1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Struggling with internalized negative messeges

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by wanderinggirl, Oct 23, 2015.

  1. wanderinggirl

    Full Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2013
    Messages:
    1,189
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    New York
    I recently realized that it's not homophobia but heteronormativity that pushed me into the closet. I had inklings at a young age that I was gay, but I knew immediately I had to suppress them to be normal. I'm pretty social, but I have developed a crippling social anxiety in many situations. The worst is over so I feel like I'm ready to move on and live my life openly, but I realize I'm suffering from a ridiculous amount of internalized heteronormativity that makes me feel other, different, weird.

    I'm hoping someday it'll normalize and I wont' feel apologetic for my identity, if that makes sense. Do you struggle with it? How do you handle internalized "othering"?
     
    #1 wanderinggirl, Oct 23, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2015
  2. rachael1954

    Full Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2015
    Messages:
    315
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    NYC
    I tried to be someone I was not for nearly the last 20 years. It was all fine and dandy, I thought I had mastered whatever dangerous monster was in me that was not in anyone else.

    Until the "midlife crisis/identity transition/oops I might be a dyke" incident, which slapped me awake abruptly. Now I'm trying to be authentic with friends and my spouse, but it's difficult with family. I am mostly just quiet around them. So I'm still quite split, and may be forever depending on how my situation plays out.
     
  3. crazydog15

    Regular Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2015
    Messages:
    352
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    USA
    Gender:
    Male
    Sexual Orientation:
    Gay
    Out Status:
    Some people
    The best thing that's helped me is to create a new normal. To tell people that I'm gay, to have people know. I know the feeling about having internalized negativity; I still struggle with the idea that the only person who can have sex with and be emotionally close to a man is a woman. But I take it a day at a time, and I still have some shitty days. It's getting a little better, though.
     
  4. angeluscrzy

    Full Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2015
    Messages:
    1,070
    Likes Received:
    136
    Location:
    Maryland
    Gender:
    Male
    Gender Pronoun:
    He
    Sexual Orientation:
    Gay
    Out Status:
    Some people
    I tried keeping everything in as best I could, always trying to be the best of what I thought I was "supposed" to be, til finally just decided I cannot live like that anymore. My whole life felt like it was on autopilot and just passing me by. Didn't take care of myself and I always came last when it came to anyone's needs. Now, since deciding to just be out, I have a much stronger desire to take care of myself. I'm eating better and exercising, and got pride bracelet I've been wearing for the last several weeks. I still feel insecure about stuff now and then but I just keep thinking how nobody else feels the need to justify their lives to me, and I have nothing that I need justify to anybody else.
     
    #4 angeluscrzy, Oct 23, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2015
  5. datapicnix

    Regular Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Toronto
    Gender:
    Male
    I appreciate your posting as I had not heard of it put quite that way or the term "heteronormativity" (I'm new a lot of this). I can certainly relate to that in a huge way.
     
  6. SnowshoeGeek

    Full Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2015
    Messages:
    295
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Iowa
    Yes, this is exactly what makes me crazy. :bang: As I just now take a step back from sexual relationships altogether, for the first time in my adult life :eek:, I am blown away at how much of my efforts have been to try to look like the heterosexual norm. I think it is going to take me a long time to erase that.

    What I do to try to combat it? I binge-watch The L Word and fill my Facebook feed with queer sites. I personally have a lot of hermit in me, but even more so lately. I just don't expose myself to the outside world except the bare minimum. I have to be alone to hear myself think. I don't have any friends who are terribly heteronormative, in fact my few women friends appear asexual and might very well be closeted. I have become very picky about friends just this past few months (meaning I have no one-sided friendships anymore). I want to make some lesbian friends but that will take time and attending queer events. I don't watch heterosexual shows or TV in general very much, and a lot of my favorite movies and shows are adventure/thriller type where any romance is a side story. I'm just trying to sort of obliterate the hetero-focus from my surroundings, activities, and contacts.

    I don't expect that I'll live this way forever. I just never had a core of identity anyway, never stood up for myself, fought back, asserted my needs, disagreed with people, expressed my opinion. Basically I seem to have spent my life wanting some kind of emotional shelter from a man. That could be heteronormativity at work, or simply my own personal insecurities. I don't know. Chicken/egg.


    This is awesome!!! :thumbsup:

    (&&&)​
     
  7. TheStormInside

    Full Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2014
    Messages:
    1,308
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    New England, US
    I feel this way too, at times. I feel like I may still be mourning my "straight self," as though I'm pretty sure I'm lesbian I still struggle to embrace that identity. I have feelings for men, but I don't want to sleep with them, yet I cling to those "feelings," I think as a way to cling to the possibility of heteronormativity.

    I feel "othered" in many ways, and at first I was feeling depressed and even angry to uncover this new "strange" thing about myself that I refused to see. I'm starting to make peace with it, now. Part of accepting myself has been surrounding myself with those who accept me. Slowly I've pushed myself to be more open about my sexuality with my friends, and now we can joke about it as though it's normal. Having it out in the open, and not some deep, dark secret helps a lot.

    I think for me the next step is to try to make LGBT friends, something I've been struggling with a lot due to social anxiety. But maybe this is where you are, too? I remember talking to you some time ago about going to LGBT groups- have you made any friendships there? I think surrounding yourself with more people who are *like you* can very much help you feel less different or other.

    I agree with Snowshoe Geek, too, watching a lot of gay/lesbian media helped me a lot at the early part of my self discovery, and I still go to it now when I'm feeling how you've described. Just seeing myself represented in stories I can relate to gives me a sense of calm. It helps a lot to see it normalized in pop culture because pop culture is a reflection of our current culture. It's becoming less and less "weird" to be gay, and more and more "ok" or even "cool" (though don't get me started there, I have some beef with that, haha).

    Anyway, you're totally normal here! And even if we aren't the "norm" in the wider world, that doesn't mean it's a bad thing. "Different, not less."
     
  8. angeluscrzy

    Full Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2015
    Messages:
    1,070
    Likes Received:
    136
    Location:
    Maryland
    Gender:
    Male
    Gender Pronoun:
    He
    Sexual Orientation:
    Gay
    Out Status:
    Some people
    I have felt the same growing up of having no identity. As I dealt with all the guilt and shame of having experimented with a friend when I was 8, I sunk into depression and eventually self harm and psychiatric stays. I lost any sense of identity, tho there were flags that should have made it incredibly clear that I was gay. How pure and real things felt when I fell for my (straight) best friend, and instant obsession with Gavin Rossdale from the moment I saw him, back when I was 19. It seemed almost transcendent that here was someone that, when I looked at them, i gender never even came into mind as something deep just felt like "omg I just *completely* adore this person. Looking back on the few relationships with women I've had, I can see now how much I was always trying to live up to this ideal I created of what a man is supposed to be. I'm a hard worker, and I have very sound values and ethics, but I'm just not *meant* to be with a woman. It has always felt like playing a part in a play. My whole life has been plagued by depersonalization as I had absolutely no sense of self. It was was a shell filled with what I felt were the right "ingredients" that make me a good man, but not that spark that would give me life.
    Now after all these years, newly deciding I have to finally be out........I actually feel alive more. I am finally trying to build more confidence and am taking care of myself. I always felt like I had to put the needs of everyone else first, and now I am realizing I have valid needs too. I matter. That feels wonderful. Now, I better understand the word "pride". No apologies, no need to mold my image just to suit others.
     
  9. scouse

    Regular Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2012
    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    uk
    Gender:
    Female
    Gender Pronoun:
    She
    Sexual Orientation:
    Gay
    Out Status:
    Out to everyone
    It can help to implement things into your life that are not completely hetero where possible, and more reflective of yourself. Forums (already there!), TV shows, books, events and places that are lgbt. If possible meeting other like-minded people will also help.
     
  10. bi2me

    Full Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2014
    Messages:
    1,301
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Ohio
    I've been reading a lot about gender and sexual politics. It's helped me see the heteronormativity around us. Also listening to queer friendly sex based podcasts like Dan Savage and Tristan Taormino have helped me realize I'm not alone or crazy for wanting something outside what society deems normal.
     
  11. wanderinggirl

    Full Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2013
    Messages:
    1,189
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    New York
    So many awesome responses here!

    Yep, I always felt like I had to master/tame some part of myself; I didn't realize I was the only one doing so. Also, being semicloseted isn't easy but one size doesn't fit all. Find the level of "outness" that works for you. Good luck to you.

    I definitely still struggle with this idea that I can't be happy with a woman. Less so now that I have an awesome relationship, but more than I'd like to. As for achieving a new normal: yes. Coming out and being out can definitely relieve the isolation. And being treated normally is awesome.

    Yep. For me it's not necessarily a physical taking care of myself, but an emotional/spiritual care. I ignored those needs for a long time.
    Regarding that last sentence: YES. You don't have to justify yourself to anyone else. I might write that on a postit and put it on my desk; it's so common-sense and yet I often forget.

    That's ok, I'd heard the term before but it took me 3 years to really start grasping the concept and how harmful it can be. It's defined as the pervasive societal idea that heterosexuality (and cisgender identification) are "normal" and everything else is an anomaly. It's not quite so negative as homophobia, but that's why it is so insidious (i feel): it's easier to reject ideas that are overtly hateful, but it's harder to reject ideas that just "other" other people. Hate stems from this though, so homophobia is tied to heteronormativity, but not all heteronormative people are homophobic.

    Yes. I definitely rearranged friendships and shifted my focus away from romantic/sexual pursuits. Regarding that last bit about not having a core identity: yes. Being closeted and refusing to acknowledge one's nature requires so much sacrificing of identity. That takes a long time to undo.

    You hit all the nails on the head. The "mourning" of the straight self is maybe a product of feeling that was the "normal" part of yourself, as defined by heteronormative standards? It's hard to let that go. Congrats on making more steps toward being out! You're right, I was struggling for a while with making LGBT friends. Still am a little; I have anxiety in embracing my identity. I've tried volunteering a few times but anxiety makes me chicken out: being around other queer people means acknowledging my queerness and it's still not okay with me, deep down inside. But I've made progress; yesterday I saw my girlfriend, other lesbian friends, and I volunteered at an LGBT event; I realized at the end of the day that a whole day had gone by without me interacting with straight people. I love my straight friends and my family but I think of it as progress if I can do queer things all day and not break down with anxiety.

    I also had an experimental thing when I was 10, but then of course she got a boyfriend so I felt like whatever it was was trivial because it was just two girls horsing around and of course we'd eventually get boyfriends.
    I'm glad you're filling that shell now, and living to the fullest! No apologies, no conformity.

    Yes absolutely. I insist on to not needing community because not "othering" myself makes me feel connected to my current friends; and i'd hate to squeeze them out. But I want to do more volunteer work, for sure. I think there's room in my life for both my old friends and new friends. My old friends would be supportive, so what am I afraid of? :slight_smile:

    ---------- Post added 24th Oct 2015 at 11:54 AM ----------

    Will check out those podcasts! Thanks.
     
  12. rachael1954

    Full Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2015
    Messages:
    315
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    NYC
    You could be a writer, you have a great way of putting things and almost every post from you helps me realize something about myself.
     
  13. angeluscrzy

    Full Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2015
    Messages:
    1,070
    Likes Received:
    136
    Location:
    Maryland
    Gender:
    Male
    Gender Pronoun:
    He
    Sexual Orientation:
    Gay
    Out Status:
    Some people
    Thank you, that's very flattering. I used to write a lot of poetry when I was younger. I think writing was the one thing that helped me through my teen years. I wish I still had them all.
     
  14. ebda30

    Regular Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2015
    Messages:
    198
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    CA
    Gender:
    Genderqueer
    Out Status:
    A few people
    Im not good at talking,im going thru what rachel explained i went thru some swlf hate also. Very anxious around females scared nervous etc. Maybe one day I'll deal, idk. Sometimes im not sure its wise as im in a hetero marriage that i dont want to leave
     
  15. yeehaw

    Full Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2015
    Messages:
    209
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Oregon
    This! This is an such an excellent description of how I viewed myself until I *finally* figured out that I was just gay, that's it, no monsters after all.
     
    #15 yeehaw, Oct 24, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2015
  16. Sorrel

    Full Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2015
    Messages:
    175
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Non-English-speaking country
    YES SnowshoeGeek!! I know exactly what you mean!

    Some stuff I've been doing:
    I wouldn't talk about anything personal. I'd talk about "people in general", not my experiences or feelings. I assumed my perspectives and feelings were wrong, if someone questioned them. Not just when it came to sexuality or relationships, but my perspective on just about anything - I would surrender my opinion if it wasn't very well received.

    I avoided topics of love and sex. I believed I didn't understand them and had no valuable experience. I thought other people were a little bit crazy to be so preoccupied with love and sex. Like, hadn't Beyoncé written enough songs about love already?

    I used not to care about what I looked like, and made little choices to appear unattractive, in the (unconscious) hope that my boyfriend would leave me alone.

    I tried to enjoy and appreciate wearing clothes that tends to give me a feeling of dysphoria, like skirts and dresses.

    And many other little things...
     
  17. KyleD

    Full Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2013
    Messages:
    1,094
    Likes Received:
    25
    Location:
    Spain
    Gender:
    Male
    Gender Pronoun:
    He
    Sexual Orientation:
    Gay
    Out Status:
    Family only
    I listen to a lot of positive affirmations to drown out all the negativity that I am attacked with in my environment on a daily basis.