Home Alone: Are Our Pre-Teens Out of Control?

My Dear Readers,

During a recent review of my personal Facebook news feed, I saw a picture of two African-American pre-teens exchanging a deep kiss. The young woman was wearing a t-shirt that showed a side view of her bra, and the young man’s hands were caressing her rear end.  Under the photo, the caption posed the following question:

“You come home from work and see your 12-year old daughter like that as you pull up to the house.  What would you do?”

I was taken aback by the outlandish comments that were posted in response, but I also saw this as a wonderful opportunity to participate in an exchange on expectations and reasonable ways to respond to such actions and behaviors

So, I posted the following response:

Looking at all of the previous responses, there clearly is no doubt why our young people are either distant from us as older adults or want to shut us out of their lives. Very sad indeed.

Let’s see if we can move beyond the simplistic reactions of screaming, hitting and other behaviors of shaming and humiliation. I am hopeful that there can be a reasonable discussion that can assist those who will one day find themselves in such a situation. Let’s see if we can walk in that direction. Best regards all,

Dr. Micheal Kane

I will admit that a portion of my initial response was chastising, but to be honest, my intent was to encourage dialogue that would be empowering, giving the reader the opportunity to provide assistance to others who may find themselves in a similar situation.  That, however, was pretty much rendered moot when my comment was deleted from the post, and I was blocked from posting further.

However, I was still able to review the other comments, and I saw approximately 20 postings which I would categorize this way:

Physical Violence

  • “Call 911 because I am going to beat both of their asses.”
  • “Whip her ass once for wearing what she has on, whip her ass twice for kissing that raggedy boy, whip her ass three times for letting him touch her butt and whip her ass once more for even thinking she could get away with it. She’d learn.”
  • A picture of Adrian Peterson, who is currently charged with child abuse of his four year old son, with the caption “Go get a switch, I wanna beat yo ass”
  • Picture of a Gorilla showing an angry look with the caption “That look your mom gives you when you are about to get your ass whipped”
  • “Ass whooping and we would have a long discussion afterwards.”

Death Threats

  • A picture of a group of pall bearers carrying a small casket with the caption “Guns Don’t Kill People, Dads With Pretty Daughters Kill People”
  • A picture of Liam Neeson from the Taken movies with the caption “I Will Find Him and I Will Kill Him”
  • A picture of Tyler Perry dressed as Madea cocking the hammer on her pistol with the caption “Oh Hell No!”

Shaming & Humiliation

  • Picture of a black male actor with a grim face with the caption “You Know That You Done Fucked Up Right?”
  • Picture of Elderly black woman with a sour look on her face with the caption “Lord, What is Wrong With These Children?”
  • “a) First have a long talk, b) take her to the doctor, c) make her volunteer where people get counseling for HIV and other diseases, d) give her an assignment to look up the cost of daycare and everything a baby will need, e) make her babysit a baby and make her do all the work, f) tell her that babysitting is not an option and she must fill in her schedule with after school activities, g) she will now be required to dress as a nun and h) repeat until a full understanding is met… Maybe even until she is 18 years old.”

Parental Denial

  • “She would not be my daughter, cause my daughter wouldn’t behave like that.”

Really? Threats of physical violence, death, shaming and humiliation?  For acting out in the behaviors that naturally occur as puberty approaches and sexual feelings begin to develop?  In response to this, we:

  • Beat the sexual feelings out of them?
  • Shame them; humiliate them?
  • Kill the male for what? Grabbing her butt?

As a parent and clinician working with pre-adolescent and adolescent youth, I find these responses to be disturbing.   The individuals I saw in the caption appeared to be of the same age, well groomed, wearing appropriate attire and physically attracted towards each other.

Yes, they were involved in a deep embrace, and it appeared to be mutually desired.  They were standing in the front of a residence.  They were not engaged in sexual activity.  There was no attempt to hide from plain sight.  They were very public in their actions and behaviors.

I have no doubt that it would be surprising to any parent to arrive at home and find one’s daughter and male friend involved in such behavior.   However, to be shocked, appalled or driven to physical violence, shaming, humiliation and ultimately death threats only shows that we as a society continue to deny the normal human behavior that develops among this specific age group.

What do we know about pre-adolescence?

Pre-adolescence is a stage of human development that follows early childhood and is prior to adolescence.  It generally ends at 10-13 years of age, with the beginning of puberty.

Pre-adolescents tend to have a different view of the world than their parents.  Parents may have difficulty understanding the specific changes that may occur swiftly as their child moves from the intense fantasy world of childhood to one that is more realistic.  Pre-adolescents making this transition tend to have more mature, sensible thoughts and actions than they had before.

Pre-adolescents during this stage will often develop a sense of intentionality, specifically the wish and capacity to have an impact and to act upon that with persistence.  It is also within pre-adolescence that they will have a more developed sense of looking into the future and seeing the impact of their actions.

It is also at this stage that they begin to view human relationships differently. They are beginning to develop a sense of self-identity and have increased feelings of independence.   They may begin to feel more as an “individual” and no longer “just one of the family”. It is at this stage that a different view of morality begins to emerge as well as the desire to balance one’s own needs with those in peer group activities.

So, what does all of this mean? It means that pre-adolescence is a time of “emergence”.  Unlike childhood and adolescence, it is a short period in which individuals may find themselves seeking clarity regarding newly discovered emotional and sexual feelings.

Concluding Words

Are our pre-adolescents out of control?  Simply, no. The picture just provides us with a snapshot of two very young and innocent individuals exploring and attempting to find their way in uncharted new lands.  It would actually be helpful to them for responsible adults to assist them through counsel and advice instead of going directly to punishment.

It would be emotionally wounding and psychologically damaging to ridicule or heap threats of violence, death, shame, and humiliation for normal human behavior occurring at the appropriate age level by two individuals of likewise ages.

As adults we have choices– we can make ourselves available to our inquiring youngsters filled with this growing sexual energy, or we can hold ourselves in denial and do things that are certain to drive them away from us as parents.

One of the responses that particularly stands out for me is this one:

“Whip her ass once for wearing what she has on, whip her ass twice for kissing that raggedy boy, whip her ass three times for letting him touch her butt and whip her ass once more for even thinking she could get away with it.  She’d learn.”

Right…after repeatedly getting her behind tore up she’d learn alright.  He will, too.  They will come to understand the brutality and lack of understanding of those who say that they love them.

The real question is this: As they grow into  adults, will they learn and prosper from our words and experiences, or will they just know the ignorance that we kept them in?

 

“Once burned, we learn. If we do not learn we only assure ourselves that we will be burned again and again and again until …we learn.”

Ten Flashes of Light For The Journey of Life

 Until the next crossroads….The journey continues.

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Embracing My Shame and Seeking the Journey of Life

Dear Visible Man,

I am writing because I am ashamed. I am ashamed of myself because I have not been willing to stand up to my mother. I am 31 years old, and have always considered myself to be a strong black woman, but I continue to allow my mother to control and be abusive towards me.

I was raised in the church, where I learned to “honor my parents.”  However, I feel that my mother used scripture to manipulate and control me.  If I made a mistake, she used scripture to hold that mistake over my head.  To this day, she still demands that I continue to obey her and if I fail to do so, it’s another mistake that she needs to correct through scripture.

I feel that my mother seeks to live her life through me. Even though I now live on my own and have a job that pays me well, she tells me that unless I do things her way, I will be a failure.

I have completed law school at Howard University, and I recently became involved with a person that I hope to eventually marry. Due to her history of bad relationships and mistrust of men, she has been abusive to my male friends in the past, and she has already indicated that she doesn’t think that my boyfriend is good enough for me. However, she still wants to meet him. I’m hesitant to let that happen, though– I fear that my mother will destroy this relationship.

How can I live my life without the ongoing interference by my mother?

Seeking My Way, Portland, OR

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Dear Young Woman,

I would like to congratulate you on your willingness to write about an issue that is clearly painful for you.  Having said that, I believe that we should focus on reinforcing your empowerment instead of devaluing your psychological self.  Therefore I will ask that you refrain from the internal assaults and further wounding you are delivering to the psychological self .  Work with me to reduce the pain that is there, instead of adding to it. Let’s work towards healing the emotional wounds that you have endured for so long.

It is evident that you are responding to feelings associated with shame.  The feeling of shame can be defined as:

  • A painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness or disgrace.
  • An act that brings dishonor, disgrace or public condemnation.
  • An object of great disappointment.

The basic nature of excessive shame is that the person enduring shame feels unworthy, defective and empty.   Shame can be debilitating, toxic and extremely destructive, and it separates the individual from the psychological self.  Shame creates an internal crisis that attacks the inner self through triggering a spiral of negative self-talk.

Shame can occur in different and distinctive subtypes: social, competence, toxic and existential (being).  For the purpose of this writing, I will focus on the competence and existential being subtypes. These are defined as the following:

  • Competence Shame targets five core-internalized beliefs of the individual:

“I am not good enough.”

“I don’t belong.”

“I am unlovable.”

“I should not be….”

       This form of shame can be cancerous in that it thrives in and increases the perceived gap between what individuals can do and what they think or feel they should do.  The outcome is that the individual feels like a fraud or failure.  Individuals with competence shame feel weak, inadequate, or ineffective.  The appearance of competence shame reinforces the belief that the person who suffers from it is defective.

  • Existential (Being) Shame is the most difficult of the subtypes because it consciously attacks the individual’s right to This is done via the internalization and repetition of the following core messages:

“My life is meaningless.”

“I am worthless.”

“I have nothing to live for.”

Where the other forms of shame may just increase perceived gaps, existential shame removes hope and meaning completely from one’s life.  Of the different subtypes, this form is the one that is most predictive of suicide.

YOUNG WOMAN, these subtypes have been laid out with the hope that you will see that you may be responding to intense emotions that are by their nature, slicing away at the core of your psychological self.  Shame differs from humiliation in that humiliation requires the actions of others to induce those feelings of inadequacy.  Shame in and of itself is self-reinforcing as well as self-inducing.  It does not require external energy.  It rests and rebuilds from within you.

However, healing from your shame is also within you.  There is a two-phase approach you may take to begin and reinforce the healing process.  This is called understanding and action.

During the phase of understanding, you must want to:

  • Be patient with the wounded psychological self as it moves towards healing.
  • Be curious about finding the personal answers to the questions and doubts that cause your shame.
  • Accept the self and your reality.

From there, you must want to affirm the following within your psychological self:

  • Personal Responsibility– assuming responsibility for your shame and not blaming others is key to change.
  • Planning- is essential to healing shame. It is essential to develop a workable plan that addresses the shame that occurs in your daily life.
  • Perseverance-shame will continue to resurface as one continues to work towards healing. It is important to internalize this concept when times become more difficult.

It is in the “understanding phase” that you want to question the church and home-instilled foundation that holds your value of honoring your parents and balance this with the manipulative behaviors and actions of your mother.

There is no writing in the scriptures that sanctions the manipulative and abusive behaviors of your mother.  Your own inaction in resolving your internalized conflicts maintains the hold your mother has on you.

Your behavior and lack of movement may be an indication of “living in fear” and unwilling to work towards “living with fear.”  If so ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I in fear of?
  • Why am I holding myself to the same path I’ve already walked on?
  • Why am I fearful of walking a different path?
  • What will change for me if I transformed myself to living with fear?”

Within the understanding phase, seek to answer the following questions:

  • Do I love myself? If so, how do I show that I love me… and love me more?
  • What do I want? What am I willing to do in order to get what I want?
  • Am I willing to let go of my past and in doing so, let go of my mother? Am I willing to grasp the future that is unknown to me?

Take the walk to the new path—that is, acceptance of reality.  Come to understand the possibility of the following realities:

  • My mother’s distrust of men has destroyed her attempts of happiness in her life.
  • My mother’s need to live her life through me may ultimately result in my life mirroring hers and being just as empty and distrustful.
  • My mother does love me and yet her love is contributing towards my life lacking in happiness and fulfillment.

YOUNG WOMAN, as you move into the next phase i.e. action, please consider the following:

  • I, not my mother, am responsible for my feelings. I can heal the wounded self.
  • I love my mother, as shown in my actions. However, as much as I love my mother, I want to love me more.
  • My mother contributed to my foundation of “being” and becoming a woman. It is for me to take direction of my life from this point on.  I can and will do this.

Create structure and boundaries for self.  Inform your mother of the following:

  • Specific behaviors that are acceptable and unacceptable.
  • Your no tolerance policy of abuse towards self or disrespect towards your male friends.
  • The willingness to “let her go” should she continue to hold to her current actions and behaviors.

YOUNG WOMAN, in closing, I leave you at the crossroads.  I have listened to your pain and suffering.  As you have been “living in fear,” you have allowed the psychological self to suffer under the weight of your mother’s lost and unfulfilled past.  It is for you to embrace your shame.

Your wounds are the results of being in conflict of serving two masters, one loving yet cruel, the other begging, pleading for freedom from the self-imposed yoke.  As you stand at the crossroads, understand that only you can free the psychological self and attain the life you seek. However, in order to do so, you must want to “live with fear.”

Yes, it is a possibility that the price for freedom may result in loss of connection or reduction of interaction with your mother.  However, remember that you, in partnership with the psychological self (and not your mother), have achieved the fulfillment of your educational and professional goals.

Will you trust the self to attain the fulfillment of personal happiness in the form of a intimate relationship?

Will you have BELIEF, FAITH & TRUST in the journey that lies ahead?

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Loving the Self

 

As much as I love you,

I love myself more.

 

Loving me more, does not mean

I love you less.

 

It only means

I love me more.

 

More…

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The Visible Man

Black & White: Occupying the Same Space and Living In Two Different Worlds

My Dear Readers,

      Will we as a nation ever come together?  Will we ever be able to respond to the vast and growing racial divide that separates us?  Have we reached the limits of our endurance?  Will it continue to matter?

       How does a situation seen by peers of two different racial groups seem so different?  Both groups respond from their own perspectives. Neither is wrong…Both are different.

Below is such a story…

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Dear Visible Man,

I am looking for feedback regarding my response to a situation that occurred one month ago.  I feel that you and I share some similar experiences, so you may be able to understand my concerns.   Like you, I am an African-American man, I am educated, and I work for a high tech firm in the Puget Sound area.

I am also from the southern United States—I grew up in Arkansas.  I attended segregated schools and was dealt with harshly during the integration of white only schools back in the day.

Like many other African-American men, I have had negative experiences in my interactions with the police and as a result, I do my best to avoid interaction with them.  I noticed that when I drive past a police cruiser, my heart rate increases, and I watch the rear view mirror closely until the car has out-distanced it.

When a police cruiser pulls up behind me, I know he is running my license plates.  Although I know that I don’t have anything to worry about, I am a ball of twisted nerves until he pulls away.

The few times I have been pulled over by the police, I have kept my hands glued to the steering wheel and clearly narrated all of my movements. I have been following the Five Rs of Relief model and I have been implementing them into my daily actions and behaviors.  I want to thank you as I feel it has strongly impacted my life.

Recently, while driving in alone at night in an isolated area of a white community in Seattle, I was almost t-boned by a police cruiser that came out of nowhere.   The only thing that prevented the accident was my ability to swerve out of the way.  Needless to say, I was very upset.

Here’s what I’m really writing about.   As I drove away, I noticed that the police cruiser was 10-12 car lengths behind me.  I was not angry, but I felt I had to do something.  So, I pulled my vehicle over and waited for the police cruiser to approach and in doing so I waved him over to stop.

The police cruiser pulled over.  The driver got out of the car, and the other officer also got out and stood nearby.  I informed the officer of my concern regarding his actions.  The officer acknowledged he was in the wrong, thanked me for being alert, and apologized for the distress his carelessness had created.

He extended his hand, which I accepted.  I then returned to my vehicle and continued on my way.  At the time, I was thrilled about the way I handled the situation and how I handled myself.  Like I said, I was not angry.  I explained myself in a calm and rational manner.  I had resolved the issue.

Here is where it becomes quite interesting.  When I tell the situation to my friends who are also of African-American descent, they react in disbelief.  I have received responses such as:

  • Have you lost your mind?
  • Do you have a death wish?
  • You are an educated man, why would you do something so stupid?
  • You must think that because you are educated that the police will treat you different.

I have also mentioned the incident and shared it with my coworkers who are of Caucasian heritage.  The responses I’ve received from them has been very different.  I have received comments that include the following:

  • You did the right thing.
  • Good for you, to stand up for your civil rights.
  • You see, this shows that not all cops are bad.

I am confused by the difference in response and perspective.  I have been in therapy for 9 months following the loss of my spouse Dorothea.   We grew up together and were married for 35 years before she passed away due to cancer.  In talking to my therapist, who is also of Caucasian heritage, he was excited about advocating for myself.

As time has passed, however, I do not feel comfortable about what I did.  I have two adult sons, and I would never have encouraged them to do what I did.

What do you think about this? Do you think I did the right or was I being foolish given the circumstances?

An Educated Black Man

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Dear Sir:

First, I want to extend my condolences regarding the loss of your beloved Dorothea.  It is clear that you continue to grieve the loss of what was a loving relationship.

Second, I want to extend my appreciation for your use of the Five Rs of Relief.  I am glad to hear that the model has had a positive impact on your life.  However, I must question whether you are clearly interpreting the model as you move through the various steps.

It appears that given the distinctive and extremely different reactions between your friends, colleagues and therapist, you are now having second thoughts about the situation and how you handled it.  This perception is reinforced by your statement that

“I have two adult sons, and I would never have encouraged them to do what I did”.

The comments of those you have spoken to reinforce the fact that although that blacks and whites often occupy the same physical space and breathe the same air, they actually reside in two separate worlds.  The majority of black people in America do not trust those who wear the badge, and for good reason, given the history. On the other hand, the majority of white people in America view the police as public servants entrusted to “protect & serve.”

When it comes to racial conflict, this perceptive is reinforced.  In a recent Pew Research poll (8.18.14) regarding the police shooting and ongoing racial unrest in Ferguson, MO, 80% of blacks state the situation “raises important issues about race.”  This is in comparison to 47% of whites that indicate that “race has been getting too much attention.”

In your specific situation, I can appreciate the concern of your friends who are disturbed by your actions, but I disagree with the idea that you were “crazy” or “stupid.”

I do not believe that you were being foolish.  However, I believe that in your actions, you did place yourself at serious risk of harm and injury.  Although there was a good outcome, please do not pat yourself on the shoulder for your “good deed.”

It was by the grace of God that you encountered two police officers that although in the wrong, maintained their calmness and professionalism.  I am sure they were shocked to be flagged down by a black man at night in an isolated area of a white community, and at the fact that they needed to maintain that calm as they were being chastised.

It is a blessing that these police officers were secure enough within themselves and did not handcuff or arrest you on a frivolous charge of obstruction or resisting arrest.  In fact, had there been a physical encounter resulting in injury or death, there would had been no other witnesses.

As you have cited my theoretical model of the Five R’s of Relief (respite, reaction, reflection, response and reevaluation), let’s revisit the model beginning at reevaluation.  Ask yourself the following:

  • Following the near collision with the police cruiser, did I take a respite (step away)?
  • Understanding that you felt calm in your actions when speaking to the police officer, did you own your reactions? Especially having just avoided a major collision?
  • Having flagged down the police cruiser at night in an isolated area, were you clearly being reflective? What were you thinking and feeling?
  • As you stood alone out there in the dark speaking to the officer who was being watched by another officer standing in a defensive position, were you being responsive? Do you feel that this was the safe place to share your response?
  • More importantly, understanding what you have learned from your reevaluation of the situation what would you do differently next time?

It may be that due to your education, position and status in life, you may want law enforcement to view you as being different. You may also feel that your complexion should not be a consideration for the protection that you as a tax-paying citizen should receive. Martin Luther King spoke about this in his “I Have A Dream” speech:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’

However, that day is not TODAY.   When you step out of your vehicle and flagged down the police, the police officers saw a BLACK MAN.   One officer took a defensive stance.  It was only after talking to you that they did not perceive a threat and therefore could relax and end the interaction with a handshake.

The racial history of this country reinforces the fear that other races have towards black males.  Although black males cannot control or mitigate the internalized fears of others, we can and must maintain a posture of vigilance so that we, like the police officer, return home alive to our families.

Concluding Words

Mr. Educated Black Man,

My professional instincts tell me there may be more to this story. There is something that just does not hold for me as I replay your story over and over.   On one hand, you appear calculated in your movement and vigilant in your interactions with law enforcement, but I find it questionable that you would openly place yourself in a vulnerable situation. As I replayed your comments red flags arise:

  • You are grieving the loss of your spouse.
  • You are meeting with a therapist.
  • You acknowledged that you would never encourage your adult sons to take the actions that you did.

My concerns leave to me to question whether, given the scenario, you reached a point where you smothered your feelings regarding law enforcement. Were your actions an unconscious consideration for a potential “suicide by cop”?

I am concerned that you placed yourself at risk. Instead of exiting the vehicle, you could have filed a report with the watch commander of the precinct in which the incident occurred.  Why didn’t you consider this prior to exiting the vehicle?

If I am correct, there are internal questions you must want to resolve so that you can respond differently if a similar situation occurs in the future. When you next meet with your therapist, I would encourage you to actively pursue this line of questioning.

If I am in error, then there is nothing to it.   However, given the scenario being presented, it is something that I ask you to consider.

The last interaction terminated with an acknowledgement of responsibility and handshake with the police officer.  Let’s not allow the next one to result in condolences to your sons for the loss of their father.

Best regards to you,

The Visible Man

Self-Acceptance: Looking for Love and Finding More Pain  

 My Dear Readers,

      There are those times when we grant too much power to others.  In seeking to be accepted, we deny the true value of ourselves and seek validation from others– validation that can only come from within.

     It is human nature to create super heroes.  It can also be disastrous to learn that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny aren’t real and that unconditional love, in reality, comes with “expectations.”

       However, one can uncover, discover and recover the empowerment that lies within the psychological self by learning what is true and what is not.

Below is such a story.

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Dear Visible Man,

I hope you can help me.  I am an African-American gay male, and I live in a conservative community. I am completely out—my family and my church know that I am gay.

Growing up, I remember being bullied and called offensive names. I never developed any close friendships. When I was 15 years old, I told my mother about my sexual identity. She responded by calling me a “faggot.” She apologized later, and I accepted it.  She said that although it is difficult for her to understand, she accepts my “choice” to be gay and will always love me. We have moved on to where we have a positive relationship.

I am now 29 years old. After high school, I went to college, got my degree, and I now have a good job. I have finally found a man that loves me. I know that I am loved, but I still don’t feel accepted.  I have a ton of anger going on within me.

I now realize that deep inside, I have always felt angry, sad and betrayed by what my mother said to me, and that anger and hurt is not going away. I thought that by finding my true love I would be happy, but I realize now that I am not. I do not feel accepted by my mother.  If a mother would betray her son, what stops my true love from doing the same to me?

I have spoken to my pastor, and he told me to pray for forgiveness. Forgiveness? What have I done wrong? I feel like I am at my wit’s end. What can I do?

Searching For Answers, Tacoma, WA

Dear Young Man,

Your pain comes through loud and clear.  I caution you to listen and work towards feeling the words I want to share with you.  In my 25 years of practice, I have lost two patients due to suicide.  The common threads that they share were they were gay, were ethnic minorities, and have given up hope.

Stay in the room with me.  Allow me to provide more information for consideration as you now stand at the crossroads.

First, let us engage in a calming down period.  Your safety is paramount.  Begin by following the Five Rs of Relief.

  • Respite– Be willing to take a moment before you address the situation. Breathe deeply.  Allow yourself to step away from the situation for a moment.
  • Reaction– Own your reactions. No one but you can fully understand how you feel at this time of your life.
  • Reflection—Balance your thoughts with your feelings. Let go of the desire to control what you think and feel.
  • Response– Combine your balanced thoughts and feelings and prepare to speak to the external world.
  • Reevaluate– Take another look at the choices before you, decisions you have made, and the actions you have taken. Have the willingness to review, revise and reframe.

Young Man,

Instead of viewing this as being “at my wit’s end”, I ask that you view this as standing at the crossroads.  In doing so, please be willing to take in as much information as you can to decide the direction of your next journey.

The Community

To be clear, your sexuality is not the issue at hand.  The issues instead lay in the reactions of your conservative community.

Remember, ignorance is defined as the lack of knowledge.  Let’s say that knowledge is food sitting on the table. There will always be those who choose not to nourish themselves, even when food is plentiful.  Some people would prefer to stare, starve and hold to the darkness of their beliefs.

As my grandmother would say: “an old dog won’t run… it will just limp along until its time comes.”   Have the willingness to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do you seek acceptance from those who have chosen darkness?
  • Are you choosing to limp along in darkness instead of grasping for the light in front of you?
  • In your desire to be accepted, are you granting them power over your happiness? Do they deserve more where you deserve less?

As you search for the answers consider the following:

  • If you look within and accept the self as the person that you are, you will have your value and validation.
  • If they do not see you, it is because they have chosen to do so. Nothing you do, including full capitulation, will change how they feel or view you.
  • You can lessen their power over you by “loving the self” and in doing so… loving me more.

Your Mother

As children, we create super heroes and heroines out of our parents.  They become our solid rocks.  We give unconditional love and expect to receive the same from them.   They can do no wrong.

Until that one day when we are forced to grasp what is really before us.  We learn that instead of super heroes and heroines, our parents are merely mortal human beings.  Instead of rock, we understand that our parents are just like us; humans made of blood, flesh and bone.

With this cruel awakening comes the knowledge that unconditional love comes with “expectations.”   Strong African-American families do not birth weak gay sons and daughters.  It is expected that they will go on and bring forth more children.

After all, the Bible speaks of Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve, right?  So if my child is gay, it must be because he chose this lifestyle.  He came from my body!  I am not a lesbian; his father certainty wasn’t gay.  It must be a choice.  Right?

Young Man,

Regarding acceptance, have the willingness to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can you accept that your mother is simply a human being who has chosen to live within the boundaries of her faith and her belief that your actions are by choice of lifestyle and not of identity at birth?
  • Understanding that in her esteem you may have “fallen,” can you let go of her expectations and begin to create—and more importantly, accept—your own?
  • Can you cease proving yourself to others and just simply walk your journey… being you?

As you search for the answers, consider the following:

  • You will have the desire to distract yourself from or ignore what has now been revealed to you about your parent. Struggle to stay with this moment.
  • As you realize your mother’s failings, you have earned the pain that comes from the revelation. This isn’t a bad thing.
  • You have the opportunity to view your mother as different and more human as you strip away the untruths that you have created in her image.
  • You can accept your inner self and in doing so, choose to model the behavior and actions which you seek.

The Wounds of Betrayal

In my research, I have identified eight distinctive categories of trauma.  Of the eight categories, betrayal is the most impactful and psychologically wounding on the human experience.

It is common for the wounded individual to take such deeply wounded feelings into future relationships. Because of its insidious nature, betrayal trauma requires an intense program of recovery.

Young Man,

I want to be clear—I am not trying to ignore your pain.  However, as hurtful as your mother’s actions have been, this was not a betrayal.

The act of betrayal requires a “thread of actions”.  For the betrayal to be initiated and completed, five stages must occur: premeditation, planning, process, performance and “the punch”

The actions of your mother do not meet the standards of betrayal that I laid out above.  The act of betrayal cannot occur by accident—nor can it result from an impulse or mistake.  There must be a specific intent to carry out the act of betrayal.

Young Man,

Be willing to ask yourself the following questions:

  • As there is no intent, why then do I feel betrayed?
  • Why do I suspect that my true love may do the same to me?
  • Do I want to continue with the journey feeling the way that I do?

As you search for the answers, consider the following:

  • Consider the possibility that the betrayal that you feel is actually the fall from the pedestal upon which you placed your mother.
  • Consider that you can avoid the same error by not placing your true love on a similar pedestal.
  • Allow your true love to be what he truly is: In doing so, insist on the same status for yourself.

Concluding Words

In speaking to your pastor, the response you received was to seek forgiveness.   In the framework as it is presented, it remains unclear as to exactly what reason or who you are to direct forgiveness towards.

Please consider this: In the work of Self Discovery, not only is forgiveness is a gift that one can receive from another it is also a gift that you can provide to yourself.

Have the willingness to seek forgiveness from the psychological self for the many years of pain and suffering it has carried for you.   Have the willingness to let go of this pain and suffering.

As you stand at the crossroads, have the willingness to reach out, seek therapeutic assistance, and commit to do the work that will assist you during this difficult time.

As you indicated the following: “I feel like I am at my wit’s end. What can I do?”  Please contact the crisis hotline within your local community.  The National Suicide Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is also available 24 hours a day.

Grasp onto life… Walk the Journey of Self Discovery.

The Visible Man