I was either insane, trusting, or being driven by God to talk to Sarge. He was a three-tour Army vet, complete with a Purple Heart and other medals. I had completed one tour. We were in Virginia. I was going through school, and he was one of the instructors.
I’d gotten to know Sarge because I was being selected to stay on and attend school and become an Army instructor for parachute rigging. I could sew well, and I was a meticulous packer. I was also attracted to other men but had been keeping away from gay bars and sexual association on the advice of a therapist I had been seeing prior to being drafted into the Army. I had been an active homosexual from the age of 14 until I was drafted at 19.
I was on an airplane back to Seattle from San Francisco. I had been there because on my 17th birthday when I told my mom I was gay, she sent me, as a gift, to live with three gay men she knew in San Francisco. I had a great time there… but on the plane trip back I was seized with the question, “Why am I queer?”
I spent time reading Freud, Adler, B.F. Skinner, and others and began to understand some of the issues. This was 1967, so psychologists didn’t encourage one to experiment and accept the feelings. I met with one therapist who started working with me, and then I was drafted.
The Army was good for me. When asked if I was a homosexual, I said no. And through boot camp, Ranger school, and even in-country, I was following the advice of my therapist. I still had feelings for men from time to time, but the urges seemed under control.
And then there I was, sitting outside a packing shed with this Sergeant, and I started telling him how I felt about men. That I was attracted to them, that I had a dad who ignored me and a stepfather who terrorized me, and an uncle who locked me in a closet, and on and on. Why did I trust him? God knows. But there I was. And when I finished and was getting up to run away, he said, “Ya know something, Son? Y’all ain’t queer. You just need a real daddy.” “Yeah, right,” I said. “No, y’all needs someone to show you howse to be a man.” “I am a man,” I responded. “Well, ya sort of are. You’re part way there… Y’all come over for dinner. This ain’t no place to talk, all right?”
So I went to dinner at his home. He and his wife said grace. I didn’t believe in any god, as my parents were atheists and so I had grown up without a divine influence, albeit a fairly moral one. My father was an objectivist… Ayn Rand’s philosophy.
After dinner he and I sat outside and we started talking. He just pretty much listened without judgment or comment. “Y’all need to come over here on Saturday and help me.” “Doing what?” I asked. “I build birdhouses for the church sales, and I need you to cut wood and paint. By the way, ya know there ain’t no queer deer, don’t ya?” “What?” “God didn’t make no queer deer. Takes two to make babies.” “OK…” “A man needs to know that he’s responsible for his family, needs to have a family in order to become more of a man… Any of your homosexual friends grownups? You ain’t got to answer now. I just want you to think about it… See you for dinner on Saturday. Bring your manners with you.”
And this started a routine of me coming over for Saturday dinners as well as Friday nights. Sarge used to tell me, “Y’all git them feelings for a man, you come to the house. We’ll just talk, and I’ll put you to cutting wood and painting, and we’ll have a beer.” When I asked why a Southern Baptist had beer in the house, he said, “Well, Son, I don’t hide it from the Lord. I don’t get drunk. I like a cold beer now and then, and if I know a fellah’s got a problem with his licker, then I offer him lemonade.”
Sarge taught me how to fish and how to make birdhouses. His wife taught me how to make buttermilk biscuits and how to be a man toward women. I was always invited to church socials and to services on Sunday. Sometimes I went, but I was not convinced.
Sarge helped me get my license for parachute rigging and introduced me to skydiving. He took me hunting with other vets and showed me how to whittle a bit. He never told anyone that I was struggling, but he’d ask me how I was doing with my feelings.
“Y’all gettin’ better these days. I see you lookin’ at the cute forklift driver the other day.” “Her name is Susan,” I said. “You think she’s pretty?” asked Sarge. “Beautiful red hair, green eyes, and shapely, too,” I reported. Sarge replied, “You sure you used to like boys? You startin’ to sound like a lusty fellow to me!” “I seem to be thinking that from time to time,” I said. “Well you know there’s a proper time for all that sex, don’t you?” “Yeah, yeah. Mrs. B told me it waits till marriage.” “God says so, too. And though I know you ain’t one to talk much about God, I want you to think about Him. I’d like you to know Him personally, too. I got some books for you, cuz I know you’re a thinker.”
He’d bought some books by Francis Shaeffer and C.S. Lewis for me, and a Bible with lots of ribbons in it marking passages. These were my birthday presents from him and his wife. “You got some reading to do.” I put the books away.
I spent almost two years going to see Sarge, building birdhouses, talking, fishing, going out into the woods for one reason or another. We played catch, rough-housed, and went shooting. Basically I found a dad I could love. When I left for school, he asked about the books. I promised I’d read them. I did. It would be years later before I became a Christian. But I’d stopped having sexual attractions for other men. I knew he and his wife had prayed many a prayer over me. He used to hug me and kissed me on the cheek on the rare occasion. As far as I know, only he and his wife knew of my struggle. They did what no one had done before: loved me, listened to me, helped me as I struggled, and provided for me a stable home and a steady diet of love. I also learned that a man could do many things like cook, sew, and paint and still be a man of character with leadership qualities.
Sergeant Balderidge died about twenty years ago, and his wife followed shortly thereafter. But he had pictures of me, my wife, and my son on his piano at home. To him, I was his son.
Mine is a story of hope. Hope that one day the anguish of homosexual desires can be reconciled. Deep within my heart and soul throughout my life, I have held to the belief that there had to be an understanding for my unwanted feelings. I didn't believe that I was simply born this way. I always knew that there had to be an answer to being free from the emotional turmoil of my same-sex attraction (SSA). All my life I have questioned my own gender and sexuality, never understanding why I was attracted to other males and why I was always identifying with and wanting to be a girl. From birth I was confused about my gender and never bonded with my father or any other male role model. As a result, I lived most of my life in a fantasy world, never feeling like I belonged to anyone or anywhere, no matter the circumstances.
While growing up, I took on the identity of my mother. I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to relate to her and bond with her emotionally, all the while unknowingly rejecting my own male identity. As I entered the world of public schools and interaction with others outside my family, I was told over and over again that I was different, a femme, a girl, and eventually a faggot. Each time I heard these cutting words I internalized feelings of being unacceptable and not welcome in the world of boys, that I didn’t belong. As a result, I withdrew into a world of fantasy and loneliness, a world where celebrities were my only friends, though my relationship with them was just through magazines. It was a world filled with sexual fantasy about the very thing I feared most, men. I withdrew from all males around me out of a need for self-preservation and instead looked for comfort in the world of women.
During my teen years the abuse and ridicule from my peers was unbearable. I suffered both verbal and physical abuse for several years in junior high and high school, almost on a daily basis. At the same time, my homosexual desires took hold and eventually grew into a strong and powerful force, shaping the very person I thought I was. I began acting upon my fantasies and sexual urges at the age of 14. By the time I reached 21, I had taken on a new identity as a gay man, living with a lover I thought I would be with forever and finally feeling that I had found myself.
During the moments when I was having sexual relations with my partner I felt complete, at ease, and free from the emotional pain that had been my constant companion. Unfortunately, that feeling lasted only a few hours after the encounter and I was left with an even deeper pain and increased drive for the next sexual experience. During the periods when I didn’t have a lover, the pain was unbearable. I began contemplating suicide on occasion, feeling that perhaps it was the only path to relief from my emotional turmoil. The wonderful, liberating life that I had once known was now for me shallow, empty, and even lonelier.
After several years of struggling emotionally, trying to determine if I wanted to continue living a gay life, I had an amazing spiritual experience and determined that I could commit to a heterosexual lifestyle. At the age of 26, I married a most remarkable woman, and in time we had three wonderful children together. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried to put it all out of my mind, the homosexual fantasies raged and I found myself emotionally involved with men I associated with at work and at church. For years I had tried to pray my condition away, and had maintained the position that if I clung to my faith and my marriage, then in time God would reward my commitment with relief.
The time came when I met a fellow employee, David, whom I found extremely attractive physically and emotionally. As he befriended me, I fell head over heels in love with him. Over the course of four years our friendship grew deeper and deeper emotionally. We were put in situations where we worked long hours together, traveled on business trips together frequently, and spent untold hours getting to know each other. I found myself emotionally out of control, even in a daze, from having a male like David in my life. I found myself craving his attention and companionship all the time. When I wasn’t with him I was in emotional agony, and my sexual fantasies about him raged out of control. Finally I had to share with him my reality of struggling with homosexual desires. And I confessed that I was attracted to him not only as a friend but also romantically.
I expected him to reject me; but to my surprise, this confession only drew us closer. He showed me great compassion and expressed that it didn’t matter to him, that he loved me and wanted me to know that he was there for me, to help me in any way he could.
After 16 years of marriage and struggling to overcome SSA through prayer and Scripture study, I came across Coming Out Straight, by Richard Cohen. This wonderful book came as an answer to prayer during a particularly dark period in my struggle to cope with my desire for David. I had tried everything up to that point in my life to overcome my struggle. I had tried therapy and was left disillusioned, disheartened, and dejected. I was completely on my own. I turned to my religion for answers, and served in prominent positions in my church, all the while struggling to keep my secret hidden. I held to the hope that one day God would take these desires from me if I did my part.
When I first acquired the book, I read it several times, knowing instantly that its claims were both true and possible. It seemed that every word resonated with my experience. I considered finding a therapist to aid in the process but had little hope that a capable one even existed, given my prior experiences. Upon further reflection, I determined that my only hope was to be my own therapist. When I read in Coming Out Straight that a sexually attractive male offers the best hope for healing, I asked my friend David if he would be willing to be my mentor, which he readily accepted. At the time, neither of us could have comprehended the full scope of what a mentor’s role was in the process of healing. However, I now understand that having a mentor who has been willing to participate 100% at every level of my healing is the No. 1 reason I have been able to find peace and liberation from my inner conflict.
I tried the best I could to do everything Richard outlined in the book, and over the course of a two-year period made dramatic progress. David and I learned together all the circumstances that can lead to a same-sex attractions (SSA). We also learned together how the pain and suffering of years of repressed abuse can finally be released and replaced with positive energy and the love of God. As my mentor, David was everything I could ever ask for: kind, loving, gentle, tall, dark, handsome, and incredibly sexually attractive to me. He was everything I had ever dreamed of in the perfect male. And to think that he was the one who was willing to help me through my journey was amazing!
With the book as a guide, I began to understand the challenge that was before me. I established as best I could a support network of other people in my life to help me. David was my mentor, one of my brothers knew about my SSA, and other men at church who didn’t know about my struggle became my support network. Over the course of time, I asked David to participate with me in holding sessions. This allowed me to release years of pain and suffering and openly weep as he held me like a baby. Each session like this was preceded by instructions from the book as to the purpose and objective of the session. Each time I experienced David’s non-erotic male love, I felt more whole. It was the first time in my life that I had ever felt genuine love from a male. It was the first time I had ever let myself feel loved. It was wonderful and amazing to me that a male was willing and able to share his love with me in this way.
In the beginning, our holding sessions consisted of me sharing about my progress and learning to date, where I was in the journey, and expressing the feelings of pain and sorrow that I had never expressed before. We both read from the book as we learned together how the process works. He would then hold me and let me feel his love. The result of my first holding session was incredible, and it gave me hope that healing was indeed possible. Over the course of the next two years, I began to unravel the painful years of abuse and rejection that I had both experienced from others and heaped upon myself. All the years of distorted and illogical thinking began to be exposed. Each layer of distorted thinking and belief was identified and released, and true healing was felt for the first time in my life. Each time a new layer was exposed, I would process through the cause and then ask David to help me release the pain. The session would conclude with him holding me closely and telling me how much he loved me, as a father would while holding his infant son.
Eventually I arrived at a point where I felt stuck in a rut. I was no longer making the progress in leaps and bounds as I had in the beginning. Finally, in desperation I reached out to Richard for counseling and direction. Richard was wonderful! He helped me see where I was in the process. He was so encouraging, saying he was amazed at the progress I had made on my own. After an initial assessment, he immediately prescribed a path for me to follow. This involved learning about my inner child, planting seeds of self-acceptance of myself as a male, and continuing my holding sessions with David to uncover more wounds that were still waiting to be identified, exposed, and released.
He advised me to step up my holding sessions with David and helped me understand how to maximize each experience for greater healing. Up to this point I had only participated in five or six holding sessions. Richard recommended doing holding once a week or so, which I tried to follow as much as my schedule would permit. He also taught me in greater depth what was happening on a psychological level during the holding sessions. Since David represented the perfect male to me, seeing him so up close and personal and being held by him brought to the surface all my own feelings of rejection and worthlessness and deep wounds that eventually formed the core beliefs I held about myself. My challenge was to amplify these negative feelings in David’s presence and release them rather than suppress them. This I did and learned how marvelous the outcome was.
As I learned more from Richard, I began to set more specific objectives for each session. Each session began with prayer, a short discussion on my progress since the last session, and the hoped-for outcome. At first I was extremely uncomfortable, but David’s sensitive nature made it easier for me. During the first session, I felt a major relief after working through issues of abandonment and rejection by my father. The next session dealt with all the abuse I suffered at the hands of my peers during my school years. Each time I felt a little more at peace.
Eventually, I began to recognize deeper and deeper wounds and the beliefs that were instilled in me as a result: my fear of men, my belief that I was a gay male, and my belief that I was really a woman, all came to the surface over time. All these issues were uncovered bit by bit as I participated in these sessions with David.
Learning to communicate my true inner feelings to my mentor, including all those that had been repressed over the years no matter the nature, and still being accepted by him proved to my unconscious that a man loved me. The deep longing for male affection was finally being met and satisfied. These experiences truly formed the foundation of my own belief that I, too, was a male and had finally found acceptance in the world of men.
I continued to have these kinds of holding sessions with David, and they served to break down the emotional barriers held deep within my unconscious mind … barriers that had been stumbling blocks throughout my life. I now understand that these barriers were the false beliefs that I had held about myself. Once I was able to identify each false concept, I was able to release the repressed pain in David’s presence.
It has now been four years since I had my first holding session with David. In that time there have been many ups and downs along the way, but as I have learned more about the root causes of my SSA and confronted each one under Richard’s guidance, I have found a most wonderful peace, unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life. Healing is real. Healing is lasting. And above all, healing is possible for anyone who is determined to find the truth.
I acknowledge the presence of God throughout my entire journey and give thanks unto Him for guiding me through this process with the help of many of His servants. I often wondered why a person such as David would be willing to participate in an experience like this with me. One day I found out. I learned that in the beginning, David also had questions as to whether or not he should help me. He prayed to God for guidance and received the distinct impression that he should help, and that all would work out to the benefit of both.
I am now in a stage where true acceptance of my male identity is firmly taking root. I have never been so comfortable in my own skin or confident in my life, especially in the presence of other men. I am beginning to forgive myself for all the lies I told myself and for believing all the lies others have told me. For the first time in my life I feel like a man. And nothing has been more satisfying to me emotionally than to realize that I have been one all along. I just didn’t know it. My entire experience has been a confirming witness to me that God loves each of us and seeks to bless our lives if we truly seek Him.
“Out of the forthright admission of one’s frailties and the determined commitment to go on, comes a laminated strength powerful enough to overcome those who have not made such a struggle.” –from “Fantastic,” by Lawrence Lerner
By the time, at age 32, I began to seriously address my SSA, I had been struggling with it for so long I could barely remember life without it. There are no words to adequately express how consuming and crippling it was. As I write this, I am thirty-five and continuing on my journey of recovery, moving toward the reclamation of my true masculine potential which lay dormant for so long. Although two and a half years have passed since I decided to finally confront my SSA, the start of this journey seems like it was a lifetime ago. In some ways, it was.
It all began when I was six years old. My father was at that time a raging alcoholic, my older brother (seven years older than I) was rebelling against him, and my mother was desperately trying to hold our family together. At about this time I started school, and I began to see how other kids behaved with their parents and how life appeared to be in their homes. I was and am a very sensitive person, very quick to read the surroundings and underlying mood of a situation. I recognized quickly that something was not entirely right in our home, not only with my father but with our entire family. As the years went on, it was very painful to watch my father deteriorate into his addiction, and along with him our family life deteriorated too.
When I was 10, my mother gave my father an ultimatum: “Stop drinking or I am leaving you!” He did stop, and never touched a drink again. Still, although the nights of wondering if my father would come home drunk ended, I still never felt comfortable with him. Particularly in the early years of his sobriety, it was as if our family was playing a game of make-believe; as if the turmoil caused by his drinking, or the anticipation of that turmoil, had never existed. To this day, my father has never once acknowledged that he was ever wrong. Even after nearly twenty-five years of sobriety, he cannot speak of his drinking days, and worse, he takes no responsibility for them.
As I’ve grown and come to better understand my father, I recognize that he is in many ways what Alcoholics Anonymous calls a “dry drunk,” someone who is no longer drinking but whose thinking is still distorted by the thought patterns of addiction. I also recognized very early on that I would rather die than be like him. It gives me no pleasure to say that; it is in fact profoundly sad to do so. But it is true. While my father was staying sober, my brother—with whom he never got along—was going his own way. My brother had the unique ability to infuriate our father on many occasions. Why couldn’t he just shut up and keep the peace? I made the decision somewhere around the age of 13 that I was never going to be like my brother, either.
During those turbulent years, the one thing I wanted more than anything else was to protect my mother. In my view, she’d been through enough. My father’s insensitivity to her, the stress she took on mediating between my brother and father, the pain the entire situation caused her—it was too much. I vowed that I would never hurt her. I would be the perfect son. In the process I became her sounding board, in a sense her emotional “husband.” To say I became overly attached to her is an understatement.
Meanwhile, I was discovering that my extreme sensitivity and lack of athletic ability in a hyper-masculine hometown were crippling me. I did not fit in with the other boys. I was passive, afraid to fight. I liked to dress nicely, and I was weak and overweight. I felt in some ways, really in many ways, crushed by the circumstances of my life. I wanted to be someone else. By this time I was 13, in the spring of the seventh grade, and now my SSA began.
The first boy I became attracted to was a year older than I, and he was everything I could have been “if only.” He was smart, athletic, preppy, and seemed very nice. At that point I didn’t consciously think it was weird for me to be constantly thinking about this guy. What I remember asking myself was, How can I be more like him? How can I turn into him? How can I get him to like me?
As I entered high school, I re-experienced those feelings for other boys. They were always the same—lean, preppy, baby-faced, safe. I studied how they dressed and acted, what they liked and tried to emulate them. Above all else, I worked hard to get them to like me and be my closest friends. The tension and excitement that this all-consuming quest caused me cannot be overstated. I often masturbated while thinking about them, trying to relieve the anxiety that all of those feelings caused. Yet I remained in deep denial about the nature of my feelings.
In the rare moments when I reflected on what I was doing, I recognized that it was highly unlikely that these boys, whom I so admired, felt the same way about me. But this didn’t stop me—my emotional cravings and need for belonging were too strong. Time after time, no matter what guy I pursued, obsessed over, and longed to be with, every single time I got my heart broken in some way. Nothing ever worked out the way I wanted it to. Before long I would turn my attention toward someone else, and the same thing would happen all over again.
My religious tradition was Roman Catholic, and my SSA feelings were a source of guilt and shame to me. I had “girlfriends,” but only because it was what was expected of me. I would never have admitted to anyone that my feelings for guys were stronger and more intense than what I felt for girls. It was an exercise in stamina and required tremendous acting to pretend that I was “normal.”
In the summer between seventh and eighth grades, a man I had come to trust and tried to emulate offered me a ride home from an event. I was shocked when he started asking me questions about how often I masturbated, how I did it, and whether I liked it. His questions made me extremely uncomfortable, but I wanted his attention too much to say so. Then, after a few minutes of this kind of talk, he softly said, “Show me how you do it.”
It has been twenty-one years since this incident took place and I still cannot adequately explain the fear I experienced in that moment. Why did I accommodate him? Why did I do what he asked? Because I was afraid—too afraid not to. I was afraid that if I didn’t do what he wanted, he wouldn’t like me anymore.
As I complied with his request and pulled down my pants, he took one look at me and then began to mock and laugh. I was humiliated beyond words. Even more confusing, minutes later, as he continued to drive me home, he kept talking about nothing in particular, as if the incident never had happened. In the months and years to come I saw this man frequently and he never again asked me to do such a thing. But what he did, which was perhaps even more devastating, was continue to belittle me as he had done during the incident.
I promised myself not to speak of that event to anyone—never, ever. I tried to put it out of my mind, but for the next two decades I carried it within me, feeling deep shame and confusion. As I got older, I heard about other boys who’d had absolutely horrifying experiences of sexual abuse over long periods of time. I tried to convince myself that my own experience was really nothing—a moment too insignificant to remember. But in my heart I knew that simply wasn’t true.
Meanwhile, even as I tried to pursue a normal life, my attraction to guys continued. There were still girlfriends, too, but as soon as our relationships led to intimacy, whether physical or emotional, an automatic barrier closed in around me. Finally, after “fooling myself” for a couple of years, when I was 24, I concluded it was very likely that I was gay.
Now I actively began to seek out other gays. I wanted to explore my feelings further, even though I felt almost nauseated every time I did so. Gradually my emotional attachments to men turned into physical relationships. Every time it happened, I came away more sad, confused, lonelier than ever, and sickened by my behavior. I tried to convince myself that everything was OK, but something inside me knew very well that it was not.
This pattern of playing straight while having a double life went on for the next three years, until the night I met the man who would ultimately set me on the path to self-recovery. He was the ultimate combination of all the qualities I had sought for the past fourteen years. He was impossibly good looking, preppy, baby-faced, physically unimposing—everything I had ever desired in one package. I fell not into love but into an obsession that I now shudder to think about. I clearly remember thinking, if I could win his friendship, my life would be complete. I was convinced that, with him beside me, my life of longing and loneliness would be over.
For the next year and a half, I pursued him with sick determination. And every time I went out of my way to prove myself to him, every time I sacrificed, every time I drove past by his house in the middle of the night, I knew deep inside that I was in serious trouble. To the best of my knowledge, he never knew the extent of my feelings. Or maybe he did. The point is my yearnings were never reciprocated. Worse than that, I got the feeling he didn’t really care at all.
The pain was crippling. I could never stop thinking about him, and to alleviate my obsession, I impulsively went out in the middle of the night to hook up sexually with the first guy I could find. This went on for months, until one winter night, I sat down alone in my apartment, lonelier and more isolated than I had ever been. I cried bitterly, thinking of the wreckage my life had become, thinking of all the men I had pursued, especially over the last year. I wrote down a vow that I fully intended to keep, even if I didn’t know how to do so. All I knew was that this emotional torture could not go on. This will never happen again! I promised myself. Of course my SSA desires continued despite my best intentions. For the next few years, I emotionally cut myself off, despite the fact that I occasionally slipped up and hooked up when the craving became too strong. Three years after I made my vow, and after I repeatedly broke it without really wanting to, I admitted to myself that I needed help.
But my fear of seeking help was overwhelming. What would I find out if I actually talked to someone about my life? Was I truly gay? Was there any hope for change? I continued to struggle with these questions for close to a year. At last, shattered by one more intolerable relationship, I finally did a search on the Web for some kind of an organization that could help men like me. I found the International Healing Foundation website, where I read, “No one is born with SSA.” That was it. I had been right all along. I wasn’t supposed to be gay.
Then I read Richard Cohen’s book Coming Out Straight. I identified with so much of what he wrote and recognized in myself several of the causes of SSA that he listed. I learned that I was a classic SSA male—extremely sensitive, with an alcoholic and abusive father, a very close connection to my mother, and a history of sexual abuse. This confirmed what I had always suspected, that my SSA feelings did not happen by accident. After wrestling with my fears a little longer, I made an appointment to talk to Richard.
I thought we could figure all this out in his office, just between the two of us, until he stressed to me the importance of reaching out to other people. Tell other people? He had to be kidding. But he affirmed and reaffirmed this necessity, until I finally agreed to try. “You’d better be right about this!” I warned him.
Before long I discovered that I was blessed with a handful of men in my life with whom I could share the most intimate details of what I’d been through. These men were fantastic. I kept them and Richard captive for hours on end, talking through the heartaches, disappointments and failures I had never talked about to any one before. It was radical for me to open up like this.
Meanwhile, Richard explained that I had to spend the next year reconnecting to my inner child—the wounded little boy within me. Now at first I thought this was crazy. I did not sense any connection to any child, inner or otherwise. But I slowly realized that it was indeed my inner child who had to be healed, not the 33-year-old adult. This process was not easy, and it took a lot of time for me to connect with my inner child, because “he” had been hurt so deeply. I learned that I had to become a loving father to him—the kind of father I’d never had. Only in doing so could I overcome the lifelong pain, fear and loneliness that had led to my SSA. As I followed this healing path, slowly but surely my SSA feelings started to disappear.
Other difficult issues arose. Confronting the man who had humiliated me became necessary. Looking back, I am still surprised that I was so gung-ho, because being confrontational has never been part of my nature. When the moment finally came, seventeen months after I started my healing journey, I can honestly say that I have never felt God’s power more strongly than I did as I spoke to him. As empowering as that experience was, it was still only a part of the larger process of setting things right.
I wish that I could say the attempts I made in connecting with my father had gone well, too, but I learned something I had never considered: That I had the courage and insight to confront my demons, even if he could not. This process of confrontation, of setting things in order, of dealing with the pain, of listening to my inner child, of sharing with other men, and of embracing what I felt was my true nature, slowly but surely took away the underlying fear I had of “losing myself.” At last I am getting to know the man that I was truly meant to be.
As I write this, I am in what Richard calls “Stage Four” of the healing journey. My next step is to speak about these things with my mother and heal my opposite-sex wounds. I am not sure how it will turn out, but I am not worried. I hope to establish a relationship with a woman soon, and believe that I will. The healing process takes a lot of time. You cannot rush healing. But I can say with certainty that I cannot imagine returning to my past behaviors. I am living proof that change is really possible.