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.

Feeling My Feelings

One of my big struggles in my healing journey has been to feel my emotions, especially the intense ones. That’s the curse and the blessing of my childhood abuse.

The pain and the memories were so intense, I blocked them out.

That unconscious action was a marvelous survival technique and a way to avoid my deepest hurts. Other men use artificial means to deaden their pain—alcohol, drugs, or sexual experiences. And when they’re not engaged in them, they’re in agony.

I’m one of those who didn’t feel the anguish and lived in denial. I didn’t remember my childhood trauma for a long, long time. Whenever an emotional situation became acute, I numbed out. And wondered why.

Over the years of writing this blog, responses from other survivors have shown me that many of you are like I used to be.

I’m a strong believer in self-talk, which is (for me) also a form of prayer. One of the things I said aloud to myself daily for at least two years was this: “I feel my feelings.”

Part of the problem was that I was afraid of those powerful emotions, especially my anger. My friend David said, “You haven’t killed anyone yet, so trust yourself and open up."

One day my emotions seeped through my resistance and I began to weep. Not just a few tears, but convulsively. For hours the pain was so severe I couldn’t stop. A few weeks later, anger was one of those powerful emotions that erupted, but I was able to accept.

And yet, in the midst of that excruciating trauma, I was glad. “Finally,” I said. That didn’t lessen the pain, but it pushed me down the road toward reclaiming my emotions.

It hasn’t been easy, but I can now say that most of the time I feel my emotions and they’re no longer as terrifying as I once thought they were.

I feel my pain, as well as a wide range of emotions,

to make me healthier and to connect more fully with others.

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Are there questions or specific topics you'd like Cec to address in upcoming blog entries? If so, please send an email to his assistant at the following address: cecilmurphey(at)mchsi(dot)com.


Andrew Schmutzer said...

The emotions of the sexually abused are about as misunderstood as the abuse itself, is ignored. Truth is, neither the family nor the abused person adequately grasp the emotions surrounding abuse. Family and friends want status quo, the abused want sanity, and most faith-based communities don't want surprises.

It is so frustrating to dig through feelings that are 20-40 years old--balancing different "selves" is exhausting and profoundly sad! Some communities see anger as proof of authentic story, others use anger to dismiss people, confusing it with hostility.

The emotions of the abused child...it's another book!

Larry Clemson said...

I feel like it's opening up Pandora's box. I don't want to feel or deal with those things. I want to put the lid back on & stuff it away so it wont have to feel them. I think lately God has been wanting me to open the box up & with Him he is walking me through the pain. It really hurts & I don't like some of the things I have in the box. Things that are hard for me to come to grips with. I know it's a good thing to finally get those things out - to bring them to the light. It's really hard but I'm not alone! I don't have many close friends but I think it's time to share with someone. Please pray that there is a real Christian brother out there that can be that friend for me. Thanks, Larry - Here is to feeling those things I don't want to.

Cec Murphey said...

Andrew, once again, thanks for your insightful comments. Yes, it's not an easy task to delve into those decades-old feelings.

Larry, I'm sorry for your pain.
Most of us have gone through (or are now going through) the same kind of inner torment. For those of us who numbed out, feeling the overpowering emotions is the significant step toward healing.