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.

Self-loathing

(This is an encore post from John Joseph.)

One effect of my early childhood sexual abuse has been self-loathing. For the longest time I didn’t understand that was what I was dealing with. I thought I was just so messed up that I didn’t deserve the air I was breathing. I constantly compared myself to others, especially men, and I never measured up. The problem with that perspective is that it kept me from being the best me that I could be.

Self-loathing is an emotional habit rooted in envy. As a child my body was never as big as the men who abused me. They were taller, stronger, and their genitalia were bigger. I could never measure up. I can see clearly now that my lifetime of irrational comparisons was founded in those moments of abuse in which I was weaker and the abusers stronger. It wasn’t a fair fight. I was a child.

My continuum of self-loathing ran from a minor comparison of hair or height to athleticism or financial status. At best, it caused an irritation. At worst, it caused deep anxiety and self-destructive behavior such as addiction or depression. A few times I was so distressed by not being like someone else that I despaired and could have taken my life.

The cure for self-loathing I have found, is to recognize that envy hurts me. I am learning to celebrate myself—my body, and my lot in life. What I have is what I have. Comparing myself to others causes me to devalue myself. As I grow in recovery my goal is to love and appreciate who I am and to resist falling into the abyss of self-loathing.

3 comments:

Joseph said...

John Joseph, I relate to everything you say. I measured masculinity by what hung between a man’s legs, never realizing for many years that true masculinity was a matter of the heart. But we were conditioned–at least I was–by what happened to us to make comparisons of what we thought we lacked and what we supposed other men had that was bigger and better. I went through much of my life crotch-watching, checking out packages, wondering what was underneath. Facing all that and discussing it with a wonderful, non-judgmental counselor and with a young, understanding and compassionate pastor helped tear down walls and break chains. Within this past year, I went with a group of Christian men to South America for a week and bunked with 2 other men while there. It was so good to be in a room with men and feel normal and accepted by my brothers. And I knew the walls were down and chains broken because I had no desire to make comparisons about anything. We were brothers in Christ and there was real fellowship and bonding. God’s been so good! So good!

Roger Mann said...

For many years I thought other boys/men got some kind of book on masculinity or what it means to be a man. They all knew the right things to say, do, and all the right attitudes and places to go, what to wear etc. the list goes on. I felt lost; had no clue as to my identity. It was all a big mystery to me.

This led to a lot of self loathing. I used humor to ease the pain but the pain was always there when I was around other men.

Finding a good recovery program that helped me see that was all in my head what huge to me. I still occasionally will feel intimidated by other men for various reasons but it has become less and less a factor in how I relate.

One other thing that was a huge help was Neil Anderson's "Victory over the Darkness". In it he has about 3 pages on what God says about me. I have read that again and again and have it book marked. God is good, and HE is crazy about me. I remember that when these emotions try to resurface.

Roger

Anonymous said...

My very good friend is in a psychiatric hospital under suicide watch. He is dealing with long-time issues from male sexual abuse as a child. There seem to be no male survivor groups in the Houston area...nor any therapists that deal specifically with that particular male issue. Can you help?