Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Addendum to Reparative Therapy Post

I believe it's time to write an addendum to the "Reparative Therapy" post. Since it ends with the sentence "It worked."....well...you get the idea. I can't just leave that there after what's occurred.

This entire experience has given me a fuller understanding of many of the points my friends David, Timothy, and Peterson have made to me over the past year or so. And never, ever have any of our discussions, by email or phone, been anything but cordial and even enjoyable. They have all proven themselves to be real friends to me and hopefully me to them. Their big beef (or I think the biggest, if I'm not mistaken, closely followed by the political activism of groups like Exodus) is that orientation doesn't really change. I've never disagreed with my gay friends (and, as a further point of reference these three guys are openly Christian gay friends) about the fact that same sex attractions aren't likely to completely disappear. To me, it's like that scientific thing where you could keep splitting an atom infinitesimally and you're still going to end up with an itsy bitsy split atom.

Furthermore, when I said at the end of the Reparative Therapy post, that "it worked", I believe I can actually stand by that statement. At that time, it was working. As long as he (i hate to mention his name just because i'm afraid it makes him uncomfortable to keep talking about him and i'm trying to be sensitive to him) who will not be named was doing the things that guys do when they are in reparative therapy....our sex life was really awesome. It was. And I'm pretty certain he enjoyed it as well. Now, (my transparency is kicking in here big time) I can't tell you without a doubt that he wasn't secretly thinking of men or whatever he needed to think of during the time it was so great. But, nevertheless, it was. Call me crazy, but, it was really good to the point that I didn't care what he was thinking of. (sometimes i hate myself for being so transparent)

So, yeah, reparative therapy, done well, can work. Can it change people from gay to straight? Not so much. Can it provide hope, help, and healing (don't freak out on me for using that word) to a marriage....ABSOLUTELY. Can one person walk away from the whole thing and decide to be gay again. You bet.

Now, there may be those who have experienced complete and total freedom from unwanted attractions. I think that is incredible. I wish that would have been how our story played out. But it didn't.

And it's okay.

My biggest problem with he who will not be named has never been that he is gay or same sex attracted or whatever you want to call it. But, this blog has never been a forum for me to b*#ch about he who will not be named and I'm not about to start now. Well, I think I did do that just that once when it was 500 degrees and he needed to put the air conditioners in....but that sounds way more like something a straight guy would do, doesn't it??? haha!! :)

I feel better now. Been needing to get that out of my system.

love and grace,
pam





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22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying your thoughts. I know I was certainly curious about what you thoughts are, but I figured this wasn't a good time.

I've sometimes told people who know about my ex-gay experiment, "Yeah, I used to be ex-gay, but I wasn't very good at it." You're right. "It worked", but only if you spent every day monitoring yourself and repressing all thoughts and temptations.

I suspect most ex-exgays would admit that "reparative therapy" (or whatever you call it) works -- at least temporarily. My turning point was when I realized that my entire spiritual and even daily life was about controlling/confessing my SSA. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that God's life for me must be about something other than the struggle.

Once again, thanks for being transparent and honest. You really do bring a new perspective to this issue.

Robert said...

Grace,

Your post triggered some thoughts about the broad spectrum of human sexuality and all of its fascinating aspects. I do not know if I mentioned it here, but as part of my professional work, and volunteerism, I have known a number of men and women who work as sex workers, from high end call boys and call girls, to porn actors, to those who troll the streets plying their trade. I have always been intrigued by those who can just “turn it on” and be sexual with whoever walked through their doorway.

I have noticed with all of these people that they have a fluidity in their sexuality and that they have strong sexual cravings. That is not me, and it never really has been in my makeup. I have always been pretty compartmentalized in my sexuality, not just orientation, but its expression. It fascinates me when I learn that a man who identifies as “straight” (with girlfriend/wife) continues to have repeated, ongoing sex with other men in ways that I would never even think possible. Similarly, I am fascinated when I learn that a man who has a boyfriend occasionally has passionate sex with a woman.

Certainly, a number of self-identified gay men have married women, raised children, and had long term sexual relationships even though they are generally more attracted to women. Of those marriages that do end, not all end because of a decision by the man to come out as gay. Oscar Wilde and his wife Constance divorced because he was going to prison for sodomy. Elton John and his wife divorced because he was heavily into cocaine at the time.

For those people who are more fluid in their sexuality, cultivating that sexuality is possible. However, as you are well aware, it is often not just about cultivating sexuality. Some men and women have a hard time sticking in a monogamous relationship. Unless there is agreement for an open relationship by the parties involved, the longevity of the relationship will be difficult at best.

Anonymous said...

For me, my ex-gay and non-trans days worked, but it was like writing with my left hand even if I am right handed. It works, but I can't se the point to force myself to do it when I can write beautifully with no effort if I use my right hand.

grace said...

Norm!: I know...I really do know that you won't agree with this, and honestly, I'm pretty darn cool with monogamous same sex relationships (like it matters what i think)...but....the aspect about same sex attractions being justified because it's just too difficult to repress them doesn't go very far with me. I think we ALL need to get control over our sexual urges, whatever stripe they may be....and....if someone makes a committment, and there's a way to keep that committment, one ought to do that. I also know that you and I are sort of talking about two different things here. So, maybe you will agree with this comment. ;) I don't know what I'm talking about, actually ;) haha! I guess I'm just answering the part where you said "but I'm not very good at it"....as far as the situation I was in...well...that's no excuse...particularly considering all the extenuating circumstances of which I'll never share here. It's all water under the bridge now...pretty much....maybe it's still a tiny trickle going past...but at some point, it won't matter anymore and I think I'll even be super grateful that he did what he did.

Robert: Your thoughts on sexuality always make sense to me. You seem to have a clear grasp of the seperation between sexuality and orientation...or am I just placing my own bias onto what you say?

Alex: I get that. I totally do. But for some, their religious convictions make it worth it to be uncomfortable...in fact, there can even be joy in that struggle if it keeps them submitted fully to Christ. I'm not making any judgements about you with that statement...not at all...just giving you the other perspective.

Thanks you guys for the great thoughts!

pam

Robert said...

That's exactly what I am saying. Sexuality and orientation work together, but they are separate parts of a bigger picture when people work them into relationships. (This is probably more of a succinct statement than what I previously wrote.)

grace said...

Thanks Robert! You're undeniably the most anonymous BFF I've ever made!

;)
pam

Anonymous said...

Pam: "...I think we ALL need to get control over our sexual urges, whatever stripe they may be....and....if someone makes a committment, and there's a way to keep that committment, one ought to do that..."

I agree. Having SSA (or any other orientation) is no excuse to break commitments. My "but I wasn't very good at it" quip isn't a justification. It's an expression of the reality that the ex-gay lifestyle takes a lot of effort and talent to maintain.

When I choose to break my commitment to ex-gay theology, I really did feel like a failure and that I was giving-in to the struggle. (Obviously, I've had to learn to rebuild my life and perspective.) Fortunately, as a single person, no one else was affected by my decision. I can't imagine how difficult it is for ex-gays in straight marriages.

What I would assert is that reparative therapy (or whatever we call it) is rarely ever done. Rather it seems to be a continual, life-long job.

Anonymous said...

But for some, their religious convictions make it worth it to be uncomfortable
Of coure. Is there any Christian that doesn't have a cross to carry?

My thoughts was on the other side. How can someone love anybody and at the same time want them to oppress them selfs. The same old, if you love somebody set them free-thing. Reparative therapy isn't reparative, it doesn't repair. To be reparative it has to stuck.

grace said...

Norm!: We agree entirely then! :)

Alex: I don't think we disagree all that much on principal, Alex. In my personal case, and it's the only one I can speak with much authority about, I never wanted Tdub to supress anything that he was not willing to suppress. I offered, sort of begged, actually, at the beginning for him to "go free" if he wasn't really committed to doing this. He obviously changed his mind, and I was left with the pain of it. I look at "reparative therapy" as part of a spiritual path...and my Christian worldview tells me that none of us will ever be fully repaired in this age. That's how I deal with that. It's okay with me if you don't see it that way and I'm pretty certain you can respect my beliefs as well. As one who has obviously been oppressed I know you have a great deal of respect for individual determination. That's all any of this is really about when you get down to it.

love you guys!
pam

grace said...

Alex: Also...the whole thing would have been SO much better...I really believe....if Tdub had been honest and transparent about how difficult his struggle had become. If I had been given any inkling to the fact that he was feeling isolated and non-connected to me...that things just weren't as he continued to allow them to appear. That was deceitful. And had he been honest....I guarantee you....I would have "set him free"....actually, I have done that and I don't harbor any ill-will against him because of his choice to come out as gay. It's the mess that was made in his wake that hurts the most. I'm not the only one hurt in this situation. YIKES! I'm doing what I've committed not to do...talking about it....but I feel like it might give you a greater perspective.

I do love Tdub and wish nothing but the best for him, come what may.

for real.

pam

grace said...

Also...I still wonder just when did his worldview change? I honestly don't think he spent any time thinking it through. He just did it. We'd shared everything as far as our outlook on religion, spirituality...we taught Bible classes together...all of that. And then BAM!, he's out. How does one do that without reconciling it all with your worldview? Well, one doesn't....and that's another one of the biggest issues I have with the whole thing...he just "acted" and didn't even take the time to justify, spiritually, what he was doing. I know he's trying to figure it out now, because I've asked him....but I don't see how you wreck a whole family before you've even figured out "why" you're doing it.

Ok..I've really done it now. But that feels good...so...there!

pam

Anonymous said...

Pam: "Also...the whole thing would have been SO much better...I really believe....if Tdub had been honest and transparent about how difficult his struggle had become. . . ."

Obviously, I have no idea what was going in Tdub's mind, so I do sympathize with your frustration. I will say though, that the ex-gay struggle can definitely feel like an unwinnable mire. How many times can someone confess their same-sex attractions, doubts about their sexuality, doubts about their own "change", etc., before it becomes pointless and burdensome on others? Being honest and transparent is less effective if you're covering the same territory and getting the same support. After all, what's the point of expressing doubts to someone who is just going to tell you to not have doubts? It's not like an accountability or spiritual partner is going to affirm or sympathize your doubts.

All of that that said, that's no excuse to hide one's doubts from a life partner. Tdub was obligated to express his doubts to you.

"I still wonder just when did his worldview change? I honestly don't think he spent any time thinking it through. He just did it. We'd shared everything as far as our outlook on religion, spirituality...we taught Bible classes together...all of that. And then BAM!, he's out. How does one do that without reconciling it all with your worldview? . . ."

You're right. No one takes a theological/life leap with their worldview sorted out. In my experience, I found it more and more difficult to keep the theology believable. I felt if I kept asking the same theological questions, I would be accused of not being positive or faithful. Also, I didn't want to bring down the faith others who were relying on me.

If his ex-gay experience was anything like mine, he may have just hit his breaking point and realized something has to change. I can't really point to a moment when I made my decision to leave the ex-gay lifestyle either. I just knew that my life wasn't what I thought it was going to be like and I couldn't head in the same direction anymore. I know that's not a rational explanation and falls far short of justifying the painful destruction of a marriage and family.

I don't know if this is helpful to you at all or if you even seek this type of response, but I thought I would just share some of my own experience.

Norm!

grace said...

Norm!: I'll admit, some of it's a bit difficult to hear...but...I'm a big girl, I can take it. I know I wouldn't last a month married to a woman...I just really like men. ;) I guess we have that in common.

I don't know. Sometimes life just sucks and you have to give to God and go on.

Thanks for your perspective. And please know, I always welcome your response. You are gentle and kind in giving it and I appreciate that.

love,
pam

Robert said...

Pam (aka Grace):

Thank you so much for your wonderful thoughts.

Norm's and Alex' thoughts underscore for me how varied people's sexuality can be. I can pretty well tell that "reparative therapy" would have failed on me. At the same time, I also know men who have had homosexual relationships when they were younger and have gone on to have long term heterosexual relationships -- and vice versa -- but not necessarily because they went through any therapy. From what I understand, it sort of "just happened."

Your experiences remind me of my friend Elizabeth whose husband left her for a man but who, eventually, married another woman - and had more children! It seems too confusing! I do not know where Tdub will take his life, but there is nothing you could do to change the situation.

That said, hopefully you and Tdub can keep a healthy present and future for yourselves. I am sure this will be a difficult Thanksgiving for you, Tdub, and the boys. I wish you all well, and I particularly hope the brothers can get together tomorrow to enjoy each others company.

grace said...

Robert: We'll be okay. The boys won't be together until later in the weekend, and I haven't been "meloncholy" yet over our first seperated Holiday. Drew and I are heading out the door right now for OK. I appreciate your kind thoughts and reflections.

love,
pam

Timothy Kincaid said...

Pam,

I delight that you call me friend. And one of the things I have to be thankful for tomorrow is the wonderful people who have become a part of my life (though some online) in the past year.

Ironically (since I write at an ex-gay monitoring site), I never tried reorientation. I can't give that perspective. However, I may have a few thoughts that are relevant here.

Tdub's failure to be transparent and honest with his doubts and his increasing struggle may be a guy thing, to some extent. Some of my thoughts here are stereotypical, but I think this may be somewhat realistic. We males are raised to think that we are the rock, the strength, and we don't admit weaknesses. Especially not to ourself. A guy will sometimes strive at something without giving up until he reaches the point where he simply cannot go on. "I can do this!", until it's truly beyond his ability to go one step further. I don't know if this is what Tdub was doing, but it may be. He may not have given himself much more warning than he gave you.

Guys also have (let me be discrete) different physical requirements and need different stimuli than women. A guy can override his actual experience and overlay a mental experience to achieve a measure of success, but these artificial stimuli are fighting against reality and lose effectivity with time. The mental movie loses its freshness and the task becomes more difficult and less rewarding.

And achieving physical completion for a man is not always the same as achieving mental completion. While these usually are in allignment, an unsatisfying completion can be disappointing and confusing - much worse than nothing at all.

Also, if there was a decrease in the mental pleasure there may have been an increase in anxiety about the whole thing. Which cycled back into a further decrease in satisfaction. Again, this is just speculation on my part.

I guess what I'm saying is that simply because something worked for a while doesn't necessarily mean it has the ability to continue to work.

As any mother knows, the first time you see Barney the Dinosaur he has the ability to charm. That ability runs out pretty quickly.

I can't answer for Tdub - and I'm certainly not trying to excuse his abandoning his committments. But perhaps, possibly, he truly had reached the point where it simply was not possible for him to go on. Perhaps he had completely exhausted his "mental porn collection" and his emotional completion was never being accomplished.

Perhaps Tdub could have stayed and lived day by day. Perhaps somewhere down the road things would have turned a bit and started working again. I don't know.

I can say, however, how very lucky he was to have you as his wife. When it worked, what a joy for him that it "worked" with you. And when it didn't, how fortunate for him that it "didn't work" with you. Even though he knows that he has hurt you deeply, he also knows that you are strong and resilient and forgiving and loving. He knows that you'll survive, and will not be vindictive, and will not lose your faith in God or in men (OK, well maybe a little bit in men - but they deserve it :).

Robert said...

Happy Thanksgiving!! I am off to buy some deep dish pie crusts for some buttermilk pie. It has been requested! ;-D

grace said...

Timothy: Thank you for those words. I teared up when I read that last part. You're a great friend.

Robert: I just love hearing that...I made one just last week! yum yum!

We made it to OK just fine and are having a nice visit with our family. I'm so thankful for all of you!

love and grace,
pam

Peterson Toscano said...

Pam, I can say without a doubt that change IS possible.
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So do you have two 5's for a 10?

I am thankful for you and your life.

grace said...

Thanks Peterson! I was going to write some snappy comeback involving a 3 dollar bill...but...well.... ;)

I am thankful for you as well, your perspective has given me a greater understanding of so many things...what a blessing.

pam

Inheritor of Heaven said...

I do believe in a God who could bring complete and total change, even instantaneously. He doesn't appear to operate that way all the time with any kind of physical healing, however. I kinda think he doesn't like formulas nor boxes to be put into. I also know that straight guys (at least one in my very close acquaintance) have been known to not do something that needed to be done at the most opportune time for it to be done (air conditioning included).

grace said...

Inheritor: I believe in that same God that you do. ;) He, basically, can do whatever He wants.

thanks for keeping up with what's going on with me...it means a great deal....
love,
pam