My family moved to a small California town when I was young. I faced a lot of rejection growing up there for multiple reasons, one being that I was overweight and the other that I was a Christian. Attempting to fit in, I continually sought out romantic relationships, smoked pot, and abused alcohol. With plummeting self-worth, I gave myself to any guy willing to give me attention.
During high school, I found my relationships with men to be shallow and became calloused towards them. I found my relationships with women to be much deeper and more fulfilling. I’d experienced same-sex attraction from a young age but hadn’t talked to anyone about it.
One night as I sat with my friends, I had what I believed was my grand epiphany: I was a lesbian. I thought the pieces of my puzzle were coming together.
In college, I joined an LGBTQ community and separated myself completely from my religious upbringing. I believed I had been liberated and could pursue what I knew was best for me. Even with this new “liberation,” I was still experiencing tremendous pain and depression, which led to medicating myself.
One afternoon as I was high, I became greatly aware of the severity of my depression and feeling of disconnection from God. I began to pray, “I’m not sure if it’s okay to talk to you when I’m high, but I can’t get myself out of this.” Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with the feeling that God truly loved me. For the next few days, I tried to resume my regular routine; however, when I went to smoke again, I felt like I was going to die. I didn’t want to quit, but eventually I realized that clearly, I was to follow a different path going forward.
After this experience, I renewed my focus on my faith in God, including how it related to my sexuality. And even in the midst of all that, I continued to experience same-sex attraction.
After searching to understand my same-sex attraction, I was introduced to a sexual wholeness program that emphasized finding your true identity. It was led by a married couple who had walked through similar struggles. The group met once a week and formed a loving environment where we could open up, receive encouragement, and seek healing. These leaders let us be our messy selves, all the while helping us to grow. There was no manipulation or shame, just unconditional love. In that season of my life, I grew to understand where my desires and attractions came from and how to get deep emotional needs met in an appropriate and effective way.
These days, same-sex attraction no longer drives me. I know who I am and have a tremendous amount of peace and joy. I’ve been married to a wonderful man for 13 years now. I’m no longer in the painful cycle of trying to fulfill my needs through same-sex relationships with women.
Connect with her here at her ministry website www.lizgflaherty.com