Growing up, I never felt fully female. I never seemed to figure out or enjoy normal, healthy friendships with other girls, and I was never attracted to men. Friendships cycled between "too close" or non-existent, because losing a friend felt like my heart was being torn in half. This continued for 18 years, until I grew too close to a woman I mentored. Same-sex attraction both tantalized and scandalized me until I finally was honest with myself and God about where that attraction would take me.
I began to open up and share with different people, which helped me step out of the fog of confusion into wholeness. Despite having hidden my confusion and pain for nearly two decades, sharing my deepest insecurities with trusted friends gave me the support I needed instead of the condemnation I had feared.
During this time I found myself going through a “second puberty,” which allowed me to revisit misconceptions I had believed about myself as a 12 or 13 year old. I was able to recall certain behaviors that had been ruled out for me early on, like wearing nail polish, which had severely affected my self image. I discovered that my same-sex attraction had been closely connected to the pressure of spiritual perfectionism around me and that I had to live up to a legalistic, rules-driven standard of behavior. I realized I was no longer bound by those rules, but had the freedom to make my own decisions for my womanhood.
Another surprising change I experienced was becoming free from certain emotional triggers. For example, a certain song playing on the radio or while I was out shopping had once triggered a deep sense of loneliness and longing in my soul for whomever my friend was at the time. But eventually, that same song would play and I wouldn’t even notice it. Later I would remember, that’s that song! My heart was becoming more whole, and recognizing this change made me feel so joyful and able to celebrate my process.
I also discovered during that second puberty phase that I am free to “love and let go”. I learned that I could have a healthy, intimate friendship with another woman without my heart being torn in half when the level of intimacy decreased. In the past I always wanted one friend exclusively, and I didn’t want her to have other friends or to entrust her secrets to anyone else. Now I am free to enter into genuine, healthy friendship with many different women. This simply wasn’t possible for me in the past, but now it is no longer an issue. To this day, I am deeply satisfied with genuine heart-to-heart connection with a number of friends.
Over time, this process of learning to be honest about my same-sex attraction led me to an intensive week of counseling, during which a lifetime of the pain of self-rejection and fear of others’ rejection came rushing to the surface. The image I saw in my mind was of a torturous mountain trail, each turn in the trail an illustration of one of those deeply painful memories. I realized that God had been with me, experiencing my pain with me at every turn. This truth fully set my heart free and removed the sting of that lifetime of pain. I now am totally free to love without the burden I once carried. My heart is whole again, and I can enjoy genuine friendship pain-free! I would not return to the former pain for anything in the world. I believe the process of self-discovery and this level of freedom is possible for everyone, including anyone experiencing the heaviness of self-rejection and seeking relief. Total freedom is both real and possible. It is something that can be discovered and grown into.