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.

Waiting to Exhale

(This post comes from an anonymous reader.)

One of the effects of my abuse has been the feeling of holding my breath inside. Because sexual addiction was a huge result of abuse in my life, I didn’t think I could breathe unless I was acting out the brokenness inflicted upon me through sexual molestation. I found my deepest worth in being used by a man. When that wasn’t happening, I didn’t feel I was breathing.

A therapist related my need to be abused to people who cut themselves. I’m not an expert on cutting, but my therapist said that cutters seem to feel as I did, existing miserably between periods of cutting themselves. He indicated they feel like they can’t breathe until they cut. Once they cut, they feel temporary relief, then all the self-loathing returns. That described me.

I lived for years holding my breath between acting out sexually online or with others as a result of my abuse. If I wasn’t engaging in my addiction I was thinking about it. My life revolved around secrets and shame, knowing that I wasn’t being the man I should be or wanted to be. I understand men who are living a double life and who often become suicidal because of the depths of pain and shame.

Yet the more I've come to understand that abuse wasn’t my fault and that I was victimized by older men, the closer I come to finding wholeness in my life.

I'm learning to breathe on my own and not just exist until acting out my addiction. I understand that my thoughts and feelings are often irrational and overwhelming and that I have to have safety precautions built into my life to help me to overcome them.

Learning to breathe emotionally is a function of the knowledge of being part of a caring community. Knowing I am a survivor is a great step, but I need support and understanding to overcome the abuse.

One day at a time I learn to take a breath, exhale, take a breath, and then exhale. I no longer have to act out my brokenness in order to breathe.

I’m no longer waiting to exhale.

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