“Inside/Out” by Joseph Osmundson— Vulnerability, Shame and Need

Osmundson, Joseph. “Inside/Out”, Sibling Rivalry Press, 2018.

Vulnerability, Shame and Need

Amos Lassen

Isn’t it human nature to wish we knew back then what we know now? That is just the kind of commend you get from those who have read Joseph Osmundson’s “Inside/Out”. Those who have read it agree that they wished that had so when they were younger. What is it about abuse and dysfunction is so hard to understand and what do they have to do with vulnerability, need, and shame? I think that most of us are not aware of the pain that comes with writing an autobiography. It is difficult to examine our own past; emotionally and ethically it is a draining experience and this is what Osmundson does thus making this a very brave book.

I found myself at one with Osmundson as he meditated on longing and desire while trying to understand love and loss. His writing forces us to ask ourselves “who we are what we are, and who and what we want to hide, from the inside out.” This happens while we explore love, loss and fear and it is exciting, frightening and liberating.

Although this is a short book (85 pages), “Inside/Out” is emotionally powerful. Quite basically it is the memoir of a long-term break-up and we see the insecurities of living as a gay male. I found myself thinking about varying degrees of queerness as I read and how many of them do not apply to me yet I need to be aware of them.

Osmundson shares a past relationship of his with no clear victims or victimizers. In the relationship, sexuality was truly beautiful yet destructive and the emotions of desire and disgust come together. As he explores the relationship, he looks at his own ‘whiteness, submissiveness, the need and attraction to people and experiences that may be painful but that seem impossible to pull away from.”

Osmundson brings us a very important issue of the queer community with a candid and honest look at a relationship that ended and how he dealt with the torment and angst. Even with healing, scars remain and I am not sure we want them to. After all, that relationship was once part of us. Osmundson puts a lot of emotions in his book and we feel his story as we read it. We cry, we yell, we laugh, we break and become whole all in a very short read.

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