Testimony from Cairo, Egypt
My name is Mohammed and I am 28 years old. I am a graduate student living in Cairo. I found Dr. Nicolosi on the Internet at a time when my life was really dark, really painful. I could not stand my same-sex attractions. My life was not going well, and I needed to stop all my bad habits and end these bad feelings about myself. During a period of two-and-a-half years I flew to the Thomas Aquinas Clinic in California, alternating with sessions in between, that I did from home in Cairo. During those visits to the U.S., I would spend two or three weeks in California, and each week when I was there, I would have a number of sessions.
The therapy got me to look at things that happened in my life that created my unwanted attractions to guys.
When I was eight years old my family spent our vacations at a beach in Alexandria and there was a bully who was at the time 14 or 15 years old. He used to bully me in the morning and then would come to the beach house at night and sexually abuse me. That happened for years, and I couldn’t talk to my father because basically I had no relationship with him so I didn’t trust him. My father was never around to validate my masculinity or allay my fears.
One day, after years of harassment, he did anal intercourse on me really hard and I felt really bad afterward. I felt shamed. I was really shy and didn’t know what was happening. Was I the one who was at fault? Was he at fault? I wasn’t sure. I felt numb and my head was down, all the time down. As we say in my country, I had no face. I could not face the community; I couldn’t raise my face to look at people.
After that, I used to have attraction to guys I saw on the street and would watch a lot of gay porn for hours. The porn gave me some distraction and some numbing of my pain. It felt good and exciting but after an hour I would feel bad again. When I looked at porn, I would look for fat or chubby guys, but I did not understand why. When I started therapy, Dr. Nicolosi helped me see that this was because my molester was chubby, the same body type. This was a repeating of my past sex-abuse trauma.
Before therapy I used to have a little attraction to women, but to only one type of woman who were a little big, I would say, a little fat. I did not understand why. Later, I learned that they were similar to my molester’s body type. It really made me uncomfortable to tell other people that I like only chubby girls. I had a lot of shame about this and I could not go out and say: “I’m looking for a chubby woman.” Even though it’s not wrong to look for such a woman, I did not want to say it because it sounded weird.
I used to be three persons in one. Sometimes I would say to myself: “I must be gay. This is who I am.” Then the other part of me that did not want this same-sex attraction would say: “This is wrong, it cannot be. It doesn’t fit me.” The third part was my Muslim religion that said to me: “This is a big sin, you must stop!”
My Experience of Reparative Therapy
I had this very strong fear of finding out whether there is a solution or not. Each time when an idea would come to my mind to ask or search about the possibility of changing, I would try to distract myself with anything, because I had this fear of disappointment that I will continue this way! I have always wanted to have a wife, kids, and a successful family.
I kept delaying therapy for years because I was afraid that they would say there is no hope for change or I would not be able to change. I was afraid that any answer other than that I could be healed would easily devastate me for my entire life. If I would be told that I could not change I would be SHUT DOWN, facing the worst possible outcome in my life. For me “shut down” meant a severe depression for a long time and only God knows when it would end! For me, homosexuality could not remain a part of me. We have a saying, ''What has been built upon a void, then, it is a void.''
I reached the point where my motivation to start changing was stronger than my fear of disappointment. I contacted a therapist in Cairo but she had no clue about how to help me. But she informed me that change is possible and there is such a thing going on in the States and I was like WOW, I felt so good that during that year of school, I got straight A's in that semester.
But my biggest problem in my life was my attractions, especially to big teenage guys on the streets. I would see those guys and get sexually aroused, do sexual things in my mind, and then I'd feel really bad and disconnected... I could not work or concentrate. And I would also look for big guys on the gay porn sites. They were the most exciting. I was really discouraged and had no confidence in myself. It was really bad. In therapy I realized that finding someone like my bully abuser was a repeating of my past sex-abuse trauma.
The whole time during therapy, no one knew about my problem and what I was trying to do. It is really not common talking about these things in my country! My family and friends do not know anything about me. I told my family and friends that I was going to California for business investments. When I came home they asked me, “So, what did you do there?” I did not know what to say. I still cannot tell anyone what I have achieved. That’s why I feel a pride for my accomplishments. I’m proud because with limited tools I did a good job.
I used to masturbate a lot, especially when I could not sleep. I'd go for gay porn and fantasizing while masturbating right before sleeping. I knew it would help me sleep but I realized it made me sleep because it made me depressed, and feeling depressed makes me want to sleep. When I started to shift to fantasize about girls it was like an energetic drink as I feel happy and excited right after it, which makes it more difficult to sleep. So now I stopped using both of them.
When I was like, 17 or 18, I remember figuring out the idea of "association," connecting one idea to another to make a behavior stronger or weaker. I tried to help myself by not switching on the light when I masturbated, as an attempt to save this visual reinforcement for my wife one day. I also almost never took off my t-shirt while doing the activity, thinking I would save that pleasure of being totally naked to share with my future wife.
At the beginning in therapy I was really afraid but I submitted my whole power to Dr. Nicolosi and I said to myself, “Let’s try to open up and see what’s going on, there may be a solution.” So I tried.
I have always known that my SSA had to do with my past and at the same time I was afraid to make the connections.
In the beginning I did not understand what was going on inside of me but then with the therapy, I started to notice my feelings. I understood when and why I feel these different feelings that made me want gay sex.
Dr. Nicolosi and I worked and worked and worked, tackling the details of events of painful memories and frightening feelings. After a few sessions, going home from California, I started to feel less attraction for guys. I also noticed that I felt something toward slim girls. They look sexier and I felt like I wanted to be connected to them.
I started understanding myself today by going back to my history. I had no clue in the beginning but then I understood everything and I knew the main reasons for my problems and we worked on them through many techniques such as EMDR and Body Work. We basically focused on my feelings and my body, how I felt inside. I needed a lot of coaxing but now the bad memories do not affect me anymore. When I think of them now they do not depress me anymore. Over time, I felt a change. Each time I walked out of the therapy office I was very tired, but happier.
The first significant change happened after 4 months. I understood what was going on inside me and gaining some control of the shame and depressing feelings that were controlling my life. For the first time I felt more in control of my emotions. I felt more mature.
Therapy was a huge change in my life. Today I feel like I am more united inside, I feel clear in my mind about what I am feeling, why I am feeling it, and I actually know what I want to do with my life.
The most important thing that I learned from Reparative Therapy is that these same-sex feelings have to do with my history, some humiliating memories when I was young and vulnerable. I had bad things happen to me as a kid. When I walk in the street and see some guys I was attracted to I ask myself: “What I am feeling?” When I go back to my real feelings underneath the sexual attractions I know that they go back to two problems-- I had a bad relationship with my father, and I was sexually abused.
After a lot of work on my problems, I can say: “Thank God I’ve changed and thank you to Dr. Nicolosi.” I no longer have those bad feelings about those guys. In fact, I just see them as regular guys. I see those guys on the street and I ask myself: ”What am I feeling?” and I say: ”No, nothing.” I feel nothing, only that they are brothers of mine. I used to also feel like I want to hug them but I don’t feel I have the need anymore.
I have become much better with my brothers and my mother but I still have a problem with my father. In fact, I do not talk to him. I did all of this therapy without talking with him. He doesn’t know anything about me. My relationships with my brothers are stronger and also with my mother. I still have a problem with my father; he has a lot of his own problems.
I feel like I got what I dreamed for. I wanted to have a normal life, I wanted my body to function normally. I feel like I’m stronger, I feel like I’m more comfortable and I feel like more attracted to girls and I see myself with a girl and I never stopped feeling attracted to girls. After the therapy I feel like, who doesn’t like a woman?
A few months ago I dated a woman older than me. I really focused on the emotions and sexual aspects, of course. Emotionally I felt really comfortable and I felt like I was the one who controlled the whole situation. It made me feel strong, like a father and like a leader. I had sex with her and it was really nice. I enjoyed it and felt confident that I could do it, but this is against my religion, of course, and I did feel guilty, to be honest. I felt like I succeeded therapy-wise but religiously I felt like I needed to stop it. I know that I need to get to know one woman and get married. I’ll make it the right way. I feel like I’m ready for it.
One of the most important things, I stopped playing the role of the victim. I used to nag, yell, complain and basically act like a little boy. I was afraid to take charge of my life, to be in control of the situation. I let the situation control me. This negative attitude is totally changed. My mentality has changed to the idea, "Everything is possible."
One of the most important parts of my success is journaling, I'd journal every important detail going on in my life whether remembering something in the past or during the therapy. It's like opening a file…tackling it, solving it, then again another new file, and so on.
I started feeling the changes in many aspects of my life, such as my feeling about myself and how I see and value other people: kids, teenagers, men, women, friends, family. I see them differently in a positive way. I feel a natural attraction toward girls and I feel normal when I meet the type of guy I used to fantasize about.
I thank God for what I’ve achieved. I’m really happy. I should have done this therapy years ago, when I was 18 or 19. My life would have been easier.
Also one of the big successes in my life is to see those guys who I used to feel attracted to, yet at the same time, feel humiliated by. Now I feel nothing toward them. Now I just see them as brothers. I’m over it and I’m all set. I even smile to myself each time I see one of them, thinking they once had a powerful effect on me! It’s a huge difference and a huge success. Thank God!