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.

How Do I Love?

(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)

One of the saddest telephone calls I've ever received came from Joe, an Hispanic from the Chicago area. He said he was unable to love—he had known that. But worse, he was unable to receive love.

He emailed me and I gave him permission to call. He said he had met a young woman who claimed to love him and he assumed she did. "I don't hate her, but I can't feel any love for her—not for anybody."

Joe emailed after hearing me on a radio interview about sexual abuse. "It was done to me," he said. ("It" was his constant expression for abuse.)

I don't know how much I helped Joe, but I was aware that his actions as a 22-year-old adult mirrored what he had lived as a child. His attitude seemed to say that he experienced only powerful or powerless relationships. If he didn't exert control, others would "use" him.

"I feel like a zombie," he told me.

I felt sadness for Joe. Being abused prevented him from developing the capacity to express himself. He said he had never been able to talk to anyone about how he felt. "I had to remain silent or get beaten by my older brother who did it to me," he said.

"I want to feel loved; I want to offer love."

Everything I said felt flat and weak to me. As I told a close friend, "My heart went out to him, but I wasn't sure my words offered healing."

Joe has become a lurker on this blog.

What can you say to help Joe?

1 comment:

Heather Marsten said...

For Christians we realize that God loved us before we even knew Him. Regarding love, it isn't a feeling, it's a choice. I don't always FEEL love, but I can act in love.

I was abused and had to keep it silent too - that meant the difference between life and death for me. I was told before my father's first attack that I was so stupid, dumb, and ugly no one would ever love me. That my father was going to teach me to put out so I could at least get a man. I was seven at that time. I walked through most of my life figuring that I was unlovable. I also figured I was ruined goods so why should I even open myself up to the hope that someone loved me. I was wrong. God loved me and did not want what happened to me to occur.

I also had, for many years, the mistaken idea that sex and love were intertwined. I used to think that if I gave a guy sex, that got out of the way and then maybe we could be friends. I was skewed in that thinking.

I had to get the focus off of me and reach out to help others, reach out to serve others who had been hurt. As I helped others, my heart opened and one day I let others closer. I also had to forgive people and most important forgive myself. I believed I was the cause of what happened to me - if I was only prettier, smarter, kinder, or whatever then I could be loved. Love has nothing to do with what we do.

I'd tell your friend to be kind to himself, reach out to help others, and let God begin His healing work. We weren't hurt in one fell swoop - it began with that, but then we continued the hurt and others hurt us by thousands of little hurts. Healing can take time. One step at a time, reach out to help others. And make a choice to love - even if you don't feel it. Make a choice to let another love you, even if you don't feel it. 1 Corinthians 13 is the high standard of love - we can never approach that, but God does.