I decided to abandon the thought of some chronological journey through the transformational experiences. Since there isn’t a clear roadmap for anyone to follow, the chronology isn’t really important to this exercise. So…
The changepoint I want to share in this post is that of coming clean. I really only recognize this as a transformational experience in hindsight. There was not even one thing that told me back then (eighteen years ago) that the cumulative changes would be so radical. So, when it began to occur to me that I needed to talk about some stuff, I had no idea what ALL I would need to talk about.
I didn’t have words to describe it back then. Today I recognize this “coming clean” as something like a moral inventory. Or, some might recognize it as steps 4 & 5 in a Twelve Step program. What I was experiencing was an overwhelming realization of just HOW MUCH and just HOW DEEP my hidden stuff was. I wasn’t trying to draw lines to connect my homosexual inclinations to my history of curious misdeeds as a child or to my isolated explorations of sexuality through explicit novels. I wasn’t trying to define my homosexual “sin” as I wasn’t really perceiving it as “sin.” What was happening was an experience within myself where I was, somehow, associating my curiosities, hiddenness and explorations to my current inclinations. I felt the need to bring out the history.
Before that day, it had never occurred to me that anything of my past experiences had even one thing to do with my current experiences. I really wasn’t THAT self-aware. I had sectioned off my darker leanings from a very, very religious self. Prior to that day, I didn’t feel guilty when I indulged in the shadow-self. I did experience long periods of “disconnect” in my religious self. For that matter, I felt very disconnected in relationships with friends and family.
As I began to make this inventory, I remember one of the first items on my list: “Took playmate under the bed in my parent’s room when I was 4 or 5.” It wasn’t the childish play that occurred to me in that notation. What I suddenly remembered was the manipulation to get my friend in there with me. Also, I lied to my dad about what we were doing. It was strange to remember those parts of that childhood experience. It was like being reminded that I had a conscience and yet chose to ignore it.
Anyway, my list began to take shape in much the same way. One item after another was added to my inventory and with items were the memories of historical deceptions which were instigated by me (for the most part). Also on that inventory were a few things my friends did which violated my conscience. Things like my childhood friend going potty outside and her telling me to not tell my parents made the list. Minor, I know. It was a hot secret for a little kid to carry.
The list included explicit novels, sensual experiences, manipulations and deceptions which surrounded my private, sexual life up until that day at 28-years old.
The list was absolutely giant. The hens, so to speak, were coming home to roost. I was shocked at the cumulative power of my own history. I concluded to myself that I was what I was. I simply had no thought that I would ever be anything different that what was revealed on those pages.
A few days later I got with a trusted friend and began to go through this list. I talked about what I had done AND about any decisions I made to either manipulate or deceive or to ignore my conscience. This was not an emotional exercise for me. There weren’t tears really. It felt heavy. It felt hard. It felt confusing. (It was a dreary drudgery for me.) I didn’t feel the immediacy of Christ’s presence. I didn’t feel really “connected” to my friend as I shared. Really, I hated this little exercise I had taken on and couldn’t believe it was taking so long.
When I was done (this actually took all night) my friend directed me to God with my list. All I really remember was telling God something like: “Well, here it is. I don’t know what to do with it.”
I wish I could tell you that I felt “light-as-a-feather” but I didn’t. I felt dead.
Looking back to that day (those days), I think it was one of the most important exercises of my life. Very few items have surfaced that somehow were overlooked in my initial list. What happened is that my conscience began to be sensitive again and I began to live and to feel more clear. The feeling of death really hung around for a while. It didn’t begin to lift for me until I got into some good counseling and began to talk regularly about my inner world. Ah, but that is for a different post.