I HAD my first gym shower today after joining a gym for the first time in my life last week. It was pretty much no big deal. They have private showers and the protocol seems to be to walk out to the changing area in underwear. So went, had a private shower, came out and there was no one around. Boring. Gym change rooms are nothing like in porn or my imagination.Firstly there’s hardly ever anyone in there. Secondly people get changed really fast or happen to be behind the lockers in the centre of the room. Thirdly I’m not looking anyway, because, well, that would be weird. Fourthly if there is someone getting changed they are as likely to be old or, frankly, needing to be using a gym.
Somewhere along the way I decided I was owed a changeroom experience. That it was something I missed out on as a youth. That I needed tobe in states of undress with other guys in states of undress. I’m not sure where the desire was coming from. Perhaps part of it was reading other guys who were dealing with SSA say they had found shared nudity helpful. Maybe,honestly, it was because I looked at too much porn and deep down in the recesses of my mind, ‘you could see some naked guys if you have this experience and all the while pretending it is about your healing’. I don’t know. It came from somewhere and there was the thought in my mind ‘for your healing I think you need to have a change room experience’.
(I think the other thing is that it is an irrational desire.‘Hello, pretty sure you got changed for PE about 350 times with other guys inhigh school or used urinals 100 times since you got over your piss shyness a few years ago. If it was actually necessary for your healing I think that mighthave done it’. ‘Pretty sure I remember a shower on Grade 5 camp and a few otherexperiences like that.’ ‘Also think you got changed in front of a friend lastweek and a few nights ago.’ ‘Not exactly sure what this desire is based on.’)
I want to emphasise though that even though it was an irrational desire; it still remained. And so when my housemate offered, or kind of pleaded as it were, to let her transfer her gym membership to me, so she wouldn’t have to pay a $160 early exit fee, I thought perhaps this will be the healing I am looking for. And it has been good. As someone who is drawn to lonely exercise such as jogging, bike riding and dumbbells, it’s nice to be around, and not talk to, other guys also doing lonely exercise. I’m pretending there’s an unspoken comradeship. Also as someone who actually has a good body these days it’s helpful to practice a healthy kind of looking; ‘oh he’s using the12.5kg dumbbells as well. I wonder how big his muscles are.’
It turned out not to be healing at all, which was in itself healing, because it allowed me to think about the irrationality and, even,silliness of my ‘change room experience’ desire. Don’t get me wrong everyone is on their own journey with this stuff, so what didn’t work for me or did might help someone else. And I would always encourage guys dealing with SSA to ‘do what a straight guy would do’ and if that means using changerooms at the gym or showering naked in communal showers then so be it. (Probably not a good idea for someone with an overly sensitive gaydar who struggles with acting out who goes to a gym with a large gay clientele.)
My main point though is this. We need to expose the lies. We need to carefully seek our healing and find that what we thought would heal doesn’t.We need to be bored by gym changerooms. Because I’m pretty sure straight guys find them boring too. We need to get hugged and find out that it really didn’t do much and that perhaps healing won’t be found there. We need to have a 20minute train ride with the guy who is in our head and find out that he is just a boring, normal guy too. We need to go buy underwear and after we’ve been looking for a few minutes realise that there are all these undressed pictures of guys everywhere and that it’s not doing anything for us. Boring.
So here’s to boredom brothers. Hope it finds you unexpectedly this week.