Being homosexual has consistently been present in my life, beginning when I was 9 years old when AIDS entered my consciousness, putting a dark stigma became attached to being homosexual. The original facts I had about homosexuality came to me through knowledge about AIDS, gleamed from the deaths of Anthony Perkins and Robert Reed, effectively connecting homosexuality with death, separation, and sensationalism. With limited exposure to healthy examples of homosexuality I stumbled into a stagnate malleable inauthentic identity, designed for avoidance.
As I grew up I struggled with the idea that there was something false and untrue about my place in the world. In reaction, I created a false self that wasn’t defective or flawed. I diluted or ignored parts of myself that I thought would alienate me from those around me. When a false-self was created I ceased to be an authentic human being. The psychologist, the late Alice Miller calls this “soul-murder” – shame that leads to believing that I was a failure. Self-contempt, isolation, and a strong sense that I was untrustworthy accompanied each other until I believed I was a failure. Shame became my core identity, shutting me down to human relationships, living in hopelessness, and locked in a set of very unhealthy beliefs.
Chronic shame developed from the best of intentions of my parents when raising two children. They were good at it, striving to create balance for two radically different kids – providing food, shelter, and safety, but I still felt neglected because my parents did not bond emotionally with me. I have few memories of being held, comforted, played with, or asked how I was doing; plenty questions about the events of a school-day, but not their impact. When they didn’t live up to expectations they privately, and I’m sure to this day, scolded themselves; they failed less times than they believe they did. My parents instilled in me the three F’s – family, food, and fun. If there were two then the third would be automatically follow suit; should food be part of the family gathering then we’d have some fun; if there was food and fun, then one must be amongst family.
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