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.

Wearing Masks (Part 1 of 2)

Some experts talk about the masks we wear around others. We don’t consciously wear masks, but we submerge our true feelings behind a smile that makes life safer. We can hide behind a grin and say to the world, “I’m happy. I’m happy.”

Or we hide behind the glare that silently says, “Don’t get too close.” The man who always has a joke and never gets serious may be afraid that you'll make him vulnerable and he's not ready for that.

Our masks reveal a glimpse of who we are. Another way to say it is that the masks often show who we'd like to be. Before I dealt with my abuse, others referred to me as a happy person. That was true—sometimes. I wanted to be happy and to enjoy my life. Our masks aren't intentional deception and we may not be aware that we wear them.

The masks aren't about relating to or impressing others. Think of them as protection. We weren't aware of not being our true selves as much as it was our way to retreat from our pain.

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