When I entered therapy, I had reached a breaking point in my life. I had watched as all my friends were getting married and raising families. I became the third wheel tagging along to dinners and movies; I was profoundly lonely, and I prayed continually for answers. I had spent most of my life questioning my identity as a truly heterosexual male. Why had God put me on this earth to be so unhappy? I questioned why the Bible commands us to live a certain way if that seems impossible.
I remember one day I was sitting at a restaurant by myself and looking around the room. I saw a number of single men older than me eating alone. I realized I was looking at my own future, and it was sad and lonely. I remember someone told me, “People only change when the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of staying the same.” By then, I had finally reached a point in my life where I would do anything to live my life differently. It took me 25 years to reach that point. I finally realized I was never going to be happy unless I at least tried to repair the damage that had been done in my life -- prior decisions I had made that were robbing me of a bright future.
I was born with cryptorchidism, where one testicle did not descend at birth. The problem is easy to fix with minor surgery, but my parents never treated the problem. I grew up thinking – knowing – I was different than other boys. I felt humiliated and embarrassed throughout my teen years, and I would panic twice a week when we were required to take showers in the locker room after gym class. I would later read that cryptorchidism usually leads to low fertility, meaning I would never be a father.
My dad was never around to validate my masculinity or allay my fears, and I was too ashamed to ask my parents to take me to a surgeon to fix the problem. I would lie in bed with anxiety and pain night after night thinking I was different from other boys. That single act of neglect most affected my sense of identity as a heterosexual male, and it led to a life of loneliness, anxiety and unhappiness before I entered therapy.
Therapy was painful for me. I had to re-live much of my life to understand why I thought of myself the way I did. I had developed my identity based on the way I rationalized things when I was a teenager. I really never had a good male role model to validate my masculinity, so I had to make up for it in therapy. The good news is, it can be done, and I am a living testimony of it.
My view of myself is radically different today than it was when I first went into Dr. Nicolosi’s office riddled with fear and insecurity. I now wake up thanking God for the wonderful life I have. I am now married to an amazing wife who I love more every day. Frankly, I never thought I deserved a woman like this, and I surely did not think a woman would accept me as I am. And, shortly after we were married, my wife became pregnant with our amazing little girl. I now have a rich life with a wonderful family. This is what can happen when you take a chance and commit fully to changing your life. The future is so very, very bright.
The most important thing I learned is that envy is the root of this problem with SSA. I had spent my life envying heterosexual men because I felt inferior to them. I did not think I was welcome “in the club.” I would study manly men and try to be like them, talk like them, dress like them and cultivate the same interests, but I always felt like I was different. I finally – and this is where therapy was necessary – realized that I am exactly like the men I envied. Every single cell in my body was designed for heterosexual love. I don’t have to try to be masculine, I AM that way, and it doesn’t matter what I think or what others think. Like everyone, I still have insecurities, but I have learned to ignore that little voice that sometimes says I am not good enough. Instead, I regularly remind myself of what God says about me: God sees me as a heterosexual man, and that is all the validation I need.
Mark Twain said it best: "If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got." We can’t expect life to be any different if we don’t take action to change our lives. For me there were several things I can point to that released me from the bondage of my former life. Here is my five-point checklist:
You must be in real pain with your present life and be willing to endure more pain to fix it. You will experience peaks and valleys, so don't give up (if you are like me, you will want to quit).
This will not happen overnight, but it will happen. Keep a journal and look back only after you have been on the journey for six months or more. You’ll see what I mean.
I feel strongly you must believe in God and understand that He sees you as heterosexual, even if you or your friends do not. Do not give any credence to the insecure voice in your head. I spent too much of my life listening to my own insecurities and believing them.
Recognize that envy is the underlying factor here. You need to truly believe -- and know -- you are exactly as heterosexual as the most masculine man you can imagine. If you don’t believe that, you are lying to yourself, and you are robbing yourself of your destiny.
Regardless of your past, tomorrow is a new day, and you can be who you were meant to be. You need to make a conscious decision to look into the windshield, not the rear view mirror, no matter how tempting it is to focus on the failures of the past.
Ignore the naysayers and the statistics that say change is almost impossible. Don't settle for what society tells you is right for you if you believe in your heart that life can be better. A man with a firsthand personal experience is never at the mercy of a man with a contradictory argument: in my own life, I have proven that this change is possible and can lead to a life of happiness and fulfillment. If I had not taken action to change my life, I would still be living a life of loneliness, anger and anxiety. I now have an amazing wife and family and a life that I never believed possible. This was my true destiny.