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.

Numb

My wife was seriously ill and I loved her very much. We had been involved in a serious car crash (my fault), and the doctor didn't expect her to survive. (Shirley lived, but that's another story.)

As I sat by her bedside in the hospital, I felt nothing. I was totally numb. What's wrong with me? I asked myself. This is the person I love most and I can't feel anything.

That wasn't the first time I had numbed out; it wasn't the last time. Over the years, I encountered extremely difficult situations and yet felt nothing. I was sure that something was defective in me.

To make it worse, I sometimes cried. But it was always about someone with whom I had no strong emotional ties. I didn't understand how I could be sad over small things and yet feel nothing about the hurt of those I loved most.

Here's how I finally understood what happened. While I was doing my usual pre-dawn run, a car made a U-turn in front of me and knocked me down. I had no pain, but three days later I sensed what I called "a little discomfort" in my left hip. It didn't hurt, but it was a nuisance.

At my wife's urging, I went to a chiropractor and he did a number of tests. He kept asking, "Does this hurt?" Nothing he did caused me to say yes.

"You have a very high tolerance for pain," he finally said.

On the phone a few days later, I related that incident to my younger brother Chuck. He laughed and said, "Don't you remember how Dad beat us and we didn't cry? We didn't feel it."

Just then the numbness made sense. Whenever powerful emotions overwhelmed me, I numbed out. Because I couldn't cope with the crushing impact, I had no feelings.

I've since learned to reclaim my emotions. To some it may sound strange, but I praise God because I feel sad when my wife hurts or one of my children has a serious problem. It's safe to feel and I'm not afraid of my emotions.

1 comment:

Cecil Murphey said...

On my blog for writers, someone asked about a book for women and sexual abuse. My book, When a Man Who Love was Abused is targeted to women. I did that because publishers don't seem to think men buy or read books. (I think the book is helpful to men.)

Dawn Jones, a pastor in Grand Rapids, has been working with me and she has written a book proposal with the working title of When a Woman You Love Was Abused. The publisher hasn't made a decision, but we hope they'll say yes.

Besides that, Dawn and I plan to do seminars together where she'll speak to men and I'll speak to women.