I met my coach for the first time face to face when I traveled 200 miles to see her in January 2013.
I was emotionally exhausted, and so desperate for solutions to my inner conflict and feelings of isolation, but I could not have imagined on the cold January day what an impact my coach would have upon my capacity to embrace within me the seemingly irreconcilable aspects of my life – my faith and desire to remain married and my homosexuality and constant state of anxiety over it.
After greeting me warmly and welcoming me into her home, we sat down to talk about the pre-meet questionnaire which I had sent to her before Christmas. I was cringing at the thought of her reading out the sentence which I had highlighted in red which stated that I had recently revealed to my wife and brother that I had a same sex attraction that had caused within me such inner conflict and isolation and was such a source of great unhappiness in my life.
When she came to that particularly sentence she sensed my anxiety and very gently asked me to explain to her the effect that the same sex attraction had brought to me life.
I related to her the anguish I felt about having these same sex feelings and which I had kept then hidden for many years from everybody so as to preserve my marriage and enable me to fulfill my obligations as a husband and parent.
- I had not understood my sexuality at the time of my marriage but over the years I had come to realise that my anger, lack of confidence and constant anxiety had at their core this constant awareness within myself that I was gay.
- I was forever praying that these feelings would be taken from me – I related to her how when reciting the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary I would refer to my sexuality as “my cross” – it is I think a term for relating to Christ’s suffering on the cross and I believe to a certain extent that all of us have a cross to carry for periods of time in our lives – but I thought that my cross was cruel.
- I talked about my sense of isolation and fear – I would pick up whenever anyone passed a comment on my mannerisms (which seemed to happen all the time) and how I would suffer for days afterwards that friends and colleagues somehow knew I was gay.
- I explained that I am not homophobic – I have a gay friend (who does not know the truth about my sexuality) – I am not against gay people – I just don’t want to be gay myself because it is in conflict with the path I have chosen in life – i.e. being married / faith values.
Whilst relating these issues to my coach all the pain and anguish came to the surface and I was for a few moments crying that sort of cry where it looks like you are laughing but there is no sound just uncontrollable emotion. It had the effect of unknotting some deep “locked in” emotion after which I had a sensation of calm.
My coach said to me “William – you must accept it” – “You must learn to embrace this aspect of who you are and accept the choices that you make as a result of coming to terms with this issue”. This is I think the only time that my coach has said “you must do something” but I looked at her and saw in her face her deep concern and care for me and I knew in that moment that she was right – my journey with her must be for me to find acceptance for my sexuality so that I could be with it in the world without it devastating my hopes for future happiness.
It had not been my intention for my coach to take on this aspect of my many problems – but we both recognised that this was at the heart of the problem and to sort out my head on this issue would lead to secondary beneficial effects on my family and work related concerns. I asked her if she could help me with this and she said she could.
We discussed the origins of my same sex attraction – i.e. when I became aware of it – I said I was aware of it 20 years ago (5 years after I was married) but that it has caused me real anguish for the last seven years where I have constantly rehearsed telling my wife, but I feared too much losing her – it seemed to me that to tell my wife was to lose my marriage – when I did tell my wife, I had in fact come to the conclusion that the marriage would end.
We discussed my decision to get married – I was besotted with my then girlfriend – we had been seeing each other for six years from the respective ages of 17 years old and 16 years old and that I loved her deeply, and I was, and still am, attracted to her sexually – however I am not attracted to other women – I do not think I am bi-sexual – I am gay.
Making these statements, and then exploring them later in greater depth, was the beginning of my journey of self acceptance. My future posts will primarily focus on the strategies which I have engaged with over the last two years, many of which I will need to be mindful of for the rest of my life. These strategies have brought me to a place of self acceptance and they support me, each day, to manage the inner conflict which had previously blighted my own happiness and the lives of my wife and family who love me.
My next blog will be: Blame and Resentment