Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Elevator Encounter

The elevator doors opened, and in walked a familiar face. He was handsome, fit, and bright. A rugged outdoor-adventure physique clad in suave corporate-fashion good looks. And dimples to accentuate his I’m-so-comfortable-in-my-male-skin smile. I had never fantasized about him sexually, but if I had to pick a man to play around with in my mind, he would top my list.

“Hi! You’re so-and-so… Oh yes, and you are so-and-so…” Handshake. Smiles. And…

In the past, I would have done one of two things: (1) stiffened my posture so that I did not give any hint that I was attracted to him, which usually involved demonizing his maleness in some way in my mind; or (2) inadvertently let out a sign of my not-good-enough male insecurity by cowering into the corner or avoiding looking him in the eyes.

… my eyes stayed on his.

In my heart were successive bursts of thought-palpitations:
  • “Damn. What a good looking guy!”
  • “Gorgeous blue eyes.”
  • “His shirt is open, his chest is hairy and muscular.”
  • “I really like him.”
  • “Am I melting?”
  • “No, I am not melting…”
  • “I am still standing!”
  • “Oh, he is softening.”
  • “Is he sensing my warmth towards him?”
  • “Wow, I am feeling a softness towards him and I am not afraid!”
As I continued to look and smile into his eyes, his face softened even more. It seemed as if a voice within him was whispering, “oh, I am in the presence of another confident man.”

Weather, recent projects, need for a holiday, etc. Surface chatter. But beneath all that, two men were connecting emotionally. And they knew it.

Ground floor. We smiled again and exchanged goodbyes.

More thoughts:
  • “He is a good looking guy.”
  • “I can’t get what I want from him sexually.”
  • “Erm... he is a great looking [read: sexy] guy, but what I want from him is not sex!”
  • “I just like him and want to be his friend.”
  • “And he seems to like me.”
  • “He’s okay.”
  • I am okay!” . . .
  • “What a weird feeling.”
As I walked out of the elevator, I reflected on my experience. How was it possible that I found myself completely un-intimidated by this man?

Then feelings of being loved and affirmed in my relationship with Brother A came to mind. Being naked together; being hugged by him for a long time; being fully loved for who I am in a non-sexual way. These are a few of my favorite things. And in that place of intimate love and acceptance—God’s love for me through Brother A, in the real—is a birthing of a new sense of security in my own masculinity.

And so when I peered into the eyes of my elevator encounter, my eyes were able to tell him: “I am man.” “I like you.” “I am man, just like you.”

And I imagined that his boy-soul within him responded: “You are boy.” “I am boy.” “Let’s play together.”

Yeah. Let’s play together.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

90-Day Fast Broken & Heterosexual Pornography

On Day 23 (April 28) of my 90-day fast, I succumbed to pornography and masturbation. It happened twice, once during the day, and once during the night.

Here's the post-mortem:

I had not had desire to look at porn since meeting Brother A seven weeks ago. I wanted the real-life intimacy Brother A gave me more than the sexual fantasy I conjured through looking at porn of men. And so, there was no desire to look at gay porn.

I allowed myself to have sex with my wife during this 90-day fast. But traveling away from her over these weeks has been tough (I feel for single men). It had been almost 20 days with no sexual release. Brother A suggested over-the-phone sexual intimacy with my wife. It worked out really well. It even made me call her more often, and it improved our relational intimacy.

But yesterday, while doing some analysis on my project, something happened on the internet that led me to wonder about sex. I kept surfing, looking at images. Before long, I was looking at video clips online. My accountability software has been disabled since it was giving me trouble. The fence was down, and after allowing myself to be sexualized through google images, I was numbed to the boundary and walked over it.

The sites I used to frequent no longer excited me. I found gay porn pretty repulsive. Thoughts that came included, "why would men do this to themselves?" I turned to other sites, and began to look at heterosexual porn. Before long, I found myself hooked.

The images, sounds, feelings were just like me being intimate with my wife. A man and a woman having sex together. I thought of me and my wife. I imagined the sexual energy and excitement the couple felt. I longed for it.

And now, I am afraid.

For the past 7 weeks, I did not look at porn because what I used to look at no longer interested me. Now, I have something that does, and I am afraid that I will become hooked to images of men and women having sex.

I was tempted to look at just women alone, but could not bring myself to do it because it felt like it would violate my loyalty to my wife (I know, it's messed-up reasoning, but that's the way it felt). The last thing I want is to allow myself to fully sexualize my feelings for other women -- already, I had a sexual dream about a woman a few nights ago (I've only had one other such dream in my entire life).

I confessed my sins to my wife and my new-found brothers. I confessed and asked for forgiveness from the Lord for my actions. I am seriously concerned now that I have a "heterosexual problem."

I have always used the argument that my SSsA problem is "no different" than a heterosexual man's problem. I need to work on my SS lust as they need to work on their OS lust. But I argued it based on head-knowledge. Now I know it experientially.

Any difference?

I don't know yet. But I feel like I can go to other Christian men and get support more easily. At least it helps me to feel like I can more easily bond with straight guys because we have the same temptations. There is still a sense of shame, but it feels different, a little more... normal?

Oh, I know what it is. The shame doesn't have that "double-whammy" component to it, i.e. the added shame of it being homosexual porn. (I know sin is sin, but it feels harder to confess to other men that the porn I struggle to overcome is homosexual.)

Anyway, this is all so raw, I am still feeling pretty down-in-the-dumps about it all. [And if someone leaves a discouraging comment, I will delete it.]

I will get back into my fast. No better time to repent (in heart and in action) than right away. And I'll decide by the end of the day what to do about internet accountability software.

Today, April 29, begins again Day 1 of my 90-day fast.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fathers and Sons

These videos move me to tears. I wish I could hug my dad like these boys hug their dads. I wish my dad would hug me back and kiss me like these dads do their sons.

The biggest blessing in my life: I can do this with my own son.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Men Holding Hands

ST (my Spiritual Twin) also struggles with SSA, both emotional and sexual. ST and I have never had a sexual relationship with each other.

ST teaches at a college where a lot of foreigners come to study English. In response to my telling him about how wonderful it is to hold hands with Brother A, he told me that male students--from Saudi Arabia, India, Burma, Africa--would sometimes hold hands with each other in class.

"They would take each others hands, admire innocently, touch and caress the hands..."

My eyebrows raised.

"I'd jokingly say, 'Hey, no touching hands during my class,' and they would reply, 'don't worry, professor, we're not gay.'"

I wondered about that.

"No, they really are not gay. These guys hold hands out of friendship, and it's not about being sexual!"

I want to be like them.

There is an article online entitled Hold Another Man's Hand by Patrick Repp, a married heterosexual therapist. I love these lines of his:

I want to be understood, especially by other men. I want to tell my story and have it matter to someone. Marlboro man be damned, I don't want to grieve my failures alone. I want permission to cry with another man without having to go to therapy to get it. I want those things to be socially sanctioned.

Sexual Intimacy Over The Phone

Brother A suggested that being sexual with one's wife over the phone is a good thing. He added that for him, it is a way to connect with his wife.

It was awkward at first. We'd never done anything like that before.

In the end, it worked out.

And it was sweet.

Very sweet.

Not the same as solo masturbation at all.

Not even close.

It's all in the connecting.


Brother A comes through again.

His love for me deepens my love for my wife.

More on Defensive Detachment

A man of my people
Elected to the council
Saying a prayer over us

Why do I reject you?

You are not a ghost from my past
I don't even know you
And yet I've demonized you

I accept you

My heart turns soft and vulnerable
Your words of blessing come alive
I am isolated no more

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Overcoming The Urge To Sexualize My Anxiety

Deadlines create anxiety for me: the fear of failure, I am not good enough. I medicate those feelings through sex. For me that has meant pornography and masturbation. I wrestled strongly with this anxiety over my deadlines as well as the urge to masturbate yesterday and today. And I've experienced victory.

Factors contributing to my victory today:

  • Chatting with a fellow SSsA-struggler online
  • Making the resolve to stick to my 90-day fast
  • Being open and vulnerable here on my blog even if I can't do so in person with trusted Brothers
  • Going to a public place to work, where I can see people and don't feel so lonely
  • Giving myself short doable goals (short increments of paced-out work) so that I am not overwhelmed by the enormity of the task at hand
  • Reminding myself that my anxious feelings and my genital aches (from having no sexual release of any kind for over 2 weeks) don't have to be associated
  • Giving myself a break after a good chunk of many "short doable goals" accomplished -- like blogging now

I noticed that my sense of accomplishment has increased, and I am looking forward to continuing to work on my tasks. The desire to sexually medicate my anxiety is over. I still have the genital ache from no sexual release, but it's more physiological than emotional. I'll likely have a wet-dream one of these days, and that will take care of it. God's made my body to cope with the physiological needs that way.

I also noticed that I have been scanning women and thinking of them sexually--their beautiful bodies like delicious desserts. I wondered what was going on with my sexual attraction to men, and so I "tested" it. I found that it took about 10 seconds of "mental work" (i.e. forcing myself to look at and think of a man sexually) before any sexual arousal would emerge. And even after that, I felt a little grossed out at myself for doing it. With the women, it was pretty much automatic, and if I weren't Christian or married, I think I might have pursued a couple and propositioned them for sex. Oh man, here comes another beautiful one...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Feeling Weak

I am feeling tired.

I am feeling worn out emotionally from processing about my real-life elder brother (see previous post).

I am feeling stressed that I am not getting enough done on my work deadlines.


I am thinking that I should go onto the internet to look at porn. Maybe straight porn--women--and masturbate to these images. Maybe gay porn--have a look, "test" out my healing.

I've been there before though. The dog that returns to its vomit [link]... And yeah, didn't I commit to 90-day fast from porn and masturbation? [link]

Here's what I wanted to do:

  • Worship
  • Connect with guys from the Facebook group
  • Call Brother A to talk to him
Here's what I did:
  • Listened to a friend's wife sing a beautiful worship song several times over [link]
  • Hung around Facebook -- no one was around to chat
  • Emailed Brother A to say I'd like to talk to him -- he did not respond
Not being able to connect with others, I did the following:
  • Read the People Can Change (PCC) website [link]
  • Registered to join the PCC online support group [link]
  • Read and commented on the PCC blog [link]
  • Write this blog post

I am desperately trying not to isolate myself when I am feeling this way. I hope the PCC support group will be helpful. I hope Brother A will have some open time to talk with me.

Right now, I'm tired enough that I can go to sleep. And thankfully, able to say: Today, Friday April 24 is Day 19, no porn, no masturbation.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Brother The Abuser -- New Reflections

My real life Elder-brother abused me, physically and emotionally.

When I was two or three, at my grandfather's funeral, he pushed me from the back for no reason, and I fell hurting myself.

He was in every single birthday portrait of mine since birth, because he insisted. I was not in any of his.

I could not sit next to him in the car because, God forbid, if the car should turn a corner and my leg or arm bumped into his, it would be reason enough for him to hit me.

He called me girlie, fat, ugly, useless pig. Usually it was a series of different adjectives strung together. And he would laugh--a mocking hackling laughter--and get others around to join in  mockery.

He was older, faster, stronger, and a lot better groomed than I was. When we had physical fights--at least one big one a week--I was usually more hurt than he was.

- - - 

I am trying to spend more time with aging Mother. I believe the Lord whispered in my heart that her time is short. Maybe another year or two.

At breakfast, we talked about her health. Pretty healthy all in, except for her mildly elevated cholesterol level. Then she told me that she had her uterus removed when my real life Younger-brother was born.

"I remember," I said, "you were on bed-rest after Younger-brother was born."  I remembered the green fold-up cot that she rested on for a while after the birth.

"Oh," she remarked, "that was the doing of Elder-brother," she smiled with a twinkle in her eyes.

"He would come home from school every day, asked if I needed to pee, put a pan beneath me--saw my vagina and all--then empty it, turn on the TV, and watched it for the rest of the afternoon."

"Did you ask him to do it?" I asked.

"No, it was all his own doing," she reminisced.

"I guess he must have been around..."

"Ten years old," she said.

Mother's eyes started to cloud over as memories of Elder-brother's death must have flooded her mind. Mother hardly ever cries. But after what she told me today, I am beginning to understand why the face of this even-keeled woman would still contort with sadness after six years of her son's death: He was a very special, caring boy.

- - - 

And so it turns out that my brother the abuser was also an amazingly loving son to his mother. At age 10, on his own volition and initiative, he physically cared for his ill mother in a way that is so atypical of boys.

So why was he so incredibly abusive to me? And what would my life have looked like today if he were caring to me in the same way he was to our mother?

At his funeral, Elder-sister-in-law shared with me that Elder-brother had told her that he was sorry for all the things he had done to me. I was only partially able to receive the "apology." However, today's talk with Mother opens up yet another space of forgiveness for Elder-brother.

For all the evil acts that Elder-brother had heaped on me as a child, I can now see him as a loving person. I don't know what happened in the family system to have caused him to scapegoat me. Maybe it was his jealousy over how close I was to Mother as a child; maybe it was his constant migranes and undiagnosed ADHD or Turrets; maybe it was his insecurity over how smart people said I was. Whatever it was, Elder-brother was a loving child, and if I had been the parent, I would have cared for him and loved him in such a way that he would never have been abusive towards his younger brother, me.

- - -

Dear Elder-brother,

I know that you did not understand what you were doing. I forgive you now. I forgive you fully. God has given me another Brother (Brother A) to provide for me the kind of love that you were not able to give me. I am in a good place now.

And I know, one day, we will meet again in Heaven, face-to-face. I am looking forward to that day. For now, I will watch over your children, as well as I can, and give them the kind of love that I am sure you would have wanted to give them.

I love you now. I really do. From the bottom of my heart.

New brother K

Brother K has SSA and is younger than me. [I use caps to denote if a brother is younger (b) or older (B) than me.]

I love brother K like I love my own brother, like I love my own son, like I love my own "boy-soul" within me that is fast growing up.  

When I think of brother K, I get an aching in my heart.  I long to see him come to experience God's full healing in his life, to the point where he no longer seeks out men in a sexual way to find the male-love he so needs and deserves.

Brother K feels things for me that I have felt for Brother A.  It's uncanny to me how similar they are.  Brother K wants to be hugged, loved, and cherished by me--just the way that I have wanted to be hugged, loved, and cherished by Brother A.  Brother K wants wants me to hold his hand, like a father to a son--just the way Brother A's hand turned into my father's hand when he held mine.

I was struck when brother K said that it would break his heart if the intimacy between him and I turned sexual. I said the same thing to Brother A just a few days ago! Only I was a lot more dramatic about it: "I'd kill myself if our relationship ever became sexual."  (Brother A assured me that he could be trusted.)

I understand brother K. This is not a platitude. I really, really understand brother K. And I love him. Like Brother A loves me.

I wonder. How many of us men with SSA struggles are longing for such deep non-sexual male-to-male intimacy? Half? Three-quarters? All?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Update: 90-day Fast

Today, Wed April 22, 2009 is Day 17 -- no porn, no masturbation. [Link]

Continuing to have little to no desire to look at or think of men sexually, and absolutely zero desire to look at gay porn.

Women continue to be increasingly more beautiful and attractive.

Need to begin more regular quiet time. Loving God more with each passing day. He is so amazing!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Summary Reflections #1 (Dec 08 - April 09) -- Part 2

[ .../ continued from Part 1 ]

4. God’s Love “In The Real”

I can’t remember exactly what we were doing at the time, but twice when I was with Brother A, I asked the Lord if there was a purpose for me in meeting him in person. I had a strong impression in my heart that God wanted to or was going to show me His love “in the real.” The words “in the real” were so clear I could almost hear them with my ears.

God’s love? In the real? What does that mean?

I love Jesus. I had seen first hand God’s power demonstrated through miracles. I had learned how to enter into God’s presence through prayer and worship and let His Fatherly love fill my soul. But it never crossed my mind, not even once, that God might want to bring that awesome love and power to me in the real through an actual human being. And I certainly never imagined just how incredibly captivating and intoxicating God’s Fatherly love would be when expressed through a real person. Loving a gentle yet strong and mature God-loving man like Brother A--who loves me back deeply--has been like falling in love with Jesus. It is turning my life around in ways I never imagined possible.

5. Defensive Detachment

The more I fell in love with Brother A, the more I became deathly afraid of losing him. To protect myself, I began to defensively detach from him: breaking off the relationship first to avoid the pain of having him break it off with me. I did it in subtle ways, convincing myself each time that the decision was rational and noble [post, post].

Thankfully, Brother A had read about defensive detachment [post] and recognized it when it was happening with me. Each time I pulled away, he moved closer towards me. I kept doubting and questioning his love for me. Why me? What did I do to deserve this amazing love? Intensely engaged yet respectfully gentle, he convinced me again and again that his love for me was real. He did not give up pursuing me. And the more he pursued, the more I began to trust.

To this day, I still struggle with the fear that Brother A might leave me at any time despite all the evidence pointing to the contrary. But I know that the fear comes from the insecure boy-soul in me, desperate to be loved by a father like Brother A, and still recovering from the decades of verbal, physical, and emotional abuse suffered under the hands of significant men in my life.

6. Fear of Men vs. Love of Men

God’s love in the real through Brother A is giving me enough self-worth to admit something I have always denied: I fear masculine men because I don’t feel masculine enough in myself. This makes a great deal of sense because I have ever only been really attracted to men whom I feel have masculine characteristics that I don’t have. I see it now more clearly than ever before: for all these years, I have been “homosexualizing” my desire for masculinity. And I am beginning to realize now that I don’t need to do that!

Brother A’s deep, genuine love for me seems to be repairing my fear of and lust for masculine men. I found myself going to the gym and seeing “boys” everywhere. When I saw a guy who was sexually attractive to me, I looked at his face and saw the “boy” behind the masculine intimidating-thus-sexually-attractive figure. Immediately, the attraction was gone! [post]

I still get flashes of sexual attraction to guys from time to time. But now, instead of lusting after them in some unrealistic fantasy, or white-knuckling the sexual feelings, I do the following:

  1. I accept and embrace my masculine insecurities in the same way Brother A accepts and embraces me
  2. I perceive the men’s masculine qualities to be a God-given gift that I also want
  3. I admit that I want to draw close to them and be like them
  4. I imagine them connecting with me and opening up to me (which I am finding happens a lot when I don’t push them away)
  5. And I immediately recognize that they are just “one of the boys” like me

Each time I have gone through the steps above, the sexual attraction leaves, replaced by an attraction that is non-sexually relational. This non-sexually relational attraction causes me to want to hang out and talk with these men, drink beers, play sports, laugh, and just be one of the guys and enjoy being together. And I have no desire to have sex or be sexual with them in any way.

7. Potentiating Heterosexuality

Probably one of the most surprising and least understood processes that I am experiencing is my sudden attraction to women. I see beautiful and gorgeous women everywhere! I used to be somewhat attracted to beautiful Bollywood actresses (their Aryan features combined with their Asian softness was a perfect blend for me) but generally, women did not do much for me sexually.

But now, I find all kinds of women attractive—even the loud, brash ones. I am seeing them in a whole new light. I want to say nice things about them and see them smile and blush under the power of my manliness. It is not so much a desire to toy with them, but rather I sense that they need to be cared for, especially the ones that look like they could really use a little bit of loving attention.

The sexy-looking ones, however, is another story altogether. I feel a strong lust towards. I just want to rip off their clothes and devour their gorgeous bodies. I imagine them moaning with pleasure under my touch, and… okay, that’s going too far. Yes, I am objectifying them. It’s something that men struggle with, okay?

Did I just write that?

Yes, I did. Dang!

8. What’s Next?

I really don’t know what’s next. I never expected to experience all the change that I started to experience since meeting Brother A. I don’t know how deep or how long-lasting this change will be. I just want to be like soft, vulnerable clay, pliable and moldable in God’s good hands. If the homosexuality returns with full force, so be it. If it goes away completely, hallelujah!

As far as I am aware, a part of me still grieves the loss of my old pattern [post]. It’s comfortable; I know it well. Sure I love this new me [post], but it’s very new and I’m not used to “wearing” it. Feelings of insecurity still come from time to time and beckon me to masturbate to fantasies of masculine men even though I no longer find that compelling. And because it is no longer compelling, I can avoid it easily. I only need to sit with this feeling of loss, which in itself is not very comfortable.

A part of me tells me that I should start masturbating to fantasies of women, especially on my work trips away from my wife. If only I were 13 again and had 5 years to experiment with my newfound masculinity, I would let my hormones go wild. Well, I can celebrate at least that sex with the wife is simply amazing. I am so glad I am married. I don’t know what I’d do if I were to experience all of this as a single man.

Lastly, the boy-soul who longs for father-intimacy is still there, albeit growing incredibly quickly. I worry that the growth might be too quick. Thank God I still have Brother A… and brother B [post], and Brother M [post], and now a host of SSA brothers that I’ve recently connected with [post]. With intimate community support, maybe this change can take place for real and for good.

And so, I journey on. I hope the next four-five weeks won’t be quite as intense as the past four-five weeks because I am exhausted from all this change and processing. As much as this is one of the most exciting things that is happening to me in my life, I need a break.

[End of Summary Reflections #1]

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An Exclamation (a.k.a. An Emerging Masculinity)

I just need to let this out: I LOVE BROTHER A!!!!

I think I have developed an "addiction" to non-sexual male intimacy and have lost my addiction to gay pornography.

Key words: non-sexual, male, intimacy.

I want deep relating with men.  It makes me feel so good and complete as a man. And in turn, a new gentle and attractive masculinity that I have never before experienced in myself seems to be emerging.  A masculinity that melts the hearts of men, yes, even straight men (and I'm avoiding women like crazy because I know they'll flock to me in no time -- my wife can't keep her hands off me)! It's so friggin' attractive! XD

[Don't flog me for being proud or boastful, I write it as I experience it.]

I love the new me I am experiencing, praise God, and thanks to my amazing Brother A!

p.s. Part 2 to Summary Reflections #1 to come when I have some time this week. I printed out Part 1 for my wife to read, and she absolutely loved it. Thinks I should write a book. [o . O]

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Summary Reflections #1 (Dec 08 - April 09) -- Part 1

Exactly four weeks ago today (Sat., March 14, 2009) things took a major turn for me in my journey towards sexual wholeness. This is a summary what has taken place so far.

1. A New Accountability Partner

I have known Brother A for more than a year, but because we live in different cities, we only interacted online, and infrequently. Last November, I started to have serious difficulty staying off pornography and masturbation. My accountability partners allowed me to slip through for many weeks. (I think they were sinning too since they avoided asking me the hard questions.) In desperation, I sought out Brother A for additional accountability, and I started this blog to process my walk. Brother A did a fantastic job of keeping me accountable, and my relationship with him started to change how I felt about myself.

The best part about my interaction with Brother A was when he talked to me in detail about the things that turned him on as a man! I was like a pubescent boy listening to a man tell him everything he'd want to know about the world of grown men! The impact was not just in what Brother A said, but the way he interacted with me about it.

Because I sent an accountability sheet to him every week, Brother A was privy to all of my secret homosexual sins. Despite knowing my failures, he accepted me and loved me--he would tell me so. He also started to talk with me about his own sexual turn-ons in open detail. I was able to get into the mind of a straight man and figure out how it worked. Because he was so open with me about sexuality, I started to feel like "one of the guys."

2. Meeting Brother A

A business trip took me through Brother A's city last month, and so he invited me to spend the weekend with him and his family. Exactly four weeks ago, I met Brother A in person for the first time.

We went to the gym together (he was not worried about being nude with me even though he knew that I struggled), he gave me massages (not in the nude!), I got to see how gentle and loving he was with his own son (hugging and kissing his 15 year old), and we enjoyed a great worship time together at church.

We also talked a lot. It wasn't just surface chatting; it was real, deep, and intimate. He related to me at the very edges of acceptability without crossing the boundaries. For example, when we were both nude in the public showers, we talked about having oral sex with our wives! I had never in my entire life felt so accepted as a man in my sexuality. And the fact that I was talking sex with a Christian man I respected was even more freeing.

It became evident by the end of the weekend that Brother A truly and genuinely liked me and loved me. Wow... an older, handsome, muscular, straight man who is deep, sensitive, and intelligent loves me! This is how I knew for sure:

Before we parted, I admitted to him that I had sexual feelings for him. I avoided looking at him when I told him, and I expected him to put an end to our relationship. Instead, he moved closer towards me--his body touching mine--and looked straight at me with the softest, most loving eyes. Then he told me that he loved me even more now, and that he wished he could give me a big, huge bear hug.


After that, I fell head-over-hells in love with Brother A. (Can you blame me?)

3. Deep Non-Sexual Male Intimacy

The first week after I left Brother A, I obsessed about him. I thought about him constantly. Each time I did, I would get this warm, achey feeling in my chest accompanied with a mild erection. Brother A had told me that he also sometimes felt this way, with women and with men, but for him it was a "sensual response of the body" and not sexual.

Because of my personal resolve to never fantasize about people with whom I have a real-life relationship, I did not allow myself to masturbate to thoughts of Brother A. It was really hard to do. To make things even more difficult, Brother A kept heaping his puppy-eyed, muscle-clad love on me over internet communication. I was forced to keep receiving all of his intoxicating emotional manlove without once being able to sexualize it. It was a nightmare in heaven! [post]

Five days after I left Brother A, I realized that I had not once thought about men sexually or had an instance of wanting to look at pornography [post]. I had not masturbated for over a week, and it didn't bother me in the least bit. It was then that I came to realize that what I really needed from men was not sexual intimacy but relational intimacy [post]. And that was when I started to believe--truly believe--that my SSsA has its roots in a deficit of male attachments [post].

[End of Part 1.]

Friday, April 10, 2009

Crying and Masculinity

There is outward masculinity and there is inward masculinity. When I put on outward masculinity without a fully developed sense of inner masculinity, I am only pretending to be a man.

One sign of masculinity I learned as a boy is to be able to withhold from crying.

Question: How do you make a sensitive, highly relational boy not cry?

Answer: Tell him that what he feels at the very core of who he is makes him a useless homo.

In other words, crush and destroy who he really is so that a more masculine and socially-acceptable boy can magically take over.

Today I feel like crying.

It goes against everything I've been conditioned to believe and value. "Boys don't cry" is a shell I have worn for ages. And I've worn it (and other such "masculine attributes") so well that people have trouble believing that I truly struggle with same-sex attraction.

Buyer beware: Empty masculine shell is hollow on the inside and prone to masturbate to sexualized images of other men.

"Boys don't cry?"

That's bullshit. Another piece of bullshit that led me to sexualize my deep need to emotionally relate and feel safe with other men.

Today I cry...

  • for Brother A because I see him struggling under his stresses and past hurts.
  • for me because I have to be strong for Brother A when I need him so much to be strong for me.
  • with relief, realizing that there is this part of me strong enough for even a man like Brother A to feel safe to lean on.
  • for all the other SSA men who have sought me out as a source of strength and support.
  • remembering that many straight masculine men come to me in real life and cry before me in the safety and confidentiality of my office.

Today, I cry that my boy-soul is finally recognizing that he is one and the same with this strong man on whom so many other men lean.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Healing Potential Through Male Intimacy

Had a good chat with someone who has experienced healing in SSA and works in SSA-ministry as a professional. I probed him about the role of male intimacy, and he agreed that it was a key healing factor for him.

Jeff over at wrote about male intimacy -- a worthy read, and some excellent comments as well.

Haydos over at Giraffe Pen seems to also be experiencing something similar.  

In my conversation with this SSA-ministry professional, he also talked about his heterosexuality being potentiated without him trying to force it.  The attraction to women just came to him out of the blue one day, after some time of receiving unsexualized fatherly-love from another man.  He relayed that it was a really weird experience for him when it came -- like experiencing adolescence for the first time, but way past the teens years.  His description sounded just like what I have been experiencing over the past 4 weeks (which still kind of freaks me out--I now have to work at keeping my eyes off women, and not be scared of the change and run back to my vomit).  

There is something here really worthy of being researched: non-sexual male-intimacy as a key factor in healing SSA.

Is this where You are leading me, Lord? 

90-Day Fast from Porn & Masturbation

I was recently invited to join a Facebook group for men dealing with SSA. One of the topics is fasting from porn and masturbation. I decided to join. This is part of what I wrote on the topic:

Today (April 7) is Day 2.

One of the things that I have found challenging in counting abstinence days is the demotivation that comes from falling over and over again. I'd like to encourage us not to give up, and point us to John Piper's excellent article on this entitled "Gutsy Guilt: Don't Let Shame Over Sexual Sin Destroy You" [link]

I am doing this not so much to rack up "day-points," but for the discipline. I am focusing not so much on the number of times I fall, but the changes in the number of days between each fall over time. I have found that the periods of abstinence increases with time, practice, and accountability. The fruit is not so much the number of days abstinent, but the refining of my heart, the renewal of my mind, and the purifying of my relationships. And I want to allow each fall to draw me closer into holy relationship with God and with my fellow brothers.

In additional to personal experience, I like to integrate science and social science with good theology (i.e. not surfacey, literalist approaches to understanding Scripture) to inform my growth into manhood. So I really appreciated reading one of the comments on the Facebook page that talked about emerging evidence from neuroscience research that ∆FosB, a neuropetide associated with stress and reward, is believed to act as a molecular "switch" that maintains addictive behavior (including masturbation and orgasm).

The commenter wrote: "The scary thing is that once ∆FosB is released in the brain, it stays there for AT LEAST A MONTH OR TWO after withdrawal before breaking down. So there's a neurochemical basis for this 90 day thing, or at least a 30 - 60 day fast. It takes at least that long to even begin working on 'breaking the habit' with something of a clean slate."

I am looking forward blogging more about my progress here, under the label: "90-day fast."

Today, April 8, is Day 3.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Like a dog that returns to its vomit...

I fell on Sunday night. The computer people took off my accountability software as it was giving me problems. So on Sunday night, when I had some time alone, I decided to "check out my healing" by looking at porn.

The first time I did it, I noticed that I no longer had a sexual attraction to my usual stuff. In fact, seeing a "straight guy seduced" felt completely wrong to me at a visceral level. I turned to look at the heterosexual porn and found myself identifying with the guy, and enjoying the beauty of the woman. It aroused me greatly.

After confessing to wife what I did and praying for forgiveness together, we were able to make passionate love. I was completely present.

I had trouble sleeping. So in the middle of the night, I got up, and went back to the porn.

I think deep down, I was grieving the change.  Masturbating to male porn had been my friend for so many years.  It had offered me safety, relieve, and comfort (not to mention all kinds of feel-good chemicals in my brain).  But now, the attraction was gone.  At some level, I was grieving the loss and wanted the attraction back.

Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly. (Prov. 26:11)

The fool doesn't think he is being foolish; he repeats his folly because that's what he is used to doing.  He has not learned new, adaptive behavior.  Trouble is, there are snares and there is real Enemy.  So the fool, if he is not careful, may lose his life because of his folly.

(Okay, back to the porn.)

At first I could not find what used to be there for me.  No attraction to this.  No attraction to that.  But I would not stop.  I kept on looking.  Then all of a sudden, there it was: two men in a most intimate loving posture, and it was sexual.


I fell.

It wasn't just a behavioral fall, like a quickie to relieve tension.  I really, really wanted to be with those guys.  It was a deep emotional and sexual longing.  And the desire lingered even to the next morning.

I looked for my vomit, found it, and the Enemy made sure that it got shoved all the way back down my throat.

- - - 

Brother A came to the rescue today.  I told him everything.  

At first, I didn't want to tell him.  It was as if my sexualizing of male-intimacy was a most serious affront to the holy love that we have for each other.  

When Brother A embraced me and forgave me (in Jesus' name), and reassured his love for me, it was as if Jesus himself embraced and forgave me and reassured me of his love.  It took a while for me to be able to accept it.  I was feeling deeply ashamed.  After some time of talking, shame finally turned into humble acceptance of forgiveness.

I don't want to go back to my vomit, ever again.  I've learned my lesson.  May God, in His grace, not take away the change that He has allowed me to experience over the past three weeks.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

"Hello" To Other Christian SSA Bloggers

I've been spending my extra hours scouring through the blogosphere for Christians writing about their SSA struggles.

I never realized there were so many active blogs!

Although my search is far from exhaustive, I already have TEN bookmarks of Christian SSA bloggers that I will be visiting... in Blogger, Xanga, and Wordpress.  And it looks like these folks are spread around the world, not just in the U.S.  There is even a personal coach who has a specific outreach to people with SSA.


I have only been to one SSA support group, and my contact with people who struggle with SSA is extremely limited.  So, I hope to build up a network and gradually get to know people, for the purposes of mutual edification.

If I left a comment on your site and you're visiting, a warm "Hello!" to you.  Although I am anonymous, know that I am a pretty decent guy, a married man with kids, an educated professional, and you'd probably never suspect that I struggle with SSA if you met me in real life. (Yeah, we all say that don't we?)

I'm doing this revealing-myself thing slowly: one step at a time as the Spirit leads me.  If you follow my blog over time, you'll probably get to know A LOT more about me than most people will.  I intend to keep writing authentically here, for my own processing, and for the sake of others who are looking for healing.

Do feel free to drop me a comment.  I'd be glad to get to know you.


Friday, April 3, 2009

A Long Post on Brother M

Brother M is one of my accountability partners. He tends to "M"eander when he talks. Likes to meander to conversations about "stuff" (home repairs, taxes, etc.) and also theology and evangelism. If what you are talking about sparks off some distant experience of his, Brother M might meander there and talk about that for 5 minutes, leaving you all confused as to what he is going on about. But if you wait long enough, he'll come back to the topic at hand with a little new insight he's drawn by connecting the original topic to his other distant experience. Only, you'd have to wait and listen to the whole thing before the connection is made and articulated.

I love Brother M. I sought him out one day at church three years ago and "forced myself" upon him. Said that I wanted to talk to him, get to know him, and have breakfast with him. After some time over breakfast [read: after some time of meandering around topics], he said "I get this feeling that there is something else you wanted to talk to me about." That was when I spilled the beans about my same-sex attraction.

His response?

He said that he was deeply moved by my honesty, and that he had had another experience from way back (no, he was not meandering that time) with a roommate at Bible College who confided in him that he was sexually attracted to him. Apparently that friend fully turned over to the gay lifestyle. He prayed for me, and I think he even patted me on the shoulder.

Over the past 5 months, I had been disappointed with Brother M. When I started this blog, I told him about it. But he lost the URL. I sent it to him again. Today, when I confronted him about it, he apologized for not following up on my blog.

We talked this morning, Brother M and I.  I shared with him about the changes that I've been going through since meeting Brother A. I also told him that I am connecting well with Brother B. "Both of them," I said, "are men who are emotionally intense and they don't give up." I explained to him what I am learning about defensive detachment. I explained to him that I get critical and intellectual when I am in the presence of other men, but that it is a shield of self-protection. I explained that I am now learning how to be vulnerable with men: to admit that I feel inadequate, to admit that I feel less-than as a man, and to admit that I really long for deep, intimate emotional connection with men.

In our prayer together this morning, I asked God to guide me as to my relationship with him. If it grows deeper, that I would be vulnerable and continue to risk putting my heart out there, but if it doesn't, then to just accept the friendship for what it is.

Before we parted, I told Brother M that I would let him pursue me now. After clarifying a bit more, he said that perhaps after he returns from his trip overseas we could meet up again (which would make it mid-May.) This was after our conversation in which I said--extremely vulnerably--that I wish I could just call him up on the phone when I was feeling weak or drop by and hang out at his house like a brother. This is a man whom I had been meeting up with regularly for over 3 years, and our families play together often. This is a man who knows everything about me. He could not even suggest that I could email, or call, or connect for a few minutes a couple of times a week.

Again, I was disappointed with him.

But here is the most amazing thing. Despite my disappointment, I did not feel hurt. Brother M is who he is. He does love me. He even said so this morning. But Brother M is typically guy. He likes "stuff" (home repairs, taxes, cars, bikes) and he's not exactly adroit in the realm of intimate relations, esp. between men. That's okay. I'll let my feelings sit for a couple of days. Then, I might decide to let it be, or to let go of my defensive detachment and pursue him. I know he would never turn me away. He really does love me. And he always thanks God for our time spent together, genuinely appreciating "learning new things" from our interactions.

I have never "pursued" a man in this way before. This would be a first. And I think it would be an act arising out of a place of healing.

Side note on male intimacy and sexual arousal [previous post here]: Brother M told me that he has had occasions too in the past when feelings of intimacy with another man would have led him to sexual (or sensual) arousal had he allowed it to continue. Brother M is straight as a log and has trouble keeping his mind off women.

More Shifts Towards Masculinity

Here are two major shifts I noticed in my growth into manhood.


I usually start to gawk more at men after I've sinned through masturbation/fantasy/porn.  Today, my eyes scanned a few good-looking men shortly after I masturbated.  


Unless I knew that they were able to connect emotionally with me, I had no interest in them sexually no matter how good looking they were.

Then as I was driving, I saw a very manly looking guy in a car with a girl next to him.  I admired his manliness and allowed myself to let the admiration stay without judging it.  

When I arrived home, I got out of the car and noticed that I was walking with a very male stance (attitude).  I caught myself doing that and then realized that I was feeling very manly without even trying to be.

Rather than to feel lacking as a man when compared to that guy in the car, I internalized the manliness as my own.


I am less and less able to be "best friend" with my wife.  However, she tells me that she is loving me more than ever before.  So, how does that make sense?

  • I have been doing a lot more fathering around the house (fathering is a man thing.)  I am the initiator and keeper of family devotions (another man thing), and I also do the cooking to relieve her of her stresses (another man thing -- to care by doing physical work).
  • I am gentle with her when we make love.  I make sure she feels warm and comfortable, I give her sensuous massages.  Sometimes, I just tell her that I really want her and I devour her emotionally and sexually.  When I have an orgasm, I am 100% present with her--no fantasies.  It's all about me wanting her.  She knows she is loved and wanted, and she tells me that she has never felt so beautiful on the inside.  (I guess these are all man things too.)

What's sort of "negative" is that I've become a lot less bestfriend-like (maybe girlfriend like even) with her.  I don't really want to tell her what's going on with my intimate relationships with my brothers.  Yes, she knows about it in general, and she knows that it's a good thing.  But I don't feel like I want to or even need to share with her the details.  I feel like it's really something between men.

On the outside, I imagine I might appear like the strong, silent type.  But inside, I am just content with her as who she is--my wife, my woman, the mother of my children--and at the same time, thinking a lot about how much I miss hanging out or talking to my brothers.

Is the above a manthing too?  Is this similar to typical guys who don't talk much with their women, but think about spending time hanging out with the guys?  Cause I do think about playing basketball with Brother B quite a bit.

  • Oh, and tonight, after dinner, I held her hand, walked her towards the car, and opened the passenger seat for her before I opened my own door.  It felt like the most natural thing to do: protect your woman -- she is soft and beautiful, treat her so.  Then she suddenly remarked, "you've NEVER ever done that before!"

- - - 

I think I am becoming less and less afraid of being a man.

Hand me a basketball.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Being Authentic As A Path To Healing

I need to be authentic on this blog.  I need to say what I really feel.  Honesty and authenticity is the only way I can move forward. 

Even in my deepest vulnerability and desperation, I don't want pity.  Nor the embarrassed reaction of an onlooker trying to cover up my naked shame.  

In reaching out with my bloodied hand, I am waiting for only the hand of the scarred healer to  reach back in full authenticity.

The raw nakedness will now be shown.  Parts still raw and bleeding, parts healing.  I'm telling it like it is.

I've masturbated twice in the past two weeks (the second one was today, an hour after I made my last post).  Both times, it was from fantasizing about being sexual with a straight man.  

The first time, I was drawn into sexual arousal from reading about a gay man becoming intimate with his straight friend and eventually "seducing" him to have sex.  The second time, I was desperate with a sense of anxiety over work, and I found a picture of a good-looking man (just some regular Joe, really, and fully clothed) and imagined being sexually intimate with him.

Both times, I was moved to masturbate out of a desire to be intimate with a straight man in a most vulnerable state.  These men don't even have to be naked for me to be turned on.  It's the fantasy of intimacy that is arousing, not the physiological sexuality.  I need to get this really, really clear in my mind, and not forget.

And yet...

I still feel more male than ever.  And I am not making it up.

I'll write about that in the next post.

Isolation Is Not Good For Healing

I am feeling a sense of withdrawal.  In the past, it would have been clear what I wanted: to go look at porn of men.  Straight men, mostly.  But today, I am not sure what I am feeling a withdrawal from.

I guess I am feeling like I need to talk to someone.  A straight male friend who is capable of connecting intimately.

I am feeling isolated.  That's what it is.

And it has something to do with work stress.  I need to get going on a project and I am feeling a little nervous about it.

My typical pattern has been: I feel insecure/inept, I want to go look at porn and/or masturbate, then I feel better and I get to work.  The same pattern I've had before, but with a difference today.

Instead of wanting to go to porn and masturbating, I have an internal desire to just connect intimately with my brothers.  Tell them how I am feeling.  Allow myself to be vulnerable.  Have them pray for me.

(There is a new brother in my life.  I will call him brother B, and my "first" Brother that I've been blogging about, I will call Brother A.  And tomorrow, I will meet up with one of my accountability partners and see if I can also connect with him intimately.  If so, that will be three straight male friends that I can be authentic and vulnerable with.)

Anyway, Brother A and brother B are probably busy right now.  So, I'm resorting to this quick post to get my feelings out.  The last thing I want to do is to stuff this feeling down, and then let it rear its ugly head through porn and masturbation.

I miss Brother A.  I miss his smile, his presence, his warmth, and his love.  I miss his non-sexual yet intimate and Godly brotherly love.  A love that makes me feel whole.