First, he had me do a relaxation technique. The shoulder/neck pain and headaches were due to my body responding to all the stress I've been feeling lately. Work, trying to figure out how to handle my attractions toward men, and stressing about giving/receiving appropriate healthy touch with other men has really been taking a toll on my body. After I was able to relax some, I was able to talk about all those things that were stressing me.
My therapist then asked me what my options were for dealing with my attractions or life in general. I came up with a list of the following (by no means inclusive of all the options I have):
- Live the lifestyle, having multiple sexual partners
- Live the lifestyle, have one sexual partners
- Live the lifestyle, remain celibate, only date men
- Don't live the lifestyle, have romantic relationships with men
- Don't interact with men at all
- Connect superficially with men
- Connect emotionally with other men
- Be vulnerable with men that I trust
- Pursue a close, vulnerable relationship with God (this option teared me up when I said it)
- Completely ignore God and His will
I'm sure there are many more options that I could pursue in relationship with life and my attractions. The experience of listing options, as many as I could think of, helped to open my eyes. I realized that romantic and sexual interactions with men was only a small subset of a larger sphere of possible interactions. I could do so many other things with men. As we talked, I couldn't help but here the lie inside 'Oh, but I'm shy. People don't invite me to do things with them.' I know that is a lie. I have friends that do invite me to do things. I've been a bit of a hermit lately due to the headaches and pain.
My therapist then told me that I seemed to be very focused on men and my attraction to them. He said he hadn't heard me talk about any girls, specifically a girl that I had been kind of interested in a few months ago. I can probably count on one hand the number of women that I interact with (by women I mean females older than 9). Only about three of them are women that I feel comfortable enough to share at least part of what's going on with me, two of those are my sisters and another is my friend's girlfriend. I realized that I had a large void in my life. I was totally ignoring the possibility of interacting with women, probably because I simply don't have many opportunities, outside of church and rarely at work, to interact with women. I've decided that I need to start participating in the local single ward activities. I go to a family ward currently, and really like the progress I'm making with the bishop. Hopefully if I start going to some single ward activities, I may find more people around where I live that I can interact with. Maybe I can even find that mythical, other gender attracted, cuddle buddy I've been looking for. There's the obsession with men again.
I stated something profound last night. I know I've heard it before. I said to my therapist that my attraction has very little to do with sex and sexual relationships with men. It's more about emotional connection. It's more about loving and feeling loved. For me, maybe that generally looks like some kind of touch or physical affection, but it doesn't have to be like that. Touch is only one small way people convey the fact that they like someone else. It still is my preferred method. I'm going to have to keep my eyes open a little wider to see if people are sending me that message, and I'm missing it. I'm still going to keep my touchy feely nature toward other people and yet try to explore other ways of expressing how I feel toward a person.
Anyways, my therapist did say I was focusing on one very small part of my life: my desire for touch-based interaction with men. I realized that I was focusing on it. Sure, it is a squeaky wheel. It's a big pain point for me. But there is so much more to life than just that. There's my relationship with friends I do have. There's my co-workers. There's my relationship with myself. There's my relationship with Heavenly Father. There's my hobbies: Magic, video games, and reading.
As my therapist gave me a hug goodbye, he started to talked to me. It's one of my favorite moments because I really like his hugs, and he often says very insightful things as we're hugging. He said he wanted me to expand my expectations on what I can do. He wants me to expand my expectations for me. I realized that I had been doing something like that. When temptation to masturbate arises, a lie often comes with it. "You'll eventually give in" says the lie. To that I say "I can resist. I can with God's help." And many times, He has come to my aid.
As I ate dinner, I had a pleasant conversation with a friend and we got into the matter of perspective. I realized that I can't see the "big picture". Even with the spirit's aid, I often only see parts of glimpses of the whole plan. I'm given just what I need to succeed and thrive with my challenges.
I went home and had an enjoyable evening rebuilding some of my Magic decks. I dismantled one deck, and realized I still had ten regular decks and two Commander decks. I only managed to rebuild half of my regular decks. I awoke this morning feel tired, but not completely worn out like I have felt the last few days. The pain in my neck and shoulders seems to have faded. Sure, the whole physical touch situation hasn't changed a whole lot. It's just not the only thing I'm going to focus on, I hope.
To finish, I'd love to share some sayings/quotes that I like:
"Perception is reality."
"Perception is everything, to the perceiver."