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.

Reusing Pain

I hate that I was sexually assaulted and physically beaten as a child. So many times I've wished it hadn't happened. But it did.

Despite the fact that I've been on the healing path for years, I continue to learn about myself and how my painful childhood has carried into my adult years.

One wonderful insight has emerged: I've learned to reuse my pain. That may not be a sophisticated way to say it, but it helps me to think in those categories. Recently, people have said many nice things to me about being a good listener, encouraging them, and being compassionate.

For a long time I tried to stop them and said, "That's not who I am." I knew my heart, and when I thought about qualities such as compassion I'd grade myself about a C minus. I'm sure that's because I still struggled with my lack of self-esteem.

Then it hit me. When I was a child, no one listened to me, especially when I tried to talk about serious things. I don't recall anyone encouraging me or expressing compassion. Perhaps a few individuals did listen, encourage, or express sympathy, but I wasn't aware.

As I’ve acknowledged those positive qualities others perceive in me, I think of it as reusing my pain. That is, I give to others what I didn't receive. I turn my pain inside out. That wasn't a conscious decision, but it was a healthy reaction in coping with my painful childhood.

I was abused and hurt as a child;
as an adult, I reuse my pain by caring for others.


Andrew Schmutzer said...

Reusing the pain...going inside out, especially for other survivors!.

But this is also the challenge: I find such pain will either make me bitter or gentle. I have the rest of life to decide.

Roger Mann said...

I experience a lot of pain in my younger days. Rejection from my father followed and sometimes preceded by the sex. It was all very confusing and being unable to talk to mom or anyone about it was also a pain I lived with. Secrets hurt.

I found much the same in school in class and in recess out with other kids. It was just life for me but still pain and I just learned to live with it. My voice, my opinions were put down or ill received and like you as I grew I found myself pulling for the underdog, listening to someone that no one else wanted to talk to. I too was complimented on my compassion and willingness to reach out to those less fortunate. It made me uncomfortable because like you I did not see myself as that person. It was more of a misery loves company thing to me.

I don't know if I am reusing my pain or not but there is a tendency to still be more patient with strangers and those not popular. I do like myself more than I used to so I guess on some level God is reconstructing me inside out.


Cec Murphey said...

Yes, Roger, your examples are reusing your pain. It means that you understand the hurt and rejection of others, so you attempt to reach out to those underdogs.
Thank you.