In his answers to the self-help questionnaire, Gregor from Ukraine sent me an array of traumatic memories of his boyhood on the farm where he grew up. As a child, he felt isolated and grew up to become extremely uncomfortable with the outside world. His fear of his peers is an issue which is seen very often in men struggling with same-sex attractions. We will show his answers, and then review them in relationship to (1) role of the father, (2) the role of the mother, (3) the role of peers and (4) Gregor’s anger and fear issues.
Here are the questions in the questionnaire, demonstrating the normal psycho-sexual development for a boy.
a) At age 3: You are creating distance to mother, knowing you are different
“I really don’t remember that period of time in my life.”
b) At age 4: You are feeling good about the distance to mother, because identifying with dad feels good and right
“One of my earliest memories from my childhood is like a nightmare. It all happened one night I don’t remember how old I was but I woke up because I heard my mum’s voice she was screaming. They just returned from a reception and I don’t know what happened earlier but I think my mum wanted to return earlier. I entered the living room and I saw my mum lying on sofa and there was my father who wanted to strangle her. I was screaming and my sisters woke up. I just felt that the only protection from world was my mum and only she could protect me. The rest of the world wasn’t a good place to live.
There was also a time when my dad and my granddad had a kind of ritual of drinking some vodka together on Sundays nights. It was so hard to sleep in the room next to living room as they were chatting so loud and my mum told me to go to bed and sleep.”
c) At age 5-10: You are having fun with other boys, who are all like I am, we are all ME.
“I never wanted to be a boy. I had a dream that it’s better/easier to be a girl. I had a problem with going to the kindergarten alone. My mum had to take me there for a long time and I still didn’t want to stay there. I was with my sisters and I played with them. I was very obedient to my mum and when she told me that I had to go back from school asap I did what she told me. I was very afraid that something bad could happen to her. I was praying so she could live a long life and that she would not leave me.”
d) And we all create distance to girls. Girls are stupid, boys are great, we are kings of the world, we play games in which we are kings, we have sword fights, we play cowboys and Indians, we fight because we are tough, and we try to be tough.
“Girls’ world was safe for me. I didn’t play any games with boys. The only thing I did after school was to come back very fast. I didn’t have any other subjects to talk about apart from school. It was the only topic I could talk about with my peers. Sport was a nightmare for me. I remember the time when I was at home on Saturday afternoon and I would worry about the Monday morning PE classes and that I had to play any team sport. I was a loner who had no friends. I spent time alone. My sisters had some friends and they met with them especially at the weekends and I stayed at home then.”
e) We learn to feel good with boys, to love boys and to love being a boy. We are great.
“There was a time when I didn’t feel good with boys and I really regret that I behaved that way. I wish I could turn back the time. Now I know that it was better just to take part in a game and enjoy it. I didn’t have to be perfect in it. It was all about having fun but I was too nervous and I tried to do my best.”
f) In all these moves, in all this becoming a boy, mom and dad approve. They like it, they affirm it, they respect it.
“There was a time when my mum used to tell me that I shouldn’t behave like my dad. I can’t use any violence and being rude to girls and women. I think I was afraid of almost anything. When I graduated from my high school and I wanted to go to university I just couldn’t. There was so much fear in me that I left my home that I returned just a few days and I resigned. (I couldn’t focused on anything I was crying and praying. I didn’t understand what was happening to me. There was so much fear in me. The situation was the same after two years but this time one of my sisters went with me to my college and then I was that I could be there without any fear. From that time, the situation was better and I could and still can stay far away from home without any fear. My mum still asks me if I call her but sometimes I just forget about it.”
g) Dad is proud of his little boy, this replica of himself, his offspring.
“I was too distant from my dad. My dad didn’t approve of the way how I was risen by my mother, that I wasn’t interested in all the stuff connected with the farm they have, that I couldn’t fix anything, or even use a hammer, etc. Once when he was drunk he told so, just before I went to bed. My perspective is different – he didn’t teach me all those things. He wasn’t here when I needed him.”
h) The little boy makes him feel good because in him he recognizes his former self and loves the boy to become like him, including having sex with women some day.
“I don’t know if he recognizes himself in me. I think he loves me and now we can talk about even small things. I am interested in the things which are important for him. And now he even asks me to take him somewhere (he doesn’t have a driving license).”
i) Dad is openly heterosexual and loves his boy to become like him: heterosexual.
“Love and other feelings are not the topic to talk about with my father. The only emotion which is demonstrated by him is the anger. There were many situations when he just showed his anger. When I was a boy I thought that any arguments among my parent was because of me. I even thought that if I wasn’t there, they had no problems. I just blamed myself.”
j) Dad approves of himself as a man, and he approves/wants his boy, which come from his offspring, to be like him. Because being like himself is great.
“I think that my dad approves me somehow but he didn’t tell me about it. But now I can enjoy working with him sometimes. I just regret that he wasn’t in my life when I needed him so much. We lived/live so much time in the same house but sometimes we didn’t talk for a few days.
You are right there’s so much sadness and grief about my past I wish that story of my life was different, that my dad was closer and I didn’t use my mum’s way of looking at my dad. For about 32 years I was thinking that my dad was my enemy but he wasn’t. The problem is that I was listening to my mum when she was complaining about dad and I took her opinion about him for granted. I also regret that I just didn’t spend some time with my peers. Now I know that I just could go to visit some of them but this simple action didn’t come to my mind until now.”
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1. The role of the father
Obviously, Gregor had some very traumatic memories of his father at an early age when he could not quite make sense of the world yet. He caught his parents in the middle of a fight, and thought that his father was strangling his mother. Was that so? After all, in Ukraine almost all men drink vodka, and the more you drink, the more virile you are. Was it strangling or just drunken verbal violence? It does not matter. Bottom line is that for little Gregor it felt that way. The admiration for Dad was gone forever.
The toddler had made up his mind: Dad was not to be trusted, and he was a threat to the only security left: his mother.
So, it is obvious that Dad is not going to be a role model for little Gregor. Due to this event which Gregor remembers vividly, the first stepping stone into Same-Sex Attractions is laid, and so is the first brick in the foundation of late-onset depression. The natural urge to identify with the same-sex parent, the strongest instinct any child has, has been frustrated in a traumatic way, and the result will be an infinite unconscious sadness due to this. Men are not to be trusted, no maleness for me. God forbid.
Gay Affirmative Therapists will insist that it is the other way around: they will insist that little Gregor was born ‘gay’ all along, and because of this inherent ‘gayness’ his parents just happened to act this way. They will insist that little Gregor has no urge to identify with his same-sex parent, and that he wouldn’t have identified with his father anyway due to his ‘innate gay condition’, even if his father had been a wonderful parent. They will maintain that it is purely coincidental.
In doing so, each and every Gay Affirmative Therapist denies the role of the child’s upbringing in the way his future self-image and character are formed. Gay-lib is anti-psychiatry, and these activists believe that childhood development is irrelevant to the formation of the adult state of mind.
We will demonstrate that the contrary is true.
In Gregor we see a kind, sensitive and happy boy who wanted to connect to his dad. But Dad was not available. In no way could he identify with this man. So he turned to his mother, who was available all the time, and she protected him. She did so in a non-dad way, the only way she knew. She did not help him identify with maleness, because he did not express that desire towards her. So he entered and remained in Squaw Camp (the world of females in American Indian culture). He started vehemently rejecting Dad and all he stood for (the male world, heterosexuality, male assertiveness, feeling autonomous as a male towards women).
At the end of the day, when it comes to identifying with maleness, Gregor’s biggest problem is this rejecting. He became a rejectionist towards all that Dad stood for, and that rejecting was life saving, or so he thought. The rejecting attitude helped him overcome the feeling of powerlessness that he had towards his dad. If you reject, then you are strong: you are doing something and are not a leaf, passively being blown in the wind. So rejecting gives you a sense of strength, identity: I may be small, but see how well I can reject! I can even reject my big and untrustworthy dad and get away with it.
The problem is: the more you reject, the more you will ultimately feel rejected, as we shall see.
In order to get rid of an unwanted attitude in your mind (rejecting), you project this onto the other person, and see him as the one doing the rejecting, and thereby you become the victim. It becomes a poetic form of romantic victim-hood, where you ultimately build up a self-image of weakness and vulnerability. In therapy you need to learn to see this, change this and change the inner narrative to “I am strong and invincible, I can manage the world”. That feels a whole lot better. Down with gay-lib victim-hood.
2. The role of the mother
Gregor’s mother approved and strengthened his rejecting. She should have been horrified because rejecting is the last thing in the world little boys should be doing. But secretly she admired him: he was helping her deal with her feelings of powerlessness towards her husband too! Gregor became a much needed ally offering his help spontaneously, a friend in this war on Dad. HER marriage problem became Gregor’s war. After all, she understood all too well how negatively Dad influenced Gregor. She formed a covert bond with him, and she was happy not to be alone in this marriage.
Gregor was used. Not deliberately, but nevertheless, used.
But being in squaw camp is not what little boys genetically want. Little boys want to be free, confident and happy.
3. The role of peers: the fear issue
Gregor writes: “I think I was afraid of almost anything”. Let us take a close look at what he writes. This fear is apparently so overwhelming that it makes him socially inadequate; he doesn’t even dare to go to college. What is happening?
Gregor remembers a father who was violent and who (so he thought) was prepared to kill his mother. This no doubt generated a murderous rage in Gregor. He would have loved to step in that night, fight the horrible man and conquer him, perhaps even killing him in the process. The consequence would be an immediate retaliation, the father might do something terrible to him. Gregor would have done away with the breadwinner and would also have to cope with the anger of his mother who would have lost her husband.
This is a truly frightening situation to be in. You can perhaps imagine for a moment what it must feel like from little Gregor’s point of view, a situation that he remembers subconsciously for the rest of his life: not only as what would happen in a conflict with his father, but as what would happen if he got into conflict with any other man too.
Of course, this is only a fantasy in the infant’s mind but if, as he grows up he may very well h ave been punched by another boy, or knocked heavily to the ground or perhaps threatened with a knife by another guy. Such an event can become the proof for him that something terrible WILL happen to him, as in his fantasy, if he ever came into conflict with another man, a peer. And so he becomes even more frightened of other men.
What Gregor needs to realize is that the fantasy he had as an infant is now out of date as things have changed a lot since then. He is a grown man, as big as his father or perhaps even bigger, he is his own breadwinner, he is younger and more active than the father is now, and Gregor is no longer a helpless infant, having to rely on his mother for safety and security. Things have changed, only the thoughts haven’t.
4. Gregor’s anger and fear issues
Gregor is not aware of his own murderous rage and his capability to fight and perhaps to even kill when he unleashes his formidable repressed anger. He fears retaliation. He is basically afraid of his own repressed anger, and has come to anticipate retaliation from all peers around. Every other man at college could retaliate if they knew with which murderous rage he marches around with. And so a generalized fear sets in, he even needs his sister to come around and help him cope with his gigantic fear of other men. For Gregor has come to denounce his natural anger and to suppress his innate male capability to fight when necessary. He has come to hate himself, as he states.
In his book ‘Wrestling For Gay Guys’, (1995) Donald Black deals with anger and fear issues. He writes:
“Anger is nature’s way of protecting us from being pushed around, put upon, taken over or manipulated. Used properly for this purpose, it is a good and valuable source. Unfortunately, as children some of us see anger being expressed by our parents in a way that makes us frightened of it and makes us think that it is a bad, destructive emotion. We become frightened of people who get angry, especially if it arouses unhappy childhood memories and, because we hate having to endure anger in others, we become frightened of expressing it ourselves because we think it will cause the same kind of pain in other people, and that they therefore won’t like us if we do become angry.”
Gregor needs a new internal narrative. So I wrote him an email back, offering him a new vision on Gregor, one in which he can be the most dreaded person walking around, although in the narrative I gave him a self-image size S, not size XL; that would be too much to handle. It is a narrative at kindergarten level, but then again, that is exactly where the whole problem lies. I gave him permission to be angry:
“Imagine Dad coming in like a pirate into your too close relationship with Mom. Imagine him coming in and saving you and bringing you to the glorious world of men. Then you would go with the pirate on his ship. He had a big, mighty sword, and you’ve got a nice round one too. Dad wore a red bandana, and you had a real pirate’s hat. You looked fierce and brave and you would sail the seas. You loved the pirate life, you would have a great suntan, strong muscles because of the work on the ship; you would be not too fat, because the rations were not big. You found a treasure chest, full of golden doubloons. You would have learned sword fighting, and would have laughed. You would have a confident grin on your face, and people in all the sea ports would know: “Pirates! Pirates!” They would know you were coming, Gregor the pirate, Gregor the Great. After two years at sea, your name had just become “The great Pirate!” Your name was enough to make men tremble with fear, they would be at your mercy.
But no pirate came to save you from Squaw Camp. Dad got no further than the harbor inn, drinking with his mates, forgetting his ship, forgetting his little boy. Memories of you were drowned in alcohol. It is alright to drink at the harbor inn before setting sail to go abroad, but Dad was too drunk to even get up. He failed you, he failed himself.
Gregor, are you failing yourself too by staying in the harbor inn and getting drunk? Why not leave the alcohol and face the challenge, sail the seas, defy the storms and stand proudly as the salty waves splash over you and as you show to all around you your confident big grin?”
Gregor wrote back to me:
“Job, your every single email is very important for me. I’m so happy to read everything from you. You are giving me so much power to do the steps which have to be done to become a real man.
I just love reading your letters, I could read them over and over again. The language you use is what I need. The pirate story is what really happened to me. And you know what….there was a time in my life when I was too drunk to feel anything or I had such a hangover that I couldn’t feel my feelings. It helped me not to be sensitive – being sensitive is what I hate about myself.”
To be continued
Job Berendsen, MD.