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How did you compartmentalize being LGBT for all those years?

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by MS001, Mar 30, 2016.

  1. MS001

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    I am wondering how other people compartmentalized being LGBT, assuming you had an awareness that you were, for so many years.

    For me, it would hit me once a year or so (sometimes less, sometimes more), this crushing feeling that I was hiding my sexuality. Sometimes I would try to come out, but I never had success until recently. I feel like I am in denial in some ways as to how much being in the closet effected me. But when I talk to my therapist about all the self destructive things I did in response to repressing my sexuality, I have to admit it hurt me in ways I wasn't aware of. It has been really, really hard to realize how much being closeted hurt me...actually it has been the most painful part of coming out.
     
  2. Katchoo

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    MS, yes! I feel like I'm grieving the different things I lost by staying in the closet so long and thinking about the way that it hurt me, that I hurt myself, etc, even while I was trying to do the right thing, ways that others hurt me by trying to do the right thing by helping me keep myself in the closet. Ugh. Yeah. I'm with you.

    So, a little bit of story.... I was the high school girl who dated all the boys who later came out. Basically, I like women, gender fluid people, and gay men. Don't know what the label for that is. When one of my exes told me that he was dating Rob, I totally blocked it out. Took me almost a month to even realize what he said. I have told myself that I blocked it out because I felt like his being gay threatened my own femininity. And as I was blocking that out, all of my mental and physical health went down the eating disorder toilet. Thinking about this today, it occurs to me that I was already in love with my college roommate. (Most straight best friends don't share a twin bed.) But, I was super in denial about that. I wonder now if part of my breakdown at that time was totally trying to repress my own sexuality.

    Yeah, like once per year or once every six months I would take this subject out and really, really look at it. It really came up more often, cuz, fantasies, but, I guess I compartmentalized. My friends at the time said that I seemed really fragmented. They thought I was repressing chldhood trauma. Figuring out how to integrate those compartments is one of the most important things and one of the hardest things.

    One of the ways that I repressed myself was making choices to be in places that had extra peer pressure to be not gay. For example, I chose to go to a private Christian college. I worked for concervative ministries. I worked for a religiously affiliated social service agency. It was not a concious choice, but I think I was choosing places that would put extra pressure on me to be "good". And aparently by "good" I mean fragmented and depressed.

    Sometimes I repressed myself just by working to believe the things I told other people about my singleness.... For example.... I lived my life around 90% women 90% of the time, so I just never really met a guy. I had some issues to work through, so it's good I didn't date early. All through college I had this friendlationship (referencing a now out gay guy, but also, really, my roommate) that blocked anyone from ever approaching me. (Really, throwing off the FU vibe to the world also helped guys to know to not approach me.) I moved around a lot, so it was never the right time. Etc, etc, etc, etc. So, yeah. I had a narrative that I would tell family or random people, and I really tried to convince myself it was the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth. It wasn't, though.

    Sorry to ramble and hijack your thread. I'd love to hear about this topic from everybody else, too.
     
  3. Feijoa

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    I understand what you mean about being closeted hurting you. For a few years now, I've sort of stepped back into the closet (outside of maybe 3 friends) mostly due to where I am living and working, but it was also a protective mechanism. Even though I trust a few other friends, I've never bought it up, and in a couple of cases jokingly denied any casual conversation or questions. I'm not in a position to be able to go out and mingle with like-minded, or even pursue a relationship, so at times I find myself feeling like I'm missing out on something or denying a part of myself.

    I suppose this is a type of compartmentalisation. I acknowledge certain aspects of myself to myself, but keep them hidden from others - even people and family members who I came out of the closet to in the first place.
     
    #3 Feijoa, Apr 3, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016
  4. rachael1954

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    It would usually hit me in social situations, I missed my exciting gay friends when I was around my 'boring' straight friends. And I kept checking out my friends which is always awkward.

    Passing for straight just pushes us further in the closet as we get more accustomed to putting aside our feelings and emotions. As the years go by we get so good at acting! But also our repression builds up and then eventually spills out in some way.
     
  5. wanderinggirl

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    You're asking really interesting questions, MS001.

    How did I compartmentalize it? I don't know. There are a few ways:
    -I knew I was weird in all these ways, I thought I just had weird emotions too. Like, I didn't know how humans operated.
    -I was bad at sports, as if that meant anything; but I definitely didn't meet other girls who knew they were gay in high school, so I assumed everyone was straight.
    -I couldn't fake heteronormativity well enough so I attracted weird guys; I thought that's why I had so much trouble dating, that I was ugly and awkward. I also dated a gay guy before he came out and a bi guy.
    -I would have mental "training" sessions where I'd force myself to like a guy. I'd fixate on him til I felt some semblance of feelings. For some reason even though I knew this wasn't normal I didn't think it meant I wasn't into guys.
    -I constantly confused platonic with romantic feelings.
    -Like you, I was a "good kid" so I felt like following rules would eventually work out. I was internally homophobic so that was one of my rules: it was okay for others but not for me to be gay.

    Does this answer it? :slight_smile:
     
    #5 wanderinggirl, Apr 4, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2016
  6. Bunny45

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    Fear, what I thought was responsibility, a sense of duty to family. My family isn't accepting at best, and not just for LGBT issues. I've recently cut out some of these "toxic" relationships and have just now been able to see how much the omissions, careful monitoring of my speach, and emotional disconnectedness have been hurting me. There was a great deal of denial that I was hurting myself by not allowing me to be myself.
     
  7. Feijoa

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    Yes, and yes. It wasn't until you mentioned the "internal homophobia" did I think, "Oh, hey, yeah..I kinda had that too" - I can remember the specific time where I said to myself I had to work out what it was I wanted, and that it was okay to want something I was equally excited and worried about. It seems irrational now, but in the very beginning I think I definitely had a weird internal freakout.
     
  8. YeahpIdk

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    I agree with Wanderinggirl. You're asking some good questions!

    I'm not sure I compartmentalized all that much. I don't feel like I was in the closet, but maybe I was -- I feel like I've always been hiding from something. I've done a lot of self destructive things, sometimes for reasons that I can't totally understand, and maybe that's what it is. I've definitely always felt different, and like I had some emotional block in the love department for some reason.

    Something that stood out to me in my coming out process was going back to all the times I would look at a female, too hard, and say, "well you just want her butt, thighs, tummy..." And I did want some of them, who doesn't want a super nice butt? But it was the convincing language that got to me and made me say, "ahhh....." Now that I've accepted my attraction to females, I look at these same parts, in the same way, and automatically just think those things are hot, in a sexual way - which almost immediately felt natural when I allowed myself to accept that I liked a female (a particular one). It still feels natural!

    Ever since I've come out to myself and the people who matter most, even though I haven't gone out and done much with it, I feel like this thing that was missing in me was found. Something always felt like it was missing for me.
     
    #8 YeahpIdk, Apr 5, 2016
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  9. Justasking100

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    Complete denial from when I realised aged twenty, looking back I can see I looked at the guys more than the girls from aged 11/12 but was totally unaware that meant I was gay! Oh and doctors telling me it was OCD.
     
  10. greatwhale

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    I started this thread just a few days after joining EC, it is still as valid today as it was over three years ago...
     
  11. looking for me

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    for me, when i realized i like boys and girls, i knew it wasnt safe for me back then. so i took that part, the boy liking part, and buried it deep, later when i started to realize i was part boy and part girl i took all of it, encased it in reinforced concrete, buried it as deep as i could the paved over the whole area with a triple layer of pavement. i got very good at deflecting or blocking etc any "gay"stuff. but when the pressure of an abusive marrige lifted, we'd been split almost a year at this point, it broke loose and seeped out of my subconsious and i felt more peaceful than i think i had ever been at that point. i still have to seperate parts of my life because im not out at work, or outside a small group about my sexuality and an even smaller group about my gender but it is better.
     
  12. appleseed

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    I realized I had feelings for one of my girlfriends when I was 15. I remember saying to myself "this is not me, this is never gonna happen". From that moment on I got crushes for girls, I've always looked at girls feeling attraction but I wasn't really connected to myself and let all those things go, as it was somebody else's experience.

    Now, in my thirties, I started connecting the dots and seeing my past for what it really is: I was in denial. Finally, a few month ago I came out to myself.
     
  13. Bazinga87

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    Oh my gosh that hots home. It's flared up on me about once a year or so for the past few. Before that I had the feelings but told myself I could hide and get my release through gay porn and be happy with that for the rest of my life because there's no way I'm telling anyone that I like to think about men. I hit my breaking point last week. I'm sick of getting down in the dumps a lot for not being able to express myself. I'm coming out. I may only have like two or three hairs out of the closet peeking through the cracked door behind the sweeper at this point but I can't stay in for much longer. And since I admitted that to myself some of the weight has lifted.

    So I guess I lived kind of a double life for a long time and acted as though that was someone else doing those things when I was hiding in plain sight.
     
  14. demidiluvian

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    I just ... kept it hidden away from everyone, pretended to myself it was just a kink and didn't matter. I don't know if was hard, it was just hard *on* me. Because I'm finding I'm not even remotely where I want to be. My therapist once said she couldn't manage to be as compartmentalized as I am. In the moment, I was like, what? *I'm* compartmentalized? This is just my life, I don't know what you mean ...

    I see it now better than ever, but it just became who I am & wasn't really so conscious as all that.
     
  15. yuanzi

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    I think it is a little easier on me b/c I have always been a study/workaholic and I can easily distract myself from dangerous personal thoughts by working just a little more. A few of my acquaintances have actually commented on how abnormally hard-working I am and how little emotion I usually have lol.

    The most difficult time is probably at night or during holidays when there is no one around and (sometimes) no more work to do :frowning2:
     
  16. Bazinga87

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    I can relate to that yuanzi. There's been many times that I would keep my mind or hands busy to pass the time and shove the genie back in the bottle. And the emotion thing I totally get because I've felt like before I got on EC I was numb and it was a building numbness that was built brick by insecure brick