Two Sides of Heaven – Two Sides of Hell

Lets Leave the science of bisexuality behind for awhile and share the true life story behind my struggles with sexuality. For the next few months, I want to tell my story. This is the first chapter in the biographical novel that I am presently putting together. Comments welcome.

Chapter  1 – Setting the Stage

Growing up on the Canadian Prairies in the 50’s and 60’s, I was aware that society expected people to conform to the rules of normalcy and religion. There was religion in my life but not much normalcy. I was the ninth child but had no father as a role model. My mother was too worn out to take an interest in my life; my eight siblings were all much older than me, so I basically brought myself up.

Counting mon, we were a family of ten living in a two-bedroom six-hundred-square-foot shack. It was a small house with ten cold bodies and ten cold minds, feeding off the heat of the friction of ten fragile egos and ten angry souls. My oldest brother left to work as a teacher in a small Saskatchewan village. That left eight of us still at home. The twins, who worked and helped support the family, had one of the bedrooms. My three brothers who were now teenagers had to share the hide-a-bed in the living room. I shared a bedroom with only one bed with my mother and my two sisters. It was a small bed sleeping between a cold mother and two hot teenaged girls who snuggled for warmth in a cold barren room in a cold barren house. It was a small space for a young child caught between the sheets with those who care and nurture, a lost, cold child who will forever seek to share the same comforting warmth of four like souls in a bed.

Around the age of five my two twin brothers shamed me into moving into the other bedroom with them. I still remember the feeling; it felt so unnatural.  Some of my earliest memories were about being aroused by the sight of my twin brothers’ adult male penises as they dressed for work. It was like I was all alone watching by older brothers live. My young life was like living in a desert. The struggles of desert life lay hidden to those who only view it from a distance. It was dry and lifeless, with all its passion stored under rocks and sand, emotion hidden like serpents in pockets along the trails into the wilderness ready to slither out and strike. My life suffocated under the motion of the wind that dried out the last drops of courage in a blast of hot air aimed to destroy and kill. Naked, burning, isolated, insulated, my life waited for the right moment, to dare to spread my limbs in the hot sun, to make the sap flow up to the surface, so that my own life could begin. There was no self-love. No self-identity of being a boy. No self-identity period.

Living with so many hot-blooded teenagers, I had a sense of sexuality from a very early age. I had an absolute fear of taking my clothes off in the presence of other boys in the change rooms at gym or the swimming pool. I felt like I was a girl trapped in a boys change room trying to hide my sexuality.  I also had an unnatural response to being hugged or touched by older males. It was like I was experiencing a latent sexual response that made be recoil in fear and disgust.

When I look back at my life, I cannot separate the past from the present. All that I am in this moment is seen through the pain of the past. I was young when I took responsibility for raising myself.  I was finger printed when I was five. My next oldest brother, Ivan, six years older than me, that would make him eleven at the time, got together with another guy (I forget his name) the same age who lived down the block from us and they stole a bunch of batteries from a salvage yard. My brother’s friend also had a brother my age, Robert Sinclair, who had become my closest friend. The two mastermind criminals got Robert and me to load up the batteries in our wagons and go sell them back to the same salvage yard. The haul would be seventy-five cents a battery, for a total of three dollars, a fortune at that time. That would provide the funds for thirty movies at ten cents a shot or sixty ice-cream cones from the corner store at five cents a pop.  Needless to say, that plan could only end in disaster. The salvage yard called the police and I wound up in the police station. They carried out a very skilled interrogation by which I spilled the beans and confessed in tears to what had transpired. In order to scare the hell out of me, they took my fingerprints and then called Victor, one of my twin brothers, to come and pick me up. Ivan disappeared for three days before daring to come home.

I was drunk when I was seven. I remember that night as though it was yesterday. There was a party at my house with the young guys and couples letting off some steam. Mom had vacated the premises, and unable to sleep, I was left to navigate the party as best I could. Beer was flowing liberally and I saw my chance. I got a glass from the cupboard and went from brother to brother for a sample. I was soon feeling like I owned the night. I remember jumping on the bed and feeling the bounce like I was floating in air and then coming down again only to rise one more time. My oldest brother, Rene, noticed what was happening and realized I needed some fresh air. He got me on my trusty steed and I pedaled around the community in the night pushing my bike as fast as it would go up and down the streets feeling the rush of the air slipping past my face.

I set my own hours of coming and going when I was eight. I grew into a powerful young man that no one fought with, fearing the cold, latent anger percolating just below the surface. I lived in an impoverished community with single or incapable parents trying to raise large families. One family, the Roblins, had seven boys being raised by an alcoholic father. Two others boys were being raised by tired grandparents because their daughters could not raise them by themselves.  We terrorized the community. But somewhere around the age of eleven I found competitive sport, hockey and baseball, largely because of the guidance of my brother, Vic, who was trying to be the father I never had. He worked in a Sporting Goods store and kept me supplied with sporting equipment. He attended all my games and I set out to make him proud of his baby brother. I made new friends. We golfed together and kept score on how life was progressing. As we moved into our teen years, my old friends got arrested one after another for crimes, ranging from car theft to rape, and eventually armed robbery and murder. It could have been me if I had ever let the smoldering emotions out of the bag.

At the same time I found pleasure in academics and read extensively and wrote my first novel at the age of twelve. I was academically gifted scoring perfect 100% scores in both English and Mathematics on the provincial exams in Saskatchewan during my grade eight year, in preparation for moving on to high school for grade nine. I had an unquenchable desire for perfection. I was a talented athlete in every sport I attempted. I was pretty, sought after as a trophy by the girls. I was the most popular boy in my school not only with the girls but also with those who lived on the outside. I would not allow bullying in my school yard. If I saw someone being picked on I would jump in and defend the one who needed a helping hand. But I did not stop there. I made sure they were included in the workings of the group. When I think about my motivation now, I am sure that it was based on my own feelings of being isolated and alone. By saving them I was saving myself.

As I entered my teen years, I rebelled against the sculpturing of my older siblings. I rejected the masculine brutality, the drive to push myself, my thoughts, and my desires into the fight fought by alpha males. I rejected the anger and coldness aimed at my sisters and mother. I rejected the feminism that manipulated in the guise of weakness. I became a reconciler, a mediator, a seeker of peace, a lover of justice, a poet who watched from the outside, and in the process rejected and ignored the poet on the inside.

As I reached puberty, I realized I was different but didn’t quite know how. I know the day it started. At the age of fifteen, I had the impulse to try on women’s clothes and experienced an erotic arousal. It just happened one day. I was visiting my brother, Ivan, and his wife in Edmonton during the summer holidays after my Grade 9 year. While they were away at work, I decided to try on his wife’s panties and panty hose. It was like another side of me had said to my masculine self to “butt out for a while and let the other me take over”. It was like a dissociative experience but I was totally aware of who I was and what I was doing. As I felt the silk panties slip sensuously over my penis, I had an immediate erection. As I buried my throbbing body into my pillow. I had my first conscious ejaculation. Oh I had ejaculations before, but they had occurred during wet dreams. This was different. It was a masculine moment clad in a feminine identity. That was my first experience in bisexuality. 

I had no one to talk to who could help me understand what was happening to me. As I struggled to figure myself out, the stage was set for a life based on guilt, anger, and shame. It was all so confusing. It was like Loki had played a cruel joke on me and put my female mind into my male body. But that was not the funny part, the real joke was that I was completely comfortable as a male and at the same time completely comfortable as a female. I was bi-gender. It was just a matter of time before my bi-gender would turn to bisexuality.            

                Back in North Battleford in the fall, I went to the all boy’s Catholic college and again excelled in all subjects. Catholic boys went to the college and Catholic girls went to the convent. The wisdom of the priests and nuns determined that it was safer this way. It did not do much for my social life but it sure made a difference academically. I made no attempts to have any relationships with girls in the other high schools but I did not have any desire for sexual contact with boys either. I was able to disguise the feminine side of my identity and not worry about dealing with dating.

                Around this time, I discovered an erotic novel, Last Exit to Brooklyn, that stoked my fantasy life with frequent journeys into masturbation and release. It was like my gay sexual desires were now a part of a fantasy world that was just that, a fantasy world. I looked at the gay world through my limited knowledge of what I thought it meant to be gay. It was just these weird people in the big cities that dressed up as women and went to special bars to solicit sex from men. I did not see my own experience as being any part of that. I was content to live sexually in my fantasy world and devote all my conscious energies to sports and academic excellence.

                It was during that year that I decided to join the priesthood which delighted my mother. She told me I was the seventh son and the seventh son was special; that’s why God had selected me for the priesthood. I informed the priests at the college of my decision and they begin to monitor my school progress. Father Gokarts, the regional recruitment priest, visited me often during those years. Because of my academic excellence, he informed me that I would spend one year at the novitiate in Ottawa and then it would be on to Rome to finish my education. My future was laid out for me. I could relax, forget about my sexuality, and just go with the flow. When I play the game of imagining what life might have been like, I wonder if I would have perhaps lived a life of peace, contentment, and purpose instead of the one that resulted in so much pain. However, looking back, I now realize that this was my attempt to escape the turmoil of my suppressed sexuality. Here I would be close to god and god would protect me from myself and forgive me for my perceived perversion and sin. But it didn’t work out that way. My teenaged sexuality was suppressed and bound to force its way out regardless of what I did to stop it. In desperation I took the six inch metal crucifix that hung above my bed, attached a chain, and wore it around my neck to fend off the evil spirits of my bisexual fantasy life that I seemed powerless to control. Meanwhile I kept the confessional busy.

                One day during one of his visits, I got up the nerve to tell Father Gokarts about my sexual problems. He immediately assumed that I was experimenting with masturbation and assured me that this was not a game-changing problem and that all boys eventually will struggle to come to grips with their sexuality. I accepted what he said lock, stock and barrel but did not tell him about the nature of my sexual fantasies. During these years I experienced deep levels of guilt and shame and suppressed any confusion and pain related to my same-sex fantasies. It never occurred to me that I could be gay. I simply was male. A popular male. I was asexual in all outward aspects of my high school life. I was a man’s man in a boy’s world.

                Between academics and sports I blissfully made my way through high school. We had a terrific sports program at the college, but sports were a weird thing for me. I was highly skilled but I lacked the aggression needed to take it to the next level. I dropped out of junior hockey in my grade twelve year and concentrated on other less aggressive sports.  I represented the district, skipping my high school boys curling team to the provincial finals, and won the Northwest Saskatchewan Junior Golf Championship.     

                As I moved into my grade 12 year, I focused on my studies, sports, and my hopes of becoming a priest and withdrew from genuine relationships. I created a fantasy world with imaginary lovers. Sexual impulses became fantasies of women without souls. This led to fantasies of men without faces. As time went by, all feminine images disappeared, and I was left with the loveless eroticism of faceless men. My self-concept was based on the faceless person I had created. I had no self-esteem, just the unattainable drive to be perfect so that I could feel worthy enough to be loved. I detached myself from the confusion and pain. I had no self-identity; so I continued to stand by and watch myself live. As I grew into a man I lost my way. I wanted to please them all. I wanted to submit, to just let go of my responsibilities and struggles and be taken care of by a man, by the father I never had, or by a woman, the mother who was never there.  My sexuality became just a tool to be used to please, a means to make others love me. My life became a life of pain without tears.

                 Looking back at my childhood now as a mature adult, I think I now understand what was happening to the confused child in me that was becoming a confused young man. I was conceived by a single mother with nine children. After her husband had left her to raise the family by herself, she was lonely and needed comfort and someone to want her so she had an affair. She got pregnant and went through the anxieties of having to nurture another child, her eleventh birth having lost two girls in childhood.  I was born unwanted. I was the evidence of her sorrow and sin.  Following the fearful death of my infant sister, who had been born a few years before me and died a few months before I was born, with no resources, skills, or energy left to give me the essentials of life, my mother raised me loving, but never daring to feel or show love. So I grew up feeling unloved.

                 I was guided by two half-sisters and six half-brothers determined to make me into the man I could not be. Rejecting their scorn, betraying my mentors, I took responsibility for raising myself, growing into a man with no identity, neither male nor female.  I fluctuated in the void. Caring and loving, thinking and absorbing, longing for completion into something, someone, that I could respect and accept, I found only my own failures, and broken relationships, and inadequacies, and unachievable goals. In my fantasies I found masculinity in the arms of soft young women; I found femininity in the strong arms of faceless men, but they could complete me only in the ecstasy of the climax. When the details were consummated, and the lights turned on, I was alone again in my own darkness, incomplete and broken. I had no identity, except the one I had created for himself, forged fearfully in the fires of hell. I had nothing real to face the world in the moment of truth.

Borderline Personality Disorder and Mood Swings

Because of the high positive correlation between borderline personality disorder and bisexuality, we are continuing to explore the pathological personality traits as listed in the DSM 5.

Pathological personality traits in negative affectivity  –  Depressivity: Difficulty recovering from such moods (miserable and hopeless).(DSM5)

            Just to be clear, bisexuality is not a pathological trait; it is merely a sexual orientation. We are drawn to male and female sexual partners. However, we often have difficulty dealing with our sexuality, and we often have to deal with also having a borderline personality disorder. Unfortunately the two often go together.

            Law and others[1] measured negative emotions and borderline symptoms in 281 BPD participants over a wide spectrum of experiences. They found that BDP diagnosis was associated with experiencing more negative emotions and  that these moods often continued for three hours or more with some lasting for days. They concluded that negative emotions and several BPD symptoms continued to influence each other.

            An Article by Salters-Pedneault and Gans[2] adds some interesting insights which I will summarize here and add some of my own. While it’s normal to have our moods shifting from feeling good to feeling down, some of us with BPD may experience very extreme mood-shifting for minor reasons. We can go from feeling okay to feeling devastated, desperate, or completely hopeless within a matter of moments. While in our down moods, we may engage in impulsive behaviors such as substance abuse, binge eating, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts or behaviors. In the case of us bisexuals, this is usually when we venture out for another sexual encounter. Unfortunately, if we are married or in a partnership, instead of enjoying the experience, we often let it evolve into guilt and another deeper down-mood.

Those of us with BPD can have many mood swings in the course of a single day, whereas most people may experience one or two major emotional shifts in an entire week. Again in the case of us bisexuals with BPD, we tend to manage or delay the mood by letting anxiety build to the point where a sexual encounter with a new sexual partner will allow us to purge these feelings. We then go back to our other life and can manage to stay within our self-imposed boundaries until the anxieties build again resulting in another down mood. We establish a pattern of in again off again that works for us until we crash.

We can go on experiencing emotional ups and downs for years while seeming helpless to stop them. This usually results in an unhealthy relationship with our life-partner. We feel we must depend on them for our survival. This again adds to the feeling of hopelessness when we bow to our urges for sexual encounters. It can become an addictive behavior. The sexual experience then often does not meet our need to have the release and peace of a healthy sexual experience. Instead of experiencing the joys of our sexuality, it can become an avenue for hopelessness and another down mood.

            Very often our mood swing occurs as a reaction to an external trigger involving someone we love. The perceived rejection or abandonment may result in a fight-or-flight response. We may respond with a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness or we respond with anger which is usually out-of-proportion to the situation. For those of us with BPD, these mood swings usually result in unstable interpersonal relationships with loved ones and colleagues which just adds to our fears of abandonment and the deepening of the negative moods. For those of us who are also bisexual, we tend to try to preserve our relationship with our life-partner at all costs and direct our anger at ourselves resulting in self-loathing, high-risk behavior, and suicidal thoughts.

            So what can we do about it? As stated over and over again in these blogs, we often focus on our sexuality as the cause of our problems instead on focusing on our borderline personality traits. If we can deal with our BPD symptoms in a constructive manner, we should have no difficulty accepting our orientation and learning to enjoy our sexuality without regrets. Our problem usually stems from a feeling that we have to control our impulses instead of just enjoying them. They cannot be controlled as in suppressing them; however, we can learn to enjoy our sexuality as part of our whole expression of who we are.

Here are my five suggestions for borderliners

1. Do a self-inventory. Is this BPD symptom an impairment or is it merely a trait? If it has already advanced to an impairment, you should seek professional help probably involving medication. If it is still just a trait, you can take some steps to manage it.

2. If you are experiencing these deep mood swings frequently, it is time to get help. At the core of your reaction is that you are probably in a state of generalized anxiety. A serotonin enhancing medication can do wonders. It can allow you to stay calm long enough to resolve a potential misunderstanding.

3. If you are responding with anger, you may benefit from some cognitive based counselling that will help you manage your anger.

4. If you are constantly slipping into feelings of hopelessness and self-loathing, you may need to learn to manage these thoughts and feelings through some form of constructive cognitive counselling that will give you strategies to work your way through the hopeless feelings before they lead to clinical depression.

5. When these moods are still manageable traits, you may need to develop some cognitive strategies to rationalize your feelings before they become behaviors. In the case of conflicts with loved-ones, let the person know you need some time to work things out and then make a promise to come back and resolve the situation rationally. A quiet walk or some time alone working on a project may be all you need. When you are ready, you can approach the loved one and work it out calmly and lovingly.


[1]  Law, Mary Kate;  Fleeson, William; Arnold, Elizabeth Mayfield ;  and Furr, R. Michael r. Using negative emotions to trace the experience of borderline personality pathology: Interconnected relationships revealed in an experience sampling study. HHS Public Access. 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4547903

[2]  Salters-Pedneault, Kristalyn Medically; and  Gans, Steven. Mood Swings in Borderline Personality Disorder. Verywell Mind. 2020.

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Wives of Bisexual Men

The following is an except from the book my dear wife has written called When Life Has Other Plans. In it she describes her feelings when I told her I was bisexual:

 

Unexpected Circumstances

Then one day Lawrence disappeared without saying good-bye. I received an email stating that he was on his journey back home to the East coast. Crossing Canada by car, in March, seemed a bit crazy to me and thoughts of having been conned, again, started to creep into my mind. Didn’t I know our connection had been too good to be true? I had a precognition about some kind of trauma coming my way.

Sure enough, when Lawrence was back home, he sent me an email with the first chapter of a book he was planning to write. The contents hit me like a ton of bricks: Lawrence indicated that he was bisexual and living in a platonic relationship with another man. Just my luck! I had fallen in love with gay men before, but they had all been honest about it. Lawrence claimed he had been afraid to bring it up during our wonderful time together and that I would have rejected him for it. A thought he couldn’t bear because he cared so deeply for me!

I was left to struggle with all this information and no opportunity to clarify many of the questions I had, such as how come he had been married to a woman for 33 years, had two children with her – when he was gay. (In those days I didn’t know anything about bisexuality.) He asked me not to phone the house, so as not to make his partner suspicious, therefore we could only email. 

Feeling inconsolable and bereft I didn’t know where to turn with this delicate information. I called some friends who were a lesbian married couple. I wanted their input, but they could only recommend to keep calm and encouraged me to see what would develop. I was shaken to the core to have found someone so compatible and now out of my reach again. 

That’s when my spiritual practices and personal growth work started to pay off. I noticed that I could no longer sink as low as I had in the past, since I now had solid ground under my feet and contact with my Higher Consciousness. I wasn’t going to give my hard-earned power away again.  

***

As a bisexual man I still have gay desires from time to time but I have learned to control them for the sake of the love I now share with this woman. Honesty is at the core of our relationship. I can share all my thoughts and feelings with the woman I love. My advice to other bisexual men and women is to first be honest with yourself and then with all the important people in your life.

For more information about how my wife handled the situation I recommend you read her book:

Dorothea L. Gordon B.A. M.Ed.

    

Bisexuality and Separation Insecurity

Due to the high positive correlation between bisexuality and Borderline Personality Disorder, we are attempting to get a better understanding of the pathological traits listed in the DSM 5 and how they affect our lives as bisexuals.

DSM5 – Pathological personality traits in negative affectivity – separation insecurity: fears of rejection by – and/or separation from – significant others

We have already looked at fear of abandonment as a pathological impairment. In other words, the fear of being abandoned impairs our ability to function normally in society or may lead to mental disorders. When we look at this as a trait, we are still functioning but we have a tendency to consider abandonment or rejection in our decision making; that is, we have a neurological pathway or mind state or belief that we automatically pass through as part of our decision making. So let’s take a closer look at this as a trait.

Zanarini (2009)[1] obtained data from 77 female subjects with acute BPD, 15 with remitted BPD, and 75 healthy controls. They were assessed using the Rejection Sensitivity Questionnaire, the short version of the Borderline Symptom List, the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. Zanarina discovered that all the BPD patients, including those in recession, had higher scores on rejection sensitivity, which correlated with lower self-esteem. Childhood maltreatment did not appear to be a factor. She concluded that rejection sensitivity is an important component in BPD, even for remitted BPD patients, and that the level of self-esteem appears to be a relevant factor in the relationship between rejection sensitivity and BPD symptom severity.

So what does this mean in plain English? First, we must realize that this study equates “real or imagined abandonment” with “rejection sensitivity”.  In other words, we are hypersensitive to any indication of possible rejection from significant others. Secondly, we can conclude that these fears are related to our low self-esteem. Thirdly, stepping outside the boundaries of this study, we can conjecture that these negative thinking patterns are possibly connected to some genetic predisposition coupled with early childhood social-emotional experiences, rather than physical maltreatment. We can further conjecture, based on past studies of the human brain (Michl and others, 2014)[2], that these feelings are possibly related to mechanisms of shame located in the anterior cingulate cortex and the parahippocampal gyrus both found in the temporal lobes. Again, with further conjecture, we see that the temporal lobes are responsible for the processing of language and the emotions attached to the delivery of words.

Sorry, that was not plain English, was it? Let’s try again. In other words we are wired to be sensitive to signs of rejection. We particularly look for body language and verbal tones to see how things are going. If our partners show any sign of disapproval we immediately experience levels of anxiety. It is important to us that significant others continuously demonstrate approval. We aim to please. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It all depends on the levels of latent shame and anxiety. At this point, it is still a trait but if we do not deal with this trait it can become an impairment and lead to a warped relationship. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. We create a situation where our worst fears become a reality. We may behave is a way that will result in being  abandoned so that we can bring closure and an end our anxieties.

Now let’s apply this to our bisexuality. As bisexuals, especially us male bisexuals, there is an obvious problem here. We hide our gay and lesbian tendencies because we fear rejection and separation from those who are important in our lives. This begins with a low self-esteem; we are basically insecure. We need the affirmation of others to provide us with a sense of security. This begins with our parents. If they show any sign of disapproval for gay or lesbian activities, we then have to hide our same-sex impulses. That means we seek what appears to be “normal” friendships with same-sex friends, and pursue heterosexual relationships to hide our gay and lesbian tendencies. We usually end up married in what appears to be a ‘normal” heterosexual relationship. Because we are bisexual, there are no problems having sexual relationships with our spouses and we end up as mothers or fathers and a complicated life style. We cannot risk being rejected by those we love so we continue to hide our tendencies. If we cannot control our same-sex desires, we are a tragedy just waiting to happen.

The obvious solution is to get rid of the anxieties related to our sexual desires and our need for security.

My Suggestion for Bisexuals

  1. Be honest with yourself and your loved ones. Dishonesty is a major source of anxiety. Living with constant anxiety and negative energy from your emotions will literally kill you.
  2. Do an inventory of your impulses. Do your same sex desires come from an unhealthy need or are they based on honest and healthy expression of your heart and body?
  3. Above all stop living with constant fear and anxiety. Get rid of the need to please others. In order to live a healthy life, you have to learn that you are the most important person in your life. You are the only one you really have to please. You may have to make some difficult decisions about your sexuality. Whatever you decide, make sure it is for you and not to please others.
  4. Remember you are bisexual. You can go either way. If your joy truly comes from your family situation, make a deal with yourself. Recognize that you have both desires. Give yourself permission to have both desires and make a conscious decision to choose your heterosexual situation.
  5. If your same sex desires are so powerful that you do not want to live without them you will have to make a deal with your life-partner. If they cannot live with your bisexuality you have to be prepared to separate.

[1] Zanarini, Mary C. Reasons for Change in Borderline Personality Disorder (and Other Axis II Disorders). HHS Author Manuscripts. Psychiatry Clinic North Am. 2008

[2] Michl, Petra; Meindl, Thomas; Meister, Franziska; Born, Christine; Engel, Rolf, R; Reiser, Maximilian; and Henning-Fast, Kristine. Neurobiological underpinnings of shame and guilt: a pilot fMRI study. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 2014,

 

Fears of Falling Apart

Due to the high positive correlation between bisexuality and Borderline Personality Disorder, we are attempting to get a better understanding of the pathological traits listed in the DSM 5 and how they affect our lives as bisexuals.

DSM5 – Trait Seven – Fears of falling apart or losing control

What We Know

I haven’t been able to find any research data on this trait so I am just going to wing it using the case study of one – myself. Losing control can mean many things to people with BPD. The obvious one for those of us who have anger issues is, of course, losing control of our anger and hurting someone. To others, it may be going over the edge of sanity and never coming back.  Mine is much simpler than that. It was fear of losing control of my life.

In order to survive in this world, I had to cross all the ‘t’s and dot all the ‘i’s. As a child, I had no father and my mother was emotionally absent. That meant I had to nurture and take care of myself. I was a perfectionist, not so others would admire and love me, but so that I could have a plan and work to the plan. I was taking care of myself. During childhood, I compartmentalized myself. In my sports activities the goal was to be better than everyone else. Same applied to academics. Same applied to love. Whatever I did I had to master it, to control it.

The fear behind it was not specifically losing control, it was falling apart. Because I did not have a firm foundation of being loved and therefore loving myself, I was always on shaky ground. That meant conforming to not only the expectations of others but also to the god I had created.  There was no room for error. I not only could not commit adultery but I could not even think about committing adultery. I could not just get a 90% on a paper; it had to be 100 %. If I could not live up to my own impossible expectations then that meant I had failed, and failure meant I was no longer in control. Not being in control meant my world would fall apart.

And what does falling apart exactly MEAN. It meant never being able to complete those circuits in my brain. Never feeling the serotonin soothing after the dopamine rush. It meant never being able to experience the feeling of my accomplishments, activities, and relationships going through the pleasure center of my brain. No endorphins, no healing from that pain that was deep inside my soul. Falling apart meant giving up. It meant that suicide was always there as a possibility. It was the ultimate solution if I could not eventually break through to the other side.

So how did this affect my bisexuality? Well that’s a long sad story.  Because of my feeling that the person I had created needed to survive, that meant I could not risk exposing my sexuality to the people in my life. That meant I had to keep it all secret. If anyone found out, then my whole world would fall apart, the world that I had built as a straight successful human being. That meant that I had to hide in a heterosexual world with a heterosexual wife and heterosexual children. This life was the only life I knew. I felt it was the closest I would ever get to that place of contentment and safety. I had determined in my mind that if this secret would ever come out, that would be the end of life as I knew it, that I would end the miserable life once and for all.

The good news is that when my life did crash, I did not have the courage to kill myself. That meant my old life was dead but I was still alive and free to build a new one, the one I have now. Yes, there is a good life just waiting to be discovered after this old life comes to an end. When we become conscious healthy human beings, sexuality is just there for pleasure. Coming out or being thrown out is not the end of the world. It is the beginning of truly being alive. It is the end of the fears of falling apart.

 

Stay tuned to the next blog for lessons I have learned and my suggestions to cope with this pathological trait.

Why Do Things Always Go Wrong – Part 2

Due to the high positive correlation between bisexuality and Borderline Personality Disorder, we are attempting to get a better understanding of the pathological traits listed in the DSM 5 and how they affect our lives as bisexuals. 

Last week we looked at the pathological personality traits in negative affectivity related to  anxiousness, specifically  worry about the negative effects of past unpleasant experiences and future negative possibilities. it was a pretty bleak picture but it does not have to end there. Today we will look how to beat this thing.

  1. First, we have to deal with the anxiousness.  We seem to be doomed to have a never ending procession of anxiety disorders because we cannot stop thinking about all the negative things that have happened to us in the past, and worrying about what might happen in the future. . So how do we fix that? Quite simple, we stop focusing on all the negative thoughts from the past. When they occur we stop the cycle in our mind and say, “No, I am better than that. That is in the past. There is no past. There is only my thoughts about the past and I will control my thoughts. I will refocus on the present and find something positive to view today.”
  2. We often view our bisexual experiences as failure to control our impulses.  We have to come to the point where we accept our bisexuality. This was not a failure and let’s not even consider it as an impulse. It is a decision we made to seek and enjoy sex. Period. No judgement necessary. We simply give our bodies permission to enjoy something beautiful and let it enrich our minds and souls. This is who we are. This is a gift from the universe to be enjoyed. It is a precious opportunity to have physical and emotional contact with another human being.
  3. However, even though casual same-sex sex has its place, let’s not stop there. Let’s find gay or bisexual people that we can relate to on a human level, as fellow human beings. Let’s enjoy the whole person and take our focus off their sexual organs.
  4. We tend to try to suppress our desires because we either do not want to face them or the consequences, or we are afraid we will be exposed leaving us to deal with shame and guilt. If that’s the case, it’s time to face the reality of our situation. We can not keep suppressing our natural wants and desires. That may mean seeking an agreement with our life-partner about our needs for same-sex relationships within the partnership or we may have to face the fact that we have perhaps changed and our needs are now different. We may have to consider leaving the partnership.
  5. The third alternative is to go on expressing and enjoying our sexual needs but keeping them separate form out partners. The truth is not always the best solution; often it just leads to really hurting someone else. However, we can’t let “the  secret” destroy us. We have to come to terms with when and how we enjoy this part of our lives, give ourselves a conscious permission to have these experiences,  and still meet the wants and needs of our partners for love and companionship. Again, the guilt and the shame are all in our minds. We can control our minds. We simply tell our mind that we will not feel shame or guilt. We reject it.

Why Do Things Always Go Wrong

Due to the high positive correlation between bisexuality and Borderline Personality Disorder, we are attempting to get a better understanding of the pathological traits listed in the DSM 5 and how they affect our lives as bisexuals. 

DSM5 – Pathological personality traits in negative affectivity – b. Anxiousness: Worry about the negative effects of past unpleasant experiences and future negative possibilities;

Jacob and others[1] investigated the emotional responses of 26 female BPD patients, 15 patients with major depressive disorder, and 28 controls, immediately  after listening to stories involving various moods and then again after a delay of three to six minutes. Sadness was stronger with both BPD and depression patients; however, BPD patients showed stronger reaction to anger, joy, anxiety and shame. They concluded that extreme negative affectivity may be a defining property of BPD.

Baer and others[2] , in a review of the literature, looked at maladaptive cognitive processes in BPD patients. They concluded that BPD patients tend to focus on negative stimuli, have disproportionate negative memories, and tend to focus on negative beliefs about themselves, other people, and the world in general. They suppress negative thoughts and tend to run them over and over again in their minds.

The idea of thought suppression bears further investigation. Rosenthal and others[3] examined the histories of 127 patients and determined that  emotional negativity was a stronger prediction of BPD than Childhood sexual abuse and that thought suppression was a major factor in emotional liability.

So what does this mean in plain English? Well, simply put, we seem to be doomed to have a never ending procession of anxiety disorders because we cannot stop thinking about all the negative things that have happened to us in the past. We often view our bisexual experiences as failure to control our impulses.  We tend to try to suppress them because we either do not want to face them or the consequences, or we are afraid we will be exposed leaving us to deal with shame and guilt. So we hold these so call “failures”  in our minds longer thus giving our brain an opportunity to lock them into our long term memory. Therefore, our brain gets overloaded with all these negative memories and feelings that it hooks up to other memories thus creating  these huge negative mind states or beliefs. These beliefs  in turn create and control our thinking patterns and behavior patterns. This creates a locked-in negative predisposition. Our prefrontal cortex expects bad things to happen because of our same sex impulses.  We somehow create or attract these fears into the present situation. We enjoy the sex for the moment knowing it will be followed by feelings of shame and guilt. This forms a kind of compulsion where we seek the pleasure and then experiencing the pain.

Hey- it’s not hopeless. I will have some suggestions for you next week. So hang in there.

(For more information on this topic go to – In Search of the Lost Self- How to Survive and Thrive with Borderline Personality Disorder, by Lawrence J. W. Cooper, now available on Amazon)

 

[1] Jacob, Gretta A.; Hellstern, Kathrin; Ower, Nicole; Pillmann, Mona; Scheel, Corinna N.; Rüsch, Nicolas*; Lieb, Klaus. Emotional Reactions to Standardized Stimuli in Women With Borderline Personality Disorder: Stronger Negative Affect, But No Differences in Reactivity. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: 2009.

[2] ,Ruth A.; Peters, Jessica R.; Eisenlohr, Tory A.;Geiger, Paul J.; and Sauer, Shannon E.. Emotion-related cognitive processes in borderline personality disorder: A review of the empirical literature. Clinical Psychology Review: 2012.

[3] Rosenthal, Zachary M.; Cheavens, Jennifer S.; Lejuez, Carl J.; and Lynch, Thomas B..    Thought suppression mediates the relationship between negative affect and borderline personality disorder symptoms. : 2005, Pages 1173-1185

 

 

 

Highs and Lows

Due to the high positive correlation between bisexuality and Borderline Personality Disorder, we are attempting to get a better understanding of the pathological traits listed in the DSM 5. 

DSM5 – Pathological personality traits in negative affectivity  – Anxiousness: worry about the negative effects of past unpleasant experiences and future negative possibilities;

A study by Coffman and others[1],  examined  within –person reports from BPD individuals and controls over a twenty-one day period using multilevel modeling techniques. People with BPD had significantly greater polarity heightened by interpersonal stress. They also noted that this polarity led to impulsive behaviors such as self-injury and substance abuse.

When we look deeper into the concept of polarity, it simply means going to extremes from everything is great, to everything sucks. But this is not like bipolar where depression is followed by a manic state. There is no chemical component leading to depression with a yoyo effect to manic; it is a constant state of mind where the two extremes co-exist and surface based on the circumstances. There is always the underlying fear that the situation or relationship will turn from positive to negative.

When we look closer, this may be due to a mind set that is always present in the back of the mind so to speak that says this is too good to be true. So we enjoy, squeezing as much pleasure as we can out of the situation before it crumbles on us. This is a kind of predisposition that always prevents us from any lasting feelings of joy and acceptance. Again, these are usually based on past experiences, usually from early childhood. This is what leads to impulsive and at risk behavior. Enjoy it while you can and to hell with tomorrow.

So how does this apply to us bisexuals. It would appear that we tend to soothe our anxieties through same sex encounters. This tends to send our circuits through the pleasure centers of our brain. This is a great motivation; and it seems that once we engage in the fantasies, they trigger our drive system almost like an addiction. This brings on the high risk behavior knowing that this tryst could bring an end to our other relationships, the ones we depend on for nurturing, friendship, and love. It seems that we are willing to sacrifice these relationships for the sake of the pleasure with a feeling that we may as well get it over with because they will find out sooner or later and leave us anyway.

My suggestions

  1. We make a conscious decision on what life style we really want. It can be either gay or heterosexual or perhaps even have an open relationships where same sex encounters are permitted by our life partner.We want to take the high risk sensations and the subsequent addictions out of the equation.
  2. If we choose a gay life style, there is more likelihood that our partner will see it as normal if we wish to seek other encounters.
  3. If we wish to maintain our present relationship, we have some choices, all of them potentially disastrous.
  4. If we are choosing to try to live a straight life, we do not have to divulge. Sometimes the truth does more harm than good. We simply decide to live a straight life. However. we have probably been trying to do this and have probably failed miserably.
  5. That means we have to be honest with our partner and explain the nature of our bisexuality and see if they can live with an occasional encounter. Most likely they will not. In that case we have to let them go. We can then seek a new partner who may be okay with our dual sexuality.

 

 

[1] Coffman, karen K.G.; Berenson, K. R.; Rafaeli, E.; and Downey, G.. From negative to positive and back again: Polarized affective and relational experience in borderline personality disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 2012. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0028502

 

Living with our Emotions

Due to the high correlation between bisexuality and borderline personality disorder we will be focusing on the pathological personality traits listed in the DSM5 and how they affect our state of well-being as bisexuals.

DSM5 – Pathological personality traits in negative affectivity

Emotional liability: Emotions that are easily aroused, intense, and/or out of proportion to events and circumstances.

One of the traits of Borderline Personality Disorder is emotional sensitivity. This super sensitivity is thought to have biological origins and to be present from early life.  It consists of a heightened emotional reaction to environmental stimuli, including emotions of others.

Along these lines, Carlson, Egeland, and Sroufe[1] conducted a longitudinal study of 162 individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. They discovered that negative emotionality influenced by emotional sensitivity in early childhood and adolescence predicted later BPD symptoms. This included self-injurious behavior, dissociative symptoms, drug use, and violence in our intimate relationships. They also discovered that we people with BPD did not receive appropriate (and oft time even harmful) treatment.  They also found correlations with negative temperament and attachment disorganization. In other words, it appears we people with BPD are wired with a brain that is very sensitive to sensations from the environment, therefore, a genetic predisposition for BPD, we tend to be influenced more than others by our environmental experiences, and tend to have unstable relationships.

This leads us to a study by Greenough and others[2] on the role of the environment. They concluded that studies in neurology consistently confirm that there is a neural basis of experience-dependent learning. During childhood, as super sensitive children, we are very vulnerable to what’s happening around us. We are very aware of all negative stimulus surrounding us and we create thousands of synaptic connections each day in response to these events, thus storing the information in our expanding neural mind states as thinking and behavior patterns. In other words, this is a critical” or “sensitive period.” These mind states then become our thinking and behavior patterns that will guide us for the rest of our lives. These experiences form our implicit memories and thought patterns.

So what does this mean for us bisexuals? First of all, we bisexuals tend to be super sensitive with strong emotional feelings about what is happening around us. That’s why we are often poets, artists and dancers.  In this way we are like most people with BPD,  with one exception.  These feelings are also connected to our feelings about our sexuality. We super sensitive boys seem to experience a different comfort level with our sexuality and bisexuality than do our female counterparts. Somewhere between age two and three we all establish our gender roles.  For example, boys or girls tend to identify themselves as boys or girls as separate from those of the opposite gender.  However, there are exceptions. If dad wanted to have a son, he may treat his daughter like a boy and encourage her to act like a boy.   In our society, it’s okay to be a tom boy but not a sissy or a fairy.  Boys in a female dominated relationship are often confused. They know they are a boy and should act like a boy but want to be subconsciously like the female members of the family. As we advance into our teenage years, these gender issues become sexual issues. As young men we feel attractions to women like all the other boys, but as with our gender confusion, we also feel attraction to men, usually older men. Girls are comfortable with this. Bisexual women, in general, have no difficulty shifting from male to female attraction and back again. They seem to be comfortable with their sexuality. We men are not. This leads to emotional difficulties as we try to adjust to our sexuality. We cannot seem to do both. It is one or the other and we shift back and forth often with feeling of guilt and shame.

However, the good news is that the human brain also has a great deal of plasticity. We can refire and rewire our brain patterns, our thought patterns, and our behavior patterns. The old patterns are loaded with a lot of negative energy from the amygdala that is buried in our subconscious mind. However, we do not have to continue to live by these beliefs.  We can simply rewire them. We can do this by taking the buried feelings attached to the present incident and rewiring those feelings through the nucleus acumen’s and the other areas of the frontal cortex what we know as the pleasure center of the brain. We can access these through positive patterns like appreciation and gratitude. If we learn to appreciate and be thankful for our bisexual nature, we will begin to see all the wonderful possibilities of living a bisexual life.

 

 

[1]  Carlson, EA; Egeland, B.; and Sroufe LA. A prospective investigation of the development of borderline personality symptoms. Dev Psychopathology, 2009.

[2]  Greenough, WT; Black, JE; and Wallace CS.  Experience and brain development. Child Dev. 1987

 

 

Please Don’t Look at Me that Way

Due to the high positive correlation between bisexuality and Borderline Personality Disorder, we are attempting to get a better understanding of the pathological traits listed in the DSM 5. 

 

Trait 1: Pathological personality traits in: negative affectivity –

Anxiousness: Intense feelings of nervousness, tenseness, or panic, often in reaction to interpersonal stresses;   

The key here is that we are wired this way. Rather than rewiring and refiring and rewiring as a cognitive process, which seems to be a dead end issue for us, we should look more towards just taking in the information and accepting it, thereby blocking or not allowing the information to proceed on to the amygdala and the activation of the sympathetic system. To Read More:

Please Don’t Look at Me that Way