It really all started when I was just a little kid. It's naturally, really. We all look for it. Some find it, but sadly I believe many don't. I'm talking about validation. Even before we can talk, we learn that if we make enough noise, someone will notice and give us approval. It's usually mom, but at least we get a response. In a simple sense, that's all validation is. But I've discovered this past week that I spent nearly my entire life looking for it in all the wrong places.
I read a book recently (for about the 5th time) that brought some real clarity to me. The author states that validation (at least for boys) needs to come from their father. And that validation really needs to come before the age of 12. I grew up in a house where that validation was never given. Not to me. Not to my sister. Not to my brothers. It simply wasn't offered. I'm not blaming my dad...I'm not sure he was ever validated himself, or if he even knew how. The simple truth is that it never happened for me. So I sought it elsewhere.
At first, it was from my brothers and sister. I wanted to be noticed in a good way. But the reality is, they were simply kids just like I was. I didn't validate them and they didn't validate me. In fact, the opposite more than likely occurred. I felt different...a lisp, big ears, so ticklish I'd cry (Geoff loved that), unattractive...so I found ways to hide instead. So I sought it elsewhere.
As I entered school, I looked for validation from new friends. That seemed to last for a while, but it seemed that the friends would always end up leaving. Not necessarily because of me. Most of them simply moved away. But it impacted my self confidence and I found it more and more difficult to try to make friends...at least really close friends. I always had people that I called friends and my drinking exploits made me fun to be around I guess (it's always fun to watch a guy "shotgun" a can of beer under 3 seconds). But it didn't take long to become apparent, even to me, that I was being noticed for the wrong reasons. So I sought it elsewhere.
The next stop was sex. It didn't really matter what kind it was. Pornography. Masturbation. Intercourse. It didn't even really matter who it was with. There was always a genuine "high" that came with the sex and the relationships, but it never seemed to last. Like a drug, I would want to find something a little more exciting...move it to a new level. So I sought it elsewhere.
Like too many men, I became a workaholic. I tend to be a perfectionist by nature and I found myself always ending up in a position of responsibility. And as I worked hard there, I would move up to a higher position. Then a higher position. It seemed no matter what job I had, my eyes seemed to begin looking at "what might be next". Although I loved my job(s), I was always lured to the next level. It wasn't giving me the validation that I was so deeply craving, though I didn't realize it. So I sought it elsewhere.
Midway through my life, I met the most incredible woman I've ever known. She was beautiful, gentle, giving, loving...everything that I had ever imagined in a woman. And deep down, I believe she was out of my league! She had way too much going for her to be interested in a guy like me. But I was wrong. She was totally, deeply in love with me. And we got married and spent 15 wonderful years of marriage.
But then something happened...and I don't know what it was because it wasn't a "real" thing that happened. In every way, it seemed that she validated me. She encouraged and praised. She treated me so much better than I ever thought I deserved. She loved and nurtured. But for unfathomable reason, it wasn't enough. So I sought it elsewhere.
I found myself alone in a motel room, surfing the internet...looking at pornography. I made a choice that I still can't explain to go into a chat room (I'd never been in one before) and started to chat with a 15 year old teenager in Georgia. As it turned out, it was curious about boys...and something in me changed. It was like after nearly 30 years of sometimes confused sexuality, there was someone else who shared those feelings. And we talked. And then I discovered there were hundreds of guys in chat rooms who were willing to talk about things I'd never shared with anyone before. And I believe that maybe I felt somewhat validated for the first time in my life...in a different way than ever before.
And then it happened. My life collapsed. The chat rooms ultimately included illegal pornography and it led to my arrest. And during the dark months after my arrest before prison, it became so clear what a fantasy I had been living. I was seeking validation from "invisible" people who mostly likely weren't who they claimed to be. And they never really, truly validated me. So I sought it elsewhere.
It seemed there was no where else to turn for what I was needing so desperately. I had searched everywhere to be noticed for who I am but in the process, I tried to be someone that I wasn't. I tried to be whoever I needed to be with whoever I was seeking validation from. And then He found me. Ironically, He had been there all the time. I had simply never looked to Him for my validation. I won't necessarily blame myself for that...I didn't really know Him and I'd never tried to get to know Him. I didn't know I was supposed to.
But during the darkest time in my life, my true Father revealed Himself to me and gave me what I had been searching my entire life for. He has shown me who I am as He created me...including my imperfections. What I wanted to hide my entire life, I can accept now as a beautiful part of who I am. I know who I am...and I'm OK with that. I finally feel complete. So I no longer need to seek...I've found my validation. And now, I can hopefully begin to restore the relationships that I left shattered in my wake as I journeyed through my life on this quest.