From day one, this blog has offered a MALE perspective on recovery from food addiction.  So this journal entry is NOT about “politics”.  Plenty of other blogs deal with political matters…but NOT this blog.
I Have The Right To Come Out Of Shame

Being Gay Shouldn't Have To Hurt

In recovery most of us addicts have found that we have had to deal with shame. Much of the “shame baggage” that I have carried around during my life has had to do with my being gay. So for this reason alone, I feel it IS appropriate to (finally — approximately one year after beginning OveractiveFork) come out about my sexual orientation. I’m gay.

You may not approve (good for you!), but I’m still gay.  You may reject me for being honest about my sexual orientation (your choice, to be sure!), but I’m still gay. I sure hope that you don’t overeat over my being gay — because even if you chose to overeat over it, I’m still gonna’ be gay. 🙂

Clay Aiken was recently paid the obscene sum of $500,000 by People magazine to come out.  I’m coming out to you, dear readers, for FREE!!!  Such a deal! 🙂  More importantly, I’m coming out to set myself free from the fear of having this detail “leak out” at some point in a future journal entry.  I’d rather be direct and “come out”, rather than live in fear of being “found out”.

Acting out with my addiction has usually involved my being indirect and/or passive/agressive.  In recovery I’m learning to face my fears and be direct in dealing with “life on life’s terms”.  As with all aspects of my recovery process, this IS a “process” and I face it and move forward (or backward) just one day at a time.

I think my recovery process (yours too?) has been a constant stream of “coming out experiences”.  First, I came out to myself that I’m powerless over my addiction (NOT that I was “fat”, I knew THAT already — and so did most of the world for that matter).

Then, over the years, I’ve come out to myself and others about the extremes of my behaviors with food. I’ve also opened up about my sense of shame, the degree to which I’ll isolate while acting out my addiction and resentments and I’ve even come out about my sexuality to fellow addicts.  So coming out ony my blog is NOT the first time I’ve come out.  It is just the first time I’ve come out to you.

If you are a male food addict reading this journal entry, let me assure that my sexual orientation is NOT intended to be a reflection on you!  I hope you will be able to relate to what I write, even though our sexuality is not identical.  The sources of my emotional pain may be very differrent from your sources, but the bottom line is that our shared addiction is not a respecter of anyone’s sexual orientation: it causes pain to gays, straights, bisexuals and transgendered persons alike.  In that sense, it is an “equal opportunity addiction.”

While I could write volumes to describe the intense feelings of shame that I’ve felt because of my sexual orientation, a few lines from (of all places!) a song made popular many years ago by The Partridge Family offers some insight into the shame/pain of  feeling “different” that I have felt.  The spoken words part of the song Doesn’t Somebody Want To Be Wanted read:

You know, I’m no different from anybody else
Start and end each night…
It gets real lonely when you’re by yourself
Now where is love, and who is love?
I gotta know.

And then the words from the song’s chorus ask:

Doesn’t somebody want to be wanted like me?
Where are you?
Doesn’t somebody want to be wanted like me?
Just like me?

Like it or not. Believe it or not. Gay people like me are “NO different from anybody else”. And despite what some religious people teach and what some bigots believe, I do have a right to “want to be wanted”. Yes, someone “like me”…”Just like me.”

In my recovery journey I’m re-teaching myself that I am “lovable, loving and have a right to be loved” — which is totally opposite of the messages that I’ve been taught and what I’ve “caught” about myself over the years. I was taught that we “queers” are “different” and in a BAD way.  I was taught that our love — that my love — was vulgur, nasty and even sinful. So at the depth of my being I have felt toxic shame for whom I love.

In case you aren’t familiar with the phrase “Toxic Shame”, John Bradshaw and others within the 12 Step movement have identified this painful sense of oneself as the source and fuel for all (self-destructive) addictive behaviors.  People who truly love and care about themselves rarely self-destruct with food, booze and other substances and relationships like those do who have felt the anguish of toxic shame. Of course, non-gay people feel toxic shame and have been shamed just like us gay folks have been, so I don’t mean to diminish the intensity of the toxic shame that my straight readers have felt and are feeling to this very day.

I’m grateful that the 12 Steps point me towards God to heal me of the pain of toxic shame.  In the process of working Steps 4 – 12 I have found a wonderful framework to “face, trace and erase” (= heal) from my toxic shame, one day at a time.