My Kleenex Mentality
by Roger Mann
(Posted December 2012)
As I contemplate my new life with a woman I love, I recognize the distorted views I internalized because of the sexual abuse I received from my father and from the innumerable sexual relationships I had with other men.
I have often said about the sexual experiences I had with my father as I was growing up ... the ones late at night in my bedroom ... left me feeling like Kleenex: grabbed, groped, used, and then tossed aside without further thought. Initially as a 9 year old boy and later as a young man until about my 30th birthday, I would romanticize these experiences as his version of love for me because he could not show his love to me any other way. We all want to rationalize things or tell ourselves a story that appears rational. To have believed the truth back then (that I was simply a thing to be used and abused) would have seriously disturbed me on so many levels that I was simply not ready to think about. As a child we tend to tell ourselves whatever is necessary in order to make sense of what otherwise would be considered insanity.
Later as a man I still clung to the story. I refused to see my actions for what it was: a desperate search for affirmation, affection, and acceptance (the three A's). In doing so, I was led to search for a fantasy about what "love" is, whether with Dad or in other male relationships, simply because I desperately wanted to believe it. For example, on visits home for the holidays in later years with my wife and kids, I would allow Dad to arrange for us to be alone so that my hope to receive the three A's from him would not die -- even then. It is truly sad how far up that river of denial, we will allow our mind to swim.
Because the story I told myself was based on a fantasy projection, I never found a relationship with a man that would fulfill that longing. Honestly I just don't believe it is or can ever be there; it is just not realistic. As soon as sex enters the picture, the whole thing changes from love to lust. I could fall madly in bed with someone but not madly in love and certainly not for long. Eventually it always ended in one or both of us as Kleenex for the other. This was especially true of all the one nighters. Even with the longer relationships, the fantasy that I was in love was soon dispelled as soon as the sex was removed from the relationship for whatever reason; and, in fact, most times, way before that. One or both of us would become bored and cheat on the other. Sex with another man, certainly for me, can never bring a sense of completion or fulfillment.
It was not `happily ever after', it was always `happily till after'. Abuse always turns our focus inward toward ourselves in very destructive ways. During the time I was in the homosexual lifestyle, I found myself becoming more and more selfish, self-centered, mean and petty. People were objects to be desired and then disposed of.
Since leaving that life behind, I find myself growing as a person. I am able to be authentic with others and see within me a greater sense of moral fiber and a stronger strength of character. I am more patient, more inclined to listen and to empathize, less callous to the plight of others and a lot less angry with myself and others.
Sex was designed to unite a man and a woman; to bond the pair forever. The chemistry involved and the physical characteristics of the two sexes makes that observation obvious. What happened in my same sex relationships never bound us together; rather, such actions eventually divided us. As time progressed, we found our usefulness to each other was over. We sought to achieve an erotic high and then tell ourselves the lie that the high was love. But after the high was finished, there was nothing left. The "relationship" just became an embarrassing awkwardness that we wanted to end; it was as if I were carrying around a used Kleenex and searching to find someplace to dump it.
What had happened to me in my childhood with dad also eventually infected the relationships I initially had with my wives, and, indeed, on some level with everyone I encountered. I became so accustomed to a false feeling from those experiences that I came to expect them from all my relationships where I craved intimacy.
But I have now learned through my counseling and resulting internal work of transformation that it need not be that way with anyone and, in particular, with the woman I have now found who understands the road I have traveled and with whom I can appreciate an authentic relationship that is far more than simply a sexual relationship. I have learned with the woman I love that I no longer seek a sexual act in order to receive; rather, I seek to pleasure her and to give myself over to her fully and completely.
It has taken a lot of work on my part to get past the negative experiences of my life that gave me such a false picture of what a relationship was supposed to be, that is, seeking what I can get rather than what I can give. While we are not quite fully there yet, I am so much closer to my goal: I can see it, feel it and fully understand the difference between a relationship simply based on sex and one based on authentic connection and love. A relationship based on sex ends when the sex is over or is no longer exciting. On the other hand, a relationship based on real love and authentic connection makes the sex that much more enjoyable and lasting. Even when the honeymoon period is over, the joy and the pleasure of living life to its fullest enables us to keep the connection between the two of us exciting, pleasurable, and fulfilling. By giving to her, I in turn receive.
Just my thoughts.