 2021.

  1. out2019

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    I felt like I was making really good progress coming out, but all the sudden I feel completely frozen to take the next steps and a powerful feeling of shame. I can't seem to take any next steps and in fact feel like I am withdrawing a little.

    Any tips? I don't feel like I am 'forcing' it my desire to be with a man is stronger than ever and I have moments when I embrace it I feel so happy but then when I try to move.. FRIGHT!!
     
  2. QuietPeace

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    I may have shared this with you before, I have found Brené Brown to be helpful. Here is a TED talk she did about shame
    https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame

    I have also read her book The Gifts of Imperfection which was also helpful. (I just searched for it on a used book website {I am not sure if I am allowed to link to that} and found a copy of it for only $7 with shipping in the USA)
     
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  3. Patrick7269

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    Are you already out to yourself? Are you trying to come out to others?

    In my opinion there are two aspects of coming out: 1) coming out to yourself and 2) coming out to others. It sounds like you may have accomplished 1), but 2) is where you are now or where you are considering being.

    1) Coming out to yourself is hard because in order to do so most people must overcome shame and let go of their previous expectations of living a “normal” straight life. Coming out to self often involves overcoming shame, letting go of denial, and then grieving a perceived loss. These factors can vary depending on a person’s beliefs and environment.

    2) Coming out to others is hard because in order to do so most people must overcome fear of rejection, judgment, discrimination, disownment, or even violence. Often these fears are exaggerated, but the actual level of threat depends on your environment.

    The benefit of coming out is that you live authentically, but the price of coming out is that you risk negative consequences. I think your fear and “frozen” feeling is from shame or fear of the potential negative consequences of coming out to others.
     
    #3 Patrick7269, Mar 25, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2021
  4. OnTheHighway

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    Sounds to me like your having a shame storm. Like all storms, it will pass. When I experience them, I usually meditate and find ways to relax until it subsides.
     
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  5. Contented

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    Shame can be an insidious stealthy foe that creeps up when least expected. We all have experienced it. Keep in mind your journey to your true gay sexuality is a marathon not a sprint. By continuing to move forward towards that goal you will overcome the shame attacks and bouts of indecision that come up.
     
  6. Patrick7269

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    Shame is a huge obstacle for people (especially men) figuring out their sexuality. You might want to read the book “Coming Out of Shame” (I can’t remember the author at the moment) and the Brené Brown TED talk and books are awesome as well.
     
  7. QuietPeace

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    Patrick

    Coming Out of Shame : Transforming Gay and Lesbian Lives
    by Gershon Kaufman and Lev Raphael

    and I link to the Brené Brown TED talk above
     
    #7 QuietPeace, Mar 26, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2021
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  8. Patrick7269

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    Thanks QuietPeace!
     
  9. Lyman

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    Do you know anyone (friend, relative, acquaintance) that you could open up tu and you're almost sure that will be supportive?

    The best cure I know for shame is sharing whatever it is with someone. If I recall correctly, you're only out to a therapist, which was a lot of progress (and you should be really happy that you did!), but it wasn't the end of the journey.

    It's absolutely terrifying (you'll probably remember my thread about that, last summer), and the key is getting to a point in which doing nothing feels worse than taking that step.
     
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  10. Patrick7269

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    Coming out to others is an assertion of who you are, a statement that you know who you are, and a way of being that you are valuable and good just the way you are. As you have come out to yourself (yay!!!) and your therapist (double yay!!!) you have explored your sexuality and who you truly are. You have already accomplished much by coming out to yourself and your therapist.

    The purpose of coming out to others (if/when you feel ready) is so that you can live your life being your true self, showing your true self to others, and being valued and loved for your true self. Your true self shouldn’t, and likely can’t, live in fear or darkness. Coming out to others overcomes fear and gives your true self the light it needs to be happy.

    The challenge is that you may still encounter rejection and mistreatment. The world has not come to full acceptance of LGBTQ people. However, there are many places that are progressive and you will meet many people who would be thrilled to know the true you. Especially in the US in 2008-2016, I think I have seen gay equality become so mainstream it’s not even considered “activism” anymore. Being decent toward LGBTQ folk is just - expected - in most (but not all) areas. Other parts of the world vary from this considerably both for better and worse.

    You may need to think about how accepting your family, friends, and acquaintances are, and assess how supportive they would likely be. Would they be okay with it, or would you most likely be supported? Great! Would the support be moderate but something that can be worked out and improved? That’s also good. Would you possibly risk being fired, physically assaulted, or killed? Obviously this is not a safe environment.

    As you think about your available support, remember that shame is a lifelong struggle for many gay folk, and fear of the unknown of coming out will cloud your perception of how safe it is to do so. So while you might actually and objectively be in a supportive environment, your fear can skew your perception so that the environment may seem unsupportive or hateful. On the other hand, if you can objectively see that your environment is truly hateful and that you could face actual violence, then by all means heed that information as a warning.

    You may need to adjust your life to get the support you need, even at the cost of cutting off toxic or homophobic people. I truly hope that this does not include your family or good friends. But only you can assess this cost, and only you can determine whether you are willing to pay it. I will say that on average people tend to pay less than what they thought they would, because, again, fear will change your perception of the cost.

    The good news in all of this is that you are on a journey of self-discovery and creation. You alone have the ability to know your true self, and you alone are responsible for shaping your life to suit your true self. Easy for me to say. But that is the challenge, and that is your journey. I hope you can find your path and that your true self gets the light it needs. :slight_smile:

    *warm hugs*

    Patrick
     
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  11. caper88

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    I wish I had some advice for you. I feel the same way at times. I start to open up to some about being a lesbian but when it comes to my every day to day life or my family, I start to freeze up, feel ashamed or guilt but I am unsure why. I have a few friends that I find I can trust, when I start to feel this way I talk to them about it or journal; maybe something like that can help you too.
     
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  12. out2019

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    Yes.. it was a big one...
    It seems like I stepped back with this...The shame storm was so overwhelming I went back into denial, which really surprised me.

    I think mine is mostly internal fear.

    Yes... it was so great I went back into denial a couple of weeks...

    Yes for most of my life..
     
  13. out2019

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    This is very nicely put thank you!

    I actually froze up taking the step of getting a regular therapist. I did have a zoom session with an LGBT center by me and that was the first time I said I am gay to someone's face.


    I get this vague feeling I have let them down or I have to abandon this 'straight' identity.

    Very friendly work, live in NYC so very supportive. But that dull vague feeling of shame.

    I fear this too it will never go away. so why decide to live like that, why not just forget it... i think to myself.

    This is part of me - I create a homophobic environment...

    I think i would have to find a new community before I felt safe doing that.
     
  14. Contented

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    Sorry to hear that shame has stalled your progress. Keep in mind the end of your journey to your true gay self is a marathon not a sprint. There are bound to be obstacles along the way and shame is a big one. The shame we feel is a result of the heteronormative brain washing we all get from birth. We are constantly exposed to the idea that a man and woman is the only valid sexual and emotional combination. This idea is reinforced over and over again. So it is natural for those of us who are attracted to the same sex to be embarrassed, ashamed and want to hide our attraction. Over time that feeling begins to diminish as you embrace the real you. The only opinion that matters is yours. There is nothing to be ashamed of in loving another man both emotionally and sexually. It is just as valid and normal as anything heterosexual. We need to embrace who we are and bravely let the world know we are proudly openly gay and it is all good.
     
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