Friday, November 27, 2015

Invictus Pilgrim Memoir: Of Mirrors, Pathologies and False Personas

November 2010:

"Closely connected to my desire to affirm my gayness was a powerful need I felt to reclaim all those bits of me that I sensed were there, but were either lost to conscious knowledge or, because of shame and expedience, were so afraid to come out that I felt it would take a great deal of effort, affirmation and courage to reclaim them. 

"I had an existential moment during the week I came out to my wife that clearly showed to me just how out of touch with my Self I was. Someone asked me to compile a list of my 10 favorite movies, a seemingly simple task. However, as I started the process, I literally froze up as I realized that I had been in such pathological control of my false persona that I had not even allowed my real self to “like” anything (i.e., independent of the false persona’s needs). The result: not only was I not able to compile the list, but I was so overcome with fear and anxiety that I had to let go of this simple task, unable to complete it.

"This experience with fear and anxiety reminded me of a phenomenon that I lived with for most of my life prior to coming out: experiencing discomfort when I looked too long at my image in a mirror. If I forced myself to stare too long at my reflection, I would immediately feel a sense of intense discomfort arising within me like bile in my throat, and I would have to turn away. I can recall mentioning this to my dad when I was in third grade. He had taken me along for a drive to a nursery about 30 miles away, and on the way up, I asked him if he had ever experienced that feeling when looking in the mirror. I don’t recall his answer, and there probably wasn’t one."

(I'm working on a memoir about the year I came out. This is one of a ongoing series of posts based on the blog - entitled "Invictus Pilgrim" - that I kept during that year.)

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