An Emotionally Immature Adult

Besides dealing with memories of how my mind had dealt with guilt over my feelings through violent fantasies and dreams, I also faced an emotional revelation around the time Chris and I broke up. I realized that because I had repressed my emotions for the previous eight years, I had not matured emotionally during that time. One night, it came as a complete shock to me that emotionally, I still felt like that fourteen year old boy in my memories. I still responded to my sexual desires and romantic attractions like that fourteen year old boy would have, had he allowed himself to respond at all.

This created a challenging point in my life. I was not fourteen years old anymore, but twenty two. I wasn't in the relatively safe environment of school, protected from the "real world" by teachers and parents. I had a regular job and adult responsibilities I had to face, no matter how I felt inside. So I found myself in the uncomfortable position of trying to deal with my emotional immaturity while still operating in an adult world. Unfortunately, the adult world is not a pleasant place for those in that position.

I tried my best to resolve the issue by putting on my "game face" during work hours, playing the part that was expected of me. I only let the emotional whirlwind loose during my own personal time - or at least that was the ideal I strived for. In reality, leading such a double life never works out as well as you'd hope, and my personal problems did spill over into my work life. Fortunately, I didn't lose my job over it. I think, however, that that had more to do with how good I was at my job (and how desperately my employer needed talented software engineers at the time) than my skill at keeping my personal problems at home.

During this time, I started learning how to let myself cry. Crying was not something I did much of - especially not around others - when I was younger. My parents tended to take the view that crying was usually an attempt to manipulate other people, and it was frowned upon in all but the rarest of cases. So that was a lesson I had to unlearn, and one I'm still working on. I still struggle with letting other people see my tears - or even know I'm unhappy.

In general, I spent much of this time learning that my feelings did matter, and I had a right to express them. I realized that in addition to repressing my sexual feelings, I had a tendency to push all of my emotional needs into the background. Again, this was because I grew up with the understanding (though I don't think my parents intended to pass this one on) that others' needs were always more important than my own. In fact, I often felt mine weren't important at all. So this was a time of learning to accept my feelings, express them, and view myself and my needs as important as anyone else's.

This was also the point where I started realizing just how vulnerable I was. Worse, I was expecting the people around me to protect me from that vulnerability. That's what had made my experience with Tammy and Chris so painful. I had relied on them to be my emotional support, a job that only I could ultimately fill. So this is where I began the search for strength within.

This is also the point where I decided to make a change in faith. I realized that I needed to find a way to find my own sense of self-worth inside of myself. To me, this meant moving away from a Christian faith that seemed to call for self-denigration at every turn. I had some friends who were Pagan, so I began to look into that. There, I found a faith that not only allowed for finding value in myself, but actively called for it. To me, adopting this faith was a major step in climbing out of the emotional pit and identity crisis I had fallen into. And that was exactly what I needed.