(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)
"I didn't know who I was," Mac said to me after I spoke to a Celebrate Recovery group. "Being molested messed with my brain," he said.
Mac didn't have a lot formal education but he said it well. Abuse affects all parts of our lives. I'm constantly amazed in my own life when I have a jarring realization of something I say or do that connects to my abuse.
Here's an example. I recently spoke with "Matt" about his abuse. He made me uncomfortable because he invaded my space—standing about six inches away from me—far too close.
In our conversation I put my hands on his shoulders as I took a step back, and said, "I'm uneasy when you stand so close." Before he could say anything, I added, "but I think it speaks about your need for intimacy."
Those words rushed out of my mouth without my consciously thinking of them. Tears filled Matt's eyes and he nodded slowly. "I know, but I can't help myself. I feel I have to move close to people and yet they move away from me."
I thought of buzz words like lack of boundaries and a number of things to help him, but instead, I heard myself say, "I'll bet you wished someone would hug you—a lot."
He nodded. "And when they do, I don't want to let go and that makes them not want to hug me again."
In that moment, I realized how many times I've wanted to be held, hugged, or even touched. It became clear to me that I had felt a similar need as Matt, but I reacted to it differently. When I hugged, I did it with great intensity (perhaps I still do). But the difference is that back then I tried to signal that I wanted the same intense embrace I gave them. Instead, I think I made them feel uncomfortable.
Like Mac, I continue to realize how much my being molested messed with my brain.