“What’s your sexual orientation?” The young lady asked me. We were sitting inside her office that was unusually cold at that hour of the day.
“Heterosexual of course,” I answered in a way that suggested it couldn’t possibly be anything else. But why would she ask me that? Did she think we were in Europe, where most folks expect one to mention one’s sexual orientation as part of introductions? If I wasn’t married to a woman, would I be here in the first place?
She let her gaze travel the entire length of my body. I felt a bit violated. Was she trying to discover some hidden signs?
“So you’re saying there was never a time in your life you were sexually attracted to boys?”
My comportment wavered. I was not going to confirm her suspicions. Never! “No ma’am, there never was such a time in my entire life,” I replied with emphasis.
She threw back her head and laughed out loud. “Why do you look so scared then?” She asked, as she continued laughing. “It’s not such a big deal. So you can relax a bit. We almost always have moments when we experience some sexual orientation confusion as teens, especially if we grew up in same sex environments.”
I tried to maintain a straight face. I wasn’t intending to budge.
“So?” She tried again.
“Okay, fine! There was such a time when I was actually attracted to boys…” My voice trailed off.
“And?” The counselor wasn’t giving me any time to think.
“But it’s in the past now. I don’t feel that way anymore,” I
She looked at me with more interest this time. The evening rays from the window behind her seeped through the blinds and caught the sides of her long hair, giving it a light brown hue. Her lips had relaxed into a warm smile; seemingly harmless. But I still didn’t trust her. I knew I had already admitted too much. There was no way I was going to tell her about the many months after the abuse; how I had almost become fully homosexual.
‘It was all in the past now,’ I reassured myself again. It was many years ago. Another lifetime.
“You seem to have a lot on your mind,” she said. “Want to talk about it? I have all evening…”
“Well, I don’t”, I muttered under my breath.
“I said I’m a busy man. Look Shilia…”
“Sheila”, she corrected me, her smile still in place.
“Whatever,” I retorted. I was getting angry. “Shilia or Sheila, I am only here because my wife insisted. She says I need a shrink. I disagree. This is just to please her. So try not to pry into my personal business.
“Relax Mr Okonedo. Your wife has legitimate concerns. She says your interest in sexual matters are rusty. She says you have little or no libido at all. But it would seem that the problem isn’t psychic impotence.”
“Impotence!” Sheila reechoed.
That was it for me. I jumped off the chair like one stung by a bee. It was the perfect excuse. I made sure my expression belied the anger I felt. I shut the door with such force that the bang completely startled me.
Iva stood just outside the building, some paces away from our Toyota Corolla Saloon car. “How did it go honey?” She asked as soon as I was close enough.
“Oh, it went well.”
“But the session was so short na.”
“Oh, you expected it to take longer?”
She looked at me, confusion etched into her facial features.
“How can the session take longer, when you told a stranger I’m impotent?” I fumed.
“I did not say that to her.” Iva said in self defense. “I only told her you are almost never interested in sex. We both know that’s true. When was the last time you fulfilled your conjugal duties? Huh? When was the last time you even slept on the same bed with me? It’s been five years. Five whole years. And this marriage is not even ten years old yet. What would you have me do?”
I heaved a sigh. Iva was right. But I didn’t want to admit there was something wrong with me. Not to the counselor, and certainly not to my wife. Was it a crime to not have sex? Was it a crime to be a faithful husband? I brushed past her and got into the car? “Are you coming or not?”
Truth is, many couples deal with these and related issues. But like the man in the story, not that many are willing to seek help, or even admit there might be a problem in the first place.
But we don’t have to wait till marriage before sorting out our sexual orientation issues. The one who’s sexually pulled to children and minors has an issue. What about the one pulled to members of the same sex? There are even those who are overly attracted to the opposite sex – a case of too much libido. All of these cases need special attention.
Apart from the above, there are those with ego-dystonic sexual orientation, which is a mental disorder characterised by having a sexual orientation or an attraction that is at odds with one’s idealised self-image, causing anxiety and a desire to change one’s orientation or become more comfortable with one’s sexual orientation. Here, a few familiar examples come to mind.
The best thing to do is admit that something might be wrong and further be open to several help options.
Finally, one must never forget the place of prayer. For with God, all things are possible.
And never forget that a stitch in time saves ten!
The kind of relationship baggage matters!
There was a time I was an avid follower of one programme on one of the entertainment channels on Dstv (can’t remember the name of the programme now though), where the anchor person tried to moderate how contestants chose to hook up with those with the least baggage, or at least baggage they could live with. This is not a good example though, since many of those that came on that programme had the weirdest baggage. I don’t even want to begin to mention them.
We’re human beings, and true enough, we can’t help but accrue many kinds of baggage as we journey through life. This is something we must bear in mind when we get into relationships. Oh! Did I forget to define baggage? Not really! I just kinda presumed we know what it means. But for the sake of our context, let’s say relationship baggage refers to the many bags of emotions, attitudes, lessons from experiences (good and bad alike) and any other related quality, vice or virtue that tag along with us as we move through life. Get the point? Yeah!
So I know many young persons who want to get married to perfect spouses. They want ‘ready-made’ men and women who perhaps fell from the sky; have never had their hearts broken, with perfect knowledge on how to treat a guy or lady (even though they may never have been in any relationship), and blah blah blah. If you give them a chance ehn, they’d probably run adverts reading something like “perfect husband/wife material needed. Applicants must have perfect knowledge on how to treat a man/woman, with at least six years experience of being a perfect spouse to an imperfect person, in an imperfect world. Applicants must also have perfect temperament, with loads of money in the bank. Interested persons must apply in person…”
Who doesn’t want ready made things? I know I do, so I don’t blame them too much. However, sooner than later, we get to the point where we realise deeply that there’s no such thing as a ‘ready made spouse.’ We all have to learn on the job. No be so? You seriously wouldn’t want to get married to someone who’s had some practical experience on being married now, would you? Why then do we fail to realise that people come with baggage, loads and loads of them? If we get lucky, we end up with those with very few baggage, most of which are positive. If we aren’t that lucky, we end up with those with major groundbreaking baggage, most of which are negative. But it doesn’t have to be luck. It could be choice, right? Prayerful and thoughtful choice, shikena!
I think that while we may not be so much in control of what happens to us during our teenage years, we can very much determine what happens to us as we grown older and advance in knowledge. Trust me, if you’re currently wild and crazy, and you think you’d end up with someone who’d tame you, you are terribly mistaken. I put it to you that it’s far better to begin taming yourself already. Otherwise, you might end up with someone who’s so untamed, your wildness would seem like a joke in comparison. What I’m trying to say is that we should already begin to unpack those baggage and examine them sincerely. Do we need to cut down on the booze and the wild parties? Do we need to cut out the useless sexual voyeurism and other worthless emotional adventures? Do we need to get therapy for some traumatic experiences of the past, or for some compulsive negative behaviour? Let’s begin to do whatever we need to do to either significantly lessen our baggage or make them as positive as they can get.
Truth is, no one is perfect and even a child is born with some baggage. So stop waiting for the perfect spouse who’d make your life better. Ask yourself one simple question, “what kind of baggage am I bringing into the relationship?” If the answer is currently negative, I pray we get to the point where it becomes a lot more positive. After all, it pays to be the better spouse in any relationship. That way, you could even be light enough to help your partner unpack.