I first began counselling with Patti 9 months ago. When I started I was experiencing panic attacks, low self-esteem and felt significantly lost. I was struggling to move on from my first same-sex relationship, was experiencing a number of negative friendships and struggled with my identity as a result. Patti, first and foremost, provided me with a safe and understanding environment in which I felt heard and valid for the first time in many months.
While Patti has helped me with a number of my issues throughout our counselling sessions, one of the most significant has been that of my struggle with identity. In its most simplistic form, identity can be described as a fact of being and knowing who or what a person is. I began my relationship with Patti not knowing who I was or who I should be.
Following the end of a same-sex relationship, understandably the label “straight” felt incorrect. However, being told by my ex I was “the straightest person” they had ever dated, I felt undeserving of any other identifying labels. I was trying on labels that felt incorrect, while simultaneously hiding the struggle from those around me who often could not understand my anguish. Attempting to conquer these struggles alone is what ultimately caused my panic attacks.
Through counselling with Patti, I learnt the importance of my own voice, what I wanted for me and who I wanted to be regardless of the opinions of others. I was able to understand my confusions regarding labels and ultimately come to terms with the idea of having no labels at all. This felt like a scary prospect to me. However, I became increasingly aware that at my core, this was due to my need to please other people. I feared what I would say to others if they queried me, or how I would respond to those who assumed I identified as something which was incorrect. The work I went through with Patti over the past 9 months enabled me to become more and more comfortable with the grey area between gay and straight, and live comfortably in ‘somewhere in-between’. Patti gave me a voice I had lost along the years, struggling with over bearing friends and what I would come to understand as a largely negative relationship. Counselling has not only allowed me to be grow in awareness of my own needs but has help me understand how I relate to others in my life. Identity to me used to mean labels, knowing who you are by the labels which you share with others. But I have found that identity is much more personal, and is most importantly defined by the way I treat others through kindness, empathy and caring, rather than for my self-identifying sexual orientation or significant other. I learnt that having fluidity in my sexual orientation did not affect those around me, nor did they seek the label I felt I needed to give them so urgently now living comfortably in the grey area.
I would recommend Patti to anyone struggling with issues of identity. Discussing my issues has been of fundamental value to understanding where my issues stemmed from and how to overcome them as a result. And I know that I would not have been able to overcome them had it not have been for Patti’s guidance.