Friday, November 15, 2013

"Who Am I?"

(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.


Joseph said...

I'm an old man, past 70, and I have no memory of being held by my step-father or even my mother. It can still make me tear up with grief. I told my counselor recently that even now sometimes I would like to curl up in a man's arms and be held like a child. I've come to know that the intense psychological abuse I endured as a child made me susceptible and responsive to the man who wanted me the summer I turned 17. Other men did too. But, it wasn't love and it made me feel less than a man for over 60 years. But God, through a godly counselor, is restoring me.

God was there all the time, even in the bad things that I endured and in the bad choices I made. He never gave up. I give Him thanks.

Cec Murphey said...

Joseph, thank you for being so open about your pain. Most of us neglected and abused kids felt much like that--wanting to be held--and to be important to someone. That need made us vulnerable and others took advantage of our innocence and unmet needs.

Thank you.


Joseph said...

You're right, Cec. And I just this week had the Aha! moment when I realized and accepted that it was my vulnerability and wounded spirit that cause me to go with the man / men rather than run away from them.

That realization opened another door to freedom.

Mark said...

Joseph, I really appreciate your openness, also. I appreciate your willingness to acknowledge God's presence, even in the bad times.
This morning I was thinking about bad times, times when God's presence seems most remote. Prehaps the reason I can't "see" Him during those times, is that in those moments He is so close that I cannot "see" Him.
May you keep healing Joseph - in your true Father's eyes you are a precious, beloved son, whom He delights in loving.