What if the people who were supposed to build your strong, healthy sense of self ― to complete their creation of you ― do the opposite?
What if they cut you down, shame you, train you to feel weak and dependent to bolster themselves? I grew up in what psychologists call a "triadic family" ― it is so common in the backgrounds of men who struggle with homosexuality that it has a name.
I threw myself at him, climbing into his lap and onto his shoulders.
He threw me in the air, wrestled me, and played with me as my father never did. The adults were vaguely embarrassed at the intensity with which I pursued him; eventually they pulled me away to go to bed.
There is no resolution, no revelation of true self.
My Struggle So the first step in teshuva is to see clearly that an error has been made.
This arrangement exploited my emotional neediness, and I gloried in being celebrated for my youth and vigor.
But what if you have no healthy sense of self to return to?
What if the sense of being at fault, inadequate, is not the aberration but the norm?
Not a localized effect relating to one bad act or trait, but the way you view yourself ― and the way you suspect that others see you.
A boy who grows up feeling different from other boys and men, yet yearns to connect with them, with his own masculinity.
When I was five or six years old, my cousin brought her boyfriend ― a strapping muscleman ― to a family party.