Wednesday, June 28, 2006

STRIKE ONE!



Well, that was a total joke!

What a disappointing experience!

I went to my very first counseling session this afternoon. What a disaster! I don't know if I was expecting too much from a first visit or whether the therapist was really that bad, but it was awful.

I don't really know what I was expecting... maybe I've seen too many movies where the character goes to the office of a therapist and starts chatting away about all of his problems, and occasionally in a half-interested way, the therapist asks: "And how does that make you feel?" The person continues his monologue and then the therapist, half-asleep questions: "And how does that make you feel?"

Maybe I was wishing for more. I've been encouraged incessantly, even relentlessly from fellow bloggers to seek professional help. I must admit that I don't have a lot of faith in clinical social workers and psychologists, as I've been burned in the past. So maybe I was just hoping for more.

I want to find someone young and enthusiastic, passionate about his/her work. I want a therapist to be up to date and informed of the latest studies and thought. I want my therapist to be engaging and interested in me. Is that too much to ask for?

What I got was a fine gentleman, too old, who though very polite and kind, sympathetic and concerned, seemed half-asleep and not engaging at all. He was more interested in confirming anything I said instead of searching for confirmation that what I said had any basis for truth or fact.

I don't need to pay someone to sit and listen to my problems and just agree with me. I don't want a YES MAN. I want someone who can contradict me, challenge me, enliven me in a debate of self-discovery. I've already come to many conclusions, but I don't know if they are correct. I don't need someone to confirm that I've come to a conclusion. I want guidance.

Isn't there a test to certify that I really am gay? Isn't there some way to prove that I have SSA? If I just say that I'm attracted to beautiful men and go googly-eyed when I see an athletic college student - who's to say that that is enough. Is it just my reality verses my reality? Why is this so hard to explain?

He wanted to know my 'goals'. I don't know what my goals are other than to feel a peace inside me, to understand why I'm the way I am, and to reach some kind of understanding with my wife so that we can get on with a meaningful relationship. What I don't want to do is to CHANGE who I am. Deep down, I like who I am. I have a healthy self-esteem and I don't feel suicidal (at least most of the time). I'm basically content with my life and I'm doing okay in my normal day-to-day existence. I am very happy that I am a sensitive, caring guy, who likes to be affectionate and open and loving with people. I like that I am creative and have a passion for design and have been successful in my design career. I don't want to lose these feelings and characteristics of who I am and what makes me ME!

When I told him I didn't see a great need to CHANGE, but that I wanted to learn to be at peace, I sensed he was a bit disappointed, though he was very nice and sympathetic about it. It was like talking to my Bishop more than talking to a professional. I felt like I was pushing the conversation along and "confessing" to things. It got to the point that this guy didn't have a clue of what I truly was trying to express, and so I gave up trying... and soon the hour was over. I sensed that he was concerned about his next appointment and that when my 'time was up', he stopped listening. Can you sense my frustration?

I didn't make a return appointment, but took his card and told him that I'd be getting back in touch with him.

I don't think so...

Some good things have come of this:

1. It has started an intense dialog between me and my wife - a discussion that we haven't had in a long time - a much needed discussion, even if there are emotions of pain and hurt and confusion, and unjustified judgment on her part.

2. It has planted the seed that when I am ready, we will need to do this therapy thing together in some fashion... but first I need to be sure of where I am going and what I want to understand so that I can articulate it better to her.

3. This being willing to seek counseling has given me a HUGE brownie point in the eyes of my wife. She sees me willing to try to work things out and being proactive instead of passive about my issues and our relationship.

4. Since this guy was the therapist SHE found for me, it has been easy to now dismiss him, saying I tried (and I seriously did give the guy an hour of trying on my part), and she has realized that he isn't the right kind of therapist for me.

5. This frees me up to find someone more of my liking, more open to new ideas, maybe less conservative and perhaps non-Mormon. If I can find the right fit then I think she'd buy into it.

6. It has given me a direction to think out my goals and to come to appreciate that I am relatively calm about who I am, feeling much less angst, as long as I can keep it in control. I know that is asking for a lot and maybe it's an impossible task - I don't know.

7. He did state that in many cases he's been able to identify the "moment" or "cause" or "event" in a man's life when things generated the attraction. But in the majority of cases, he's convinced they are something we have always had with us. I don't know if he was just responding to me about my conviction that I didn't have a catastrophic event in my life (such as molestation), but that I was ALWAY this way from early childhood, through adolescence and on into young adulthood... he even stated (and this is from a very conservative Mormon Bishop type)that our attractions often times can originate from the pre-existence eons ago and that our mortal lives are opportunities to respond or deal or embrace them - but that they don't originate from something post-birth. I found that interesting, though I'm not sure that I believe he knows anything. When I explained this theory to my wife, she seemed surprised. She's still looking for a magic pill, or a secret potion or flip of a wand that can make IT all go away. He did state that such notions were folly and unsound and that he excepted that I was who I was and was convinced that that was unquestionably true. Again, I don't know if he was just trying to agree with me or if he had evidence to state such things. I didn't see much evidence... just agreement. And again, I don't want someone to agree with me, I want to have guidance and truth. I guess in this very vague science there is no such thing as truth.

Anyway, though I'm a bit discouraged, it's picked up our marriage a bit and I'm on to searching for a better match at my wife's approval. I reason that I'll give this three strikes. If I can't find someone in three attempts at bat that engages me in a very personal way and shows enthusiasm and passion for this subject in an intelligent and knowledgeable way - then I'll call it quits and re-evaluate and keep on studying on my own.

For, from where I was two years ago (complete denial) to now (almost full self-acceptance of being gay/SSA), I've come quite a way on my own... and I've done it and still kept the hopes of eternal covenants intact, and a desire to still live and discover new things!

So, it's strike one!

12 comments:

Dave Walter said...

Sorry the therapist didn't turn out to be a good match, Beck. I'm glad you'll give it a shot with another therapist.

Beck said...

I figure it's like trying on shoes. Not every shoe fits, right? Though my shoe size may be "odd", there's got to be someone out there that fits me.

Am I asking for too much?

Elbow said...

Regardless of the fact that your therapist sounds like an idiot, you are doing the right thing.

Try, try again, and you will now have a better idea of what you want. I'm glad you are going to keep looking.

And I'm so happy that things are better with your wife in respects to her feeling like this is a proactive step for you, and your relationship having more communication.

You have come a long way. Most importantly, you are dealing with things in a positive light. Amazing!

Samantha said...

Something that you need to consider is that the best therapist you'll find will probably not "challenge", "contradict", not "debate with" you. The point is for you to explore things yourself--without the opinions of that professional overshadowing your explorations. If you come to a guided conclusion, you'll probably begin questioning it in a matter of months. If you discover truth on the basis of your own conclusions it will stay with you much longer.

However, your therapist should certainly be interested in you, and provide you with the tools you'll need to start that exploration along with necessary feedback to encourage you to continue.

Keep looking. You really are on the right track. I hope you'll keep including your wife.

Beck said...

SS:

Yeah, but...

If I come to my own conclusions, then why do I need a professional? I guess I'm really not seeing someone who just agrees with me and my self-made conclusions does me any good. I'm coming to my own conclusions right now without a therapist! I've been on that path for nearly the last two years, earnestly seeking my own conclusions. I need help in articulating them to my wife without hurting her. Maybe a counselor can help facilitate that articulation?

Kim Mack said...

Beck, email me personally ... I have something in mind perhaps....

Kim
sykobabbel@comcast.net

Ward Cleaver said...

You give me hope.

Samantha said...

Yeah, but...

If you believe something on the basis of another's opinion or conviction, how long will it stick? We certainly CAN come to conclusions without the help of a therapist, but a professional can help us ask the questions we're afraid to address--sometimes we don't even know what those are--sometimes we know very well, but won't go there. A therapist can also give you more avenues to explore what you're feeling, avenues that won't hurt others or YOU. And yes, a therapist can help you find more ways to discuss these things with your wife, and can facilitate couples therapy if desired.

AttemptingthePath said...

Yeah, so far LDS social services really hasn't done it for me, and I just had my evaluation there!

But I do have a question, what quotes, websites, books, General Authority talks have you found beneficial with dealing with your SSA?

-L- said...

Attemptingthepath and Beck,

Let me know what resources you find that are helpful to you in understanding yourself and your situation, and perhaps most importantly, finding and coming to peace with a course of action. I've looked at both materials that directly address homosexuality, religion, and psychology, as well as those that do not directly address these issues but are relevant in an ancillary sort of way.

Beck, I think appreciating counseling will be easier if you temper your expectations. I've found counseling to be enormously helpful, but some counselors are better than others, and I found I have to consciously pull the good out of the situation for myself in all cases. It's just like reading a book--you can give it mixed reviews but the secret is to enjoy the good even while tolerating the bad (as long as it's not TOO bad!).

If you feel you are likely to strike out on counseling, there may still be some value in it for you, but you may have sabotaged yourself into subconsciously deciding no counseling experience will ever be adequate.

-L- said...

I forgot to say: Good luck with your next attempt! I'll be thinking of you.

Beck said...

L: If I have to do all the pulling of good out of the experience then what is the counselor doing? I want him/her to work on bringing things out of me without my having to do all the work. Is that too much to ask for? To expect?

Thanks for following my saga. Please stay in touch - even with your current busy schedule.