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.

The Inner Circle

Over the years, many other men said, "You're my best friend," and they sincerely meant it. But none of them was my best friend. That's not to blame them, but to admit I didn't know how to open up and trust another man.

Several men included me in their inner circle; I wish I could have included them in mine.

I wanted to open up, but I couldn't. My trust had been stolen as a child, and for me to expose my inner feelings was to suffer the abuse again. It seemed safer to lock up my past.

I had my inner circle—which consisted only of myself. For a long time, I couldn't even open up to my wife, and yet she was the most loving and trusting soul I knew.

My first break came through a friend named Martin. He told me that at age 15, his drunken mother had seduced him. After he told me, I marveled that he trusted me with that deep, deep secret. Years later, he told me that I was the first person he'd told, and that it was the beginning of his healing.

Another man, Steven, assaulted by a teacher, cried as he talked of his trauma 40 years after the fact, but I sensed he experienced some healing just from the act of sharing.

Martin and Steven included me in their inner circle, even if they didn't use those words. They also opened the door for me by modeling trusting behavior.

When I haltingly told my wife about my childhood assault, I expected rejection and revulsion. Instead, Shirley said, "I'm sorry," and hugged me. That same day, I told David, who later became my best friend. Just by the way he listened, I knew he accepted my pain. He didn't try to fix me; he simple accepted me.

Shirley and David were the first members of my inner circle and because of them, I could invite others into it.

As I openly spoke of my pain, I was giving others permission to face their past and open up.

2 comments:

Mark said...

"Best friend" is a title that troubles me. I had a female friend years ago who told me, and others, that I was her "best friend". I didn't want that position in her life, but was so unhealthy I didn't stand up for myself.

I have a man who I consider my best friend. He was also raped when he was young. He has allowed me to share my struggles openly. I trust him as much as I've ever trusted anyone. Yet I don't think I've ever told him that he's the best friend I have, because I'm afraid of putting pressure on him, causing him to "leave".

His wife recently told me "you are the best friend he's ever had." I was shocked and realized that he also struggles to admit to how much our friendship means to him.

I guess the important thing here is this: I've been blessed with an awesome friendship. He's proved himself to be a "best" friend by his actions. And I truly hope that he can say the same about me.

Robert said...

This rings so true to me. Over my life I have been the "best friend" to several guys. I was the great listener, accepting, empathic person. I often felt it was a one way street. Since I began this journey last year with reading Cec and Gary's book, I have realized it was all my problem. I was not trusting anyone, and I don't mean about my past abuse, I mean about all my thoughts and feelings. It was like I didn't feel I could trust any guy with who I really was. I told my wife first, and tried to explain that it was really difficult to open up to my guy friends because I didn't want anyone to know that I had experienced sex with another guy....even if I was a child and it wasn't something I chose. I still saw myself as having to keep all my personal thoughts/feelings closed off as I would not be seen as acceptable. I am doing better, I have shared with two people, who both responded well to me. It is a journey for sure.