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.

Shadow Boxing

(This post comes from Anonymous.)

One of the strange things about surviving sexual abuse is that it never quite feels like I’ve survived it. I have to remind myself quite often that the abuse was in the past and isn't happening to me today. However, having suffered so much in my childhood resulted in a nasty case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that went undiagnosed for more than thirty years. I’ve realized that this is why I keep shadow boxing with the memories and feelings of being abused long into adulthood.

Someone older and bigger abused me. The size and age differential were massive and caused me to live my life in fear of other men. When I walked into a room or drove down the street, any man I saw was bigger and more powerful than I was, even if they really weren’t.

In business meetings the other men had advantages over me because I thought of myself as weaker than them. Even women were stronger and more powerful, especially if they seemed to be "together" or strong-minded.

One of the most difficult things I've wrestled with as an abuse survivor is realizing that these thoughts and feelings are irrational. They're the shadows of the past, the specters of abuse that rendered me powerless and feeling that I'm less than the man I really am. I struggle with continually giving my power away to other people, especially men, even if they have no advantage over me.

There's no way to win at shadow boxing. The shadows are real; they have no real power. As I continue to overcome my abuse, one of my greatest strengths is to realize that shadow boxing is useless. When I realize that I am caught up in an irrational thought pattern or feeling, I stop, surrender to God, and claim for myself the true freedom of who I am at this moment.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My event, happening as it did during my “formative years,” had an almost universal impact on all aspects of my developing identity. One could even say that it was an intentional deforming, or malforming influence on me. My interaction with others is shaped and influenced, sometimes utterly determined, by the deforming influence of my being abused. This is no more "irrational" than suffering massive hip damage and then walking with a limp for the rest of your life. So, I don’t live my life as though I were still ten years old. But I do live, and worship, and work and love…and hate, and hurt, and mourn… as someone irretrievably altered when he was ten. I guess the big difference for me is that wounds heal, and deformations don’t. I guess I regard most talk of healing in this as being smoke and mirrors. I've never heard anyone being able to define actual healing in other than the most vague, non-falsifiable terms. I remember seeing a beggar in the carribean. Both of his feet were suspiciously club-footed. I know that can "just happen," but I also know that some parents will break their child’s legs so they can beg and increase the family income. His knees were bare, and he had developed large pads of calloused skin on them, because he “walked” on them; they were his feet, with his atrophied calves and broken, useless, real feet trailing behind. His “gait” was a rocking, swinging thing because I imagine that after 30+ years walking on his knees, his hips had degenerated. With a wealthy benefactor he could have had reconstructive surgery. This might, with sufficient physical therapy, have enabled him to stand with crutches, or maybe even attempt some shambling approximation of a semi-upright walk. But it wouldn’t be healing, no matter how many promises were made. And I would bet that when he was home, with no one else around, he would walk on his knees.