the sex talk

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 2, 2014 by wecanbeboth

I had to write a response paper for my sexuality class. I wanted to share that here because I believe it is very relevant to my blog. I hope you enjoy…I adapted some for this post.

One of my many hopes in this field is to deconstruct the societal views around sex and sexuality.  I hope to break barriers around the ultimate truths of sexuality and advocate how these views are oppressing and discriminatory.

SOCIETAL VIEW:

I get asked these two questions constantly; at least I did in the Midwest; “How do you have sex, and don’t you want to have kids?” This is what they are really saying; “How do you have sex without having a penis inside of you? And how dare you not use your body according to what God intended for women!” This is how I respond; I sure hope sex is more than the male body part inserting itself into the female body part because, fuck, how boring! And being a woman has nothing to do with being able to have children, however being female does, please get your definitions correct. Sexuality is still paired with patriarchy, conservatives, and I believe society still views sex as only complete with orgasm and/or conception. It is still so linear

MY TRUTH:

*According to David Scharnch and his book; Passionate Marriage, “Differentiation is your ability to maintain your sense of self while in close contact with people who may pressure you to conform…There’s no beauty in sex, the beauty is in people. You cannot save the beauty in sex; you have to put it in. We all develop inner beauty to varying degrees (2009 p. 75 &107).”

*From my first sexuality class we came from a very different approach than Greene and Flemons. In their book; Quickies: the handbook of brief sex therapy, they state this; “No couple can be intimate without freedom in relationship (2004, p. 144). These are very different views and I tend to agree more with Schnarch because I do not believe freedom in a relationship can occur without freedom within oneself. However, both of these quotes touch on my view of sexuality; freedom!

I had to really form my beliefs around sexuality due to having such liberal views in a conservative state and the best way I did that was ask the question, if I were to explain sex and sexuality to my child, student, or client, how would I? Sex is passion, it is beauty, and it is serious and not meant to be with multiple people. When we find that someone, that hopefully is the person we spend our lives with do I believe the act of sex is at its best. Sex does not just mean a male in missionary position with a female. Sex is commitment; intimacy and connection in whatever form people choose, with a person we know will not throw our self-esteem and worth around because we matter.  Deconstructing social norms and expanding the definition of sexuality, though a major goal for me in this profession does come from a selfish place related to my own journey as a sexual being. *From the book, Handbook  in clinical sexuality for mental health professionals,” by Candace Risen, she states this;

“Everyone has sexual thoughts, feelings, and experiences that are integral to their sense of who they are and how they relate to the world. Sexual problems often manifest and mask themselves in the major symptoms that bring patients to treatment; depression, anxiety, failure to achieve, low self-esteem and the inability to engage in intimate relationships (p.4).”

I am not shy when it comes to talking about sex. I love who I am and am proud of who I am. This quote is why family therapy is so important and so crucial to normalizing the topic of sex and sexual orientation! Connecting to another person sexually is the most personal activity we can engage in. Societal views and definitions gives sex a bad name and have people feel crappy about themselves because most of the time we do not fit in the constricting mold which can lead to the opposite of what sex is supposed to be; intimate.

*bare with the author references! I want to give credit where it is due                                                                                                                                         Image

This picture alone is proof the topic of sex is still so uncomfortable for so many, i was reading this in public and got so many judgmental looks…it was crazy.

chapter two

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 4, 2014 by wecanbeboth

You hear people having a 5 year plan, or a 10 year plan, well I have a 6 year plan that consists of 3 major goals. This six year plan is a piggy back to my last ten year plan (Chapter one) which was completed when I graduated with my Masters. I panicked for awhile because when I graduated I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. My life since I was 14 surrounded around graduating with my Family Therapy degree, now that I have it, it was almost like, my life was complete, I finished what I set out to do. I realized I need to make new goals, and when I do that I have to look back on my journey and see what tugged at my heart the most while completing my first goal…make sense?

I look back at the amount of oppression and discrimination I encountered within the school system, church, and heterosexual world but also know the amount of encouragement I got from my family, specifically with school.

My first goal was moving out east…I FINALLY MADE IT TO MASSACHUSETTS. Not quite Boston (where my heart is), but a 30 minute train ride is not to shabby considering I was 1,431.6 miles away living in Kansas City. This goal is well on it’s way. Many people believe I wanted to move here because I am gay and can get married, I wanted to move to Boston way before I even new it was legal for all couples to get married. I just feel that I fit better here, with every part of who I am.

Being here, I also have a job working with the exact group I want to work with; foster teens. Why my heart goes out to this group…I have never felt like I truly fit anywhere, I am different in almost every way. My spiritual beliefs and political beliefs do not fit a mold, My sexuality does not fit a mold, and my intelligence and how I learn do not fit a mold, I also get stereotyped and put in a box a lot. these are very similar qualities to foster kids and the experiences I have learned they go through. Foster teens are also awesome because they bring everything to the table. I want to work with kids who struggle with cutting, eating disorder, figuring out their sexuality, but! the most important part is working with WHOLE families, not just the teens. Bringing a form of stability in the therapy room where as many family members (foster or biological) is in the room makes the most sense to me to gain trust and stability. (theorist: Minuchin! woop woop)

Realizing the group I want to work with most is the base of my next two goals; having my own private practice (2018) and becoming a foster parent (2020).

The awesome thing about living out east and wanting to have a private practice is I have learned people have jobs in both agency and practice at the same time with multiple offices in different cities because everything is so close together. Seriously! I couldn’t ask for a better location to live out my dream as a therapist.

People tend to be shocked when I say I want to be a foster parent. Some people can’t fathom the fact that I do not want to be a biological mother. Well, even before I came out I didn’t want to have kids biologically anyway. When people ask me why I have chosen foster parenting I respond with the age group I want most. I want the kids who are close to aging out of the system. These kids get forgotten, pigeonholed, and stigmatized, who is on their team? This goal I hope to start pursing in 2020…crazy! I will be 32.

Now, how does this relate to my blog and the message I am trying to send? Not once in any of these goals will being gay be an issue, at all, whatsoever. I have been told that being gay will affect my professional career, and the lgbt community has been told all over the world that we aren’t good enough, that we are bad, THAT GOD HATES US, and that we are loved less. Well, being gay will not affect me professionally, in a way it will actually benefit me. Also, being a therapist and being a person of the human race; we are good enough, we are good, GOD LOVES US, and we are loved. I hope to continue sharing that message.

a thought to ponder.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 4, 2013 by wecanbeboth

Our egos, which I am distinguishing from the true self, have great difficulty with boundaries. The ego is a narrative of our lives that is our own creation. It is the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. It is often how we make sense of things and sort things out. This is a process that is under constant revision. It pushes us to criticize and judge, to weigh and compare.

[In order to be right about anything, the mind has the need to find someone or something that is wrong. In a sense, the mind is always looking for an enemy (the person who is “wrong”), since without an enemy, the mind is not quite sure of its own identity. When it has an enemy, it is able to be more confident about itself.Unfortunately, being right is not what people really need, even though a great deal of their lives may be taken up in its pursuit. Defense of the ego is almost always a matter of trying to be right.]

Strangely, this process creates false boundaries – borders that mark the ego’s own definitions. As such, it is an inherently narcissistic view of the world – the world according to me…
The ego’s search for God is deeply frustrated by His silence. The boundaries of silence, darkness and hiddenness with which God most often surrounds Himself are met with frustration, argument, anger or even rejection. The ego frequently substitutes the products of the mind for the truth of God. God as idea is the God who is most suited to the needs of the ego. Such a God will, in the end, be an icon of the ego itself.

-Father Stephen

please, just let this sink in. how does this relate to the fight for equality? being a follower of Christ yet being something so many Christians look down upon and  view us as lesser? how does this relate to our own individual lives. this blows my mind because it fits so well with what i try to do within my profession.

“Love is just a word, a label; real love is unexplainable.”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 18, 2013 by wecanbeboth

okay, lets talk about this whole anti-label generation situation.

now, if you have followed my blog at all you know how against labels I am. I obviously have plenty of labels that i either put on myself or society puts on me. what really gets me is when people try to fit my faith and sexuality in a box to make themselves feel better.

I do believe however there is one exception where a label is actually best used and that is defining our romantic relationships.

Now, again, people can obviously do whatever they want and define their relationships however they choose, but when two people define their relationships as ‘open,’ they are shorting themselves of true love, commitment and intimacy…and ya know what? it really pisses me off. Humans are designed to love with everything they have to what i have talked about before to one person.

here is an example of what i am talking about…

‘we love each other, but don’t want to put a label on it.’

‘so, if you are attracted to someone else then you can start dating them and that other person won’t care?’

‘well, we love each other and always go back to each other, we just don’t want to put a label on it.’

-very small example, but…WHAT THE HECK!?! many times when people explain it to me there are inconsistencies.

i’m sorry but this is such a load of crap. this is what i hear; ‘we love each other and are committed to each other, we are just afraid of the label that defines us as monogamous.’ i hear; one foot in, one foot out, and i hear comfortable. Relationships are not meant to be comfortable. and again, I actually hear monogamy but what i hear louder is fear.

This is why i believe people are shorting themselves when they have the above conversation. They may feel safe in these relationships and that’s good but even so, I would hope when someone says they love another person, share their body with that person and plan their future with that person, I damn sure hope they are so confident, so committed, and so in love that they would put a label of and shout from the rooftops, ‘we are in a committed relationship to each other and only each other and so in love!’ If not, i really question the realness and rawness of that ‘relationship.’

I have to remember my beliefs and values don’t always match others but even so, ‘open relationships,’ i really do believe are just a cop out and the anti-label generation is still a label. funny how that works.

my idea of love: still in development

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on November 18, 2013 by wecanbeboth

-continuation from last post-

I used to have this idea around what a solid relationship and true love looked like. Within the past year and a half I have had to reevaluate my definition of love and what I want my relationships to look like. When I broke up with the person who I believed fit this definition to a tee my whole idea around love shattered and I had to kind of start from scratch.

It has been a heart wrenching, raw, beautiful journey that completely broke me and has built me up to be stronger in my faith, in myself, and in love that I was bitter around for so long.

Where I was:

  • love conquered all. PERIOD
  • if they are your true love even with turmoil there are always second chances. ALWAYS

-I know a ton of couples that broke up for a good amount of time and got back together and are now married…this was a TRUTH in my world.

  • you can be BOTH angry with your partner AND still be completely in love with them at the same time.
  • there is only one person on the planet for each person.
  • individuality within a relationship is pretty darn important.
  • be wanted more than needed.

These core values around love are not bad, or wrong, my issue was I was so black and white with them. I had my reality and I had my truth and no one was going to budge me. All I knew were these values and beliefs around love. I tend to compare myself to Cory in Boy Meets World. I am a hopeless romantic, i am an idealist, and love is all anyone needs…seriously.

During my journey of reflecting back on these, dissecting them, breaking them down and rebuilding my idea of love the conclusion i have come to is…i still believe in all of these things wholeheartedly. I just have a better definition for them.

Where I am today

  • love conquers all. PERIOD

this is true; Love can mean anything. Love is Jesus, Love is Passion, Love is loving flaws, love is hard work. Love isn’t just being in Love, it is staying in Love. ALWAYS.

  • if they are your true love even with turmoil there are always second chances.

this is the hardest for me to wrap my head around and I think this belief will continuously evolve. Second chances only happen when people are on the same page at the same time and are willing to risk for each other. A second chance doesn’t always mean returning to a romantic relationship but being able to start fresh; whatever that means for those two people. Logically I know a second chance romantically is not going to happen. First loves tend to be tricky though. I don’t care who you are… there is this idealistic thought tucked away in your back pocket that you still believe that second chance of getting back together will happen…and ya know what, that’s okay, just don’t stop living your life due to the nugget of hope. I have not had an experience that has changed this story for me. First loves never (an absolute i know) go away, that’s what makes them so special. When i get that next experience of love my idea might change, but I won’t know until God puts whoever she is in my life.

-still the same-

  • you can be BOTH angry with your partner AND still be completely in love with them at the same time.
  • there is only one person on the planet for each person.

not everyone believes this…that rocked my world when I realized this….to most it’s probably a no brainer.

  • individuality/independence within a relationship is most important.

I believed I knew who i was and i was independent but I really had to be by myself to grow in my relationship with Christ, and to grow in my identity just as a person and everything I come with. I struggled taking care of myself. How could anyone take care of another human if they struggle with self care?

  • be wanted more than needed.

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.-” Kahlil Bibran

Now, what if someone who identified with being straight wrote this? would your feelings around this post change?

my faith through my new identity : 2010-2012

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 13, 2013 by wecanbeboth

Truly dealing with my sexuality was not something I planned for. It did not help that the boy i was dating at the time was verbally abusive. During our short time whenever I was upset, confused, or sad, I would text or console in  another co-worker who was the only girl I worked closely with (who wrote a post for this blog).

She and I clicked right away. I was the only person she trusted to come out to at work. After my break up with the current guy I was becoming more aware of my feelings for her and could not figure it out. Was it because I was gay, or felt so lost and alone? The first time I ever acknowledged the possibility of being gay was to a friend of mine when exploring the possibility of being with her. She was also one of the few gay people I knew. Neither of us knew at the time that we were pursuing one other. The guy i broke up with was honestly the bridge to her and more importantly helped me realize what my sexual identity is. It finally came clear to me, all those questions I had been asking myself for so long. I am gay!

When I came to the realization I did not want to be with men in any form; dating, sexually, in marriage, co-parenting, etc. it was hard to accept the security in my life was gone. With heterosexuality comes a sense of security socially, politically and economically. I felt I had to mentally and emotionally prepare myself for this reality before I could authentically come out to my friends and family. I needed to prepare myself for the questions and challenges I would get when sharing this news. I was officially out of the structure I grew up in.

“Going through gridlock in your marriage is much like climbing a mountain; if you feel in control of yourself, rather than trying to control the terrain and weather, you can relax and enjoy the climb (Schnarch, 2009, p. 323).”

This metaphor is phenomenal when reflecting back on my coming out experience because like my friends and family, the mountain will not change, I do. I get tired, but stronger, I could not wait to feel safe, because that safety was no longer there. When preparing myself for this change, being with a girl felt so natural, and gave me a sense of comfort. I felt like I lived in two different worlds of finally knowing who I was and then living the way the world expected me to be through the evangelical Christian view.

I had started my first ever romantic relationship with a girl before I came out to my family. I thought out very carefully how my coming out experience was going to go, like picking the best trail to climb up a mountain. There were so many avenues I could have taken; come out on Facebook and rip it off like a band aid, only tell people I knew would be supportive, or not say anything and act like me being gay was not news. None of these seemed wise or respectful and would probably result in my plummeting death down a rocky mountain.  What I knew I did not want was to put myself in a fantasy world that coming out was not going to affect people negatively. I was very careful in the order I told people and to balance the people I knew would be okay and the people who would not be okay with my orientation. The ultimate confession and soon to be reality would be to my parents and sibling, and later how to handle being a minority in the professional world

During my first four months being in relationship and not telling my parents I could not handle the guilt from lying about who I really was, I was afraid of being cut off, and tossed out of the family. I had confided in a professor around my parent’s age who is an ex-pastor. He really helped mentor me in the process of coming out to not only my parents but who are also in a different generation. How I expected my parents to react was the polar opposite of what really happened.

            As my relationship grew within this new identity, I fell in love and started to plan a life with this beautiful girl. Being in a gay relationship with two families extremely against homosexuality got the best of us. This has taught me a valuable lesson in general and  for my profession; Shame should never be in the room or come from the therapist; acceptance, respect, and knowledge are the most important.

As I go along in this journey I am the most anxious when coming out to someone associated with the Christian faith. Through these past two years and beginning to wave my pride flag high I  am still learning to grow through the shame that has been placed on me.

I went my entire childhood and adolescence thinking I grew up with freedom, independence and in an environment that was completely supportive of everyone and everything. Of course this is what I thought, I was living this system, and nothing about my life would suggest anything different, until I came out.  The signs were always there, that life is not black and white. Now that I am comfortable in my sexuality I no longer fit the mold of the church I grew up in. I had this identity of Christian and knowing my relationship with Christ is strong. I thought this would be enough. Being gay according to this church trumps my relationship with my Jesus.

I love the church however I cannot believe and follow a doctrine that does not allow people to be exactly who they are and that preaches the message of sin over the message of love and forgiveness. Another difference of the church and what my own personal belief is, people and their relationship with Christ is personal and no one else’s business. I knew this about myself but until I came out I was not able to be confident in this belief. Coming out allowed me the free will to be confident in my relationship with Christ so much more than before.

The difference I believe I had when coming out was already having at the time, a solid romantic relationship. Many kids I believe come out at an age where people do not believe them and that they have no life experience in the sexual world. It was not until Sarina and I broke up I realized it is a whole other story being gay and single and not having the security of a partner beside me. Having a partner was proof that I was gay. Being single is exactly what my parent’s want because being gay is not an abomination in their eyes; it is the sexual actions. Now, that I am single I am able to find my true self in my sexuality. It is a challenge because I am learning to live this life on my own and how to feel significant and safe all on my own. What a great lesson to learn on self-validation! It is challenging because I thought I had to be in a relationship to prove something, and I fight to be looked at like everyone else. I should not base my relationship status on what it will do for other people. Again, great lessons that fit well in everyday life but also bring normalcy to the subject of sex and intimacy.

sexuality is not black and white.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 16, 2013 by wecanbeboth

I get the question a lot from others asking about what if a man comes into my life, is he even an option? I have been thinking about this concept a lot lately and have known how I feel about the question for along time.

A new thought I have had though is…I try to make sure people don’t label me and fit me in a box i don’t believe i belong in, but I have noticed I have been doing this to myself also. I believe everyone does because we need structure to make sense out of life.

I also believe in the sexual spectrum that no one is 100% straight or 100% gay. we are humans and I believe there are desires or fantasies people have but due to faith, values, morals, possible embarrassment or whatever people do not share their true feelings around their sexuality. In therapy terms, it is the true meaning of hiding ourselves from making connections with ourselves and others (David Scharnch, look him up.)

God made complex humans who do not even know the true depth of their brains, why do we keep putting ourselves into categories? because we need to make sense of everything and some things just don’t make sense. we just have to be exactly who God made us and love that that to the fullest.

This is a conversation between myself and another woman who also does not identify with being straight (She gave me permission to post this.) I confided in my friend to talk it out and the conversation ended up being awesome and honest and I believe shows an aspect to sexuality that people do not talk about…it is okay to question, it is okay to not be sure and you can still be confident in that. I am B, and all the other names have been changed to letters to protect privacy. I hope this conversation shows how sexuality is not black and white and if there is anything in the world that cannot be fit inside a box it is human sexuality.

“Hey, i have a question.”-b

“Yes.”-a

“I don’t know if we ever actually talked about this but if like, the most amazing guy came your way that was just perfect would you still not date him because he’s a boy.”-b

“For me, probably not because I identify so much with being male.”-a

“That makes sense, i didn’t think about that for you.”-b

“Why you asking.”-a

“Just curious, i identify with being gay more than straight but if the right guy came along than why not.”-b

“Has nothing to do with your life? Oh, So bi”-a

“No, i do not identify with being bi, it isn’t like that.”-b

“Ok”-a

“For me i just take people for who they are.”-b

“Yeah that works. Makes sense.”-a

“Yeah, i have had to really think about it, just like i felt i was stuck in a box when i was ‘straight,’ i feel even more in a box identifying as gay.”-b

“Why?”-a

“Because i realized i just cut off half of the world, i don’t know…i have come across some amazing men and just looked the other way because i am more into girls.”-b

“Yeah. I sometimes still get confused with my sexuality and my gender identity.”-a

“Yeah, me too about my sexuality especially when there is a boy in my life who is incredible,
It is so frustrating. What do you get confused about? if i can ask.”-b

“Well why don’t you hang out with him? i sometimes think i’m still attracted to men.”-a

“I have been trying to steer clear of people in general. i am trying to take it really really slow if i start liking someone. Yeah? what do you do when you have that thought? i know i like girls and when i see my life i don’t see myself being with a man but than i wonder…”-b

“Push it away lol, i don’t see myself with a man.”-a

“Yeah, i think for me i am tired of pushing it away…for me.”-b

“i think i just get confused.”-a

“Well that makes sense.”-b

“Half the time i feel like i am trans.”-a

“Do you feel you are?’-b

“I don’t know. E always use to say i was, i just don’t know at this point, i like the term genderqueer more
because i don’t feel like either.”-a

“If that fits for you than that’s awesome.”-b

“Yeah. i just don’t know for how long it will.”-a

“For me it is i don’t see myself having sex with a man, i think guys are great, but not the sex part.”-b

“Well how could you be with one then?”-a

“Well, if i meet someone awesome and i make that connection than i would think the sex would be good.”-b

“So how would you do that with a man then?”-a

“What?”-b

“You said you want that connection through sex, but you can’t have sex with a man.”-a

“I’m saying if i have an emotional connection with him than the sex part probably wouldn’t be bad. does that make sense?”-b

“Oh yeah i get it now, i was confused, but i understand, you gotta have both, i’ve never found that really”-a

“Yeah, explaining it is new for me so i am still trying to figure it out. i definitely had it with C for sure, but i don’t know. i have just been thinking how i just don’t let the other half of the population even be an option when maybe i will end up with a man. i feel so stupid.”-b

“Well maybe you need to be a little more confident.”-a

“Yeah. i am learning i have been confident in my sexuality it is just learning how to explain it
my biggest fear was…lets say i do end up with a guy i guarantee my parents will say it is because they prayed and they will never speak of my ‘gay years’, so i am learning that if i do end up with a guy it is because they are who i am meant to be with…or a girl…because they are awesome, haha.”-b

“I wouldn’t worry about what they think.”-a

“I know…it is just hard because it is what i am surrounded by all the time, this thing is what i have been thinking about all week.”-b

“Well maybe just take it one step at a time.”-a

“No, it is just when i start liking a guy, i go to worst case scenario mode.”-b

“Haha yeah. i tend to take it way too far in my head too.”-a

“And start questioning everything about the past three years, except C…”-b

“what do you mean”-a

“When i start liking a guy i start questioning if the past three years were even real. even though yes i was madly in love with C, was it just a stage…i think i am realizing though that, that is not my voice inside my head, it is everyone who doesn’t support my sexuality.”-b

“You shouldn’t worry about it so much, just take it one step at a time”-a

“Yeah, i am trying to just figure it out, i am a processor”-b

“Right, but don’t over process”-a

“I know right. what did you mean about you didn’t know how long feeling genderqueer would last?”-b

“Sometimes i think i’m trans.”-a

“Yeah, do you think you would ever get to the point of actually transitioning?”-b

See that’s one of the things i’m stuck on. i would like to get the chest surgery but i don’t really want a penis.”-a

“Well a lot of people aren’t getting the bottom surgery yet because it still has room for advancement.”-b

“I also don’t really feel like i identify at all with men.”-a

“How are you supposed to identify?”-b

“I don’t know.”-a

“Yeah, that’s hard.”-b

“I just try not to worry, i’ll figure it out in time.”-a

“Exactly. i just don’t want to miss out on someone for the sole purpose of how i label myself.”-b

“Well then don’t. if i was a femme lesbian i would definitely go back to guys.”-a

“That’s what i am reevaluating and changing.”-b

“I never identify as lesbian for that reason.”-a

“i love the androgynous side of me for sure, if i am meant to be with a guy i wouldn’t want that to change that part of me…”-b

“I don’t think you would have to.”-a

“I would hope so. wait…earlier you said you did identify with being male?”-b

“I just really don’t know”-a

“That is fair. i just wanted to ask. not knowing is always okay.”-b

“Yeah.”-a

“I do love my hair bows though, hahaha”-b

—end

See, so for anyone questioning who they are, or who are confident in who they are like the two of us it is still a question because love and intimacy is scary. This isn’t just about where we stand with men, women, or transgender community. It is about connection and falling in love and knowing we did that with the right person we are meant to be with. This is how I usually explain this answer, but hopefully this conversation makes sense. I guarantee there are many people who can relate, people just live in fear if people find out our true self and that is something about the human race I hope changes over time.