Ask Angelo - Angelo Pezzote
Out At Work?
Beating An Addiction
People like you seem to encourage everyone to be fully out. I prefer to keep some things private.For instance, I don't talk about being gayat work because it's no one's business. No one else talks about their sex lives at work. Why do you think you can decide what's right for everyone?
Signed, Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid
Dear Some THings Are Better Left Unsaid,
I respect that coming out is a personal process that needs to happen at your own pace. However, coming out is not an event that's over when you out yourself. It's a lifelong process of increasing self-love and integrating our true selves into our lives. I work to free us all from ongoing internalized shame that hinders this process.
The experience of societal oppression makes us view our sexual identityin a negative manner. This results in low esteem, emotional distress, physical disease, and increased suicide risk. Further, maladaptive coping strategies like over-working, drugs, alcohol, compulsive sex, unsafe sex, obsession with body image, and other risk-taking self-sabotaging behavior, mitigate the stress of living in a heterosexist culture, but are self-destructive. Symptoms like disconnection, isolation, and loneliness emerge.
While things are improving, I think we have to come out of denial to recognize the negative impact of homophobia on us, and strive to develop a positive sexual identity.Thus, Iencourage everyone to always be working towards accepting themselves fully - being fully out eventually.
Sexuality encompasses a whole lot more than a sexual act. Heterosexualstalk about their straight "sex lives" all the time at work - what they did over the weekend with their families,stories about their children, special occasions, what they're going to do on their date next weekend; they place pictures of their loved ones nearby. No one would ever think to say, those things are no one else's business. When you implement a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in your life,you limit a huge part of yourself and your life. This increases a sense of shame and affects how well people can get to know you, inhibiting true relationships at work.
Perhaps the underlying fear of losing your job, and thus your income, if people "found out" about you, is the real culprit of your reluctance to be out at work. Instead, I suggest you shift your attention away from fear and put it on revealing who you are. When you accept yourself, others will respectand accept you, and if they don't - who cares- you accept yourself!
All The Best, Angelo.
I am struggling with an addiction. Do you think getting into recovery is really worth the effort? I mean isn't forgetting about things the point.
Signed, Party Boy
Dear Party Boy,
I do think addiction is an attempt to sooth, distract, dampen or escape the emotions of some unbearable reality. But the fixes don't work, that's why we have to keep repeating them.You can't dodge emotional anguish. You have to face your painful demons to heal, restoring a sense of inner joy and peace. The only way out is through.
Recovery from many wounds in my life has brought me some of the most incredible emotional pain Ive ever known. But facing this pain head on is the most wonderful thing I have ever done for myself, growing through it in order to move forward to the other side. My pain has great meaning for me, as it has helped me to be a good therapist, ushering others through the process.
Pain isnt the enemy. The fear of passing through it is. I believe you can stand your pain. I have great faith in you, after all, its only your pain, and you can tolerate it as demonstrated by being a gay man in predominately anti-gay culture. While you are strong and resilient, get extra support by joininga 12-step program and finding a psychotherapist.
All The Best, Angelo.
The Gay Man's Therapist
Would you appreciate a safe, supportive environment to talk about personal concerns? Get useful tools from a specialist who understands.
Podcasts, Teleseminars, Advice On Demand, Workshops, Groups and Private Practice Available. Manhattan, NY Office Tel: (917) 673-5003. www.AskAngelo.com