This is a letter I mean to let my wife read, but it is also a story of my recovery so i am sharing it. it is very triggering so keep that in mind.
Things kind of came together a little bit during my last therapy session, but not the way I expected. I know I need to tell you what is going on with me, but when I try, I never get things out I intend to. A better writer than speaker, I decided it was time for another letter. I want to update you on what is going on with me.
First, I feel it is important to point out that when I am talking of being unhappy that a person can be happy with some things and not with others. If I was unhappy with my job that wouldnít mean I wasnít happy with you or the kids, but if my job was bothering me enough, it would make me unhappy in general. Thatís kind of how my depression is. Iím not unhappy with life as a whole, but the sexual part is so unsatisfying that it floods over into everything else. That doesnít mean I donít love you, the kids and our life as a whole. It means one area of my life is very unsatisfying, and it makes it hard to be happy. I can do okay some times, and some times it is just too strong and I become depressed and withdrawn.
All my life I have struggled with sex. I felt like the things I liked were wrong, and that drove a cycle of self-hate and depression that only made things worse. Over and over I kept trying to shut it all out, and to live what I considered a normal life. Time and again I failed, because I was never being myself. It was always an act. I rationalized it by saying this is what God means sex to be, or this is normal and that other stuff isnít, but saying something to yourself, and really feeling it are two separate things, I have learned.
Recovery and healing comes in layers. You take steps, and each step brings you closer to being fulfilled and happy. When I went to Howard, other men at male survivors would tell me it wasnít my fault. I would say I knew that, but inside part of me kept blaming myself. This little voice kept saying I should have known better. After talking about it a lot, and going back to my childhood, for the first time in my life, I didnít just say the words. I finally knew how innocent, naÔve and powerless I was as a little boy. Finally, it wasnít my fault inside, and it really felt like a huge relief.
I have also found that recovery is jerky. Itís like when you get a revelation, you go way up for a time, but then you level off again. So when I learned it wasnít my fault, and felt it inside, I was on a high. Then daily life returned, and so did the constant heaviness I felt. It was a little better, but I was still depressed. Okay, it wasnít my fault, but my drives and tastes were still not normal, so now what?
We began looking at the sexual things that happened to me, and we started with the abuse. Again we really looked at it with memory regression and by talking about it in detail. I focused on the fear I felt, and the thrill and excitement that came after the fear died down. We talked about what it was like when I had his penis in my mouth, or when he had mine in his. I felt like Mat had trusted me with a very grown up thing. It made me feel special, and when we were having sex I liked it because it felt like I was doing something reserved for adults, and that no other kids knew. I felt good, and didnít know to feel anything else. Clearly Mat was to blame for showing it to me before I had developed enough to know it was supposed to be gross, but what does that really change? I mean even blaming him doesnít change the fact that I liked it, so am I sick for liking it?
When he brought Jean into it, Mat had us sniff each otherís butt and lick each other front and back. Naturally we did it to him too. I guess he thought it was funny making us do gross things, but we were kids. It wasnít gross to me. I didnít know enough to know I wasnít supposed to like it. Was I sick for liking it?
There were other kids before Michele, but it was always short lived, and just a repeat of what Mat had shown me. We would pull our pants down, fondle, lick, sniff and mouth each other, but that was all I knew. Cheryl and Donnie were extensions of that first abuse, and with Howardís help I finally saw that they werenít really my fault either. To me it was all a special game. I thought I had this wonderful gift that other kids didnít have. When I showed another kid those things, I thought I was actually showing them something special. In my mind I wasnít hurting them. I didnít do it to hurt them. I did it to share with them.
Michele and I were in the tree house that dad had helped us build. It was at the very back of our lot, several hundred yards behind our house. I knew what I was doing by then, and when I got her playing cards for chips, I knew exactly what to do and say to turn it sexual. I had more knowledge with her, a higher awareness of sex. At least with her I knew when two people were naked and touching it was sex, but I still didnít know anything. I didnít know what Ďnormalí people did, and I was still acting on what Mat had taught me for the most part.
I asked if she had ever seen a boy, and at ten, she hadnít. Then I asked if she would like to, and she said yes. We changed playing poker for chips to the low hand loosing an item of clothing. It was summer and warm, so it didnít take long before we were naked. Michele was a little chubby, and she was developing breasts. That was a new twist for me, and a new thing to explore. Kissing was another new part of it all, as other kids were talking about Frenching and feeling each other up. We were in fifth grade, and things were beginning to expand some. Matís lessons were no longer all there was to it, and when those basic things got old, we began to explore on our own.
Neither of us knew anything really. We had heard slang like sucking cock, eating pussy and screwing, but it was all pretty meaningless. Michele and I didnít know how things worked, so we filled in the blanks the best we could. Without knowing what Ďnormalí couples did, we just went by what excited us, and it wasnít only me this time. She didnít hesitate to suggest a game or something to try.
I remember taking a hat and slips of paper. We would take turns writing something on it, like kiss. Then we would take turns pulling a piece of paper from the hat, and we had to do whatever it said. We would roll a dice to see how many minutes or times, and we would do it. Those games would go on for hours until we had to go home.
Michele definitely had her own agenda, and she knew what she liked too. She loved to have me suck her breasts, and she liked feeling forced. While playing one time, I had to pee really bad, and she became fascinated with how I peed out of my penis. Any time I had to pee while we were out, she insisted on watching. Watching turned to hold it for me, and then she began putting her hand in the stream. Naturally, everything she did to me, I got to do to her. Thatís how it worked for us, and any time she had to pee I got to hold her open and let it run over my hand. If we hadnít moved when we did, I know we would have gotten into full-blown golden showers. We were inventive, and would have found a way to clean up, even if it was licking one another clean.
Another game she liked was playing rape. She loved to have me tie her arms around a tree, and do things to her. We did it both front and back. Michele also loved when she was a bad girl. She liked to lay across my lap and be spanked. I canít really say what drove her. I can only speculate that she needed a father figure.
My games involved the things I liked like sniffing each other. I also suggested we swap clothes once, as I was kind of fascinated by her bra. I remember how thin her panties felt as I dressed in her clothes. We came up with daring one another to do things. They were actually pretty safe, but there was that element of risk there. For example, she might dare me to run to the other side of the cornfield in her clothes or even naked as things went on. It started off short distances, and it kept growing. Sometimes the dares involved a little discomfort, like dropping your pants and sitting on the hot hood of a car or rubbing yourself against a tree.
Can you see why later on I would really dislike who I was? Once I got an idea of what normal people did, all of those things seemed sick, and I was a pervert for liking them. By the time we moved away, Michele and I were learning the facts of life. We knew how to make each other cum, but we always played our games first, because we had so much time to fill. I think we began realizing the things we were doing werenít normal, but we liked them enough that we didnít even talk about giving them up.
I didnít like them so much when I was a little older. Now, not only did I hide the abuse so deep that I basically forgot it, I also hid my true self from everyone. I put on the mask as I call it. It had a great big smile, and a cross around the neck. I wore that mask while I went on putting on a play. In the play I was a good student and athlete. I went to church, and I really tried to follow God.
When I was alone, the mask would come off. The sad, lonely, depressed face beneath could breath. I hated the ugliness. I couldnít stand it, so I always tried to hide it. Feeling sick, I became suicidal. I remember sitting on my bed, my shotgun in one hand and a shell in the other. Shaking, crying, hating, angry, I tried my best to put that shell in and end it. I hated myself that much. Why was I such a freak?
I lashed out at myself. I did it sexually, as I always did. You are only the second person I have ever talked about this with in any details, Howard being the other. I remember humping a fallen tree one time until I bled. All the old tastes were there, so they played into it too. I want you to understand how powerful all of this is. Yes, it is gross, but I donít think anything shows what it was like for me better than some of this. Taking momís pads from the trash, I would make myself sniff them. In the woods, I would make myself sniff where animals had marked trees. Deer pee all over to mark their area, and when I would find one, I would dare myself to sniff it or lick it. I would dare myself to streak, and was nearly caught more than once.
The lowest point was when the animals came into it. Animals donít have the restraints humans do. They are free to sniff each otherís butt. The allure of scent and of pee are just a natural part of their world. I felt an attachment to them, like some inner beast in me was the reason I liked what I did. With evolution in mind, it made sense to me that some people would be closer to their animal side than others. I figured that was the case with me.
All my life I had grown up around animals. I had watched in fascination as our neighborís bull mated a cow, and I had seen my share of dogs mating. Nature shows were kind of porn to me. I watched them all the time hoping they would show them mate.
I was fourteen, when I crept out my bedroom window, the one downstairs where Kim was for a while. The house straight across from ours had a pet Lab-shepherd mix they chained to a house out back. I used to stop by and pet her all the time, because they never paid her attention. I felt sorry for her. On this foggy night I dared myself to pay her another visit. The fog was so thick you couldnít see five feet. It would hide me, so I went over and fondled her, and I let her lick me. I remember I was so scared, and so full of hate. I hated myself. I remember thinking thatís exactly what I deserved. I wasnít human. I was a beast, so kind of perverted freak. As much to punish myself as to act out sexually, I licked her too. Then as she licked me, I masturbated and shot all over her. She liked the salt, and lapped it up as fast as she could.
When it was over, I crawled back home. All the nerves, all the guilt, shame and hate was just too much. I remember going into my bathroom and throwing up. When I calmed down enough, I crawled under the covers, and I cried like a baby. I remember thinking I was pure evil. I remember thinking God could never love or forgive someone like me. There wasnít any hope for me. I might as well kill myself and get it over with. Then I would hate myself more because I was too big a chicken to do it.
That night also ignited a resolve in me. I felt like if I had been caught, I would have gone to jail. Everyone would know how sick I am, and all of that stuff would come out that I had worked so hard to hide. I went even deeper into hiding. After that, I wouldnít even allow myself to act out any more. I completely denied my sexuality. I buried it as deep as I could, and tried to live as best I could.
When Howard and I talked about all those things, he slowly helped me see that there was no such thing as normal sexuality. Everyone on earth has their own sexual identity, and mine might be different from anotherís, but that is okay. He pointed to the thousands of zoophiles I had come across on the animal porn sites. Clearly, Iím not the only one in the world like that. The fact God had to list it as a sin, shows that Iím not. Howard pointed out that though I wanted it, I had enough control and respect to deny myself. Slowly, I began to see that it is okay to like whatever I like.
Itís like the dog thing. Yes, it turns me on, but I donít need it to be happy. I donít need the scent play, the bondage, the exhibitionism, cross dressing, spanking, role playing or urine play to be sexually happy. There is nothing he can label pathological about anything I like. Slowly, Iíve learned that many of the things I like are rooted very far back. It isnít possible to unlearn to like them. When I went to Howard, I really wanted him to help me change. I wanted to stop liking all that stuff. Now I understand that I canít. Yes, I developed tastes, which arenít to everyoneís liking, but I canít just stop liking them. It doesnít work that way.
Before I went to Howard, I had basically repressed it all. I wouldnít allow myself to fantasize on anyone but you, and I gave up porn and writing erotica. With all my strength, I forced myself to be Ďnormalí, and I was absolutely miserable.
After we talked about it all, and Howard assured me I wasnít a freak or sick, he worked on showing me. He is a sex therapist, and has extensive training. Pulling out his books, he showed me how and why different things develop. He kept assuring me that whatever I liked, there were millions of others who liked the same things. Slowly, I began to accept my sexuality, and the shame and guilt faded over time.
Still, I was unhappy. All the time, I kept getting depressed and frustrated. On my last session, I was feeling very unhappy. I told him that I was miserable with my sex life, and that I kept wondering what my life would be like if I were with someone like me. See now that I am not ashamed of it, I would love to do it. Thatís kind of the downside to accepting things. The hate I felt for my kinks made it possible to live without them, but remove that hate, and they become very hard to resist.
I still have my walls, mainly on things I feel are wrong like the animal thing. Those things no longer really have much power over me. I have no interest in animals. Where my kinks cause me a problem is when I feel okay with them. For example golden showers. Iím okay with them, so they are a very powerful enticement for me.
The session before the last one, I had told myself that it was all an endless cycle. I tried convincing myself that it was pointless and vain. For a few weeks, I put the mask back on, and thought I had found all my answers. By the last session, my rationalizing had worn off. I drug into his office, and told Howard I was miserable again. I explained how trapped I felt, and how isolated and lonely. I admitted I kept wondering what my life would be like if I was with someone more like me. I told him, I had asked you enough already to work with me, and I just didnít see us changing. I told him you seemed tired of hearing about it, so I just wasnít able to bring myself to talk about it. I told him that you felt it was my problem, and that I would just have to get over it.
The first thing he said was that it wasnít my problem. Being married it is our problem when one of us is miserable all the time. Then he asked if I was happy outside of sex, and I told him I was. He pointed out at the change in me. I was no longer depressed. I kept saying I was unhappy, but I was very defined and clear. He pointed out that I was no longer depressed, but was unhappy, and that there was a huge difference between those two things. I knew he was right. Being unhappy is a pinpoint thing. I can clearly define why Iím unhappy, and I know the area I need to change to feel better.
Finally, Howard asked me if I would be happy if my sex life was more fulfilling and satisfied me? I didnít really even have to think. Yes, I would be happy if my sex life was the way I wanted. He asked me how long I was willing to keep trying to fit a square peg into a round hole? I got very quiet, because we were going some place very scary for me, very threatening.
Then he continued, and told me to take a look at everything we had done. He said that I now knew why I was the way I was, and that I had grown to like who I was. I know who the real me is for the first time in my life, but I am still trying to be something else. The real me is a very good man. When I had chances to cheat, I always stayed true. When I acted on something that offended me, I was sickened by it. I hadnít done anything that I felt really wrong about since that night with the dog when I was 14! When was I going to give myself credit? The real me is very sexual. When I try to force myself not to be, I become very unhappy. The solution is simple, stop trying to be something Iím not. Howard asked me how long before I was going to embrace the real me? I guess thatís where I am now.
The real me loves sex, and is unhappy only having sex a couple times a month. I like sex to be frequent, a little different each time, and to have an occasional adventure. The real me doesnít object to adult movies. Sure there are black-market ones that victimize women and kids, but the mainstream stuff isnít that way. Those women and men may not be doing it because they love it, but they all have their reasons. I just donít object to them, so it is hard to deny myself that outlet. The real me now understands where my love of sniffing and scent came from. No, it isnít everyoneís cup of tee, but it is mine. I like it, and it doesnít make me evil. It is another part of me that is hard to resist.
The bible says that whatever a husband and wife agree to, outside of the defined sexual sins is okay. Nowhere does the bible condemn porn, masturbation, golden showers, heterosexual anal sex or toys. What it condemns is very specific. Incest for one, that isnít even an issue for me. Prostitution is another non issue as is adultery. Iíve never cheated. Iíve always stood by my mate at the time. Fornication is the meaningless meandering from one partner to the next, but Iím not into that either. Everyone I have had sex with was an ongoing relationship. Then there is bestiality. That one is a bit of a temptation, but because I see it as absolutely wrong, the call of it isnít very strong. I can appease that one with fantasies. Finally, homosexuality is another non issue. Iím plain not interested in sexual relations with another guy.
At one point Christ speaks of lusting after your neighborís wife, and churches lump many things into that. They use that to condemn pornography, saying that looking at naked women is lusting after them. If you look at lust, it goes much deeper than a passing glance. Lust means to be consumed by something, to get fixated on it. A passing glance at a picture or thought about your friendís wife doesnít even come close to being lust in my mind, so I simply cannot clearly label something wrong using their mentality. The bible doesnít say that adult images are wrong.
Swinging becomes another fuzzy area in my mind, and I have a hard time labeling it as out of bounds. It isnít adultery, because you arenít hiding it. It might be fornication if you have meaningless partners, but with a couple you are close with, Iím not sure it is. The bible says we are to have one wife, but swinging isnít taking a second wife. It is more like a sex toy; something a couple uses to add spice. The bible tells us that the married bed will remain undefiled, meaning as long as something is consensual for both partners, and doesnít violate one of the sexual sins, that it is okay. I have a hard time clearly sticking swinging, either soft or full swaps into the sexual sins. Combined with my history of group sex and sharing partners, it is very hard to completely ignore my desire for it.
Paul also gave some very clear lessons to Christians. You say sex isnít everything, but clearly Paul knew it was important. He first says that a select few would be blessed with celibacy. God removes their desires so that they can serve him better, and Paul was like that. He went on to say that everyone who wasnít given celibacy should take a spouse so that they wouldnít sin. In other words he knew sex was powerful, and that if you tried to remain single that you would end up sinning. Later Paul charged husbands and wives to meet one anotherís needs. He said that our bodies donít belong to us anymore after we marry, but that they belong to our spouse. He urges us to take care of each other, and warns that because we are one flesh that if our mate sins because we failed to meet their needs, we shared in that sin.
I have studied and prayed at length in my life, looking for answers to help me. Sex is a very powerful and important thing. Time and again, sex has caused people to sin. It caused the fallen angels to come to earth and seduce women. They now await death for it. In all my studies, I have developed a pretty clear understanding that sex is meant to be a fulfilling, rewarding and binding thing for a couple.
So there is how the real me sees sex now. I donít believe the Bible restricts us as much as we do it to ourselves. At one point, speaking to the Priests of the temple who kept oppressing the people with all these rules and laws, God says that they were placing a heavier burden on the people than He ever did. I feel we have to be careful, and that Christ and God came to free us from this world, not to lay a bunch of rules on us we couldnít possibly meet. In my case, I have looked at the sexual laws, and at the Song of Solomon where the couple engages in oral sex and intercourse. I am reminded that sex is healthy and fun, and that God meant it to be. Too often we put more restrictions on ourselves than He did. We read things in that just werenít written.
Now I am caught and torn by where to go from here. I have developed a clear idea of my sexuality, and know who and what I am. Iíve also grown to understand that to be fulfilled as a person, I need to embrace the real me. I canít force myself to be something Iím not. Basically where we are is that now our relationship is looking at the real me, not the actor it was before. It was based on a lie, a person I cannot be.
Here are options Howard has given me. Naturally, I can continue trying to be happy with what I have, and to continue looking at the bright side. He points out that has never worked for me in the past, and even with deeper understanding, it isnít likely to work for me now. The second way to deal with it is to have an affair. Some people deal with sexual problems by cheating, but it has many downsides including guilt and shame that I have worked so hard to cast off, and also means lying more, after finally getting honest with myself for the first time. Then there is an open relationship, where we decide that we are basically happy enough to stay together, but we give up on matching up sexually, and openly go to other people for those needs.
The option I like is working together to change what we have. My sexuality is so varied that many things excite and fulfill me. I am flexible as long as what we do stays fresh and adventuresome. Out of the list of things I enjoy, there should be a way to find things that add adventure to our lives that we can both live with, and there has to be ways we can build frequency into it. Howard suggests making dates for intimacy where we basically choose days where we know we are going to have sex. If it means setting an alarm, fitting in a quickie while the baby naps, or whatever, there has to be ways of fitting time for sex into things. As far as what we do, if it means getting a bench to take pressure off your knees so we can change things up, then we should. We have to be inventive without either of us doing something we really donít like. He says I have a huge inventory of things I like, and he canít believe we canít find things in there that we would both enjoy.
As a final resort, and only after weíve tried all else, there is divorce. Sometimes two people are so far apart that they canít find common ground enough to be happy. Either one or the other feels unhappy, and resentment grows until it tears the marriage apart. This is where we are headed if I donít find some way to be myself. I am willing to see someone with you if you would like. I am really committed to you and the kids, and I want us to work, but I also want to be happy. Iím not doing you or them any good when I am so miserable all the time.
Well, there it is. My journey so far has been a revelation. I hoped to change who I was, and ended up seeing I canít. Instead, my journey has come full circle. Sex is still a huge problem, but instead of running away, I must embrace it. I must be myself, and I owe it to myself to be happy.
I have watched many couples crash and burn on male survivors. Recovery forces survivors to come to face who they are, and sometimes relationships donít survive the changes. You married one guy, and I think you knew that sex was a powerful force in my life. You arenít dumb, and you seem to know me better than I know myself at times, so I donít believe any of this should surprise you. You can go on labeling it my problem, and saying Iíll just have to get over it. The problem is that I havenít gotten over it in nearly 35 years, and Iím not likely to get over it in whatever time I have left.
I have to be the real me to be happy, and the real me is sexual, kinky and adventuresome. He is also loyal and true. The real Jeff is kind and loving, not the distant depressed mess you have known, but I have been unable to set him free, because I keep trying to make him something heís not. The session is over, my path is clear. I must move to embrace the real me, or I will forever remain trapped where I am. Work with me Deborah. Am I worth it? Is our love strong enough to embrace the real me?
I have been torn on what to say and how, because I know that my growth as a person means changing. I canít do it alone, and I canít go on hoping itíll just go away. Sorry, I didnít know this before we went so far. Iím sorry I am not who you would like me to be, but I have done my best, and now I must be true to myself. I have wasted too long trying not to be me.
compassion is a light even to the darkest soul