Adam – Sexuality and Starting Over
Starting over…We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so we can accept, appreciate, and be thankful for the life we have been given.
The day I had the pleasure of meeting Adam, age 15, I unknowingly began what would prove to be a long journey of discovering what unconditional love really is between a son and his father.
Adam’s family was a perfect family on the outside: Mom, a “stay-home mom” and dad, a professional athlete. Mom and dad were raised in a little town in Oklahoma, dated since high-school, married after college, and had two kids. Dad had played with the NFL for several years, retiring in the last couple of years.
Adam had recently shared with his mother that he was gay. He recalls Mom’s response as “This is my fault – I did something to cause this” and Dad “thinks this is for attention and wants me to stop this nonsense and never mention it again”.
Adam had been taken to two previous counselors who “were Christians” where one “prayed over me” and the other “told me I was going to hell”. Adam refused to go back to either counselor and was referred to me by another family in my church.
This family was experiencing a wide range of feelings: shock, embarrassment, resentment, devastation, guilt, anger, fear, sorrow, helplessness, and hopelessness. Adam’s parents were no different than many parents who hear from their child that they are struggling with sexual identity. Adam shared with me, “Mom wanting to love and pray for me through this, but for me to change” and “I am an embarrassment and disappointment to my dad and he won’t even talk to me now”.
Adam’s deep wrenching pain was from not only his own feelings of self-hatred, confusion, and embarrassment but also from feeling “my mom will be okay, but my dad hates me now and wishes I wasn’t his son”. I knew from this moment on, this family and I had a long emotional journey to embark on that wasn’t just about sexuality, but about connection, love and bonding between a son and his father.
After working with Adam’s dad for weeks, he learned he was undergoing a process of self-discovery and connecting with his son “like I never have”. His self-doubt, self-blame, and regrets reared their ugly heads on a regular basis but, in time, he learned that sometimes in life, we just need to start over.
Starting over will be more difficult than we expect, most of the time. Even finding a starting place is tough. It begins by choosing to step out of the chaotic box we see ourselves in and stop making it all about ourselves and what we have done wrong or how others have wronged us. It needs to be uncovering our beliefs, preconceived notions, and judgements that we all have deep down inside. Ceasing the self-blame, self-pity, self-justification, playing the victim, or blaming others are rough habits to break. Finding a starting point where we can do our best to meet the individuals we love just where they are at the time is key. We must begin a journey with this person only after examining ourselves on a level we are generally fearful of going.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this blog, I witnessed and participated in what proved to be a long ongoing journey between a son and a dad in discovering unconditional love for one another. Two individuals who learned they needed to backup, start over, and begin a meaningful relationship.
I can’t say Adam or his dad’s journey reached its destination- relationships always need nurturing, even with our adult children. It takes understanding, time, honesty, commitment, guidance, boundaries, learning, and realization for everyone involved.
Adam is now 24 years old and he remains committed to his personal journey as well as the journey he sees as “solid and amazing” with his dad. Adam says, “I am still learning about myself and am eternally grateful I have two parents who sought help in trying to understand me and where I was coming from ”. He also feels, “My dad has his own ideas and opinions, I know this and respect this, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me”. “I have learned through therapy, my own feelings of anger and resentment towards my dad were actually the feelings I had about myself”. “Becky is right, it is all a process, and it’s not an easy one”.
This family made the commitment years ago to invest the process of repairing the family unit. Investing in the time, effort, education, feedback, hard work and accountability it takes to create a strong family unit. They remain to be invested – even when there is bump in the road that throws them off kilter. They each have a choice to return old patterns of behaviors or to get back up, adjust and continue the journey.