Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Chains That Bind Us

In a conversation with a married bisexual man a while back, he referred to his life as a prison of his own making. Though he used this reference in passing and as part of a much wider discussion, it was that he considered his life a prison of his own making that I remember most about the discussion. The term burned into my mind and caused me to think and reflect over my own life and the lives of some of the people I know best.

I guess, to be honest, the use of that analogy stuck me because I immediately applied it to almost half of my own life. For almost 30 years, I was in a prison of my own making. That is not to say that the cirucumstance of my life did not contribute  to the construction of my prison. It did contribute greatly. But it was I who built the walls around a portion of my life and it was I who chained myself to those walls.

Over the years, I have been in the postion to and have had the privilege of talking to hundreds of men about their most intiment thoughts, desires and fears. Men do not talk easily about such things, and it means a great deal to me that I am able to foster a degree of trust  in so many guys that they are comfortable in sharing with me things that more than likely they have never shared with anyone else.

It occurred to me almost immediately that while men have shared their triumphs and their successes with me, more often than not what they have shared with me is the story of the prison they have built for themselves within their own lives and their persepctives from the wall to which they have chained themselves with heavy and burdensome chains of their own making.

Some might say to me, yes I am in prison and yes I am chained by heavy and budrdensome chains but it is certainly not of my own making. God or the circumstances of my life have done this to me.

That argument just won't hold up under honest self reflection and evaluation. Everyone, no matter who he is or what the cirucmstances of his life may be, is faced with adversity. Life can only be lived in the face of adversity. It can only be lived well by overcoming that adversity. To the extent that we find ourselves happy and successful in our life is in direct ratio to the extent to which we have overcome and indeed capitalized on the adversity we have encountered in our life. And conversely, to the extent that we find ourselves unhappy and unsuccessful in our life is in direct ratio to the extent  which we have failed to overcome the adversity we encounter in our life.

When I was a child, I was blessed with a loving and caring mother who took great pains to see that I was never without support and a sense of belonging. I appreciated that and I loved my mother dearly  for the love and support I knew she provided me.

At the same time, I was blessed with a strict and demanding father though I did not count that as a blessing at the time. While my mother showered me with measureless love and care, my father made it his business to teach me that the world was a cold and cruel place and it didn't give a damn about me. My father knew the only way to survive the adversity the world had to offer was to kick myself in my own ass and stand up on my own two feet and do what I had to do to achieve the life I desired.

The lessons of my father were so cold and so hard that I grew up thinking he didn't love me at all. He just existed to make my life miserable and he took joy in doing it, I thought. It was not until I was in my 30's with children of my own that I came to reaizle that my father loved me as much as my mother had, but he saw his job as different from hers. Her job was to support me always and to be there whenever I needed her. His job was to make me tougher than the world I was going to have to take on as an adult.

The lessons my mother taught me were invaluable to me, but it was the lessons my father taught me that moved me from a child born in a little shack next to a railroad track to an educated and successful man.

I have become convinced, that  part of what is wrong with this country currently is that there are too many boys who have grown into manhood having been raised by their mothers absent of a father. Either the father was physically absent or he was effectively absent because he put all his time and energy into making a living. Boys need their fathers to teach them the lessons my father taught me.

The other thing that is wrong with this country is that there are too many boys (and girls) who have been raised by parents that chose to be their "friends" rather than their mentors. There are too many parents who are unwilling to impose the discipline on their sons necessary for meeting and dealing with adversity head on and coming out on the winning side.

In my own case, I learned the lessons of my father well and applied them to most of the areas of my life. The one area to which I did not apply them soon enough was in dealing with my sexuality.

When I discovered that even though I was a married man with a beautiful wife who gave me everything I wanted sexually, yet it was not enough, I was shocked and bewildered. What kind of monster was I that I could enjoy sex with my wife and then go to sleep and dream about sex with a guy?

As a man, this upset me. As a Christian, it placed me outside the boundaries of everything I had been taught concering my religioius faith. The pain was so great and my bewilderment so complete that rather than meet this adversity head on, I began to build my own prison for that part of my life. Block by block I built up that prison. Link by link I forged the chains I used to bind my body and my desires to those dark dank and cold prison walls. Only in my dreams at night could I be free and even that was a mixed bag because in the morning the dreams only supplied more bricks and mortar for higher and stronger walls for my prison.

This went on for almost 30 years. When I was 49 years old, I got my first computer. I discovered, much to my amazment, I was not alone in my thoughts and my desires.There were millions of men just like me. This discovery was the first crack in my prison walls.

Over the next three years, I began to tear down those walls bit by bit. I have never been so scared in all my life as I was when I made those first faltering steps into my bisexuality. Luckily for me, I found some great men along the way who helped me to understand myself and show me the options for dealing with my situation. Most of these men were other Christian men. A few were not, but we were all in a common situation and as in any adversity, the more heads you put together, the better your chances of success and success was finally mine.

I knew I had been hurting for 30 years. I didn't realize how badly I had been hurting until the hurt went away. I didn't realize how peace of mind really felt until I found it. For me peace of mind came though acknowledging to myself that I was a bisexual man, not by choice but by birth, and by acknowledging that my bisexuality did not make me a bad man, it just made me me.  It came with my acknowledging to myself that in fact my bisexuality was a gift not a curse and that there was a purpose for it. It came by acknowledging to myslef that I could love my wife, meet my responsibilities to her and my family and at the same time enjoy my buddy and satisfy the hunger that I had so long denied.

Now, I have the opportunity to converse with many guys who are struggling just as I did. A few of these guys, given just a bit of support and just a ray of understanding that they are who and what they are for a purpose, can use that support and understanding to tear down their self constructed prisons.

Unfortunately, most cannot and will not. Too many have used their misunderstanding of their religious faith to fashion chains that are almost impossible to break. Others have used the boundaries of so called societal norms to do the same thing. Whatever the source of the raw material, the chains are equally as effective.

For me, I was actually able through a lot of study and reflection to turn my religious faith into a new paradign. I came to see that I was what God made me to be; and that he made me, as I am, for a purpose. My bisexuality was not a curse, it was a gift. A gift meant to be used for good. I found that good in helping other guys who are struggling with their own sexuality  to learn to live with it. That does not mean they learn to live with it in the way I live with mine. But they learn to live with it in a way that works for them. There is no one blueprint. There are many.

For guys who are not men of faith, the process, I think, is similar. Perhaps it is even a little bit easier. You only have this one life. You only have today. There is no promise of tomorrow. You get one shot at the brass ring. It's best to reach out and grab it. Life is way too short to be unhappy. Have the courage to make hard decisions. Have the courage to be happy and content. Don't settle for a meager existence when you could have an awesome existence.

My only regret at this point in my life is that I wasted 30 years. How I would like to have those 30 years back. It would be even more tragic to waste a life time.

Let me hasten to add, I am not encouraging anyone to rush hog wild into a careless and hedonistic life. There is no sense of self fulfillment and certainly no peace of mind to be had in such a wasted life. Guys who tear down their prison walls and throw off their chains and enter into such a self centered life as that simply trade one prison for another and one set of chains for an even heavier set of chains.

The kind of action I am urging is action that affirms yourself and at the same time fullfills your responsibilities to others. However, keep in mind that your responsibilities to others may not always make those others happy in the short run when you begin to carry them out. Good medicine does not always go down easily and it is often bitter, but in the long run it brings you back to health. Such is it with dealing with your sexuality.

Above all, do not be afraid to step out beyond  your confort zone. As long as you are comfortable, you will never make any real progress. At the same time, be very very careful with what you say to those you love. Once said, nothing can ever be unsaid. You will have to live with the results of your words for the rest of your life. Whatever you do, do not make your burden someone elses burden on the premise that it is the honest thing to do. Most of us have things in our lives with which we should deal privately. If you find you must share your inner most thoughts with someone, be careful to consider the possible implications. Consider sharing them with a trusted friend or even a psychotherapist before you lay a burden on a loved one that they cannot understand or cope with.

As the old saying goes, "lead, follow or get out of the way." For married men dealing with sexual desires for other man I think that old saying translates in to get off your ass and do something constructive about it. Don't just wallow in your unhappiness. By all means, if you can, put the thoughts behind you. Forget them.  Don't look at porn or do anything else that encourages  those thoughts. If you can manage that, its the simplest way to deal with it all.

Unfortunately, almost no man can do that. You will find with each passing year the thoughts get more demanding and your prison gets more solid around you. Finally, it becomes the immoveable object against the irresistable force and that is a cataclysm just waiting to happen. Guys that let themselves get to that point do crazy and dangerous things.

Its much better to tear down the walls and to break the chains that bind you when they are only difficult to manage and not impossible to manage.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a huge fan of country music. I find I can easily and honestly relate to the stories told thru the lyrics. A few years ago country artist Kenny Chesney released a song in which one of the verses began:

    "Inside, I built a wall,
    So high around my heart I thought I'd never fall."

    That single sentence struck a chord with me the instant I first heard it. 'I do that' was my first reaction after hearing that. I didn't realize ( or rather, want to admit) that I had been doing the same thing for almost 20 years. At that point, I had no idea how to start dismantling this prison wall, and honestly, I'm still not there ... but now I realize I want to dismantle it. Or, at least, knock some fuckin holes in it.

    Jack, I love your statement about facing adversity. I believe that to be true. Life is what we make it. Life is too short to be unhappy.

    I'm still working on the 'courage' part, but I am, at least, now acknowledging it. I have a problem sacrificing the happiness of someone else for my own selfish reasons.



I deeply regret that I must reinstate the verification process for those who want to leave comments on my blog. This is due to the intolerable amount of spam that spammers are attempting to leave on the blog.

At the same time I am changing settings so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will not have to have your comments moderated. My hope is this will encourage more readers to take the time to comment. The fact is I want to read comments with those of you who disagree with me as well as those of you who agree with me. All I ask is that you keep your comments clean and non-threatening.

The only reason I take the time to write this blog is to spur your thoughts and comments. Please do not let the spammers cause you not to comment. I know entering the verification words and numbers is a pain in the ass, but I hope you will not let the spammers cause you not to comment.

I still very much look forward to hearing from you.

Jack Scott

Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott