Yesterday I had another Cognitive Behavior Therapy session and I was pretty much dreading to go, because I know from experience it makes me totally exhausted when talking about certain things from the past. When I do, a lot of emotions come along the way and it´s really making me tired dealing with the whole process. Luckily my therapist suggested NOT to go back to the past completely, but just talk about the now, about how I feel about myself and what I really think about when I have my social anxiety attacks, with maybe just a little bit of looking back, to see where my anxiety is really coming from and why I have my anxiety. She said that I will have no benefit when I keep dealing with the past and that it is more important to help with the struggles I have right now.
I arrived late for my appointment, like 20 minutes, so my therapist had to shorten the session, but it was all good for me. Hey, the less I have to talk about it, the better, I suppose. I don´t know. Okay, I am going to try and write about my thoughts and what has been discussed at therapy as clear as possible.
It all comes down to the whole gay issue. I'm gay. Many of you guys already know that and you all don't care about that. That's all great for me. I talk about it freely on my videos and on my blog. You guys are making me feel I belong and feeling accepted and that really means a lot. Making me feel I can be myself, a human being who is always trying to be good, loving and kind to others. Someone who has a big and loving heart. I totally accept myself being gay and there's nothing that I can do to change that. It is who I am and I am comfortable with that. But, I can't help but sometimes feel uncomfortable about it. Especially when it comes to social environments.
During my therapy session today we talked about different situations in my life and I had to explain what is making me uncomfortable and why. Still to this day, whenever I find myself in groups, or any social happenings, I sometimes feel like I can't be myself, or I feel I have to act in a certain way. Even tho I accept myself of being gay and a lot of people know that I am gay, I do have the tendency to push myself back in the closet again. What I fear, and this may come as a shock to you, is being judged, being critisized for being gay and feeling like I don't belong, etc. In my daily vlogs I may come off as someone who doesn't care about what other people think or say about me. But it's different when I vlog. It's the direct face to face contact that is bugging me.
In all honesty, I am not the strongest person out there. I don't have a thick skin to shield me from all negativity that is happening in the world today. I hate to admit it but I break easily. And sometimes I hate myself for being so fragile. But it all has to do with my childhood. The way I was brought up when I was younger, having loving parents who were very overly protected over me and not really giving me the freedom I needed to explore, is a small factor that has to do with how I am today. My dad even admitted that to me a couple of months ago, saying he wishes he was less overly protective over me. But that's all good with me. It happened, I can't change it. I am fortunate that the relationship I have with my parents right now is so much better than it was, oh let's say, ten years ago.
But let's get back to my therapy session. I don't know how to write this down, so I will just explain what has been discussed today and what my therapist asked me. We were talking about my anxiety, about going out and meet people, whether it is at a party or any small gatherings that involves more than one person. I always get this nervous feeling whenever I find myself in a situation like that, mainly with people I don't know and who don't know me. Why do I have this fear? When my therapist asked me that question I was quiet for a little while, trying to think and find a way to explain it. It came down to the following:
- Afraid of being judged
- Afraid what people think of me
- Always thinking that people automatically think negative things about me
- Afraid of being laughed at
My therapist wrote these things down and asked me to think back and try to remember if I always felt like that. I explained to her that being gay to a majority of people is still wrong. I told her that people still don't tolerate homosexuals. Sure, nowadays people are being more tolerant about, but still. She also asked me if I feel that being gay is wrong. I told her that it's not wrong, it's who I am and I cannot change it. She agreed that it's a scientific fact that you're born gay. I told her that, when I was younger, I have been struggling with it, trying not to be gay, but as years went by I came to realize that there is nothing I can do to change it. And as many people say and think that it is a choice to be gay, if that's really the case, then I wouldn't choose to be gay. Why would I choose to be discriminated against? Right?
She then asked me how it was like when I was still working. I told her that I struggled to fit in and that it took me like a year, maybe even two years, to really feel comfortable. I was 21 years old when I started working for KLM. And you might think that working for an airline is like home for the gays, even if it is so, it was still a struggle for me. And also, when I started working for KLM, I didn't came out to my parents yet. That happened a couple months later. The year 2001 was a big year. New job, trying to fit in and coming out to my parents!
I told my therapist about my coming out! I told her that my dad was totally cool with it and that my mom was the one having a hard time. I told her that I thought it would be the other way around, but it wasn't. I explained to my therapist how my mom was hysterical about it, saying to me that it's a disease and whatnot. That was a pretty hard moment when I think back about my coming out. And I think the words my mom said to me really made me feel like it was wrong to be gay. Maybe that has something to do with it as well. But as I grew older I did a lot of soul searching and since the past couple of years my mom has been fully accepting me, which is good. But maybe around the time I came out, my mom's words had an effect as well, I don't know.
My therapist asked me if I have gay friends. I told her that I have some. I explained that most gay friends I have are way stronger than I am. They have a thicker skin and are more confident with who they are. I mean, I am confident of who I am. Like I've said, I am gay and that's that.
I also think, and I have explained this as well during my therapy session, that a majority of people have a stereotypical view on gay people. For example, whenever there's a gay pride parade. Now, I am all for people expressing themselves and for being themselves, and I am all for celebrating the fact that being gay is normal, but the whole gay pride events kinda shows the stereotypical views that people have on gays. Like being all flamboyant, dancing around in your underwear, all covered with glitter and being surrounded by drag queens. It's not really my scene. It's not close to who I am and it also doesn't define me as a person. I am not saying that everyone who attends a gay pride parade is like that, don't get me wrong. It's just not my scene. And because a lot of people think that being gay is all about being feminine or flamboyant, or saying that gay guys like to get fucked up the ass. I guess I have the fear of being labeled as someone I am not? I don't know if I am making any sense here. Again, I am happy there are people expressing themselves and I am definitely not judging them, all hail to them for being courageous, but the whole gay pride events is just not my thing. I don't like to walk around in my underwear in public. I do wish I had their self esteem tho.
Why am I filled with fear? If I am not like the 'stereotypical' gay person, then why am I scared? Well, you hear a lot on the news how people are being bullied about being gay. People protesting that being gay is a sin. I had to go through the bullying when I was in high school and it messed me up big time. I dropped out of school, basically running away from it. I think that is why I might be filled with fear, thinking it will happen again whenever I meet new people. Even tho I am fully accepting myself being gay, I still feel so damn insecure inside. It's very difficult, isn't it? The way I feel may be confusing you, or maybe not. Believe me, I wish I could think differently about all this, and mainly myself.
My therapist then asked me if I have family members who know that I am gay. I told her yes. There's my parents. I told her that I am happy that my parents accept me for who I am. There are a few family members who know I am gay. Some don't or maybe some can tell, I don't know. Sometimes whenever I am at a family gathering there's always going to be one family member who I haven't seen in a long time, asking me if I have a girlfriend already. I get so uncomfortable when that happens. I get warm, I choke up, I get nervous and I just answer 'NO' period and trying to change the subject. When I think about the last time that happened I try to observe how I felt. I felt nervous and slightly embarrassed too. But why, you might ask? I don't know. Is it the reaction I might get, or the response? Thinking that the response will be negative? I am trying to think about a situation like that while I am typing this right now… I think in some way that I am scared that people will think differently of me. I think that's one of the things that plays a little role in all this.
Why do I care so much about what other people think of me? Well, that's a good question. It's not a question my therapist asked. It's something I ask myself right now. I don't know. I guess I never really felt I belong. I never really felt I was special, even tho I have plenty of people in my life who adore me for the person who I am. I don't know. It's hard to explain. It's also a bit off topic, I guess. It's not clear to me if the part of being gay has something to do with it. I think it's my insecurities. I have to remind myself to ask my therapist about this next week. It's hard for me to have a "SO WHAT?" kind of attitude!!
My therapist asked me if I ever been in a relationship. I told her yes, a long distance one, and that it lasted only for like two years, even less than two years! And that I am also currently in one right now, also a long distance relationship. I only have told another therapist of mine about Colin, so I filled her in on it as well. She asked me if I ever discussed my social anxieties with Colin. I have but we never really went deeper into it. She asked me if he's dealing with the same thing. I explained that Colin is a much stronger person than I am. He has a thicker skin than me and he's definitely able to defend himself. She suggested that maybe I should talk to him sporadically about it.
This is what has been discussed at therapy today. Next week I have another appointment where we will talk about this. Today was kinda hard. It's always difficult when there are emotions involved. Like I said, I am not strong and I break easily, even when talking about stuff that bothers me.
Another thing I just thought about. Some people I know, who I came out to, already knew I was gay. I don't know what it's like to some people, but when I think back about it, when someone says to me that they could already tell I was gay, it kinda makes me upset. I don't know why. I haven't discussed this with my therapist yet, it just came up. If people can already tell that I am gay, then what would other people think? Hold on!! I think I am getting closer to my fear… I am thinking right now. I've had several people saying to me they could all tell I am gay, before I came out… *tick tock*…
One second, I am having a moment here… Have you ever wondered about something, asking yourself questions like 'why' or 'how' and it suddenly starts to become a little clear to you? And all this time you have been clueless? I am having that moment right now, so bear with me, please.
Okay, so people who could already tell that I am gay. Something is getting to me right now and I am trying to observe and explore that specific moment that I had several times of people saying that to me. Because whenever someone says to me that they could already tell that I am gay, I usually reacted a little bit offended, in some way. I don't know how to explain it. Probably because being gay is not tolerated by everyone? Because people think it's a sin and it's wrong? Even tho I was gay myself all along. Deep inside I knew I was gay from a very young age. Gah, it's making my head spin right now, you have no idea. But I think that whenever someone is saying that they could already tell I am gay, is something that really has something to do with my anxiety right now. I mean that could be it, right? Being nervous all the time whenever I have to go to my volunteer work? Being afraid of what other people think of me? OMG, I need to discuss this next week for sure!! Like, if some people I know already could tell that I was gay, could that be my fear? That 'gay' is written on my forehead?? OMG, this kinda makes sense to me!!
I mean, how would you feel when someone said to you that they thought you're gay all along. I don't know, but for me it kinda kicks me in the crotch, so to speak. Especially since coming out is already hard as it is, because you're struggling with feelings and emotions. And then you have someone saying they could already they with certainty. I don't know, but wouldn't it make you feel all weird about it?
I really wish I was a much stronger person. I don't know if there ever will be a time where I will be strong and not afraid. I hope there will be!! I hope there will be a time where my fears don't take over my life like this. Like I've said, I am trying to have a "SO WHAT?" attitude! Hopefully it will come to me soon!
I would love to hear your thoughts, advice and suggestions. What do you think would help me? I am open for all suggestions!!