Or, how openly talking about my attraction to boys has been helpful.
To many, the idea of me being attracted to children will be really shocking, and then adding that up the fact that my wife knows about it all and how I’m an open guy with her will blow their socks off. But let me tell you, having someone to be open with, and to be able to discuss it has so far been really enlightening to say the least.
Here are six things that I’ve learned from being open about my feelings:
1. What acceptance really means
Through therapy I’ve come to realize how my attraction towards boys is such a complex combination of emotional factors, that it is highly probable that it just won’t go away. You heard that right, I know that most probably my attraction towards children won’t go away.
Now then, what to do? I got only two options here: I can either lament and live a gloomy life because of that, or I can find a way to manage it and live with it (some people kindly suggest suicide as a third option… I won’t even bother evaluating this option). I choose option number 2.
So I accept this; I’ll embrace this challenge life has somehow given me. But what does this mean? What is it that I have to accept?
American Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr once wrote a short prayer that got known as the Serenity Prayer, it goes like this:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
What that little Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr has taught me is that even if I can’t change my attractions, I can also be courageous to control something: My actions.
It takes courage to analyze oneself and see what is it that I could change, or how to act with this. To realize I can have control over certain aspects of my life. It’s in this line of thinking, for example, that I stand against any type of sexual contact with children. I also stand against Child Pornography.
Accepting that I cannot change my feelings doesn’t mean I have to accept immoral, inappropriate or destructive behaviors. That’s where the limit line of acceptance must be drawn. I cannot change my feelings? OK, fine, but I can see the difference between them and actions that are harmful, and that if I were to be involved in them I would not only be doing something wrong, but I would be causing pain to others.
Accepting my attractions doesn’t mean I have to accept abuse.
It seems like a complex thing to deal with, I know, specially at first, but I know it’s possible, and I have a support group and my wife to help me with this, and this is where point number two of what I’ve learned begins:
2. Taking about things from the heart heals
You know how I told you in my previous entry that I used to be quiet about this and closed up out of fear and how eventually I just couldn’t hold it together anymore? Well, as I also said there, ever since I have had people to hear what I have to say, without judging me and willing to understand my feelings, I have been able to put some sense in all of this, to stop hating myself and see that I can have a productive meaningful life just as much as the next guy.
Talking without receiving judgment made my self-hate and despair almost disappear. Sure, there are some troubling days still, even weeks, but what once was a daily inner battle is now something a lot easier to handle.
Think about it this way: when you have something that troubles you and you keep it to yourself, the problem just gets bigger and bigger in your head, until you feel it is so big you simply cannot hold it anymore, and you find yourself hopeless, desperate. When you finally get the chance to know there are people out there who live the same you do, who are willing to understand you and help you be your best self, then suddenly all that big heavy load you used to carry isn’t as heavy anymore.
So yes, whether this is a disorder, a condition, an inclination, an orientation or whatever label or category you wanna put it in, I learned it is possible to handle it as any other inner battle anyone has, which brings me to point number three of what I’ve learned:
3. We all go through a battle almost no one knows about
And as any battle, it is better to go through it with support.
Selecting the people you mention your most personal things to is quite important to receive support instead of criticism, to lift you up instead of bring you down.
When I opened myself up to have a relationship, little did I know about how different every human mind is. I was so locked up in myself that I thought mine was the only real problem anyone could go through. Oh, how wrong I was…
My wife goes through a totally different range of mental battles that grew inside of her because of her unique life experiences, just like my own stuff developed. And just because they’re different than mine it doesn’t mean they’re less important or less troubling to her than my own are to me.
Both together, she and I, have taught each other that even if our battles are different, and while it takes time to understand the other person’s way of thinking, we’re not less worthy of love than the other. It just takes time, patience and commitment to live with these battles, and to understand point number four:
4. Most fears are irrational
Any mental battle creates fears inside of us, images of what is it that could go fatally wrong in the future, nightmarish scenarios we create that make us freeze and be afraid of the future, or even of ourselves or others.
The specific fears that attraction to minors carry certainly jump to sight: anyone that goes through this will unavoidably end up molesting a child. (And here, honestly: who can blame them? If the news and current studies show us alarming rates of child sexual abuse and other frankly monstrous things.)
Now, as someone who goes through these attractions, this scenario is honestly as scary as it is for anyone else. What to do? Am I doomed to a predestined fate that some news and general fear are so eager to announce? Let me tell you the answer: Heck no I’m not!
The answers of what I choose to do with my life are not out there in the hands of anyone, they are found inside myself.
Fear in the general public has always created more havoc, hate and violence than real solutions. To put an example: Fear says that all Muslims are terrorists, that you should kick all Muslims out of the country just because a group of guys that happened to be Muslims created a terrorist group. So now what, does this mean any Muslim is condemned to be a terrorist? No! You know what this fear actually creates? Things like this, where humans stop being humans and they turn into monsters… *sigh*…
That was a socio-political example right there, but it applies to anything in life, when fear governs, our rational side turns off, and no logic can exist. Fear of myself and seeing myself as a monster pulled me away from any real solution to what I was facing.
When I stopped being afraid by talking, I realized the most important things in myself: My personality doesn’t allow me to hurt anyone. Really, I’m the type of person that is constantly placing other people’s happiness over mine. I don’t know how it is related to the fact I had really low self-esteem all my life, but that’s how I work, I don’t even go to bed if I’m mad with my wife, until we solve the issue at hand, because I feel bad to think I’m hurting her in any way. I don’t know how this wasn’t obvious for myself before I met her, she was the one who pointed out to me that aspect of my personality.
So, taking fear aside I learned that these fears were totally irrational, I’m not made out of monster DNA or anything like that… I’m human, with unique challenges and unique traits, which brings me to the next point:
5. I have more dimensions in myself than my attractions
I’m not just “a pedophile”. That trait of myself doesn’t define my whole being, being attracted to minors is just one of the many dimensions I have as a human being.
When I first started to talk to a psychologist, he told me something I still remember very well: “Patients I have come here with something that is bugging them about their lives, something that they feel they cannot control by themselves, that’s too big for them” he continued “You can see this right now as if it was as big as Mount Everest… what I wanna do is help you see that this doesn’t have to be as big as as a mountain, it can be as manageable as any other dimension in your life, so that it is the size of… maybe a piece of furniture in your room that is your mind, or a small package that can be now easily carried in your backpack”. This image is still with me until today.
My attractions are just but one part of myself.
I am a loving son, brother and husband, I am a college graduate, I am the co-founder of a good locally growing advertising company, I am a spiritual person, I am someone who loves to help others, I am a film fanatic, I am undoubtedly geeky, I love to read, I love to learn about anything I can, I love classic rock and the 80’s, I’m an amateur writer, and I’m a fighter who doesn’t let life struggles take me down. I am these things and more.
Multiple dimensions run through me, and in a balanced life none of them overshadows the other (now there’s a challenge, isn’t there?), and all of them make me who I am.
And with all these dimensions of my life, it brings me to my closure point:
6. I can use my experiences to do good.
As I’ve always been moved by the fact I can help others around me, this is something I can use to help out and reach other people who might be experiencing the same as I am.
As I said before, this blog is intended to do precisely that, it’s here to present the matter of Minor Attraction from a somewhat testimonial perspective, to show it’s possible to come to terms with this, that living a worthy life is more than achievable. Granted, you don’t have to marry as the only life decision that will make you happy. It makes me happy, but that’s because it is the type of life I chose to live, as I also love to help my wife out in whatever ways I can find to do so. I know other people who aren’t married, and are excellent guys, fighting for their own good causes in the world.
We all contribute in this world, and I want to help raise awareness and let people know this human condition exists, we can understand this together, and then perhaps make additional advances in understanding how to help reduce child sexual abuse in the world. Killing all pedophiles and minor attracted people in the world wouldn’t do anything new, but sitting down and talking about this together indeed can and will make a difference.
Here’s hoping there’s people with me.
By Stepping Out Sam originally published on Medium April 11, 2017.
Exported from Medium on June 9, 2018.