Friday, August 1, 2008

Second visit with the shrink

What do you see in this image? This is the first of the ten cards in the Rorschach inkblot test. I'll post my interpretation at the end of this post.

Had my second visit with the psychologist today. I'm starting to think he is more uncomfortable talking about the gay thing than I am. He kept referring to it as "that issue I'm dealing with". I don't know, maybe he's just trying to be sensitive towards me, not yet quite sure how comfortable I am about it.

We talked about the conflict I feel being gay in a church that is largely homophobic. Turns out he grew up in Montana in a small town where Mormonism was the predominate religion. So, he has some familiarity with the church. In particular, he was asking me about the culture - which I thought was interesting. Our culture is evident even to non-members.

I explained about how I'm struggling with the churches decision to get involved in the politics opposing gay marriage in California - that I've never been at such odds with the church before. I explained how the church normally takes a position of political neutrality, to which he responded "what about abortion?" I responded that the LDS church strongly opposes abortion, that it can be grounds for excommunication, but that the church does not get involved in the politics of abortion. He was genuinely surprised! Why would the LDS church would pick this one issue to get involved politically but not others?

One thing he did mention is the importance for someone in my situation (gay and in a committed heterosexual marriage) to have a support group - people whom I talk to. He said he felt I was finding that in the online relationships I've built, which, he said, is a good thing. But, the reality is, it's not enough. As I was driving home, I thought that, maybe, this is what I'm looking for - real flesh and blood people around whom I can just be myself and not have to be constantly on guard about what I might say and do lest they start wondering about which side of the bread I butter.

It's not that I want to sit around talking about 'gay' all the time. But, it would be nice to be with a group of people where it just wouldn't matter, who may be right there with me in likes, opinions, etc. Basically, I want to be with people like whom I've met in the queerosphere - except I want you to live in Texas so that I can invite you over for dinner once in a while :)

Back to the inkblot test. According to Wikipedia, popular responses including bat, badge and coat of arms. Personally, I see seahorses, seriously. I wonder what that is supposed to mean?


Philip said...

I think support groups are a great idea.

I found them more helpful than professional counseling.

Is there a gay married mens group or gay fathers group or even a bisexual group in you area?

I would think that would be the logical place to begin.


Sean said...

I guess that means I'll have to move to Texas! Well, maybe when I'm done with my undergraduate program...

I know that there are a lot of Christian support groups for gay men in the midwest. They aren't specific to a religion, but a belief in Christ and following His commandments. I believe it is called "Exodus" or something like that. I have a friend who was in it and really enjoyed it.

Jay said...

I saw a wolf's head. Don't know what that means either.

Abelard Enigma said...

Is there a gay married mens group or gay fathers group in you area?

I believe there is a local affiliate of GAMMA (Gay Married Men Association) which meets at an Episcopal church in Dallas. Perhaps I should check into that further.

I guess that means I'll have to move to Texas!

Well, there is the UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas :)

I believe it is called "Exodus"

Exodus International is an ex-gay group - I have serious reservations about getting involved in the ex-gay movement. But, I haven't ruled it out completely.

I saw a wolf's head.

A wolf's head was my second choice after sea horses. Specifically, a wolf head with a sinister smile :)

Chedner said...

I see two koalas making a dress... think Cinderella Down Under.

Beck said...

I think we need to take a road trip and meet somewhere in the middle. Whaddoyasay?

BTW, I see sea gulls fighting.

Philip said...

A few observations...

I went to my first GAMMA meeting in Chicago in 1981 when I was 28 years old.

That was a year before AIDS exploded on the scene and about five years before the mainstream press wrote about it.

Initially I was impressed by a small group of men that were confident, seemed in total control and were very upbeat. Within six months, their marriages had all crashed and burned.

I learned that the ones to listen to were not the cheerleaders but the serious ones that were not always confident, in control or upbeat. They drew a more somber but realistic picture.

At first I kept asking myself why was I have so many problems than the other members. Later I realized many of the men were guarded and/or not as open and honest about their feelings as they could have been.

Only after becoming a friend and knowing each other for several would they let down their guard or start being more open and honest about themselves.

Once I got to know them I found they had as many or more problems than I did.

In other words, gay men are no better than straight men at opening up and talking about their feelings.

It was a sexually charged group. As one member use to say "If only we could connect the dots."

I think it's a good idea to figure out ahead of time how you will handle it if someone hits on you.

There was a lot of wisdom in that room, great camaraderie, lots of support and validation and humor.

But no answers. I wasn't better able to take advantage of all that wisdom because I didn't know who I was and didn't know what would or would not work for me.

I was aslo still so closeted that the once a month GAMMA meeting was the only time I was in the gay world. And then it would take me an hour to shift gears from the straight world to the gay world before I was comfortable then I had about hour before I would have to shift gears again to re-enter the straight world.

Later on I learned the wisdom was really a beginner's wisdom. There were no advance degrees in that group. Most of the men knew only a little more than I did but they still impressed me because I was so ignorant about my own sexuality.

So after a year I was the oldtimer giving advice to the newbies.

So there were many positives, a few not so positves but the biggest benefit I got from the GAMMA meetings was have a safe forum to be myself and be face-to-face with others like me.


Philip said...

My first choice is two pigeons flying carrying a bell with koala cubs hanging on to their feet.

My second choice is an alligator with light beaming from his eyes and nostrils swimming on the surface.

Lots of animals.


Silver said...

Abe: Thanks for sharing these visits with us. I've been seeing my own therapist for a few months now; off and on. She has a son who is gay and they are inactive Mormons. She knows the culture which helps. It mostly gives me someplace to vent. I do most of the talking. Some days she can't get a word in. I do listen though too and she helps. It just really helps me to have someone to talk to who isn't emotionally tied to me, a sounding board.

I've been attending various groups now for about three years. I have been a loner much of my life and haven't ever been comfortable in groups of men. I always found lots of competition and lots of put downs there. I was small when I was young so I often came up being the runt of the group.

It's been a new experience to be accepted and affirmed by men in these groups. I've had some great experiences.

Philip said: "Initially I was impressed by a small group of men that were confident, seemed in total control and were very upbeat. Within six months, their marriages had all crashed and burned." -- I think this is very discriptive of the drama that often accompanies these groups. There is a great deal of good but, there is risk if a man isn't careful. For me it has been worth the risk.

I think I agree with Philip that groups are much more useful than counseling. This discussion has made me want to post on "groups" on my blog. Look for more there in the next couple of days. I'll share some of my experiences.

It's very important that you find the right kind of group. If you want to remain faithful to your wife and family, choose carefully what the group mission is and that it fits your goals but, I would strongly endorse attending groups to deal with being a Moho.

PS. It looks like a pelvic bone to me....

Anonymous said...

First reaction I had to the inkplot test that it was a pelvic bone, then when my eyes adjusted, it became two chihuahuas with big ears drinking from a bolw (bell).

Support groups are great but choose wisely.

Abelard Enigma said...

Like I said, the first thing I saw was two seahorses. But, as other people shared their views

wolf's head - yeah I can see that

two koalas making a dress - not seeing that one. Chedner, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say this means you're gay. :)

sea gulls fighting - um, I can sorta see that one

two pigeons flying carrying a bell with koala cubs hanging on to their feet - seriously, it's just an inkblot, how can you see such detailed images in an inkblot?

alligator with light beaming from his eyes and nostrils swimming on the surface - same comment as above

pelvic bone - hmmm, male or female?

two chihuahuas with big ears drinking from a bolw (bell) - OK, I can sorta see two chihuahuas if I squint - but I'm not seeing the drinking part

Max Power said...

It looks like Wile E. Coyote. Or two elephants dancing. Depends on if you like at it as a single object or a mirrored image.

I hope you can find a good support group in your area. A lot of people have good things to say about Journey into Manhood. Maybe check that out.