Accepting my sexuality

Questions and discussion about your sexuality and how it's a part of who you are as a person.
Theansweris42
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Theansweris42 »

Thank you, that's really kind of you to say all that.
However I'm afraid it's not as easy as just deciding whether I deserve something or not, because I'm the one who got myself in this position. I walked (or more like fell) into the relationship with the attitude of "omg, she is so amazing, I don't deserve all this love and affection, I have to give her everything so I'd repay her kindness..." But back then it was fine because we were both giving so/too much into to relationship, but I've never experienced anything like that before and wasn't ready for her attitude changing so much over time. The result is that we both see the friendship from a totally different angle, I don't believe she would be dismissive or unsupportive intentionally, we're just in too different places and that's probably making it hard to communicate about many things. That's why I'm afraid asking about this directly wouldn't work either. Is there even a chance of somewhat 'repairing' the relationship when I started it this way?
But maybe it might seem possible for me to have that conversation if you had some specific idea how could it go so it wouldn't come off as "you're a bad friend who doesn't care about be" and also how I should respond to the argument that I don't answer even when she asks directly how I am doing.

I also have one other thing I wanted to ask you. What might be some arguments against "women shouldn't go anywhere on their own (because it's too dangerous, inappropriate etc.". I never know how to respond when my parents say that, I hate when people worry abour me and I'd also like to feel like I don't have to be dependent on someone my whole life. I'm already afraid I won't every by able to live on my own, considering only how much housing, food, insurance etc. cost these days, I don't see how I'd ever be able to move out even if I found a job that'd allow me to work and study at the same time, not to mention what it'd do with family relationships or that I'd never be able to find a place to live due to my irrational fear of communicating with people I don't know...
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Heather »

I feel more able today to respond to the second half of your post here than I do the first, because I have some catching up to do on some of your past posting. Hopefully half a response will be of use.

Honestly, the attitude that women shouldn't go anywhere alone, for ANY reason, is sexist, plain and simple. It's very hard to try and counter people's biases with facts, because bias often isn't rational, you know? People thinking that has everything to do with themselves and their beliefs and very little to actually do with concern for you or other women. After all, if it was about concern, one would expect those voicing this to also recognize that you or other women living locked up in towers alone or having to be with chaperones 24/7 is no way to live.

By no means would I suggest anyone not create the life they want because of attitudes like these, or let people with these attitudes keep them from it. You might want to consider, when creating your own life, that anyone in it who isn't supportive of your autonomy might not be someone to keep in it.

We all already know that your parents have and express a lot of backwards ideas, so I think rather than (fruitlessly, from how it's gone so far get them to change their mind, the thing you can probably actually do with success, and that would likely be of greater benefit to you anyway, is to change your relationship to them and their ideas so that you get better at just dismissing and refusing things like this. Know what I mean?
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Theansweris42
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Theansweris42 »

Thank you so much, it all makes sense when you put it like this.
As a child I struggled with learning all those men/women roles in etiquette and society, resulting in some embarrassing/funny situations. I just probably found it hard to remember and do things I didn't understand. And now I see you're totally right, there isn't much to understand about this and probably abour many other things either and I'd do myself and others big service if I wasn't trying so hard to comprehend everything...

When you talk about changing the relationship with my parents, I suppose you mean internally - in my thoughts? I remember talking with you over chat a few months ago and you said something similar, that I should learn to trust myself more and at the time I didn't understand that much, but you were right, it just took some time. Now I catch myself often remembering that and even if just a little bit, I dare say, I learned to process some of my doubts better this way. Sometimes it hurts a little because it feels like disconnecting from them, but now I see that some parts of the connection weren't exactly perfect.

As for changing the relationship on the outside, only something 'drastic' as moving out and reducing our contact could, at least in my opinion, change the situation for me. Right now it's just not possible at all but even thinking about future is complicated. I know it'd break their hearts, despite everything they really care about me and no matter what, I'll always love them. And I know it's simplified but it seems like a choice between "being more myself even if I don't completely understand what that is" and "giving up most of my life - a whole family, probably most friends, studies, hobbys...). In my (selfish) imagination the choice doesn't seem so difficult, but the reality is as always more complicated.
And the practical side of this is even worse for me. Im trying but I don't feel like a person capable of living by themselves - I cry and panic whenever I have to so much as make an appointment with a doctor over phone, I let a shop assistant shortchange me because I'm afraid to speak up, I can't deal with my emotion so I hurt myself, listening to new can sometimes render me unfunctional for a whole day... and I could go on, that's not a description of a person who would be able to care of themselves and form relationships with and help others.
The whole idea of being an autonomous independent adult seems so beautiful, yet so unreachable sometimes. I wish I could believe what Micheala told me several posts ago.
I also wonder what about other people my age, don't they have these questions and fears or do they deal with them on their own? I sincerely hope noone has to deal with that alone.
The only person a few years older than me I know is my friend and I know she struggles with some of those things too, especially with the communication with people as she has social anxiety. But she lives with her parents and has an amazing boyfriend who helps her with any arrangements and phone calls she has to make. Maybe it'd still be worth it if I asked her about how the whole becoming adult thing feels for her.

I feel like I'm always just finding excuses, if I really wanted I probably could have a better relationship with myself, I could find a better job (I now work at my dad's company), I could talk openly with my friend, I could tell everyone who I am, I could be happy and make other too...
It's just like I lack the energy and motivation to do so, I know this is probably one of those things that become clear only in the hindsight, but right now I don't know why to even try, why and for whom, doing it for myself doesn't feel like a good enough reason
I'm not sure if this question is answerable, but how and where to find motivation and reasons for those kinds of things?

(Sorry, it's again just so many thoughs and some not very nice, I hope you that you'll let me know if it isn't okay to posts like this here)
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Mo »

There definitely isn't an easy answer to the question on how to find motivation to make these big changes; a lot of people struggle with this. One thing that might help, though, is seeing if you can break down some of these big things into smaller items or goals to work on.

For example, moving out might not feel possible right now, but there are still things that might help you in moving out eventually and which might feel more achievable in the short term. This could involve stuff like investigating housing costs in your area and making a budget or saving goal for yourself, looking into finding work that would pay more, and even practicing things like making phone calls or being more assertive. I think asking your friend about her experiences might be good too! Doing all of these things at once might feel overwhelming, but listing out the steps and choosing one or two to tackle first might be a helpful way to approach this.

I will say that I think it's pretty common for young adults to feel very overwhelmed with the process of becoming independent. A lot about being an adult is stressful or confusing, and it takes a while to figure out how to navigate the world independently. So while of course I can't know exactly how everyone's feeling, I think a lot of people your age are struggling with similar feelings, whether they have a robust support system in place or not. (And if it helps to hear: plenty of older adults struggle with these things too!)
Theansweris42
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Theansweris42 »

Thank you so much, you helped me realize that because I'm unable to make any huge changes at the moment there isn't no point in overthinking the moral and practical aspects of moving out now. I'm not ready give up finishing high school and my whole life as I know it so it'll take at least a year and then I'll have to make the choice between studying college and working part-time while being at least partly dependent on my parent's money and giving up studying while trying to find some better paid full time job. Housing is so expensive (not only) here and it's just getting worse and worse...
Another problem with money is that I have some, probably enough to start off living on my own, but it's in a bank account that my parents have access to and full control over, so I live in constant fear that if I upset them somehow they can take it all away in a matter of seconds. I'm not sure if they'd really do that, they've only threatened me with that a few times during arguments but it scares me nonetheless. I really don't know what to do about that, I've read through all documents I have access to and didn't find anything helpful. One day I'll hopefully be able to set up a new account but now I can't without raising suspicion.

I know it sounds like an excuse but right now I'm mostly too tired to do anything except working and chores, but if you have any other ideas that would help mento even just feel a bit more capable and independent I am, as always, happy to hear them!

I hope you don't mind that it's totally unrelated, but I just wanted to share it - I'm seeing my friend tomorrow! Due to some last time changes our parents (they are friends) can't meet but they surprisingly let me to sleep over at hers. I'm really excited about that though also nervous, even after more than two years I still have some really big (and frankly also kinda mixed) feelings for her, and this time her boyfriend will be there too... I just hope I won't mess anything up and am really looking forward to seeing her!
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Siân »

You're right, there definitely IS a point in starting to make those small steps that will one day help you build towards making bigger ones. You don't need all the answers at once!

I wonder if finding out more about how to set up a bank account that your parents can't access would be a good start? Perhaps you can't move all your money into it straight away, but even small amounts are a start. I don't know about where you are, but over here we have a lot of new banks now that are all on your mobile and don't send you a lot of paperwork, would that be realistic for you?

If not a bank account, is there one other small thing you could start doing to prepare for more independence later - what might it be?

I really hope your visit with your friend goes well! We're here to talk after if you need :)
Theansweris42
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Theansweris42 »

Thank you for the offer to talk, I really appreciate it! I enjoyed the visit in most aspects but it was as always really intense for me and right now I have so many different and often contradictory thoughts running through my mind so I'll try to wait till they settle down and then I'll probably talk about it more.

As for the bank account I'm afraid it's not possible because all the banks I've checked require an app and an email and while creating a new email account would be possible I wouldn't be able to hide an app on my phone (downloading and deleting it after every use seems too complicated and risky for the little money I'd be able to put there)
I haven't come up with anything else I could do, I finally got an access to my insurance app two days ago but even asking for that made my parents suspicious so I want to give it some time before I try anything else.
I'm not sure if it's rational but I'm kinda afraid that if mine or other people's control over me is removed, I won't know how to handle the freedom and become dangerous to myself and others...

(I'm really really sorry I'm asking that, but would it be possible to remove the name of my country from the previous post? I know the fear is at least partly irrational but I'm afraid someone I know might stumble upon this place and recognize me because there probably aren't many people like me in similar position as I am in my country. If that's not an okay thing to ask I understand. I'm really grateful to you for being there for me even when I'm making it complicated)
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi Theansweris42,

You know, I think that fear of not being able to handle freedom is really common in situations like yours, because you've grown up hearing how these very tight controls placed on you are all for your safety and because your parents just want what's best for you. That's part of why people who want control use that framework; it keeps someone afraid of going off on their on AND allows the person who did the controlling to gloat if anything goes wrong once that person gets their freedom.

And here's the thing: there is absolutely stuff that will go wrong as part of learning how to be independent (and once you're fully independent). That's just kind of how the world is, and how making plans is. It's also the trade-off for the many, many benefits of being your own person. Too, something I've noticed about adulthood and independence is that the consequences of my actions are more likely to be natural, rather than imposed on me or out of proportion. For example, if I decide to eat an entire bowl of Halloween candy and then feel sick the next day, all I have to deal with is feeling sick. I don't ALSO have to deal with other people admonishing me for that choice or telling me what I'm "allowed" to eat for the rest of the day. Do you kind of see what I'm getting at?

With your location, one thing you could do is adjust it in your profile (maybe to initials or something like that), since that would give you another degree of anonymity when posting here.
Theansweris42
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Theansweris42 »

And thank you for those thoughts regarding control, they make so much sense and were really helpful and comforting to read! It's just that sometimes it's almost like watching myself from a 3rd person view, when I'm well aware that what I'm about to do is stupid or dangerous, but that rational part is so far and disconnected from the rest so I always do it anyway...
Anyway, I hope it's okay if I talk a bit (or more like a lot) about my friend, again...
I don't understand it, during my visit and even the whole day after everything was great and I was full of energy and happy that we could spent such an amazing time together and now my head is full od unwanted confusing thoughts and I can't focus on anything. In short, the problem is that even though she always likes physical contact - hugs, kisses, holding hands etc., I didn't expect she would be like that when her boyfriend was there too. Of course it's all just friendly but I can't help help feeling weird and wrong. Mostly because I don't know what's his view on that. And also because while I know him and he's an truly amazing and kind person, I just don't enjoy closeness with most poeple at all. For example there were moments when she was hugging me and he joined/she told him to join or she made us all three cuddle in a bed while watching a film, and also countless jokes(?) about us being together sometimes with a sligh sexual subtext, it didn't seem that weird at the moment but now those memories make me quite uncomfortable as I'm realising that I don't know to what extent is he okay with that and also that I'm not. They have, at least in my opinion, a really nice relationship and while I see some not so great things in it it's not my place to judge them and what's important that I couldn't be more happy she has such a great boyfriend just like she deserves. And I fear that because I don't have the courage to refuse her touch or talk about it straightforwardly will ruin something.
One other moment I wish I could forget is when she plainly asked if I want a full kiss on the mouth while her boyfriend was just behind the door, this has happened before and this time she at least asked and I had the decency (or was too confused) to say good night and walk away, but what I hate about all this is that a big part of my regrets turning her down and also that it turned me on, something I haven't felt in months. I know it's mostly an involuntary reaction but still, she is a friend, in an exclusive relationship with a boyfriend... and at the same time the only person who has ever loved me, the only person whose touch I like and the only person I feel really connected with and love taking with. Why does it have to be so complicated? Why do I have to make it so complicated for everyone...

So I'd spare you thinking how to respond to this confusing rambling I want to ask if you think it'd right to ask her if her boyfriend is okay with all that cuddling and with me in general, and if so, then how to start this conversation so it wouldn't sound like "Are you cheating on your boyfriend with me?"
I'm not sure I'll be brave enough to have this conversation but I feel like it's my obligation because I wasn't able to refuse at the moment
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Carly »

Hey Theansweris42 -- up top I want to say that I don't think you need to blame yourself for making this situation complicated. I don't see this as something you've done to anyone but rather a complex, emotional human situation you are all in together.

I think the best thing to do here is to talk to your friend about what's been going on and it sounds like you're feeling that way too. You're right, "are you cheating on your boyfriend with me?" may not be the best way to open because this may feel aggressive or accusatory. I think your opening line can be as simple as "I need to talk to you about when you asked if I wanted you to kiss me" or "I've been thinking about what happened between us and I want to talk about it with you." Forming a sentence with an "I statement" like I feel, I think, or I want is a very clear way to communicate how you're feeling and highly encouraged in conversations where behavior is discussed and emotions are high. Using I statements emphasizes that you are speaking only for yourself and minimizes the chances that someone may feel accused and disengage. You might go on to say something like "When you asked me if I wanted to kiss, I felt confused about the relationship you have with your boyfriend. Can we talk about it?" Does this feel like something you could try when you're ready to talk with her? If you want practice forming some I statements out of what you've posted, we can help.
Theansweris42
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Theansweris42 »

Thank you for the reassurance and helpful ideas <3
(And also thanks Sam, I was sure I already deleted the location from my account but it was still there)
These conversations openings are great but I'm still afraid she might take it as a suggestion she isn't treating her boyfriend right. I'd also like to avoid talking about the kiss because it's a sensitive topic for me and I don't want to answer questions along the lines that why did I looked like I enjoyed her closeness when I don't think it's right etc. And it's also possible she regrets it too and I don't wanna touch a sore spot.
I was thinking something like "I just wanted to make sure I'm not making you or your boyfriend uncomfortable, have you two talked about us three cuddling and me and you being so close and is he okay with that?" might work, it's not a clear I statement but I hope that emphasising that I care about both of them being comfortable will send a clear message that I don't want to cause them or their relationship any harm. What do you think?
And also if you had some suggestion how to respond to some things like "you should have said it at the moment", "you don't know anything about relationships so don't complicate it", "why do you have to spoil everything nice?, "I don't have the energy to talk about it right now", "let's not talk about it anymore". Whenever she says those things I never know how to respond and the conversation dies off in a quite unpleasant way...
It's possible she'll hear accusation in everything I say if she wants to, she is a really emotion driven person and I'm quite bad in talking with her. But I have to at least try...
I wish I could just straightforwardly say her that he is a great person (and that 100% true) but *I'm* not okay with for example hugging him, but she'd probably get offended that I don't like her boyfriend or have some inappropriate feelings for her. I hate how just thinking about those moments makes my skin crawl, he is an amazing person who treats me really kindly but maybe there's some hidden jealousy in me...
I'm just so tired of it, it's been like this for almost two years. I don't understand why does the only relationship that brings me happiness have to cause so much pain to everyone else including my firend, her boyfriend, my family, myself...
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Heather »

Hey, Theansweris42.

Just wanted to let you know I've read through this, and I have a bunch of thoughts to share, but I don't have the time in the next few hours to dedicate to this that I'd like to, so it'll be a little bit more before I can reply.

I do think, if you have some time in the interim, it might be worth considering this relationship through some tools to help you better evaluate how healthy it is for you.

I'd suggest looking at these to start, if you have some time (and I know this isn't exactly something you two are calling a romantic relationship, but given your feelings for her and how some of this has played out, I think the stuff in one of these is still applicable):
https://www.scarleteen.com/article/rela ... hould_i_go
https://www.scarleteen.com/article/rela ... _a_checkup
https://au.reachout.com/toxic-friendship-quiz
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Heather »

Sorry for the wait.

I have to just be frank with you: from the first time you started talking about it, and again and again and again, this friendship just sounds pretty toxic to me, and -- and this really only underscores that -- it continues to sound like you don't feel like you have any real agency in it. It should not be hard like this to have some simple healthy boundaries with friends like it was in this and other instances. I suspect that it is both because of how you've grown up, being allowed so few boundaries of your own, but also because of the nature of this friend and this friendship.

In a healthy relationship, you would not have been put in these positions like this in the first place. You shouldn't be "made" -- and I believe you when you say it like that, that you weren't asked -- to be in bed with someone and their boyfriend. You shouldn't be wondering what is okay with whom: it should be something everyone knows from the start, is then asked to consent to, and that only happens if everyone involved has freely consented and wants to.

I also think her kissing you on the mouth like that in front of her boyfriend the way she did sounds like something she did as a performance for him, othering you in the process, especially by, again, not asking you for consent. And given your feelings for this friend, this all must have been particularly awful for you. I'm so sorry.

I really do not think this is or is -- I'm sorry to say -- ever going to be a healthy relationship. I've watched you spend untold hours trying to process it and figure out what *you* can do when it comes to this friendship, and I sincerely doubt your friend has ever put in even a fraction of that effort. It also continues to sound like she's just not.... well, very nice. Not to you anyway. I don't think there is a way you can say things to her to change that.

I know that is a big BOOM of a reply, and that I am saying some things that have to really suck to hear. I'm sorry for that, but I just don't know how to help here without telling you how this all seems from the outside.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
Theansweris42
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Theansweris42 »

Thank you, for everything including caring about me enough to be honest
While reading those articles (I've read them before but this time I tried to relate them to my situation) I had what feels like million different thoughts and questions and more and more are coming as I'm writing this. So I decided not to bother you with them right now, I'd just get more confused and there's no point in trying to get you to see it all from my side, because you already do...

But I have to be honest too, no matter how hard I try to think about it with an open mind I just can't give her and our relationship up, at least not right now and I don't see it changing any time soon. I could explain more of my reasons if that's something you want to know. I'm really sorry, I hope you don't feel like it was a waste of time talking about that with me and I understand if you dont want to talk about this topic anymore.

I kinda regret being always so negative about her here, because I could easily write the same amount of great positive things, all of them true, regarding our relationship and everyone would say how amazing it is. This concentrated bad stuff just doesn't tell the whole story and I kinda feel like a small kid crying: "hey, look how badly she is treating me, say I'm right please..." if you know what I mean. And when you say that and offer some real advice I back out because I'm too weak...

I don't know what to do if there even is anythingto do, I'm trying really hard to stay calm and reasonable but I'm so lost in this personal bubble full of unwanted mixed emotions and I can't see any way out...
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Mo »

I believe you that there are a lot of good moments and positive things about your friendship! I think one of the hardest things about unhealthy relationships is that they generally do have positive elements, at least sometimes; that's part of why they're so difficult to leave.

What sets a truly positive and healthy relationship apart, though, is that with a healthy relationship, the positive elements overwhelm the negative ones, and the negative elements are ones that the people in the relationship feel they can bring up and discuss with each other. Everyone involved has agency and feels like they can set boundaries and have them respected. In an unhealthy relationship, people don't feel like they can address any difficulties, and those difficulties are pretty significant.

If it helps to have a bit of a personal story, when I was a preteen and young teenager, I had a best friend who I loved deeply, and I believe she loved me too. We were different in some ways; she was more outgoing and confident than I was, but we loved a lot of the same things and just clicked in a way I had never experienced before. She went through a very traumatic period of sexual abuse and confided only in me, and we were both too young to really understand what was happening so it wasn't clear to me that it was abuse at all, at first.

We bonded very closely during that time, but looking back on it I can see that we set up a very unhealthy dynamic. I decided somehow that it was my job to support her and go along with whatever she wanted to do or talk about, and basically when we spent time together I was focused on making her happy and making my own needs as small as possible. I agreed with most things she said and didn't really think about my own opinions when we were together, and we were together a lot! There were a lot of times where I pushed down my own discomfort to agree with what was going on.

There was only one time when I directly confronted her about feeling like my emotional needs or wants weren't very important in the friendship, and her response was to get angry enough with me that I learned never to bring those feelings up again. We drifted apart a bit when she changed schools later in high school, but we met up still, into my early adulthood, and every time we did I felt so happy to see her. But I also felt like I wanted to impress her, to go along with her, and I could feel the urge to squish myself into the exact shape that would make her like me the most. It was around then when I realized that there just wasn't a healthy way for me to stay close to her! We'd set up this toxic, codependent dynamic as kids and it had stuck with us into adulthood. I genuinely wish her well and want the best for her, but even though her friendship was amazing in some ways, I eventually realized it wasn't good for me.

I know that's a bit of a long story, and I know the circumstances aren't exactly the same, but what you've written did make me think about this friendship, so I thought it could be helpful to hear about. I know it's really difficult to decide to step away from a friendship that has its good aspects and a lot of negative ones as well.
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by valerie4 »

Hi!

I just wanted to jump in to say a few things. One. I just read this entire thread and previous posts and what I can tell you from that observation is that all the moments you have labeled as "negative perspective of your friend" have been you re-telling us facts of things that occurred and how you felt about them. And the staff and volunteers are responding to the facts of the situation. For example, Heather is simply stating that the situation you were in was non-consensual and unfair to you. I'm saying this to say, you are not painting someone in a negative light, you are telling us what happened and we are identifying that as behavior that is harmful to you. I don't want you to discredit your own experiences because you think they are not painting a good enough picture. The reality is, you could share hundreds of positive things about your friend but it would not change the reality that she has continued to harm you. Friendship isn't a scale of how many good things a person has done vs how many bad things they have done. Toxic and harmful situations are what represent friendships because kindness does not erase harm. The positive parts of your relationship do not negate the genuinely upsetting and harmful experiences you've had. And frankly, if these experiences are the ones occupying your brain space the most there is a reason for that.

With that in mind I do want to share a bit of a personal experience that relates to you. The conditions of my experience are different from yours, bu,t due to COVID reasons I have had much of my physical ability to leave the house be restricted. I made friends with people in a moment where I was unable to set boundaries and healthy guidelines for our friendships. As a result of that, despite many positive experiences with them, I ended up in pretty harmful and unhealthy friendships. I share this to say I DEEPLY feel you on the inability to let go of relationships that are harmful to us. I keep hoping that if I set better boundaries or communicate more it will change their behavior but the reality is I cannot change that behavior. They are the only ones who can and they don't want to. That is the same case with your friend. Slowly, I've been putting distance between me and my friends even though it hurts to have less contact with people. But I think this is really important. The most important step you can take right now is acknowledging the state of your relationship. When you can say, to yourself, "I know this is not a healthy relationship for me", this is a huge step. To acknowledge you are in conditions you do not deserve is a huge step in self-respect and in creating protection for yourself. If immediately cutting this friend off is not fully realistic, starting to set space between you is really important.

However, I do want to acknowledge one of the huge fundamental differences between my experience and yours which is your friend is someone you have had non-consensual intimacy with and a much more complicated intimate relationships. Those experiences are harmful on a deep level. So ultimately, for the sake of your literal safety, this is something you need to step away from. I am suggesting you start by acknowledging that to yourself (maybe even saying it out loud) and starting to recognize ways you can start pulling away. That could include not reaching out for contact but maybe occasionally responding when you are directly contacted.

I hear how overwhelmed you are and I want you to know there is always a way out. It just might not be the way you hoped it would be. If you can let the echos of positive memories fade to where they are, in the past and in the background, it will help you gain the confidence and understanding that this relationship is not good for you. I think sometimes, when we get caught up in an unhealthy relationship it can truly blind us from being able to see the capacity for newer healthier relationships in our future. It is okay to mourn an old relationship. But that's what this needs to be, a mourning of what you might have once wanted that cannot be due to how your friend treats you.

(This has been a long response so I promise I'm wrapping up) Additionally, I want you to take the time to hold space for those feelings you're having now. Frankly, the situation at the sleepover sounds deeply upsetting. You deserve time to feel not okay with it. And you deserve better than this. I hope you always know that.
Theansweris42
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Theansweris42 »

Hi and thank you so much, for sharing, listening, support, advice, taking me seriously and just caring about me and everyone else who needs it, I wish someone invented more words for thank you so I could write a whole paragraph of them <3

However the last thing I want is to say something disrespectful or seem ungrateful, because honestly I don't have many positive things to say right now,so I'll try to think about it a bit more and sort my thoughts out at least a little before I come back with more specific and longer answer.
I know it's just a friendship and I therefore shouldn't be so invested in it but no matter how its called it it's hardly gonna change what I feel, so I very much appreciate that you help me nevertheless and make me feel like my feelings are valid.
Mo
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Mo »

Take all the time you need!! :)
Theansweris42
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Theansweris42 »

Thank you, I kind of hoped that after a few days I'll be able to get some clarity and peace of mind regarding the whole situation with my friend, but it's not helping much. Even when hypothetically thinking about ending the friendship I always come up against so many sometimes seemingly uncrossable barriers.
If you have any thoughts or ideas how to get over any of them I'd appreciate it and if not, take this just like a place I used to sort out my feelings, that's really helpful on itself. You have already helped me to overcome some of them in your previous posts so I'll try to stick with those occupying my mind the most.
(And those are just those selfish reasons, I'm not even talking about how it might make *her* feel...)
I really hope all of these reasons aren't just excuses and I'm not double or triple sabotaging my thoughts...

One is that I just can't see her as someone capable of being toxic or manipulative. She has been through a lot - being bullied, mental health problems, rehab etc. and also two pretty toxic friendships and one unhealthy or maybe even abusive romantic relationship. I've spent many hours listening to her talking about those experiences and even though nothing is easy, she is hopefully getting better and it seems to me that she now knows quite a lot and is aware of different aspects of unhealthy relationships dynamics and their consequences. So besides admiring her for getting through all those terrible things life has put her through I really don't understand why would she do to me some of those things that has been done to her?
I see the similarities with Mo's story (and I admire both you and Val and am really glad you were able to get out of those situations)
but one difference is that we are both adults, I haven't got any experience with relationships but she is older and has plenty, both negative and positive, so I think she should be able to recognise some problems if there are any and know how to sort them out.
And also, if it's like this because how I was raised as Heather suggested, is there even point in leaving this relationship when if I even ever found some new, it would most likely end up the same? Is it even possible to learn how to "do relationships"?

Another reason why I have problems imagining my life without her is that I think about her a lot, whenever I'm not reading or listening to something and sometimes even then, my thoughts always circle back to her. And if I try to push them out of my mind it gets filled my much worse and unpleasant things. I know it's sounds selfish, but if I didn't have her to occupy my mind I'm afraid it wouldn't end well.

This one I can probably get over but even if I don't like it, it's still important to me. The thing is she is the only "tangible evidence" that I can ever have those relationship-related things (hugs, cuddles, kisses, love letters...). It's seems a shallow reason even to me, but since I was several times laughed at and excluded from friend groups for being immature for not having any experience with relationships, I have hard time letting this one go and even much harder accepting that those things she did and said weren't right or real...

One more practical but for me hard-to-solve issue is that mine and her parents are really good lifelong friends and if I somehow stopped talking to her they wouldn immediately notice and I don't know what would they think or what she might tell them. There are several things she knows I really don't want anyone else, my parents especially, to know. The possible consequences of that happening or even our parents finding out some of what happend between us are terribly scary for me.

But thinking about it, it all always comes down to one thing: she is my only friend. I know it sounds like some coming of age book cliché, having no friends and not fitting in, but that's really how it feels. If I didn't have her I would have noone I could say good morning or good night no, noone to ask about their day, noone to send cute guniea pig photos to, noone to laught with, noone to hug, noone to look forward to seeing, noone to help to...
Without those things I can't help seeing my life as completely empty and meaningless. I need someone to connect with, someone to care about and without that I don't feel like someone worth living. I see it like everything has the value that other people "give" it, (if noone knew and admired it Mona Lisa wouldn't be worth more than the canvas it's painted on). And if there's noone around me who would see anything nice in me and I can't give any value to myself, I just don't have any, at least in my eyes. That's maybe why I find it so hard to connect the "unhealthy relationships" with the meaning "not good for me" and this with "something I should get away from", I just don't see the reason for doing that, if you know what I mean. I know this all sounds horribly absolute and exaggerated, but solely thinking of losing her and being even more lonely hurts physically.

I know the obvious advice would be "think less, act more", but that's just not me.
(How I hate all those buts and ifs...)
valerie4
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by valerie4 »

Hi again,

Thanks for sharing all this - I can imagine that this has been extremely overwhelming.

The first thing I want to address is the section you discussed talking about how you cannot see your friend being capable of being toxic or manipulative because she's an adult and because she has been through many traumatic things. Correct me if that is a wrong summation of what you said. The first thing I want to say is that age is not a limiting factor on how self-aware someone is of their own behavior. My friends were adults. And there are so many adults who may not be aware of their own behavior- especially ones that have been harmed. When you are processing past trauma, it is easy to be very inwardly focused and not see how your actions are impacting other people. I understand why you feel the way you do about your friendship but I think guessing whether or not things are harmful based on the assumption that your friend would never do that to someone else because it has happened to her is not a really solid point to stand on. She could really not be aware that she is doing harmful things to you but that does not negate what she has done. And honestly, the harm she has caused you is pretty overt. The situation she put you in with her boyfriend was not an accident. That was a lot of active action taken on her part crossing your boundaries of consent and comfort. Being a victim of past trauma does not make you any less likely to inflict it on someone else. Being older means she has more RESPONSIBILITY to be aware of her actions and make sure she is not causing harm; but it by no means excludes her from the possibility of harming others.

You also mentioned this,
"if it's like this because how I was raised as Heather suggested, is there even point in leaving this relationship when if I even ever found some new, it would most likely end up the same? Is it even possible to learn how to "do relationships"? "
What Heather was saying is because you grew up in an abusive and manipulative enviornment you are less likely to recognize situations like this because it is familiar. NOT that you are being treated this way because of how you grew up. It is not a predictor that you will forever be in relationships like it. What it means is you have to build coping mechanisms to recognize manipulative behavior so that you can identify this before a relationship becomes harmful to you. It is completely possible to learn how to have healthy communicative relationships. I know you have the capacity to learn how to protect yourself and build strong relationships with others. But one crucial part of understanding that is you cannot be the entire thing that makes a relationship healthy. The other person has to be putting that work in too. And if they aren't, that relationship unfortunately is not going to work. And part of learning how to take care of yourself is learning to let go of people that do not want to work to treat you right.

You talk about this being your only friend and not wanting to lose that. I think the point that we are trying to make is that she is not your friend by definition. Friends do not cause harm repeatedly and refuse to take your wellbeing into account.

That being said I do hear you talking pragmatically about the situation. She is a family friend. And with your family it is important that you safely exit this relationship. So I think the best way to do this is to start small. It is to stop texting and regularly. It is pulling away slowly enough that its not fully noticed. But mentally, you need to make the choice to say you are leaving this relationship. Even if it cannot physically happen all at once, that choice needs to be made.
I'm hearing you say that this friend is your only coping mechanism right now with depression. And I completely understand the fear you have of losing that coping mechanism. So I think what we can work to do is help you find other things to fill that gap. To drown out the noise in your head. There are coping mechanisms that are healthy to use in survival situations. Like filling your time with hobbies and projects or media or sports. I know this is all also limited by the restrictions of your family so I think taking some of the previous steps recommended to gain more independence is a crucial part of this situation.

Another part of this is knowing your worth. You deserve better than this. Not just someone that is nice to you. Someone that is invested in your wellbeing and brings happiness and love into your life. And I truly think you will find this. I think we can definitely help with building healthier coping skills and helping you build stronger relationships with other people. But you do have to want to. We can only work to move forward if you take the step with us. What do you want out of our relationship with you?
Theansweris42
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Theansweris42 »

Thank you for the long response and kind comforting words <3I really appreciate the time you all give everyone here and admire you for being able to talk about and explain sometimes really complicated matters so clearly.

Starting with your last question, I'm not sure how to answer. The probably most honest but prpbably totally useless answer would be - anything you want and think could be helpful. Those things you mention are, at least I think so, something I really want, but right now they seem like an unattainable dream so I'm happy to talk about it if you have any thoughts on how to make it seem more possible. But the most important thing for me is just being able to talk to you here, I've found out that in order to post something I have to confront my thoughts from a different angle, sort and chose some of them and express them in a clear way that would make at least little sense to other people, and I find that incredibly helpful and much better than trying to understand something on my own and getting lost in my overthinking mind. But if you prefer me to not write so much and just ask normal questions, please, let me know.

And as for my friend (is it okay if I continue to refer to her like that even though you don't take her as that? Because I still do and also don't know what other term could be used), I always end up at not having any answer to the question of why should I do anything about the situation. Frankly, the only reason why I'd do it at the moment is to listen to your advice and please you... I know it sounds absurd, but the concept of deserving something still feels surreal to me. But maybe I could take a "roundabout route" around those feelings and learn to trust you, start doing those things you tell me to and maybe I'll find those answers and see that it was all worth it later?

Slowly limiting the contact might work, moving the relationship to a place where I won't be so invested in it sounds much more achievable then ending it at once. There are just few questions - whether I'll have the courage to do that, what will I do if she or our parents notice and what will happen when we meet in person again...

Also, I'm sorry that I probably made my situation seem more grim than it really is. I'm actually quite fine, at least most of the time. I was able to spend a few days away from home and will hopefully leave for a full week soon, which alone makes me feel much better. And I'd say I have many ways of filling my free time, I work, do chores and have many hobbies that my parents mostly don't mind. It's just that sometimes it all feels just like running away from my thoughts instead of being really enjoyable, and also I do all those things solely for myself and I want and need to do something for/with others. I don't understand why being so introverted and afraid of most social interactions I still crave contact and closeness with people so much. Feeling like I belong somewhere or just helping someone or making them laugh is so precious to me, and right now there isn't anybody apart from my friend who'd want those things from me... but maybe I should give up and what could be for the sake of something that can realistically be
valerie4
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by valerie4 »

Hi,

Good to hear from you. I'm gonna bounce around paragraph wise to your response.

I'm glad the idea of slowly pulling away resonated with you. Using specific examples, are there any current behaviors you feel like you could lessen that would start that process? Maybe texting less?

You don't need to apologize for how much you write and how you convey your situation. We want to help. We are not here to judge whether or not a situation is stressful for you. If it's stressful and we can help, we want to hear about it.

It's not an odd thing to crave human connection, friendship, and contact. We all get some form of touched starved or intimacy starved when we are isolated. Being introverted means you like to be by yourself sometimes but from my understanding being alone by CHOICE is key. You are not getting a choice in your isolation so it makes perfect sense to me why you feel the way you feel. I don't think you should give up on a pursuit of friendship that fulfills those desires you have. I think you may just need to find them in someone else.

I guess other things to be considering in the meantime is what is it that you want out of a good friend? What does that friendship look like? What are anxieties that come up when you think of trying to make friends with people?

Additionally, I would love to touch on what you mentioned about deservingness. Can you speak on that more? I'm wondering if you would apply that same logic to someone you cared about?
Theansweris42
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Theansweris42 »

Thank you again for the helpful and reassuring answer!

Texting less isn't even that hard right now, because I don't have much free time and she is thankfully currently in a good place mental health wise and most of the time she wants to talk about a story she is writing that has a lot of explicit sexual stuff. And often I don't even know how to react to it positively because it makes me uncomfortable for several reasons.
Apart from that I learned to not text her when I don't feel well/not in control over myself, so that won't hopefully be a problem.
I'm just afraid that when she feels bad and needs support she will notice I'm kind of ignoring her, so I wanted to ask what do you think I should do in that case - be honest with her?

When thinking about your questions regarding friendships I realized that the problem is that with her it isn't what I'd see as  "just friendship". Not only in terms of my feelings but also in the things we said or did. And as much as I'm trying to believe the opposite I'm afraid a regular friendship wouldn't have all those things I want and would miss about her so much, I think I want a romantic relationship or something along the lines, even if I know I wouldn't be capable of having that... Anyway, thinking about an ideal friendship was harder than I expected, because honestly the only important "requirement" for me is that the person would want to be my friend... But what I dream about is having someone with whom I would feel like I belong, that we would have both things in common and differences and that would be okay, and that we'd trust each other and feel safe and loved.
And there are so many things I fear around this, but those that summarise it the best are that "Im too different, there isn't anyone who could like me the way I am or at least wouldn't mind some parts of me" and "I'm afraid I might hurt people unintentionally " and "there is a reason I'm so alone, I have to be doing something wrong or I'm just not nice to be around"


As for your last paragraph, of course I wouldn't say those things to anybody else, but I see some differences in that. One being that I can't see what others are thinking or feeling therefore have no right to judge them, but I know what's going on in my own life and mind so I know I'm not always the good person I want to be. Another reason is something I talked about more two posts ago, that I don't feel like I have any worth when there isn't anyone who'd think that. But apart from that I don't think I have any logical/philosophical argument support for feeling undeserving of some things, it's just how I feel I guess. Sometimes I don't even know if it's feeling unworthy or trying to suppress my selfishness...
Mo
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Mo »

To touch on the idea of feeling undeserving or unworthy: it can be really hard to feel worthy of other people's love or affection when you're so aware of what you feel are your shortcomings. But I think it's important to keep in mind that you aren't alone in feeling that way. We're all painfully aware of our own failures, our unpleasant thoughts, everything in our own internal landscapes that other people don't see. But I think it's important to remember that this is something other people experience, too; they have their own struggles with their own shortcomings and feelings of self-doubt, even if you don't see them.

You say you aren't always the good person you want to be, but I bet your friend isn't, either. And that isn't a criticism of her! I would say that no matter what I knew about her and the relationship you have. I'm not always the good person I want to be, either. But it helps me to realize that this is something a lot of people feel. And just like I want to extend compassion to my friends for the things they perceive as their own failures or the ways they fall short of who they want to be, I try to extend that compassion to myself, too. The people I love are worth loving even though there are things I don't know about them, things they might be embarrassed about or that reflects badly on them, and thinking about this helps me remember that I am also worthy of love.
It's a really difficult process, sometimes, to think this about myself, but I think it's worth doing, too. I don't know if that's helpful, but it's what came to mind and I wanted to share it.
Theansweris42
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Re: Accepting my sexuality

Unread post by Theansweris42 »

Thank you, I see it makes sense, but (like I've ever posted something without any but in it...) I don't know if it is of any use trying to get my mind to make sense. I don't understand how and why it would be worth it.
I could write long paragraphs about how I think I feel and why, but it'd be probably just trying to prove to you or to myself that I deserve to feel like this... but I don't.

Maybe it is something I might understand over time, it's easy to believe everything would be easier if I was older, if I lived alone, if someone loved me, if I was different... so easy to believe that the problem isn't in me.
Sorry, don't know myself what I'm trying to say, it should be just "sorry, I feel bad, I'll be back when I have some sensible questions"
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