Originally published in Women Quarterly.
One of the most common phrases in the arsenal of my experiences has been, “You’re confusing me!” This doesn’t only invalidate me but also makes me feel a little crazy and hot-angry. I often take on the responsibility of other people’s confusion (and/or their refusal to listen and accept), and it has taken its toll on my mental and physical health.
Although it took me decades, I thankfully did two things:
I created an online community called @biandprejudice on Instagram, which helped me gather like-minded queer folk around me, enabling peer support, kind and safe human connections, and exchange of shared experiences.
Around the same time, I also found the right-for-me somatic therapist who is both childhood trauma- and LGBTQIA+ issues-informed. With her support, I started feeling safety in my own skin, taking steps towards reclaiming my body, sexuality, and life, making it mine.
With the help of the group support of my new and old friends and strangers and weekly one-on-one meetings with a trusted therapist, I created a bubble of safety that has been supporting my physical and mental health.
Creating @biandprejudice connected me with numerous bi+ community leaders across Australia and overseas, helped me acquire a book deal and share my story, and offered an opportunity to speak at a national bi+ conference—all of which nurtured the growth of my confidence in being myself.
I started to feel that I was worthy and deserving of being alive (something that I have struggled with all my life). Moreover, I started to adore my sexuality. And it was time to “flaunt” it.
Bisexuality seems to grant me this magical capacity for diversity and love, even in the face of early childhood adversity and later societal mistrust. I started to “flaunt” my sexuality every chance I got.
Straight people never get funny eyes or awkward questions when they hold hands or make out in public. Why should I be any different? Over time, this was no longer a question. I was a proud bisexual.
Finding my somatic therapist helped create a safe space for me to “fall apart,” because sometimes we have to break before we shine—this helps us unlearn old beliefs and ideas and gently grow new self love and self trust. With aligned help, the “falling apart” doesn’t have to suck. For me, when things felt too much, I could park my boat in a safe harbor and cry for an hour in my pillow fort my therapist built for me. I have since adopted the same fort-building strategy at home when I need to hide from the world. I retreat with kindness and let my nervous system calm down before I emerge victorious and energized, eager to take on the world.
We cannot offer safety to others or create impactful and lasting change while we are feeling afraid, stuck, depressed, anxious, alone, or unwell. And most societies do a good job keeping us unwell while we are often shamed for how we feel. Sometimes we adopt harmful coping mechanisms or let our health worsen before we collect all that is left in our beautiful bisexual bodies and seek out help. It’s rarely a straightforward journey: I changed therapists four times before I met my current safe haven. My work with my therapist helped me settle all that came up to the surface while I was writing my book, Bi & Prejudice, sharing intimate stories from my bisexual “becoming.”
For me, as a childhood trauma survivor and an introvert, solitude remains my favorite way of being. However, as a social being, I am unable to escape my animal urge to connect. With the help of aligned groups of people and my somatic therapist’s support, I feel empowered to correct people when they mislabel me, have enough energy within me to educate those who are willing to change, and to stay grounded when triggered and rattled by the world.
Needing support isn’t about being sick. We simply shouldn’t do life on our own. It takes a village. It doesn’t mean we need to seek romantic relationships (though that’s also an option) but that we deserve to be heard, loved, and held when life gets tough.
Bisexual women experience the tough frequently. And we are often unable to reach out for the support everyone should have access to, because we are indoctrinated into carrying everything on our shoulders and remaining silent, nice, and polite.
Flaunting our sexuality is good for our mental health, because being honest and living our truest and most beautiful life keeps us healthy and empowers our gifts. Feeling safe in our own skin is a huge advantage. And often, safety comes from within. Life will always be full of challenges and dangers—in some worlds more than others, but when we feel safe within, we make better choices, connect with more aligned people, and create the life we are born to live.
So, what can you do for yourself today to flaunt your bisexuality and inspire more women to live truer and more beautiful lives? Let’s inspire our daughters, mothers, sisters, and friends together—they may be trying to find help right now.