Man in the mirror…

Now that I’ve pretty much finished the semester – I only need to submit my final paper for Intro to Theology – I feel the weight of all that needs to be processed bearing down on me. As enjoyable as the past nine months have been – making new friends, engaging my faith, diving deeper into who I am and who I want and am called to be – it has left my brain in overdrive. I have to take a sleep aid to be able to rest. I’m constantly having dreams, some benign, others horrifying. Most of all, I’ve neglected my physical health.

Had I not relapsed, last August would have been the one year anniversary of my quitting smoking. Alas, I didn’t make it. In fact, I’m smoking more now than I was at the time when I quit. I rationalized the hell out of that decision, and while there are some regrets, I honestly don’t have much desire to quit. In addition, I currently weigh more than I ever have before, almost 200 pounds. I can barely fit into much of my wardrobe. I look at my reflection and, more often than not, feel disgust and shame.

This lead to a realization which I think I’d made subconsciously but couldn’t bring myself to admit consciously. Part of the reason that I attend to my physical health and appearance as little as I do stems from the fact that, for me, my body has always been a component of self-directed shame. When I was in early grade school, I felt clumsy, as if my body was off kilter and I couldn’t control it. As I got older and my sexuality surfaced, things got worse. Living in a generally sex-negative and excessively homophobic setting, shame and self-hatred became normal, routine. This did not fade over the years. I never really felt as if I grew into myself.

When it came to manifesting my sexual desires, I became reckless, as many queer men do. There was a certain compensatory hedonism to it all, making up for my own self-loathing with meaningless encounters, further hindering my ability to be wholly self-actualized. Although the promiscuity tapered off, I rarely found myself feeling valued, visible, having worth. Friendship after friendship, relationship after relationship, I went through cycles of introduction, intensity, detachment, abandonment, depression, and back. Even now, this is still a frequent struggle, one which I try to remedy but with which I am only able to make baby steps. The progress is slow and choppy, leaving me feeling hopeless and frustrated.

I recently finished an exegetical paper for my New Testament class covering the passage from Romans (1:26-27) which is used as the primary authoritative passage in speaking against homosexuality. Unfortunately, facing this passage head on had some debilitating emotional repercussions. I retreated back into that place where I wanted to have sex purely for the purpose of shutting down my emotions… so I forbade myself any form of sexual intimacy with anyone, including my partner. While it was difficult, I knew that if I engaged at all, I would most likely feel such remorse after the fact that I would dive into the deepest pit of despair I’ve ever experienced. F. was very understanding thankfully, yet I still feel bad.

I don’t know whether or not this blog has an end point. I know that my heart feels stretched thin beyond belief. I know that my head feels overcrowded and overworked. And I know that my body feels like a barrier to wholeness, a ledger which keeps the most tangible records of my past. I’m hoping to have the will to work out this summer and cut back on smoking. I’m hoping to be able to look at the man in the mirror and forgive him for the places he’s fallen short, to love him unconditionally, and to accept him for exactly the man he is. I’m hoping to start seeing his strengths and tapping into them to be able to affect the change that he desires to see both internally and externally.

To be continued…

~ by Michael O. on May 8, 2011.

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