A Life Discovered

Chapter 10

By Bensiamin


In the morning they ate breakfast and Bailey listened as Eric called in a sick day. Then he called Everett’s mobile and told him that some family matters had come up that he had to deal with and needed to take a sick day. Eric watched him listen to the response and was pleased when a smile broke on Bailey’s face.

“Did it go okay?”

Bailey’s smile widened, and he nodded. “Yeah, he said no problem. After I put the best solution to the oversized equipment problem on the table at Friday’s meeting, I could take two or three sick days if I wanted to.”

They left at ten fifteen and on the drive, Bailey said it was very cool that Elliott would make time to see him. “This is registration week, so he isn’t teaching classes. He said he has a faculty meeting at one o’clock, so it was easy. How are you feeling about it all this morning?”

“Well, now I know I was physically abused. I can’t dodge that anymore. That probably means your dad was right that running into my birth father a year ago knocked me sideways in ways I didn’t understand, but subconsciously it was all there.” He paused and reached for Eric’s hand. “I’m also beginning to understand something else. My birth father is a homophobe and always threw anti-gay remarks around. But him calling me a dirty, little cocksucker was something I couldn’t have told you happened even under torture.”

Eric squeezed his hand and said, “Can I ask you something personal?” Bailey nodded.

“You now know he physically abused you. He’s a homophobe and put you down with anti-homo slurs. Do you think he sexually abused you? Did you remember anything like that?”

Bailey thought for a few seconds and shook his head. “I didn’t remember or see anything like that. If he’d done something like that the last time, I’d remember it along with all the rest, wouldn’t I? I don’t mean to be stupid, but what could he have done?”

“From what I know,” Eric said, “sexual abuse of children happens a lot of different ways. He could have been doing stuff to you, or making you do stuff to him.”

“You mean like him playing with me?”

“Or using you for anal sex.”

“That’s gross. I don’t remember anything like that.”

“Or he could have made you do things to him, like suck him off.”

“That’s gross too. I don’t remember anything like that either. It was almost like I was watching a black-and-white TV show, I was seeing it all happen, and there was none of that.”

“Good. Then maybe he’s just a hateful person who focuses his hate on homosexuals and used that kind of language to scare and put you down. Let me also say that you get to choose how much you tell my dad this morning. Some of what happened yesterday has to do with trauma and grieving, some has to do with you and sex. You control how much you want to share, because some of it could be embarrassing since you’re seeing the psychologist’s son.”

“You mean dating the psychologist’s son?”

Eric grinned and squeezed Bailey’s hand again. “Yes! That is exactly what I mean. It’s one of those patient/doctor confidentiality things.”

Elliott’s father greeted them as pleasantly as ever and said, “I just brewed a fresh pot.” He poured three cups and said, “You boys know where the cream and sugar are.” He sat down at the kitchen table and Eric said, “I’m going to leave you two alone. I’ll be in the shop doing final assembly. If everything goes according to plan, we can test the cabinet out when you’re done.”

They heard the garage door close, and Elliott looked at Bailey and said softly, “Why don’t you start where you feel comfortable and tell me what happened.”

Bailey described his day and how he’d been thinking hard about what Elliot had said about not grieving and about the events of that last day, and then how he’d kind of fallen asleep after a run. At first it was like he was dreaming and then he was seeing himself and remembering more and more things.

“You said it was horrible.”

Bailey explained why and described the physical abuse and the demeaning language and felt himself embarrassed as he related the dirty-little-cocksucker comments. “No need to be embarrassed, Bailey. It was him using hateful, vile and intimidating language, not you. And for the record, it was him using that language on a twelve-year-old boy.”

They talked about how Bailey felt as the events came back to him, and much of what Elliott had to say was explaining that it was not unusual to recall past events in a dream-like state because it was when the mind’s defenses were down. He stressed that verbal intimidation was a common behavior that went along with abuse because controlling the victim was necessary to make him subject to the abuse as well as to assure that no one else was told.

They talked about how Bailey could have gone so long without recalling those things and Elliott explained again how people need to block out trauma. His example was post-traumatic stress disorder as a coping mechanism in adults for things like the horrors of war. “You can imagine that what you went through as a twelve-year-old correlated to the much worse things adults can experience. Blocking is a coping mechanism, and as I said last time, the fact that Colin took you in placed you in a positive and hopeful circumstance, that was all the more reason to block and forget what had gone before.”

Bailey described how he was understanding that but was still struggling to figure out why the run in with his birth father had hit him so hard, and the worry that he was still controlling his life somehow.

“We talked about the control part a little last time. In addition to it being a way for him to extend influence into your life, there’s another important thing you need to understand and work through. You were very fortunate indeed to stumble into Colin’s yard and have him take you in. Fortunate that he was a decent and upstanding mind who loved and cared for you, provided a healthy and positive environment to live and thrive in. However, the previous twelve years and the environment in which you lived them can’t be undone.”

Bailey looked confused and said, “I don’t get it.”

“Let me try a couple of simple analogies. You can’t get caught in a sandstorm without getting sand inside your clothes, right? Likewise, a person can’t grow up in an authoritarian and communist country without absorbing some or much of those values and beliefs. What we’ve learned about the psychological development of children is that their values originate and are instilled within the nuclear family, their birth family. Children initially feel defenseless, and the birth family provides security, food and protection. Then as children grow, the birth family socializes them into their extended family and their community. They teach children how to live and what to believe and that’s done through a system of rewards and punishments. Now, here’s the most important part. Children want to please those parents that they depend upon for love, approval and security. They certainly don’t want to disappoint them, so children feel tremendous pressure to conform to the family’s values, ideals and goals. It’s that formative process that is the basis of our identity. So, like it or not, much of who you are came into being in your birth parent’s family setting. You will be able to sort that out and leave behind what you disagree with and no longer believe, but that process begins with understanding what happened, what those influences and beliefs were and then making decisions about them. It can’t be done when it’s all being blocked or repressed.”

They talked further about how to do that and next steps, and Elliott repeated what he’d said previously, that Bailey’s recent change in life circumstances had begun the process and that he recommend he get some regular counseling to help him work through the rest of the process.

“Does that mean I’m mentally ill, or something?”

Elliott chuckled. “No, Bailey, it simply means you have emotional and mental baggage like all the rest of us. Some have more, some have less. All have some. The key to a full and healthy life is to be able to work through as much of it as you can as early as you can.”

They chatted a few more minutes, and then Elliott said, “Let’s go see how Eric’s coming with his final assembly.” They found him on his hands and knees making final adjustments to shelf height. He smiled at them as they walked in and said, “Everything okay now?”

Bailey smiled and said, “Much better. Your dad says I’m not a psycho, but I do need therapy, so I don’t lose it totally.”

Eric half-smiled, glanced at his father and then back at Bailey, looking nervous. “That doesn’t sound like something he’d say.”

“It’s not. It’s me giving my boyfriend some shit.”

“Oh…okay.” Eric paused, then said, “Wait. Did you just say I’m your boyfriend?”


“In front of my dad. You didn’t tell me first?”

“Nope. It just dawned on me how important it is to say it and not let you think I’m taking you for granted.”

Eric grinned like it was Christmas morning, while Elliott just watched with a wry smile on his face. After a minute he said, “So, are those tambour doors working? Do I need to get you a few LPs to see how they fit in there?”

Eric smiled knowingly at his dad and said, “Would you?”

Elliott turned and headed for the house and Eric stood up and pulled Bailey close to him and then kissed him deeply. When he released him, he said, “You know I love you, right?”

“I do, and I’m trying to figure out why it’s so hard for me to get to the same place. It’s happening, though.”

A minute later Elliott came back with a handful of vinyl records in their covers, and they watched as Eric stood them up in the lower section of the cabinet, then slid the doors closed and open again, demonstrating how it worked.

“Works like a charm. Next step is moving it over to my apartment.”

Bailey said, “I’ll help you do that on Saturday, if you want.”


They had lunch at the deli nearby, mainly keeping the discussion light, then swung by Eric’s apartment to pick up some fresh clothes since Eric had made it clear he was staying over with Bailey. On the drive back to Auburn Eric said, “You can tell me as little or as much as you want to.”

Bailey summarized what he and Elliott had talked about. “I want you to know it all. I told you I’ve been feeling like I’ve been coming back to life the last couple of months, and that’s all on you. I’ve also been feeling this strange new feeling called joy, something that’s been gone for a while. And you’ve been calling me sweetheart and I love it.”

“Well, you are a sweetheart, and you have a sweet heart.”

“You don’t have to kiss up. I’m being serious.”

“So am I. I’m so happy you think of us as boyfriends.”

“It took a while, I know. Sorry about that. Your dad helped me sort some of that out too. Namely that kids’ values and beliefs and identity come from their birth family, and a lot of what I got wasn’t good. I’ve got to work through that shit. In there somewhere is that my birth father was a raging homophobe, and while I’m not and never was, the attitude got baked in somehow along with all those other things I was supposed to do to get his approval.”


“For us, meaning that the last time he taped me up before I ran probably wasn’t the only time he called me a dirty, little cocksucker, and so that’s baked in there too. Fear of being a cocksucker. Fear of not going along with his belief system, as sick as it is.”

“You really think that’s part of it.”

“I know it is. I didn’t talk to your dad about this part. I just couldn’t, and you told me your sex life is private and you don’t talk to your dad about it, so I didn’t because it’s between us. But I just have to believe that while my birth father was abusing me, somehow, I ended up scared to death about being a cocksucker. I think that’s part of my problem with…you know.”

Eric squeezed his hand and glanced at him. “You mean the problem with my cock?”

“Well, no. I mean…well, yeah. But, no…there’s no problem with your cock. I mean the problem is in my head, that I haven’t been able to do what I wanted.”

“Bailey, you were abused and threatened. Now you’re working through it and I’m sure it’ll all be fine in the long run.”

“But how long is the long run. You shouldn’t have to wait for me.”

“What if I want to? That is, if I want to wait for you?”

“Well, okay. That’s great. But what if it takes a long time?”

“A long time before what?” Eric wiggled his eyebrows at Bailey, trying to relieve the stress.

“A long time before I can suck your cock or let you fuck me. There, I said it.”

“Whoa, big boy! There’s cocksucking and there’s fucking. No one said anything about me fucking you. When you’re ready, if that’s something you want, we can talk about it. And now that we’re talking about it, what if I prefer to have you fuck me?” Eric laughed and added, “That has nothing to do with being a cocksucker. What do you think?”

“Really? You’d want that?”

“Why not? I love you, remember? Another thing two guys have together that you don’t get with a girl is the option to be inside each other, to be one in a way that can’t happen otherwise. Anyway, it’s an option. That’s the point.”

They changed when they got to Bailey’s apartment and went for a run together. The run ended at a park a block away, and they sat down together on a bench to cool down.

Eric reached for Bailey’s hand, and he unflinchingly took it. “I’m happier today than I’ve been in a long time,” Eric said, and then kissed the back of Bailey’s hand.


“Yeah. You said we’re boyfriends.”

“Sorry it took me so long.”

“No worry.”

“There is a little bit of worry because I’ve got to deal with some stuff about that.”

Eric’s eyebrows rose. “Meaning?”

“Meaning that I still don’t think I’m gay, but I think it’s pretty certain that I’m bi. Anyhow, I’ve been doing this dance and not being straight with people about it. Like one of the volunteers at the shelter figured it out because I asked too many questions about the finance guy coming on to you last Friday. But when it comes to Dan and Becky, I haven’t been honest.”

“Maybe you needed to sort through the stuff in the last few days to really know and be able to say so,” Eric replied. “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

“That could be it, but I’ve got to decide to shit or get off the pot.”

“I don’t know why you feel so strongly about this. I mean, when I decided I was gay as a kid, I let some people know, but I didn’t need to tell everyone.”

“Maybe, but in my case, I’ve been letting people believe what they want, and what most of them want to believe isn’t true. Like Dan and Becky saw Morgana last week ‘cause she was in town for Labor Day. She says she made a huge mistake, and she wants to get back together with me.”

“So. She’s figured out what she lost by breaking up with you and moving out.”

“It’s more than that. That she even thinks it’s possible is because she thinks I’m straight. Becky does too. Dan knows I’m seeing you, but I haven’t told him the whole story.”

“Which is?”

“That I’ve fallen for you, that we’re having sex together.”

“You’re not obligated to tell them any more than you want to.”

“I think I need to tell them that I’m with a guy and he makes me happy, and that I’m in for the long haul. I outed myself by mistake at the shelter last weekend. Why can’t I be honest about myself.”

“Because you’re sorting through the fact that you’re in a relationship with a guy. It’s a first-time thing, and you’ve got more than the usual amount of baggage to deal with.”

Bailey looked at him, a pleading look on his face. “How can you put up with all this bullshit? How can you be so patient? I know you want more sexually than I can give you right now. I see it in your face. I’ve looked at some gay porn. I know where it goes, and I want to be able to make you happy, I’ve just got to get there. Why are you putting up with all of this.”

Eric turned on the bench and took Bailey’s face in his hands. He pulled it close to his and locking his gaze, said softly, “Because like I’ve told you before, I’ve fallen in love with you. I’ve done my share of running around, but at my core I guess I’m fairly conventional. I’ve been waiting for the love of my life.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means what it says. To be more honest, I haven’t just been waiting, I’ve been looking. Gay bars and hook ups only get you so far. I don’t believe in God and all that religious stuff, but I am a humanist and do understand general spirituality and the yearning of the heart. I read a lot of Khalil Gibran’s books when I was in college. You keep asking how I can be so patient and why I put up with you. You make it sound like work, or something. Like it’s a heavy lift. And it’s not. Gibran said something magical in one of his writings, titled, A Tear and a Smile. He said, ‘If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don't, they never were.”

“But you haven’t let me go. It’s not like I left or something.”

“True enough. But I think he was getting at the fact that you can’t hold someone so close you have them bound and that they’ll run away from that. For me it means letting you know how I feel, how I care, how I love you, and then giving you the space to make your own decision. In that sense I’m letting you go and if you return you were always mine.”

“Wow. That’s pretty heavy.”

“I guess so, but it’s how I feel.”

“Well,” Bailey replied, “I haven’t left, and I don’t plan on it. I heard about our slutty Financial Director coming on to you last Friday. I’m not mad about it, and you didn’t need to tell me, so chill. But it made me realize that I’ve been taking you for granted. You’re smart and attractive and lots of guys should be after you. In other words, if I don’t make it clear how I feel about you, maybe some of those other guys will, and you’ll decide enough’s enough!”

“Wow. That’s pretty heavy talk.”

“If it is, it’s because I love you too. It just seems to take me a lot longer to get around to where I’m going than it should.”


They headed back to Bailey’s apartment and showered together. It was another first, but a pleasant and sensuous one. Bailey hadn’t gone grocery shopping over the weekend, so they went out for dinner and when they got back and had settled on the couch, Eric said, “We were right here last night, and it was so different.”

“Isn’t that the truth. This feels way better.”

“Can I connect my phone to that Bluetooth music player you’ve got?”

“Absolutely. What’s up?”

“I’ve got a song on my phone I want to play for you.”


“Yeah. I’ve been saving it ‘cause I didn’t want to be pushing you too soon. But you told me today how you feel, so this is what I’ve been feeling for a few weeks.”

Eric connected and then found the song he wanted to play. “This was written by an actor and singer named Nicholas Hamilton, who released it this year for Pride month. It’s called Spins, because that’s what he was doing. Meaning, he’d met this guy in a dating app, then was out a couple of weeks later with some friends having drinks and got a text asking if he wanted to meet up. He’d had too much to drink.”

“Oh. I get it.”

“So, the spins from too much to drink doesn’t apply to us, but all the rest does. I think it’s sweet and beautiful and expresses just how I feel. Ready?”

Bailey nodded, and Eric pushed Play.

I wish your lips distracted all my spins
So this sweet kiss could last a million years
But since I've had a little too much
We'll sit on this hill

And I'll stop myself from saying that I love you
But it's hard to when I'm only thinking of you
And how lovely you are
And I know that perfection might be fleeting
And not believed in by many broken hearts
But have they ever seen a love like ours

See, I hope that old trope holds some truth in its bones
That the honeymoon phase replays 'til forever melts away
But since it's only just begun
We'll sit on this hill

And I'll stop myself from saying that I love you
But it's hard to when I'm only thinking of you
And how lovely you are
And I know that perfection might be fleeting
And not believed in by many broken hearts
But have they ever seen a love like ours

Keep my eyes still
My view, on this hill
Just to, oh

Stop myself from saying that I love you
But it's hard to when I'm only thinking of you
And how lovely you are
And I know that perfection might be fleeting
And not believed in by many broken hearts
But have they ever seen a love like ours

It's in the stars, oh
You're a work of art

Watch the YouTube video of Nicholas Hamilton performing Spins


Bailey had tears in his eyes. He pulled Eric tight and whispered, “Now you don’t have to stop yourself from saying it. I won’t either.”

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