I’ve been going through a bunch of old emails, trying to sort through them and make sense of them. I realize I wrote an awfully lot about my life living with same sex attraction in emails to a lot of people, and I think these emails from the past will feature very prominently in the book I’m writing.
This email is from February 10, 2000. I wrote it to a friend of mine who is also attracted to men. He had sent me an email discussing a thought he had that perpetually hounded him. He doubted anyone liked him, or ever wanted to be with him. Essentially he was living in a constant state of self-loathing.
I wrote him about the same feelings I lived with, and what that had been like for most of my life.
Incidentally, I’m happy to say that by the grace of God, I now genuinely like myself, and despite what I wrote in the email below, I finally understand that people actually like me too.
Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. I just haven’t made the time until now to send off a reply. I wanted to comment on your concern about people “actually enjoying time with you.” It’s a useless thing to try and reassure someone, that, “yes…people DO like to spend time with you.” It may help to some extent, but it doesn’t approach the root issue, in my mind. It’s merely a bandaid for a wound that demands critical attention.
For me, I have the appearance, outwardly, that I’m happy as a clam, and comfortable in any situation. I decided at an early age that I had to try to do something to gain the admiration of my classmates. I tried to be funny and just get along with everyone. I succeeded at that, but never really felt like I belonged, or that [in high school] I really had any close friends. (Of course, a common high school occurence). Regardless, I set up a pattern of living which was based primarily on survival, rather than actually engaging with other people. No one would have suspected, I think, that I lived in a lot of turmoil, with the same fear you expressed: do people like me? I’ve had many friends with whom I would look for signs of a disruption in the friendship, and I’d make adjustments accordingly. Rather than actually becoming close friends with them, I survived, making sure they remained my friends.
I overgeneralize, but there has always been a deep-seated feeling of an assumption of rejection. Ultimately, I think it’s rooted in the fact that I have historically rejected myself, believing all kinds of negative things about myself. Historically, if you were to ask me if I would want to be around me, that I would want to be friends with me, I would answer probably not, because it has historically been inconceivable in my mind that people like me. I don’t like me, so why should they?
I see this thinking clearly linked with the struggle we face. Homosexual desire, as I’ve come to view it, is a seeking after those elements in our lives which we see lacking in ourselves. If I doubt people “like” me, it’s clear I view myself as lacking. I therefore see and admire qualities in others around me which I have said to myself over the years, “if only I was like him, then I’d be alright.” Of course this is all hogwash, but I’ve seen that played out in my life in many ways. I remember comparing myself to other guys way back in elementary. Those elements, over time, which are rooted in a dislike of myself, became sexualized for me overtime. I’ve come to a point where I believe that a huge part of my healing process stems from healing the self-loathing I have felt towards myself, which results, for me, in the feelings you’ve expressed over concern about people being sick of me, or disliking and rejecting me.
I hope you let me know anytime you’re feeling that way. It’s a feeling I’m very familiar with, and I appreciate your honesty. That “perennial” feeling of the possibility of rejection is probably more important or vital an issue to seek healing for, because I think it is from that that a big part of our desires stem. The issues surrounding homosexuality, I think, are the symptoms of deeper stuff. Anyway…I’ve got to go teach, and I’m out of time. I’ll talk to you later. Monday I’ll be back in town again. Let me know what your schedule’s like.
Your friend, who is NOT sick of you, but rather looks forward to our next coffee outing,