As I read literature on what supposedly causes young boys to head down a heterosexually retarded developmental path, I see threads of my own life. I know this is how they seduce many guys into their philosophy, guys desperate to believe this "isn't who they are" or "isn't what they were meant to be", so they can then offer them "a way out". Many need to believe they turn out straight if they become the men they were meant to be, and this whole dilemma will be resolved. I think most of that philosophy is bunk, as many of you know, and that it comes down to coping with one's differences and past or approaching relationships in a healthy way that works best for maximum satisfaction and congruence with beliefs. But I know that someone who knows me well enough will see, beyond my skepticism, the ways my life's pieces supposedly fit into that puzzle. In the interest of full disclosure, here are some of the things I might confess to a reparative or other gender identity therapist:
My father worked a lot when I was younger and wasn't always home in the evenings. I looked at my friend down the street whose dad taught him to throw and catch, and even though I was never especially interested in team sports, I felt a little jealous that his dad taught him that. My mom taught me to catch and throw. My brother did sometimes, too, at my mom's request. But Dad didn't "get" me. In the Myers Briggs personality typing, we're conflicting types. I figured he loved me, but I didn't "feel" it from him like I did from my mom. I just had to accept it on an intellectual level. I have happy memories with him from my childhood, like watching The Muppet Show together and him reading the newspaper by the fire with my draped on his side, probably as a toddler. Vacations were always fun, when we weren't car shopping (BORING). But no, we didn't really connect in the cozy, emotional level I did with my mom, and I felt slightly awkward about going anywhere with _just_ him. Even though the tension around that is something I've worked to resolve over the years, and I relate to him better now and am not the least bit uncomfortable admitting I very much show traits from both him and my mom despite some significant differences in personality, I've always remembered that it wasn't always as it is now. Distant father: check.
My older brother who still lived at home while I was growing up was possibly my most prominent male role model as far as attachment goes. He played violin and played football. He really dug girls. Personalitywise, he and I are about as different as siblings can be. He didn't "get" me and often was frustrated by my sensitivity and lack of interest in typical 'male' things. But he was a great older brother in the most important ways, and he cared about me, and I knew he wanted to help balance out my eccentricities with his natural ability to 'fit in', and part of me knew he was right that I was too weird for most people to handle, so I reluctantly tried some suggestions here and there because I didn't like being made fun of so much at school. And I cared what he thought to an extent, even though I denied that I cared what anyone thought, so when he swore at me once for crying, it hurt a lot. Feelings of rejection from male attachment figure: check.
My mother is a bit of a mama bear. She's no demure, mousy housewife, and she has always had a fiercely protective streak. Fortunately, I didn't see much of that growing up except for putting a shady car salesman or two in his place with his tail between his legs. She tried to rein it in and keep any involvement or interference--such as calling the school regarding bullying issues or any such thing--behind the scenes. I had the illusion of mostly fighting my own battles. But she also has always been very involved--even nosy--in her kids' lives, and I was the youngest and was naturally very cuddly as a baby and therefore probably got the bulk of the affection and squeezing and clinging from her. She told me she knew I wasn't perfect, but I was never sure if she could handle knowing, rather than vaguely suspecting, my imperfections, tendencies, and decisions she wouldn't approve of, let alone the ones I didn't approve of, myself. She has had trouble stepping back and relinquishing the mama role. She's been doing much better over the last several years as I told her I needed to cut the umbilical more thoroughly, but the damage may have been done. Overbearing mother: check.
I was given soy formula for years. Soy estrogens: check.
Speaking of bullying issues, I was never bullied much in a physical way, but I was called names in school. I don't know that it was inordinate compared to most people, but I know it was stressful at times. I learned early on that I choose how to react to situations. I learned to try to be selective about whose input I cared about. I learned to respond to threatening situations with disarming mental tactics because I was skinny and weak. Bullying: check.
>> Part 2