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#284953 - 04/22/09 08:28 PM .
bardo213 Offline
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Registered: 11/21/07
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Edited by bardo213 (06/21/13 07:26 PM)

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#284966 - 04/22/09 09:52 PM Re: confused beyond belief... may trig [Re: bardo213]
myboyhoodfears Offline


Registered: 03/13/09
Posts: 457
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Edited by myboyhoodfears (08/31/09 11:48 AM)
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#284981 - 04/22/09 11:07 PM Re: confused beyond belief... may trig [Re: myboyhoodfears]
AndyS87 Offline


Registered: 12/12/08
Posts: 302
Loc: sorry, but I don't say on the ...
I dunno Lynch, it's so hard to deal with. Some girls made a gay joke about me the other night, and the way she said it implied that people talk about it behind my back that I'm gay. Besides being chronically single, I don't think I give off that vibe at all.

But her joke at my expense put me into a tailspin. I've been panicking and re-examining my past thinking "OH MY GOD!!! What if she's right and I really am gay!?"

All I know about my past is that there was a lot of sexual thoughts, fantasies, behaviors, etc. that I went through mostly on my own. I never got help, even after I told my parents at age 9. I believe that all that imprinting behavior that happened towards me influenced a lot of my teenage sexual thoughts in my teenage years. I was knowingly entertaining erotic fantasies about having sex with boys years younger than me, while also having fantasies about girls I liked but thought I would never be good enough for. Never had any crushes on guys. Admiration, yes. Wanting to be like them or actually be them? Yes. Wanting to date them or settle down with them in the future? No.

What happened to me was the longer I told myself my abuse wasn't that bad and didn't matter, the more split my sexual behaviors were. I was feeling heterosexual, acting heterosexual, and believing in that, but at the same time there was that small part of me that kept going back to checking on gay porn. Did I like it? At first. Over time though I lost interest. Then the anxiety started, because the damage was already done. The checking wasn't a conclusion for me, it became a "well, you experimented with it, so it must mean you're actually gay, so you can't have any peace of mind now". What if I couldn't date women or have a girlfriend because I was gay and didn't know it?

Once the question started, I investigated more, checking out gay porn for up to three days at a time, non-stop, just to gauge my reactions. I didn't like it or understand why there was this compulsion. It wasn't for pleasure, I HAD to watch and check my reaction to do anything as simple as sleeping or eating, otherwise I was too depressed or scared to get out of bed. To this day, I have never had a crush on another man or wanted to be with another man romantically or sexually, but my anxiety from this episode has developed into an almost OCD like obsessive thought phase. I can't stop obsessing about the question, and because of that, I can't relax and enjoy the company of women, or anybody for that matter. All of the behaviors from when I was younger, all the thoughts, and even the gay porn checking suddenly stopped the second I went in for EMDR and got these issues off of my chest. But for some reason, that wasn't enough for me. When the dust settles and I calm down again, my sex drive comes back, I relax, and I don't worry about being gay. But all it took was thirty seconds for somebody to completely destroy my peace. You don't want that. I can't help that now.


So whats the point? Regardless of whether or not you want to view what happened as abuse or an unwanted sexual experience, it was profoundly negative to you. It was negative to me too. Never violent, but coercive and manipulative to me. A lot of my fears, neuroses, etc. went away with therapy, and when I examined it, I saw absolute direct connections to what happened to me. I minimized it for years, and now thanks to that I feel ruined, spent, and just totally exhausted. I just want to get my peace back. But the anxiety remains, and it will take any small slight doubt and try to twist it into definitive proof that I'm something I'm not. Hence this girls little joke. She laughed maybe for a few seconds, then probably forgot about it.



Three days later, I'm still in a compulsive thought loop, obsessing about doubting my sexual identity and having constant intrusive thoughts from it. None of the work I need to be getting done is done (this ALWAYS happens when I'm really busy as a way to distract me from tasks I need to finish). I just want this nightmare to be over, but even when I say that, what will I go back to? Since I was 6 I was abused until I was almost ten years old. Then I lived my teen years in the turmoil and the confusion that caused. Now in my early twenties I've had enough, I'm moving on with my life, and I've become mired down and trapped in a nightmare because even though my body has let go of the past and all the behaviors and issues it caused me, my brain won't allow me to forgive myself.

Not forgiving the fact that at 15, I could have opened up about this and ended it a lot sooner. Not forgiving that I was a victim, not a willing participant. Not forgiving that the hell I'm in now is largely self imposed by an anxious and insecure brain. I know my peace. I know who I am. Imagine KNOWING that, and having a little voice in the back of your head trying to make you constantly doubt that. It is a fear that I have only been able to live without for two months of the past 4 years, and that was only after an INTENSE EMDR session. I want that peace again so bad. I crave it. I feel like I'm slowly dying by being away from that. But this is the horror of the situation we're faced with. Lynch, live your life on your terms. Stop caring what other people think. I wish I could say I do the same, but when it comes down to it my past makes me easy prey for the anxiety induced doubt I have to come and make my life hell. Best of luck man.

-Andy


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#285120 - 04/23/09 08:00 PM . [Re: AndyS87]
bardo213 Offline
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Registered: 11/21/07
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Edited by bardo213 (06/21/13 07:26 PM)

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#285144 - 04/23/09 11:03 PM Re: confused beyond belief... may trig [Re: bardo213]
ericc Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/04/08
Posts: 1960
I am fully there on this one. I am pretty sure I know where my sexuality lies, but none the less I have had struggles. This crap tears you apart, and yes in the end you have to just ignore all the societal/cultural BS about what defines manhood and all that. Be the best person you can be and know that it is you alone that determines your sexuality, not some outsiders opinion. I know, easier said than done, but really that is how I see it.


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#285205 - 04/24/09 11:58 AM Re: confused beyond belief... may trig [Re: ericc]
stefalc1 Offline


Registered: 04/30/08
Posts: 41
Loc: london, uk




Edited by stefalc1 (09/05/10 12:49 PM)

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#285213 - 04/24/09 01:27 PM Re: confused beyond belief... may trig [Re: stefalc1]
AndyS87 Offline


Registered: 12/12/08
Posts: 302
Loc: sorry, but I don't say on the ...
Well I just read something on Joe Kort's website that I think sums up a lot of what goes on in my head to me. I don't feel gay, I don't feel attracted to men, and after getting therapy for my molestation, I don't feel compelled to fantasize about men, or watch gay porn, or any of that (EMDR, not any kind of "reparative" therapy or "ex-gay" type stuff. I live in the Northeast US, I think it'd be hard to find that kind of stuff around here and I'm aware that it's not all that therapeutic). Before, I was coming to a point in my life where these fantasies, behaviors, and beliefs were reaching a level I couldn't stand anymore. I was confused because I knew I enjoyed the closeness of being with women, I enjoyed being intimate with them, etc. But at the same time off in fantasy land there were these homo-erotic or homo-sexual fantasies figuring in equally or perhaps even more often then the heterosexual fantasies. I was also watching a lot of gay porn.

Why was it I felt I was straight but that I was engaging in all this other stuff? Did it have to do with being molested as a child, which I had always told myself until that point was "no big deal"? I think it had a whole lot to do with it, but there's more than that. For me there developed a lot of things similar to a condition called "H-OCD". It's a form of obsessive compulsive disorder where you think you're gay. I won't go into the symptoms, but you can google it if you're really interested. Even now after a lot of therapy and EMDR a lot of that anxiety still remains.

I don't feel that I'm homosexual or gay in the least, it shouldn't be a question in my mind anymore. I simply have no desire or attraction to men and no desire or attraction to a gay lifestyle. But there are things in my own mind that this anxiety problem digs up that I have to constantly examine and re-examine. Almost all of it has to do with same sex thoughts and fantasies I experienced growing up. I never to this day have engaged in same sex activity physically with another male. My cousin was the only one. The thought of it makes me very uncomfortable, and I don't find it enjoyable in the least. My mind tries to tell me that there was something I do like deep down though, or that there was something I secretly liked in my past and now I'm just forcing myself into deep denial or something like that. As such if I see a male who is good looking, my brain instantly jumps to "What if I have a crush on him? Do I find him attractive? What are the things about him I could find attractive?" I will try and fantasize sexually about this person, but doing so will kill my erection. It happened to me this morning completely randomly right before I orgasmed and actually not only stopped the orgasm from even happening but killed the entire sex drive within the span of about five minutes. As an example of the ridiculousness, I will list three examples of people this things has targeted.

1.) My best friends Dad. Clearly I am not attracted to this guy. During a time of high anxiety or panic that brought on questioning, I thought that I was finding him attractive and also falling in love with him. It makes me laugh now in retrospect, but it was terrifying at the time.

2.) My other best friend. We've been best friends for 13 years, since right after my abuse stopped. Another kid I clearly am not interested in sexually or romantically. In fact I fancied his younger sister who was two years behind us in school for quite a long time. During an anxiety episode, I thought I was falling in love with him as well.

3.) Classmates and other people who looking at outwardly are not attractive or good looking in the slightest. I will spend sometimes weeks wondering if I find these people attractive. I actually know while I'm looking at them that I am absolutely not into them in any way, but the little machine in the back of my head eggs me on to try and find something about that person I find attractive.

As a result, my mind enters obsessive patterns and thought processes where I spend literally hours on end posting here or on other forums geared towards HOCD or sexual abuse to try and get reassurance from people. I spend hours on end reading articles on just about everything I can about sexual identity. The coming out process, latent homosexuality, internalized homophobia, identity foreclosure vs. identity disclosure, men who have sex with men, the whole damned thing. After a lot of EMDR, I stopped checking these thoughts with gay porn, but the compulsions were so bad before that that I could literally spend up to three days in a row doing nothing all day except for looking at gay porn and checking my reactions to it.

Now that the gay porn isn't as issue or a compulsion, knowledge is. I am compelled to read on the above subjects to find something that fits with the way I feel. For the coming out process, latent homosexuality, and internalized homophobia, I will read something, realize that I am none of those things listed, but then start to attribute the symptoms of each one to myself by trying to take parts of my past and make them fit the article I had read. With a past as turbulent as mine (even though it pales in comparison with a lot of your guys pasts) this anxiety has so much to feed and grow on that it's very easy for me to get caught up in this trap, and then it always sends me over the edge into anxiety land. I even fell victim to something called a backdoor spike. Normally that would be good, because getting that far means you're totally at peace and unbothered by the anxiety issue.

For me this meant that I wasn't worried that I was gay, and I saw absolutely no problem with being gay. One day as I was driving the thought "gay people are the same as straight people with different sexual preferences" popped into my head. I firmly believe this to be true. Though there are a lot of gay men who are obviously and openly gay in one way or another, there are as many openly gay men where you could never guess. After that thought though my brain went "Well then sex with men really wouldn't be that bad at all. I'm gay then!" Twenty five seconds later I got hit by a wave of anxiety that was so bad it's taken me almost two months to work out of it. My brain effectively took a positive thought, and twisted it into making it sound like I would prefer to be homosexual or gay, something which caused me considerable stress.



So today I read this article on Joe Kort's website.

" Early in childhood, we’re all imprinted with family beliefs and societal norms. Imprinting is the psychological process by which specific types of behavior are locked in, at an early stage of development. All of us, gay and straight alike, are conditioned to think, feel, and act the way our early childhood caretakers nurture and teach us.

The first important thing to consider is this doesn’t mean the client is gay or even bi. He is simply left with an imprint to re-enact his homosexual abuse and find “pleasure” in what was inflicted on him as a child. In reality, this isn’t pleasure at all, but trauma turned into orgasm. In the book, Male Victims of Same-Sex Abuse: Addressing Their Sexual Response by John M. Preble and A. Nicholas Groth they say it best:

“……this may actually reflect an effort at mastery of the traumatic event …..when he was being sexually victimized, someone else was in control of him sexually. During masturbation he is literally in control of himself sexually, and this may be a way in which he attempts to reclaim mastery over his own sexuality. Likewise, his participation in consensual sex reflects his choice and decision.”

The authors go on to say that “the fantasy thoughts are prompted by fear more than desire, by anxiety more than pleasure”. In other words, they become a way of managing the fear and anxiety.

Second, just because the sexual abuse was committed by a male doesn’t mean that it constituted homosexuality. When men sexually abuse girls, we don’t claim it’s about heterosexuality! We say it is simply sexual abuse—which involves power, violation and rape. Nothing about that is related to orientation."




I had read this before, but as usual, didn't read into any of the meaning. My anxiety, or HOCD or whatever you want to call it and the resulting confusion is fueled by the memory of these gay fantasies and thoughts of my past. Some of these fantasies are had by young heterosexual boys who aren't molested. I can recognize those in myself. But I also can recognize behaviors thoughts and fantasies that were dominant and quite clearly stemmed from my abuse. I was thinking to myself that in the past I enjoyed these fantasies, even though many of them were extremely disturbing and would have been illegal in real life. Then I see the line

"the fantasy thoughts are prompted by fear more than desire, by anxiety more than pleasure”. In other words, they become a way of managing the fear and anxiety."

And then the bit about how masturbation puts one in control of that. And suddenly just like that it all makes sense again. Anxiety because I didn't understand what happened until after it happened. Anxiety because I thought it meant that I was gay. Anxiety because those thoughts and fantasies in my teenage years enforced that belief that I was secretly gay. Anxiety because I felt like no girl would ever want to be with me because I was too much of a loser, too much of a wimp, too much of a sissy, a fag, at least according to all the "cool" kids. I internalized all of that. Where that leaves me now? Well I know why it happened and where it came from. I did before too. I know I'm not gay, I knew that before too. I'm more relaxed now, that's good.

But I still have the one thing that perpetuates the anxiety thoughts. As much as I want to be with a girl, I can't picture myself ever being married or settling down. Maybe it's because I'm still young, I'm turning 22 in two days. But even then, I'm afraid to approach girls. I people talk about the desire and compulsion to have sex with women. I enjoy hooking up with girls, but I never go out chasing skirts or cruising to get laid. If a girl comes on to me, thats cool with me. But my lack of experience with girls sexually bothers me. I've really only ever hooked up with 6 girls in my life, all after I turned 17. I only had intercourse with one of them, and that was years ago. Performance anxiety? I dunno. Still feeling like I'm not good enough or worthy of having a happy relationship? I dunno. I just know that this is where I'm at right now.


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#285223 - 04/24/09 02:51 PM Re: confused beyond belief... may trig [Re: AndyS87]
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5778
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
This is from my book that should be coming out in a few months and addresses some of the issues raised here. The book is going thru the editing process and may not be the same as what is below. Also, please don't disseminate it yet.
Ken

If I Sexually Responded to a Man Does That Mean I’m Gay? (Or does it just mean that my “equipment” was working properly?)

This is a common response to sexual abuse. The abuser often stimulates the victim’s penis, engages him in other body contact, or exposes him to sexually arousing material (pornography). When the result is that the boy has an erection, experiences orgasm or ejaculates, he may believe that his body has betrayed him or he may interpret his sexual response as an indicator that he is homosexual. And if he is gay, this confusion may be similar in its consequences as the heterosexual boy who is abused by a female, as noted above.

While there is no research to support beliefs that sexual abuse can cause homosexuality, many victims believe that this experience, particularly if it is the boy’s first encounter of a sexual nature, results in becoming gay. There are men who identify as homosexual and have a history of sexual abuse. There are many gay men who have never been abused. There are a number of boys who, regardless of sexual abuse history, would have been “naturally” gay or bisexual later on. And there are heterosexual men who can have a history of abuse by a male, as well as those with no such history. There are also heterosexual men who were abused by women: that is, their abuse experience did not affect their sexual orientation.

Sometimes the abuser will use a boy’s fear of being labeled homosexual as a way to make him to go along with the abuse, justify the abuser’s actions, blackmail the youth into further sexual acts or prevent him from disclosing. Many abusers I’ve worked with have told their victims that the erection was “proof” the victim “wanted” the sexual contact, or that his erection was “proof” he was really gay. They also use this as a blackmail tool to scare the boy into thinking that people would know or possibly think he is gay – as if that is worse than being abused. If it is a terrible label for the boy to be told or think he is gay or an abuse victim, what does that make the abuser? One would think that being a child molester is a lot worse than being gay or abused.

Sometimes the victim becomes fixated on penises. Thoughts of performing oral sex on men or boys become the theme of sexual fantasies for some survivors. For those who are truly homosexual this is a natural source of arousal. For the heterosexual male victim of same-sex abuse, the penis may have a different meaning in such recurring fantasies. What we find sexually stimulating can also be termed “erotic”. Many survivors who identify as heterosexual are confused about erotic fantasies that may involve males. While they may have much more frequent arousal to female bodies, the male fantasies may cause feelings of shame and puzzlement. Homosexual men can have opposite-sex erotic thoughts and fantasies as well.

If you are heterosexual, the thought of a woman’s body can be quite stimulating. Because our sexual conditioning may involve a focus on body parts, some men become particularly interested or aroused by breasts, buttocks or legs. Others become attracted to the vagina. Likewise, if you are gay, the arousal to a penis or a man’s body can be stimulating for you. There is no “right” way to be attracted.

Years ago I worked with a man who was obsessed (or “fixated”) by legs, feet and women’s shoes. He reported that his mother used to come home from work and ask him to massage her legs and feet. She moaned as he worked on her legs and said things like, “Oh, you’re so good. That feels great, yes, yes!” He said he remembered often being sexually aroused and during one massage session with her, when he was about eleven, he experienced his first orgasm and ejaculation. He later associated sexual response with women’s legs, feet and shoes. The greatest turn-on for him during sex was to kiss his partner’s feet and massage her legs. He was also a big consumer of pornographic magazines that cater to those attracted to legs, feet and shoes. He concluded that had he not been eroticized to his mother’s legs and feet as a boy, he would have had a more normal sexual attraction to a woman’s body and not be fixated on her legs and feet.


Am I Gay If I Think about Penises a Lot?

Not necessarily. The man described above associated sexual pleasure with his mother’s (and later his partners’) legs, shoes and feet. Similarly, if boy experiences powerful sexual feelings while stimulating the abuser’s penis, or from having his own penis stimulated, he may make a similar connection. In addition, as teenagers discovering masturbation, we reinforce the pleasurable feelings with the sight and feel of our own penises. So, with a “normal” (that is, non-abusive) sexual history, we will have a neutral to good association with penises. Our penis can make us feel good, give us a sense of power, and can alleviate boredom.

For the gay survivor, the association of the abuser with the arousal and attraction of the male body, a source of otherwise healthy homosexual pleasure may be tainted. The gay survivor may have ambivalent feelings towards penises as a result.

When the sexual feelings are forced, unwanted, confusing and even painful, the association with the penis can be contaminated. You may hate your penis because it “betrayed” you by becoming erect in an abusive situation. Because the male abuser, particularly when there are negative feelings towards him, involves his penis in the acts, the result can be that some survivors may associate the penis with the hurt, betrayal, pain, humiliation, shame and guilt from the abuse. Think of the confusion you might feel from having these negative emotions about the abuse or abuser, and at the same time trying to feel good about your sexuality, and about a part of your body that is so central to your sexuality as your penis.

Many survivors report a desire or temptation to look at the groins of other men, or at their exposed penises in situations like a changing room in school, gym, or at a swimming pool. It is natural for boys and men to be curious about the penises of other guys, and no amount of reassurance that size doesn’t matter seems to lessen this curiosity. Though some heterosexual men may find it difficult to admit, there is probably not a man around who has never sneaked a peek at another man’s penis at a line of urinals or in a locker room.

For survivors, however, the penis may also be a symbol of the harm they have suffered. You may think, for example, that your penis is what “attracted” the abuser; this is often why some survivors, both teens and adults, report feelings of wishing they were not boys, or of wishing they didn’t have a penis.

The sexual parts of other males can also arouse feelings of discomfort and threat in you: that is, you are looking at other men not because you desire them, but because you are on alert for signs of possible arousal, which for you would be a danger signal. But notice once again how, when you experience these feelings, you are in fact also re-experiencing the control that the abuser had over you. The abuser’s penis was a powerful source and symbol of so much of what was happening to you as a boy. Now, even though the abuse has ended and you no longer need fear harm from the abuser, these old defense mechanisms are still active. What the abuser did years ago still has the power to influence how you think and behave.

One important consideration if you are sexual with other men, but you identify as heterosexual, is to look at why you desire to act sexually with them. If the acts are reenactments of your abuse, it may be because the trauma is still unresolved and the sex is a way of returning to the trauma, perhaps hoping – on an unconscious level – that this time you will not be the helpless victim.

One example of this is familiar with those who know or work with abused women. How many women in abusive relationships end their relationship, but then go back to the abusing partner or wind up with another man who turns out to be abusive as well? On some unconscious level these women may be hoping that “this time it will be different”. This way of thinking leaves them in a situation where they find themselves in a repeating cycle of bad or abusive relationships.

It may also be that you have been taught or conditioned that behaving in this way would bring closeness, acceptance or some other emotional need that you may not have had in your life at that time. Or you may have learned that by giving in, you would not be beaten or hurt more.

Again, look at all these situations and you can see the continuing control of the abuser. The abuse is over, and perhaps the abuser is gone as well, but the emotional responses you learned as an abused boy are likely still with you.


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#285263 - 04/24/09 08:12 PM . [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
bardo213 Offline
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Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 811
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Edited by bardo213 (06/21/13 07:27 PM)

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#285272 - 04/24/09 08:47 PM Re: confused beyond belief... may trig [Re: bardo213]
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5778
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
Quote:
How can I change my response to something that is so natural but has a major impact. I can think about it differently which only changes my state of mind not my response, If I stop those response mechanisms they become what is known as anxiety "fight or flight" fear because they only know one way to handle situations with other men.


That is a dilemma. You are somewhat hardwired in your response to premature sexual stimulation. The changing of that response takes some time and work to disengage the physiological reaction with the mental or emotional responses you have developed over the years. So, the change is going to take some time and effort because you are changing the thoughts that go with the physical feeling.

How to do it is complicated as well. Recognizing the patterns when there is some predicability in the process is helpful. If you see that you do behavior "B" that is preceeded by behavior "A", and is triggered by certain emotional or sensory cues, you can predict what may be coming if you don't take appropriate countermeasures. This process is described in the article titled, "Breaking the Cycle of Self-Defeating/Destructive Behaviors" that is on the site. Take a look and see if it is useful for you.


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