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Torn in Trenton

  • Posted on August 21, 2016 at 7:02 pm

Dear Christine,

I just turned 50 last week and it hit me. I’m finally ready to come out. I’ve led the life I thought I was supposed to for all these years. Married 22 years, two kids who are now 18 and 20 years old, and a successful career in auto sales.  I’ve never cheated, never sought out the gay community until now.  I put in some search words to find out how to handle this and found you. I’m ready to do this but need a push.  How do I do it without hurting the people I love and where do I start?  My plan is to come out at work as well as to my wife and kids. I’m terrified and have no idea how this will play out. 

Thanks, Torn in Trenton

Dear Torn,

Good question.  How do you come out and not hurt the people you love?  I don’t know if that’s possible. It sounds like you have lived your life according to others’ expectations and it isn’t working for you.  You love your family.  But you haven’t been you, who you really are, at your core.

The start is being honest with yourself about who you are and what you are feeling.  Then, you start telling people you trust.  People who can accept you for who you are.  Get some support for yourself as you go through this.  Get into psychotherapy with a gay affirming therapist.  Join a Coming Out group at Affirmations www.goaffirmations.org in Ferndale.  Find people who will listen non-judgmentally and with understanding.  http://www.goaffirmations.org/programs-services/support-discussion-groups.

Perhaps you don’t need a push.  You will know when it is the right time to tell family members.  They will not hurt less if you don’t tell them.  And perhaps some of them have seen this in you all along, or have wondered about you.  It’s a scary time, but give those you love a bit of time and space to deal with this.  You have been struggling through this for a while now, maybe even 22 years or more!  Your family will need support too.  Individual psychotherapy and  family counseling can help, and there are free support from groups such as PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).  There is a chapter, PFLAG Detroit www.pflagdetroit.org that meets monthly on the second Sunday at 2 pm in Troy at the Lutheran Church on Crooks Road just north of 16 Mile.  Their website has a page on Our Friends and Allies at http://pflagdetroit.org/Friends_Web_Links.html.  This list may open more doors to support and information for you and your family.

If your wife does not have an inkling, this can be very hard for her.  The hardest is if you are in love with a man and you’ve finally accepted yourself, and you are finally happy.  She could feel rejection, low self worth and find it difficult to be glad for you.  She may feel lied to an betrayed.  She may be understanding and relieved as this piece of information may make sense to her about you and the marriage.

Give your family and friends space and time to adjust.  Encourage them to talk to you and share their experience.  If they can’t share with you, then offer them resources such as PFLAG to assist them in adjusting to your new reality.

I have watched families go through this  situation.  There may be a time of distance, hurt or misunderstanding, but over time, sometimes months, sometimes years, the love can find a way to continue among all of you.  Keep in touch and let me know how your coming out process goes.  Take care,
Christine Cantrell, PhD

Psychologist

Pity Party in Plymouth

  • Posted on February 24, 2016 at 12:43 pm

Dear Christine,

Hi, I have been reading your advice and it all sounds good. I decided to write for some myself. I am getting older and I feel completely out of the scene I am overweight and feel unattractive. I have been single for six years now and miss having a relationship. I also live in the burbs and feel so disconnected. so I am feeling kinda disenfranchised, pathetic and lonely. Okay enough of the pity party but seriously how do you get back in the game with out looking too much like a goof (although I kinda like that look) I don’t want to be 80 and alone! not that I am that old yet but it could happen.

Pity Party in Plymouth

 

Dear Pity Party in Plymouth,

The best way to get back in the scene is to start liking yourself. Find things you like to do with you, and then find friends who can do those things with you, sharing in the fun you’re having with yourself. Meet new friends through activities and events that bring people together. Check out the listings of what to do on GOAL, and other gay/lesbian websites. Drop by Affirmations in Ferndale, join a softball league or golf outing. Do things that you enjoy and you are bound to find people that also enjoy these events and will find you easy and fun to be around. Look for friends first, not a relationship first. Once you’ve asked a friend enough questions to find out if they fit your needs, your non-negotiables, perhaps a relationship will follow. Don’t force it, don’t be desperate, but instead come to enjoy your own company and find interests in the community that will get you out and mingling with other people with similar interests and values.

Christine Cantrell, PhD, LP