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.

Why Now?

A few years ago, a student wrote her master’s thesis about adult men facing their childhood abuse. Her research concluded that many males are into their forties or fifties before they cope with their childhood assault.

“Why then? Why so late in life?” I asked. Those were important questions for me because I was 51 years old before my memories broke through. In the midst of my pain I called out, “Why now?”

And then I laughed at my own question. No matter when I dealt with the pain, I probably would have said it was bad timing or not convenient.

But then, trauma never is convenient.

Instead, I examined my life and came up with my own answer: Because I was ready. That may sound strange because of the pain, and the tears didn’t stop for a long time. I hadn’t cried for myself since I was 11 years old because I learned not to feel pain when my father beat me. But the summer of my fifty-first year, the torture and agony broke through.

Even so, I was ready.

That is, as excruciating as it was, I was able to cope. It says to me that had the memories erupted earlier, I probably wasn’t emotionally strong enough.

I faced my pain because I could—finally.

If I’m feeling pain now,
it’s because I’m able to cope with it.

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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.


Roger Mann said...

Cec, I too in my listening to many other men talk about their coming to terms with their abuse at this late stage of life have wondered about this. I suspect that like me many who were abused at such a young and impressionable age did not have the life experiences or maturity to cope with all the emotions, questions and the complex interpersonal relationships that were taking place at the time. It was overwhelming on our young minds so we 'boxed it up and put it away' deciding on just going with it till we could survive and get ourselves to a safe place.

For many of us, this was decades later when most of our life's demands had been met and dealt with. In short we were in a better place, a safer place mentally and our brains finally said it's time to 'clean out this closet'. We may not have felt ready but apparently we were and so the memories began to march out of hiding.

Looking at those memories from decades later and with an adult's perspective we allowed ourselves to feel, to process and to accept what happened for what it was. It was terrible, wrong, it hurt because of the loss that we now know we suffered. It is time to grieve and grieve I did and still do. My personal illusions of what my childhood was like smashed into a thousand painful shards. The shame, the guilt of at times enjoying it or wanting it all comes back and as an adult now I see it all for what it was without the fog of confusion and bliss of ignorance.

Why now? Because believe it or not I am ready and while it will be painful beyond what I think I can handle, I do handle. we do handle; each according to their gifts. Maybe not well, and maybe not in the healthiest of ways but we will finally incorporate it all into the tapestry of our lives and the holes will all be filled.

Life is messy, at times ugly but there is beauty also in each too and it all comes together to say this is me and all of this is why I am me. Now I can be better.

Just my thoughts.

Mark Cooper said...

Roger that is a great expression! I identify with much of what you say.

Cec, thank you for this post. I think sometimes we DO blame ourselves for not dealing with our pain earlier in life. I sometimes beat myself up for the wasted years of living in denial.

But I am thankful that I am dealing with my pain now. And I know what I view as "wasted" years was in reality necessary preparation for being able to heal today!

Andrew Schmutzer said...

Why now? Here's a few thoughts that contribute to Delayed Admission among men:

(1) Because the coping mechanisms of our youth now prove inadequate. (2) ... the "sanctioned stereotypes" that men must face (e.g., "Real men don't cry, nor can they be raped.") stifle our healing. (3) ... there has been a lack of quality literature for male abuse. (4) ... we are afraid to tell our doctors and professionals who should be able to help. (5) ... churches and other organizations don't have Support Groups for male survivors. (6) ... our brokenness surfaces in destructive ways when we try raising children. (7) ... before Sandusky and Penn State, abused boys were not adequately addressed in the media.

I'll start there.