Note: This post is primarily written from and to a male perspective. It is specifically for men who contend with unwanted sexual attractions and feelings for other men.
Men who experience unwanted SSA generally lock up their true and underlying feelings – feelings that should be addressed, not ignored or covered up. If we don’t allow them to be expressed, they will only leak out in the form of physical, emotional or mental symptoms. We need to recognize our feelings. Express them. Examine them further to see what’s behind them. Learn to accept them. We need to be willing to face our fears and pain and let Jesus comfort us in them. A lot easier said than done – I know.
The first time I complete the following exercises, I was nearly overwhelmed by the outright volume of memories and emotions that flowed out of my heart and mind. The words just wouldn’t come out in the beginning but as I relaxed my anxieties and intentionally wrote down everything in descriptive detail, the mental blockade was breached. For some of you, making an audio or video recording may be a better approach. However, I found the process of writing to be much more fluid and productive.
Exercise #1: How Do You Describe Yourself?
Have you really thought about how you would describe yourself? Getting in touch with how you really see yourself can be quite revealing. If you had to think of ten words to describe yourself, what would they be? Write them down. Don’t stop until you have at least ten words listed. Be honest. If listing 10 words is an easy task for you, list 20 or 30 words instead.
Now answer to these five questions. Be concise and descriptive.
- Which words do you consider negative? Why?
- Which words do you consider positive? Why?
- Do these words describe what you feel other people would say about you?
- If not, what would be the difference?
- What would you like to change and what could be an action plan you could put into place?
Exercise #2: Write Your Story
It is important to be able to write about yourself and your history. The process helps you to see those details you may often set aside. Think back to your earliest recollections. Start there. Be as descriptive and as exact as possible. Let it all out. Don’t hold back.
- Write in chronological order your most prominent memories.
- Describe who was part of your life.
- Describe where you lived and what it was like.
- Describe your family.
- Talk about your school days and peers.
- Talk about your teachers.
- Make sure you include both positive and negative memories.
- Discuss your earliest sexual thoughts and fantasies.
- Discuss how same-sex attraction has been a part of your life and how it developed.
Let the process flow. You may not be able to complete this exercise in one sitting. That’s okay. Take your time. Finish up by mentioning where you are today.
Exercise #3: Tell and Listen To Your Story
Now it is time to tell your story. This can be a challenge, especially due to the shame that is inherent in SSA. Use a tremendous amount of discernment and wisdom when picking someone to listen to you. He MUST be safe, trustworthy, mature and nonjudgmental. He MUST be able to provide a supportive, confidential environment for you to read the words you wrote in Exercise #2.
- I wouldn’t recommend that you choose your parents for this exercise. How (if, when) you approach them has its own unique set of considerations.
- You may want to audio record your story before you actually read it to your safe person. This way you can practice the process and be able to play it back and listen to it again and again.
- Even if you decide not to share your story at this time, be proud of yourself. By taking honest and intentional steps to face your history, you accomplished something important for you. Everything in your past has led you to this transformative moment in time. Everyone (including you) has always done the best they could with what they knew at the time. Now you know more. Celebrate your new awareness!
- Remember, however, that it is critical to share with someone. Keeping secret your struggle with sexual orientation is unhealthy and unproductive. The reassuring feedback and support from your safe person will be invaluable.
Exercise #4: Have A Conversation With SSA
This exercise in role reversal is unusual but powerful. It allows you to see things from both a subjective and objective view. Here’s your opportunity, your chance to express how you really feel about your same-sex attractions:
1. Write a letter to your SSA. It could include . . .
- your feelings about SSA
- how you see SSA
- what you want from SSA
- the cost and consequences of SSA (the things SSA took from you and may still be taking from you)
- how SSA influences your behavior
- the positive reinforcement and excitement SSA has brought to your life
- (if it helps) create pictures or drawings that describes your relationship with SSA
- anything else you want to tell SSA
2. Next, be SSA. Write a response to the issues you raised about it in the first letter. How would SSA respond to you? What would it say to you?
3. Then (as yourself), write another letter to SSA in response to what it told you.
4. How was the second and third letter different from the first letter?
5. What did you learn from this exercise? Write down what you learned. You may want to share (or process) the results of this exercise with your safe person or another trustworthy individual.
Outside of these four exercises, you may want to continuing journaling about this and/or other aspects of your life. Keeping a private (or public) journal can be very a rewarding experience.
© Darrell Martin and SameSexAttractions.wordpress.com, 2013.
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