Many Fathers But No Place Called Home.
Mitch was 33 years old, and an administrative executive in the Civil Service. When he was an intelligent and impressionable adolescent, he whole-heartedly embraced the gay lifestyle. He had no place where he could call home, as he transitioned as regularly as he changed partners. Then, he became a Christian in his 20s, and began to make changes to his old habits, but no one knew about his earlier alternative life. He grew as a believer and soon assumed several leadership positions in the church he attended. In his 30s, he began to open up, and addressed his same-sex struggles with his pastor, desiring some resolution to his ongoing battles with his sexuality. As a result of his confessions, he agreed to relinquish all his church appointments and seek professional help. Having left his gay lifestyle several years back, it did not mean that his sexual identity issues would resolve by itself. It was at this point that Mitch was referred to me.
Mitch came from a broken home, and as the younger of two boys brought up by his mother alone, he never knew who his real father was. They did not have their own home, and as a result, he lived with his mother’s partners. Different men filled the first twenty years of his life. At 7, his ‘father’ whom he grew to appreciate, being one of the kinder ones, fondled him and made him return the favour. At a young age, he had been introduced to pornography, and re-victimisation seemed to be the norm; by his older brother, various relatives, and neighbours, apart from his mother’s various companions. As a child he recalled vividly his mother’s violent beatings at the hands of some of her lovers. Under these circumstances, when her patience and tolerance was at an end, they found themselves, rather surreptitiously, taking their leave from their ‘home,’ with whatever little belongings they had, moving into another lodging. To Mitch, nothing was ever certain, not even his pocket money and meals. He worked after his school hours doing odd jobs for his own expenses. “I am very close to my mom. She had many boyfriends. Whenever she had a new boyfriend, I had to call him ‘Daddy.’ So, I had many daddies along the way. When I was older, to keep myself away from the older adults in my life, none of whom I trusted, and to numb my pain, I holed myself up in the local library and read incessantly.” After joining a church, he moved out and stayed temporarily with several friends: a few months here and a couple of months there. A normal home life was foreign to Mitch, and his total belongings could be squeezed into a mid-sized knapsack.
I recalled our first appointment: Mitch was in a shutdown mood as he evaluated whether he could trust me with his traumatically fragmented past. He had kept his maltreatment by his ‘fathers’ and others, together with his sexual orientation, a secret for 26 years, and only his pastor knew bits of it. With such severe attachment disorganisation resulting from the dysfunctional maternal caregiving in his background, this was not unexpected, and it called for grace and patience as we worked to secure an initial level of trust that would form the tenable basis for treatment towards his slow recovery.