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.

What IS Normal?

That question stunned me when I first heard it. But I've met several survivors who don't know what is normal. I usually turn it around and ask, "What is healthy?"

The big difference is that for many of us normal meant sexual assault on a regular basis that often went on for years. That fits the definition.

But was it healthy? I can't think of a time when I've changed the question and the other person didn't get it. "No, it wasn't," they've said.

"It messed up my life," someone wrote in an email recently with a stronger word than messed up. When anything happens routinely, it may be normal, but that doesn't mean it's healthy.

Immediately I think of the beatings from my dad. They happened every week, usually just before he went on a weekend drunk. Normal, but the pain was anything but healthy. I never told anyone because it was just one of those things that Dad did regularly in our home.

Part of our reaching for healing comes from realizing that just because something happened frequently in our childhood doesn't make it healthful or right. It means only that it happened.

And we were the ones who suffered.


Roger Mann said...

Normal is a setting on the dryer.

Normal for me was just as you said, unhealthy. For many years I thought I had what I called a loosely normal childhood. I mean it was very religious, but my parents never fought in front of us, my parents didn't drink or smoke. They didn't get divorced and my father never whipped me unless he thought what I did/said really deserved it. That was not too often, I learned pretty quick whatever I did, not to do it again.

Was it healthy? Far from it, it was rather sick actually and messed me up rather badly in how I viewed my peers and other men in my life. It messed me up in how I viewed women and marriage too. I ended up destroying many relationships and had a very tough time in the early years of my work life.

I really don't know what 'normal' is these days but thanks to a lot of work and some good counseling I have a pretty fair idea what healthy is and that is what I am working toward. I have come a long way from "normal" and I hope I can make the rest of my life loving and healthy and die at peace with myself.

Mark said...

Roger; I REALLY like your statement "I have come a long way from 'normal'". That is an awesome statement!

I "second" most of what you've written here, about my own upbringing and about my adult life.

Maybe the desire to be 'normal' is actually a trap that keeps us from pursuing 'healthy'. I'm also glad I have come a long way from what was 'normal' and am continuing the journey of 'healthy'.

Joseph said...

Twisted and unhealthy. I'll never forget how astonished I was the day I realized that same sex hookups were wrong. It had been drilled into me that doing certain things with girls would send me to hell. What came across was that sex with women was dirty. So in my mind sex with men was ok. And me a boy with daddy-figures wanting me, I felt wanted. I know this was over 60 years ago and nobody talked about same sex stuff then, but how I wish it had been different. This false picture of sex being dirty was to me the worst part of both the psychological and sexual abuse.