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.

"I Need to Be Healed."

"I need to be healed," *Eric's email began. "I want to stay in the fight, but I'm tempted to turn back. I want to forget what happened, to ignore the problems, and lie to myself that everything will be all right if I turn my back on the healing process."

Eric went on to say he was worn out trying to overcome the struggles, the pain, and "my own shame and failures." He wrote to me because he said that the struggle doesn't end for him. "The shame eats at me from the inside, and I feel like a failure."

We emailed back and forth five or six times, and on one of them, he wrote, "This remains private. I can't tell anyone."

"That may be part of your problem," I replied. "You probably can't do this alone. If you had a tumor, wouldn't you consult a surgeon to cut it out?" I tried to point out how much all of us hurting survivors need to connect with others who have the same background.

The first time I spoke publicly to a group of six men, I told my story with many tears—but only after I heard theirs. For the first time, I knew I wasn't the only one. Certainly other boys had been molested and I knew that intellectually. I didn't realize their pain and struggles were like my own.

In my last exchange, I reminded Eric that he said, "I need to be healed," in his first email. "If you realize your need to be healed, please face it. Get help. Don't try to do it alone."

His last email to me said, "I need to be healed. I'm determined to do it alone." I never heard from Eric again. Twice I emailed to ask how he was doing. He never responded.

I share this downer account because not everyone recovers. Not every man has the courage to keep fighting through the threshold of pain. But to those of us who do, we know we did the right thing to keep on.

I wish every survivor would keep on. As one friend said, "I tried to pretend that everything would be all right if I just stopped struggling. But it doesn't go away. This is going to be a lifelong journey, isn't it?"

And yes, it is a lifelong journey.

And it's worth it.


Roger Mann said...

What does it mean to be healed? Does it mean I don't jump at every shadow? Does it mean I don't fly off the handle when frustrated? Does it mean I am able to enjoy the intimacy with my wife without the ghost of abuse past haunting our bedroom?

Does it mean the body memories stop making my skin crawl and certain parts sting and burn for no reason? What does it mean exactly to be healed?

A lot of my own healing has come from knowledge of what really happened to me, what the effects are and how they can impact me on a day to day basis. Knowing all that I can anticipate and guard against the tendency to react rather than respond to situations. For me, knowledge has been a key to dealing with all of the above whether they diminish or go away entirely.

Perhaps I shall have to struggle with the flashbacks, memories, PTSD, and intimacy issues for the rest of my life here and if that is so, so be it. It does help me understand and find compassion and support for others of my kind who also struggle. Knowledge helps me shed the label of victim and move to survivor. Eventually I will move to thriving but that may still take some work.

As you say, I am worth it. A message I can carry to others and bring hope. Hope maketh not ashamed!!

Cec Murphey said...

Roger, you are always so honest and transparent. Again, thank you.