My name is Adrianna Bravo. I’m thirteen years old. I write in a book everyday but it doesn’t really help me. I was sexually molested for six years and I finally told my mom. I also cut myself on my arms but I am afraid to tell my mom. I am also bi-curious but I am so scared to tell my mom because my sister is bisexual too and my mom couldn’t even look her in the eye for a month. Also at school people always ask if I am bi and I know that my friends will stick up for me no matter what. But that’s not it I’ve always gotten picked on since elementary school for the way I look and for flirting with people. Do you think it is bad to flirt? I also get these suicide thoughts in my head but I’m afraid to leave my family.
Dear Adrianna <3 Bravo,
Your letter is intelligently written and lets us know what you want and need to address with our reply. Writing in your book is one way to review, clarify and organize your thoughts, but is not the only tool you have to help you with your feelings. You have described yourself as bi-curious and I assume you are still trying out ideas of having affection for people of the same and opposite sexes. From what you describe, you may not be ready to come out as anything, yet, since your own ideas of what you want or like aren’t entirely formed. Coming out is a process and it is OK to take your time and choose when and to whom to come out. Flirting isn’t ‘bad’, but it may make the others your age slightly uncomfortable, as it is still new and unfamiliar to them and they have not worked out their own sexual feelings yet.
Of particular concern is that you are having suicidal feelings and that you are cutting. People cut as a way of dealing with or managing difficult, painful, overwhelming emotions or stress. For some, cutting relieves stress or tension or they find that the physical pain of cutting is a distraction from the emotional pain. Some people are angry at someone in their life and take the anger out on themselves by cutting. Others feel that the cutting gives them a feeling of control when things in the life or their emotions feel out of control. Still others feel numb or “dead inside” and cutting helps them to feel alive. Having been subjected to sexual abuse at an age when you could hardly have understood what was going on, you may be feeling some or all of these feelings. It’s important for you to know that cutting may help you to feel better briefly but the longer it goes on, the more dangerous it can become as it can cause permanent scars, infections and serious, and sometimes life threatening medical problems especially if you cut a major blood vessel. It can also cause you to feel shame, guilt, depressed and out of control. If you feel like cutting, there are lots of ways to help yourself feel better without putting yourself at risk. Think about how you feel before and after you cut yourself. If cutting helps to release anger, you might try getting the anger out in another way like hitting a pillow, stomping around in heavy shoes, ripping up an old newspaper or flattening aluminum cans. If cutting helps you when you’re sad, do whatever makes you feel taken care of and comforted. That may be listening to certain songs, calling a friend or eating a favorite food. Sometimes, writing in a journal or drawing/painting helps a person to feel better. For some people, doing something physical like running outdoors or yoga can help relieve stress. If the cutting helps you to feel less numb, do something that creates a sharp physical feeling like putting your hand briefly in ice water or stamp your feet on the ground). There are websites available including www.safe-alternatives.com and http://www.helpguide.org/mental/self_injury.htmthat can help you learn about cutting as well as additional things you can do when you have the urge to cut. It can be very difficult to stop cutting and it would be important to tell a trusted adult about the cutting in order for them to find a therapist for you to work with to find safer and healthier ways to deal with the hard things you’re going through. Since you have stated you are not comfortable talking to your mother about this, you could ask a school counselor for help finding a therapist or call 1-800-DON’T-CUT where you can be referred to a therapist in your area. When you have the urge to cut or when you are feeling suicidal, you can always call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386) and talk with a Trevor lifeline counselor about what you’re feeling and experiencing as well as your urge to cut which can help to delay or stop the urge to cut. They can also work with you to find a therapist to help you.
An excellent website to aid you in exploring your bi-curious feelings is http://www.bisexual.org - they have materials there to explain about the topic of bisexuality. I would also recommend that you can check out our social website for young people, Trevorspace, at http://www.trevorspace.org, where you can discuss issues you are encountering with other young people in a safe, supportive social environment.