|Posted on September 17, 2016 at 2:05 PM|
Why do so many people with same-sex attractions stumble on the way to freedom? Here some reasons:
- So far, they used the easy fix to deal with their hurts and their legitimate unfulfilled needs. Now they are supposed to do something, which is way harder, even though it leads to a better goal, heals their hurts and really satisfies their needs. The quick fix is just too tempting at times...
- No stress- and frustration-tolerance.
- Lack of ability to set yourself a goal and pursue it - no matter what.
- Everyone around them keeps on telling them to do whatever they feel like doing. It's all about "love", right?
- Lack of a love that is bigger than the lust.
|Posted on January 6, 2016 at 8:55 AM|
An Epiphany About My SSA: The Relationship Between My Acting Out and My Need For a Best Friend.
Written By: Nathan
(Posted Jan 2011)
First, let me introduce myself: My name is Nathan, I am married with 3 children. In my life, I have constantly “needed” or at least sought out a best friend. One good friend. That's all I needed, that's all I wanted. Of course, after a while, my need became obsessive. During the time I actually had such a friendship, my same-sex attraction (SSA) was virtually nil. When I didn’t have these intimate connections, I was more prone to acting out with other men.
I always focused on and looked for this best friend rather than choosing a larger circle of men with whom to have relationship. My effort was to have a few deep friendships that provided an emotional connection. Ultimately such friendships did not last. This then left me feeling emotionally drained and craving to replenish this feeling of closeness I lost. I would then look elsewhere to fill the void and start all over again. For several years, I have been trying to figure out why I had this repetitive need to find this one best friend.
When I first joined JONAH (www.jonahweb.org) several years ago, I kept telling myself that I didn't seem to fit the mold of those with SSA. I chose to not engage in therapy. After all, the classic risk factors or causes didn’t seem to apply to me. The story I told myself was that I never had issues with my peers; and, that I was close with my father, even though emotionally he wasn't demonstrative. Deep down, I told myself that I “knew” how he felt about me: I believed that he loved me and was proud of me.
So the only issue that seemed to fit the risk factors or causes concerning my early childhood was sexual involvement with an older male that I never accepted as (and to a large degree still don't) characterize as sexual abuse. I was a willing and eager participant in the activity and I never felt bad about it. (Please don't try to convince me that it was “abuse” –even though I was young-- because at this point it would be counter productive.)
This past weekend I attended a Call of the Shofar mens experiential weekend in Israel (www.calloftheshofar.org). While working on some of my issues there, I developed a theory about why I constantly looked for a best friend. While working on my issues, I was able to get in touch with my feelings and realized that although I had a close relationship with my father, a major part of that relationship was him teaching me and my siblings how to do work around the house that involved fixing things. I wasn't very good at it, and when I would mess up my father would yell at me. Eventually he stopped trying to teach me how to do the "men’s work" and I was in turn relegated to cleaning up after my siblings and preparing lunch. What came to me during the weekend work was a recognition of the deep pain of this childhood experience and such understanding brought about some major clarity: My SSA was caused by my father giving up on me, relegating me to “woman’s work,” and not teaching and mentoring me with the patience and understanding that I felt I needed.
I realize now that I felt like a failure because my father gave up on trying to teach me how to do the "men's work" around the house. This in turn has led to a lifetime of low self-confidence. As my self-confidence waned in childhood, I developed a sexual relationship with an older boy. Like I said earlier, I never considered the situation abusive. However, what came to me during the weekend processes was the interconnection between the early sexual activity and my perceptions about my father’s put down. I began to realize that my sexual activity was my psyche’s way of compensating for this perceived inadequacy. I attempted to satisfy another man, to make him happy and proud of me. Indeed, whenever I felt down, I would seek out a man to please so I could feel that I WAS A SOMEBODY. In some cases, I sexualized it; in other cases, I simply sought out a best friend. Either way, I engaged in what some psychologists call a “repetition compulsion"—a continual recreating of a past traumatic event. In other words, continue to attempt in the here and now to recreate the traumatic failure of my father relegating me to “woman’s work” by seeking out masculine approval in the hope of a better outcome.
Of course it didn't work because I quickly went back to being me with all of my insecurities and perceived inadequacies. I also recognized during the weekend that whenever I had this best friend (non-sexual) or sexualized relationship, I was substituting that person as an idealized version for the attention, affection, and approval (three A’s) that I was seeking and needed from my father. These needs, call them core needs or developmental needs, went unmet. And, my unfilled yearning for fulfillment of these needs, coupled with my detachment from my sense of masculinity through these childhood incidents with my father, expressed itself as unhealthy attachments to another male—whether it be sexualized or simply by clinging to someone as a best friend.
This led me to a further epiphany. When I have an emotional relationship with this one friend that I so desperately need, I am using him as a father figure. I realized that I became obsessive in my need to be in touch with him, to know what is going on with him, and having him know about me. I needed to please him and required his affirmation and love. I currently have such a friend, but I find that if something changes, like I don't speak to him as often as I did, or I don't think he gave me the affirmation I was seeking, I begin to panic that I did something wrong and fear that he isn't going to be there for me anymore. So while I know that this type of relationship isn't healthy, at least I have come to an understanding of where it all stems from.
Regardless of the symptom I utilize to decrease my anxiety and father wounds, and whether I work to continually reduce my acting out and simultaneously make efforts to reduce my compulsion to find a best friend, I understand it can take time. However, the major step is the first one I have taken---which is to understand the common story behind my SSA and my obsessive compulsion to always find a best friend. This insight represents a huge awakening! I then need to accept this pattern for what it is: a pattern I built up a long time ago which enabled me to move forward in my life. The insight also allows me to see this pattern for what it is not: the thinking that I was born this way as many elements of society continually preach or a belief that my SSA is so ingrained that it can never be overcome. Baruch Hashem [Blessed be G-d], I understand the impact all this has had upon my life and what I need to do to continually diminish these symptoms until they are practically gone. Rather than continually recreate the traumatic failure of the non-acceptance of my masculinity by my father, I now realize I have the ability to develop healing relationships which offer me the chance to do in adulthood what I could not do as a child, that is, to acknowledge and grieve the loss I felt from my father's actions while stopping my attempts to “import” happiness and fulfillment from another human being.
I still have major work to do, but I am on my way.
|Posted on January 6, 2016 at 8:25 AM|
A Long, Hard Road: How Reparative Therapy Saved My Life
Written By: Daniel Meir Horowitz 
(Posted May 2012)
There has been much ado in the Jewish media about the idea of Orthodoxy and homosexuality. I have decided to share my personal story for the purpose of letting others know that, despite what so many people claim to “know,” there are options and there is a way out of Same Sex Attraction (SSA).
I was raised in a modern-Orthodox, frum family. I clearly remember in 8th grade being among other boys discussing which girls in our class they had crushes on. At the time I had absolutely no attraction to women and, to avoid embarrassment, I blatantly lied and said that I did indeed have a crush on a certain female classmate. But inside I was tormented: “When will I feel these feelings like the other guys?” I asked myself. I kept hoping that someday I would just wake up and be “normal.” Unfortunately, that time never came. By 10th grade I had already come to the conclusion that something was wrong, and also admitted to myself that I was instead attracted to other boys in my class. I recall praying and crying to G-d to “take it away” and heal me. One summer I spent every day saying the entire book of Tehillim (Psalms) in the hope that I could earn enough merit to make my homosexuality go away. But it didn’t.
After graduation, I dutifully spent a year in an Israeli yeshiva. Being in a dormitory situation was a complete nightmare. I felt trapped in a prison that I could not escape, tempted by things that I could never act upon, dangled in front of me constantly. By the end of that year I was almost non-functional, and finally mustered up the courage to discuss my situation with the Rosh Yeshiva. I was sure that I would be summarily cast away and shamed, but felt I didn’t have a choice since I was suffering so much. I needed to talk to someone. Instead, I received compassion, advice, and a recommendation to see a local psychologist.
When I returned home at the end of the year, I began immediately seeing a religious psychologist to try to work through these issues while I stayed in yeshiva. Over the next seven years I cycled on and off seeing a total of three different psychologists and one psychiatrist, spending at least twenty thousand dollars. These were highly recommended professionals, some of whom are rather well known. They all assured me that they could help me with my SSA. Yet after all of my time and money, I accomplished absolutely nothing. I still was embroiled in attraction to other men, and felt no attraction to women. All of my friends were getting married and having children, while I just spun my wheels.
During those years I became depressed and hated my life. I often contemplated suicide. Multiple times while driving home from the therapist’s office, frustrated at our lack of progress, I would think: “Just turn the wheel a little to the left and slam into the divider on the freeway. No one will know it wasn’t just an accident.” I would have to consciously switch to the right lane so I could be sure I wouldn’t give in to the temptation. Part of me truly wanted to die, though, and I regularly wished that a car would hit me when I was crossing the street.
In utter desperation I began searching the Internet for possible alternative treatments. I was willing to try almost anything if I thought it would work. I discovered a weekend retreat for men struggling with SSA. After consulting with one of my rabbeim and my therapist, I signed up for the next available open slot, bought my plane tickets to Utah and set out. The retreat changed my life. I met other men who had struggled with SSA and had moved through it. I was taught about reparative therapy and that there was hope. Soon after that weekend I started seeing a licensed reparative therapist regularly, and within a year began to slowly see signs of progress. I don’t remember exactly when, perhaps 18-24 months into the therapy, but I was reading a magazine and an attractive woman in an ad caught my attention. I found myself staring at the photograph. Then it struck me: I was actually interested in looking at the woman! I felt such exhilaration at the experience. I had instinctually done what I never would have done before. Something had changed.
Anyone who says that working through homosexual desires and feelings is an easy, quick process is lying. It is a long, hard road with many challenges, pitfalls, and setbacks. But it is possible. I wish I could say there is a “cure” for SSA, but I believe there is no such thing. SSA is something I will struggle with for the rest of my life. But now, I am in control of it. It no longer tortures me. When I am diligent and follow the game-plan provided by those who understand reparative therapy, it fades to the faintest whisper in the background and therefore no longer controls me. And I am attracted to women, when I never was before.
Why was I so tortured? Why did it hurt so much? What drove me to become suicidal? Being a frum person with SSA felt like being trapped in a prison with no escape. If I have homosexual desires, urges to do what the Torah blatantly forbids, I have only three options:
A) To give in to those desires, and violate the Torah. Many have taken that path, often eventually abandoning all Torah observance. I truly believed, and believe, that G-d gave us the Torah, and so giving in to my desires was not an acceptable course of action for me.
B) To “white-knuckle,” to try to resist these temptations with sheer willpower and live a “normal” life despite them. This was an unbelievably depressing prospect. It meant getting married with no real desire for a woman. It meant having desires that could never be fulfilled. It meant being trapped in the closet all alone, suffering. (To say nothing of how wrong doing so would be to the woman I would have married.)
There were those who would tried to offer me a variant of this option: Accept myself as a homosexual and identify as gay, and stay single, all the while refraining from violating the Torah. While on the one hand, it sounded brave, I knew it to be a fallacy and an empty dream. Firstly, I would still have to suffer a lifetime of unfulfilled yearnings. The reality is, however, that despite firm initial convictions, every single person that I know who tried this, eventually succumbed and ended up violating the Torah. This always devolved back into option A.
C) To try and change the desires, or at least mitigate them until they become a mere nuisance. This seemed to be the only viable approach to me. And I tried for many years, floundering along through therapy, even taking extra jobs to pay for it. I remember thinking at one point: “What more can G-d possibly want from me? I’m doing everything I can!!” Yet, I persevered and eventually found a treatment that helped.
The reparative therapy approach is what led me to where I am.
There are those who will wish to silence me, and protest the publication of my story. They will describe reparative therapy as a sham. I can only say that I wish someone had told me about it earlier. There are no guarantees for any treatment of any illness. But I would rather have tried mightily and failed, than to have had someone stifle me by censoring those who would have given me options and hope.
Of course, no one should ever be forced into therapy if they don’t want it. And no one can experience any change unless they want to. No matter how supportive and well-meaning family and friends are, changing sexual orientation or growing out of SSA will not occur if the person does not wish to do it for himself and find the proper therapeutic approach that works for him. For those who choose to work through their SSA, there are several alternative paths for them to take. And, by doing so, they can lead truly fulfilled lives.
Even if after spending time (and money) with one therapist is found not to be helpful, that does not in any way mean that another won’t be helpful. If, G-d forbid, someone was diagnosed with cancer and a certain treatment wasn’t working, he wouldn’t give up. He would seek out another doctor with a different method, or try alternative medicines or modalities. I spent almost ten years trying different therapy methods, and eventually one worked for me. So if one doesn’t work for you, who knows? Some other treatment might.
I want to shout to all those plagued by SSA who wish they were not: Don’t give up. Please. Despite what you read and hear in our secular culture about the false idea that change is impossible, a ray of light might be just around the corner. Keep looking and know that the help you seek is out there. You only need to find it.
 This is a pseudonym. Certain other identifying details have been changed as well. I truly wish that I felt safe enough to use my actual name and identify myself. However, as someone still searching for his soul mate, I am keenly aware of how careful I must be to explain these details about me at the right time and in the proper context.
|Posted on January 6, 2016 at 7:40 AM|
A Letter to Mom and Dad Concerning Childhood Wounds
(Posted March 2011)
[Introduction by JONAH's Co-Director, Elaine Silodor Berk: This powerful and heartfelt letter was read by Stephen to his parents with great trepidation. In preparing to confront his parents about his childhood pain and subsequent same-sex attraction (SSA), Stephen experienced some physical and emotional difficulties. Nevertheless, his strength and courage enabled him to face his fears and explain to his parents where he was at and what he wanted. In that process, he was comforted and encouraged by JONAH's co-director, Arthur Goldberg. When he gave JONAH permission to print his letter, Stephen thanked Arthur for the help and encouragement Arthur had given him on his journey out of unwanted SSA and especially for Arthur's mentoring on how to approach his parents. He also commented that putting together the letter set forth below was "probably the hardest thing I'll ever do in my life."
Stephen's Dad was very stoic as the letter was read to him. But by the next morning, Dad had begun to internalize and recognize the importance of Stephen's efforts to tear down the walls of detachment that separated father and son. Stephen reported that Dad called him to express his deep sorrow about the past, indicating that Dad had truly heard what Stephen was expressing in his letter, and then - for the first time in Stephen's life - expressed an authentic emotion to Stephen. While asking Stephen for forgiveness, Dad's sadness became evident. He cried as he said, "I'm so sorry I treated you this way, and I'll spend the rest of my life trying to make it up to you."
Thankfully, the vow of Stephen's Dad to forge a better relationship with his son in whatever form it needs to take, has, to date, been most encouraging and father and son are intensely working together to overcome their mutual past detachment from each other.]
March 10, 2010
Dear Mom and Dad,
I have written a letter that I need to read to you as it is important for me to tell you about my struggles in life. I believe you may be unaware of some of them. I needed to write this out so I can present it to you in a somewhat organized way.
Please know that I anticipate this being the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and very well may be the hardest thing you’ve ever had to hear and deal with. I fully expect that you will experience a range of emotions as I read this; you may be sad, angry, or fearful about hearing what I have to say. While I welcome any emotions you need to express, I need to make it clear that I want you both to listen to this entire letter before you actually say anything or attempt to respond. Do I have your word that you will remain quiet and listen until I have finished reading everything I have written?
Dad: this letter is primarily written to you. I know that I have recently expressed to you the deep depression I experienced as a young child and as a teenager; I understand that you have apologized for not recognizing these experiences. However, I believe that you don’t fully understand all that I felt and the depth of my pain. To put it simply and bluntly, starting at age 7, I spent just about every day of my life feeling a depth of sadness that I can only compare to what a person feels when they attend a funeral of someone they loved very much. I was desperate to be understood, specifically from the person who was supposed to be my male role model. I needed to know that you were there for me emotionally, something I regrettably never felt.
While I don’t remember exactly how much I cried growing up, I do remember fighting back tears just about every moment of my young life. Whenever those tears flowed, it was simply because I could not bottle them up any longer. My sadness needed to be released.
There is an instance that you may not even remember, but it was a very significant moment in my life. It was a turning point, a moment in which I completely stopped trusting you to be there for me in my emotional anguish. You were driving, your mother was sitting next to you, I was in the back seat sitting behind you and Graham was to my right. We were on our way to one of his baseball games, and it was a particularly hard day for me. I simply could not hold my tears back and they were slowly rolling down my face. I remember you looking at me in the rear-view mirror and very coldly and flatly saying “quit crying you little pussy.” You might as well have taken a knife and stabbed me in the gut, because at that very moment a huge part of me died inside. I felt totally emasculated and worthless. I now realize that as a defensive action to avoid such pain in the future, I built up a protective wall around my soul, vowing to never let you hurt me like that again with your words.
Sadly, by numbing myself to your words, every nice thing you have ever said to me since that day has had no effect on me. Over time, my lack of trust for you and my own emotional numbness prevented me from going to you with things I should’ve been able to come to you about: being taunted by the other guys at school, having them spit on me in class, becoming the laughingstock of gym class, and being called pussy, queer, and fag on a pretty much daily basis. Further, it was really infuriating to me that you didn’t seem to even notice that something was drastically wrong with me and my life. As an example, you got two calls from school about my threat to commit suicide. Yet we never talked about it. Other examples: I slept every moment I possibly could, often 12+ hours per day, and I ballooned to 225 pounds using food to try to escape from my pathetic existence. Why didn’t you notice these cries for help? Or, if you did indeed notice them, why didn’t you communicate your concern to me? To be fair, you were always there for me by providing for my physical needs without any reservation whatsoever. However, you were completely unavailable emotionally! I needed that kind of support the most, and I found its absence to be exceedingly painful.
Ever since my teenage years I have hoped and prayed that I could carry these hurts to my grave and would not have to discuss them with you. However, I now realize I must tell you and at the same time forgive you for your shortcomings. By informing and forgiving you, it will free me to complete my own healing journey. I know that if I hold onto these hurts, the negativity inherent in harboring such resentments will continue to weigh me down and prevent me from moving on with a normal life.
Because I wasn’t able to connect with you or with male peers at school, it was much easier for me to connect with mom and with girls. When puberty hit, this desperate unmet need to connect with males led to an envy of other males. And, in turn, this envy became sexualized. The result of these unmet needs were set against my moral compass and in turn led to an internal conflict. I have been fighting a war within me to overcome homosexual feelings since adolescence.
I carried this burden all alone until just four months ago, when I found the courage to tell my therapist in Chicago what I was dealing with. He was not helpful as he encouraged me to come out as “gay” and to fully embrace homosexual fantasies and ultimately homosexual activity. To him, this is who I was. This advice was completely contrary to my values and everything I want out of life. Many teenagers and young adults with same-sex attractions similar to mine attempt to overcome their isolation and shame by connecting sexually with others of their own gender. I’m proud to say that, to the contrary, I have successfully resisted strong urges to have any kind of sexual relationship with other men. I’m still totally pure sexually, never so much as kissing another person as long as I’ve lived. Even though I know this news is shocking and disappointing, I hope you are proud of my resolve to maintain my purity.
The thing that I really resent, and need to forgive, is that you were the one person that could have prevented these problems from the get-go. If you helped me learn how to trust men rather than envy them, and if you were there for me emotionally, I believe I would not now be struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions. It was your job to recognize what was going on within me as your little seven year old boy, your duty to find out what was wrong with me, and to take steps to make it better. It was your job to build up my masculinity, to enable me to trust rather than distrust men and to find things we could do together that would affirm me in my manhood and bring us closer together. Without these efforts, the net effect was my envy of other men and my sexualizing of that envy. Your apparent delegation of hard stuff to Mom --such as telling me about sex, taking me to the doctor when I needed help to get me through mental illness, and moving me into my college dorm -- also contributed to my reduced sense of masculinity and lack of closeness to you.
Most of all and what was most distressing, however, was the environment you created --- an environment where it became absolutely impossible for me to seek your help to overcome my homosexual feelings. I’d like to remind you of some of the things you have said over the years:
1. As a young boy, I remember sitting in a restaurant with you and Graham. Mom was out of town on a business trip. You said to both of us, “if I ever find out either one of you is homosexual, I will put you out of the house.”
2. While watching male figure skaters on TV, you were laughing and mocking them, saying “I bet their dads are really proud to have them as sons.”
3. You expressed a personal conviction that frightened me: “Having a queer son would be more than I can bear.”
4. While helping you clean out filthy trash containers, you colorfully explained that you believe “the only things that are worse than maggots are faggots.”
Actually, I don’t remember once since adolescence being in the same room with you for more than an hour when you didn’t have a demeaning joke or say something nasty about homosexuals. Naturally, I took all of these things personally. In fact, every time you have ever said “I love you” or “I’m proud of you” I would add the phrase within my own mind, “Not if you knew about my problem.”
I know I am far from perfect, Dad, and that I have a lot of work to do. But I can proudly say that I have done the very best that I could with the life and circumstances the Lord gave me. I have worked hard, done well in school, earned a great job, and am self-sufficient financially. I’ve maintained my sexual purity throughout the darkest times of my life, even when it would have been so easy to give in—as our culture constantly preaches. I’m active in my church and doing the best I can to build authentic and healthy relationships with men—relationships I needed all along. I am breaking down the barrier of distrust toward other men, a distrust that began in early childhood when you flatly stated that I was a pussy for crying out of my intense pain and telling me that I should stop it.
One thing I must insist upon. I will no longer tolerate the innumerable demeaning and incessant jokes about homosexuals. These are men and women who are in pain, just like I am. The difference is that I have the courage to do the necessary work to overcome this emotional adaptation. However, making such comments hurts me as well. This “request” is simply non-negotiable. If you do not stop, we will be unable to have any sort of relationship. For me to continue my progress at overcoming these unwanted attractions while hearing cutting remarks from you about the condition I wish to change makes me feel like my hard work is being completely undermined. I cannot tolerate that.
I do want to say that despite your shortcomings, there are some things that you did exceptionally well, especially given your own upbringing and family circumstances. You were a great provider for my physical needs and I never went without in that sense. I am very grateful for that. However, the level of emotional abandonment I perceived while growing up, especially given my intense and prolonged ordeal with mental illness, has created a nightmare I have struggled for years to overcome. Thankfully, I have now found supportive people that have also sought out and achieved change of sexual orientation and have stabilized their own emotions in a healthy way. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
I’d like to think that we can mend our relationship and that you could be a help to me in my journey toward becoming a new man. However, this choice is totally up to you and I am prepared to move on with my life in the direction of healing regardless of your decision.
Mom: I do not want to complete this letter without addressing you. First and foremost, I want to thank you for your sincerity and kindness in being there and trying to bridge the gaps that Dad did not fill. You did the best you could, but the fact is you were not and cannot be a substitute for the male guidance and support I needed and will continue to need as an adult. We are too enmeshed. What I need from you now is a clear separation and recognition that I am no longer a little boy. You can no longer protect me and fight my battles for me. I need these boundaries in our relationship so that I am able to grow into the fullness of my masculinity. I am a grown man now and am fully capable of taking care of myself with the help of God and other men in my community. While my love for you remains undiminished, we must create new boundaries, new ways of dealing with each other. This may look like, for example, long stretches of time when we will not talk. I need you to know that “no news is good news.” Please understand that I don’t love you any less than I ever have. My love for you is deep. However, I need some space to be a man to my full potential.
I hope I have been clear in expressing myself. I thank both of you for not speaking while I read this letter and I am now ready to discuss any of these issues with you.
With all my love,
|Posted on January 5, 2016 at 6:00 PM|
Written By: "S"
(Posted Dec. 2014 )
For me, SSA (same-sex attraction) is a blessing in one hell of a disguise. Every single day between the ages of 13 and 23, I would think and despair endlessly about the impossible struggle I was in, being attracted to other men. Ten years alone, keeping this heavy, shameful secret from every single person in my life. It hurt a lot, for a very long time, in a very deep place.
In October 2013, I attended the Journey into Manhood (JiM) workshop in Israel and had the most wonderfully powerful experience of my life. I haven’t been the same since. While SSA was definitely the primary motive behind my decision to attend the workshop and begin therapy, I have realized that the underlying issues, as well as the significant changes I have created in my life since the workshop, span a spectrum far broader than sexuality alone.
Over the past year since the workshop, I have worked hard at gaining awareness and authenticity within myself, and pursued activities and relationships that provide a platform for personal empowerment. I am proud to say that my achievements in these areas have brought about significant growth in my life:
* I no longer live with the burden of harboring a secret. I am who I am, where I am, and I’m OK with that, which is an incredible feeling.
* I have learned to process the attraction I feel toward other men, identify my underlying desires and needs, and meet them in ways that are not sexual, thus diminishing the sexual aspect of the attraction.
* I have processed and shattered negative beliefs about myself, such as the belief that I am “less than” certain other men.
* I found the courage to share my SSA with my parents following the JiM workshop, which has enabled me to have a more open, deep and healthy relationship with them.
* After literally a decade of dealing with a harmful pornography addiction, I have been 100% “clean” since the JiM workshop a year ago (and my smartphone doesn’t have a filter).
* I have bonded authentically with other guys, and today I own the feeling of being a good man among men.
* Perhaps most excitingly for me, this past winter I fell head over heels, emotionally and physically, for a fantastic girl. I told her about my feelings for her, and later, about my SSA. I proved to myself that what I had perceived to be impossible is, in fact, possible.
This is not to say that my journey is easy or devoid of setbacks and pitfalls. Far from it. Like all people, I go through horrible days and hard times, when the prospect looks bleak and the journey impossible. Fortunately, these times are few and far between, and I have solid friends, brothers and mentors who help me pull through (as I do for them).
I am not on this journey because of religious, political or social beliefs alone. I would readily swear on a stack of bibles that this therapy has huge, undeniably beneficial effects on many different areas across my life, with the reduction of my attraction to other men and the increase of my attraction to women being very significant among them.
|Posted on January 5, 2016 at 5:10 PM|
Author / Contributor :: People Can Change | (Posted February 2008)
Ben Newman, the founder of People Can Change, summarizes 5 basic responses from men who expressed their desire to change sexual orientation.
Written Originally for www.peoplecanchange.com (Dec. 2003)
Why Change? What could possibly motivate us to go against our seemingly "natural" urges and do all the hard work described on this Web site?
To one extent or another, we were all motivated by at least one of the five things listed below, but usually were motivated by a combination of them: We were often miserable "gay"; we wanted to resolve the inner conflict between our homosexual desires and our deeply held beliefs; we wanted to have a family, or preserve the families we already had; we wanted to grow into mature masculinity, which for us meant heterosexual masculinity; and we felt called by G-d to come out of homosexuality into what for us was a far better life.
We were often miserable "gay."
In so many ways, "gay" just didn't work for us. It was so easy to become sex-obsessed in the pornography- and lust-saturated culture of homosexuality. It was so difficult to feel connected to G-d or some kind of higher purpose in a life where the mantra seemed to be, "If it feels good, nothing else matters." We were living in dissonance with the values, beliefs and goals we'd held for a lifetime. We pined for love and acceptance from men, but it seemed that so many gays so idolized youth and physical perfection that we often felt more rejection from our gay brothers, not less.
Still, we kept searching, partly because we didn't know where else to look and partly because we did find moments of pleasure and moments of real connection with good, decent and kind homosexual men. Those were the moments that kept drawing us back to homosexuality, hoping and believing that maybe the next boyfriend, the next encounter, would finally make us feel whole.
But for most of us, the hole inside of us that yearned for male affirmation and acceptance just got bigger the more that we pursued wholeness by engaging in homosexual behavior. Several of us were plagued by thoughts of suicide. Some of us became sex addicts, no longer able to control our obsessive search for sex. Our lives became filled with darkness.
"For 12 years, I lived life as an openly gay man. I had a partner of three years who I dearly cared for, a family of wonderful loving friends scattered around the world, a house, a new job, and the prospects of a beautiful life. There was just one question that periodically raised its ugly head: Why was I so insufferably miserable?
"I was amazed. I had everything that I ever wanted. Yet, I also felt an incredible black hole inside that seemed to be sucking the life out of me. How could this be? I kept trying desperately to fill it. I read a lot of philosophy, I thought a lot about existence and life, and tried various ways to reach a peace. Nothing worked, not one damn thing. The pain just continued to increase, steadily and persistently. All I wanted to do was cease to exist, to end the suffering."
"As soon as I 'accepted' that I was gay, and I could deny it no longer, I felt immediate relief from the turmoil of vacillation, but I also felt all my life's goals, dreams and values tossed to the wayside, with no higher purpose to replace them. I was adrift without a moral anchor or spiritual compass. A boyfriend talked theoretically about moral versus immoral homosexuality, but I couldn't see it (perhaps in part because I had met him at a gay bathhouse!). It seemed my 'life's work' would become about pursuing sex with men and trying to feel good about it. I just couldn't look in the mirror and like that kind of a man."
These experiences are confirmed by a myriad of statistics and our own personal experiences in the gay world. We found promiscuity was rampant; within gay circles, we found it was not only a given, it was celebrated and joked about openly. "Permanent" relationships are fleeting, lasting usually just a few months but occasionally a few years. On average, gay men die as much as 20 years earlier than heterosexual men. It is no wonder we were miserable; what is amazing is that so many seem to find fulfillment in that kind of life.
For many of us, our homosexual longings conflicted with deeply held beliefs, causing painful turmoil and confusion.
We could not simply toss aside everything we had come to believe about right and wrong, good and evil, God, and our life purpose. These things were part of our identity, part of how we made sense of the world. Many of us found we couldn't will them away any more than we could will away our homosexual desires. Nor did we want to.
We longed to have a family of our own one day, or, if we were already married or had children, we wanted to hold our families together and be the husbands our wives deserved and the fathers our children deserved.
We couldn't live with the thought of putting our wives and children through so much turmoil just because we couldn't control our lust. We had made promises to them, and we wanted to find a way to keep those promises and live with ourselves in peace.
We longed to grow into a fully mature masculinity, which for us meant heterosexual masculinity.
In short, we wanted to be men, and we simply defined "real men" as straight men. As much as we tried to convince ourselves that homosexual men were just as masculine as straight men, that there was nothing emasculating about having sex with a man or pursuing the gay interests, we felt inside ourselves that that just wasn't true.
Our masculine souls, no matter how buried below a gay identity, longed to feel as masculine as we perceived straight men to be. And we began to realize we would never feel that way as long as we related to men sexually or romantically. We learned that to grow into full masculinity, we would have to grow into heterosexuality.
We felt called by G-d out of homosexuality into what for us was a far better life.
At different times and in different ways, almost all of us turned to G-d in our turmoil, and felt this simple truth deep in our hearts: Homosexuality was wrong for us, and G-d would lead us out of the pain if we turned to him.
This became a powerful motivator in our lives. Coupled with the fact that for the majority of us, being gay just didn't work, a spiritual hope of eventual peace offered a tiny, flickering light at the end of a tunnel. We walked toward it.
And our journey began.
|Posted on January 5, 2016 at 4:55 PM|
Author / Contributor :: Matheson, David (Posted June 2008)
David Matheson, Licensed Professional Counselor in Utah, writes:
In the years I've been working as a reparative therapist, I've noticed some common tendencies among men who are successful in diminishing homosexuality as well as some commonalties among those who are unsuccessful. Please keep in mind that these are impressions and not the results of a study. Most of my impressions are from men who are (or have been) in therapy. I have not had occasion over the past few years to closely observe men who are not in therapy. But I believe that much of what I've written below would apply equally, if not more so, to men who choose not to engage in therapy.
In general, I believe success in this (or any) therapy process can be attributed to a single, simple principle: People spontaneously change for the better when they let go of their resistance to change. In other words, to change is natural if we can just get out of the way and let it happen. Of course, the problem with this is that men dealing with homosexuality typically have so much in the way that unblocking the natural change process can be like removing the Hoover Dam.
The tendencies I've written about below can all be seen in the context of resistance. That is, these are all barriers that people unconsciously erect in their lives to prevent change. Often, these barriers are unintentional and occasionally they may even be unavoidable. The stronger and more ingrained the pattern of resistance is--and the less aware the person is that the pattern is actually resistance--the less success the person will have in changing. I'm not sure that understanding the reasons for the resistance is that important.
Resistance may come from reticence to give up physical pleasure, discomfort with painful emotions that have to be faced, or simply fear of change. But regardless of what is causing the resistance, the resistance must be overcome or progress will be hampered.
I've divided these resistant tendencies into four different areas: life situation, unwillingness to invest, unwillingness to risk, and living as a victim. I've first listed the tendencies common among unsuccessful clients, then I've contrasted them with the approach taken by successful clients.
Extreme stress or commitments due to work, family, school, or church demands.
Successful clients prioritize and eliminate from their schedule things that get in the way of what is most important.
A chaotic life that doesn't allow for a regular, ongoing therapy process.
The chaos may be due to factors such as finances, work schedule, transportation problems, illness of self or family members, etc. Successful clients find ways to surmount or minimize chaos that occurs in their lives in order to allow the therapeutic process to continue.
Unwillingness to Invest
Not taking the problem seriously, as expressed in statements like, "I don't need therapy," "I don't need group," or "It's too expensive."
Successful clients recognize the seriousness of their situation and willingly do whatever is necessary to bring about change.
Ambivalence about committing to change, as expressed in statements like, "I want to change, but right now I need this boyfriend."
Successful clients are willing to let go of whatever leads them away from their goal. That willingness may not be there all at once, but successful clients continue to push themselves toward it.
False dependency on faith and spirituality without doing the psychological and emotional work necessary to bring about change.
At its roots, homosexuality is NOT a spiritual problem. Spiritual problems develop when homosexual behavior is engaged in. But to begin with, same-sex attraction is a developmental arrest that is psychological in nature. Spirituality alone will not change homosexuality! This is why we so often hear the complaint, "I prayed for years and the Lord never took this problem away."
Successful clients wisely ask for God's help with SPECIFIC needs, praying for opportunities that are needed, and allowing the Spirit to comfort and sustain them. Yet they never shift the burden of responsibility onto the Lord.
Unwillingness to Risk
Sacrificing authenticity for comfort, as expressed in statements like, "I can't do this, it's too uncomfortable."
Unsuccessful clients get overwhelmed by their own emotions and withdraw from therapy. Successful clients willingly face their fears both internally (hurtful emotions) and externally (frightening relationships and situations). This is one of the main factors separating successful from unsuccessful clients.
Feeling such shame over your struggles that you refuse to be open with others about what you are going through.
This is often expressed in statements like, "I can't tell anyone about me," or "I have to work through this alone so that no one ever finds out." Successful clients open themselves to other people and ask for help.
A rigid approach to life, which prevents you from going beyond previous limitations, seeing new perspectives, doing new things, exploring new ways of thinking and living, and doing things you've never done before.
Successful clients are open to the possibility of change in every aspect of their lives.
Living as a Victim
Passivity, as manifested in statements like, "I don't know what to do," or "I just don't think I can change."
This is also manifested as a tendency to NOT seek out help, or to be very narrow in the therapeutic activities you pursue. Perhaps you go to group meetings occasionally, but you essentially keep yourself ignorant of other opportunities. Successful clients take the responsibility for their change process and seek out every source of information and help available, such as individual and group therapy, straight male friendships, New Warriors participation, activity in a church, etc.
Being a "help-rejecting complainer."
These are individuals who are constantly complaining about the problems they face, and yet when help is offered they immediately come up with reasons why each suggestion won't work for them. Or they may half-heartedly try the suggestion just long enough to prove its ineffectiveness. Successful clients are willing to go outside the comfort of their complaints and actually try to solve their problems.
|Posted on January 5, 2016 at 4:25 PM|
Author / Contributor :: Anonymous JONAH Man
I was thinking about a statement I recently read from a mental health professional. It was a warning against the whole "change movement" and how guys who try to change, and "fail", are prone to pain, grief and even suicide.
I realize that I am part of this "change movement". I talk with a lot of guys, participate in seminars and experiential weekends, and am frequently quoted. I have become aware that this involvement is not trivial. We're talking about people's lives. I often say that I would never encourage people to take on this "journey". I would never tell a gay person that he is wrong or bad or shouldn't be that way. This journey ain't no picnic either.
But give me a guy who "wants" change. Someone who has it in his heart to find a new life . . . to connect with G-d and his true self and not be lead around by the hole in his chest (and then his penis) . . and I'm off and running. I'll jump in with both feet and all 2000 minutes of my cell phone.
But what of men who hit the "wall"? Those whose ego, willfulness, humanness, whatever, just revolts. The ones who get stuck right smack dab in the middle of the pain. They can't go back to the lie fully and they see no future for themselves. I know them, because I have been one of them . . . and some days, I am one of them. If we tell the truth, we all feel like this at times yet if we don't let our transitory feelings define us, then we can start journeying again once the crisis has passed.
Two years ago I wanted to put a gun to my head. But I couldn't. I decided that a sick, messed-up father, who was fighting for his life, was better than a dad who killed himself. I can be selfish, but not that selfish . . . nobody is better off if someone kills himself. But still, I was willing to give up, to just say f*** it! They are better off without me. I hear that from lots of men.
What am I getting at? I guess it's the responsibility of taking a stand, of speaking my truth that change is possible. That for me, it is, and was, worth every second of the pain, confusion and failures. It scares me when the reality of people's lives comes crashing through. At that moment I am all too aware that after someone calls me, they are then alone at night with their thoughts, fears and pain.
I am often harsh, flip and irreverent when I speak on this issue . . . I guess sometimes that's needed. But again, these are real people with real lives and what I have to say actually influences people. That scares me. I am fearful when I hear statements like the one I heard from the psychologist about the damage this "change" thing can cause. And I believe there are lots of people who mean well but do cause damage.
There are people in AA who kill themselves, they just can't seem to get sober . . . the pain and humiliation gets too great and they end it. AA is still a great and awesome spiritual entity.
How do I end this rant? I guess with speaking what's on my mind. I have a mixture of deep love for the men and women who take this journey . . . and I have a fear of taking a stand. But I'm willing to push through that fear and take a stand, with reality staring me in the face. MY truth is my truth and if it makes waves, so be it. Seems I can't shut up when G-d wants me to talk.
And to those who are in the thick of it, in what I call "no man's land" . . . that place of confusion where the past doesn't work, the future is unclear, and the pain of the present is almost too great to bear, I say hang on, pray with all your heart and soul, yell, scream, talk, and stay connected. The miracle may be closer than you think. Please don't give up on life.
And to Ben, Arthur, Elaine, David M and Richard C . . . I honor you for taking a stand and speaking your truth. I believe in you and your missions . . . and am awed by your courage. Thanks for saving my life and countless others.
Posted December 2004
|Posted on January 5, 2016 at 3:25 PM|
Author / Contributor :: ELAINE SILODOR BERK & ARTHUR A. GOLDBERG JONAH Co-Directors
Written By ELAINE SILODOR BERK & ARTHUR A. GOLDBERG, JONAH Co-Directors
Science and religion often clash, and rarely are they used to prove one another in modern times.
The authors wish to acknowledge the input of Martin Pressman, a facilitator in the JONAH program, for developing several of the concepts set forth in this article and for his help in editing this article.
"I continue to be amazed at what I experienced. The kindness, compassion and love from each man was apparent. All of them courageous - choosing to fight this battle. I can honestly say I slaughtered several of the demons inside of me which have been blocking my growth for years. I know that I am a different person now. I feel different. I think differently and one of the guys even told me that I look different. I am so certain that this battle can not only be fought but won."
(Response of a JONAH member after attending a Journey into Manhood Weekend, as reported on the JONAH @ shamash listserv.)
"I will be doing some mundane chore when I'll bust up laughing because I know I'm a man! This is such a powerful thing for me to realize. It's what I've lusted for in others for so long, and I now I have it myself. This is so-o-o cool! I am a man among men. NEVER did I think I could say that, or know it in the core of my being, but I'm there â€¦ and I LOVE IT! I welcome it and own it, and feel it."
(Response of a JONAH member after attending a New Warrior Training Adventure Weekend, as reported on the JONAH @ shamash listserv.)
These quotes are representative of similar sentiments expressed by our members who have participated in the gender-affirming processes ("GAP") espoused by JONAH. Gender empowerment, rather than homosexuality or androgyny, is the ideal we seek and although we are a relatively new organization, we believe that the results demonstrated by our members should be shared with the therapeutic community. We believe our experiences are not only replicable but will help others gain new insights and tools to help their clients.
JONAH, Jews offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality, is the first organization dedicated to educating the world-wide Jewish community about the prevention, intervention, and healing of the issues surrounding homosexuality. While JONAH works closely with other religious and secular groups which share our viewpoint that same sex attraction (SSA) is treatable through a strategy of inner healing for those who are motivated to change, we are developing our own comprehensive psycho-educational healing strategy. We believe our model holds great promise for achieving the healing desired by our members or others who utilize it. Although Dr. Joseph Nicolosi has written about a number of these therapeutic procedures in Reparative Therapy for Male Homosexuality, and others have spoken about them at NARTH conferences, we have been fortunate to see how these strategies effectively interact when used as part of a comprehensive plan of healing SSA.
This holistic strategy of combining elements from several gender-affirming processes ("GAP:" a program designed to fill in the developmental gaps) has been praised by our members who noted a synergistic effect which in turn resulted in an acceleration of their healing. When these various aspects of the healing model are combined, particularly when compared to those who only received individual private therapy, we found a marked difference in the ability of the struggler to achieve changes in identity, behavior, arousals, and fantasies. In fact, the experiential, spiritual and emotional work done by the client outside of the therapist's office was reported to be critically important to implement the cognitive understandings he may receive during the therapy session. However, even at the cognitive level, a variety of additional resources (such as bibliotherapy or participation in support groups, whether in-person, teleconferenced, or e-groups) accelerated the recovery of the client.
In fact, this holistic approach to intervention resulted in accessing a member's inner drives, dismantling his defenses, intensifying his affective involvement in the treatment, identifying the transference patterns and projections as they arise, and unlocking the unconsciousness. Analogous to certain aspects of Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP), as developed by Habib Davanloo and Patricia Coughlin Della Selva, this approach appears to shorten the time frame needed for a client to achieve an enduring change for his unwanted same-sex attractions.
Impressive progress in overcoming same-sex attractions and regaining masculine identity has been reported by several of our participating male members.(A separate article will report on which healing strategies our women members found most effective.) Since motivation is a key element in what traditionally has been a relatively long treatment process for healing SSA, the measurable and attainable progress as occurs within this "gap" approach is critical in sustaining the perseverance needed to continue the process.
The gender-affirming process is completed when a man comes to own his masculine power and takes his place as an equal in the world of men.
To encourage therapists and faith-based ministries to utilize these multiple healing strategies when treating men with homosexual attractions, we are providing brief descriptions of several facets of JONAH's gender affirming process for healing. For more detailed information, please feel free to contact our organization. For the purposes of this discussion, we have listed our healing strategies in alphabetical order:
Experiential Healing Weekends
Healing of the Family System
Jewish Spiritual Development
Masculinity Development and Empowerment
Networking, Support Groups, Daily Internet E-Mail Listserv
Overcoming Shame and Narcissism
Receiving Healthy Touch and Affection
We'd like to explain that through our in-take interviews, we were dismayed to find several clients who had either been in therapy for SSA for several years or who had participated in certain programs of other faith-based ministries but had no idea about the wealth of resources available.
All too often we found clients who were never informed about books which could help them understand the origins of their feelings or from which they could learn how others healed from many of the same wounds which precipitated their same-sex attraction. We also found a lack of knowledge about helpful websites, group support meetings, and mentoring programs. Most of them never participated in the experiential weekends nor did they even know of their existence.
In other cases, many religiously observant clients maintained an erroneous belief that faith alone, without any psychological assistance, would bring about the desired healing. Our observation is that in these cases, all too often, simply a repression of behavior occurred without an effective treatment of fantasies or arousals.
Our belief is that therapists working with those struggling with unwanted SSA should encourage their clients to avail themselves of the numerous resources now available in addition to individual therapy. We were surprised to learn from many of our members that numerous therapists (a) never informed them about available resources outside the therapy session nor (b) provided any encouragement to participate in those activities. Our experience has shown that strugglers experience an exponential leap forward when they use our psycho-educational model as a check list to assure themselves that they are doing everything possible to accelerate the healing process.
As Dr. Joseph Nicolosi points out in his book, Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality:A New Clinical Approach (p.204), the therapeutic utilization of books, reading materials, tapes, video cassettes and other educational sources permits the individual struggling with SSA to gain several beneficial insights. These include: (a) The knowledge gained from biographical information of recovered homosexuals lends credence to their own struggle and prospects for recovery. Our members are inspired when they can relate their own experiences to those who have successfully resolved the underlying emotional issues which cause SSA and this simultaneously lessens the concern that they are alone in their struggle. (b) Reading material enables the individual to understand the causes, the healing strategies, and the basics of reparative therapy, thereby enabling them to apply this new-found knowledge to their own situation. (c) Finally, as Nicolosi says, bibliotherapy can offset the "demoralizing confusion created by gay propaganda and the popular media of our culture." (p. 204).
JONAH has found that reading about the issues underlying same-sex attractions is a vital part of the healing process. In fact, we not only encourage our members to read extensively about the subject but we also recommend that spouses, siblings, and parents read the same materials. Families need to be brought into the healing process, an approach strongly advocated by psychotherapist Richard Cohen in his book Coming Out Straight: Understanding and Healing Homosexuality.
The books provide a psychological framework and encouragement for the struggler through explanations of how others have healed. Often members report how they saw parts of themselves portrayed in the literature. Book discussions occur within the JONAH support groups as well as on the daily E-mail listserv. Some members who discussed these materials with their therapist reported that the literature provided their therapist with an opportunity to help the struggler dig deeper into his issues.
JONAH has a Book Order section on our web site [www. Jonahweb.org
] which lists many recommended books and permits the viewer to order the book directly through our site.
Experiential Healing Weekends
JONAH refers our members to several experiential weekends, some of which contain a generic spiritual component involving a Higher Power unconnected to any particular religion. (Ultimately we hope to develop an experiential weekend specifically incorporating certain Jewish motifs.)
Weekends consist of discussions, psychodrama, journaling, and individual "drills" which enable participants to reach feelings not usually accessible in the short time frame of the typical therapeutic session.
The most popular and effective programs, as reported by our members, are three complimentary and synergistic weekends listed here:
Journey into Manhood (web site: peoplecanchange.com
New Warrior Training Adventure (web site: mkp.org
Love, Sex, & Intimacy Seminars (web site: gaytostraight.org
Describing the objectives and methodology of one of these weekend programs will illustrate why they are so effective. For example, here is a description of The Journey into Manhood weekend, principally designed by Ben Newman of Peoplecanchange, together with David Matheson, an associate of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi:
The objective of the Journey Into Manhood is to provide "an experiential weekend for men who experience unwanted homosexual feelings and are sincerely self-motivated to work to lessen homosexuality identity, attractions, and behaviors and to increase masculine identity and desires. The training is designed to teach these men, through words and processes, that mature heterosexual masculinity can be achieved through authenticity (or internal integrity), need fulfillment, masculine identity, and male bonding." (Peoplecanchange Journey into Manhood Protocol)
These objectives are accomplished by challenging men (1) to examine their beliefs, perceptions and judgments about themselves and others that may be producing a sense of gender inferiority (2) experience trusting and bonding with other men in non-sexual ways (3) process deep feelings related to their pasts, themselves and their relationships with others, and experience at least an initial release of those feelings that may be blocking growth into heterosexual masculinity and (4) become ready to embrace a new way of seeing themselves and of being in the world, particularly in the world of men.
As shown in the quotes set forth at the beginning of this paper, men return from these weekends nearly euphoric from the experience of accessing their inherent masculine power. For some, this is the first time in their lives they could sense ownership of their own masculinity and deal with deep personal issues (such as same-sex peer wounds, mother wounds, or father wounds) in a safe, supportive environment which encourages them to break down destructive behavior patterns to which they had clung for many years. These concentrated and intense emotional experiences yield significant results and give hope to many.
Additionally, our members report that when they become sufficiently comfortable in the New Warriors' community of men and have an opportunity to staff a weekend, they find the experience to be even more powerful than the initial weekend because of the leadership role they are able to assume.
Healing of the Family System
JONAH believes that homosexuality frequently can be viewed as a family system problem, not just an individual problem. When parents, in particular, can become a part of the healing process, it is extremely beneficial to the whole family system. Often, parents inadvertently contributed to the development of their child's SSA. Much has to do with the child's perception of the relationship between him and his mother and father. Once the parents understand the sources of their child's problem, we found many are able to assist their child in the developmental growth process required to overcome the condition.
Even when parents cannot be brought into the healing process because of physical or emotional abuse, extreme neglect, or emotional incapacity, there are siblings, extended family, or close family friends who can participate. Sometimes, just to openly discuss the issues with close family or friends brings immeasurable relief to an overcomer who has kept this part of his being hidden for so many years.
We encourage our members to openly discuss their issues with family members and to provide educational material to those in his "circle" who are willing to learn about the underpinnings of homosexual attractions. Several of our members have attended, together with the families, the Love, Sex, and Intimacy Seminars given by Richard Cohen of the International Healing Foundation. In doing so, they reported experiences which enabled them either to begin or to accelerate the process of peeling back their own defensive detachment from their father figure, untangling their mother enmeshment issues, and repairing the fractured relationships with siblings and other family members.
For those who are married, we often find that the struggler was leading a double life. Most wives who are informed of the homosexual condition by their husbands (which we strongly encourage) respond favorably and perform a major role in the healing process. Again, couples who have attended the Love, Sex, and Intimacy Seminars. and utilize appropriately trained reparative therapists for couples therapy in their follow-up work, reported favorable results.
Today's politically correct notion that homosexuality is merely an alternative lifestyle can complicate the healing process, particularly when the family member or spouse incorrectly believes the struggler was born that way or has a so-called "gay gene." Therefore, we must redouble our efforts to educate the entire community that homosexuality is a treatable condition.
Elizabeth Moberly expressed the importance of family in treating the homosexual condition. In a 1985 lecture given to the Royal Society of Health, she said, "The homosexual condition - although often an occasion for sexual expression - is in itself a state of unfulfilled developmental needs. For this reason, homosexuality may best be evaluated, not by comparison with sexuality in general, but by comparison with the parent-child relationship and facilitating of human maturation."
JONAH recognizes that support groups (for spouses, parents, family, and friends of those wishing to heal from SSA) are critical to the struggler's healing. Each group faces unique problems as they confront past issues which may have led to their loved one's homosexual attractions or to the construction of changed relationships, both in the present and reaching into the future, as their loved one accomplishes the human maturation Moberly spoke about.
JONAH wishes to make clear that we only work with members who either seek to grow out of their same-sex attractions or are ambivalent about such attractions. Should prospective members request to become more comfortable with their homosexual attractions or with the gay lifestyle, we will refer them elsewhere and make no value judgments about their choice.
However, for those who seek assistance, JONAH maintains a global referral list of therapists, both for in-person therapy and for phone therapy. Therefore JONAH is always seeking therapists who agree with and are skilled in reparative and directive therapy and will adopt the gender affirming healing processes advocated by JONAH. Those who are interested in being part of our referral service should call (201) 433-3444(201) 433-3444 and leave a message.
We believe that the type of therapist who can best help these men is not the classical emotionally-detached therapist. Such therapy, in the words of NARTH co-founder Joseph Nicolosi, "reactivates memories of earlier frustration from the cold and distant father." (Reparative therapy for Male Homosexuals, p.20) Nicolosi continues: "Withholding personal involvement merely frustrates the homosexual client, who particularly needs intimate male connectedness, and whose healing comes primarily through the therapeutic relationship." Thus, Nicolosi concludes, the therapist must be emotionally involved with his client, create a directive approach, exude an air of masculinity, "and, within therapeutic guidelines, permit dependency."
We believe that gender identity determines sexual orientation and that one sexualizes or eroticizes that with which he does not identify. To successfully treat someone with a homosexual condition, our experience shows that a directive and activist therapy program is critical in assisting a client to internalize his gender identity, demystify his romantic attractions to the same sex, and satisfy his unmet developmental needs for attention, affection, and approval from others of the same gender without sexualizing these needs.
Jewish Spiritual Development
Although JONAH is an outreach organization that works with all Jews, from the strictly observant Orthodox to the most secular of Jews, we stress certain aspects of our religious teachings. We blend lessons from the Torah (what Christians refer to as the Old Testament) with other Jewish sources in order to help individuals access their inner souls and thus recapture their G-d given inherent heterosexuality.
Part of the reason for this emphasis is to provide the person struggling with SSA with the ability to distinguish a moral right from a moral wrong in today's culture war. The Torah's eternal values integrate the principles of deferred gratification and the exercise of restraint in sexual activity into the human psyche. In doing so, we note how this view is antithetical to today's prevalent moral relativism in which the only factor to restrain human behavior is mutual consent. Simply stated, this attitude can be summed up as follows: "If two or more consenting adults want to _______ (fill in the blank), then no one else need be concerned."
When we understand that the homosexual cohabitation prohibited by Lev.18.22 and explained in the Talmud (Nedarim 51a) is a mistaken response to an unfilled emotional need, we are able to remove an oppressive guilt from the person who was mistakenly led (most often by forces initially beyond his/her control) into such activity.
By understanding the root causes, and the unfilled needs for which the behavior (or fantasy) attempts to compensate, a program of remediation becomes achievable. We find it is helpful to employ a combination of both the Jewish concept of "teshuvah" (a process of transforming one's inner being, commonly translated as "return" or "repentance") and the secular understandings of gender affirming therapies.
Jewish law creates a delicate balancing act: accepting the individual as a human being who deserves love and compassion but rejecting the homosexual activity in which he/she may participate. But this "love the person but not the behavior" principle is equally true of any illicit sexual behavior, whether it be heterosexual or homosexual. For example, we accept the community philanderer as a person but disapprove of his/her sexual brokenness. It is incumbent upon the community to understand the mentality and inner development of the persons who perpetrate the act and find a way to assist them in their healing.
JONAH makes special efforts to reach the Jewish community through synagogues and the large network of Jewish organizations in order to spread this message of hope and healing.
Masculinity Development and Empowerment
At its core, male homosexuality is a matter of undeveloped manhood. True healing requires a resumption of the journey into manhood. The boy who physically grew into an adult male but missed out on certain developmental stages will need to go through them now. Nicolosi points out, for example, that the pre-homosexual boy who missed out on rough and tumble play with his father and , later, did not take part in the physical competitions characteristic of his age often ended up removing himself from such competition and thereby diminished his own sense of masculinity. (Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality, p. 193)
A basic issue in healing SSA involves reconnecting the individual from the alienation he experienced from his own gender. To help SSA individuals take ownership of their G-d given masculinity is a formidable task, but we at JONAH have developed several tactics to assist in this regard. The person with same-sex attraction must learn how to experience trust and how to bond with other men in non-sexual ways. As discussed in the experiential weekend strategy section, The New Warrior Training Adventure (or the Sterling Men's Group) is particularly helpful in this regard.
To illustrate a program employed to assist men with their masculine development, it is useful to cite the two hour sports activity we developed following each support group. We utilize knowledgeable coaches to lead these activities. We receive outstanding feedback from group members as to the effectiveness of the sports therapy. They learn teamwork, including how to trust other men and bond with members of their team.
Men who are not able to attend our group meetings find that having a coach or a friend teach them a team sport, such as baseball or basketball, is invaluable in developing their masculine identity. We do not seek to make any of these men into athletic stars but rather use this exercise to reinforce their connection to other men. They are doing things that men do. In the process, they discover their own masculine strength which they had previously believed was lacking and receive affirmation of their inherent masculinity.
Since masculinity is connected to the use of the body, when men are not using their body, they often disconnect from it. Playing sports heals the disconnection with body from which our members suffer. Members report that playing sports and learning the skills helped them heal that disconnection while simultaneously increasing their sense of masculinity. As David Matheson, an associate of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, said to one of his clients who is also a member of JONAH, "Doing something you think you can't do is empowering. Gaining mastery over fear, ineptitude, and inadequacy is empowering."
In addition, playing sports helps our members overcome the problem of passivity. Men learn that the ball is not going to come to them unless they are in a position to catch it. This insight is a lesson of life. Healing from SSA will not happen unless the person does the work required to overcome it.
There is another aspect of engaging in sports activities as part of the strategy of resuming the growth into manhood. Many of our members report that their fear of sports stemmed from early childhood same-sex peer wounds and that learning how to play sports in a safe environment permitted them to overcome these wounds. They found themselves able to bond with other men, many for the first time in their lives. And, as Nicolosi makes clear, central to the repairing of homosexuality is the establishment of nonsexual intimate relationships with men (Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality, p.194). Being involved in traditional men's activities, such as sports, is a direct way to heal those wounds.
Individuals trying to heal from SSA need role models and guidance from heterosexuals of the same-sex in order to heal the wounds caused by defensive detachment from the same-sex parent and peers. Such a role model becomes a mentor who assumes a role originally designed for a father to have fulfilled for the boy as he was growing up. Qualities needed by a mentor include compassion, empathy, a non-judgmental attitude, and most importantly, knowledge about how to heal from SSA, or at least a strong desire to learn.
If the struggler is lucky enough to have parents willing and able to help, and the struggler is able to reconnect with the same-sex parent, this is the obvious first choice for a mentor. For those whose parents are unavailable, mentors can be sought from among clergy, teachers, members of social groups to which the struggler belongs or any other appropriate group. Some of our members report that the New Warrior experience (or the Sterling Men's group, a similar organization) provided them with a mentor with whom they could bond.
The importance of healthy male-to-male mentoring cannot be emphasized enough. It is not uncommon for strugglers to suffer from feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. The mentor is the role model that takes the mystery out of masculinity and supports the struggler's journey to his own masculine power.
Closely related is the need for same-sex non-sexual friendships. Nicolosi speaks of the importance of this relationship when he stated, "same-sex friendships have shown themselves to be therapeutic" (p.194). These friendships come both from
other men in recovery and from men who never had SSA.
Networking, Support Groups, Daily Internet E-Mail Listserv
Networking: Leaving behind one's same-sex attraction and achieving heterosexual attraction can be a long and difficult struggle. Essentially our gender affirming process enables members to create a totally new support structure in many different facets of their lives. Before finding our group, these strugglers often felt isolated and alone in their struggle. Alternatively, they felt that the gay lifestyle provided them with a circle of friends they could never find in the "straight" world. Thus, to create a feeling of belonging, we believe it is critical for our members to network with others in the process of recovery or with those who have completed their journey to sexual wholeness (often through the group support meetings, the daily E-mail listserv, mentoring or networking).
Members report that fellow journeyers on the road to recovery help them by sharing experiences, understanding their fears, and providing accountability and support. The benefits are immeasurable. The group support sessions and the daily E-mail listserv provide methods to make the connections so that strugglers can bond with others sharing similar concerns.
Although some therapists believe networking between those in recovery to be risky, Nicolosi encourages individuals within his support groups to network with each other outside the group sessions. Within the JONAH support network, to date we have never had a sexual liaison take place between our members. Instead we find the members provide each other with a social camaraderie that clearly outweighs any perceived risks. Our experience is thus similar to other self-help groups where affected individuals assist others who have not progressed as far as the person providing the assistance.
The person who was active in the gay lifestyle often found a sense of belonging among other gays which overcame his sense of alienation and loneliness. To replace that sense of belonging, it is critical for mentoring and networking to take place. Without it, it is difficult to establish non-sexual intimate relationships. We believe that the therapist who works individually with his patient and who does not recommend getting involved in group support and networking is doing his client a disservice. Our observable experience is that strugglers leap forward when they undertake the following processes: maintain communication with others who have healed or are in the process of healing from SSA, establish relationships with empathetic mentors, some in the process of recovery and others who have never had an SSA problem.
An interesting footnote to this process is the fact that many of our members who begin to help others heal found that they were able to strengthen their own healing process. Many have reported a greater sense of self-confidence and affirmation of their own value because their own past experiences helped others heal. In a spiritual sense, they felt good about the ability to perform the "mitzvah" (commandment) of helping others.
JONAH's gender-affirming processes enable a person to step into a totally new support structure. It provides both encouragement and direct assistance while the member travels the road to recovery. An important aspect of his masculine empowerment is the ability to connect to his brothers in recovery, thus overcoming the detachment and alienation he experienced from the world of men.
In addition to networking, our member support groups and daily E-mail listserv are additional tools to accomplish this goal.
Men's Support Groups: JONAH's men's support groups run weekly or bi-weekly for approximately 2 hours with discussions being led by facilitators who are well-versed in the issues involved in healing homosexuality. Our goal is to increase the number of groups for men (and parenthetically to do the same for women and family members).
For men who do not live near the three groups currently operating (See "more about JONAH" at the end of this article for group locations), we initially arranged teleconferencing into our in-person support groups. We found, however, that these combined groups were not as effective as unmixed in-person or teleconferenced groups. By separating the groups, we found that each group standing by itself can better maximize interpersonal relationships and significantly reduce the isolation and loneliness of the members. Teleconference support groups presently operate.
Daily Internet E-Mail Listserv: Men and woman from six different countries post messages on a private confidential JONAH listserv (hosted by Shamash.org
, a service of the Hebrew College) and report how welcome they feel in our ever-growing healing community. Postings range from loving support of another's personal struggle to deep discussions on issues directly relevant to SSA.
The Daily E-Mail Listserv is an excellent method to reach strugglers with special needs: those in geographically isolated locations; those unable to afford private therapy; those who have just learned that a healing process for SSA is possible and seek to learn more about the "GAP" process; those who require daily support in their struggle.
Overcoming Shame and Narcissism
Special mention should be made of four interrelated underlying issues which therapists such as Andrew Morrison and Joseph Nicolosi have identified as pivotal to healing homosexuality but which traditional therapy has somewhat ignored. They are shame, narcissism, guilt, and grieving. Each of these issues contributed to the homosexual condition and each of our strategies has a component which addresses certain aspects of these issues.
Overcoming shame has become a major focus of faith-based groups dedicated to helping men heal from homosexuality. Phrases such as "coming out of shame" or "going past your shame" are consistently utilized by these groups when they develop their healing strategies. They have intuitively understood that shame underlies much of SSA.
According to Andrew Morrison, "Because shame is so often unspoken, many therapists have not appreciated its importance in analytic and therapeutic work. Frequently it is hidden behind the clearly defensive manifestations of distress, and these are usually investigated alone - often from the perspective of intrapsychic conflict and related dynamics - without appreciation of the underlying or accompanying shame." (See, "Shame, the Underside of Narcissism" pg. 5)
A key to appropriate treatment, according to Morrison, is the relationship narcissism bears to shame, for he believes, "that shame, in some form, is always present in narcissism and its various manifestations."
Gay activists preach that the way to overcome the issue of shame is to come out of the closet and loudly proclaim and affirm one's gayness. However, we believe there is another and preferred door leading from the closet of homosexuality. It is the door of healing - a healing which recognizes the shame and how it relates to the narcissism which underlies homosexuality.
Richard Fitzgibbons recognizes that "Narcissism is a very powerful disorder that fuels the homosexual behavior in many people. This personality weakness is not easily overcome because of the reluctance to give up a life of unchecked, irresponsible self-indulgence." When the therapist properly treats shame and narcissism (and when its recognition and overcoming is encouraged through support groups and networking), then a person's healing can progress. Fitzgibbons points out that when narcissism is not treated, "this clinical disorder is the major reason for failure in recovery from homosexuality." (See, The Truth About Homosexuality by Father John Harvey, Appendix I, by Fitzgibbons)
Our experience has been that as men look at the circumstances in which they found themselves during the process of growing up, they come to realize that they adopted a False Self (often originating from the "good little boy" syndrome) in order to cope with their situation. Much of the struggler's life was spent seeking a way to gain approval from others or trying to gratify and please.
In childhood, these men erected emotional barriers or walls which protected them from what they perceived as a harsh and unfriendly world. As adults, these same walls acted to imprison them, trapping their feelings, and preventing them from completing their journey into manhood. As men take down these walls and work through the profound grief they feel for never having been "seen" for the individuals they truly were, they can understand and mourn the loss of the "True Self" and move forward in their healing.
A therapeutic strategy needs to penetrate the two defenses of narcissism and the False Self. The client needs to be focused on fully feeling and expressing the "shamed-defective self." If he can't feel it, he can't heal it. But when he feels his inner emotions, says Nicolosi, the adult struggler discovers that "he need not fear the primal threat of abandonment-annihilation, and he can begin to surrender the defenses of homosexuality, narcissism and the False Self." (See, interview conducted by Linda Nicolosi in article entitled "Grief Work" (NARTH.com
These issues need to be directly addressed by the therapist. Exercises to address these issues are being incorporated within the various experiential weekends referred to earlier and by our support group. However, the front line of treatment of these issues needs to come from the therapists who are conducting individual private therapy.
Receiving Healthy Touch and Affection
Many who struggle with SSA experience touch deprivation, an issue often overlooked in therapy. Ashley Montagu writes in his groundbreaking book Touching: "the communications we transmit through touch constitute the most powerful means of establishing human relationships, the foundation of experience."
As a result of defensive detachment, many men with SSA never received the healthy touch that can come from being in a healthy relationship with one's father and peers. Because many of these men never received healthy touch or did not receive the physical affection they needed from their fathers, the idea of receiving a non-sexual hug from a man as a sign of affection makes them uncomfortable.
We also have had members tell us that once they decided to stop their homosexual acting out, they missed the warmth or affection of another human being's touch. Others, even when they had opportunities to receive healthy touch and affection, such as non-sexual hugs or pats on the back, were confused as to the healthy boundaries for touch. Others, whose condition of SSA consisted of fantasy and pornography, reported a lack of physical contact over a period of years.
Many presently feel touch deprived because they did not receive physical affection in their childhood and experienced other unfilled emotional needs. We found several members who previously expressed an unquenchable need to sexually touch others or to be sexually touched either by others or by themselves (to a level where masturbation may become addictive). Such touch is the means for them to literally feel or fantasize their connection with other men, something they had yearned for all their lives.
The question of human touch is exacerbated when emotional or sexual abuse lurks in the background of a particular individual. For those who were sexually abused, intimacy stimulates painful memories. In order to avoid emotional intimacy, many sought physical gratification through anonymous sexual encounters.
Our experience in JONAH has been that as men bond with other men in a healthy non-sexual atmosphere, particularly through attendance at the experiential weekends, both the resistance to healthy touch and the need for inappropriate sexual touch dissipate. Healthy touching can be controversial, particularly if the situation is not well-controlled and the boundaries not clearly set forth. If a man has properly progressed in his healing processes and understands the proper boundaries of touch, we will then strongly encourage non-sexual hugs and affectionate gestures (like pats on the back) in our groups.
One advantage of our team sport events is the reinforcement of the cultural acceptability of victory celebrations by the players when they openly embrace and hug one another. Another culturally acceptable method of gaining appropriate touch is through regular therapeutic massages.
In order to experience safe and healing touch from another man, our members have used a number of therapeutic bodywork techniques. Among these are: massage, shiatsu and Feldenkrais. Men report touch therapy useful in releasing negative feelings and emotions stored within their bodies. The Feldenkrais method, for example, founded by the Israeli physicist Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais,has also helped men focus on how their bodies move. Through directed movements given by a practitioner, men learn new ways to use their bodies. Consequently, Feldenkrais has helped men feel connected to their bodies, improve their coordination and become more self-confident.
Having set forth the issue and the need for solutions, we believe that overcoming touch deprivation is an area in need of further development. We continue to examine practical ways of overcoming touch deprivation which exists for so many of our members.
These aspects of JONAH's healing paradigm are presented here to encourage the reader to explore the complex process undertaken when men and women begin to heal their same-sex attractions. There is no "magic bullet" for healing even though it is frequently wished for by those suffering from a same-sex attraction disorder (SSAD).
JONAH's multi-dimensional approach can be viewed as encompassing four processes which, if worked in tandem, can help facilitate in-depth healing. In our opinion, true healing occurs when an individual is able to heal at four different levels:
An incomplete healing occurs when fewer than the four levels are accessed.
While individual psychotherapy is critical to help individuals heal from SSAD, participating in private therapy, without these other experiences, may increase the time required for the healing process to occur. Obviously, it takes a longer period of time to access all four levels when a therapist is able to work with his client for only an hour or two a week. By increasing the time on task in a cost effective manner, the struggler can accelerate the time needed for healing. Moreover, by employing the multi-dimensional paradigm described in this paper, and thereby enlarging the daily and weekly amount of time in which a member delves into his head, heart, body, and soul, our reports indicate an important acceleration of the healing process.
Our purpose in setting forth our experience and findings is to share what we have learned from our members. JONAH happily acknowledges that many therapists and faith based groups have independently used parts of this model (including some of the live-in programs). Hopefully, for those readers from the therapeutic community who have not adopted aspects of this program they (a) will see the benefits of this more comprehensive approach to healing SSA and (b) will incorporate them within their treatment plans.
|Posted on January 5, 2016 at 3:00 PM|
Written By: Ben Newman
Written Originally for www.peoplecanchange.com (Dec. 2003)
Absolutely! We testify from personal experience that change is possible. True, the journey was often difficult and frightening, but the destination has brought us immeasurable peace and joy. It was not only worth it, it saved our lives.
We no longer desire to have sex with other men. We are no longer consumed by the loneliness, lust, fear, anger and rebellion that once entrapped us. We no longer look for the romantic love or sexual interest of another man to make us feel whole. We no longer fear heterosexual men nor reject masculinity.
Today, we are whole. Not perfect. Not even finished with the journey, necessarily, but whole.
Where once there was sexual lust, today there is brotherly love. Where once there was fear and defensive detachment, today there is trust and connection. Where once there was self-hate and a feeling of never being "man enough," today there is self acceptance and a strong and confident masculine identity. Where once there was anger at God, today there is deep love, faith and trust in Him.
Many will scoff at our testimony. "Change is impossible," they will say. "Others have tried and failed, so you must fail too."
Yet history is made up of heroes who did what others said was impossible: Building the first "flying machine." Walking on the moon. Running the four-minute mile. Recovering from alcoholism. It takes only one person to prove the "impossible" is possible and to show others how. What if one single person were to make a full recovery from AIDS? The world would rally to celebrate and learn how he did it. The example of one would be enough.
The fact that many have failed does not mean that no one can succeed. The fact that some efforts don't work, at least not for everyone, does not prove that nothing works for anyone. The fact that, on occasion, a man may stumble or even return to his former "gay" life does not mean that many others have not find permanent joy and peace in their new heterosexual identities and lives.
We don't typically march in pride parades or lobby for political change, so we tend to be an invisible minority. We are not out to change the world. We were only out to change ourselves, from within.
Those who want to believe, whose hearts are open to the whisperings of truth, will know that the experiences we share are true and were right for us.