I want to remind any ex-gays reading this that you are important enough to all of us -- all of humanity -- that I, a stranger, am willing to risk my career and a lot of my personal prosperity on a blog to help you on your journey from gay to straight. You matter. Sometimes you have to hear tough words but I want to make sure you understand that you are not defined by your mistakes.
Even the most successful ex-gays have been backsliders at different times. I slipped up and did lots of things I wish I didn't. For Wednesday, May 16, I want to talk about some backsliding moments and just talk you through some ways you can come back from them. These are scenarios that resemble things have happened in lives of real ex-gays.
If you are having a really tough time and find thoughts of hurting yourself or dying passing through your mind, there is this site:
It comes with this number: 1-800-273-8255. I just got this on Google so I don't know how good they are but I assume they can refer you. They have prominent references to "LGBTQ" on the header, so I assume you may have to ask around for a counselor who is right for you. I know sometimes those interventionists want to talk you back into LGBTQ identity but the really good ones know they cannot force you back into that if you do not want to.
I am not a mental health specialist, so I just wanted to make sure I mentioned that. If this stuff is dragging you down really low you can put your journey on hold and take care of the immediate things.
But I can talk about backslider moments I have seen and how people came back from them. Look, when you fall, you get back up. Wherever you are in the journey from gay to straight, there are going to be moments when you feel yourself sliding back. All of them, even the worst slipups, are recoverable. Here are just five I can talk about.
1. You get targeted or stalked, and give in.
The fact is that you can control your behavior but you cannot control the behavior of gays out there in the community. Many of them do have gaydar and will spot you as someone with a gay vibe going on. That in itself is not necessarily a problem, but it can be bad if someone can't shake the thought of you and they start following you everywhere.
Sometimes they catch you at a weak moment, like when your wife and you are fighting, or you just had a problem with your family. Sometimes you just mess up because the guy is cute and you haven't had sex in a long time.
The moment you come back to your senses, you have to put this in perspective. You must break it off with this person. Tell them you can't see them again and act like you mean it. Block them on your phone and email. If you are in your dating period you are not supposed to be on social media anyway, according to English Manif rules, so now would be a good time to get off social media if you have not.
Get to the doctor right away to check yourself out. Someone who got you to hook up with them is probably hooking up all over the place and might have anything from pubic lice to Hep C.
You need to take it to God right away. Waste no time. Wherever you get a chance, get down on your knees and pray. Say it aloud. Confess to Jesus Christ everything you did. Repent. Say you are sorry. Ask God for some inkling of how to overcome this and prevent it from every happening again.
If you are in Phases 4 (girlfriend) or 5 (wife) you have to decide whether to come clean. I have heard different takes on it. Some say that if it is just you wanting to unload your guilty conscience that's selfish because she doesn't need to know. If it is your wife, though, you have to refrain from having sex for a while or use a condom, and that is going to be tough to pull off. So I would normally say, go to her and tell her, and then let her blow up at you. Depending on her personality she is likely to say really hateful things and will likely bring up your whole gay past and try to twist at every wound she knows about. I hate that you have to go through that, but it is her right because you messed up.
In the weeks following this, you will feel the body memory of your slip-up messing with your head and converging with the body memory of your earlier time in the gay scene. It is really hard because you start feeling your body unleash these moments on you, these brief little impressions that bring back times from the past. I don't know what the answer is but I do know it is not a good time to isolate yourself or do anything secretive. You need to be around people who will check you. If your church can help you, that's good.
2. Insomnia. Unable to sleep, you surf the web, find a gay site, and end up engaging in phone sex.
No matter where you are in this journey, you struggle against a lot of demons. Literally there are demonic forces in the heavens battling for your soul. When you are pre-dating, you can feel as though there is no end in sight. When you are dating, you may find the no-porn, no-masturbation, no-sex rule so stifling, you feel yourself ready to explode. If you're married, you grapple with all the stresses on husbands with the screaming kids and your wife's moods and pressure at your job.
Sleepless nights increase exponentially your chance of backsliding because you have time to spare and nobody is watching you. Also, with sleepiness your judgment has impairments and you can easily make mistakes.
You probably realize this but I will repeat it: if you have insomnia do not leave the house. You have a gay past and you cannot expunge the gay intuition about places to cruise. But even if you are staying in the house, you may end up opening your laptop or I-phone. If you are not married yet, you are alone and have time.
One possible mistake is to get onto a hookup site and then get into a chat with someone who wants to have phone sex.
If this happens, deal with the most immediate practical problem first. Did you give the other guy your real name or any identifier that might allow him to track you down? Make sure to block his number on your phone if you can. If you have a roommate or you are married already, you have to let them know you made this mistake so they can be alert to anyone who comes by the house looking for you.
If you were smart and did not allow yourself to be traceable, just face the worst-case scenario first so you can overcome your paranoia and move forward. The worst case is the person recorded the conversation and is going to broadcast it somewhere. You will issue a public apology, vow not to do it again, and move on. The chances are slim that happened, but there--you have faced the worst and now you can move on.
You need to pray. Get down on your knees, tell God what happened and plead with Him to strengthen you so it does not happen again. But really mean it. Take this slipup as a sign that God is shaking you up so something worse does not happen. Think of it--maybe you could have been an even worse backslider.
3. Your wife is denying you sex and you cannot suppress your urge to find it somewhere else.
If you are early in the journey from gay to straight you may look at a married guy like me and feel like we have it made. We don't. After all the work to get to marriage and then craft a great sex life for the wife, there are still things that cause women to deny husbands sex sometimes. They may be angry. If they are pregnant that's to be expected. They may be passing through a sickness. Or, in my case, it might be that she had to move for a while to a different city.
I will never forget the bitter chill I felt in Los Angeles, as I sat at a table and listened to my wife tell me she was taking our daughter to live in the Midwest. I had signed up for the Reserves for the good of our family, but my orders were the last straw for my wife. She couldn't find work in LA because the job market was bad, and our building was declining. Our door was tagged, which could mean any sort of vile danger in LA where gangs are particularly bad and unpredictable. She was not going to sit in our apartment with our daughter while I got deployed, and wait for me while the neighborhood fell apart. She found a job out of state and was going to take it.
Everything seemed as though it had crashed around me. I pulled away from the airport bawling uncontrollably, and then got on a highway and didn't even think about where I was going. I was somewhere close to Barstow by the time had to shake myself out of it. But the worst was yet to come.
When you have had regular sex with a woman for ten years, the sudden absence of her body gives you symptoms like withdrawal. I had to deal with the body memory of the gay years coming back at me and the body memory of her body in my bed all at once. Forget what people say, you can't make love to your pillow and have it be the same. And it was unthinkable to me that I would have to go back to the junior ex-gay status I suffered through as a virgin. But at least when I was in junior ex-gay status, I was cleared to date and go look for female company. Now I was married and had to avoid doing anything untoward. I could not get friendly with other women, and I could not get too friendly with any guys I wasn't sure were 100% straight.
For the first time in my life, going without sex was literally painful. It was like aches and pains. And I had several months still before deployment. This was honestly the hardest time I have ever had in my journey, because I had assumed that all the struggles were behind me and now everything seemed more difficult than ever. And I was totally against divorce. I knew God would be angry with me me if I even hinted that she and I would divorce, not to mention that our daughter was hanging in the balance.
If you find yourself in a situation like this, you have to fight the sexual urge on multiple fronts. You may have to deal with female temptations since women seem to smell a troubled marriage and start circling in like vultures. But the male temptations are more dangerous because you have a powerful urge and you have experience and knowledge about how to get easy sex from gays in town.
If you slip up in a scenario like this, I want to stress that you must fight the urge to rationalize what you did. Yes, it is wrong for a woman to deny her husband sex. Paul the Apostle strictly forbids women from doing that. But you cannot beat your wife. And you do not want to force yourself on her. You have to find some way to get things right again even if it takes years.
But don't get it twisted. You have a right to be angry at her for doing this to you, but you do not have a right to go get sex with a guy to make up for what she has done to you. If you slipped up, you have lost the moral high ground. You have set yourself and the marriage back years.
The first thing you have to do is protect your family. Get checked up for any STDs, and make sure the guy you cheated with is not going to track you down and hurt your wife or kids. You wronged not only your wife but also that guy, because he may have believed foolishly that you were going to leave your wife. Who knows what fantasy he entertained during this whole thing? If it is safe to do so, you may want to set up a time to talk to him and apologize for what you did to him. Tell him you know what you did was wrong but you can never see him again.
You have to go to God and get right with Jesus. Jesus has a right to deal harshly with you because He brought you out of homosexuality and presented a bride to you, and you have betrayed Him as well as her. You may have to pray many days and fast as well, but you cannot stop your time of penance until you feel in your heart that Jesus has seen you show enough repentance.
And now comes the worst part; you have to face her. You utterly betrayed and failed her. Maybe you wanted to show her who was boss and punish her for making you suffer. But you cannot do that now, because you blew it. You cannot lecture her about how much her cruelty to you hurt. You have to let her be furious with you, let her curse you for a while, and sit and listen without trying to correct her or counter her. When things settle down, you need to try talking to her again and tell her you want to move forward to fix things and set things right. You cannot ask her for sex for a while, but see what she wants to do to make things right.
If she separates from you, you cannot use this as an excuse to go out and do more. As long as she is alive, you are her husband and belong to her. So you have to find some way to set things right again.
4. An old friend seeks help and you let down your emotional guard, then things go too far.
While English Manif recommends you cut ties to the gay community, some friends from that life may contact you and sometimes it will be because they need help. English Manif counsels you to be polite and take their calls--be a good Christian and do not turn a deaf ear to a human being in need.
But always reckon with the risk of backsliding when old friends come back into your life. They may come with head games, trying to mess up your new straight life, which they never took seriously. They may find you more attractive than ever. Or they may just honestly be trying to reach out to a friend because they need your help.
You are no less guilty of backsliding if you end up doing something you shouldn't under these circumstances. If you did anything to give mixed messages you cannot try to blame the old friend entirely. You have to apologize to both your old friend and now to your wife. You have to pray to God for forgiveness in all the ways I mentioned in the parts above.
You need to learn from this mistake, as well. You cannot have any more contact with that person, and you will need to be cautious for a while in dealing with anyone from the past calling you up. The body memory of your most recent indiscretion will put you at risk if someone else calls you.
5. Loneliness gets the better of you.
If you are in the early stages of the journey, you may find loneliness particularly hard. You have cut yourself off from gay friends and may not have contact with your family. For me, the strained ties to my biological family compound almost any bouts of loneliness I suffer--my birth family disapproves of my conservatism and Christianity. I can see how some ex-gays simply struggle against the blankness of days in their journey. In some cases they have gone from partying with friend groups of ten or more, to having only one or two friends from church. It can be very lonely. And if you do not have a girlfriend or wife yet, you do not have that bond of duty keeping you honest.
In such a situation you may backslide with a female or with a male, either way, it will mess up your journey. You need to get right with God, pray, and try to find things that will occupy your time. If you feel as though the backsliding was poor judgment reflecting a deeper condition such as depression, do not hesitate to look for a referral to a counselor. Just be careful that the counselor is not so fanatically pro-LGBT that they will immediately try to stop your journey. Most good ones should not.
All of these scenarios can be overcome
These may seem very worrisome. They are dark scenarios. But I have seen people come out of them and hang on, and not backslide all the way. With time you can heal and recover. In some cases one backsliding, even if wrong, acts as a warning alarm and stops the ex-gay from backsliding even worse. Some backsliders showed no signs of any problems and then woke up one day and completely collapsed.
The important thing is to know that your mistakes do not define you. If your mistakes defined you, you would never have been anything but gay. You can heal and come back.