Struggling with Identity
Over the weekend I received a message on Tumblr asking a personal question about identity and family. I took a few days to really think about what I wanted to say because there was a lot riding on the answer. I’m posting the question, followed by my answer.
I’ve fallen in love with reading the journal entries you post. You seem like you are really thoughtful, sweet, and easy to talk to. I’m sorry I don’t really have the nerve to come off anon, but I was wondering if you could help me with some advice? After reading your entries I have started to write about struggling with my sexuality, I just don’t know what I am or what I want to be. I would like to tell my family, but I don’t know how. Should I let them read my writing or tell them in person?
I read this over the weekend and have been thinking about it a lot. I debated whether or not to post it publicly because it’s such a personal question, but obviously I decided to as I think it’s probably a question a lot of people might be asking themselves.
First of all, thank you. My blog/website was something I originally created as a marketing tool. I’d post images from my work, pieces of writing method or sneak peeks. Over time it kind of grew into something more personal as I’d gone through a lot of difficult times in my life not long after I started the site.
I’ve begun to realize that what I want for my legacy isn’t to be known as a specific genre writer, serious or silly, dark or light. I want to be known and remembered as an honest person, both in my writing and in my life.
My anorexia essay had such a heartfelt response from friends, family and fans and it made me realize that there are so many people that struggle with the same issues I do and I can offer even a small bit of hope by being real about them.
Struggling with your identity is something I can relate to. While my confusion of self was never tied into my sexuality, it was similar in that it came in the form of religious trappings that my family believed and I had slowly fallen away from.
Up front, it’s a difficult question to answer without some understanding of your family life. Are they generally open minded? Supportive? Do you feel like they would nurture your journey and walk you through it?
If yes, then I think bringing them into your struggle is a great option.
I was in an emotionally abusive marriage once. I had immense struggles with depression, anger and powerlessness but I kept it all in because my family had a religious belief that marriage was sacred. I was embarrassed to admit what I perceived as weakness and I was terrified of the idea that they would find out I wanted to leave my wife.
It took years of abuse in silence before I finally opened up, even in the smallest way, to my father. And, you know, I was surprised. Because he gave advice, never pushed me to any resolution, and walked with me. When I finally left, my family stepped in to help in every way possible.
It was a wonderful surprise.
Now, there is another way it can go. Is your family fearful? Bigoted? Judgmental? Unwilling to change?
If that’s the case, then I’d strongly suggest writing this out and working through it with the support of people in your life who understand what you’re going through. For me, writing was a saving grace. I worked through the rage I’d felt inside after years of marital abuse with Green Wake. I remember sobbing and shaking with anger as I wrote a specific scene. Even now it triggers an emotional response from me, all these years later.
It sounds like you are in that place. In the middle of working through big life issues, and I would suggest taking the time to answer a few questions. Read, research, talk to people, find a community in your town or city. There IS support out there for the LGBT community and you shouldn’t walk this alone.
And, ultimately, you know how your family will respond. However that may go down, you should prepare yourself as best as you can. And let yourself be surprised, because sometimes love really does surpass all our prejudices.