Reply to my old gay bible study group
I got an email from an old friend in the bible study group that I used to attend with my ex-partner, Tim. His email was about my choice to leave the gay lifestyle. He said he feared I was being "brainwashed." His email really upset me. I wanted to respond immediately, but knew I shouldn't at that moment. I finally calmed down and wrote this response (below):
I appreciate your email and concern. I care about you and the rest of the men in the group as well. As I mentioned I never intended to sound judgmental or critical of anyone else. I realize that different churches have varying views on the morality of homosexuality. There MAY be several ways of interpreting the Hebrew in Leviticus or the Greek words in Romans. I don't really know. In the past I used to get bogged down in that and I had a lot uncertainty and doubt.
My decision this past year wasn't really about that specific issue though. I remember hearing once that "sin is a failure to love." At first I thought that was a watered down perspective, but I think it might be accurate.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Over this past several years I've realized that I only feel homosexual feelings (romantic or physical) when I feel inadequate in my own sense of self or masculinity and/or when I perceive that another guy has the qualities (personality or physical) that I feel that I lack. It is impossible for me to be attracted to another male or female person (romantically or physically) without first seeing them as an Opposite of myself. Since I am undeniably a Man (biologically and psychologically), attraction to another Man first requires a lot of insecurity about myself as well as a lot of false hopes and illusions about what the connection with the other Man will somehow provide.
From my own experience I can see that ALL of my previous homosexual relationships (or encounters) started with me first feeling hopeless, jealous, envious, and distrusting, and then impatiently (and desperately) self-seeking my own end to the detriment of the other Man. This was usually followed by a false pride/boasting to cover up the emptiness that followed. The exact opposite of 1 Cor 13.
Regardless of how anyone spins Leviticus or Romans, that is sin. It is not Love. It is the exact opposite of Love in ever way shape or form.
You mentioned that you didn't believe me when I said "I didn't love Tim" and that you could tell I had feelings involved. What I meant is that I failed to love him. I wanted to and even tried really hard to, but the homosexual feelings got in the way. I can only speak for myself and I have no room to judge or condemn anyone else, but I know with certainty I cannot Love someone and pursue a homosexual relationship with them at the same time. For me, those are mutually exclusive things.
I had strong romantic feelings for Tim, but those were barriers to Love. They were not Love in and of themselves because they were not oriented toward Tim's best good. They were geared toward filling voids in myself that no other human being can meet in the first place. Even though we will never see each other in person again, I have more real Love for Tim now than ever before. I pray for him every day and fast/pray for him often. I pray that God will heal his wounds (including those that I inflicted through my sin and selfishness).
You mentioned that you thought I was "over-selling" my current state of happiness. I appreciate your concern on that, but I really am happier than I've ever been in my life. I did not mean to imply though that everything is easy or perfect now. There are challenges and difficult days, but things are still infinitely better than ever before. Sometimes they are harder than before. It used to seem so much easier to believe the demonic lies about myself and believe I was inadequate or flawed and then suppressing my true self and looking for some other man to be a man For Me.
I still feel the inadequacy and insecurities that have driven my homosexual challenges in the past, but not nearly as often. When I do, I find it much harder now to even begin to believe the lies that used to make homosexuality a temptation. It's about 20% of what they used to be.
Sometimes that makes situations harder to deal with in the short-term. I was so used to using homosexuality to medicate and numb out everything. It is a lot harder to face things head on, but I've noticed whenever I do, I tend to grow a lot more and get a lot stronger from it. That usually builds my confidence and enables me to see that I wasn't less of a man after all.
Over the past six months, I've been drawing more and more closer to Jesus and he has been increasing my capacity to give and receive real Love. The more real Love I have in my life the less and less I feel defined by homosexuality, the "gay" label, or even the "ex-gay"label.
I don't see any evidence that homosexuality is an "orientation" on its own. Looking at my own body and others, I can see that it was just a distortion of it. Regardless I don't see any reason to define myself by it anymore. Even if the remnants of it were to remain till I die, it still wouldn't be worth forming a separate identity or label out of it.
I have to admit I was a little offended by the "brainwashing" comment, but I realize you didn't mean it in a hostile way. The only person who has That much influence over me is Jesus and I want him to brain-wash me...and wash my heart and everything else.:)
I can understand your concerns about the "ex-gay groups." I have been to all of them at one time or another and there are flaws in all of them. I've noticed that almost every church has its own group and they all tend to demonstrate the human flaws of all of the particular denominations. I still get a lot out of some of them, but I'm pretty open with the areas where I disagree with them.
I don't see the purpose of my journey to be about "becoming straight" It's about becoming my authentic self and growing in relationship to Jesus. I've found myself becoming more integrated and more in tune with my own core emotions and this has enabled me to be much more open and authentic with everyone. There are probably more people now who know about my past homosexual struggles than knew about it when I was in the lifestyle.
I don't know yet if the Lord will eventually lead me to marriage and family. I hope he will, but I know it may be a few years before I can even consider that. I know he won't lead me to a homosexual relationship because that is not Love. He could lead me to a Monastery (which could be awesome) or I could just grow old with a bunch of cats. ;) This short human life will never be easy or perfect, but I know that if I stay in relationship with Jesus, I will be happy no matter what.
"Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is Love."
How Do I Start To Walk Away From Homosexuality?
Written By David, a group member
That's the key here: healing SSA is a progress from compulsion and a sense of weakness, to a mature sense of competence and self-mastery as a man.
Here's a brief attempt at an Intro for Beginners:
1. "I think I'm gay and..."
You are not gay. There is no such thing. Decades of scientific research have not come up with ANY evidence to support the idea that gays are "born that way", or that homosexual attractions are inborn.
You have been lied to.
Those of you who follow the news from Israel - and maybe have a personal connection here - already are familiar with the gross, ideologically motivated distortions of the truth about Israel by the media and other liberal strongholds such as universities.
The same thing has been done to promote the pro-gay agenda.
For many, a first step in the process is cutting through the media stardust and getting at the truth: there is no genetic basis for homosexuality, you do not have to live with this forever, it is not an immutable part of your makeup.
If you don't take the time to really work this out - the lies of the pro-gay propaganda machine will close around you like a shackle, preventing you from growing, healing, and living the life YOU choose to lead.
2. What is this term "SSA"? Doesn't it just mean I'm gay?
We use the term SSA - Same-Sex Attraction - to describe our drives and behaviors. It's not an identity. It's a behavior that we wish to change. More accurately: it's a symptom.
In most cases, sexual attraction to one's own sex is a maladapted, unhealthy response to trauma, or to events that block or sidetrack normal development. Studies (ironically, some of them conducted by gay organizations!) have shown clearly that the majority of men who feel same-sex attractions share certain traumatic experiences or dysfunctional family situations. The most common are:
Dysfunctional parental relationships - missed bond with father, abusive or distant father, smothering or emotionally enmeshed mother, narcissistic/manipulative father or mother... Often dysfunctional parents come in pairs!
Childhood or teenage sexual abuse
Peer wounds, especially during puberty: exclusion (particularly from one's gender group), ridicule, abuse
Other experiences that lead to a mindset of inferiority or inadequacy compared to others - especially to other men.
To cope with these traumas/challenges, our minds have "hijacked" sex and pressed it into service to fill another emotional need, or cover a wound.
Another way of saying it is: we have sexualized that which we feel is lacking in us (yearning for love, approval, and acceptance from men), or created a comforting sexualized escape from the perceived threat of heterosexuality (smothering mother, being a "good little boy").
This isn't an identity.
And it's not just a normal variation on human sexuality.
It's a compulsive behavior, with many points in common with other compulsive behaviors.
For example, bulimics and anorexics have done something similar - they have taken the normal urge to eat, and the normal pleasure of eating, and invested them with additional meanings in an unhealthy way - turning these normal drives into self-damaging behaviors.
If you have spent any time around the gay "community" you may have seen this - the vast majority of "out and proud" homosexuals drift through short-term relationships and anonymous sex, constantly pursuing the "dream lover" that will fill their unmet needs. This pattern is clearly compulsive, and can lead to self-destructive behavior.
3. Can you just quickly show me how to control my urges so I can get married?
It is not possible to simply control the surface behavior. This is like "sticking your finger in the dyke" - the pressure just builds until it blows up.
We said that SSA is similar to other compulsive/addictive behaviors. Well, the healing path is similar, too: it is necessary to uncover the underlying, unmet needs - the meaning that you have invested in your SSA feelings - and to resolve them.
This can mean grieving past abuse, or missed opportunities to bond with one's father.
It also has a positive element - after identifying where your path of growth was blocked, it is possible to build other, more healthy ways to meet your emotional needs. It is possible to learn healthy, appropriate ways to interact and feel intimate with both men and women.
By this process - introspection and healing past wounds, and building a healthier self-image and way of being - we heal the underlying causes of our SSA.
In most instances, people who do this feel the force of the same-sex attractions diminish, and feel heterosexual attractions grow.
The pace of your healing depends on your own personal story. A young person dealing with minor doubts about his masculinity will handle things differently than someone seriously traumatized by a dysfunctional background.
4. So I can get rid of these feelings?
Well... let's go back to that bulimic, or look at recovered alcoholics and drug users. They have built a balanced view of life - and a healthier view of themselves and others. But at times of stress in life - the old, broken "solutions" often suggest themselves. The classic example is the guy who hasn't had a cigarette in years, but asks for one during a stressful time.
Similarly, healing for us means being free to choose - and live - the lives that we want, and that we feel are right and holy. But in some cases and situations these feelings may crop up. If the wounds are deep, healing means being able to live your life - despite occasional pains from the past.
Healing means that when the broken non-solution of SSA suggests itself, you will have other, healthier behaviors - and reasons for living - with which to answer that momentary impulse. And the truth is that adults must do this all the time - countering many unproductive impulses, attaining self-mastery.
That's the key here: healing SSA is a progress from compulsion and a sense of weakness, to a mature sense of competence and self-mastery as a man.
Even the hairs of your head are all numbered. - Luke 12:7 and Matthew 10:30
I know that we have all read opinions and political statements on Homosexuality and for almost every other issue of morality as well. For an individual Christian who experiences Same-Sex Attraction, the flood of arguments and opinions are daunting.
I was raised Baptist, but started going to a "Gay Church" when I was in High School and off and on in my 20's. I wanted to believe what they taught about homosexuality, but knew that there were many who would disagree.
I worried that if the traditional christian teaching was correct, than I had a challenge ahead of me. I had not yet been able to simply "Pray away the Gay" and I wasn't so sure that anyone else had either.
I started to realized though that IF the "gay church" was correct, than that only meant that God didn't have a plan for my life at all. They provided arguments that the scriptural references regarding homosexuality were not concrete or relevant to modern understanding, but there was no evidence that this was some new kind of Vocation or that my life would have any positive meaning or purpose due to these new loopholes. (I'll write a separate post about those arguments and discuss each "side" another time)
For a while, I thought I could be truly "objective" and analyze each side's arguments from a purely academic perspective. I realized quickly though thatit would take decades of rigorous study in Psychology, Theology, Hebrew, and Greek before I would even be able to make an educated guess about which "side" was right. (I'll wait to comment on Sola Scriptura another time)
There were times I aligned myself with each "side"and was welcomed warmly and joyfully. I have no doubt that everyone who is passionate about this issue (even those I disagree with) have positive intentions. I have also faced disappointment with individuals and organizations on both "sides." No human being who has a perfect answer to make everything easy and simple. There are three very important questions though that we all choose to answer not just with Same-Sex Attraction, but with everything else in our lives:
- Do I TRUST that God has a detailed plan and purpose for my life?
- Am I OPEN to hearing what that is, even if it's not what I currently want it be?
- Am I willing to SURRENDER my own will, identity, and plans to accept His will for me?
Conscious or not, we choose to answer these every single day. For most of my life, I answered "NO!" Nowadays, I choose to answer "Yes" more frequently, but I still have a ways to go. These are very tough questions. If you think these are easy, then read them again.
If however, you might be willing to answer "Yes" to all three (even for just one day), please pray with me right now:
I surrender to you today with all my heart and soul. Please come into my heart in a deeper way. I say, “Yes” to you today. I open all the secret places of my heart to you and say, “Come on in.” Jesus, you are the Lord of my whole life. I believe in you and receive you as my Lord and Savior. I hold nothing back.
Holy Spirit, bring me to a deeper conversion to the person of Jesus Christ. I surrender all to you: my will, my plans for the future, my relationships, my work,successes and failures. I release it and let it go because I trust that YOU have plans for me - plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future.
I surrender my understanding of how things ‘ought’ to be, my choices and my will. I surrender to you the promises I have kept and the promises I have failed to keep. I surrender my weaknesses and strengths to you. I surrender my emotions, my fears, my insecurities, my sexuality. I especially surrender _________ (Here mention other areas of surrender as the Holy Spirit reveals them to you.) Lord, I surrender my whole life to you, the past, the present, and the future. In sickness and in health, in life and in death, I belong to you.
As you know from the rest of my blog, I prayed this prayer after having lived in gay relationships for several years. At the time, I thought that all I wanted was for God to restore my relationship with Tim, my live-in partner who had left. It was very difficult for me to let go and trust God with the outcome of All three questions. I was most afraid that it might lead me... well... to exactly the path I am on today. The path hasn't been easy, but it has brought real happiness and fulfillment to my life. I have been happier the last three years than ever before in my life and it's gets even better every day.
My Changing Sexual Orientation
Don’t let the title fool you - my orientation isn’t changing on its own. This is not an easy path, and at least in my case, not a short one. But since I’m aspiring to masculine wholeness as I understand it, including, among other things, marriage and children with happiness and real love (including a highly satisfying marital relationship with my future wife - in the spirit of the Torah), this marathon of a journey is worth every effort.
Coming to terms and therapy
My story, in short:
Eleven years ago (at age 20), I started feeling distraught when the reality began setting in that I had same-sex attractions that weren’t going away. More specifically, I was infatuated with my best friend at the time, which turned into a crisis when he started dating a young woman. This threatened our relationship, as I understood things at the time.
When I sought psychological help, the therapist I met with told me that I would never succeed in overcoming these feelings. This was the only time in my life when I seriously contemplated suicide, so I did not return to her. In what I saw as a last resort, I turned to my parents and shared with them my struggle. They responded with support, and when they asked me what I want to do with the struggle and I replied that I wished to change my orientation, they sought an appropriate therapist, and soon thereafter, I started therapy with the founder of Reparative Therapy, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi. From my therapy with him, I learned to listen carefully to my emotions, to learn from them, and to honor them as well as myself.
Encounters with the feminine
About half a year after I started therapy - after I had learned to become vulnerable with others and with myself while maintaining self respect - I experienced, for the first time in my life, an arousal towards a woman. This arousal took place during a long heart-to-heart talk with a good female friend from high school, with whom I took the risk of opening up about my same-sex attractions (I didn’t tell her I was gay. I don’t like the term, and I’ve never identified myself as gay. I am a man like all other men, who experiences attractions to others of his gender, sometimes more and sometimes less). From this friend I received not pity, but understanding and respect, and I understood that she doesn’t see me as weak or pathetic, but as a human being, a man, who deals courageously with a particular difficulty.
Her supportive and respectful response helped me internalize that this was the truth about me: I wasn’t weak or pathetic, but rather a person of value who deals with challenges, just like everyone else. And suddenly, I started to feel trust and emotional safety towards her... and sexual arousal.
I continued therapy for about five years. I began to discover my inborn masculinity, and I started dating a woman.
On one occasion, I met her and her friends at a pizza shop, where I found, among the others, a good-looking young man to whom I was immediately attracted. What to do? I drew from my repertoire a technique that I learned in therapy (that I now realize is more than a technique, but actually a way of living) - instead of distancing myself from the man I was attracted to and continuing to see him as foreign and different from me, to take steps to connect with him. I spoke with him and befriended him, intending to prove to myself that the two of us were not really different in our essential maleness, but similar in essence and equal as men in this world. I thus succeeded in changing my perception and feelings at that moment, thereby getting past the barrier.
I started to enjoy attraction to certain women when I was in certain states, but my attraction to men was still very powerful. Towards the end of the long period of reparative therapy, after years of my therapist urging me to attend the Journey into Manhood (JiM), I finally signed up and participated. I soon thereafter participated in the New Warrior Training Adventure as well as subsequent process groups.
My attending JiM was the most important and decisive step in my transitioning out of homosexuality. I there experienced connection to myself and others that I hadn’t been able to experience in my years of one-on-one therapy. My emotional floodgates opened, whose waters until then lurked just beneath the surface (in my therapy the floodgates released only a drop at a time), and I understood that now my desired change was really beginning to take form, and in a big way.
The main idea of the workshop is this: “if you change your beliefs and perceptions about yourself and about other men, you change the world of men as you know it.” In other words, when the man stops seeing himself as foreign in the world of men and starts seeing himself as part of it and equal to other men, he stops yearning for them sexually. And in the place once occupied by sexual yearning, he experiences deep love for other men characterized by identification and brotherhood.
The workshop is not a seminar of lectures - it is experiential. Quoting the description on the workshop’s homepage: “You won't just talk about what it is like to look another man in the eyes - you'll stand eye to eye with another man while we help you process whatever feelings might arise.”
Beyond the experience itself, participants acquire tools and strategies to help them deal and grow as they continue their journey. The strategy that has served me best is called a “clearing,” a process used on workshops of all kinds and all stances regarding homosexuality. The clearing requires a person - in this case, a man - to distinguish between the truth and the “stories” he tells himself about the other person standing opposite him.
For example, I deluded myself many times that the man standing opposite me was stronger than me, better than me, and that he possessed greater value as a man than me - and as a result of the clearing process, I recognized that we were equal... "the delusion would burst", at least temporarily, and along with it the erotic attraction.
By repeating this process - whether with men standing opposite me in the flesh, or with men I knew, with whom I imagined having such a conversation - I got to the point where today I am no longer capable of developing an attachment marked with dependency towards another man, of the type that I had experienced throughout my life until I started doing clearings. Instead of these dependent attachments, today I enjoy closeness, love, support and mutual affirmation with many male friends. A more superficial attraction, however, remains.
Developing attraction to women
I have had difficulty entering a deep, long-term relationship with a woman. I also found that my more superficial attractions towards men were getting stronger, and I began desiring a sexual experience with a man. I therefore began working with a life coach who helped me put my needs (such as food, drink, relaxation and recreation, socializing) first on my priority list. The results of the coaching were an increase in self esteem, better mood, greater enjoyment of and satisfaction from life... and the superficial attractions, albeit still there, lost much of their power.
Today I am about 80% where I’d like to be, which is the place where I experience absolute identification with other men instead of craving, and to experience a deep, significant relationship with a woman who will be my life partner in all respects, including this struggle - like several of my companions on this journey, who are already married and living in happiness and love (and honesty regarding their journey) with their wives and children.
And I continue to do my work - to deal with the challenges (in particular by way of using techniques of changing beliefs and perceptions, as well as connecting instead of detaching), but also to have fun and to be happy.
Final thoughts - costs and benefits of making this effort
The journey out of homosexuality is like a marathon. It demands hard work, persistence, resilience in the face of recurring challenges, and preparation for a long haul. A select few who embark on the journey experience a complete change, while another minority experience no change at all, despite efforts. The majority who do their work diligently experience a reduction in their same-sex attraction and an increase in same-sex identification, such that much of their attraction is replaced by bonding, with what’s left often being weak enough that they are able to focus on the other aspects of their lives - many on their relationship with their wife and children - without getting distracted and bogged down.
I'd compare homosexuality to several other personality-related phenomena appearing in the DSM, also life challenges that some wish to address and alter the impending outcome. Many alcoholics, for example, embark on a journey guided by Alcoholics Anonymous. While some break completely free of their desire for alcohol and some others continue to relapse over and over - some even suffering harm as a result of their involvement - many AA people go on to live productive, happy, meaningful lives with some desire for alcohol but not enough to disrupt the pursuit of their dreams. They make a choice to go the route, they set a goal, they take a risk, and they achieve whatever they achieve. Much like everything else in life that’s worthwhile.
For those of you with a child dealing with homosexuality, I urge you not to force your desire for change on him. This journey is as hard as a marathon, and no one should be forced to run a marathon. It’s not fair, and it disregards a person’s right to choose his destiny. He also will not succeed in changing if he feels forced by others to do so, and may therefore grow very resentful. Rather, present him with his options and give him his space to make his own choice.
But for those of you reading who are dealing with unwanted SSA and choose this marathon... you’ll experience connection, brotherhood and meaning like you’ve never experienced before. If you’re ready and willing, I urge you to go for it.
Telling My Fiance About My SSA
Written By: Mohamed J
This past weekend was very difficult for me. My "core emotions" of anger, fear, sadness, and joy were soaring and descending all over the place. Let me explain why:
My therapist (who was recommended by JONAH) encouraged me to tell my girlfriend about my same sex attractions (SSA) fully, and honestly. He knew that she and I were dating for over a year and are very serious about each other. He felt that if I wanted to marry her, I needed to be authentic with her about my SSA.
My girlfriend knew I was struggling with some type of sexual issue but she didn't know exactly what. On several occasions, I tried to tell her exactly what my issues were, but I just couldn't do it! I believed (or at least told myself the story) that she wouldn't know what to say, or how to understand my SSA, because of her background as a sheltered Sunni Moslem (similar to me) --- a culturally conservative religion, and where these things are really never talked about. In most cases, the existence of SSA is simply denied.
I was truly in pain struggling about keeping my SSA secret from my girlfriend. I had previously told her I was struggling and said that I had problems being totally attracted to her (though I wasn’t even sure what that meant). In my heart and soul, I sincerely wanted to be completely attracted to her. This apparent conflict was making me sick because I felt I wasn't being fair to her because she didn't know what my conflict was about. I believed I had hurt her and in the process had allowed her to think or believe she wasn't attractive enough - which was really unfair to her because she is gorgeous, and a spectacular woman with a phenomenal personality. The problem, however, was not her. It had nothing to do with her. It was me. And, I was too much of a coward to come out of the closet and man up to tell her the truth, or to inform her exactly what I was dealing with.
So, after going back and forth about telling her and mustering up the courage to say something, I decided to tell her exactly what I was dealing with by being authentic and laying out the whole truth. She didn’t have a clue as to how much work I had done, including attending a Journey into Manhood (JiM) weekend. When I decided to go to JiM, I lied by telling her I was visiting a sick uncle in Florida. I felt bad about not telling her the truth, but I was afraid of losing her if I did so, especially because I have never felt so comfortable with a woman in my life as I do with her.
Anyway, after thinking through it all day Friday, I finally got the courage to call her that night and tell her there was something I need to share with her. I finally concluded that she had the right to either accept me as I am or to walk away from me. When I told her we needed to talk, she asked “what is it??” I said that it had something to do with things I had previously shared with her, but I felt it was necessary to be clearer and more authentic in my explanation. She said, “Absolutely, sure. Let's plan a time.”
The time we planned was Sunday night at 8 PM. So, imagine the fear and anxiety I felt for the entire weekend. In any event, I picked her up for our dinner date at a restaurant. I was so nervous throughout dinner that I don't remember if I had any appetite. I just couldn't eat much, obviously because of all the pressure, stress, and anxiety I felt. During dinner, I could not speak about my SSA and made lots of small talk.
After eating, we went outside and sat in the car. I tried to start explaining but said I needed to first check something on my phone. I went online to ask advice from a close JiM brother. He was really, really nice, and gave me great advice:
He said “Begin your story by telling her your father passed away at such young age, and go from there.” While that made sense, I knew it would be difficult. I told him, “It's hard bro!” He replied, “I know it's hard; it was hard for me to tell the woman I loved, but believe me, it was worth it.” I said “OK, but given her and my common conservative Muslem culture, I hear the words you are telling me, but emotionally I am a wreck! What will I do if she rejects me?” He responded, “Trust me. I’ve been there. After you tell her, all your anxieties, fears, and shame will be gone. She is going to love you even more.” I was like “OK, but I'm not sure how she is going to understand this.” Lastly, he said, “Mohamed - do it bro , or if you think you are not ready, you can wait until you are. Being authentic is the key to a successful marriage.”
At this point I realized that if I don't tell her this by tonight, it would be tough for me to live with myself and go to work tomorrow. So I decided to go for it and let my friend go to bed. Having summoned up my courage, I turned to face her to start the conversation. At that point she received a cell phone call from her cousin and started chatting with her. She was oblivious to my emotional state. I was feeling very vulnerable. I was hoping that she would be fully present with me, but she clearly was not. I became anxious and annoyed as she continued chatting with her cousin.
Getting even more annoyed and agitated, I told myself the following story: She was enjoying my pain, saw how vulnerable I was but didn't give a damn about me and was taking advantage of my vulnerability! That was all story and rationalizations and had no logic. In fact, it was not true. Nevertheless, I started driving back home annoyed and, I believe, visibly angry. She got off the phone as we merged into the freeway, and told me, “ O h that was my cousin who had something important to tell me.” All I could think to myself was, “ Like I didn’t have something important to say that I’ve been fretting about all weekend ! ”
Then when she asked me to tell her the story, I said we would talk about it. However, at this point, I'm like annoyed even more and no longer felt ready to tell her. And so I said, “I really don't have a story to tell.” She responded, “Oh, OK cool!” LOL!
So, I kept driving silently. Neither of us said anything. I was completely shut down emotionally. We made it home safely but I didn't even park my car. She got out of the car quickly, and as she was getting out of the car, she said “ G ood night, baby. I hope you have a good night 's sleep.” I answered, “OK, thanks. Bye.”
I left angry and sad, and certainly depressed. I just parked nearby and sat in my car clueless about what to do. After a while, I started checking things on my phone. While in sitting in the car releasing my sadness, she texted me and asked, “Honey, are you… OK? You were OK before, and then all of a sudden, you shut down emotionally. Is there something I said that bothered you??? “
At that point, I texted her to tell her exactly how I felt, that I had taken her to dinner to tell her something important about how I felt, but when I was about to start I told myself a story that she saw her conversation with her cousin as being more important than what I wanted to say. She apologized and asked if I could come back to her house to pick her up so that we could talk about it further and determine how we could work it out. She did not want us to go to our separate homes angry at each other so I went and picked her up. This time, however, I had an infusion of courage.
I opened up to her by starting with my dad and explained all the things I missed from him and how his absence affected my life. I followed up by showing her the People Can Change website and the video on it explaining the Journey Into Manhood weekends. As I watched the video with her, I began shedding tears. She hugged me as she seemed to understand what I was going through. She wiped the tears off my eyes with her bare hands and looked straight at me and said, “You will be OK. I'm here for you, honey, and I will pray for you, for your healing.” She continued, “Don't be sad sweetheart, you have my love, and support. Don't lose hope. We are in this together!”
She was so loving and accepting. I realized how much I loved her and how much she loved me. My core emotion moved from sadness to incredible joy. The ability to be honest, open and authentic put me into such a joyful state, one that is difficult to explain. She asked questions, showing that she understood more than I had thought possible; I answered honestly. She gave me advice, and repeated over and over how her love for me did not change one bit. In fact, she said because I was able to reveal to her my inner self, her love for me was stronger than it had ever been. She now understood certain things about me that puzzled her before.
We talked about what to do. I told her about all the work I had therapeutically done and how I wanted to keep working on my journey over the next 6 months so that when we get married I would be the kind of man who could be present for her emotionally, spiritually, and economically. She replied that as far as she is concerned, she is ready for us to get married anytime I feel ready, and then said … “ even if it's tonight.”
She is an amazing woman. That is all I can say. After being so candid and authentic, I felt such a weight off on my shoulders. In return, she expressed how much more confident she was in me as a person and as her future husband. She said that my vulnerability allowed her to express her love for me even more!!
After I took her back home, we kept texting each other back and forth. I could not believe how she texted me all these loving text messages such as “Just because your sexual attractions changed doesn't change how I see you,” or “I love you, and you are my joy and my life. I would never trade you for anything else or for anyone else in this world!” Sentiments like that made me just break into tears! She is just amazing. I was so wrong to think she wouldn't understand what I was going through. She did, and she accepts me just as I am today!
I told her I wanted her to join me on my journey. I want her to be part of my life, and to be my loving wife - one who sees my shadows, and accepts me just as I am.
Going through this experience took a lot out of me. The courage to show my true feelings really took a lot of guts. I could not have done this without support from all of my fellow journeyers, many of whom I met at the JiM weekend. Without such a support network, I would never have gotten the courage to open up to my girlfriend and to know that she and I can now plan our marriage without my “stuff” interfering. I can't be a happier man than I am right now. I am so grateful to all of you who supported me, and especially my brother who really encouraged me by texting me the advice to start with my father. He was there when I needed him. I'm also very grateful to God who enabled and empowered me to do the work I needed to do to be ready for the lovely woman who He knew would be my perfect mate. Thanks to all who helped me on this journey. I eagerly await our marriage and to live in harmony with my loving wife in the manner God intended for us!
There is Hope for Healing
Written By: Sam from New York
[One of our men who was involved in the journey for about 10 years wrote this piece to encourage his brothers within the journey. A religious man who was able to resolve his conflict between Orthodox religious values and his same-sex attractions, this piece reports how he was successful in his journey and in reaching the goals he set forth for himself.].
I've been meaning to share some exciting news with you all. I recently got married to a wonderful wonderful young lady. I truly feel blessed to have her in my life (and that she said yes to marrying me!) and I am extremely excited about our future together. It has been a long and rewarding journey getting to this point. I look forward to the new adventures and challenges that marriage will bring to us.
I feel well equipped and confident that we will have a beautiful marriage together based on mutual respect, understanding, and love, with, of course, open communication. I owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to JONAH, Arthur and Elaine, David Matheson, and all my friends that I met along the way who showed me endless support. There is no way I would be where I am today without your support and encouragement...so thank you. Most importantly, I thank G-d for giving me the strength all along the way.
For those of you that do not know me, I started my journey approximately 10 years ago. I was told that I should just get married and everything would be fine. That advice did not sit well with me. My Rabbi introduced me to JONAH and the rest is history. I read the books, went to JIM and New Warrior weekends, was in therapy, went to groups, had my ups and downs, worked hard, etc.
Over the years I created a healthy distance from the feminine (where I had been enmeshed) and strengthened my connection to the masculine by spending time with my father, making healthy male friends, and building my confidence and self esteem. My SSA (Same-Sex Attraction) has diminished and my OSA (Opposite-Sex Attraction) has increased.
I got to the point where I felt comfortable dating and dated for a few years. I finally found the one for me. My wife was different from the others. I was immediately attracted to her, her sensitivity and insight were unlike any other, and her communication skills were superb. She had all the qualities I was looking for in a spouse.
I always felt strongly about sharing my SSA past with my potential wife...so I did while we were still dating, and it all worked out. I packaged the truth of my SSA as a symptom of bigger issues: my self confidence and masculine identity. I told her about my journey and though I didn't know what to expect, I could not have asked for a better response. She was amazed by what I had accomplished and it only made her feel closer to me. I encouraged her to speak to my friend's wife who was in a similar situation to gain some perspective and ask questions. She spoke to my friend's wife and said it was very helpful.
The wedding night was getting closer and I was nervous about being intimate with my wife for the first time. Would everything work okay? Everything worked out great.
Our first few months together have been fantastic. Married life is amazing. I am very much looking forward to our future together. During my journey there were moments when I wondered if there was any hope for me and my future. My message to those of you that ask this question - there IS hope.
Sam from New York
Growing Out of Isolation and Shame
Written By: Alan
There seems to be some misconceptions regarding the role of therapy in the healing process. My take is that a therapist merely facilitates one's own healing processes. We should not think of him as a doctor setting a broken bone (something you really shouldn't attempt on your own without serious training). Rather, a better analogy is to think of him more like a physical trainer (or in our case, an emotional trainer who can help facilitate our emotional growth).
As a facilitator of the process of emotional re-adaptation, the therapist has knowledge, experience and offers guidance, but the real work still needs to be done by us. I've seen too many people in the process trying to "subcontract" their personal problems to others, hoping that another person (or even G-d) may give them a magical cure.
The healing must come from within us. A statement I have repeated over and over again on the online group says it all: Just because one may spend untold hours and hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on therapy, healing retreats, etc., does not mean the problem of feeling unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA) will just go away. In the end, success will be achieved by the amount of sweat, blood and tears we are personally willing to put in. Therefore the question becomes what should we do to help ourselves heal?
Reading is always a great start -- I've stayed up a couple of nights reading everything I could find on the NARTH ( www.narth.com ) web sites. Exchanging ideas and experiences with list members has also been immensely valuable. Just knowing that I am not alone and that there are others facing the same issues is comforting. I've come a long way during my 10 months with the group, in terms of having a crisp, lucid and deep understanding of my condition -- What a difference compared to the vague hunches, shame, confusion and isolation I was living with for so many years.
Based on my experience, I strongly encourage others to overcome whatever shyness and shame we may have had about the subject and to discuss specific issues on the group. By doing so, we learn more about ourselves and find others who respond as brothers by both accepting me and understanding my value as a person. What a rewarding and healing experience!
While there are many other things we can do to continue our growth into full masculine maturity, it is my belief that reading and gaining support from others is an important tangible start.
Coming Out Of Lesbianism.
Written By R.E.R.
COOL stands for Coming Out Of Lesbianism. I would like to share with you my COOL story. First of all, Coming Out Of Lesbianism was the coolest choice I ever made. Second of all, Coming Out Of Lesbianism was the smartest choice I ever made. Third of all, Coming Out Of Lesbianism was the healthiest choice I ever made.
Notice that I have used the word 'choice' more than once. Deciding to act as a lesbian was a conscious decision I made. I knew that I really was not gay, but lesbianism seemed like it might be a cool role to play. I became enticed by homosexual images presented by the media. Being gay was gaining popularity. Some of the hippest, artsy, theatrical, vegetarian young people were gay--just my crowd.
Since I was a little girl, boys had crushes on me and I had crushes on boys. However, I was raised in a protective environment; my father looked out for me and made sure that boys didn't take advantage. I was not even allowed to date--even in high school. I wanted to know what I was missing out on, so I decided to rebel. I went off the edge of morality. I decided to date boys, without my father knowing. To this day, I'm sorry that I was not obedient to him.
I was heading downhill on the road of rebellion--without brakes. Getting a tattoo and a piercing did not feel shocking enough, so I chose lesbianism as the ultimate shocker. Besides, lesbianism was something that straight girls were doing, in order to have more 'sex appeal' for the guys. Guys started to talk about how hot it would be to see two girls kiss--and some straight girls [like me] would go that far to please a guy.
In high school, lesbianism was just role-play; a couple of times I had a gay kiss, but not much more. It would feel abnormal and somewhat disturbing; the first gay kiss was kind of like the first time I tried alcohol: just like with drinking, an intoxicating feeling would come over me and lesbianism began to feel like an addiction and a sickness.
I gave up lesbianism because it made me feel sad, empty, unfulfilled, depleted, and very unnatural. However, years later, as a junior in college, after reading piles of lesbianism fiction, I decided to give it another try. In lesbian fiction, same-sex relations seemed so wonderful; in reality, it was nothing but mental confusion.
After a series of heterosexual break-ups, I thought lesbianism would be easier than going through the process of emotional healing, so in my pain, homosexuality, along with alcohol and cigarettes, became my fix. However, that "fix" was a total failure. I used lesbianism as a way to make myself unavailable to men--so they could look, but never touch. I was becoming an ultra-feminist, and believed that males were oppressive, so I foolishly thought that lesbianism would liberate me!
Today I live a healthy life, free from addiction and homosexuality. Of course, even the thought of acting as a lesbian, is an impossibility for me. Just imagine doing something way off color, and out of character; that is what lesbianism is like for a hetero-female. I can not think of one good lesbianhood memory; it would be like trying to find good in addiction or illness. True liberation happened for me through COOL [Coming Out Of Lesbianism].
Knowing How the Fairy Tale Ends
Written By: Don, a Joel 2:25 participant
I had a conversation with a friend today who admitted he was harboring a desire for a gay romantic relationship. I thought a moment and realized that not too long ago I could have said the same.
Maybe a year ago when I was feeling lonely or isolated, I could have imagined the same and felt the draw of such a relationship. But I've learned a few things. I know what "falling in love" with a man feels like. The feelings are real and powerful and it feels good. It is seductive. But I also know what is really going on. Basically, I'm in love with a series of projections, a process in which a person attributes attributes of him or her self to other persons with whom they are in contact, and transferences, a process by which emotions and desires originally associated with one person, such as a parent or sibling, are unconsciously shifted to another person.
This means I'm not really seeing the other person as they truly are. Freud called the things I suppress out of my conscious awareness the subconscious. Jung had a broader definition of the subconscious and called what I suppress my Shadow which is the language we use in almost all men's work from Men at the Cross, The Crucible Project, and Journey into Manhood.
Most of the work we do in men's work is to help men become aware of their shadows and often to change their unconscious beliefs shaped by those shadows. Jung said I am not consciously aware of my Shadow but one way I can gain awareness of it is through my projections: The false personas I project onto others that they may or may not possess.
One of the things same-sex attracted (SSA) men have suppressed and buried in shadow is parts of their own masculinity. Because much of what I'm in love with is a projection of my own masculinity that I have buried at an inaccessible depth, much of my passion is really about a desire to reclaim not the other man's masculinity but my own hidden masculinity that I have projected onto another man.
I have heard homosexuality described as an attempt to cannibalize the masculinity of the other man through sex. What is really going on is an attempt to heal the schism within myself, to reconcile myself with myself and reincorporate back into my personality those parts of me I rejected at a very young age out of an existential fear of annihilation from parental rejection.
I also know that if I were unfortunate enough for a man I fell in love with to undergo the same emotional attachment to me, that eventually, try as I might, reality would have a way of breaking through. I then would be faced with one of two serious problems depending on which of us saw reality first. Either I would be trying to extricate myself from a relationship with a person I suddenly realized I don't know and certainly don't love; or I would be dealing with the heartache of being abandoned by someone who was still carrying my projection of the ideal masculinity I craved. A masculinity I indeed possess but have buried deep in my subconscious.
Because I know these things, I know how the story ends for every serious gay couple. The ones that break up long before the statistical average of 3.5 years and the ones that stay companions and stay household business partners but who will give up the search for true love and have frequent sex outside of the relationship for however long they live together.
Because I know how the story ends, I have decided to live a different story. A more difficult story at times but a different story. At this point my faith and my other commitments are important, but a few years ago I might have sacrificed them all for the romantic fairy tale (no pun intended.) Today, more than my faith and more than my other commitments, it is knowing how the story ends that keeps me on track.
A Letter From the Wife of a Man Struggling With SSA
My name is Rachel. My husband struggles with same-sex attraction (SSA). I’m writing to share my experience in coming to terms with my husband's SSA. Shmuel and I were married for 13 years before he told me about his SSA. One day he came into the house looking nervous and concerned about something. He said, “ There is something I have to tell you”. Then he couldn’t get the words out--he kept hesitating. So being impatient, I said, “ Shmuel, just say it … what is it? you’re gay?“ ... But I was not serious. I just figured if I said something so big, he would have an easier time telling me whatever it was. Well, lo and behold, I wasn’t far from the truth! My first reaction was wow! This is not possible!
Then I looked at him and said, “How could you have lived with such a big secret for such a long time?" I couldn’t understand how he could enjoy life and his family while holding in such a secret. Also, because of my attitude toward secrets, I felt really bad for him. Secrets make me feel anxious and worried. Secrets to me are awful. They take up my whole being. They fill my waking hours and my dreams.
He acknowledged that he kept the secret for too long, that he was ashamed to admit his issues, first to a counsellor at JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality) with whom he had been working to grow out of his homosexuality and then to his therapist who he had secretly been seeing (recommended to him by JONAH). Both apparently strongly counseled that when he felt ready he needed to bring me into the picture and thus become more authentic in his relationship with me as his spouse.
My heart went out to Shmuel, and at the same time I was glad he unburdened himself. I felt bad that he lived with anxiety and unfilled needs, unable to share his deepest pain with anyone, particularly me, until this point in time. I understood it was too shameful for him. Yet I felt bad that he didn't confide in ME, his wife. Didn't he trust me? What did he think I would do if he told me the truth, ask for a divorce?! No way! I take our marriage very seriously. My feeling always was that we can work through whatever comes our way. I believe that we truly are each other's "bashert"(fated soulmate).
Then came phase 2. ANGER. Lots of it. Although I didn’t scream and yell (we generally don’t fight), I was angry inside. And, he knew it. I felt like I was made a fool of for 13 years. But then again what was Shmuel supposed to do? Tell me before we got married? I don’t know that we would have married (only because I think my family would have objected.) I come from an Orthodox Jewish home where community opinion plays a large role in the way my family sees things. The community is generally closed minded and ignorant when it comes to issues such as homosexuality. My family has never had any experience with any relatives or friends being gay. They simply would not know how to deal with it.
That first year that followed Shmuel was in the midst of therapy and we didn’t really discuss the subject too much. I just accepted it, he went to therapy and that was that. However, there came a point where his therapist recommended that I come with Shmuel for a therapy session. I agreed to go for a few reasons. I wanted to meet the therapist to get better answers as to what was happening as well as to enable him as a healer to gain a more complete picture of Shmuel’s life. I also wanted to talk about some of my husband’s issues and understand them better. I wanted to be helpful to my husband's healing process. I also wanted to know how I came into this picture and how our relationship toward each other and our children would be affected by Shmuel's revelation. Shmuel's therapist was incredibly helpful in answering many of my questions and assured me that Shmuel had the capacity not only to overcome his homosexuality but more importantly to alleviate many of his underlying emotional woundings which led him to his homosexuality.
One of the processes recommended by JONAH for men struggling with SSA is for them to attend the New Warriors Training Adventure. For those of you who know men who are unhappy being gay, or question their own internal sense of masculinity, tell them to GO! After the New Warriors weekend is when we started to talk a lot more openly about my husband's struggle with SSA (not to outsiders, only among ourselves). Because he began to internalize some of the lessons of authencity taught by Warriors, he began being more authentic with me about his own emotions and his own feelings. It made our communication about marital issues far easier.
Then there was the Journey into Manhood Weekend (JiM) ( http://www.brothersroad.org), another experiential weekend recommended by JONAH. This weekend enabled Shmuel to become even more open about his feelings and to recognize how his own perceptions about himself and others affected his life. It also gave him a clearer vision of what he needed to do to make the necessary changes to be the kind of man he always wanted to be. In addition, Shmuel expanded his network of men, getting to know many new men who were living with the same struggle as he was..... but, who like him, were determined to grow out of their same sex attractions. An important element of these relationships were that these men accepted him just as he is. It was an extremely affirming experience for him. Again, if you know men who struggle with SSA, tell them that JiM was an incredible experience for my husband (and therefore for me as well).
What helped me most was Shmuel’s newfound willingness to include me in every way possible. Now, of course he needs his privacy.He needs male affirmation which is something I obviously can’t provide for him and which he had lacked for so long. Indeed, that is one of the very causes of his SSA. Nevertheless, he includes me wherever he can. We talk a lot, which is very helpful to both of us. Shmuel is working hard towards change. He could have said, “Forget it. This is too intense for me. Forget my wife’s feelings….Forget family life…”. Instead he chose to work hard on himself for change.
Shmuel and I have developed an interesting practice which helps my husband bond better with other men while simultaneously helping him, me, and SSA men he knows. We invite some of these men to our home for meals, be it weekday or Shabbos. These are men whom Shmuel has met through the network of activities in which the SSA strugglers participate. By my exposure to other men facing similar issues (whether they are single or married), I can better understand my husband's issues. For the men who visit us, I believe their participation in a warm, nurturing family environment helps them as many of them never had such an environment in their youth.
I thank God that Shmuel and I always had a good relationship. I’m at a point where I realize Shmuel loves me, always has, always will, and I feel the same way about him. This is not about me. There really isn’t anything I can do to change the way he feels, only he can do that. What I can do is be supportive. Let him go to his men’s groups without me complaining about the late hours. Truthfully, it's not easy for Shmuel to go out two evenings a week (and sometimes three if he has a therapy session). But he’s doing this for US. I sometimes forget that and must try to always remember that whatever psychological work Shmuel is doing, he is doing for both of us and our family. He is becoming a better and better husband, father, and man.
Yet, there are many conflicting emotions that I have gone through and still go through. It is not easy for me. But, generally, I have a feeling of acceptance and most of all, love, for my husband. I always believed I was there for him but now that I understand the causes of his issues and his occasional distance (I have taken the time to read the literature and educate myself), I am even more supportive. All of us have issues. None of us are perfect. If we are aware of our issues and work together as a team, as G-d intended, then we are living a life which is true to our faith and ourselves.
Best wishes to all you brave men and to your present and future families,
What Happened to the Idea of Brotherly Love?
Written By: Roger
One of the things I rarely talk about is that my same-sex attraction (SSA) was a direct result of my childhood sexual abuse . Having been sexualized by a male, and by my father, I became curious about others of my own sex at a very early age. Now most boys are curious about other boys at some point and that is normal. All boys wonder if they are the same as others; do I look the same, does ‘it’ work the same, etc. Nothing strange or gay about that and all little boys gravitate to their own sex in play and for friendships just like girls. I have seen little 4 and 5 years old boys holding hands and even kissing each other and it is cute, innocent and harmless. Left alone they grow out of it and can become best friends, which is a great thing.
There is a normal desire for what we now refer to as male bonding. Men need the approval, acceptance and yes, even the affection of other men. We need to belong and feel we belong, hence a boy’s natural gravitation to gangs and teams of all kinds especially given the lack of influence and/or presence of a father in our lives. A man’s life can become very unbalanced without other male influence.
The homosexual movement was designed to end the discrimination against homosexuals in our society but has done a great deal of damage, in my opinion, to the idea that two men can become best friends and have an intimate, non-sexual affection for each other. If two such men appear to be close, it is now more often than not assumed there is something sexual going on. The idea of brotherly love has been soiled probably for a long time by this.
Having said that, in my late teens and early twenties I just naturally assumed that when a friend wanted to be more than an acquaintance it meant dropping my pants and I don’t mean emotionally. I lost what probably would have been some really great friends due to my father’s idea of how two males who love each other should behave. I eventually got it but not before I mistakenly thought I was gay and spent a few years trying to live that life. Believe me there was nothing gay or happy about it for me. I was never so uncomfortable with myself - even in my first marriage - and I was pretty uncomfortable in that let me tell you.
I still have a same-sex attraction. I know what it is and where it comes from now. I know it is not the real me and I do not give into any of its desires. I love being married to my wife. We have all the usual adjustments most marrieds have, and more, due to the baggage we both brought to our marriage, but God did not design marriage to make us happy. He designed it to make us holy and I embrace it for the work it has done in both our lives.
God sees me as a man. I am seeing other men as God sees them too.
[Introduction: After "acting out" with another man and regretting his seemingly compulsive action, the author of this piece chose to pray for Heavenly assistance about his actions. After doing so, he penned the following piece about his conflicting emotions which we believe eloquently speaks for many facing similar challenges.]
The dreaded emptiness. The blah silence. The sadness which permeates the inner being. Why is there such a strong yet irrational sex drive that brings unnecessary, meaningless, dangerous, self-destructive behavior?
Empty, meaningless, definitely not life giving, not joyous, especially not after the fact of the committed act.
But the pull is constant. The pull towards nothingness, the pull towards waste, wasting the body, the soul, precious limited time on this earth.
It's clearly spiritual. A pull towards beautiful males, their souls shining through their bodies, the beautiful faces, the movements we see. An intense desire to know, to get to know, closeness, deep, intense connection. How does a desire to know, to unite, translate into a sex drive? How do we end up doing the irrational, the chaotic, the unthinkable, the dark actions of lust gone amuck?
Religious conviction, faith, logic, morality, ethics, all go out the window at the moment of lust. Overcome with a totalitarian, dictatorial desire, the mind shuts off to everything else. Consequences we believe in are mentally discarded.
The act is done. Rationality sets in. Remorse. Repentance. Regret. An aura of sadness. Momentary, temporary, until the next wave of desire sets in. The unquenchable eternal thirst for closeness, connection, fueled by deep attraction. Purple attraction. Erotic attraction. Ever so attached to the unknown spiritual pull towards the attractive, the sexy, the cute, the young, the fit, the hot. And yet, the beauty is clearly not just physical, not just skin deep or muscle deep, or eyes and smile deep.
How to harness this overpowering energy in a useful, productive, joyous, kosher way? How to not turn away to loneliness or to dull relationships and unattractive, boring connections, to lifelessness? How to unplug from the explosive energy that leads to the act that leads to emptiness and nothingness and wasted life? How to pursue the explosive energy without falling into the same pitfalls of sin, leading to blah silence and sadness and nothingness?
How to act wisely, productively, sincerely, righteously? In a world of overwhelming explosive possibilities and opportunities waiting to be had. How do I break free of the addiction, the cycle of repentance and sin, repentance and sin?
Two Testimonials to the Wives of SSA Strugglers
I read your thank you letter to Richard Cohen and I agree with you. My marriage has been the BEST thing that ever happened to me (especially in the last 8 months) as my wife really has become my best friend. She knows me better than anyone else and still loves me - in spite of my weaknesses.
Let me first tell you that we had planned on a divorce. During our time of trial separation this summer (we were heading toward divorce after 10 years of marriage at my SOLE prompting) I swore off women completely! I had had enough of the "other" sex...to say the least. Then, oddly, something happened.
The night I dumped my wife and kids I went immediately into the gay part of Los Angeles and wanted to find some "action". It didn't take long before I found a sex club and got all the action I wanted. Oddly enough, however, I found more than I bargained for.
I stayed in the club that night from 10 PM - 2 AM, both wanting to leave and wanting desperately to stay. I wanted to get out of the "heart of darkness" because I couldn't believe that I actually had been reduced to a sex addict---having sex with nameless men, doing God knows what. . .and for what reason?. . .just an orgasm? I had given up my career, my wife, my friends and my own 3 children all for the gay lifestyle (not to mention my reputation).
However, I also found that I couldn't leave. I couldn't get away from the fact that now, at last, I was free to be as hedonistic as I wanted - without shame - along with many other men who didn't feel any sense of shame either.
You see "W", I became convinced that marriage (to a woman) could never fulfill my deepest needs and longings. I had internalized society's message of sex without restraint. That night, in the sex club, I felt free at last! However, the truth is I was free in a very limited sense: it was the freedom of a man in a prison cell. I had locked myself within my own emotional barriers. Late into that black night, for the first time in years, I felt the presence of G-d in an unmistakable way. In this place of true evil, in the heart of this darkness, I sensed the Lord was presenting me with a choice. A "fork in the road" if you will.
That night, I swear to you, I saw my two little boys (twins at 5 years old) running to me again and again calling out 'daddy' - full of the smiles and laughter that emanates from a deep joy and an innocence that comes from children. In the bottom of my soul G-d was making the reality of my choices clear. I was dumping my sons and my wife for an orgasm.
For all my sweet words and manipulative talk to others about my sexuality ("I'm gay", "I can't help myself", "God made me this way", blah, blah, blah and all kinds of crap like that), I could no longer run from the truth. I was a selfish bastard, an adulterer, who worshipped male bodies (read "penis's") and who used those men to "get off." No more, no less. My version of love was totally narcissistic: "you keep me happy and then I'll love you". I found in the oddest place in the world, the truth --- I had a choice, I could help myself, and I had been lying to myself about being born gay.
Two months later, I went back to my wife and kids to rebuild our marriage from the ground up. I was willing to do ANYTHING to fix me and to reunite us. I went to counseling (and am still going even though it required us to take out a second mortgage on our home), got on medication (Prozac...dang good stuff), opened up to many others about my true struggles, failures and trials....and, most importantly, began talking (read "communicating") with my wife.
I began to be comfortable with who I am: a heterosexual man with a homosexual problem. I work out in the gym and shower with the guys. Instead of running from the good looking ones I used to idolize, I ask them about their workout routines. I no longer fear and envy other men. I no longer sexualize or eroticize attributes of others that I mistakenly thought I did not have within me. I reach out to others now...I call guys a lot to bind with them in a non-sexual way.
My wife and I go to marriage counseling now. There we've grown as a couple. Married sex is still not where either of us would ideally like it to be, but we're trying. I think my wife would tell you that she sees a lot of bedroom "potential" in me that hasn't been realized (funny thing...we have the best, wildest sex, on our vacations, never at home...odd, huh?). We drink an occasional glass of wine together at night, talk a lot on our couch, and have a piece of candy with each other.
Honestly, I love this woman now more than ever. "W", she knows everything about me. She'll even be able to tell you the "type" of men that have historically made me weak in the knees (and, as an aside, none of those men were at the Journey Into Manhood weekend I attended). She can tell you about each of my sexual encounters. She knows it all...and still loves me.
You see "W", you and I are the ones blessed with wives and kids. Blessed because our hopes for healing were answered in "Mrs. Right" who shares not only our bed but our lives as well. We have an emotional connection unlike anything else in this world. At the end of the day I, like you, am one very blessed man.
"W's" answer to Casey Bennett is shown here because it helps us gain insight into the healing processes of men who grow out of same-sex attraction.
I found I could relate to many things in your letter. Before my journey started I was in a deep depression, hated myself for what I was doing, visited bath houses and bars, and had anonymous sex. I longed for sex with men but once having it, immediately felt regret. As I would pass through the exit door of the bath house, I wondered whether I was simultaneously checking out on life. I wanted to serve G-d, but at the same time recognized I could not do so in such unholy places. My behavior spoiled everything, nothing made sense in my life which was a mess of contradictions.
My wife and I were expecting our second child but I could not even talk about spending (un)happy hours in dark rooms with my wife. I knew she suspected something. Although she knew I had this problem before and that I had accidentally struggled with gay porn, she did not have a clue about my promiscuous, secret life. I had an idea to quit my life by taking my passport and fleeing to another country, somewhere not to be found and start a new, anonymous life. Maybe in a kibbutz in Israel? Or just in some outlying rural area, helping village people till their fields. It appears ridiculous to me now, but it was real to me then.
Desperate, I decided to look for a therapist who would help me change. However it appeared hopeless since no one in Poland had ever heard about reparative therapy ... except, of course, the gay activists. They made fun of it. They lied as to how those who choose to confront their emotional wounds through this process would be either emotionally damaged or commit suicide. I almost believed them. I googled through the Internet for any advice on change of sexual orientation that I could find, but instead, found myself drifting onto porn sites. It was then I knew I was an addict. What I found on the web made me fall again ….
My true journey toward healing started when my wife assured me that she was going to stay with me no matter what the past was. Her statement gave me an incredible feeling of safety. Nevertheless, I had to grow in this feeling during the following two weeks. It was only then when I truly internalized her deep abiding love for me that I confided in her and told her all about my past. She knows a lot because I opened myself up to answer any questions she had. She asked more questions than I expected, including questions which required detailed answers.
Some were difficult, because honestly I didn't know the true answers. For the first time I felt comfortable explaining my encounters, secrets, and cheating. It was a liberating experience because I knew she loved me and would walk together with me as a partner. I would not journey alone. In other words, she would be fully with me, just as I would be there for her. I recognized that by creating a true mutuality of relationship, life would be as G-d intended it to be: a true complimentarity of relationship between a man and woman. There is no other person in the whole world who knew as much about me as she. And, no one else could help show me the keys to unlock the doorway of change. After all, it was she who did the Internet research for me and found www.BrothersRoad.org
Link after link we found out how much there was on the Internet that could help us. As I told you in the letter I posted which was written to Richard Cohen, I bought a Polish translation of his book, Coming Out Straight. Reading that book in my native tongue was simply amazing. The book, together with the material I printed off the Brother's Road site, was the first light that helped me navigate the long tunnel of darkness in which I had been wandering. But after getting acquainted with these resources and numerous others (such as material from NARTH and PATH ), I found there was lots of light. I basked in this warm sunlight as I left my self-imposed tunnel of darkness. I felt so happy even though I knew there was a long healing journey of ahead of me.
I read about JIM and I desired to attend! My wife and I applied for green cards to move to the USA. That was how serious my new found journey had become. Not because we loved the USA so much but because there was help available.
God allowed me to attend JIM much earlier than I expected. After two months I was invited to California to participate in the JIM experience. My wife "A" felt strange to know I was going alone to the end of the world, to Los Angeles, one of the gay paradises, and there to meet 30 guys struggling with SSA. But I was not afraid. I knew I had the strength provided to me by G-d and the encouragement provided by my wife -I knew I would not disappoint either.
When I was in LA, I often thanked my wife, mentioned her in my prayers and spoke of her when we stood in a circle. Having a supportive, loving and caring wife is a real blessing. Because of my experiences with my wife and my own tortuous detour through gay flesh pots, I can totally relate to your story. Both of us were fortunate to have wives not only stand by us but to also work with us and become a critical factor in our recovery. G-d bless you, Casey. G-d bless our wives.
The Pendulum of Hope
Written By: R.W.
So I received today an insight
of that which I haven't heard
although with the idea I am familiar
today it was brought through in words.
When you have yourself a pendulum
a small weight upon a string
and you pull it up and watch it fall
you'll see a very simple thing.
That with as much of a force you give
to the pulling back and the drop
is as much as it will rise again
right back up to the top.
So besides that we see a cycle,
when you descend, alas you'll rise
but something else was pointed out
that before I hadn't recognized.
Only someone with the power to go one way
has an equal power to go back
So instead of dwelling on a fall
and all the things I think I lack,
I can recognize how much good I hold
in the positive light of things
and that's what makes the tables turn
and with that the pendulum swings.