I’m reading a book that is really putting heads on the nails of the crosses I bare. THE VELVET RAGE , by Dr. Alan Downs, is subtitled “Overcoming The Pain of Growing up Gay in a Straight Man’s World.” I would not have thought I still held onto any shame about myself, certainly about my sexuality, before I entered recovery and began working the 12 Steps. I apparently was wrong. I have now begun another 12 Step program, called A.C. A. or Adult Children of Alcoholics. I realize I am braking the second “A” in both programs I am a member of, but this is my journey and I am keeping my truth with this blog and its purpose (to keep me sane, help me see what I am feeling, have a record to look back on and maybe, just maybe help someone else.). I am reading the A.C. A. workbook and it also deals with a lot of “Family of Origin” issues, misplaced shame and our (my) hunger for validation from others, generally men and most certainly usually, the wrong men.
“Rage” is so filled with “AHA Moments” (thanks Oprah!) that it is not possible to discuss all of them. I gave up highlighting important passages because I could and probably should, just highlight every paragraph of the whole book. It’s that impactful to me.
As I was reading in bed last night, I was especially struck by these two passages, and if the mobile version of WordPresss hadn’t shut down on me, I was going to post this then. Whatevs…So here’s what I sat up in bed about:
“To silence the the distress of this toxic shame, we go about the task of seeking validation from others. However we can and with whatever abilities we are blessed with, we set about to mine the world for approval, praise and recognition. The more validation we discover, the less distress we feel.” It goes on to say we become validation junkies, craving more and more and it therefore becomes harder for us to tolerate invalidation of any kind, not matter how small the perceived slight may be. And this is what really shook me, “The validation we achieve through sexual encounters is immediate and stimulating, even if it is essentially inauthentic. We play a role, one that we have mastered over years of being on stage, that seduces our beautiful conquest-to-be. When he gives up his resistance and succumbs to our siren call, we feel the rush of immediate validation. If no one else, at least this one man sees something of value in us. This blissful moment rarely lingers, but in that moment, it satisfies.”
I know every gay man does not feel this or agree with it. But I recognize this deeply held belief system in myself. It’s as if those words are exactly what I have been searching to say to myself, to hear from my God, for anyone to explain to me, for a very long time. And I rejoice in reading them, and in reading the A.C.A.’s so called “Laundry List ( & thanks to that WordPress blog for publishing the list). Because, it means I have hope, I have choices to change and that, hallelujah, There. Is. A. Solution. And that, I tell myself, is what I am seeking. I no longer drink and use drugs seeking to hide away from the truth about myself. But, there had better be an answer to these questions and an actual, tangible recourse of action for me. And, TADA, there is.
More to come, much more I am happy to say. I will be released.