My SS(sexual)A has pretty much left and stayed gone. The SS(emotional)A is there, but I welcome it. I find that when I do not *feed* my SSeA, SSsA can creep in. And so I have spent a great deal of time cultivating quality relationships with Christian brothers who have similar values as I do. Most of them are married with kids, but a couple are single and older, men with more real-life experience. I have found that I am not at all interested in debating about SSA.
In the two months following Summary Reflection #1, I am becoming good friends with more than a handful of SSA-brothers online. I can count 4 in Asia, 3 in North America, and 1 in South America. There are also others, thanks to an online Facebook group to which I belong, but it's a large group, and I only connect with a handful of the older folks there.
Almost everyday, I get to email or IM or Skype with one of these brothers. And there is also Brother A, and Brothers from my home church right here who I see and talk to regularly.
After getting to know them a bit, I try to get pretty intimate in my conversations, expressing my feelings of fondness towards them quite openly (e.g. I love you). Some are comfortable with it, some are not. What is interesting is, over the two months, I have found a decreasing sensual response to encounters of real-life emotional intimacy with these brothers (i.e. telling them I love them, talking about meeting and hugging each other, etc.). What used to excite me in a sensual (or genital) way is becoming less so. There is a sense that the more I allow myself to embrace SSeA, the more SSsA becomes a moot issue.
When I am feeling down, I feel like I want to go to one of these brothers and get a big long bear hug, lean on their shoulders, cry and receive empathetic support and care, and I would be okay again. I don't want to get naked with them; I don't want to touch their penises; I don't want them sexually. But I do long for emotional intimacy and connectedness, esp. when I am feeling down.
And that is absolutely okay.
Part of the process of healing over the month of May was a roller-coaster ride of emotions: first anger, followed by grief. Both took me by complete surprise.
First, I was angry, but I did not know at what. At the same time, I started to experience a new heterosexual energy. After some time, I realized that what I was feeling was a sense of what I have called an unbridled male adolescent sexual energy.
Shortly after, without much warning, I started to feel a sense of grief. It was deep, strong, and it puzzled me. At first, I didn't know what or why I was grieving. Something to do with death, with loss...
- the loss of who I could have been had I not been so abused as a child by significant men in my life;
- the loss of the comfort that homosexual fantasies used to offer me;
- the loss of Brother A, to whom I said my "emotional farewell" two months after meeting him and falling head-over-heels in love with him.
On May 19, I wrote "Here's the last thing I need to do now: fully accept this change, and don't fight it anymore."
That was a month ago. If April was the realization that Brother A's love for me had taken away my sexual desires for men, then May was the realization that in order for me to fully experience orientation change, I needed to embrace that change from the outside in. And that is exactly what I did... or what happened to me.
Sometimes, I am not sure how much of this change is a result of my decisions/actions and how much of it happened outside of my control. It is likely both, but hard to tease apart.
When I said farewell to Brother A at the end of May, I simultaneously also put on a new male self. More manly, more secure, and definitely heterosexual. This does not mean that I had put away my desire to relate with men. On the contrary, I found myself relating to men more naturally, more comfortably, and still intimately but without the need to imagine myself in their sexual embrace. A big, long brotherly hug when you're down, yes. Touching each others' penises or even kissing mouth-to-mouth had become not only unnecessary but a little gross.
Several times towards the end of May, I found myself waking up in the morning with an erection with images of nude women floating around in my subconscious mind. Interestingly, because I have not looked at many images of nude women, all the women in my dreams looked like my wife's body.
A few times, I dabbled into pornography. I found myself uninterested in anything gay, not even the image of a guy masturbating himself. However, I was fond of heterosexual scenes of men and women together. I might have also looked at scenes of women only (I can't remember), but I don't think I allowed myself to linger there too long. My forays into porn were boundaried by my desire to not allow myself to become sexual with another woman in my mind aside from my wife. The heterosexual images reminded me of sex with my wife, and such was their allure. I became the man in the scenes, and my wife became the woman.
Encountering Judgment, Moving Towards Christ
Around the time I took a break from blogging, I encountered some judgment from a few SSA-brothers. Some looked at my blog and made conclusions about me that were unjustified. Unjustified because they really didn't know me, my mind, my identity, my training, my experience, etc.
They discredited my experience of change, they judged me for using pornography and writing about it graphically, they cautioned me from becoming emotionally enmeshed with men, they distrusted my openness, and yet, they refused to connect with me about these things one-on-one, face-to-face so that I could explain myself to them. I was stuck.
This blog has a clear rhetorical purpose: to chronicle my experiences of same-sex attraction in a raw and open way. It is meant to be a personal journal of the deepest, most intimate emotions I have towards this area of my life. But this blog does not represent the totality of who I am. If you knew me in person, you might be surprised at my level of education and professional competence. This blog is only a slice of me, a very raw, emotional slice. I have made it intentionally so.
Because these judgments came pretty much all around the same time, I didn't know what to do. I was hurt and confused. I had to accept what these people thought of me even if I were wrongfully misunderstood. It was incredibly hard to do. Without other options, I went to Scripture and clung onto Philippians 2:1-11. (Some of these relationships have seen been reconciled after one-on-one live conversation.)
Around that time, another theme that began to emerge was my need to move towards God. The love that I received from Brother A was God's love "in the real." But Brother A is not God, and as wonderful as he was (and still is), he is limited. Now that I had internalized his love for me, I am able to draw from this Godly-love-in-the-flesh and turn towards Abba God. Now, when God says "I love you," in His Word, I can actually feel a manly embrace around me and know in my body what that love feels like.
I have heard counselors talk about how children who have been abused by earthly fathers have a hard time relating to a loving Father God. Looking back through my experience (3 months now), I can see that God wanted me to experience Brother A's love so that I could know His Love in a real, tangible, physical way.
God is doing other things in my life now that is opening my eyes to realizing how much I need to draw close to Him and to depend on Him. He was the one who brought about all this change, and now He wants me to draw closer to Him.
Is Sexual Orientation Change What It's About?
This blog has been about SSA and change. Three months into my experience, the change is still there. Some people don't like my using heterosexuality as a gauge for change, but that makes little sense to me. They prefer to use "godliness" or "wholeness." I think the reason they do this is because they have not experienced change in the way I have. And many (even leaders that I've recently communicated with in Exodus) tell me that they know very, very few men for whom orientation change has been complete. So, in light of the lack of experience with change from homosexuality to heterosexuality, they talk about change as a "spiritual" change.
Talking with one Exodus leader recently, I told him that when I read the book "Wild At Heart" by John Eldredge two year ago, I hated it. I critiqued it from the angle of gender bias. "Not all men are meant to be wild at heart," I argued. Then I told him that with this new change in me, I really want to read the book again. The testosterone in me is boiling, and I want to conquer the wild. I was surprised when he replied that he too hated the book in his first reading of it. But now, in his sixth reading (!), he is appreciating it more than ever.
I am not sure yet exactly what to conclude of the notion of "moving towards wholeness" versus "moving towards heterosexuality." I don't have time to delve into the literature and clarify the issue for myself this year. As it is, I have already spent considerable time over the last three months processing this journey. But deep within me, I feel that the right next move for me would be to process manhood and fatherhood, especially from the perspective of godliness.
- What does it mean to be a man and a father in God's image?
- How do men and women differ biologically and sociologically, and across cultures?
- What is the essence of maleness in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of God?
I don't know how often I will blog, and in what style or capacity. In some ways, my existing style of writing on this blog has outlived its use, and I could shut down this blog. But because I have made a handful of new friends who are SSA-brothers-in-Christ through this blog, I will keep it open.
If you are new to my blog and want to get in touch with me, feel free to do so by leaving me a comment with an email where I can reach you.