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The Truth

Posted on January 11, 2016 at 8:35 AM

THE RAINBOW CONNECTION - THE TRUTH ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY

 

It started simply enough. She was my friend.

 

Me, I was shy and very conservative. I was too shy for boys and didn't have any real close girlfriends. I wanted to have a special friend, one in whom I could confide my deepest darkest secrets.

 

I wasn't a tomboy or a geek. I wasn't ugly or fat or disgusting. I was just me. "Plain old Wonder White Bread," not very interesting, not very exciting. I dated a few guys, but never made that "love connection" like so many other girls that I knew had. I often wondered what was wrong with me, why didn't I feel like other girls? I certainly couldn't have approached my mother with such questions. And, I felt so odd, so different; I certainly couldn't ask any of my casual girlfriends.

 

 

When I entered college, I was full of hope and promise. This was the moment I had daydreamed about since the sixth grade. I was going to be just like my favorite teacher. How I admired her. She had long, elegant legs that I often watched and admired. Her makeup was always perfect and she drove the cutest little Mustang. As an adult now, I tried to emulate her, right down to the Mustang I drove.

 

I secured a full time job that accommodated my class schedule. It was easy, relatively speaking, but the best part of the job was my social interaction: I had found a friend. She was so understanding, attractive and outgoing: everything that I was not. She was tall, had long legs, was blessed with generous endowments. Her manner and dress were well-polished. She was the epitome of class, I revered her and she could do nothing wrong.

 

When I was in the office, we often spent our breaks together. Sometimes she paid, sometimes I paid; as friends, we didn't need to keep track. She was interested in me; it was so easy to talk to her. It seemed as though she understood everything about me. All of a sudden, I didn't feel so different anymore. I felt accepted and understood. My life was changing, although not for the better. I was too wrapped up in the ecstasy of finally belonging and finally being understood that I couldn't see it.

 

Then one Friday, she suggested that we go to dinner and a movie, I was so excited that she wanted to be my friend outside of work that I could hardly contain myself. Even though I put in really long hours that week, I looked forward to going out on Saturday night, exhausted, but energized.

 

She had made all the arrangements. We went to a marvelous movie and even if it weren't, I don't think I would have thought otherwise. I was giddy with glee at actually going out with a friend. I was wanted, I was accepted and I was understood! Finally!

 

She had chosen quite an expensive restaurant for dinner. Awash in candlelight and expensive food, we had a wonderful dinner, fantastic and interesting conversation and even splurged on souffle for dessert.We had just finished dessert. When I reached for my wallet to pay my share, she put her hand on mine and told me that she would take care of it. While grateful for her generosity, there was something about the look on her face, gentle touch and tone of her voice that just wasn't right. A small alarm went off in my head, but was quickly quieted by the rationalization that as friends, we really didn't keep track and besides, she did choose the place and she did make a lot more money than me.

 

Basking in the glow of a wonderful evening, my mind barely registered what she was saying to me. She started out by telling me what a wonderful friend I was and how grateful she was that I was a part of her life. She told me that she had never felt such a connection to another woman before, and I was just such an interesting person and so much fun to be around. She then told me that she loved me. This being the 70's, where everybody was telling everybody that they loved them, I responded that I loved her too! After all, she was my best friend and confidant.

 

And then it happened. She took my hand in hers and looked into my eyes and told me that she knew I felt that way about her, too. It wasn't registering in my brain quite yet, but as she continued talking, my mind began to swirl. I started to lose my breath, and the room began to spin out of control. The words became disjointed, she mentioned dating, love, ecstasy, and the wonderful life we were to share. I needed air! And I needed it fast! I fled the table, but she found me. She was confused about my actions. Didn't I say I loved her too? Wasn't she my type? She thought I was a lesbian! How could she possibly think that? What on earth was she talking about? She tried to persuade me that I was a lesbian by taking everything I had confided in her and turned it around.

 

First, she talked about how I felt different. Then, she took my admiration of my sixth grade teacher and told me it was sexual attraction. Then, she used my lack of dating and not being sexually active with men to mean that I was not sexually attracted to men. She told me that being a lesbian was natural. And she used what I thought was a great friendship with her to say that I was really in love with her. Then she told me that if we became lovers a whole new world of excitement and sexual fulfillment would open up that I would never otherwise know. I asked her to take me home and told her I'd call her later.

 

I was dazed and confused. I tried to sleep, but couldn't. I didn't want to think, yet my mind was racing. Maybe she was right, some of the things she said did make sense. Maybe if I gave over to her desires, I would be fulfilled. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad and after I had tried it, if I didn't like it, I could just stop. If I did try it, then maybe it wouldn't repulse me anymore. I fell asleep on the couch.

 

It seemed that I was not asleep for so long. But when I woke, it was still dark. In reality, it wasn't "still" dark, it was dark "again." I had slept the day away. Fixing myself a snack, I sat down at my desk to work but I found myself unable to concentrate on anything other than the previous night.

 

I listed on a piece of paper everything she had said that indicated that I was a lesbian. The first thing she said was that I felt different. Yes, I had always felt different. But what did that have to do with sex? Wasn't feeling different a normal feeling? Being different had nothing to do with sexuality. The next thing she said was that I admired my sixth grade teacher because I was sexually attracted to her. Then I thought about what it was that I admired in her. In reality, I admired in her what I myself did not possess.

 

Thinking about others I admired, I found it was for the same reason, for they all, male and female, had qualities that I wished I had. Then she talked about my lack of dating. I had dated some boys, but it wasn't that I wasn't sexually attracted to boys, it was that I wasn't ready for a sexual relationship. I was still under 20, I was in school, I was working, I didn't have the time, much less the energy for a relationship serious enough to warrant sex.

 

It finally dawned on me that I was not a lesbian. The lack of close friendships with members of my own sex was my own fault. I didn't allow myself to become a good, close friend. The things I felt and my lack of a sexual relationship with boys were entirely normal. Rather, those who focused their youthful lives on such sex were the abnormal ones, especially since my faith taught that any form of pre-marital sex was wrong; it was a sin. The fact that I didn't date much was my own fault. I didn't make the time to date. Any free time I had, I used on me. And, who on this planet has the right to take a position that the lack of sexual involvement with a man meant I was a lesbian?! After all, no two people develop in the exact same way in the exact same time, not even twins! So my slow development was not caused by my sexuality, it was caused by me.

 

And then, the reality hit me, and made me sick. This woman, who I considered my friend, had taken everything I had told her and twisted it to meet her personal agenda. Not only did I feel betrayed by that duplicity, but I also recognized that she had used the same techniques on me that cults used to recruit new members.

 

She preyed on a shy, lonely, impressionable young woman. She took me into her confidence. She took my deepest secrets that I had shared with her and used them to meet her own agenda, all the while preaching unconditional love. She preached that I would find love, acceptance and satisfaction in her lifestyle. I also hadn't realized it, but she had been methodically separating me from the other workers in our office. She was cutting me off from the others who would or could have voiced their opinion had I asked. She attempted to make me emotionally dependent upon her.

 

The reality was that I was not a lesbian. I was just me. I quit that job immediately and changed my phone number. Two years later, I met the man of my dreams and was married shortly thereafter. I'm 30 years older now and looking back, I can see what could have happened to my life had I believed the messages she and the society around me were giving to me.

 

I am now active in a homosexual crisis ministry. I see, over and over again, the fraud of the homosexual community. I see young and old, men and women, many of whom are religiously observant, all conflicted in their homosexual lifestyle. I feel their pain and heartbreak at being torn between the only world they know and the world they know that G-d has planned for them. I see time and time again how much they struggle to leave their homosexual lifestyle, only to have their lover use their family and faith against them.

 

But, I tell my clients, "you have a choice." I came to a fork in the road and fortunately chose the path that has given me a completion and a happiness that is truly consistent with G-d's plan of creation. Based upon my experience, it is clear you do not have to be a homosexual. You were not born a homosexual nor do you need to live as a homosexual and, certainly, do not need to die a homosexual. Through faith, prayer, and the help provided by gender affirming ministries representing different faiths, be it JONAH, Living Stones or others, there is hope and life.

 

Adapted from the first chapter of an upcoming book: The Rainbow Connection-The Truth About Homosexuality, by Kaelly Langston, which also appeared in a slightly different format in the March 2003 "Bridge Builder," a publication of Living Stones Ministries.

Daughter's Lesbianism

Posted on January 10, 2016 at 1:40 PM

A Happy Ending to my Daughter’s Situational Lesbianism

by Hope (Posted Nov 2011)

For two long years I dreamed about being able to write this letter. My story is that of a mother who fought with the proverbial "nails and teeth" to "rescue" her now 40 year old daughter from the tentacles of what I believe was a woman looking to take advantage of the tragedy my daughter had suffered.

Since her days in High school, my daughter Leeron was what you'd call a very attractive and popular teenager. Girls wanted to be her friends, boys wanted to date her. She was popular and well accepted by her peers. Leeron is not only beautiful but also smart; she was always an overachiever in school. Not once during her growing up years however, did I get any indication or suspicion that she might have same sex sexual inclinations.

When she met and married Shai in 2001, we all shared their happiness. Leeron and Shai built a beautiful family in a few short years; G-d blessed them with four beautiful children. But then something terrible happened, Shai was diagnosed with colon cancer and all their dreams and hopes for a beautiful future came crushing down. He passed away in 2008. That was one of those instances in which people try to make sense of something very painful and ask themselves, why? Why did this tragedy happen to such a nice, complete, and happy family?

The following two years were very challenging for the young family. Shai fought for his life like a lion. For Leeron and the children, watching him getting consumed by the cancer day by day was like living a nightmare. Leeron was now the only bread winner in the family. In her desperation, she clung to her family and her work friends for moral support. She was devastated by life's circumstances and sought comfort and support wherever she could find it.

Maureen was a colleague at the company where Leeron worked. It was only a few months later (after Shai's death) that I noticed something new going on in my daughter's life. At first I thought she was dating a male colleague but soon enough the shocking reality revealed itself in its full colors. Her "friend" was a WOMAN. Once I got over the initial shock, I decided to approach my daughter, questioning her reasoning over her decision to experience a same sex emotional and sexual relationship.

Leeron never came clear about the facts. She did not care to explain nor to reason with her own mother. She felt that she had gone through so much pain and suffering, that nobody had the right to dictate her how to live her life. I could only assume certain things, based upon the advice and reading materials provided to me by JONAH. And, I was determined to discover what caused this loving and devoted wife and mother of 4 children to enter into a lesbian relationship and to also do whatever I could to help her overcome this relationship.

Deep down, she was dealing with a sense of emotional neediness, having spent so much emotion on Shai's care over the last two years. She felt empty and lost without him. Along came a new-found friend who preyed upon my bewildered, frightened and angry daughter; they shared a mutual confidence level while exploring their deepest feelings. At the same time, however, I believe Maureen, the new friend, used the confidences shared by my daughter as a way to meet her own emotional needs for attachment to a woman while simultaneously providing Leeron with what appeared to be empathetic and unconditional love for the pain she was suffering. In this process, Maureen subtly encouraged my daughter to find love, acceptance and satisfaction in her lesbian lifestyle. I also believe she encouraged my daughter to distance herself from others like me who would or could have voiced an opinion about this new life she was embarking upon. With Maureen's encouragement, she had consciously alienated herself from our entire family. Leeron did not want to be confronted about what she was doing nor to be criticized. And, she would not communicate with me about her deep wounds. Bottom line, I believe that Maureen deliberately encouraged Leeron to be emotionally dependent upon her.

One of the things the therapist Janelle Hallman said (on the JONAH web site) really resonated with me: “When another woman comes along that triggers a sense of familiarity or presents herself to be a strong and competent woman, the lesbian literally wants to lose herself in this woman, hoping to find rest, receive the care and nurture she craves and to finally appropriate, albeit vicariously, an identity.” I saw Leeron feeling totally reliant on this other woman, both for safety and in order to continue to function. This is distinguished from an emotionally healthy relationship where two people know who they are and recognize themselves as individuals. This “emotional dependency” is characteristic of lesbian relationships and often is the consequence of a woman's deep fear of or inability to sustain intimacy.

Another relevant factor became evident from a different article I saw on the JONAH web site. Therapist Diane Eller-Boyko (who is also an ex-lesbian) wrote, “In falling in love with another woman, [Leeron] is really seeking to connect with herself…. A woman is [often] drawn to other women because she seeks heart and soul connection." Or, in Leeron's case, I believe my daughter was trying to replenish a heart and soul connection that was depleted or was no longer visible to her through the years of Shai’s illness. In this process, such women often reject their own femininity and effectively end up seeking it through another. “In seeking to unite with [another] women, she is trying to unite with herself, and this type of union will not, ultimately, heal the psyche. With another woman, she will have only the illusion of wholeness. The shadow, representing those real developmental needs that were never met, will continue to haunt her.”

During this time, I was still worried about the mental health of my 4 young grandchildren after they lost their beloved father, but now I had to also deal with their stories about what was going on at home. One time I witnessed a bitter argument between 2 of the siblings about whether Maureen was a "boy" or a "girl". My life became hell on earth. Not only was I still grieving for my beloved son-in-law but now I had to worry about the psychological implications of my daughter’s actions upon my grandchildren.

These kind of situations teach a human being that we are stronger than we think we are. To me this situation felt like "the end of the world" but I still survived. I took comfort in praying, sometimes softly and sometimes desperately. I'll never forget that time when I felt so desolated that I needed to be alone and away from the concerned eyes of my own husband. I locked myself in the bathroom and got on my knees in prayer... Some of you might say that it is not the end of the world, but for me it was. As a religious person, I truly believe that the SSA condition should be fought because it is inconsistent with G-d’s commandments for us. Many rabbis have commented how everyone is capable of transforming and that psychological counseling can be immensely beneficial to someone dealing with this condition. (The most recent pronouncement to this effect is from the noted Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky in Hakirah: the Flatbush Journal of Jewish Law and Thought, Vol. 12, Fall, 2011.)

 

I truly believe that G-d heard my prayers and took pity on my misery. Something miraculous happened! About a year ago, Leeron met David and the rest is history. David is a wonderful man who cares enough about Leeron to be willing to help her raise her 4 children. I am unaware whether Leeron had the courage to tell David about her experience with lesbianism. (I believe my daughter knows, deep inside, that her relationship with Maureen was wrong.) I hope she informs David about her past activity as I fear he may find out through a third party or from the children, and finding out that way could destroy the trust and love that has been built up between them. Without a doubt, however, I am extremely happy with her relationship with David . My prayers have been answered. Moreover, David is helping her shed her grief, anger, and loneliness. He is assisting her in tearing down the walls of distrust she had built after the loss of her husband.

As a religious person, I recognize how part of our hunger for G-d, that we as humans seek, is to truly experience our inner-most selves, our souls if you will. Lesbianism can provide a false sense of connected souls but only authentic man-woman relationships provide a sense of completion as well as a connection of souls that truly represents a gift provided to us by G-d.

I got my life back. My grandchildren are happy again. No one can substitute for a real father, but a loving stepfather is the next best thing. And, my daughter appears to be in a relatively good space. Her lesbian affair is behind her and she appears very happy with David. She is still somewhat detached from her family, most likely because of the guilt and shame she may still be feeling. I continue to pray that she will engage in counseling to understand where she came from and where she is going and in the process to totally reconnect with all who truly love her.

Why am I telling my story? Because I am convinced that among same sex couples, there are those who got there because of their own difficult life circumstances. I have seen in my community that some lesbians take satisfaction and pride in "converting" otherwise completely "normal" women into lesbians. What a better way to obtain this than to prey on a distressed woman who is going through a tragedy in her life. I believe that my daughter was so vulnerable that any kind of "gentle" attention attracted her to the attention giver. Thank G-d, Leeron was able to see the light, and walk away from lesbianism.

 

And one more thing, during this whole ordeal, JONAH, was a real source of help and guidance to me. I wish to thank Arthur Goldberg and Elaine Berk from the bottom of my heart for their guidance and compassion and also wish to have them share with their readers this one story with a happy ending!

Lesbianism

Posted on January 7, 2016 at 2:25 PM

CLINICAL AND DEVELOPMENTAL ISSUES OF LESBIANISM

Introduction

 

The lesbian condition is complex in its origin and very diverse in its expression. The elements of the lesbian struggle vary in degree and intensity, as do the temperaments and personality types of the women. My clients present with a variety of Axis I and II disorders as well as unique stories and histories. Therefore, in my treatment of the lesbian client, I first and foremost want to meet and interact with the unique individual sitting in front of me. Lesbian women are intelligent and intuitive and can tell if I am truly "seeing" them or trying to squeeze them into a box or theory. I hold my models and theories loosely so I can meet the true person. I also want to encounter the "whole" woman, not just her lesbianism. I want to give her the message that she is more than her lesbian struggle. I want her to know that she is important, and I am not sitting with her simply because I think her sexual orientation needs fixing or that I can "fix" her.

As a therapist, I want to respect her human dignity. Many of my clients are not sure they want to totally resolve the lesbian conflict. The emotional aspect of their struggle seems to reach down into the very core of their being. It is often a long process for a woman to just define the struggle, let alone to begin to disidentify with it. Over six years ago, about two years into my practice, I decided to make a commitment to myself and to my clients that I would work with them regardless of where they are at in their decision to resolve the lesbian conflict. I agreed that I would not place demands or expectations on them with respect to their sexual struggle that would, in any way, condition or impede our ongoing work together. In other words, I have decided to be committed to them, wherever their journey leads, and to remain committed for the long haul. The "long haul" seems to be an average of 4-5 years of weekly to bimonthly appointments.

 

While there is much variation amongst lesbian women, there are still many notable themes that consistently emerge in their stories and struggles. I would like to highlight a few of those here.

 

Roots of Lesbianism

In broad sweeping terms, the roots of lesbianism can be discovered in four basic elements:

 

A strained, detached or disrupted bond or attachment with mother without an available mother substitute, resulting in a need for secure attachment.

A lack of respect and/or protection from men, often in the form of sexual abuse or rigid gender roles, resulting in a fear or hatred of men.

Few, if any, close girlhood friendships, resulting in a need for belonging and fun.

A sense of emptiness and lostness in lieu of a full and rich sense of self and identity as a feminine being, resulting in a need for a self and gender identity.

While the presence of these elements is not an absolute predictor or determinant of the lesbian struggle, they are nevertheless the most common and frequently reported facets of the lesbian story. These elements are generally sequential in order of development or experience, can be causal or predisposing for the subsequent element and are therefore interrelated. An adult woman actually cycles in and out of these elements and related needs as she acts out the lesbian bond in an attempt to repair the inherent dilemmas. Unfortunately, this "acting out" can actually intensify these predisposing conditions of lesbianism.

 

I would also like to suggest that there are some common innate characteristics shared by lesbian women. These would include an above average intelligence, strong sensitivity to hypocrisy and injustice, athleticism, natural draw to more stereotypically masculine interests, capacity to feel deeply and passionately. It is the combination of the above environmental factors and inherent characteristics that may eventually lead to a lesbian struggle.

 

Developmental Issues

To highlight the specific developmental issues that are present in most lesbian struggles, I wanted to share the research findings from an unpublished doctoral dissertation by Dr. Sheryl Brickner Camallieri. Dr. Camallieri used an instrument called the Measures of Psychosocial Development (MPD) to assess the developmental differences between 54 allegedly heterosexual and 54 allegedly homosexual women. The MPD measures the developmental resolution based on Erik Erikson's model of psychosocial development. The eight stages are listed below.

 

While Dr. Camallieri admits that the scope of her research does not establish the cause of the differences (which could be developmental or attributed to the social and political climate regarding lesbianism), "Of the 19 scales analyzed, six of the scales indicated a significant difference in the scores between the two groups of women" (p. 3). The heterosexual women scored significantly higher on the favorable resolution scales of Trust, Intimacy and Generativity (marked in squares below). The lesbian women scored significantly higher on the negative resolution of Identity Confusion and Stagnation and Total Negative Resolution (circled below).

 

 

I have since given this assessment to over 25 of my lesbian clients and continue to see extremely high identity confusion and stagnation scores as well as low trust and high mistrust scores. Additionally, there is another pattern that has emerged in my client's testing: relative to their other scores, the lesbian woman scores significantly high in the positive resolution of Initiative and/or Industry (also circled above). If we were to just consider the results of the MPD based on suggested methods of interpretation, we would conclude that these are women who feel very insecure and unsafe in their world; are unsure of others and doubt that anything good will last. They have used performance, competence and assertiveness in a compensatory fashion, probably to gain a sense of control, value and purpose. They hold no inherent value or clear identity and therefore have little capacity or motivation to sacrificially give to others. Emotionally, they remain in a depressed state of self-absorption. This is a fairly accurate description of the lesbian experience.

 

As you might guess, these developmental deficits and compensations coincide almost perfectly with the clinical themes in a lesbian's history.

 

A strained, detached or disrupted bond Mistrust

or attachment with mother without

an available mother substitute, resulting

in a need for secure attachment.

 

 

A lack of respect and/or protection from Initiative/Industry -

men, often in the form of sexual abuse assuming a toughened or

or rigid gender roles, resulting in a masculinized stance towards

fear or hatred of men. life and survival.

 

Few if any close girlhood friendships, Identity Confusion (solid-

resulting in a need for belonging and fun. ified during adolescence)

 

A sense of emptiness and lostness in lieu Stagnation

of a full and rich sense of self and identity

as a feminine being, resulting in a need

for a self and gender identity.

 

Specific treatment options need to take into consideration these developmental needs. Ultimately, treatment should start with the beginning issue of trust, move through the subsequent developmental issues with a major emphasis on identity formation and conclude when the woman is free to give, love and contribute to the betterment of the world.

 

 

Contrasts Between the Masculine and Feminine

I would now like to offer some framework around the differences between the male and female developmental journey in order to highlight the nuances of the lesbian struggle. I hope to also provide a framework for understanding the essence of the true masculine and feminine. It is essential to have some framework such as this if we are to help gender-confused clients.

 

Attachment and Identification

Boys and girls follow different developmental paths in terms of attachment and identification. Both boys and girls are to be initially attached to mom at birth. To develop healthily, a boy must move, strive and initiate to successfully separate from mom and ultimately attach and identify with dad. Homosexuality becomes a serious possibility when this step or process is frustrated or altogether missing for the boy. A girl on the other hand is supposed to remain and rest, so to speak, in an experience of ongoing or continuous connection. Figuratively speaking, she warmly rests secure at home with mom, to eventually receive dad who is to gently move towards her to offer his love, affirmation and protection.

 

Lesbianism initially becomes a possibility when this needed ongoing attachment with mom is absent, insufficient or undesirable. (Lesbianism becomes an even greater possibility if dad's movement is non-existent, abusive, or becomes masculinizing of his daughter.)

If for the girl, her initial attachment to mom is perceived to be weakened or broken, a type of homelessness is created for the girl that even the homosexual boy does not experience. In this way, the lesbian condition is more primal and perhaps more entrenched emotionally and psychologically than male homosexuality. The girl is essentially stripped of her most fundamental tether in the universe. There may be no greater trauma in a girl's life developmentally than one that interferes with her primal relationship with mom. Mom is not only the first bond and attachment for a little baby girl, but is the relational object with whom this little girl will form her first sense of self and eventually rely on to complete her identification process as a female.

 

Besides internalizing the insecurity that a break in this foundational relationship creates, the girl will activate or move in an effort to find the attachment for which she was designed and so desperately needs. She begins to follow the developmental path of a male, that is, moving, striving and initiating. Unfortunately, trust in others and her self is not adequately formed to support secure and meaningful connection or relatedness (this is the mistrust that the MPD measures). She is filled with a sense of aloneness and need that further fuels her movement and initiation to resolve her dilemma (herein lies the high initiative and industry scores on the MPD). Simply put, this emotional movement disrupts her normal growth and development and identification as a feminine being (identity confusion), not to mention the false paths such movement will uncover. Let me add another picture of gender differences.

 

Erikson Research on Preadolescent Play Constructions

In the 1940's Erik Erikson conducted research at Berkeley on preadolescent play constructions. While he wasn't specifically addressing gender differences in his study, Erikson was struck by the fact that when given a set of blocks, little boys and girls built different constructions of space.

 

The boys' construction looked something like the one below. The construction would also include such things as cars among the buildings and people atop the buildings. As one can see, boys seem to be naturally preoccupied with the outer world, nature, objects and things.

 

 

The girls' constructions tended to look like the picture below. The people sat close together and faced the inside of the room. Girls seem to be naturally preoccupied with the inner world of human relatedness, communication and connection.

 

Theological Perspective

Theologically, the creation story of Adam and Eve parallels Erik Erikson's findings and adds some important notions about the true masculine and feminine. First, Adam and Eve were created equal in terms of dignity, value, call and purpose. (To work with a lesbian successfully, you must truly believe and hold to this conviction.) They were to both Fill and Multiply - the realm of human relationship and Rule and Subdue - the realm of nature, animals and the earth (found in Genesis 1:27, New International Version). Second, they were created differently. Adam was created from the ground, was placed in the garden with the plants and animals and became very busy working, moving, initiating, ruling and subduing. Eve, on the other hand, was the only created being made from another living being. Her primal essence is one of human relatedness. She was immediately placed in front of Adam and became busy relating-being known and loved. Both Adam and Eve were needed to complete God's purposes for humanity, but it seems that their very origins and initial experiences point to difference and uniqueness.

 

 

True Femininity and the Inner World of Connectedness

Another way to look at these differences is seen in the complementary circles below. Perhaps the masculine (I believe gender is not merely a construct of socialization or learning processes but a fundamental and inherent aspect of our humanity) has a greater exterior strength of movement, initiation and courage to face and deal with the outer world but with an inner core of tenderness and compassion for human relatedness. It is this exterior strength, movement and confidence that homosexual men seemingly lack or struggle discovering.

 

Perhaps the true feminine means having an exterior that is inviting, restful and receiving with an inner core of solidness and strength of being and courage to face the complexities of another soul and the requirements of ongoing intimacy. Lisa Beamer (the wife of Todd Beamer who helped guide United Flight 93 away from human targets) is a great example of a woman with an inviting, restful exterior and a solid inner core. She was sad, but not crushed as she faced the tragedy of losing her husband. She was not fragile, wispy, whiney, needy, overly dependent but solid, strong, articulate, lovely.

The true feminine is not weak, but boasts of the strength, courage and power to be - to be present and connected with her own heart, emotions and thoughts and with another, even in the most difficult or tragic time. The true feminine can weather loneliness. Lisa can stand in the face of her husband's death because she has her self and many other vital relationships.

 

Lesbian women typically lack or struggle discovering and accepting both of these aspects as women. They are toughened and defended on the outside and sense emptiness and desperation on the inside. Their toughness defies their inner need and their inner need, which so often is expressed in terms of dependencies, speaks to the depth of their gender brokenness. They are not living out of the strength of the true feminine.

 

Of interest is the typical profile of the mother of a lesbian daughter. According to my clients, their mothers typically had no solid self or strength of character or integrity, regardless of how they presented on the outside. The mom of a lesbian struggler is a mom who:

 

- hid in bed under the covers when dad became abusive or rageful

- was mentally ill and relied on her daughter to continually talk her out of committing suicide

- didn't even know the basics of housekeeping let alone caring for a baby or child

- was a social butterfly and alcoholic leaving her little daughter alone and unsupervised

- was unable to separate from an abusive husband

- was a dutiful wife but a shell of a woman

- bragged incessantly about herself and kids, negating any negative feelings or experiences in her daughter

- hated being a woman, never shed a tear and despised her daughter

- was openly jealous of her daughter

 

 

These vignettes do not describe a woman who is solid in being and strength of heart. They describe a woman who is insecure, dependent, afraid of being alone, weak, lost and broken and underdeveloped in her own femininity. It is easy to understand why a daughter who has a sharp intellect, strong sense of justice and integrity, high energy level with deep passions might conclude that if becoming a woman means becoming like mom, she wants nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, in the girl's detachment and flight from femininity as portrayed by her mother, she too begins to live out a deep inner desolation and crisis of her true gender identity. She has had no "home" in which to develop or become. "I don't know who I am," "I hate being a woman," and "I don't know how I feel." Many of my clients feel and believe they are not women. This is not a symptom of a transgender struggle but is an indication of their alienation from their inherent design as a feminine being.

 

Emotional Dependency

To briefly summarize, healthy development for a girl first requires that she rests and remains in the warm and secure home of mother so that she can form and develop an inner home for herself - out of which she will live, express her strength and power, create, relate, connect, nurture, bring forth life, etc. Without this inner sense of home or a secure and solid sense of self and feminine identity, she will not have the capacity to enter into healthy intimacy. Yet she will live with a deep belief that she cannot be alone. Therefore, she is unconsciously driven or on the move to find a "home" or true "self" outside of her self.

 

This is the drive behind an emotionally dependent relationship. When another woman comes along that triggers a sense of familiarity or presents herself to be a strong and competent woman (unlike mom perhaps), the lesbian literally wants to lose herself in this woman, hoping to find rest, receive the care and nurture she craves and to finally appropriate, albeit vicariously, an identity. Emotional dependency is not an inordinate love but is the consequence of a woman's deep fear of and inability to sustain intimacy. The partner is not loved or known for who they truly are. It is the sense or illusion of warm connection or secure attachment that is desired. Sadly, the "emotional dependency," if sustained, will prevent a woman from any substantial healing or change. A woman does not need to lose herself (in another woman or man) but in fact, needs to find her true self and this goal should be the primary focus of therapy with the lesbian client.

 

Personality Disorders and Traits

It is this missing core and the accompanying restlessness that I believe leads to conflicts and struggles within the lesbian woman that qualify as full blown personality disorders and traits. The most common configurations I encounter in my practice generally include a depressed and/or dependent disorder with associated self defeating, avoidant and borderline disorders or traits. Depressed - empty, dejected, pessimistic, worthless and full of self and other centered contempt, dependent - needy to the point of desperate yet fearful of rejection, self defeating - negative, self pitying and hostile, and avoidant - defended and isolated. This list accurately describes the predominant characteristics of the average lesbian woman.

 

Effective Therapy for the Lesbian Client

Work with the lesbian will require a long-term commitment which will be tasking and draining but also rewarding if the client is highly motivated to change. The individual characterological profile must be considered and appropriately handled in therapy. Generally speaking, lesbian women are deeply conflicted. But remember, every woman you see will be unique in this regard. The general goal of therapy is to establish trust (this may be the first experience of trust for many clients) so that the client can accomplish the deep inner formation work, or as quoted by Elaine Siegel, "attainment of firmer inner structures," (Female Homosexuality: choice without volition, Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press (1988)). The woman must come into her own. She must be able to embrace the breadth of her identity and humanity, her strengths and weaknesses, her glory and her shortcomings, her dreams, hopes and visions as well as her disappointments and losses. This process will involve among other things, extensive work in identifying, challenging and restructuring the woman's belief system regarding the world, God, others and herself. Lesbianism is supported by a complex system of distorted, negative and self-defeating beliefs. This system must be rebuilt. The client's defensive maneuvering and unhealthy attachments with women need to be addressed while the woman is being challenged to take risks with new and healthier relationships. Eventually she will need to deal with her opposite sex contempt and ambivalence and appropriate her own individual style of feminine relating.

 

In conclusion, because healing for the lesbian requires the establishment of her "home" so to speak, I believe that the most effective component of therapy with a female homosexual is the quality of the attachment and therapeutic relationship formed between female counselor and client. While there are many techniques that can be used to access deep unconscious conflicts and to teach cognitive truths and principles of healthy living and relationship, it is the consistency, faithfulness, caring and loving attitude of the counselor that begins to finally establish a solid center of trust and inner core or sense of being in the women we work with. It is as I love, accept and affirm my client that she can begin to unfold and continue to develop as a female being. In essence, I provide the home in which she can rest and simply become.

Lesbianism

Posted on January 7, 2016 at 2:25 PM

CLINICAL AND DEVELOPMENTAL ISSUES OF LESBIANISM

Introduction

 

The lesbian condition is complex in its origin and very diverse in its expression. The elements of the lesbian struggle vary in degree and intensity, as do the temperaments and personality types of the women. My clients present with a variety of Axis I and II disorders as well as unique stories and histories. Therefore, in my treatment of the lesbian client, I first and foremost want to meet and interact with the unique individual sitting in front of me. Lesbian women are intelligent and intuitive and can tell if I am truly "seeing" them or trying to squeeze them into a box or theory. I hold my models and theories loosely so I can meet the true person. I also want to encounter the "whole" woman, not just her lesbianism. I want to give her the message that she is more than her lesbian struggle. I want her to know that she is important, and I am not sitting with her simply because I think her sexual orientation needs fixing or that I can "fix" her.

As a therapist, I want to respect her human dignity. Many of my clients are not sure they want to totally resolve the lesbian conflict. The emotional aspect of their struggle seems to reach down into the very core of their being. It is often a long process for a woman to just define the struggle, let alone to begin to disidentify with it. Over six years ago, about two years into my practice, I decided to make a commitment to myself and to my clients that I would work with them regardless of where they are at in their decision to resolve the lesbian conflict. I agreed that I would not place demands or expectations on them with respect to their sexual struggle that would, in any way, condition or impede our ongoing work together. In other words, I have decided to be committed to them, wherever their journey leads, and to remain committed for the long haul. The "long haul" seems to be an average of 4-5 years of weekly to bimonthly appointments.

 

While there is much variation amongst lesbian women, there are still many notable themes that consistently emerge in their stories and struggles. I would like to highlight a few of those here.

 

Roots of Lesbianism

In broad sweeping terms, the roots of lesbianism can be discovered in four basic elements:

 

A strained, detached or disrupted bond or attachment with mother without an available mother substitute, resulting in a need for secure attachment.

A lack of respect and/or protection from men, often in the form of sexual abuse or rigid gender roles, resulting in a fear or hatred of men.

Few, if any, close girlhood friendships, resulting in a need for belonging and fun.

A sense of emptiness and lostness in lieu of a full and rich sense of self and identity as a feminine being, resulting in a need for a self and gender identity.

While the presence of these elements is not an absolute predictor or determinant of the lesbian struggle, they are nevertheless the most common and frequently reported facets of the lesbian story. These elements are generally sequential in order of development or experience, can be causal or predisposing for the subsequent element and are therefore interrelated. An adult woman actually cycles in and out of these elements and related needs as she acts out the lesbian bond in an attempt to repair the inherent dilemmas. Unfortunately, this "acting out" can actually intensify these predisposing conditions of lesbianism.

 

I would also like to suggest that there are some common innate characteristics shared by lesbian women. These would include an above average intelligence, strong sensitivity to hypocrisy and injustice, athleticism, natural draw to more stereotypically masculine interests, capacity to feel deeply and passionately. It is the combination of the above environmental factors and inherent characteristics that may eventually lead to a lesbian struggle.

 

Developmental Issues

To highlight the specific developmental issues that are present in most lesbian struggles, I wanted to share the research findings from an unpublished doctoral dissertation by Dr. Sheryl Brickner Camallieri. Dr. Camallieri used an instrument called the Measures of Psychosocial Development (MPD) to assess the developmental differences between 54 allegedly heterosexual and 54 allegedly homosexual women. The MPD measures the developmental resolution based on Erik Erikson's model of psychosocial development. The eight stages are listed below.

 

While Dr. Camallieri admits that the scope of her research does not establish the cause of the differences (which could be developmental or attributed to the social and political climate regarding lesbianism), "Of the 19 scales analyzed, six of the scales indicated a significant difference in the scores between the two groups of women" (p. 3). The heterosexual women scored significantly higher on the favorable resolution scales of Trust, Intimacy and Generativity (marked in squares below). The lesbian women scored significantly higher on the negative resolution of Identity Confusion and Stagnation and Total Negative Resolution (circled below).

 

 

I have since given this assessment to over 25 of my lesbian clients and continue to see extremely high identity confusion and stagnation scores as well as low trust and high mistrust scores. Additionally, there is another pattern that has emerged in my client's testing: relative to their other scores, the lesbian woman scores significantly high in the positive resolution of Initiative and/or Industry (also circled above). If we were to just consider the results of the MPD based on suggested methods of interpretation, we would conclude that these are women who feel very insecure and unsafe in their world; are unsure of others and doubt that anything good will last. They have used performance, competence and assertiveness in a compensatory fashion, probably to gain a sense of control, value and purpose. They hold no inherent value or clear identity and therefore have little capacity or motivation to sacrificially give to others. Emotionally, they remain in a depressed state of self-absorption. This is a fairly accurate description of the lesbian experience.

 

As you might guess, these developmental deficits and compensations coincide almost perfectly with the clinical themes in a lesbian's history.

 

A strained, detached or disrupted bond Mistrust

or attachment with mother without

an available mother substitute, resulting

in a need for secure attachment.

 

 

A lack of respect and/or protection from Initiative/Industry -

men, often in the form of sexual abuse assuming a toughened or

or rigid gender roles, resulting in a masculinized stance towards

fear or hatred of men. life and survival.

 

Few if any close girlhood friendships, Identity Confusion (solid-

resulting in a need for belonging and fun. ified during adolescence)

 

A sense of emptiness and lostness in lieu Stagnation

of a full and rich sense of self and identity

as a feminine being, resulting in a need

for a self and gender identity.

 

Specific treatment options need to take into consideration these developmental needs. Ultimately, treatment should start with the beginning issue of trust, move through the subsequent developmental issues with a major emphasis on identity formation and conclude when the woman is free to give, love and contribute to the betterment of the world.

 

 

Contrasts Between the Masculine and Feminine

I would now like to offer some framework around the differences between the male and female developmental journey in order to highlight the nuances of the lesbian struggle. I hope to also provide a framework for understanding the essence of the true masculine and feminine. It is essential to have some framework such as this if we are to help gender-confused clients.

 

Attachment and Identification

Boys and girls follow different developmental paths in terms of attachment and identification. Both boys and girls are to be initially attached to mom at birth. To develop healthily, a boy must move, strive and initiate to successfully separate from mom and ultimately attach and identify with dad. Homosexuality becomes a serious possibility when this step or process is frustrated or altogether missing for the boy. A girl on the other hand is supposed to remain and rest, so to speak, in an experience of ongoing or continuous connection. Figuratively speaking, she warmly rests secure at home with mom, to eventually receive dad who is to gently move towards her to offer his love, affirmation and protection.

 

Lesbianism initially becomes a possibility when this needed ongoing attachment with mom is absent, insufficient or undesirable. (Lesbianism becomes an even greater possibility if dad's movement is non-existent, abusive, or becomes masculinizing of his daughter.)

If for the girl, her initial attachment to mom is perceived to be weakened or broken, a type of homelessness is created for the girl that even the homosexual boy does not experience. In this way, the lesbian condition is more primal and perhaps more entrenched emotionally and psychologically than male homosexuality. The girl is essentially stripped of her most fundamental tether in the universe. There may be no greater trauma in a girl's life developmentally than one that interferes with her primal relationship with mom. Mom is not only the first bond and attachment for a little baby girl, but is the relational object with whom this little girl will form her first sense of self and eventually rely on to complete her identification process as a female.

 

Besides internalizing the insecurity that a break in this foundational relationship creates, the girl will activate or move in an effort to find the attachment for which she was designed and so desperately needs. She begins to follow the developmental path of a male, that is, moving, striving and initiating. Unfortunately, trust in others and her self is not adequately formed to support secure and meaningful connection or relatedness (this is the mistrust that the MPD measures). She is filled with a sense of aloneness and need that further fuels her movement and initiation to resolve her dilemma (herein lies the high initiative and industry scores on the MPD). Simply put, this emotional movement disrupts her normal growth and development and identification as a feminine being (identity confusion), not to mention the false paths such movement will uncover. Let me add another picture of gender differences.

 

Erikson Research on Preadolescent Play Constructions

In the 1940's Erik Erikson conducted research at Berkeley on preadolescent play constructions. While he wasn't specifically addressing gender differences in his study, Erikson was struck by the fact that when given a set of blocks, little boys and girls built different constructions of space.

 

The boys' construction looked something like the one below. The construction would also include such things as cars among the buildings and people atop the buildings. As one can see, boys seem to be naturally preoccupied with the outer world, nature, objects and things.

 

 

The girls' constructions tended to look like the picture below. The people sat close together and faced the inside of the room. Girls seem to be naturally preoccupied with the inner world of human relatedness, communication and connection.

 

Theological Perspective

Theologically, the creation story of Adam and Eve parallels Erik Erikson's findings and adds some important notions about the true masculine and feminine. First, Adam and Eve were created equal in terms of dignity, value, call and purpose. (To work with a lesbian successfully, you must truly believe and hold to this conviction.) They were to both Fill and Multiply - the realm of human relationship and Rule and Subdue - the realm of nature, animals and the earth (found in Genesis 1:27, New International Version). Second, they were created differently. Adam was created from the ground, was placed in the garden with the plants and animals and became very busy working, moving, initiating, ruling and subduing. Eve, on the other hand, was the only created being made from another living being. Her primal essence is one of human relatedness. She was immediately placed in front of Adam and became busy relating-being known and loved. Both Adam and Eve were needed to complete God's purposes for humanity, but it seems that their very origins and initial experiences point to difference and uniqueness.

 

 

True Femininity and the Inner World of Connectedness

Another way to look at these differences is seen in the complementary circles below. Perhaps the masculine (I believe gender is not merely a construct of socialization or learning processes but a fundamental and inherent aspect of our humanity) has a greater exterior strength of movement, initiation and courage to face and deal with the outer world but with an inner core of tenderness and compassion for human relatedness. It is this exterior strength, movement and confidence that homosexual men seemingly lack or struggle discovering.

 

Perhaps the true feminine means having an exterior that is inviting, restful and receiving with an inner core of solidness and strength of being and courage to face the complexities of another soul and the requirements of ongoing intimacy. Lisa Beamer (the wife of Todd Beamer who helped guide United Flight 93 away from human targets) is a great example of a woman with an inviting, restful exterior and a solid inner core. She was sad, but not crushed as she faced the tragedy of losing her husband. She was not fragile, wispy, whiney, needy, overly dependent but solid, strong, articulate, lovely.

The true feminine is not weak, but boasts of the strength, courage and power to be - to be present and connected with her own heart, emotions and thoughts and with another, even in the most difficult or tragic time. The true feminine can weather loneliness. Lisa can stand in the face of her husband's death because she has her self and many other vital relationships.

 

Lesbian women typically lack or struggle discovering and accepting both of these aspects as women. They are toughened and defended on the outside and sense emptiness and desperation on the inside. Their toughness defies their inner need and their inner need, which so often is expressed in terms of dependencies, speaks to the depth of their gender brokenness. They are not living out of the strength of the true feminine.

 

Of interest is the typical profile of the mother of a lesbian daughter. According to my clients, their mothers typically had no solid self or strength of character or integrity, regardless of how they presented on the outside. The mom of a lesbian struggler is a mom who:

 

- hid in bed under the covers when dad became abusive or rageful

- was mentally ill and relied on her daughter to continually talk her out of committing suicide

- didn't even know the basics of housekeeping let alone caring for a baby or child

- was a social butterfly and alcoholic leaving her little daughter alone and unsupervised

- was unable to separate from an abusive husband

- was a dutiful wife but a shell of a woman

- bragged incessantly about herself and kids, negating any negative feelings or experiences in her daughter

- hated being a woman, never shed a tear and despised her daughter

- was openly jealous of her daughter

 

 

These vignettes do not describe a woman who is solid in being and strength of heart. They describe a woman who is insecure, dependent, afraid of being alone, weak, lost and broken and underdeveloped in her own femininity. It is easy to understand why a daughter who has a sharp intellect, strong sense of justice and integrity, high energy level with deep passions might conclude that if becoming a woman means becoming like mom, she wants nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, in the girl's detachment and flight from femininity as portrayed by her mother, she too begins to live out a deep inner desolation and crisis of her true gender identity. She has had no "home" in which to develop or become. "I don't know who I am," "I hate being a woman," and "I don't know how I feel." Many of my clients feel and believe they are not women. This is not a symptom of a transgender struggle but is an indication of their alienation from their inherent design as a feminine being.

 

Emotional Dependency

To briefly summarize, healthy development for a girl first requires that she rests and remains in the warm and secure home of mother so that she can form and develop an inner home for herself - out of which she will live, express her strength and power, create, relate, connect, nurture, bring forth life, etc. Without this inner sense of home or a secure and solid sense of self and feminine identity, she will not have the capacity to enter into healthy intimacy. Yet she will live with a deep belief that she cannot be alone. Therefore, she is unconsciously driven or on the move to find a "home" or true "self" outside of her self.

 

This is the drive behind an emotionally dependent relationship. When another woman comes along that triggers a sense of familiarity or presents herself to be a strong and competent woman (unlike mom perhaps), the lesbian literally wants to lose herself in this woman, hoping to find rest, receive the care and nurture she craves and to finally appropriate, albeit vicariously, an identity. Emotional dependency is not an inordinate love but is the consequence of a woman's deep fear of and inability to sustain intimacy. The partner is not loved or known for who they truly are. It is the sense or illusion of warm connection or secure attachment that is desired. Sadly, the "emotional dependency," if sustained, will prevent a woman from any substantial healing or change. A woman does not need to lose herself (in another woman or man) but in fact, needs to find her true self and this goal should be the primary focus of therapy with the lesbian client.

 

Personality Disorders and Traits

It is this missing core and the accompanying restlessness that I believe leads to conflicts and struggles within the lesbian woman that qualify as full blown personality disorders and traits. The most common configurations I encounter in my practice generally include a depressed and/or dependent disorder with associated self defeating, avoidant and borderline disorders or traits. Depressed - empty, dejected, pessimistic, worthless and full of self and other centered contempt, dependent - needy to the point of desperate yet fearful of rejection, self defeating - negative, self pitying and hostile, and avoidant - defended and isolated. This list accurately describes the predominant characteristics of the average lesbian woman.

 

Effective Therapy for the Lesbian Client

Work with the lesbian will require a long-term commitment which will be tasking and draining but also rewarding if the client is highly motivated to change. The individual characterological profile must be considered and appropriately handled in therapy. Generally speaking, lesbian women are deeply conflicted. But remember, every woman you see will be unique in this regard. The general goal of therapy is to establish trust (this may be the first experience of trust for many clients) so that the client can accomplish the deep inner formation work, or as quoted by Elaine Siegel, "attainment of firmer inner structures," (Female Homosexuality: choice without volition, Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press (1988)). The woman must come into her own. She must be able to embrace the breadth of her identity and humanity, her strengths and weaknesses, her glory and her shortcomings, her dreams, hopes and visions as well as her disappointments and losses. This process will involve among other things, extensive work in identifying, challenging and restructuring the woman's belief system regarding the world, God, others and herself. Lesbianism is supported by a complex system of distorted, negative and self-defeating beliefs. This system must be rebuilt. The client's defensive maneuvering and unhealthy attachments with women need to be addressed while the woman is being challenged to take risks with new and healthier relationships. Eventually she will need to deal with her opposite sex contempt and ambivalence and appropriate her own individual style of feminine relating.

 

In conclusion, because healing for the lesbian requires the establishment of her "home" so to speak, I believe that the most effective component of therapy with a female homosexual is the quality of the attachment and therapeutic relationship formed between female counselor and client. While there are many techniques that can be used to access deep unconscious conflicts and to teach cognitive truths and principles of healthy living and relationship, it is the consistency, faithfulness, caring and loving attitude of the counselor that begins to finally establish a solid center of trust and inner core or sense of being in the women we work with. It is as I love, accept and affirm my client that she can begin to unfold and continue to develop as a female being. In essence, I provide the home in which she can rest and simply become.