Sunday, April 26, 2015

Do healed relationships with your parents make you heterosexual?

I have written before, numerous times, about my friend, Rebecca, and the impact she had on my life during the time I lived in England. The first time I met her, I had the distinct impression and awareness that she was someone who was going to make a huge difference in my life. That impression was correct on so many levels and in so many ways.

One evening, after I had known her for a few weeks, Rebecca invited me to their home to help her finish a project for a Church social. Her husband, Scott, our Bishop, was home, but was busy watching the telly. I was glad for the chance to spend some time with Rebecca and get to know her better.

As we sat at her table working on the assigned craft, Rebecca told me that she had come from a home with an abusive father. He idolized her but beat often on the younger siblings, boys. She hated his violence but also loved him very much. She felt confused and frustrated by the dichotomy these feelings towards him caused her.

I, myself, had come from a similar background and could relate iimmediately with what she shared.

And, prior to my moving to England, I had begun therapy with the hope and intent of healing from the abuses of my past. One of my resources for healing was a book I had been reading titled "Making Peace With Your Parents" by Harold Bloomfield. Dr. Bloomfield's major premise was that any relationship problems we find ourselves in with current family members, spouses, lovers, and other close friends are there because we have unhealed relationship issues with either or both of our parents. We carry, he said, those patterns of dysfunction into all of our other relationships.

In my own therapy, I had come to see how true his premise was. And, I had been working very hard in the therapeutic environment to heal from the issues of betrayal, distrust, and dishonesty that I had with my parents.

I shared these things with Rebecca and she instantly agreed with Dr. Bloomfield's ideas. She told me that for a very long time, she had held herself back from being close with her father because she harbored resentments against him, that he favored her, treated her like a princess and then turned around and beat her siblings.

She was also newly married and while she "enjoyed" her husband, their sex life was "really nothing to write home about". Scott, her husband, an Air Force pilot, had been deployed to another facility for several months of intensive training. During that time, Rebecca moved back home and lived with her parents and the younger siblings. She took the opportunity one day to stand up to her father and finally voice her displeasures and resentments because of the way he treated her siblings. An enormous weight, she recalled, had been lifted off her shoulders as she told him her feelings.

Shortly thereafter, Scott returned home from his deployment. Having reconciled her feelings towards her father, Rebecca discovered that her sexual feelings for Scott had multiplied exponentially. As she saw him walk off the tarmac and into the airport landing, Rebecca ran to him, leaned closely in for a warm, personal hug, and whispered in his ear, "Did you bring a mattress with you?"  Of course, Scott was overjoyed with this new-found passion from his young wife. To this day, they enjoy a very active, very involved and regular sex life.

Rebecca's point in telling me all of this that evening in her home was to say how much she agreed with Dr. Bloomfield's assertion about our need of healing relationship issues with our parents in order to heal our current relationship issues with loved ones.

I gave a lot of thought and consideration to what Rebecca had shared with me about her father. I knew that the sexual aspect from many of my relationships with men was askew. I had understood that to mean I had unhealed issues with my father, which I did have. And, I thought, if I were to somehow heal those issues, my sexual issues towards men would right themselves and I would thus be able to get close to a man, marry him, then share a healthy sexual intimacy with him.

For years, I worked at healing different aspects of my relationship with my father, and, in time, with my mother. I had unhealed issues with both parents.

Yet, as that healing began taking place, I realized, rather profoundly, that my sexual issues towards men had not healed, as I had supposed and had wanted. In retrospect, my issues with men really had nothing to do with any unhealed relationship issues with my parents. They had everything to do with my being a gay woman. It had taken me a very extensive period of time for me to understand this.