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.

Love Yourself

I picked up a book a few weeks ago that proposed 75 things men could do to find healing from the pain of childhood abuse. Some of the actions and activities were practical. Some. But not many.

It wasn't that any of the suggestions were wrong; they were just too simplistic. For example, the title of number 17 was "Love Yourself."

I agree that's wonderful and much needed advice. What the author didn't say in the next two pages, however, was how to make self-love happen.

How do I learn to love myself? How does anyone?

Answer: I don't know.

The only answer I know comes from my own experience. Two people loved me without any demands on my behavior. The first was Shirley, my wife, and my friend David was the second.

They loved me and accepted me, even though I felt damaged and in pain. Neither of them insisted I go through a course of self-improvement or change my ways.

They simply loved me. That was the first half of the solution.

The second half was that I felt loved by them.

Once I sensed their irrefutable love, I was able to love that small, injured boy who lived inside me.

So it's true: If you want to be healed, love yourself. But don't tell anyone unless you're first willing to express that unrestricted love.

Tired (by Gary Roe)

I invited Gary Roe to write several blogs. He also tells his story in my book When a Man You Love Was Abused.

I am so tired. I work hard, all the time. I work as if my life depends on it each moment. It’s as if I create stress, or seek it. I perform well. I use my performance as a way to try to make sure that what happened to me as a child never ever happens again.

So I run through life, sometimes without noticing much. I live mostly inside my head, already on to the next thing before I even finish the one I'm working on. And I wonder why I am often angry, frustrated, and exhausted.

This hectic kind of life is as natural for me as breathing. I sometimes sigh at verses like “Be still and know that I am God.” It seems so far from my experience.

I get tired of running. I want to choose to rest and actually be able to do it. I want to go easier on myself, give myself grace. Maybe I need to realize that working harder will not keep it from happening again.

Maybe I need to forgive myself.

I would like to really live with energy and joy.

Small (by Gary Roe)

I invited Gary Roe to write several blogs. He also tells his story in my book When a Man You Love Was Abused.

I felt small growing up. I was told I was small. I was treated as if I were small. I was used like I was small. . .like I was nothing. . .like I was less than human.

I still feel small a lot. I feel small when I face conflict. I feel small when I don’t know what to do. I feel small when I sense others trying to take advantage of me. I was taught to feel small, so they could use me more easily.

Slowly, I am learning who I really am. God thought of me. God wanted me. Jesus Christ died and rose for me. He made me in my mother’s womb. He protected my life. He opened my heart to Him. He is preparing a place for me and me for that place. The life I live is a miracle.

I want to live big.

Purpose (by Gary Roe)

I invited Gary Roe to write several blogs. He also tells his story in my book When a Man You Love Was Abused.

I believe that God placed me here on earth for a purpose. I believe that He orders all things for my good. That means He turns things around. He manages to bring good out of great evil.

It's one thing to say this, and quite another to feel it. Sometimes, my emotions are so powerful. I pray for the strength to deal in facts: It happened, it mattered, God delivered me, God loves me, God is healing me, and one day He will heal me completely.

When I am feeling out-of-control, confused, anxious, and fearful, Lord, give me the grace I need. Let me rest in the love that You have for me.

I have purpose today.

I have a grand and glorious purpose from You.

Shame (by Gary Roe)

I invited Gary Roe to write several blogs. He also tells his story in my book When a Man You Love Was Abused.

Shame is a powerful thing. Sometimes I experience it as self-conscious embarrassment, as if I want to hide in the presence of other people. It comes powerfully upon me when I feel I've made a mistake—I feel I AM the mistake. Sometimes it just seems to overshadow me, following me around, painting everything gray.

The reality is my perpetrators were the shameful ones. They couldn't handle their shame, so they tried to wipe it off on me through the abuse. I don't want to let them succeed. They will not succeed.

At times, accepting myself is a very difficult thing for me to do. How could it not be difficult with what happened? I grew up feeling invisible, ugly, dirty, and unwanted. But that is not reality.

Reality is that God thought of me, created me in His image, and has a powerful destiny for my life.

I want to live more in reality.

Feeling Traumatized Again (by Gary Roe)

I invited Gary Roe to write several blogs. He also tells his story in my book When a Man You Love Was Abused.

Sometimes I get so scared. And I cannot seem to find a reason for this fear, except that fear was bred into me by what happened. I learned quickly, powerfully, that the world is not a safe place. If a parent and grandparent could do that to me, then nothing is safe.

Tonight I am up late. My fear response has been triggered again. My body is quietly shaking on the inside. I cannot sleep. When I feel this way, it seems as if my body is remembering—almost as if it's happening all over again. At times like these, I get frustrated, angry, and confused. I feel traumatized, again.

I "speak my fear." I say aloud what I'm thinking. I write it out in my journal. Jesus reminds me that I am safe, no matter what my emotions say.

He reminds me that it's not happening again. Perhaps this is part of His healing process. Perhaps this is part of His draining its debilitating power from my system.

Perhaps I am healing.

My Amnesia

In my book When a Man You Love Was Abused, I wrote about my amnesia (which is denial). One man wrote, "Denial was a powerful survival tool for me when I was a boy. Now I'm an adult and I struggle to be free. I wish I could forget but I know I need to face it."

I understand his situation. Denial worked for us when we needed it to survive. We had few resources and were innocent and naïve about life.

Here's how I think about amnesia for us survivors: In first grade I learned to count by using my fingers. I haven't had to count that way since I was a child. The method worked until I was mature enough to leave it behind.

As adults, we're more sophisticated and can reason out the issues. Most of all, we can feel. The pain was intense when I began recovery, but I reminded myself that I actually felt the pain. My amnesia taught me to deny my deepest feelings; my healing liberates my feelings.

An Offer You May Refuse

If you haven't read my book When a Man You Love Was Abused, and would like a free copy, please send your mailing address to me. My assistant and I are the only ones who will see your name/address. Send your request to: cec.murp@comcast.net. (We'll send it by media mail so it may take a few weeks to reach you.)

Want to Help?

Last summer, When a Man You Love Was Abused came off the press. Two months later, my editor asked me for a follow-up book. "I've written everything I know," I said.

That was before I started doing this twice-weekly blog. Since then, three things have changed my mind.

1. Several of you posted to the blog or emailed me. I marveled at your openness and you encouraged me to become even more transparent.

2. The book has gone into its second printing and I've heard from readers with concerns I didn't address or did so only briefly.

3. I've grown since I wrote the book. I've learned more about myself and faced issues of which I was unaware a year ago.

I've proposed a new book with the working title, Not Quite Healed.

Healing from sexual molestation is a process—a long, long process. I keep learning and so do many of you.

Will you help me?

If you struggle with areas I didn't address in the book or we haven't fully discussed on this blog, I'd like to know. What insights have you gained about yourself?

If the publisher accepts my second book and if I want to use your material, I'll ask your permission. If you agree, I'll use your name only with your permission.

Please email me privately at cec.murp@comcast.net.