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mental and emotional cost of denial

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by Pole star, Jun 18, 2017.

  1. Pole star

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    I am deconstructing my life so far until I came out. I find that I was a different version of me then. Scared, anxious, lack of confidence, poor self esteem, avoiding social interaction. Some of this could be because I am somewhat shy and introverted. I can't understand the impact this would have had on my mental health - yet I did not realise why! Why does being in denial/suppression/closeted result in all this? There must be so many who suffer like this. Why does it not prompt them into taking action? Some may have been to psychiatrists too. If so then why does it take so long to understand the reason?

    People who come out rarely mention that they came out because of these. Some even have had multiple same sex partners. They are almost like a byproduct of coming out. Is it all due to shame and internalised homophobia? Any thoughts?
     
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  2. MonkeyGirl179

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    Hello. It's been 10 days since I joined this site, and it has been an emotional roller coaster. Denial, for me, comes in the form of dissociation due to childhood traumas. However, tied up in that mix are my sexual orientation and gender identity. I'm leaning toward the end of my 30s. I've been seeing therapists off and on for the past 13 years. The more I heal those childhood traumas, the more my True Self appears, in all her glory. Yes, there is a huge emotional and mental cost to being in denial. I know from the years it taken me to recover this much of a sense of self. I assume it would be a similar experience to someone who remains closeted.

    <3 MG179
     
  3. SiennaFire

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    Most people don't come out because of these behavior patterns because their relationship to denial/being in the closet is not obvious to the person in denial/the closet. Being in denial or in the closet takes its toll and creates unproductive behavior patterns. Some of these are in response to shame and internalized homophobia and some are in response to being dishonest about your sexuality with yourself and others. The net result is that you learn how to hide yourself (often with bizarre behavior) and develop a casual relationship with the truth because you habitually hide this important aspect of yourself. This pattern of behavior has consequences. For example I found it harder to hold myself accountable or be vulnerable when I was in denial/the closet. Healing the shame and internalized homophobia doesn't automatically heal all the patterns, which have become habitual. I undertook a very deliberate exercise to identify and counteract these behaviorial patterns. People also devote a lot of energy to keeping their secret, which definitely has implications for mental health as much of one's energy is wasted overhead which becomes liberated after coming out. Because of the denial, many people also skip important rituals, such as a proper adolescence (which explains the second adolescence that many folks post about).
     
    #3 SiennaFire, Jun 18, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  4. Myclosetisfull

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    I agree with Sienna. I feel like a suffer a lot for not being able to be completely open about my feelings in every aspect of life.
     
  5. RJay

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    I'll tell you something... Almost as *soon* as I got involved with the man who became my husband, I started running to therapists and psychiatrists to help me with my deep anxiety and fear and self-loathing and sadness. I was 24, and he was my first boyfriend. I thought I loved him, and that my problems had nothing to do with my relationship.

    19 years of self-medicating through alcohol, getting prescription meds from doctors, and seeing various therapists helped me to tolerate an existence that wasn't ME. It was only this year, at age 43, that my dissatisfaction finally led me to a total breakdown. NOBODY in 19 years suggested to me that my sexuality was something to think about questioning. And I was so deeply in denial, that I just never considered it myself. I didn't want to face the obvious facts.

    Since my breakdown and subsequent epiphany that made me see and accept the truth that I'm gay, I tapered off all my meds, and I've never felt better. The meds helped me tolerate an intolerable situation for years, but once I cleared the fog away and owned the truth of who I am, the meds were just standing in my way of being able to feel all the new feelings that I really needed to feel! I am the most relaxed, self-confident, happy, optimistic version of me that ever existed. And I'm taking nothing at all. And you think I'd be stressed because of going through a divorce, but nope! It's like I can face anything now just because I know I'm gay. Haven't even acted on it yet, but it doesn't matter.
     
  6. OnTheHighway

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    Shame and internalized homophobia are difficult emotions to understand when we lack life experience as younger individuals. These emotions help create low self esteem, low self worth, a lack of confidence and an inability to love ourselves. Brought on by exposure to heteronormative and homophobic messaging, we seek defensive mechanisms as ways to protect ourselves; which include building an emotional wall and living in the closet. Afraid to be true to ourselves. As a result we may repress our sexuality or just simply deny it.

    The emotional wall we build as protection actually does a lot of damage. Where we can not live authentically and be ourselves, we can not make ourselves vulnerable with others. This inherent disconnect may causes a person to always remain distant or impede our ability to create a true bond in relationships with others (and I am sure many of you will argue this point and debate how much you love you opposite sex spouses). We may not recongize this is happening, we may perceive we have created bonds, but an inherent lack of vulnerability makes such true bonds nearly impossible to maintain.

    As we live life behind the emotional wall being untrue to ourselves, with low confidence and low self esteem, we may need to seek validation from others. This validation can come in many forms - pushing ourselves to excel at work, becoming charitable and helping others, being a people pleaser always wanting others to be happy, and even seeking out sexual relations. All of this while we remain behind our emotional walls and living closet lives.

    As we embrace our sexuality, as we confront the shame and internalized homophobia, as we make ourselves vulnerable, we begin to break down the emotional wall, build self esteem, self worth, confidence and slowly but surely learn to love ourselves. When we do this, we are able to look back and see ourselves with more clarity and honesty. We can work to deconstruct our lives and better understand whom we are. This is the journey towards self actualizaton.
     
    #6 OnTheHighway, Jun 19, 2017
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  7. RJay

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    THAT was STUPENDOUS! :hug:
     
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  8. Pole star

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    OTH - wow! you explained the facts about validation beautifully. I tried to do some of these - concentarting all my energies on studies, work, trying to please people.
    Sieena Fire - 'second adolescence' spot on. I feel I am just living my twenties now. I feel I am in my twenties. It is as if I am immature. I don't know how it feels to be forty. People at work notice the discordance sometimes. Sometimes I am almost child like - as if the playfulness never goes away. (People like that anyway!) I am not complaining though. But this sort of imbalance in the 'perceived ages' can create a problem while building a relationship. It is like I am attracted to guys in their twenties. Is that because of the 'second adolescence' factor?
     
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  9. Myclosetisfull

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    As ever so impressive that I sit here disappointed in every explanation I have ever given to anyone on anything.
     
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  10. SiennaFire

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    There is nothing wrong with being young at heart. In fact it's an important perspective to have during your second adolescence where so much is new. I also feel young at heart. I'd rather be young at heart than an old fart :slight_smile: Don't get me wrong, I can be very adult when I need to. It's also possible that part of this is your coping mechanism for the shame and internalized homophobia or a consequence of being in denial/the closet, so you might notice some changes as you progress post-coming out.

    Many guys who come out later in life are attracted to younger guys (myself included). Part of this (for me at least) has to do with making up for lost time since I never got a proper gay adolescence. In many ways my sexual development was suspended in my teen/early 20s, so there's where my attractions are. Of course our culture celebrates youth, so it's easy to find younger bodies attractive. This is also where the difference in sexual and chronological age comes into play. Since we feel like 20-somethings, we are attracted.to younger guys from a personality perspective. Having said that, you may discover that most 20-somethings are too emotionally immature to date. There's a rule of thumb on EC to date somebody who is a) at least 27 and b) + / - 10 years of your age. I've found that's a pretty good heuristic through my experience of dating increasingly older younger guys.

    HTH
     
    #10 SiennaFire, Jun 19, 2017
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  11. OnTheHighway

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    I would add that as your sexuality matures, as you build confidence and self esteem, as you progress on your journey, you may find your interests in guys matures as well.
     
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  12. shybiguyuk

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    'OnTheHighway'......everything you say resonates so much with me.....I've subconsciously been hiding behind an emotional wall, my self esteem has been low for years and my confidence is shot. I work stupidly long hours & have always put everybody else before my own needs. As I'm learning now this is all part of my trying to keep myself a secret & it's doing more & more damage.
    I don't ever see myself coming out to close friends or family but if I can drag myself away from work & put myself before the needs of those around me, I could at least try and get to a gay pub or meet up & start to meet other gay folk. Who knows what may happen if I manage that...
     
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  13. Me2b

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    Great series of thoughts and insights here.
     
  14. leb10

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    It all seems so clear once you step back and look at the full picture, doesn't it? I think it's definitely related to internalized homophobia. Being gay was always totally fine for others but there was no way I could be! It seriously didn't even cross my mind - not when I had a crush on another girl, or started reading Autostraddle, or really really liked the L Word, or felt all the feelings while reading the High Price of Salt... it took a foray into the FanFic world for me to be like, wow this is something? It makes me wonder how many other folks in similar emotional states just haven't had their epiphany yet.

    Yes to this!! There were several years were I just wanted to be invisible. I became so passive in how I interacted with others and how I let my feelings never register internally. How unhealthy all of that was! My self esteem surely suffered and I feel like I sometimes still trip over my words. Work was/is the only thing that validates me - but I wanted to be recognized for the work and was uncomfortable with actual compliments. I've been on this journey of self discovery for about 3.5 months and can finally see some of these dots and connect them. It feels good to understand the "why" so I can stop putting so much pressure on myself.
     
    #14 leb10, Jun 20, 2017
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  15. Pole star

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    Great to read all these thoughts. helps me understand myself so much more. Sienna's posts are always very practical...It is true that I make so many adult decisions and have been responsible for my parents, making decisions for them and making responsible adult decisions at work.

    My sexual development was suspended in my teens and early 20s. That is why I am starting from there! I never thought it could be like this. It was interesting how a 20 something could get attracted to me. I wonder if - can't they see I am not 20? What do they see in me? But I think I am increasingly finding 30 attractive - so maybe maturing there.
     
  16. Pole star

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    As a start you can always connect with people here on empty closets. Let me know if I can help you in any way as I work in your area.
     
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  17. Pole star

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    I think another way I behaved was to keep myself busy and occupied at all times - fill my time so I cannot pause and think. It is like running away from reality or afraid to face reality. Too much of that and we will end up in a world of make-believe.

    I also feel that if anyone had pointed out to me or even vaguely suggested at that time that I was gay I would get offended and banish that person away from my life. But I still could not face the facts!
     
  18. OnTheHighway

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    To give some perspective, I do believe younger guys that look to engage sexually or even romantically with older guys themselves are having emotional development challenges. They are seeking out a father figure to fill a void that may otherwise exist. I do suggest to proceed cautiously.
     
  19. Imjustjulien

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    Thank you OTH. Clarity.
     
  20. Pole star

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    I also wonder if you are a sensitive person you have more problems when in denial than if you are more thick skinned? Maybe if you are thick skinned you are able to put up with it as long as you want and cope better.

    Or it could be that the coping mechanism for denial makes you sensitive/super sensitive. It is like what came first - chicken or egg?

    Just a thought..