A few years ago, a patient of mine that was Muslim came in and told me about how he witnessed two little boys playing and hugging each other. He then said that the boys father’s separated them because that was considered culturally inappropriate.

A few years ago, a yogini friend of mine was letting her little boy play and he was wearing a Cinderella dress while playing with dinosaurs. I loved seeing this. I asked her about it and she said she didn’t think about and said she supports her son in being freely exploratory with himself.

When I was in India my first time, the particular region I went to I witnessed boys, teens, guys, and men holding hands and/or embracing in loving and brotherly ways. I wondered if this was a gay culture and my friend from there said that this is what men to to support each other emotionally. Incidentally, rape rates (violence towards women) were significantly lower than neighboring areas that lacked this behavior.

A few weeks ago, I was speaking to my brothers ex-girlfriend that knew me when I was a teenager. I asked her if she and the rest of the gang suspected if I was gay. She said she had a feeling I was when she saw that I was checking out guys and objectifying woman like the rest of the guys that she knew. She said that there were some feminine tendencies I exhibited. She also said that it was clear that I had a crush on one of my brothers friends. My brother, when I asked him this question, said that he was aware of the tendencies but didn’t jump to any conclusion.

You see, I was a sensitive little kid. I was a momma’s boy especially after my dad died when I was 2. The stepfather that filled in was an alcoholic. My oldest brother seemed to have high testosterone on crack. Meaning, he was highly aggressive. Highly volatile. Highly violent. All of which I had the unfortunate direct experience of this as his personal punching bag. My other brother, mentioned in the previous paragraph, was more balanced. He was sensitive and caring, and was strong and stern as needed without excess. My Mom wore the hat as my mother and father, playing two roles. Though, she was heavy handed as well. Extremely!

From all this, I learned massage, how to cook, clean, decorate, painting, garden, study, some mechanical skills (since both my brothers were mechanically inclined), some carpentry skills, some plumbing skills, sewing skills, and some electrical skills. I would easily shift roles from massaging friends, to helping mom cook, to tending to our backyard pool, to gardening, to cleaning, and then helping my brothers work on motor cycles and cars.

What I also learned was that being sensitive and vulnerable were weaknesses. My oldest brother would call me his sister. In school I was called a sissy, faggot, and momma’s boy. I would get teased and taunted often.

What I learned from all this and my excessive abuses was to shut off from my emotions, except anger and anxiety which was highly prevalent in the atmosphere of my home. I learned to “toughen up” and guard myself. I was punched so many times that I developed this inability to actually say “ouch” when it comes to physical pain. This is still true till this day to a certain degree. This applies emotionally as well. I developed this shield that prevented anyone from getting in again, and prevented me from getting out.

I learned how to leave my body from an early age. Disassociation that is common from such abusive circumstances. This is what fostered my PTSD. Regularly walked around with hypersensitivity and guarded awareness. I lost my voice, my self-respect, my self-worth, and my self overall. I was exploited. As time went on, I became my own victimizer through learned behavior as I exploited myself.

When I first started therapy, I was 25. She asked me why I was coming to see her and told her that “my boyfriend says I’m emotionally unavailable.” That was the first day that began my journey of going inward and returning myself to myself.

This work has gotten me to this point. It’s been a very intense and profound adventure. With each day, I continue to connect with the parts of me that were stifled and suppressed. My voice has been returning. My vulnerability has been increasing. My sensitivity has been returning. I have been thawing out and warming up, opening up and re-emerging as the phoenix. Coming out of the muck and murky waters as a lotus blossoms from the marsh.

I’ve been learning to be a peaceful warrior. Vulnerable and delicate as a butterfly and yet in my potency and strength.

I have been embracing the parts of my little boy who had been afraid, insecure, invalidated, alone, lonely, sad, angry, and anxious, and whatever else in between such as being playful. Integrating all of this as part of my wholeness.

I have been integrating the qualities of the masculine and the feminine, that have nothing to do with sexual preference.