Tuesday, February 17, 2009
A New Insight
It's amazing how I can read a book...or part of a book several times and all of a sudden, something makes sense in a way that it had never occurred to me before. That's exactly what happened to me last night.
I've struggled beyond measure most of my life trying to understand my attraction to other males. I don't consider myself gay and I had a wonderful marriage with a beautiful woman. And when we had sex, it was incredible. But I have to admit that "same sex attraction" has been a part of my make-up since before adolescence. And I just didn't understand why.
For the past several years, I've wondered if the attraction was due to the sexual molestation that started when I was a young child by a man who worked for my dad and also by an older neighbor boy. Part of that didn't really make sense to me because the molestation by the older man was very traumatic and not sexually fulfilling. While the sex with the neighbor boy wasn't unpleasant, I don't remember what he looked like and was never attracted to him in any way. So why have I battled this issue my entire life?
I believe I got some clarity last night. I'm involved in a men's group from my church and we have been doing a study on the book, "Wild at Heart", by John Eldredge. This is probably the fifth time that I've read the book and I thought I knew it pretty thoroughly. In fact, while I was in prison, I participated in an in-depth facilitator training and led other inmates through the study. But there was a message in the book that I hadn't found...until last night.
We were reading a chapter dealing with the battle for a man's heart. It really focused on how a boy does (or doesn't) receive validation growing up. The author believes that it is critical that the validation comes from the father, and the crucial time when he must provide that is between the ages of seven and fifteen, depending on the boy. I never found the validation from my dad, and it was during those years that I encountered sex for the first time...with males. It was also when I began masturbating, which has become a life-long battle for me. And, it's when I discovered pornography. The author says that if a boy doesn't get the validation from his father, he will look for it in other places....usually women, sex and pornography.
I had grasped all of that the first several times that I read the book. But this time, there was a short phrase buried at the end of that section that seemed to jump off the pages. There, on the last page of the chapter, in the next to last paragraph, the book talks about homosexuality. It says that gays know that what is missing in their hearts is masculine love. The problem is that they have sexualized it. Wow! For the first time in my life, some things made sense in ways that it never had before.
While I know in my heart that my dad loved me, he never really demonstrated that love toward me in a way that I could see as a child. As the middle of three boys, I was often not a focus. My older brother has told of how dad "taught" him things that dad's teach their sons growing up. And my younger brother was a bit of a discipline issue, and required a great deal of attention by both of my parents. I was quiet and didn't cause many problems. As a result, I ended up being a classic "lost child" in the family.
I never thought about needing masculine affirmation...or what the lack of it may have resulted in my life. While I dealt with a lack of self confidence growing up, I never questioned my masculine strength. That may have been due to my participation in school sports, or from something else, I'm not sure. But as I reflect back now, I understand that there was never a feeling of receiving masculine love in my life.
The revelation last night has brought some peace to my mind...and to my heart. As a teacher, I want to know the answer. And I've learned during these past five years that I want the answers to all of my questions...even the hard ones I wouldn't even acknowledge were there. The insight I gained last night also helps me know that there is still more that I can learn about myself...there is more healing that is available to me. And there is more hope that as I grow and understand myself (who I really am and where I've been), the future ahead of me is brighter than ever.