Today is NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY. Last year I shared the story of how I was outed against my will, but this year I speak to those of you who may not be contemplating coming out, but those struggling to find their own sense of identity.
What is normal? I’m not talking about the literal definition of the word, I’m referring to what exactly is normal when it comes to the overwhelming pressure to conform or to act in a way which is dictated by others.
I have lost track of the number of times growing up I would beg to be “normal” and cried because I wanted to be just like other kids. This was even before I was able to put two and two together to realize this was not only morally wrong but also a detriment to my well-being….
To the teenager begging and pleading to be “normal” my response is simply this.
YOU ARE YOUR OWN NORMAL.
People learn social skills at an early age by observing and copying the behavior of others. As an individual grows older, the social pressure to conform with group norms becomes stronger. Established group members may use a variety of tactics to persuade outsiders to conform, including praising, criticizing, bullying, or modeling “correct” behavior.PSYCHOLOGY TODAY
I have mentioned before of how I once had a church family until I took a stand and declared I am my own normal. I was pushed out, faced multiple attempts to break up my marriage and erode the relationship between me and my children. As much as Pastor Chickenshit(PC) told me how much I am loved, I found it fascinating PC would rather focus on gossip and manipulation as his way of expressing said love. I was loved as long as I agreed. It’s not the old line “If you loved me you’d cut the grass”, but more along the lines of “If you say you’re a christian you don’t want to hurt your church family by thinking and believing something different”.
There is no means to a logical conversation with an anti-intellectual. Five years ago, I desperately tried to my best to explain my position to someone regarding an important matter. “I believe what I believe” was the answer to any line of fact presented during the conversation….A selective truth not according to evidence, but to what psychologically “assures.” In the end, the argument is simply, “I know because I know.”
Anti-intellectualism also makes people far more susceptible to crackpot conspiracy theories and further encourage them to distrust experts and expertise. According to recent psychological research, thanks in part to their affinity for anti-intellectualism, these people are much more likely to to endorse and espouse non-factual information.
There is indeed a culture war being waged and not by who we were led to believe. Times are changing, the world is getting smaller and non-white, non-male, non-evangelicals are asking for a seat at the table. The world isn’t flat anymore, we have evolved thanks to science and technology. We know more than ever before…which totally endangers those in control and their stranglehold on thought and the exercise of free will. We have been guilted, shamed and extorted. This psychological abuse has created lasting scars for countless people.
I hope there are kids that feel like they aren’t worthy of love that come upon this and find out they’re not alone, and that they are worthy of being loved exactly as they are.Trey Pearson, discussing his song “Hey Jesus”
I direct this to a party of one…You have everything you need to make your own normal. It won’t be easy. There will be those who turn their back to you because “you are not the same person”. The concept of of growth and discovery is only limited by the ignorance of others wrapped in an impermeable sense of arrogance. I understand it appears to be the path of least resistance to “bottle” it up due to fear of rejection. This is the classic definition of living your life to meet the expectation of others…and when this happens you risk losing something even more important.
If someone can’t love you for who you truly are…including the parts needing a drastic change then I give you two simple words of advice.
“Wow Dana. It seems you have never changed….you are still the same angry person. ”
This classic piece of gaslighting is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Instead of listening to why we are hurt and upset, we are dismissed based on the perceptions of others. There is no listening, there is no compassion. It is wrong and hurtful. To my party of one, you must not let it beat you down. You are strong and brave and will rise above the nonsense.
People who suppress their feelings have a greater chance of developing cancer or hypertension. It turns out that when you put a lid on your feelings, you are actually metaphorically creating a high-pressure chamber in your brain such that your fight-or-flight systems are in overdrive. Since the brain sends these signals to the rest of your body, no organ is spared.psychologist Benjamin Chapman
It is rather self defeating at times but when it seems we are the only one who understands it only compounds the matter. We let our hurt and pain we have pent up inside to block ourselves off from others.
To all of that I leave you with this. You will know when your heart is ready whether you are coming out or standing up for yourself. It will be tough at first and it’ll be even harder to resist the urge to be defensive, to deflect and to make excuses for others. It won’t be easy. Easy is burying who we are and allowing what is wrong to dictate what is right.
We all want to be loved for who we are. You are not alone. Let this be your new normal.
“When we love a person, we accept him or her exactly as is: the lovely with the unlovely, the strong with the fearful, the true mixed in with the façade, and of course, the only way we can do it is by accepting ourselves that way.”Fred Rogers