Monday, November 21, 2011

Trying To Fit Square Pegs Into Round Holes 21Nov2011

I'm writing this post with much trepidation and fear.  As usual, it's going to be something very personal.

Lately, I feel like I've been struggling a lot with the temptation/urge to masturbate.  Sometimes, I don't even understand exactly why it is that I do it.

I can remember some of the feelings behind the most recent incident.  I had been feeling empty, lonely.  I felt myself craving some kind of connection with another man.  I struck me as ironic at the time.  

At church that day, a man had actually initiated contact with me.  I was walking in the hallway when the man started to poke me from behind.  I turned to see who it was.  It was a man that I had asked to give the prayer soon after I moved in (part of my calling).  We had kind of talked a few times.  I am attracted to this man.  Finally, we ended up shaking hands, and exchanging a few more friendly pokes.  Before priesthood started, I ended up sitting near him and we talked a little bit more.  We sat with a seat between us, and he had his arm on the back of that seat.  I could see that his hand was less than six inches from my shoulder.  I wanted, desired, craved to be sitting next to him.  I wanted his arm to be around my shoulders.  Basically, I wanted to feel loved by him.  I wanted a connection to him, although I didn't quite realize it at the time.  I was too busy thinking he would be weirded out if I sat in the seat right next to him.  I walked away feeling like I wanted more connection, like I wanted to hug the guy.  

The rest of the evening was pleasant.  There were some fun and challenging games of Magic: The Gathering with a friend.  There was snuggle time with the two kids from the family I live with.  I even finished playing Dungeon Siege III.  When I finished the game, it was a little after 10.  I noticed that I felt lonely, empty inside.  The game was beautiful.  The story was moving.  The end of the game showed me a series of scenes of all the people I had helped during the game.  I felt moved.

I was still stuck with that feeling of loneliness and emptiness.  Various fantasies rushed through my head, but I pushed them away, trying to stay connected with the feelings of loneliness.  Eventually, I succumbed to the temptation to masturbate.  It happened again the following morning.

That morning, I had a flood of ideas come to my mind in relation to what had happened.  I remembered a scene from the movie Apollo 13 where the scientists had to come up with a way to fit a square peg into a round hole...or something like that.  I realized that I was trying to fill a round hole, loneliness, with a square peg, masturbation.  And it wasn't working.  It isn't working.  I've often thought that addiction comes from trying to fill up a hole with something that can't fill that hole.  Another idea that came to mind is from my therapist.  He told me that if I slip up, I don't fall 'all the way back to square one'.  I'm trying on the new idea that when I slip up and make mistakes to tell myself 'Hey, maybe I wasn't as far along as I thought I was, but I'm not back at the beginning'.  It's an idea that gives me hope.  An even more profound idea that I'm trying is 'I am human.  I can make mistakes.  That's OK.  I'm hear to learn.  Life is a process.  God is going to love me through this process'.  It's funny how the idea of 'I'm going to love myself, even when I make mistakes' can help translate to my relationships with others.  Even if other people 'make mistakes' in my eyes, I can still love them.  After all, that's what Christ would do.

As for the loneliness, even with the new ideas of loving myself, I still have that round hole.  I just need to go find a round peg to fill it with.  I just don't have any idea what the peg is supposed to look like.


  1. You might try rounding the corners of that square hole. Yes, it's good to fight the loneliness, or whatever else is a negative emotion, but masterbation is not the problem to overcome. In other words, if you focus less on the act, and instead focus on what fills you, then the act, in this case masterbation, will take on a less prominent role in you life.

  2. Oh man, I hear you. At this point I am convinced that a life of celibacy, for me at least, would mean permanent cycles of struggle with minor "sexual sin" and very possibly an eventual break-down and doing something drastic.

    I tend to not be tempted to do such things when I do just let myself connect in other ways. That's one thing that I think is actually good about things like Evergreen and JiM (at least as I understand this part of it with minimal contact that I've had) that encourage people to not be ashamed about connecting emotionally with other men. Of course, doing so won't get rid of one's sexual orientation.

    I've always imagined hypothetical men ashamed of their heterosexuality and being counseled to establish virtuous emotional and physical connections to females. It would upgrade their emotional and relational capacity from late elementary school to high school, but then what?

    Sorry if this is discouraging to you. I've just been thinking a lot about these things myself, lately, too, and it's *really* frustrating.