The Classic Family Pattern: Creating Self-Doubts about Sexuality

My name is Tom and I am in my fifties.  [Note, a pseudonym is being used for this testimonial, and the photograph above is not of the actual client.]  For a long time I had this uncertainty about my sexuality. This came from a combination of things: comments from other people, and questions I had about myself. 

I had been looking at gay porn off and on since college days.  As my self-doubt grew and confidence diminished, the more I got addicted to it. This made me really question myself, thinking, “Is it true that am I gay?” The gay porn thing got me to say to myself: “Perhaps this is who I am.” It was kind of like, the more you do it, the more you feel you are actually going in that direction.  I was conditioning my mind to accept that this was the way it was going to be, so I resigned myself to the idea that I had to direct my sexuality accordingly. 

I heard Dr. Nicolosi on the radio many years ago.  He described men who sexualized fear.  What he described was what I had been experiencing for years.  Many years later I finally decided to talk to him, wanting to resolve my issues once and for all. Soon after I started therapy I realized that many factors created my self-doubts. Most important was that my mother undermined my sense of masculinity.  It also didn’t help that I was not an aggressive young child and was very thin.  As I grew I was never big and strong.  After many months in therapy I started to understand what created my current mental state.  What really helped me turn the corner with understanding myself was the book, “Shame and Attachment Loss,” which described exactly how I grew up: I had a very aggressive and intrusive mother and a very passive and withdrawn father.  My childhood was just that description in Nicolosi’s book, exactly that. This started to get me to understand the source of my doubts. 

Living with my mother was hell on earth.  She is a classic narcissist: extremely intrusive, the “her way or the highway” type. No rules applied to her, and yet, I was forced to follow all the rules of common human respect. On top of that, I had a father who would never put his foot down. He accepted my mother’s disrespect and conduct that he wouldn’t dare accept from other people.  

I never saw my father as a strong male figure that could help me stand up to my mother, and that really created a pattern of self-doubt within me. My father was an example of a passive man and I followed that model in every relationship with a woman and needless to say, I got destroyed by these women because of it. In my first marriage I tried to be a strong man but I gradually assumed a passive role. I married a woman with the same narcissistic characteristics as my mother and I started to assume my father’s character. That just seemed normal to me.

When I was growing up, my father was my mother’s enforcer in regard to punishment. With him, there was never really any regard for compassion and trying to feel things out with me, and to really “get into my head” that way.  In turn I saw him as the guy who beat me instead of the guy who is supposed to set an example for me, guide me, and encourage me, and so on.

Getting beatings was “normal” in the Black Culture. It goes back to the slave mentality that got carried forward with us to how we deal with our own children. My father admitted to me that he received beatings from his father, so he was repeating the same behavior with me. 

My mother was also physically abusive.  We got into a couple of physical battles but to a much to a lesser degree; the physical abuse was mostly from my father. She was more emotionally and verbally abusive, which I thinkwas worse than the physical abuse because it caused me to be very confused and too trusting of other people, just to be let down later, as if I expected it..  She was never a person of her word...she would play mind games with me and she was never accountable to anybody. She made up the rules and changed them to fit her needs.

I was married once before and, as I’ve said, that was a disaster. I let my wife horribly disrespect me, the same way my father was disregarded by my mother. Today I am in a relationship with a woman and our sexual relationship is really good.  I take care of her and she takes care of me, but I don’t think I’m going to get married.  I think we’re going to keep it the way it is, because as far as marriage, I really got beat up pretty bad financially in my first marriage, and I don’t think I’ll be signing any documents soon.  

The EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) helped me get to the root of the problem by bringing memories back to me.  There was an incident when I was around 10 or 11 and I and another boy were playing make-believe and we would take turns being the female, and during that play my mother burst into the room and caught us doing that, and it was completely devastating for me. To me it was just playing, but I carried that shame forward. Her overreaction reinforced the idea that maybe there was something wrong with me. Instead of saying to me, OK it’s just child’s play, let it go, but don’t do it again, her punishment to me was as if she found something bad that I had inside of me. That sort of started the doubt: “There must be something gay about me” – even though I didn’t know the word “gay” at the time. Later, there were other incidents with other boys, I don’t know why.

Therapy changed everything. I would not have made the progress I have made without therapy because it helped me understand the root of what caused my self-doubt and the addiction to gay porn. After a year of therapy with Dr. Nicolosi, plus lots of researching and hard work on my own,  I can now draw upon the breadth of understanding of who I am, and I am not that shamed, helpless person.   It has helped me in so many ways.  I am so much more confident in myself.  I know who I am and know what I want.  I feel like I have put those doubts and questions behind me and I feel like nothing can stop me now.

I have a teenage son from my previous marriage and I’m aware of how I was treated by my Dad and so I try to be different with my son. I sit and talk to him. I explain things to him and try to answer his questions.

Today my SSA is zero.  I don’t think about it.  I stumbled upon some gay porn at one time and I looked at it and I was almost like, “Wow, I can’t even believe I was there, and I’m so far from there.”

The therapy with Dr. Nicolosi was for about a year and I really appreciate his help. Some of the things he said are still in my head, and when certain things happen to me I can still hear his voice. I wouldn’t have reached this point without his help.