Sexuality conflicts: help needed
I'm a very decent guy, a kind and skilful professional. But I had the hard luck of growing up in a dysfunctional family plus I've made a few wrong decisions and now I find myself having some difficult conflicts.
I thought it would be useful to vent out how I feel here, and people might offer me some valuable advise. So I'm going to lay out a bit of my background first and then describe the situation I'm in at the moment.
I was a quiet but very inquisitive boy, the youngest and only boy amongst 5 siblings. I remember my father as the biggest bully I've ever met. A man of many vices, unashamedly unfaithful to my mother, he molested 3 of his own daughters and was an awful influence in my upbringing. He always made me feel small and weak, never letting me win any of the games he played with me, criticising, calling me names and comparing me negatively to other boys. From the age of 3 I remember my father threatening me to take me to the doctor to exam my penis, which he thought wasn't developing as it should. He would wake me up in the morning and terrify me with this story most days. I was so sad there was something wrong with me and I grew up believing the other boys were better than me, that I would never be able to have a girlfriend, stuff like that.
Then when puberty arrived I thought there was no point in thinking about girls because I thought I wouldn't manage to have sex, so I started to look at guys instead. All along my teens I was very self-conscious thinking there was something wrong with me. I was already 17 when I summed up courage to go to the doctor on my own and ask him if there was anything wrong with my body. There was nothing wrong, he said. Yes, that would've been of great relief, except it wouldn't erase from my head the fact that I always thought there was something wrong with me. I tried to become more confident with girls but by that time I already had a wide repertoire of homoerotic fantasies and that didn't play on my side.
At uni I had sex with other guys but I wasn't sure that was what I wanted. Then I started going out with a girl from the choir. She took me to bed and proved it that there was nothing wrong with my body. We were passionate lovers for 2 years though she had a fiancée. I was very happy then, but when I moved away my confidence with girls seemed to have stayed back at the student residence. I had a few other girlfriends with whom things were ok but not so great. I started getting off with guys and in the end I was so much more confident with guys that I spent many years having only boyfriends. I played around quite a lot and was quite promiscuous at that time.
I never settled down and became satisfied as a gay man though. I always resented it as not being my first choice, other than something that was brought upon me by the shadows of a nasty father and an unhappy childhood. I always hoped one day I would become more confident with girls and would maybe find a girl that would make me happy.
What a luck man I am, that has indeed happened! A few years ago I stopped going out with guys and started going out with women only. Gradually I became more and more confident with women in bed and happy having relationships with women. Then I met my wife, fell in love with her and thought of myself as the happiest man on earth. We got married last year. She's lovely and I would never switch my life now for the one I had a few years back.
However, my past threatens to creep back and ruin my happiness. Sometimes when I'm feeling low, with problems at work or a bit disappointed with my wife for any silly reason, thoughts about having sex with another guy flood my mind. This started happening a couple of months ago and it really upsets and worries me. When it happens it's very strong and persistent, and I really struggle to make it go away. Another week when I had all these thoughts coming back to my mind I made a mistake of looking at gay pornography and I touched a guy in a public toilet. This made me feel very guilty and I'm terrified of doing this again or of losing my mind.
I'm trying to come up with strategies to deal with this, to leave my past behind and carry on having a happy and fulfilling relationship with my wife. I would really welcome if anyone has some constructive advise to help me, or tell me of a better place to seek this type of advise. Thank you ever so much.
Re: Sexuality conflicts: help needed
Welcome to Reachout. Thanks for sharing your story.
If I've understood you correctly, you act up a bit when you're stressed or upset, and the way that you do that is by fantasising about guys or even doing something with another guy, outside of your marriage.
You deserve to have a good relationship and a healthy sex life - and so does your wife. Have you ever talked to her about the things you shared in your post about your relationship with your dad, and your sexual experiences when you were younger?
You deserve to be able to share that with someone, and she deserves the chance to hear it, and support you. You also deserve to feel confident in your own sexuality, whether that is straight, gay or bi. No matter what happened to you in the past.
It sounds like you are already doing some soul searching about your sexuality and about how you're currently behaving in your marriage. Would you considering talking to a counsellor? There are different services available depending on which state you live in:
Help services for sexuality
Also, if you are fooling around outside of your relationship, please use a condom. Keep yourself - and your wife - safe.
I hope you're able to steer through this to a good place. Good luck!
Re: Sexuality conflicts: help needed
Thanks a lot for that, Blithe!
I have talked to my wife about my father and my experiences when I was younger. It was the right thing to do because I want to have an honest relationship and of course she needs to get to know me better. However she got really upset and worried and she didn't know what to do, and that didn't have a positive effect on our relationship, so we agreed that if I needed to talk about my problems with someone I would try and get help from somebody else. I have tried to find a counsellor but all the counsellors in my area seem to be female and this might be a prejudice but I would prefer to talk to a man about it.
I can say honestly that I'm not putting my wife's health or mine at risk. Touching a guy with my hands was the only thing that happened a couple of weeks ago and that made me feel really guilty because I want to be faithful to my wife. And I can see that happened as a result of fantasising in my head about it, so I'm trying hard to steer away from any thoughts like that.
I do feel attracted to both men and women and that is a huge source of conflicts for me. I'm in a relationship with a woman I love. Our sex life is great and very satisfying, so it does upset me when I feel like having sex with a man. I try not to think about it and manage to put these thoughts away until they accumulate and sometimes it feels like they are bigger than me and I won't be able to control them any more. I think this is the help I'm looking for: a few strategies to help me deal with unwanted thoughts.
Thanks for your words of support.
Re: Sexuality conflicts: help needed
I think it is so great that you spoke to your wife about what you have been through! Even if you feel as if it may not have been a positive step in the relationship know that being open could potentially be a relationship saver in the future! For example, if you act out in some way in the future because of your past experiences, even though this may hurt your wife at least her understanding of why you did it will have that foundational knowledge about what you experienced in childhood. So even if it can help understanding in your marriage just a tiny bit, that is better than nothing! So I think telling your wife was very mature and wise.
Also just wanted to let you know that it is completely understandable to prefer a certain gender in your professionals, as the more comfortable you are with your psychologist, the more able you will be to open up. So don't worry, you're not being prejudice. If I was you, I would think about going to my GP and letting them know that you are looking for a male psychologist, as the doctor should have a number of mental health professionals on file that you can be referred to that can help your specific needs. And remember that even though you and your first psychologist may not "fit", there are so many more out there so it is important to keep changing psychologists until you find the one you can trust that really works for you.
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