The Velvet Rage: Chapter 2

Ugly Truth & High-Fashion Dreams

Alan Downs, PhD

“mistake in the service of social evolution”

I love this quote!

“Something about rowing up gay forced us to learn how to hide ugly realities behind a finely crafted facade.”

Even when I came out, I was still hiding my true self. I still secretly admired a handsome male when with my family or business associates. And as far as my sexual activities – all centered around drug addiction – I have yet to share with anyone, except my psychologist who is forced to listen – they are so far out there, it would have to be one serious sex fiend to appreciate my stories told in the vernacular that would make them animated.

“The truth is that we grew up disabled…emotionally disabled.”

Sure, I could not acknowledge who I truly was, was influenced to hide my true identity, and/or society prejudiced me for being openly gay.

Wow! he is describing how gay culture is defined by sex; how this idea took over my ideal of falling in love, living together, having a dog/adopt children, live happily ever after due to unfaithful (Sammy, second) boyfriends, boyfriends that disappointed (Johnny, first and Eddie, third). How I reacted: went to the bars, sex clubs, and lost myself trying to climb the corporate ladder – the first idea to die very early in my career. Ultimately

“bury the sadness deep within yourself and keep moving lest you find yourself suffocating in your own self-pity.”


I am emotionally wounded, “trauma caused by exposure to overwhelming shame at an age when you weren’t equipped to cope with it. An emotional wound caused by toxic shame is a very serious and persistent disability that has the potential to literally destroy your life. It is much more than just a poor self-image. It is the internalized and deeply held belief that you are somehow unacceptable, unlovable, shameful and in short, flawed.”

As I read this, I know it to be true, and I’ll admit that while I was destroying my own life – an admission that is choking me up – I also realize, now, that I was Cleopatra, Queen of d’ Nile (denial)! Result…

“To experience such shame, particularly during our childhood and adolescent years, prevents us from developing a strong sense of self.

A sense of self is the development of a strong identity that is validated by your environment.”

I’m beginning to see the light…”¬†An interesting thing came to light in this book. I hate when I am speaking to someone who is too involved with their cell phone, interrupts me with their own conversation, doesn’t listen…this is “invalidating.” I need “atuhentic validation.”

Validation: I took Pam to the prom in high school and was validated for acting fake, against who I am.
Authentic Validation: I took a boy to the prom in high school and no one batted and eye. The lowest form of authentic validation. Verbal acceptance would’ve raised that bar.

This answers one life-long – at least to this point – question: Why did I not/do believe people when they say I am handsome, intelligent, creative? Because I had been hiding behind these vanities, all the validation was hollow.

Wow! My “…shame is so distressing, we are highly motivated me to avoid feeling.”

I consider myself an expert today. I boast that I don’t have a heart. I relish my cynicism. Life did become about avoiding shame or eliciting validation. I was the nerd with female friends.

“The avoidance of shame becomes the single most powerful, driving force in his live.”

I wasn’t aware of this until now, but see the truth of it in my life. However…

“his awareness of this deficit grows, causing…maladies…substance abuse.”

…this was my path.

There was a mention about “not knowing what he wants.” Again, this was me all over, but I didn’t know it. I though I knew what I wanted. I guess I did, I just didn’t know that what I wanted (hot, all-night long, multiple partner, pimp-me-out-daddy sex) was not really what I wanted (love, companionship).

I could keep going, but I must moderate.

Postscript: I am realizing how emotionally young I am for a fifty-four-year-old male. Not only did my emotional wounds stunt my growth, my drug addiction sealed my Peter Pan fate.


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