A few days ago, Peterson posted maybe one of the most important blog posts I've seen in quite a long time. Called "Ex-Gay Harm--Let Me Count the Ways" it begins to catalog some of the harm that many of us have experienced from our ex-gay time. From relationship harm to financial harm, for some of us, the toll has been great. There have also been wonderful comments as people add their own stories and lists. It is turning into a powerful witness and catalog of experiences.
I recently posted my own comments, which I will copy and paste here, following a recent piece of art (click for larger image):
I have avoided reading this post and the comments here for a few days, because I was afraid of getting close to some still-fragile places.
While I have worked through a lot of the grief of what I lost, and the damaging messages I received and believed, it still hits like a ton of bricks to read this post and these comments.
I have finally starting creating art again, after eight years of creative slumber, a casualty of shutting off so much of myself. My art right now is still very much about my ex-gay time and the hopes, dreams, desires, and great loss.
The biggest problem I still face is fear of close relationships with others - especially women. Fear of "emotional dependency" or "enmeshment." Fear of needing someone. Fear of...I don't know. Just fear, and now just a consistent inability to wholly participate in friendships with others.
I know that it's not true - that while some relationships can be unhealthy, most are not. And closeness and yes, even at times emotional dependency should not be demonized. There are times when we all need others, and to be shamed for relationships that we had while ex-gay, those that others deemed unhealthy; relationships that may have been getting us through some of the tougher moments in our ex-gay process...it is a great harm and a great disservice to us at a time when we were the most vulnerable, and the most laid bare, needing others around us.
I am 36 years old and beginning a new life. I am still trying to put some pieces together, and still trying to figure out relationships. Still trying to untie myself when it comes to closeness with others; needing others; being able to receive from others.
I have lost much, and I could talk about how much I have now gained, and all these things (many real) that we do to convince ourselves that "all things work together for good." I know that I now live with great authenticity, and that I have the strength to use my story to help others. But tonight, in the aftermath, it hurts, and I'm feeling it.
Christine, that image moves me deeply. From the moment I saw it the other day when you sent it, it touched a place inside of me, like looking in a newer, clearer type of mirror.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing! And I can totally relate! Wow, words like enmeshment and emotional dependency etc. have been used as a weapon with many of us. I was reading in counseling textbooks recently that when counseling lesbians counselors are supposed to beware of putting heterosexual stereotypes on lesbians. For example if I were counseling someone Asian I would know their way, their culture and therefore not judge collectivism as unhealthy just because I am American and American culture values autonomy. Similarly counselors today are being asked to understand that lesbian relationships are supposed to look different than hetrosexual relationships because they are different. That doesn't make them less healthy. Just as there are ways to seek health while still valueing collectivism of an Asian culture there are ways to encourage healthy relationships between women while still valuing the fact that lesbian relationships are more fully integrated in all parts of their lives. The negative judgment of "enmeshed" is totally a white American heterosexual stereotype.ReplyDelete
Um. sorry for the rant! :)
Thanks Peterson. Your comments and support of my art mean so very much to me.ReplyDelete
Just me....do not apologize for the "rant" - what great information. Thank you for sharing that...it helps me put this into perspective even more, and gives me further understanding of the issue, which I'm still trying to sort out.
By the way, as I've pondered all of this, I've often thought that there is something else going on as it relates to lesbians, or ex-gay female "strugglers" - not only is the demonization of close female/lesbian relationships related to a heterosexual stereotype, but I feel it's also related to sexism, and how men view (or judge) women and their relationships with each other.
There are a lot of things that I've been wanting to try to articulate and understand about the experience of being female in a very male movement - how the messages, expectations and demands differ for us.
Thanks so much for your input. Sounds like the start of another post....
I love you.....ReplyDelete
I still think your introduction says so much in a lot of words: "making my own acquaintance." I'm sorry you were influenced to become a stranger to yourself. *hug*ReplyDelete
My heart is listening, learning and pondering ..... alongside.
Rest to you,
I love you!! Are you coming to GCN conference? PM me on GCN. I really miss you. I will be at GCN conference.ReplyDelete
i think that the way women relate to women is an unknowable mystery to many people in many cultures. in reading literature by Indian (not native american) authors, especially women, there is an intensity and wholeness that exists in relationships between many Indian women. it is not sexual in nature, rather, a unity and intimacy. it is a closeness that often feels uncomfortable to me as i read it, but also speaks to my desire for that same closeness. this intertwining type of frienship is shied away from in most of western society because there is a negative connotation to that kind of closeness. we are taught to compartmentalize and distance ourselves from those around us. we are taught that closeness is reserved for our romantic lives, and that intimacy is only sexual in nature. but that denies the depth of the human existance which can engender closeness and intimacy on many levels. it is not only a struggle that ex-ex-gays deal with, but I can see how it would be amplified by the ex-gay message.ReplyDelete
That hand made collage is awesome. I wish you'd sell it to me.ReplyDelete
The olders gays are people that a life very stronglely for to disable your condiction befores as a felow that like persons of the same sex. Very well your change ! I dont know that this is posible.ReplyDelete