Many of us are raised within a religious or cultural tradition. For most people, that tradition can work for their lifetime; for many, it doesn’t.
The “Dark Night of the Soul” is a term often applied to these times of transition and for anyone who has been through the transition this is, indeed, an apt term. Depression and anxiety often accompany these times of deep personal transition.
Additionally, that change can be painful both for the person changing as well as for their family who may feel abandoned, rejected, confronted, challenged, or blamed.
There are many reasons why change may be necessary. Sometimes sexual orientation provides the impetus for change. Sometimes it is a change in political awareness or a change in social justice perspective. Sometimes just a process of questioning or personal development creates the need for change. Whatever the impetus for change, the process can be painful.
It is important, where possible, to maintain relationships with family members; to approach the changes, on both sides, with as much kindness as possible. It is important to recognize and respect both the limitations and gifts of both sides of the division.
Because of the emotionality and chaos often present during this time of life, the support and wisdom of a therapist can be helpful in maintaining relationships and preventing undue damage during these transitions. The support and skills of a therapist can also help alleviate many of the symptoms of depression and anxiety that accompany this transition and, with the relief of these symptoms, provide support for the developmental growth and transition.