Many people judge and hate on bisexuality, claiming that bisexual people just can’t make up their mind or that maybe they’re just too scared to fully come out. Queer people often judge the bisexual person and their sexual orientation, disregarding the complexity of the spectrum that we laud and celebrate as LGBTQ+ people.
Today’s guest clearly articulates, with her many examples and questions, the plight many bisexual people encounter.
She tells a story of being married to a man and after her former husband’s addictions and trauma settled in, she decided to move on only to find that she was challenged by queer women.
Underneath her tales of marriage, dating, and trauma, you can hear a subtle yearning to trust herself and, oddly enough, a yearning to trust love, even if the data for what is trustworthy was with her the entire time.
TRIGGER WARNING: Trauma is talked about during this episode. At the end of the episode, Isaac give some helpful remarks when dealing with and/or recovering from trauma.
Listen y’all. The unfolding of our sexual orientation is a blossoming.
The fabulous research by Lisa Diamond, noted in her book Sexual Fluidity, lays out what many experience…sexual fluidity. My coming out and the trajectory of my sexual orientation will be dramatically different than yours and that’s wonderful! But sometimes those of us in the queer community start to project our fluidity and our limitations onto others, leaving many people sequestered from belonging.
Rejection in any form is harmful and sometimes rejection is flat-out traumatic, especially if it is violent or violates our boundaries. Trauma often comes with some sneaky and very unfortunate side-effects including shame and self-blame. Carried feelings are the feelings we experience and take responsibility for when, in fact, they belong to a perpetrator. Let me throw out an example. Roll with me here:
Let’s say my partner explodes in anger after hearing that I spent too much money on clothes. His violent and immature demonstration of anger is thrust on me as though I deserve the inappropriate lashing. In my mind and heart, I might feel as though my actions “made him” do what he did. As a result, I might feel that my immaturity elicited such violence.
Instead of holding an appropriate boundary between his behavior and mine, I carry his immaturity by assuming his anger was my fault. Even though he did something inappropriate and immature, I carry the feelings for him as though I am the immature and inappropriate one. In other words, our perpetrators do something shameful and something for which they should take the blame but, instead, trauma helps us carry those feelings for them.
Carried feelings are prevalent when we come out and listen to the immature beliefs and prejudiced reactions of others. Something like, “my sister thinks my lifestyle is wrong, and maybe it is.” We take their inappropriate rejections and hold them towards ourselves. Furthermore, carried feelings will help us feel as though our body isn’t ours. As though we are safer following the guidelines and meeting others’ expectations. Carried feelings lead us to believe we are damaged, flooded with a sense of self-mistrust. Carried feelings are powerful yet sneaky! When we combine the powerful forces of shame we get a dynamic duo with carried feelings.
After we participate in the behaviors that leave us feeling shame, we tell ourselves that we will never do it again: never drink that much, never eat that much, or never sleep with that person again. But because shaming behaviors often come with pleasure, and because shame is a medication for our misery, we find ourselves doing the behavior one more time. After a couple of cycles, we begin to realize that we can’t even trust ourselves, like a monster who is totally against us living at our core.
When we have tried to love and loved with all of every fiber in our being, and it STILL fails, we will hear the message of self-mistrust playing its unstoppable tune. Can I trust myself to know love and can I even trust love. We will question with great uncertainty.
There are so many facets to love and earning our own trust back. I could talk about this for days, but I will say, we know how to love. It is hardwired into our brain, but to find our way back to the sustainable and trustworthy versions of love, we first have to address our shame, call out our carried feelings, and find trustworthy people with whom we can practice trusting again. When we find them, we have to be open to letting their sincere love soak into our core. We have to be brave enough to let it be true, not just as cognitive thought, but as an emotional, felt-sense truth.
To my bi people out there: we walk a thin line. Sometimes we’re too gay for straight partners and our dating history is confusing and scary for them, but we also face queer gatekeepers who are threatened by our straight dating history as well. To this I say, find your language. Get to know your attractions, your tale of sexual orientation as it unfolded throughout your life. Find the language that will clearly help you articulate how your emotional desires drive you towards emotional intimacy because that truly is the mortar of any relationship, way more than sexual intimacy! As you feel your true knowing stabilize your confidence in your truth––sexually and romantically––you’ll develop the language to assuage the fears of those who might also have been burned by love.
I say this a lot, but it bears repeating: the primary function of sexual orientation is not to tell you whose body you’ll enjoy. It is to guide you toward the life-changing love you most deeply crave.
So, if when we came out, we came out as an emotional being rather than a sexual being, we might better understand and trust the nature of emotionality that leads to sexuality, even with all of its complexities and idiosyncrasies. We might be more primed to fall for and trust more readily the person who will create emotional intimacy WITH us, rather than PRIORITIZING someone who does something sexually FOR us.
Thank you to this episode’s guest! I thoroughly enjoyed my time with her. Her energy was like sitting with a great friend! Vulnerability breeds vulnerability, and I want to thank the guest for creating a wonderful space, a sample of what emotional intimacy feels like.
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