December is the most difficult month I know of, for the majority of gay men and lesbians. Gay men and women everywhere seem to be in emotional high-gear, feeling more sensitive, more defensive, and more reactive to, well, just about anything and everything. With more holidays looming around the corner, gay men and lesbians everywhere are faced with decision after decision to define, or not define, their life and their family.
The top three gifts you can give yourself are:
Many gay men and lesbians opt to prioritize the feelings of others over their own feelings. To accept yourself requires that you allow yourself, your feelings, and your life to matter more than your fear of rejection of others, your fears of social disapproval, and most importantly your fears of parental disappointment. Every choice you make that discounts how you feel, what matters to you, and who you are, will chip away at the integrity of your being, one piece at a time. As you make your decisions for the holidays this year - be sure to actually factor in WHAT YOU WANT, HOW YOU FEEL, and WHAT IS TRUE for you. After all, you matter too, you know.
2. LIVE YOUR TRUTH
In order to achieve real intimacy you must be known. To be known, you must be true. BE willing to reveal yourself to the world. (Speaking figuratively, of course - keep your clothes on).
If you present yourself as other than you truly are, then you can expect to experience relationships that are built on that same facade. You can not build a strong foundation on anything less than what is real and true. If you were to build a house, you could not do so on block-shaped foam that is painted to look exactly like concrete blocks. Eventually the foam blocks will falter under the pressure that is placed on them.
All you have to offer is who you are. If you are not that, then your offerings are empty. You must protect your truest self above all else. For, without yourself, you have nothing. When you behave in ways that contradict that in which you believe, your values, morals and principles, you will eventually grow discontented, unhappy, and even shame-filled.
I read on a classroom wall years ago that, "Courage is not the absence of fear, it is doing something despite your fear." This stuck with me. If I could package up courage and hand out gift-bags of it to every gay man and lesbian I know, I would. Most gay men and women I know, who are not comfortable in their lives, are frozen in fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of disapproval. Fear of judgment. Fear of being laughed at or made fun of like they were when they were 9. Fear of losing jobs. Fear of losing friends. Fear of fear of fear of fear. While I do not want to suggest that these fears are unfounded, and in some cases even important and responsible for our safety and well-being; I do want to suggest that we be honest about which fears keep us safe and which fears keep us stuck. The final gift I encourage you to give yourself this holiday season is to allow yourself to live safely courageously.
Take risks - it is the only way we ever grow.
Michele O'Mara, LCSW