In the previous article, we showed that your problem is living in Squaw Camp during your childhood years. There you learnt to suppress and deny any hint of opposite-sex attractions. But how did you manage to survive? What happened to you, in what way did you learn to comply? And, above all, how do you break free from those shackles?
1. The contribution of developmental psychology
Some gay activists will insist that previous experiences in your youth are totally irrelevant for your current sexuality, and that therapists are merely “reading it into your homosexuality”.
To defend the importance of developmental psychology however, psychotherapist Ross Rosenberg writes in Chapter 1 of his book ‘The Human Magnet Syndrome’ (2013),
“As much as we would like to, we cannot avoid certain indisputable facts of life: We will have to pay taxes, we will get older, we will most likely gain a few pounds, and we will always be connected to our childhood. Sigmund Freud was right, we are, indeed, creatures of our past; affected more by our formative years (first five to six years of life) than by recent events and circumstances. Although genes play a significant role in determining our adult selves, the manner in which we were cared for as a child is integrally connected to our adult mental health. Whether we embrace our unique childhood history, or if we try to mute, forget or even deny it, there is no way of denying its impact on our lives.”
2. Knowing no other way
As a person who has Same-Sex Attractions (SSA’s), you have come out of a life in Squaw Camp (see part 3). You don’t really belong there, but you got yourself into that spot anyhow. It was a survival strategy. All appeared to go well, but at the end of the day, you find yourself yearning, not for the squaws surrounding you, but for your peers, the apprentice male warriors who ride with the men on horseback. In the meanwhile, you managed to construct a glass wall to keep your sexual distance to all inside the female camp.
Secretly, you tried anyhow to identify as male in Squaw Camp. And deep inside, you continuously yearn for male peers, feeling like a left-over. You admire them, long for them, need them, miss them, and when the natural sexual hormones kicked in around age 12, you have sexualized them. And it feels good, because testosterone is a normal healthy male hormone doing its job; it feels natural. So your Same-Sex Attractions feel normal and healthy; you know no other way.
But it is all so confusing. You feel normal, but everyone else, especially your male peers, appear to be different. And all of a sudden, you start understanding that.
A friend of mine, Jerry, is born profoundly deaf and told me (he has taught me sign language) that at age 12 he all of a sudden discovered he was deaf. I laughed: how can you be at a boarding school for the deaf since the age of 3, learn sign language and learn to communicate and still not know you are deaf until you are 12 years old? He explained that being deaf was normal for him. He did not know that there was another world out there; he had just accepted life as it was. And it never occurred to him that he may be the problem. He always thought that people who have hearing, are the ones who cannot communicate with him. They were the problem, so he felt. And he pitied them. “I am not the problem”, so he felt until the age of 12.
4. The life of a non-girl
And so it is as a non-girl in Squaw Camp. You know no other way, and feel that the problem of alienation is located outside yourself. In the meantime, radical gay-lib has problematized, rationalized, and intellectualized this feeling into a full scale world-view with which they make themselves feel comfortable, ultimately defining themselves as a sub-set of the human race with elusive “gay genes” and all (gay genes do not exist). When you embrace a gay label, basically you are saying goodbye to your innate (but unfelt) heterosexual potential, apparently forever. This has its drawbacks.
You accept your alienation as a part of life. You define feeling different as the other person’s problem, and you have said goodbye to being one of the warriors on a pony forever. This mindset becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In the meantime, there is a tell-tale sign about your happiness being amongst the squaws: you experience incessant fantasies about the muscular bare chests of your peers, and you cannot get it off your mind for one second as you walk down the street.
You get to feel that there is something very mysterious about those male warriors, guys you want and need but whom you will never become part of. You are always physically present in Squaw Camp, but in the back of your mind you are secretly longing, and checking out the horizon, for those male peers on horseback, humans who appear not to have a worry in the world when it comes to identity. It nags.
Is it your inevitable fate to blindly accept the distance to male peers as a part of life, when all that time your heart aches from yearning? For Hank in his deafness, that distance is hard-wired, he was born that way. But for gay guys, is that also true? Especially when you consider that terms such as ‘gay’ and ‘sexual orientation’ are merely labels, relatively new historically, and which due to frequent use all around, have started living a life of their own. They now even masquerade as though they were actual entities.
The term “sexual orientation” is marketed as if it were a basic underlying condition. But it is a sweeping generalization, a phony invention of pseudo-science (anti-psychiatry) which bogs you down, stigmatizes you and keeps you locked up in an unwanted lonely world. (Researchers Mayer and McHugh have recently debunked the ‘born that way’ myth, in an extensive and exhaustive review of thousands of articles, click here).
The only things we can substantiate are your feelings and personal history, the only real entities we have got to go on.
When it comes to riding on the ponies, Alan Medinger will show you how to reach out to your peers, saddle up and ultimately join the gang in his great book, ‘Growth Into Manhood, Resuming The Journey’. The publisher writes:
“A breakthrough plan for males to re-enter the world of men. What happens when a boy grows physically into an adult male but misses some of the experiences and relationships that help form complete manhood? Alan Medinger writes for such men and for those who care about them.”
5. Asking the right questions
But there is a problem. You have lived in Squaw Camp for so long, surely that must have affected you. It cannot be that you just apply for apprenticeship with the males, breathe the air of the prairies and chase around in full gallop, home at last, and then magically opposite-sex attractions just set in! Is it that simple?
There is more: we need to review your mindset, or rather everything that has made you the person you have become up till now. What has happened? Was everything really so smooth in Squaw Camp? Do you have nothing but wonderful memories? All urges taken care of? Blissful childhood? Do you know what the term “legitimate urges” actually means? Do you know what “needs” are?
And the toughest question of them all: was your mother taking care of you, or were you taking care of HER?
Very likely she was sweet, she was doting on you, or she may have been crazy and unpredictable, or chronically sick, and then “Sensitive You” made her feel good and, if necessary, fixed that craziness and neediness. But what kind of relationship do good little boys in Squaw Camp get themselves into? How did you get confused, lose or not even attain a sense of your male identity like all your peers obviously were doing?
Science has a lot to say on this matter. You were not so unique, but you need a description of your childhood past to feel again, to review, to ponder on those seemingly carefree years in your isolated wigwam. You have become an outsider in Squaw Camp, yes tolerated, but an outsider just the same. Not to mention the peers riding ponies in the wind. In fact you realize you are “homeless”, not part of either of the two gender based groups. An unfathomable sadness sets in.
Or as the brilliant psychologist Dr. Joseph Nicolosi puts it in his book ‘Shame And Attachment Loss’:
“As such, homosexuality can be seen as a pathological form of grieving.”
Let us revisit that lost boy, soothe and comfort him, the lonely child at the fringe of society who knew no other way. You were not seen. All were too preoccupied with themselves, each for reasons of his or her own.
Your peers are out on the prairies on horseback, and you sit in a wigwam weaving cloth (to my shame, I loved weaving more than rugby!). You know you are a boy, and a deep sense of shame sets in, one that will last a lifetime.
You know very well that boys overcome fear and grow by daring to be who they are, you know that they venture out into male country, talk with the grownup males, feel one with the males, go and do male things, and you know very well that you don’t. A deep sense of sadness creeps up, self-pity even, as you enviously give them a sneak peep at daring to be a real boy. How do they do it, you wonder?
You have detached from your father or father figures after an array of futile attempts to be recognized, valued and hugged for who you are in your growing male identification. As Dr. Nicolosi says:
“Masculinity is an achievement, not a ‘given’, and one that is vulnerable to developmental injury”.
In those important, developmental years, you got angry, became a difficult child and did all that a 2 or 3-year old can do to get that necessary attention. And the way your infantile protest was dealt with, and usually suppressed, caused you to shut down, and to feel resentment. You decided (as far as a 3-year old can “decide”) that the males could all go to hell. You wisely started defending yourself against this impossible predicament by detaching from that man, from that desire, from males altogether and all that they stand for.
Nicolosi calls it “defensive detachment”, that is to say withdrawal from the male camp and from desires to indulge in maleness, that all other boys indulge in, because the cause seems to be hopeless. (This dooming sense of inevitable hopelessness is one of the many building blocks of late-onset depression, a condition seen so often in homosexuals, far more than in men who identify as experiencing opposite-sex attractions).
You detached from Dad, from maleness, but above all you detached from the sadness and hopelessness that comes with this impossible situation. You detached from your own negative core feelings. Defensive detachment from other males or ‘The Male’ is therefore a relatively adequate way to cope with being ‘you’ in an isolated predicament. How little did you know, three year old struggler! Well done! Clever you!! But lonely you … Sadly, on your way to struggle forever!
Nobody knows but you, and more often than not, that primordial feeling, that original anger and coping strategy just went under the surface, causing the seas of your life to be calm and not to be angry/hostile/sad any more. You became a good little boy, and with your girl companions you started weaving or sewing or playing girlie games like skipping rope and bouncing balls; in the meantime you surrounded yourself with a glass anti-sexual wall in order to remain acceptable, to be loved and to get embraced in Squaw Camp.
For Squaw Camp is only for big squaws, for little squaws and for the occasional little boy who never ever will develop into a fully-fledged male. Good little boys in Squaw Camp need to be trusted to keep up their end of the “bargain”. You can only practice being a hunky male when you are out on the prairies, laughing and shocking the other guys and having fun about it in a commonly shared interest: developing maleness. NOT in Squaw Camp.
You find yourself in a ‘double-bind’, attracted to the very thing you yourself want to be, yet unable to be it. And this double bind hurts. The obsession may last a lifetime.
You go to a gay porn site for a chat session, and the other guy asks you to switch your camera on. “Come on, show me what you have got, please, pretty please, only for a second. Please, just for me?” A fellow lonely struggler, a chat session from another resident of Squaw Camp. Lonely no more. “Here is my body, dude. Like it?”
Out on the prairies, riding with the gang, one can joke with maleness, get the laughs from one’s peers, leading to heightened self-esteem. But Squaw Camp is not the place to do such a thing.
7. Hostile detachment from women
An aspect that is often overlooked in ex-gay therapy is the fact that you not only defensively detached from the father (figure) but also from the mother.
In men with SSA’s there is a two-fold defensive detachment, each of which has a different origin, each of which leads to a different set of feelings, and each of which has to be tackled separately to regain confidence in yourself, the world and the people around you. In short, you have Dad issues, but you also have Mom issues, far more than many men with SSA’s are aware of.
Your detachment from Mom happened at a later age than the detachment from Dad or the father figure/maleness in general. The detachment from Mom or females in general is a result of the way you felt and were dealt with in Squaw Camp. We shall elaborate on this in part 5.
After a few years, resentment sets in, a deep feeling of disgust, anger and rage about being the neutral boy growing up in the fringe, a place where you do not really belong or long for. You long, after all, for the male peers galloping on the prairies, with bare chest muscles, biceps and a suntan, the way you should have been. After all you are a boy, and potentially a MAN! But you feel some pride in yourself in Squaw Camp, you get some gratification from being the good boy, being Mr. Perfect, perhaps even being Teacher’s Pet, but you also have bewildering feelings of alienation and a deep desire to break free.
You have built up a secret hatred for this predicament as your longing for males gets stronger due to good old testosterone. This hormone creates surges of desire, erections, infatuation, and a weird sense of longing for male contact and affirmation. This is your deepest obsession, one that was formed long ago, almost in the beginning of self-awareness as a child. In adolescence, it is as if testosterone is sending smoke signals, it is very bewildering and very private.
No-one is like that, obviously so, and yet again a sense of shame sets in, making you even more shy. Your anger makes you feel bad about yourself. I am naughty. Little do they know what a traitor I am to Squaw Camp, if I dared to be myself. And so I shut up.
Due to this resentment, another double bind sets in: you love to be with women, but you also hate Squaw Camp, you detach from women. You love, you hate, love, hate, love, hate … Another building block of depression. Why is this happening to me?
8. Parental narcissism, the enemy of kids growing up
Almost all men who experience SSA’s have parents who failed to see or acknowledge the detachment predicaments of their boy. He was such a good boy! How could I as a parent have done something wrong? We are good parents and we can prove it.
And so the good little boy is shown off as a sort of trophy for the parents’ accomplishment in parenting skills. See! Look at his school grades. See! Look how he plays the piano, See! Look how well mannered he is, everyone loves that. See! Look how quietly he plays in his room with his personal hobbies. See how happy he is upstairs, never a problem, I wish all kids would be like that.
You have become Mr. Perfect, the low maintenance kid.
In the next article we will go into more depth on this subject. To understand, we need to analyze the world of difference between the outward appearance of low maintenance children and their private unseen world of longings. We will demonstrate how the parents’ feelings are far more important than the feelings or predicament of the child. Not only will we look into the needs of the child, we will look into the unmet needs of the parents. We will see how frantically the child is living up to expectations, and failing to be true to himself or even to find himself in the process.
We will show, while he has lost himself and become a lost boy, how a fix of testosterone or sexual acting out in gay, promiscuous sex later on kisses everything better, every tension, every setback, every personal misery or failure until it sadly wears off within a day and you are back to Square One.
The treadmill replaces Squaw Camp: the merry-go-round of a grieving young man, dragging his funeral wreath behind him. These feelings ultimately constitute even more building blocks of late-onset depression and ultimately paranoia, which we see so often in the gay scene.
But on the other hand, it is never too late to become who you might have been. So I invite you to hop on board and saddle up. Wait and see what your mind has yet in store. Let us ride with the ponies.
To be continued.
Job Berendsen, MD.