Growing Out of Isolation and Shame
There seems to be some misconceptions regarding the role of therapy in the healing process. My take is that a therapist merely facilitates one's own healing processes. We should not think of him as a doctor setting a broken bone (something you really shouldn't attempt on your own without serious training). Rather, a better analogy is to think of him more like a physical trainer (or in our case, an emotional trainer who can help facilitate our emotional growth).
As a facilitator of the process of emotional re-adaptation, the therapist has knowledge, experience and offers guidance, but the real work still needs to be done by us. I've seen too many people in the process trying to "subcontract" their personal problems to others, hoping that another person (or even G-d) may give them a magical cure. The healing must come from within us. A statement I have repeated over and over again on the JONAH On-line List Serve says it all: Just because one may spend untold hours and hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on therapy, healing retreats, etc., does not mean the problem of feeling unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA) will just go away. In the end, success will be achieved by the amount of sweat, blood and tears we are personally willing to put in. Therefore the question becomes what should we do to help ourselves heal?
Reading is always a great start -- I've stayed up a couple of nights reading everything I could find on the JONAH ( www.jonahweb.org ) and NARTH ( www.narth.com ) web sites. Exchanging ideas and experiences with list members has also been immensely valuable. Just knowing that I am not alone and that there are others facing the same issues is comforting. I've come a long way during my 10 months with JONAH, in terms of having a crisp, lucid and deep understanding of my condition -- What a difference compared to the vague hunches, shame, confusion and isolation I was living with for so many years. Based on my experience, I strongly encourage others to overcome whatever shyness and shame we may have had about the subject and to discuss specific issues on the JONAH List Serve. By doing so, we learn more about ourselves and find others who respond as brothers by both accepting me and understanding my value as a person. What a rewarding and healing experience!
While there are many other things we can do to continue our growth into full masculine maturity, it is my belief that reading and gaining support from others is an important tangible start.
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