Friday, October 29, 2010

Jewish Press Tells Successful JONAH Story


(NOTE FROM JONAH:  "Alan" is a pseudonym for a JONAH man who

 has traveled far on his journey out of unwanted same-sex attraction.)

Through A Different Lens

By: Rosally Saltsman

Date: Wednesday, September 15 2010

"I'm not an SSA guy," says 30-something Alan (not his
real name). What he means is that he doesn't let his attractions for
men (SSA stands for Same Sex Attraction) define him. He doesn't
identify with it. And that got me thinking. Why should people let a
certain inclination define who they are? I mean I love pasta but that
doesn't define me. And if you think I'm being glib, you've never seen
me eat Fettucine Alfredo. And you are the better off for it. The new
light that Alan has shone on this subject for me is that we get to
choose how we define ourselves. A person is gay when they see
themselves through that lens. Not because they have an attraction to
people of the same sex. We are who we choose to be and whom we
identify with.

Now, truth be told, Alan's love life begins and ends with dating a
girl in Junior High. He was and is a workaholic (perhaps as a means of
escape) and he never chose to find out what it would be like to
explore his homosexual inclination, which he first acknowledged during
his first year of college. "I never dated anyone of either gender. My
personality was one that I was too afraid to approach anyone. I saw
the gay world as a world of one night stands so I never pursued it."

A few years ago he sought help for depression. "The therapist I went
to understood homosexuality for what it is," and during therapy he
started developing an attraction for women. "I was very surprised when
it happened, it was very cool." Alan is now dating and hoping to find
his bashert. His desire to have a family emerged after he'd been in
yeshiva a little while.

Alan, like many before him and God willing, many after him, stumbled
onto Judaism on his travels to find himself. He arrived at yeshiva and
liked what he heard. The rabbis were answering the unasked questions
resonating in his mind and addressing the existential conundrums he
was grappling with. Today he divides his time between learning and
working and the never-ending work of self- actualization.

"I am grateful for this journey. Everyone has their pain and it's a
blessing if we embrace it. I wouldn't trade the person I know I've
become through this journey. (I wouldn't ask for these challenges
either). I like how I look at the world today and how I look at human
beings because I've had to work on this issue. I have more compassion
and have developed more of my innate potential to grow. There's real
gold there in our shadows. I'm focusing on the joy."

I also felt I struck gold with our conversation. Alan
thanked me for what I was doing to help people struggling with this
issue. Judging from some of the feedback I've been receiving about
this series, not everyone is so grateful but it very much depends,
like Alan showed me, on which lens you choose to see yourself through
and who you see reflected there. People who see themselves as born
homosexuals will see themselves as stuck in a certain place and since
no one likes to be stuck they will actively declare their pride in
being there. It's a deluded image, one that can be corrected; Not
without a lot of pain and hard work and not always completely but we
are who we believe ourselves to be. And we can choose to believe what
we want. At least to some extent.

Alan refers to Dutch psychologist Gerard van den Aardweg's
book, The Battle for Normality. Homosexual tendencies have a source
and one must find the source to help heal the pain that underscores
it. It isn't always very obvious. Alan mentions a point that has come
up before in my interviews. He suffered from a strong mother who was
also narcissistic, in other words, not emotionally available. It's not
damaging in itself to be a strong mother, at least I sincerely hope
not, but if you deprive your children of what they need, of the
emotional support so that they're dealing with their childhood pain by
themselves (sort of like having to be your own mother) especially if
someone's very sensitive, that can be very damaging. It's important to
be emotionally available to and supportive of your children.

Alan feels he's now more prepared for the challenges of
marriage. "The beautiful place that marriage can be will be even more
beautiful and we'll be able to grow closer to God or at the very least
closer to each other.

"At the end of the day. We're all neshamas. And each of us
has a tikun to do in this world and that is Hashem's gift to us - to
bring us closer to Him."

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