Q. I have never felt like a girl all of my life. I’ve had crushes on boys but, it seems that it’s never been to the extent that other girls have had crushes on guys. The last serious crush that I had on a guy was probably my freshman year of high school. I’ve also had “crushes” on women. I feel like there is a masculine side to me and a feminine side to me. I feel like I have been living out the masculine side of me mostly in my head. Therefore the feminine side of me has been somehow stunted. I don’t know what it truly means to be a woman. I’ve always been a tomboy. Almost a year ago I saw a TV show and it made me wonder if I could be a lesbian. As a young child (4-5) I engaged in sexual play with other girls (one was a family member). We were all young, but it still felt wrong to me and I decided to stop doing it. I don’t know if that was a factor in my sexual confusion. I have experienced great anxiety over this and still am today. I have no clue what I’m supposed to do. I am extremely insecure and have low self-esteem so dating is not an option with either sex. I don’t want to be a lesbian at all. I have wanted to be normal and fit in all of my life. As you can imagine this discovery is absolutely devastating to me. People already look at me differently because of the way I look, act, etc. I tried turning to God and I feel better at times, but I don’t know if this a permanent fixture. I feel like I need to experience boys before I make a decision. I’m also afraid that if I do try to date a boy I will either not like it or he will think I’m a lesbian or other things. I’m in school right now, and I feel like I need to have this resolved before I can move on with my life. My friends are all interested in boys and are obsessed with them so it’s a little uncomfortable when we hang out. My mother says that she wasn’t interested in boys at my age either. I don’t know how that effects me but it gives me hope. I don’t want to have sex with women. Even though I have friends I am extremely lonely. I don’t hang out with them like normal people hang out with their friends. I never had a best friend in my life. I thought that once I got to college I would have that one female friend who would be my companion and we could hang out together and get into mischief together and just have fun. Unforunately, that didn’t happen. I feel very alone on this campus. I was teased and made fun of by various people all of my life and I am a very sensitive, shy person, so it has effected my ability to socialize with others. I was never into the “girly” things that my sister were into either. I was/am afraid to make changes to better my physical appearance because of what people might say. I think that I can officially say that I am depressed, but I have been since before that day I saw that TV show. I have been so since my 2nd semester freshman year of college, I can definitely recognize that now. Some days are good and some days are bad. I know that being around people makes me feel happy and normal. I worry that my friends may suspect or think I’m a lesbian because I am not boy crazy and I am a tomboy. My body, mind, soul, everything just hurts when I think about my past and how I have had “crushes” on women. I feel like my life has been a lie. I don’t know if I can continue on with my life like this. When I have a problem I need it resolved immediately, otherwise I obsess about it and that’s what I am doing with this. I have talked to my mother about this and she doesn’t think I am a lesbian, but she doesn’t know about the sexual play a that I engaged in as a child. I am writing this because today is one of those days where I am obsessing about it and I need an outlet, even though I am afraid of your response. I don’t want to see one of the counselors at my school because I feel that talking about it will somehow make it real. Some days I feel like it’s not a big deal and others it tears me up inside to feel like my life has been a lie. I am extremely unstable emotionally right now and I just want to wrap this up being confident that I am straight and move on with my life. I know that we all have our crosses to bear but I don’t want this to be mine. I don’t think I could handle it. Please respond, publicly or privately. Q.
A. Why should you be afraid to say these same words to a therapist? What are you ashamed of? Is being heterosexual shameful? Is being homosexual shameful? No professional would find either option to be “shameful.” You have nothing to worry about from a professional. You seem to feel deep guilt and this is very likely coming from the childhood sexual behavior that you engaged in. You didn’t give me enough information about this early sexual behavior to know if it is a likely source of your shame and guilt. You are experiencing “crippling shame and guilt.” It is interfering in your daily choices and personal growth. Therapy is the answer. Don’t allow your guilt and shame to stop you from getting the help which you very much need to allow you to find the happiness which you deserve. Trust me, therapy is the answer.