As I headed towards my 50th birthday in 2008 a number of things in my life were beginning to converge. I was increasingly dissatisfied with my marriage. As the world around me began to celebrate being LGBT, I was in hiding. I felt that I was going through the motions: holidays with my wife’s family; birthdays with the same birthday cakes year after year. I felt increasingly lonely, isolated, and compartmentalized. I played the role of husband, father, breadwinner while an internal battle raged about my identity and sexual orientation.
But there was another battle brewing. I began to have increasing difficulty obtaining and maintaining an erection. During sex, with my wife or during masturbation it was increasingly difficult to achieve orgasm. And the last of the trifecta, I had an enlarged prostate and it was becoming increasingly difficult to urinate.
I have asked myself over the years how much of this trifecta centered in my genital area was tied to my emotional state but quickly dismissed the idea. If these issues were due to my emotional state, what could I do? As I began to come out as a gay man five years ago I wondered if any of these physical issues would get better once I left my marriage. None did. They have only gotten worse.
In September I have a planned surgical procedure to treat my BPH (Benign prostatic hyperplasia) or an enlarged prostate. But the thought of another procedure, (I had one last year to no effect), scares me.
I recently met a doctor who does acupuncture on animals and people. He described that acupuncture was intended to treat psychosocial pain, not just physical pain. He described a dog that had been severely maltreated that was extremely shy, never wagged his tail, never played. After one acupuncture treatment, the dog’s owner called to say the dog was like a different animal, wagging his tail and jumping up to play. It got me to think, could this kind of treatment do something for me?
As I have begun to talk with my wife about moving towards divorce, after three years of separation, emotions that I thought I had moved past continue to resurface. I feel bad for what I have done to my wife’s life. No matter what I do she makes me feel that I am insensitive to her emotions and the meaning of our 23 years of marriage. She chided me after a conversation about beginning mediation together that I had not said anything about the meaning of our marriage and our years together. The unsaid message was: how could I be so heartless and cold. This has its effect. It brings up pain that I thought I had moved past.
This intersection of the painful start of my divorce with my wife, my impending BPH surgery, and the ongoing physical challenges I continue to experience with BPH, delayed orgasm, and lack of pleasure at the point of orgasm have gotten to me to think. How much are my physical issues tied to emotional issues that lurk below the surface? The answer is that I have no idea, but I think acupuncture is certainly worth a try before I have a surgical procedure in September.