About Deb Dettman

ALWAYS FELT DIFFERENT

The way I presented myself to the world was different. I knew I was attracted to girls and not boys. My Catholic upbringing suggested that I may be destined for hell. Ironically this fear of hell was likely the only reason I didn’t die by suicide back then.

Every morning before school I would have anxiety and get a stomachache. Despite that I loved school and really loved the nuns! They got to live in a house together and live such a different way.

Despite the internal struggles, I found myself lucky to have found some gender-specific spaces. I was happily involved in Girl Scouts into adulthood. The time I spent with nuns as I explored a vocation as a religious sister shaped me also. I got to spend time with them and do service projects and I learned that I liked helping people.

Even so, I struggled a lot with feeling deeply depressed and self-loathing. Fortunately, I always had a deep knowing that there was more to life than just what’s visible right in front of us. Living an authentic life and manifesting things I was meant to achieve came into focus.

Even after I knew that joining the convent wasn’t an honest option I knew that I was here to be of service somehow.

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”   

COMING OUT

Everything changed when I learned there was actually a beautiful, thriving community of women-loving-women in the city. I wasn’t the only one! There were lesbian-owned stores, a feminist bookstore, https://www.womenandchildrenfirst.com/ a coffee house performance space, a choir, and of course softball. There was music and a culture I could finally relate to.

This time in life was not all rainbows and unicorns however. Homophobia had ended some close friendships and had me no longer in touch with my blood-related family.

My first girlfriend was emotionally and at times physically abusive. She was in her own struggle. She was fighting a battle with alcohol, drugs, anxiety, depression and surviving a history of abuse. As a serious codependent, I tried to fix things. I was being loyal. I hoped that, “when we get a bigger apartment, when she gets a better job, when she’s on the right meds, then everything will be okay.” We were very isolated and I was feeling very stuck. I learned that whatever I did or did not do, I could not change it.

Most of my family members had died while I was separated from my family.

Surviving a number of friends who had died due to addiction, cancer, AIDS and suicide took a toll on me.

REACHING OUT AND ACCEPTING RECOVERY

Life would only improve if I actually did something. I had to address the impact that addiction, trauma and homophobia had on my life and relationships.

Handling things alone came very naturally. I wrote in my journal and read lots of self-help books, but I realized it wasn’t working. I had a small circle of friends who have become my chosen family. I could share a lot with them but they were protective of me. Sharing all I needed to share wasn’t possible with them. Finally, I went to therapy. I reluctantly sat in circles of people sharing their feelings. It freaked me out a lot. I didn’t really like it at first-at all. Fortunately, I finally learned how to ask for and accept help from safe people.

I made a commitment to ongoing self-care. I had to figure out how to connect spiritually in new ways. This journey is ongoing.

I learned that there is hope when I get honest with myself and others. Being willing to take the risk to find people who really understand me made all the difference.

It has been and continues to be an absolute joy to be able to provide an emotionally safe place for women to do the work required to heal and create new lives.