Thursday, February 02, 2006

Don't ask, Don't tell.


I’ve not disappeared, just busy. I’ve been working on this post for a while, and I hope to follow it up soon. No promises. For all those out there who have been terrorized with ecstasy, there is hope, and there is healing.


At age 16 I received my first blowjob. But it wasn’t supposed to happen. At age 16 I looked like a linebacker: 6+feet tall, 200+ pounds. What irony! I looked like 21, but acted like 12. Always grave beyond my years in so many ways, I was so immature.

Bill Clinton did not invent “don’t ask, don’t tell.” It started at my house. But it went way beyond anything about sexuality. Don’t ask anything difficult. Don’t tell anything bothersome or upsetting. Best yet, just shut up and get out of the way or I’ll give you something to cry about. (Well, my father was that way. My mother did her best, but was usually depressed, heaving heavy sighs).

So, as I waited for a stall in the restroom at the mall, a hand appeared from under the partition. They thought I was waiting for something else. I did not understand what was happening, but I figured out it had to do with touching. Oh. My. God.

I did not know people did that sort of thing. I really didn’t understand. Yes, it felt good, but what was that all about? I don’t think the term “gay” had been used yet. Though I knew I was different, I didn’t know I was queer. And I didn’t know what it meant.

The results of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” household environment means, “go away and figure it out yourself.” No matter what “it” might be, take care of it yourself. So I did. And I still do. When there is no one you can truly rely on, you learn to cope on your own, even though you miss a lot along the way. And, you tend to isolate yourself.

I knew all about things academic and some practical (like laundry). But relating to others? Forget it. If it wasn’t taught in school or readily available in the public realm, (which does not include public restrooms), I was clueless.

So, in that toilet, in the mall, two men come out of the stalls. They . . . well, you know. Never had I felt anything quite so wonderful and yet been so terrified, both at the same time. Ecstasy and terror. Oh. My. God. What have I done.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell.” And, I didn’t. Not to anyone. Not for years. In that one afternoon, I learned a lot. But I lost a lot more.

More, later.

Joe.

7 comments:

*Christopher said...

Joe,

A worldview of Don't ask, don't tell does a lot of damage in so many ways and delay maturing into ourselves.

Michael said...

Thanks for having the courage to tell us this part of your story. As the hymn says, "We come to share our story... we come to know our rising from the dead."

Steve said...

"You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

In the community of recovery, there is a common phrase: "We are only as sick as our secrets."

Thank you for trusting us with your story.

Ian said...

Perhaps I've completely misread both the content and intent of this message, but it does seem to this reader that even though a considerable amount of time has passed since this event took place you still really haven't come to to grips with it. Perhaps it is so emotionally charged that you won't ever come to fully understand this episode in your life. However, it does seem to me that you should seek some professional help in "sorting through" this life-altering experience. It is perhaps time to go beyond telling your life experience to the detached world of blogdom to telling it to someone with the professional acumen to make sense of a self-serving, senseless, sexual act of these two men at an age when you were so emotionally vulnerable.

Mind the Bear said...

Ian, thanks for your concern. I am presently keeping a mental health professional employed (as I have been for YEARS).

From the depths of my closet, it feels good to me to share openly (if anonymously) some parts of my story. Perhaps I am hoping that looking once again at where I have been will help me discern where I am going.

Thanks for reading, and thank you for you concern

Cheers, Joe.

Ian said...

Hopefully my comments didn't prove to hutrful. I was unaware that you were seeking professional assistance. I certainly don't want to pry, but has that individual helped you to make sense of the incident you described?

Wharton said...

I am reading this post in 2011, some five years after the post was written, without much knowledge of what is to come of this story, which I will read in days and weeks ahead.

But I am remembering the fog of unawareness into which my newly empowered erection intruded, deepening an isolation, deepening the territory of the Eleventh Commandment, 'Thou shalt not take care of thyself.'

It has taken so long to tease apart the Gordian knot of that fog, to unlearn what I unknowingly committed my soul to, probably before I could talk, to finally begin to name and take responsibility for my part in this miasma. It was in 1963, at the age of 25, I realized that my feeling confused was a way of denying the feelings that were hidden beneath my self-imposed 'confusion.' New bits come clearer every day. Could I have moved any faster?

The Lord does not quench a smoking flax. Such flax was used as tinder, and apparently the setter of fires lost temper with flax that only smoked and did not burst into flame, finally dousing it with water as a lost cause.

I too have spent a long time as a smoking flax, in fog -- like 50 years -- waiting for myself to burst into flame. How will it happen? A sputtering, following by a flare of small flame, more smoking? And to what use the new flame, as it feeds upon old isolations?