I hurt for a long time because of childhood sexual abuse. Now I want to provide a safe place for hurting men to connect with other survivors of sexual abuse. Talk to us. You don't have to use your real name to share your experiences or ask questions.

Cecil Murphey's Story (Part 2 of 2)

I want to point out why I think my healing began when it did. Shirley had been the first person in my life that I ever felt loved me without reservation. I didn't have to be good, act nice, or behave in a way to win acceptance. I had that simply because she loved me. Although it took me a number of years to trust that love, I know I couldn't have faced my childhood if she hadn't been there to encourage me and to hold my hand.

David was the second person. We had been friends for eight years before my memories began to return. When I tentatively opened up, he didn't push or try to fix me. Although I can't explain how, he enabled me to trust him and to open up.

From Shirley and then from David, I slowly began to trust others. I could never have done it without that supportive love behind me.

Over the next three years, I shared my abusive childhood with a few others. One of them, Steven, led the small, weekend group at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia. He lives in the northeast, but we regularly phoned, wrote, and later e-mailed. Five times, he and I met for a weekend just to talk about our childhoods and to open ourselves to further healing. During those early years, some events were so overpowering I cried more than I talked. More than once I wished I were dead.

At the time, I was so filled with my own pain I had no realization of what Shirley was going through. She was hurting and she had been hurting for years. Whenever one of my odd acts of behavior occurred, she blamed herself for doing something wrong, even if she couldn't figure out what it was. Yes, both of us had become victims of my childhood abuse.

Once I crept out of the morass, I realized three important facts. First, I was safe and no longer feared the terrors of childhood. Second, Shirley understood as much as anyone who hasn't had the same experience could understand. Third—and the most important—Shirley loved me without demands or conditions. Because of her, I had finally found a safe place grounded in reality. When I wanted to deny that the abuse had really happened, she infused me with courage. When I wanted to quit striving for wholeness, Shirley affirmed me by little things, such as holding my hand or letting me see the tears in her own eyes.

Shirley's unconditional love helped me go through the stages from anger to acceptance and eventually to forgiveness of my perpetrators (both now dead).

I'm thankful for David's loving friendship, but Shirley was the person I lived with, and the one individual with the most power to have hurt me. Not once did she reproach me or lash out, and I'm thankful to her for that. The quality of that love enabled me to accept God's unconditional love. Because of my wife's support, I slowly moved forward until I could say, "I know that God loves me, that I'm worthwhile, loved and accepted by my Heavenly Father."

Through the years, Shirley suffered because of the effects of my abuse. Even now I sometimes feel sad because of the pain she's had to go through, especially during those dark years when she had no idea what was happening. She silently accepted blame and wrestled with her own issues of self-esteem and failure. It was so unfair, and I owe her so much for being there, for being God's instrument, and most of all for being the human link that joined my hand with that of a loving Father.

1 comment:

Marj aka Thriver said...

I found your blog through Gail Smith. The Blogger/Google follow feature doesn't seem to be working right now, but I will follow you. Thank you for your advocacy, raising awareness and sharing your story.