There was some satisfaction in being the resilient one — that against all odds, I was forging my own path. Honestly, it’s the only thing that I remember receiving praise for.
But whatever satisfaction I did have, it was fleeting and I had grown tired of doing this on my own. The independent spirit did not come without cost, but in a single-parent home, there wasn’t much choice. My adolescence became another casualty.
Because of this upbringing, I grew up not knowing the comfort of having someone else to rely on. I became self-sufficient, needing no one and hating when I did. Tirelessly manifesting my destiny.
For years, I was ignorant of the reality that I can’t do this. I spent so much time fighting that, even now, I do not know how to rest.
But there was no time for rest. Because if not me, who else would be there? I was learning that everything I could ever need would come from me and me alone.
And if I messed up in any of this, God would be waiting. I have always imagined God lurking in church corners, behind white walls, watching and waiting for me to mess up.
Throughout my life, I’ve carried memories of hurts and letdowns that would continue to replicate themselves. These memories would color my worldview.
Abandonment became a recurring hurt from my childhood. One memory stands out.
I was at a cousin’s house out-of-state, and my dad said that he’d come for me the next day. I didn’t know my family very well and spent the night there nervously playing games in the attic. I still remember the endless chants of skittles, dittles, what’s so high, silly games. When the next day came, I anxiously waited on the stairs for my dad, eyes locked on the door.
He didn’t come.
As I grew older, my dad’s disgust for me grew more apparent. Looking back, I think maybe he didn’t know how to handle having a “gay” son. Whatever it was, I experienced what I thought to be anger, and in his anger he would humiliate me every chance he had. Body shame was his go-to method of humiliation.
In many ways, I felt that I was the lesser child.
I am the lesser.
God had his fun, too. I remember being in a church service, and the preacher called me out in front of the whole church. As I was walking to my seat, he told everyone that I had a spirit of rebellion.
Not that I was broken, not that I needed help, but that I was bad. Now, God was also not to be trusted. He had turned everyone against me and would continue to do so.
Mistrust, anger, and loneliness would be pillars that upheld many of my false beliefs when I began to question my sexuality. In shame, I realized that this would be another fight I’d have to face on my own.
When I first started noticing other guys in middle school, I saw in them what I wanted to be — thoughts fueled not by my desire to be better, but by the voices of my father that said I should be better. There was no attraction; they were my friends, friends that were better than me in every way. They were tall, muscular and good at sports, what every young man should be.
I don’t remember thinking of myself as gay. There was always something wrong with me, and I was beginning to see it.
In high school, my identity was still being formed. But the me that existed was worth protecting. I desperately tried to be normal. There was no place for different in high school.
As time progressed, the attractions grew and so did my self-hatred. I guarded my secret with all that I had, never losing face. I was coming to terms that I was attracted to guys, and every sermon that included homosexuality reminded me that there was something wrong with me. I began to ask what I did to deserve the “skip heaven and go straight to hell” card?
God gave no answer. In my quest for answers, I went to the world.
I found answers in porn. But none of its answers matched what I knew to be true. Porn offered a feast for my eyes but nothing of substance.
Still, I searched.
And then I found a blog.
I had no idea that other Christians struggled with homosexuality.
This blog would change my life.
Have you experienced shame from your father? Have you ever reached the end of your rope with God or church?
* Photo courtesy spapax, Creative Commons.
You sure plodded through a lonely and hard path in your growing up. I was mostly at boarding school where you had to make friends or die, and so I had friends. I completely denied any SSA to myself as much as to others, so that never became an issue. I convinced myself that my liking for guys and attraction to male bodies was a phase, but it was something no one spoke of so I wasn’t going to bring it up either. So my dad was not a great influence for good or bad though I did admire him when I was younger, and then rejected him when I was older, and finally accepted and loved and ministered to him when I was much much older.
Did I reach the end of the rope with God and the church. Yes, but I always come back to God and I love Him. But you can keep church. I don’t go now as I can’t find a fellowship that accepts me in my locality. No problem. My church is online. I miss fellowship but it was mostly shallow anyway. I really miss corporate praise.
Yea isn’t that funny? No matter how angry I become towards God,I always come back to Him. Outwardly I wasn’t lonely,but appearances aren’t always truthful.
That’s my favorite thing about church,the corporate praise!
At 12, I knew I was different. From 15 to 18, I explored almost daily with a classmate in high school. At 23, I again realized more than ever that I was different and i was alone. I was broken and I didn’t know how to fix myself. Sex? No, not really. I was male, I was masculine but I liked something that my other now married friends never liked. It was men! How could I fix myself? I realized by 24 that they were all occupying their time with girl friends or their wives. I had to move, and I had to move fast to repair my life. My mom was gone at age 18, and it was just me and my dad living together. He found someone to love and re-marry. I was just finishing college – and one of my classmates invited me to his house for a Sunday dinner. So, I acted – thinking this might lead to something helpful. Surprised, I realized he had a sister – we visited, we shared, we dated. A year and a half went by and we got married, when I was 25. My urges, my desires were all put away – I felt like I was becoming whole again. I didn’t feel broken, and I thought my life was on a new path. When I was 32, I was on a business trip – staying in a plush hotel and going swimming one evening. Afterwards, I decided to enter the sauna for a steam bath before I would retire for the evening. The other man, was naked. I was enticed, he was attractive. He left the sauna, passing in front of me and whispering his room number to me. Later back at my room .. I paced and paced and thought. I felt my life beginning to crumble, but what he offered I wanted. Today, I’m nearly 70 and I’ve been broken all these years again. For the next 38 years, on occasion here and there and everywhere – I met men. I had sex, oral, anal you name it. I was safe and life went on. Today, I am still married and still broken. I retired at age 61, enjoy a good and early retirement. My wife continues to work as she enjoys her job. Me? I continue to meet men and feel broken – but I can’t stop. I know I’m really broken, but I need it and I want and I don’t know what to do. I attend church, I pray for myself – but my urges and just beyond what I can control. Broken? Oh ya and…I so want to change and so need to change. I want spend eternity in heaven not in hell. Sex is like chips, you just can’t have 1. I’m a clean cut guy, don’t drink, don’t swear,don’t smoke but I love male/male sex. The only good thing is that in the past few months, as I spend more time in God’s Word – I’ve diminished my hookups and I’m down to maybe once a week. Broken…Ya I am. But my prayer is that I’ll finally find the right way and my biggest prayer is that I’ll stick with Him instead of them. Sorry for opening my heart and mind up here – but that word “Broken” touched me…because I realize I am.
Your cry was heart-rending. Praying that you find the peace you desire. I just want to say that God wants you in heaven too, more than you know or want yourself. He will not easily let you go, but He holds on to you. I understand your conflicts and I’m sure God does too. Mine too! I separated from my wife in 2012 in order to be fixed or find solace in my brokenness. I remained friends with my wife, who knew from way back in the 80s that I was gay. She managed to live without sex, but I couldn’t. I’m now with a man, still love Jesus and do my best to follow Him, but I don’t go to church anymore as there are no gay-friendly churches in my locality/country.
“As time progressed, the attractions grew and so did my self-hatred. I guarded my secret with all that I had, never losing face. I was coming to terms that I was attracted to guys, and every sermon that included homosexuality reminded me that there was something wrong with me.”
THIS. So much that I’m still processing about not hating my old church and that I’m not broken goods. There is brokenness, to be sure, but there is so much more than that to define me. Thanks.
I’m sorry your dad was such a source of pain in your life. Have you experienced shame from your father? No, I can’t say I have, but your story does paint the picture of how things could have transpired from the other end of the spectrum. one of the sayings I coined in my life is: “I’d rather be neglected than abused.” I was neglected by my father not in every respect but the ones he felt we’re not important to my upbringing like personal affection and loving acknowledgement. The reason I think there was no shame from my father as he didn’t harbor any great expectations from me. My mother bragged as to my accomplishments as she lived vicariously through my accolades and achievements. I had her love and affection from Day 1. Not dear old dad. Today I try long and hard to coax him to give me any kind of positive approval. It can take quite the concerted effort with months of waiting and working on my part.
I worked with sexually abused kids for most of my professional career. As horrific and harmful as many of their stories were, I knew children who were “simply” neglected who were even more grievously damaged. Of course, generalities with these cases are often not helpful. I’m sorry your father has not given you the personal affection and loving acknowledgment that your heavenly father designed him to give.
Thanks, but if anyone got to know him long and deep enough like I have they’ll see he is designed differently. His psychological makeup is to be an objective thinker or problem solver. In some situations this can be an asset, but not all. It was like having Mr. Spock as a father. He’s not completely dispassionate, but he is more head and less heart. Our relationship is a big reason I think I’m SSA and why I sought out surrogate role models.
The older I get, the more I realize how important the role of a loving father is in the life of his son. It saddens me to think about who I could have been, if my dad was who he should have been.
I get where you’re coming from about wanting that loving father, but having to be handed some alternative to our ideal role model. My dad is quick with his dispassionate comeback: “I’m just not that way.” Not to sound pedantic, my dad, sadly, is an INFJ persona and not a subjective kind of guy. All in all he was emotionally unavailable to me so I was left looking for that “love” elsewhere, mostly in the community of friends. I regret how desperate/clingy I came across at times with some of my college friends (mostly guys) and surrogates wanting to belong, be acknowledged, be loved, but I was so hungry for it all. My heart had/has a void. Was he a bad father? No, I’m sure there are far worse examples out there, but nevertheless I have “daddy issues.”
I received shame even this week because I am without a job and decided to go home for a visit. My father found out from his wife who read a post of mine on Facebook and he called me to say that I should not bother seeing him when I come, don’t call him and don’t ask for any money (last year I was homeless and asked for $500 to get home and have food). I wasn’t shocked, as this was not the first time something like this had happened, like when I told him I was SSA. I said okay and hung up on him mid sentence and didn’t feel triggered or guilty like in the past. He called the next day and I couldn’t get the call but he didn’t leave a message. I called back at 9 PM and neither of them answered. On the third day he called my aunt, whom I stay with when I’m home, as he did last year, and asked her to call him back. Like last year, he will tell her not to let me stay with her and to encourage me to stay in Denver. What hurts though is that he didn’t ask any questions, for if he had he would know I have plenty of money and simply wanted to see my family, which for every other year of my life I avoided going home because of my parents. Now my mother is dead as of 2 years ago and I have few family to see. Still, I’m very glad that I’m not shaken by this and simply will not see him, which is somewhat sad for him, but not for me. I have always been silent when he is abusive, but not any more. I will give him the benefit of the doubt if he is willing to change his attitude, which he did when I told him I was SSA, but it is totally up to him.
My parents divorced when I was 8, but they both seemed disgusted with me as far back as I can remember. I felt like a constant disappointment, for my dad because I didn’t like hunting, fishing and sports, for my mom because I was overweight, physically and socially awkward and seemingly lazy. Although this largely crippled me for many decades, I am no longer physically and socially awkward, I’ve lost 125 lbs. since 18 months ago and I’m in graduate school with all A’s and one C. All this time though, my mother never addressed the fact that I told her I was molested and didn’t acknowledge how that caused me to have mental illness, which contributed to her perception of me being such a “bad kid” because I was always dissociated and unaware of what was going on around me. She eventually addressed it though when I was 12 by taking me to a Psychiatrist, (which she didn’t tell I was molested) and said she thought I was retarded. So, after many years of working on these things, I’m a happy, well adjusted, well liked and intelligent person (as I always was, just traumatized) who loves themselves. Now, I’m studying to be a licensed practicing counselor and overcoming all of those challenges will hopefully allow me to be a better counselor for other hurting people.