"Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity." - Hippocrates
Are you a divorced, widowed or single adult nearing retirement?
Do you wonder what it will be like retiring living alone? Do you not have the type of family who think of you as vulnerable to some of the concerns all who age have as well as those unique to LGBTQ's? Like siblings who assume they have grown adult children to notice, care and/or look after them as they age? Do you feel you could become a burden to siblings, nieces or nephews and wonder how they'd respond.
Do you shudder when you hear stories of aging, senior, or elderly LGBTQ's being forced back into the closet in order to be accepted into a nursing home or retirement community with homophobic staff or tenants? Do you fear this could happen to you too?
Already, so many questions. Yes you may be worrying too much about the future, but your concerns ARE reasonable.
Maybe you wish you had a partner to weather through these challenges with you, but because of past experiences in relationships and personal growth that has helped you get to know yourself much better such that you know what you want and need, you ARE selective. You still have time to find the one you will spend the rest of your life with and you don't plan to 'settle' in the meantime.
While you are happy, at the same time, you may experience occasional loneliness – but meeting people at your age is hard and doesn't get easier as time flies by, particularly if you don't live in or near one of a few major U.S. cities. Either way there is no time to sit and wonder. You have a busy, full life. Your work is a labor of love and you are a great family member and friend.
Now, as you are nearing retirement age, you want to find a new 'work/life' balance. You want to slow down on the career track and build more of a peaceful, less hectic life. In fact, you need to pay more attention to your diet and physical activity. You are at the crossroads of age-related changes intensified by the stressful life you've lived up till now. You most likely have weight to lose and other health concerns you want to improve upon. And you want to begin to figure out just what the next chapter of your life will look like, one that is both happy and financially do-able.
Would your concerns be alleviated if you could just figure out plans for retirement that allow you to be your authentic self? Are you unsure of where to find LGBTQ-friendly resources in your area to help plan your future?
Homophobia Is Still A Part Of LGBTQ Life
It’s a unfortunate fact that in this day and age, homophobia is still a serious issue in our society. It is still legal in many parts of the country to be denied housing or be evicted from a housing community because of your sexual/gender identity. Employees and business owners who discriminate often cite religious reasons. Yes, in many states it is still legal to fire an employee just because they are LGBTQ. It is unfair, deeply hurtful, and sadly common.
Because homophobia is a deeply ingrained societal issue, it’s not something that any one person can solve on their own. You may have known that you are LGBTQ you entire life, but still carry hurtful baggage and even a sense of shame from subconsciously soaking up society’s hetero-normative messages. You can, however, learn to live in such a way that the criticism of others doesn’t impact the confidence you have in your identity. You can still make plans for your future despite the people who may not want you to be happy.
I know from experience that simply ignoring it doesn’t work. Neither does the old adage about “sticks and stones” address how deeply rejection as a result of your identity can hurt and negatively transform your life. Self-advocacy is a skill that most of us do not acquire naturally; it is something we must learn.
Fortunately, an LGBTQ therapist can understand you and your predicament better than a straight therapist. I have a unique understanding of depression and anxiety from living in a world that is not accepting of who we are. And, being near to retirement age myself, I have dealt with many of the same concerns that you have. You can feel assured that you are investing time with someone who closely identifies with your experiences.
An LGBTQ Therapist Can Help You More Fully Embrace and Celebrate Your True Self As You Age
As an LGBTQ individual, I understand the fear of having people you trust suggest ways that you can blend in to a hetero-normative culture in order to avoid discrimination. These people may mean well and have a genuine desire to protect you, but that doesn’t mean the words don’t sting. Straight people don’t have to worry about hiding their relationships or using gender-neutral language when talking about their relationships – as you may have felt pressure to do at times. This strategy may protect you physically, but is damaging on an emotional, personal level.
When it comes to aging, there are again, issues facing us that are just like everyone else and then there are issues specific to living as LGBTQ. Thankfully we do live in the western world, where we don't experience a severe degree of discrimination, hate and laws against us. However, right here in the good ol' USA, the battle isn't over. There are plenty of places in American and people who judge us due to who we love. The rate of hate crimes against LGBTQ's is up since Donald Trump became president in 2016. And there are plenty of states and localities trying to 'turn back' federal laws like marriage equality.
LGBTQ therapy can help you learn to love yourself more and maintain confidence to navigate a system that discriminates against LGBTQ people. I know that being alone or unpartnered in the world can be an uncomfortable, if not outright scary, experience. However, I can show you how to alleviate the anxiety you are facing about who will take care of you later in life and not allow any discrimination to negatively affect your view of yourself.
During our sessions, we will talk about what's important to you, first and foremost. One thing that a therapist or coach experienced in LGBT issues knows is that not all LGBTQ clients go to therapy for issues related to their sexuality. We are, in most ways just like any other person, gay or straight, and we usually go to counseling or hire a coach for life and work issues that are universal to everyone.
Either way, coaching or counseling can help you address any unhealthy behaviors and thought patterns. A lifetime of being under the stress of being LGBTQ can take it's toll.
If you do, I will help you make needed changes in your self esteem. We will also focus on the importance of not shrinking away from challenges.
I will help you learn to recognize when a situation can possibly be changed and how to know and accept a reality in which those it cannot be changed. I believe that the most effective way to deal with fear is to work toward it, rather than back away from it or avoid it altogether. Furthermore, I will help you initiate conversations with people in your life who may not be aware that you are LGBTQ.
I believe that an emotionally healthy sense of identity and ability to manage negative thoughts can carry you through just about any situation. With a confident outlook on your future, you can triumph over more obstacles than you realize you are capable of.
You May Have Some Concerns About LGBTQ Therapy…
I don’t want a counselor to try and change me.
As a member of the LGBTQ community myself, I completely understand that fear. But a counselor who has many shared experiences exclusive to the LGBTQ community is uniquely qualified to help you. I can do more than empathize; I can help you on the path to self-acceptance.
Isn’t therapy and coaching expensive?
Don’t think of therapy or coaching as just a monetary expense. It’s an investment in your future. Through therapy, you can learn to have a healthier sense of self, better relationships, and an improved outlook on life – all of which are priceless.
Does going to therapy mean it’s wrong to be gay?
Absolutely not. Being gay is not a mental illness; psychologists are now in agreement about this. Rather, you are seeking therapy as a way to cope with the effects of being gay in a hetero-dominated world, which could be affecting you more than you think. Therapy can help you embrace yourself as nothing less than who you were created to be.
Call To Schedule Your Appointment For LGBTQ Therapy or Coaching
In order to assess your needs, I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation. Feel free to call me at 410-967-3848 or reach out via my contact page.