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#248316 - 09/05/08 10:53 PM Treading in Familiar Waters
M3 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/04/07
Posts: 1392
Loc: Central Ohio
Here's is the long and short of it:
When is it a good time to disclose?

I think I've been in love before: when I was young with my best friend (I was 12-14 years old) and my first boyfriend after I came back out (I was 31). These weren't purely sexual relationship. I never laid a hand on my friend when I was younger (at that age I believed sex hurt people horribly and I'd never do that to him) and only once with my later boyfriend after we'd dated for two months. But in both cases, I was very physically attracted them, couldn't wait to be in their company to talk for hours, and admired both greatly.

After being horribly hurt by a few of the guys I'd met after I came out (including said boyfriend above), my CSA issues really came to the forefront. I could no longer keep up appearances and my Telfonman persona fractured. Since then I've not been able to recapture that excitement or attachment to the men I date. It seems like when I don't see red flags, that they genuinely could be great men and that it seems they have all the qualities that I care about, I go numb.

I dated one man exclusively on and off for about four years (on for only about 10 months of that time in three different periods) and could never get past that feeling. I just didn't feel anything towards him or about the relationship. That ended over four years ago.

I've finally met someone else. He's not like anyone I've dated before and my friends adore him. We've been seeing each other for two months now and haven't gone farther than kissing (he's been a real gentleman about me wanting to take it slow). And once again, just as I'm thinking that this might be something I can let get more serious, that familiar numbness is creeping back in.

I stopped over to his home yesterday evening after a late business meeting to welcome him back from being out of town for the weekend. We cuddled up on the couch (that was a first), talked and watched Sordid Lives for about an hour and a half. The numbness was like a fog that was hanging out behind me, just over my shoulder. I feared it and the momentum to fight is off is swaying from side to side.

So, back to my point, what is love? What should I be feeling? Is it the electricity I felt before, or was that lightening in a bottle that was to only be for a short time? Or is it the content happiness I'm feeling now - a kind of general sense of well-being. Though its not that burning desire to be with the person or intense physical attraction, it seems safe, caring and comforting. I've been looking for the passion, but should I be looking for the safe and caring?

Is this numbness I'm feeling some sort of survivor defense mechanism or common CSA symptom and something I'll have to work through? Or just what you feel when you aren't with the right person?

Before we take this relationship to a physical level, I want to disclose to him so he will understand me better and what I'll be going through. I want to be able to talk to him about it and ask him for help as we progress the relationship.

However, if this is telling me that the relationship is wrong, I don't want to string him along and hurt him.

? \:\(

Michael



Edited by M3 (09/07/08 09:36 AM)

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#248335 - 09/06/08 08:54 AM Re: Treading in Familiar Waters [Re: M3]
Sans Logos Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/31/03
Posts: 5791
Loc: in my own world in pittsburgh,...
hi michael,

just my initial thoughts and impression: the first thing that strikes me about this thread is that it possibly may garner more helpful responses had it been posted in the gay/bi/trans section.

here's why: 'in love' relationships are subjective and unique to a specific set of circumstances. they unfold in context: the context of community, culture, ideology of morality and systems of belief.

if you ask a married heterosexual woman or man you will get a different set of responses. if you ask someone with children, you will definitely get another answer to the question. if you ask a gay dad [hi stretch!] with an adopted child you will get yet another response. our world has not yet evolved to the point where we are able to cease creating liminal divisions at the quantum levels of human consciousness.

that said, i am an older man who is oriented and attracted to intimacy with certain other males. my 'in love' romances occur more frequently these days with communities rather than individuals. i feel drawn to 'give myself' to organizations rather than individuals, although i am dating a guy at 'this present moment' in time. however, he seems content being part of nothing larger than his own immediate circle of friends and i find that to be claustrophobic. i do like him and sincerely enjoy his company, and i genuinely feel joy in his presence, and i interpret that to be a necessary ingredient and foundational to the experience of being 'in love'.

but i can see no future for us, no context [outside the circle of friends] in which to express our mutual love and devotion to each other. i think that is where my experience would be distinctly different than the next person's. i have need for deeper connections, and my roots must find their strength in the fertile soil of larger community. that is probably something that has come with my age-ing, and i am not saying that you or anyone else should be measured by my standards. i am merely sharing one person's perspective. if something resonates, then all well and good. if not, well that's fine too.

i guess what i am trying to say is that my understanding of being 'in love' has broader implications beyond the coupling model.

it is said that you fall 'in love' with a 'character', but you learn to live with a 'personality'. that feeling you describe has been recognized as a common ingredient in the early stages of romance; how could such a feeling be wrong? oh, but we know in hindsight that that feeling is not necessarily a barometer of truth.

could it be that the 'comfort' you find in this person's company is merely a satisfying measure of relief from your own loneliness? i was 'in love' with my best friend growing up too, so i relate to the tendency to measure all other attractions by that one. having been disenfranchised from myself and others due to the effects of csa, it took me a long time to learn to be objective about my criteria regarding what i needed in a partner.

what are the special challenges that arise for a gay man who needs love as much as the next person, but has a component of sexual abuse to deal with?

i truly believe that in the interest of honesty and altruism that this question be asked by both of you, so that can at least share a common sense of the size of the mountain that lays before you.

yes you must disclose; otherwise you do him and yourself a grave disservice, and guarantee that someone will get hurt eventually. for a non gender specific examination of the results, all you have to do is peruse the current threads in the family and friends forums. there are many good people there dealing with these special challenges in relationships where people advanced their level of participation prior to disclosure.

good luck! i hope that the thoughts i shared have not caused further confusion for you.

in this case, honesty is the best policy.

your brother in recovery,

ron

_________________________
  1. the past
  2. ReClaiming Now
  3. advocacy


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#248348 - 09/06/08 11:39 AM Re: Treading in Familiar Waters [Re: Sans Logos]
M3 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/04/07
Posts: 1392
Loc: Central Ohio
Thanks for your response Ron!

You're right that different communities can have different responses to the love par - I hadn't thought of that.

My friends seem to be concerned about disclosing the CSA too soon. This, I think, is probably something all survivors face despite orientation.

The reason that I want to tell him about the CSA now is that I usually have flashbacks and go into ďautomatic pilotĒ when having sex. I emotionally disengage and if Iím not really careful, end up feeling abused all over again. I think if I am to fight through that and really stay connected, heís going to have to know. Iím going to need help with that and he canít help me if he doesnít know. I donít want to just put on another good performance. I guess what Iím trying to say is I donít want this relationship to be like the rest (nor do I ever want my relationships to be like they were in the past).
  • First, I feel like hiding this is lying about who I am and what heís getting himself into. Iíve lied and kept things a secret enough in my life and vowed never more.
  • Second, I donít want to start the relationship off broken and then have to try to fix it later.
  • Third, for me to feel close to him, I think he needs to know so I can talk to him about it. Otherwise, Iím always going to have the fear that he will freak and dump me when I tell him so Iíll keep him at an emotional distance so he canít hurt me as bad. Itís almost like the abuse issue is going to be an emotional wall between us. If I donít tell, he canít get past the wall emotionally and really hurt me, but if I donít knock it down by telling him, I canít let myself get emotionally close to him. Is this the numbing? If I tell him and really share who I am and he doesnít run, I think the emotional part may fall right into place and maybe numbness wonít be an issue.

These three points REALLY worry me.




Edited by M3 (09/06/08 11:42 AM)

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#248359 - 09/06/08 12:34 PM Re: Treading in Familiar Waters [Re: M3]
Sans Logos Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/31/03
Posts: 5791
Loc: in my own world in pittsburgh,...
michael, i think that the fact that you can even articulate this whole issue with such understanding says a lot about your integrity.

it's always a risk when you disclose. i'd say for myself, 3 out of 5 disclosures were either positive or neutral, and the other 2 were devastating. so it makes sense that we would tend to engage some kind of defensive control mechanism as we forge uncharted relationship territory.

probably numbing is the inhibiting emotionally gray space between the two polarities of fear and surrender: being frozen in passage between the link to the recall of past disclosure experiences, and the hope for the forgiving future.

also, what i have noticed about myself, is that i have a tendency to automatically assign healthy status to everyone who has not been exposed to csa, and see myself as the broken one. the truth is pobody's nerfect when it comes to relationship, and each relationship is fresh and completely unique.

and also, growing up, i developed a tendency to see sharing sexual intimacy as 'sacramental', as if that were the one special thing that somehow cast some cosmic blessing on the relationship. sex can mean different things at different times, even between the same two people. i think that as a survivor of csa, there was a tendency to take it so much more seriously than i do today. and the funny part is that then i was having sex with others, and today i am not! go figure!

but back to the topic of disclosure:

what does it make us if we disclose and they drop their interest and support?

it makes us honest. and it makes us better off!

what does it make them, to dispose of us unceremoniously after we disclose?

well, do we really need to know? just consider yourself lucky that you did not waste your time. that you didn't dilute the full potential of all that you have to share with someone who is not ready to have a relationship with an adult.

just keep in mind, you have an advantage in any relationship you embark upon. you have the right to create the criteria for determining your terms of endearment. you do not have to subject yourself to the scrutiny of their blessing. you have an introspective gatekeeper that will guard against your entry into any relationship for less than altruistic reasons. whoever earns the right to be with you, will have done so because they have proven themselves worthy of such a prince.

your brother in recovery,'

ron

_________________________
  1. the past
  2. ReClaiming Now
  3. advocacy


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#248530 - 09/07/08 06:51 PM Re: Treading in Familiar Waters [Re: Sans Logos]
Joel Rosset Offline


Registered: 08/21/08
Posts: 45
Loc: Canada
Hi again Micheal, Two quick thoughts on my personal philosophy: Your past is your private business and until you feel sure of someone's integrety you should guard yourself from potential hurt.

Forgiveness, Micheal! It sets you free. It has allowed me to trust again. Forgiving my rapist the hardest, most gut wrenching thing I ever did (I rocked on the side of my bed for what seemed like hours, literally howling into a pillow) but I got through it and now my rapist holds no power over me or my freedom to choose the life I want. Love to ya, man.

_________________________
Wise souls are deeply scarred

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#248619 - 09/08/08 10:21 AM Re: Treading in Familiar Waters [Re: Joel Rosset]
LW1527 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/14/08
Posts: 408
Loc: Salt Lake City Ut
Forgiveness leads you from darkness to light. But we cannot forgive until we are ready too. Premature forgiveness will mask our feelings and create further problems down the road. There is a season for all things and that includes forgiveness.

Lance


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