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Just The Way You Are

Just The Way You Are

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“The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice…it is conformity.” ~ Rollo May

Just the Way You Are
By Kellie R. Stone
(originally published in Empowered Women’s Magazine; April, 2014)

It was two-thirty in the morning when she sent me the message. I could feel her stress and fear even though it was a digital communication. “I am tired of living a lie, a double life…I am gay,” she confessed. Her declaration did not move me, but her sadness and fear did. I felt sorry that she had not been able to truly be herself in this world without experiencing hate and ridicule from others. Individuality is at the core of our existence and the pursuit of it a path no other should ever block.

Millions of women, like Karin, are trapped in lives that are not their own. Whether it is to deny homosexuality or simply to hide a creative passion, too many of us wear social masks to conceal true identities and authentic life purpose. As a Journey to Purpose Coach and messenger to women, I see this identity thief steal power from not only the individual woman but that of a feminine collective in pursuit of veracity and empowerment. And though self-denial doesn’t just occur in homosexual women, their pain and concern is among the most poignant today.

A recent Gallop poll reported that Americans believe one in four is either gay or bisexual. Even if that estimate is high, consider how many attempt to covertly blend into a society that doesn’t consider them equal and, in doing so, they live in fear of rejection from loved ones as Karin has for years. Forced by dread and a desire to please, Karin lied to most everyone about her sexuality—a core human nature. This masquerade nearly destroyed her self-image and confidence. The questions, “Am I needed?” and “Am I loved?” were themes to daily life as a closeted lesbian. Her health and energy declined as did her confidence.

Joseph Winn, Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in gay and transgender therapy, believes “many people remain in the closet because they fear, sometimes realistically, that they will be rejected by their loved ones and are [even] at risk for physical violence.” Though this may not be the case for the majority of secluded gays, it certainly is a valid concern for many. Karin did not share any instances of violence, but she did experience an overwhelming weight on her spirit that caused extreme loneliness and despair—thought-provoking evidence that denying our truth and authentic selves, as Winn also concedes “…is incredibly damaging to one’s overall psychological health.” He also believes that coming out is a positive step to better health and self-esteem.

Despair, low self-image and many other intense emotions such as those experienced by living an unauthentic life can cause mental and physical illness, as believed by world-renowned author, speaker, and holistic practitioner, Dr. Bradley Nelson. “Our thoughts are powerful, and what we think and feel is what we create,” he says in his book, The Emotion Code. Nelson has spent his career helping others, from all walks of life, release emotions trapped by intense past experiences and believes anyone will be healthier and happier once emotional baggage is removed. “If you do not like where your story is headed, REWRITE a few pages.” Like Dr. Nelson, Karin encourages others to make changes if they are struggling to find peace and identity. “We are not at the end of the book yet.”

It is also easy to see how society, the media, and even churches can hinder this type of transition to living a truthful, fulfilling life. Winn shares how some “conservative communities and religious groups teach that being gay, lesbian or bisexual is a sign of mental illness, immorality and deserving of punishment and ostracism.” The result of this cruelty is a growing population of not only women but men, teens, and even children with distorted interpretations of love, equality, and spiritual premise.

Interestingly, we see this extreme opposition to being different among some modern religious groups, even though The Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed all stood for love, truth, justice, and hope for all mankind—the essence of humanity and divinity alike. From any stand point, to claim spiritual roots that suggest we are unique beings created by a perfect (perfectly loving) God who makes no mistakes, and to then blatantly display conflicting behavior that mocks that creation could be considered equitably insane. And, if this conduct is common place, it is fathomable why many people—not just gays— are forsaking formal religious institutions in order to be themselves and embrace loving and comforting spiritual concepts. If a woman loves another woman, wants out of an unhappy marriage, desires to change her spiritual beliefs, or pursue a unique dream, she has a human right to do so and should not be hindered by the rigid and controlling statutes of another.

Each human being must choose his or her path of freedom and the people whom he or she wants close at hand. In this case, having the support of individuals and organizations that don’t judge or control is imperative. “The only way to change where you are is to take a step OUT of it. Sometimes that step has to be small. Sometimes it can be much larger. Sometimes we must burn bridges,” Karin states about her present journey. “Consider your own well-being and never forget that the support system you find should build you up and push you forward.” Previously she entrusted a group that merely wanted to promote and support their own agenda and had little concern for her growth and well-being as a unique woman.

Psychologist and spiritual counselor, Zeenat Merchant-Syal, said, “Being comfortable with who you are, and knowing that you are strong enough to face any situation on your own, is an empowering feeling.” In agreement with Zeenat’s potent observation are Karin’s ideas about what will ultimately change the world concerning the issues of intolerance and judgment. “Act on compassion even though we all have different thoughts on what is right or wrong. Fear separates us. Sharing love even though we have differences would end a whole lot of hate.”

Karin believes her effort to be herself has made a positive impact on her and those around her. “God has blessed me mightily, and now I can share those blessings outright. Living genuinely frees me to be there for others, and gives them someone to share their hearts with. I have been able to help others who feel what I have felt. That, in itself, is a worthy ministry.”

Most women truly desire to express authentic, beautiful lives but some are unfortunately trapped by consuming thoughts of not being good enough or that somehow they don’t fit into this world. No matter who you are or what you’ve experienced in the past, you can be the woman a perfectly loving God and Universe created. Karin’s story is a powerful example of how a mental shift and a little action can, and will, make a difference in your life and even the world. If we want to be empowered women, we must embrace who we are, and that means even the parts that don’t always fit in or make others happy. Conforming to societal ideals and the labels they create is a one way ticket to—as Karin’s experience shows—a mediocre, stressful place that slams the door to your most precious dreams. “Write your own life story,” she urges the women of the world. Remember, you are beautiful just the way you are. Resources: Rochelle, Karin (2014, February) Email interview. Joseph Winn MSW, LICSW, CST. “Coming Out.” Josephwinnlicsw.com. Web. February 25, 2014 Zeenat Merchant-Syal. “How to Become a Positively Empowered Woman.” Positiveprovocations.com. March 8, 2013. Web. February 25, 2014. US Gallop poll. “U.S. Adults Estimate That 25% of Americans Are Gay or Lesbian.” Gallup.com. May 27, 2011. Web. February 25, 2014. Nelson, Dr.Bradley. The Emotion Code. Mesquite, NV: Wellness Unmasked Publishing, 2007. Print.

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About Kellie R. Stone

Kellie is a Journey To Purpose Coach and Intuitive Reader who received her certification through Karen Coffey an The Hope of Humanity Foundation. As a writer, her articles have been published on Livestrong.com, All Things Chic, Time Finders Magazine, Successful Life and Living, and many other blogs and e-zines. Her book, “Are You Out of Your Freakin’ Mind?…break mental barriers and live from your sacred creative space” is the first of many to be published.

14 comments

  1. Being open and authentic can create a frightening vulnerability… which is not nearly as painful as accepting other-imposed labels and limitations. Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

  2. For all who are willing to take a stand for being the truth of themselves—to be fully who they are—the world is blessed. There are so many levels of self-denial…and all damaging to the soul. Thank you for writing this important piece, Kellie!

  3. Perhaps the greatest mastery of all is oneself. When we accept ourselves, unconditionally, we thereby give everyone else around us to do the same.

    oxoxo

  4. Well this stirs up so many memories. I had two brothers that were gay as well as one sister in our family of eight children. We had been brought up in a good family yet we were the hardest on ourselves. Therefore my two brothers ruined their lives ..one by drinking and another by hating himself. Their torment took them both at a young age.. one from a heart attack at 44, another by Aids at 48. My sister chose to shut herself off from us until she met an amazing woman who taught her to love herself.

    Judgement destroys.. thank you for writing this article.

    • That really touched my heart, Mary. So sorry to hear about such a tragic end for your brothers but happy for your sister. Thanks for sharing this. I hope that my article reaches the people it needs to.

  5. Everyone is on a powerful journey to love and accept themselves as they are…as they truly are!
    It is the great equalizer.
    Then, once we accept ourselves, our journey is to love and accept others as they are.
    I think they call this ” L.O.V.E. ”

    Peace Out! Joy

  6. This resonates all to well Kellie, I grew up with two gay brothers. My younger brother Ted hid being gay and after his marriage dissolved, finally came out. My adopted brother Tim came out effortlessly with his sexuality. I never understand why my younger brother put those taboo’s on himself for so long. Our family is open and accepting. My Mother started a group for Mother’s of gay children and became a massage therapist at 60 to work on AIDS patients. I could go on and on, but once you live from your heart and show the world who you are, your life is so much more beautiful. Judgements are fear based and those who engage in them need to take a deeper look into their hearts.

    • Thank you Debra for sharing your personal experience. I hope that articles like this will help those in judgment to see how much pain they are causing in the name of religion. Thanks for your support!

  7. What would the world be like if we all lived authentically without fear of judgement and rejection?

    As a long-time LGBT advocate, I really appreciate your post. It breaks my heart to think of all the closeted people who fear losing love and respect simply because of who they are and what they believe.

    This fear of judgment crosses religious/spiritual boundaries as well. Try admitting to being an atheist at a family reunion where EVERYONE is Christian. Oh boy…

    • Thanks for taking the time to read this and for your comment. I know it’s hard for many to be authentic, even when they really don’t have anything “controversial” happening in their lives, let alone if they do. I hope that we get to the place as a society that this cruel act of judgement and intolerance is no more.

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