I was sexually molested when I was five years old. That experience deeply affected me growing up and as a teenager.
I questioned my sexual identity and became addicted to pornography in high school. I struggled to relate to people because of the trauma I had experienced. In college, I acted out sexually with other guys, and it was something that I didn’t like about myself. I wanted help, but I didn’t know where to look.
I saw a counselor, and that basically kept me alive because I hated myself and was suicidal. I had tried everything I could on my own to get free from the unwanted desires that I had. I compared myself to other guys I thought were more of a man than me, and all I wanted was to be a man. But there was a gap there that I didn’t know how to fill.
So for me, it wasn’t about finding a wonderful relationship. It was actually that I was acting out in order to please other men. I used Craigslist to meet people for hookups and would accept abuse and put myself in submissive positions with other men in order to please them.
I started cross-dressing as a woman to see what it was like. What I found was that I wasn’t getting abusive attention like before, but instead I was getting attention from guys being attracted to me. But it only resulted in more hookups and made me hate myself even more because I didn’t feel like it was me.
I stopped crossdressing, but the shame and depression remained. I kept my lifestyle a secret from all my friends, and I put myself in some very dangerous situations. And then I would actually ask people to physically abuse me as a way to cope with the pain.
The biggest help to me in my process was joining a group for men struggling with their sexuality. In that group, I learned how to be transparent. Being around people who were real with me and whom I could be real with for the first time, I was able to receive love and acceptance. I realized that my actual need was for meaningful, healthy relationships with other guys.
Each step was one step further along my journey of health. Now, if I’m triggered by something, I’ve learned through counseling that I might just need to go talk with someone or go and work out. Counseling has helped me discover many practical tools.
Today I’m feeling the most alive and happy that I’ve ever been. I’m not tempted in the same ways that I was before because now I realize that each temptation is rooted in a need that I have. I feel like a man, I’m confident, and I’m at peace.