Q. About five years ago when I turned 27, I came out as a lesbian to my parents and family. They immediately grilled me about my attraction to other women and whether I had really given men a chance. I told my story of discovering my sexuality and that I had even tried to date guys, hoping that lesbianism was a phase. None of that worked for me, although I enjoy friendships with men. I have tried many things to help them understand and accept my sexuality. They have met my girlfriend who they like and respect as a person. However, their shaming comments about homosexuality and their highly heterosexist attitude makes me feel unaccepted and distant from the family. Unfortunately, none of my siblings or extended family members are coming around, except for one cousin who lives in another state. For five years I have been trying to make a bridge, reaching out to them regularly and giving them lots of time to learn and appreciate me as I am. Each time I end up feeling more rejected and less hopeful. In January I decided to let them reach out to me, but for almost six months I haven’t heard from them. I am letting that be instead of continuing to try. It feels incredibly sad, but it is better than trying hard, without receiving any positive response. I want to have some sort of closure to let them go and create a sense of family with the people in my life who do love me and support me as a lesbian. How do I move forward with this?
A. This sounds very challenging and it’s commendable that you have stayed persistent and patient with the whole ordeal. Sounds like a simple but meaningful ritual could really help you make this transition. I trust you have good friends who are like family for you. I trust that they know of your situation with your parents and siblings. How about inviting them for a ritual one afternoon or evening? You can tell them your history and the process regarding your family and that you need to put energy now into creating family with your friends, who accept you unconditionally and are more like you. Allow yourself to feel the grief of the loss with your family of origin and to feel embraced by your “new family.” Let them appreciate you for who you are. Share your feelings, needs and tell them about the kind of support you need from them currently. You can add music, poetry, symbols, photos and food to this ceremony so it is nourishing and reflective of you.
Such a process will help you receive the kind of mirroring support and love you desire and release people who are not interested in being in your life in an intimate and accepting way.
Alzak Amlani, Ph.D., is a counseling psychologist of Indian descent in the Bay Area. 650-325-8393. Visit www.wholenesstherapy.com