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.

The Man Card

(This post is from Roger Mann.)
I hear this concept every now and again as part of some joke. For me it’s no joke. I understand what they are talking about, but I’m sure I don’t have one and don’t have a clue as to how to get one. Dad never taught me how to dress, how to play sports, how to shave, or anything else but to shut up. Children were to be seen and not heard.

I began elementary schooling wondering what it was all about, being a boy that is. I had all the right equipment but no clue as to what to do with it all. How do you make your legs run and not look stupid? How do you throw a ball and not look like a girl? How do you keep from flinching when a ball is thrown your way so you can catch it like you know what you’re doing?

How do you not react like some little baby when you fall and hurt yourself? Most of this stuff I learned by watching others and risked looking like an idiot trying to imitate their skills. As I went through the educational system learning my math, English, and science, I was constantly in a state of anxiety trying to pretend my “man card” was fully legit and endorsed.

I thought after I graduated from high school that I was finally finished with the game of “am I just as good.” But as I got into the work place, the rules changed once again, and I was on edge once more trying to figure out this thing of being a grown-up man. Of course, there was the sex thing too, which now complicated an already complicated navigation. Now I had to pretend I knew what that was all about. So here comes the eyeroll, the nudge, the grin, the “oh yeah, I know what you mean there, buddy.”

I didn’t know what they meant—not really—and I ached, feeling all the more exposed.

It has taken me a long time and a lot of stupid mistakes and bad choices to realize most of them were as clueless as I was. I shunned many a potential good friend because I didn’t want anyone to find out how clueless I really was.

Scott's Story

I recently received this poignant email from Scott (which I’ve edited with his approval). He wrote an additional 500 words, and the pain was so obvious. I was especially touched when I read that he wasn’t believed. Many of us know that experience. (Cec)

* * * * *

I reached puberty at age 16. I was put on growth hormones at age 15, as I had not started growing.

Around that time, a teacher fondled me at least once. He was reported by other parents for doing the same to their sons and dismissed from the school. I remember feeling sorry for him as I didn't realize he had done anything wrong.

The serious abuse started when I was 14 or 15. A friend, only 6 months older, began to abuse me. That situation continued for 5 years until I was 19.

All that is mild, and I could live with it. Now comes the bombshell: I became a perpetrator, and I’ve never truly forgiven myself. I had a sexual experience with a 7- or 8-year-old boy. I was 16.

Then on a Tuesday—a day I’ll never forget—the boy’s mother knocked on our apartment door. My life forever changed on that day. I confessed and had to go to the police. I was lucky because the case was dropped by the judge.

I had stopped by then, although I’m pretty sure I would not have done it again even if I had not got caught.

I explained to my parents and the psychologist that I did it because it had been done to me. They didn’t believe me because the person who had done it to me was not much older than I was.

I accepted that, and never understood why I had committed that most awful sin. Eleven years later, I realized I was re-enacting what happened to me when another psychologist suggested it— as a reason, and not as an excuse.

Maybe that’s why I let the abuse to me go on—as self-punishment.

A Letter from a Female Reader

The letter below comes from Jen Puckett, a female follower of this blog.

* * * * *

Dear Cec,

I want you to know what your willingness to share about your abuse has meant to my husband and me. After reading your book, my husband felt understood and not alone or like something was wrong, defective, or disgusting about him. We’re especially grateful that as a Christian man you were gut honest about same-sex attraction and the struggle that causes when you genuinely love your spouse. I read your book for wives too and found encouragement in your words and in the ways you said your wife supported you most, even when she least knew how.

My husband is reading More Than Surviving right now. He appreciates knowing he’s not alone. He's 48 years old, and his abuse happened from childhood through age 16. It's been a long road. We've been through intensive individual and marriage counseling over the last couple years and are rebuilding our seventeen-year marriage.

A few years ago, I felt a desire to write a book of my own from the wife’s perspective—before we were ever ready ourselves—and treasured it in my heart until now. I struggle to tell the agonizing stories, but my husband and I agree that unless the raw truth is told, it won’t help other survivors’ wives. Your honesty and transparency in writing are what enabled him to open up toward healing.

We both know the price in exposing the truth is high. My husband’s ministry could be devastated, or we could have a shift in the way people look at abuse—especially male sexual abuse among Christianity. The chasm between true compassion and hope for the hurting and the shock or discomfort with the symptoms of abuse seems insurmountable; therefore, the church often refuses to acknowledge it. But you gave it a voice long ago, and voices are beginning to join yours. Ours will. Others will too.

We sincerely thank you, Cecil, for sharing your harrowing journey. You risked so much to help other hurting men heal and know they’re not alone. You exposed light into the darkest places of unspoken shame. You opened never-before-opened doors for abused men and showed them firsthand the courage it takes to walk through them. As a wife to an incredible survivor, I am beyond blessed that you chose to use your voice and write your words.

God bless in every way,

Jen

Same-sex Attraction

This post is from Roger Mann.

* * * * *

It's been a difficult struggle to accept God's truth about me. I impose so much of my dad's attitudes and vocalizations when thinking about God. It's not fair to God and not fair to me, but those ruts in the road of my logic journey are deep. The wagon just doesn't want to slip out and turn onto a different direction, a healthier direction without heroic effort. I feel I need some kind of an aha moment to turn that corner and leave this mental track.

From my high school days into in my fifties, I secretly accepted I was what everyone else probably thought: I'm gay. But I refused to admit it out loud. The closest I came was to tell someone I was bi and even that hurt and gave me a mental cringe.

I now admit that I have an unwanted same-sex attraction that I struggle against due to my childhood sexualization by my father and others. While I believe that to be accurate, it is not what God sees when He looks at me. At least I hope so. But even if he does see me that way, I love the fact that he loves me anyway, is not uncomfortable with my telling Him I love him and knowing there is no misunderstanding when I say it.

I’ve been uncomfortable telling another man that I love him, especially if he knows my history. Hugging another guy is fine if he doesn't know, but hugging one who does is awkward for me.

What is he thinking? Am I releasing fast enough so he doesn't think I am enjoying the contact too unduly?

Years ago, when I attended my first men’s conference, I was uncomfortable with any physical interaction for that reason. I also was careful not to seem like I was favoring certain guys so no one would get any ideas.

For me it's been a mine field. So, yeah, it's different from "I have a problem with alcohol, so let's not go to a bar."

I need male fellowship—healthy male fellowship— but I isolate because of the above. I feel like heaven's misfit toy. Still usable but marked down as defective.

A Note from Ben Franklin

Last year, at age 62, I began seeing a psychiatrist for sleep problems. On my second visit, he told me I showed classic signs of depression and PTSD and asked how long I’d been depressed. I mentioned the verbal and emotional abuse I suffered at the hands of my father, but some of the traumatic events were blocked from my conscious thought.

One day, my wife asked why I was so angry. I told her about flashbacks I had of my father violently raping me as he accused me of being a reminder of two men he had sex with during his time in the army. Because I was named after those two men, he couldn’t forget what he had done.

My wife was dumbstruck. By the time I finished my story, I was huddled in a corner of the patio with tears streaming down my face. I had never told anyone. Who would I tell? Who would believe an eight-year-old child?

Back then I didn’t understand the sexual content. I just knew the physical and emotional pain and the betrayal. After the rape, my father never hugged me again. He never said he loved me, and he belittled my accomplishments until he died.

My psychiatrist transferred me to a psychology resident. He’s been wonderful help along this journey. But while reading your book Not Quite Healed, I realized that many of the trials and tribulations I’ve dealt with all these years aren’t unique to me. I see myself in almost every chapter, and I can usually read only one or two before tears overtake me.

When my therapist asked me what I hoped to get out of our sessions, I told him I wanted to quit hating myself. You’ve helped me take the first positive steps in that direction. Thank you!

My wife is reading your companion book and is trying hard to work through this with me. Just writing this to you has helped. I’m not quite healed, but I’m working on it!

Ben Franklin (not my real name)

Self-confidence

Roger's post below originally came in as a note to me, but I felt it needed to be read by everyone.

When I read his comments, several memories flooded me.

I’ve been there—too many times. I assume most of you men have had such experiences.

Here’s mine:

One time the table was full, but I pulled up a chair and joined the group. Several of them nodded or acknowledged me, but no one spoke to me or invited me to join the two or three conversations going on around me.

I was surrounded by people I knew and yet totally alone. I ate my meal, got up, said “Excuse me,” and left. No one acknowledged my leaving.

That happened in 1990. Why do I still remember? The pain. The rejection. Those two things hit me, and yet, had I asked, I’m sure each of the people would have been shocked that I felt rejected.

READ ON.

(Cec)

* * * * *

Not sure if it’s shame or fear of rejection, but when I was at a church sponsored men’s conference this weekend I felt awkward and had difficulty joining in. If it was a meeting where we were all supposed to be there or a small group like in our cabin where all were expected to be present, then I was okay walking in late and joining. It was expected. But to just walk up to a group and join the conversation, I was not comfortable.

At one point, we were all sitting around a table and talking before breakfast. I went to the bathroom, and when I came back everyone had gone to the tables where they served breakfast. No one looked for me or waved me over. I finally saw them all the way across the room and felt completely abandoned. All the seats at their table were taken, so I got a plate and sat at an empty table. I finished eating and went for a walk.

I just couldn’t bring myself to walk all the way over there and look for a seat. I was afraid there wouldn’t be one and it would be awkward. I’m not shy, but I found myself angry that I could let myself get in that situation. All of them are good guys. Why couldn’t I go over and ask to sit with them?

(Roger Mann)


A Note from Cec

Monday, May 14, 2018
Since I started this blog in 2010, I’ve never deleted or restricted points of view. That has changed with the ongoing comments about masturbation.

IMO, the comments have gone beyond helping and encouraging men in their struggles for healing, inner-peace, and self-esteem.

This is a blog aimed at healing for hurting men.

The Two Sides of My Abuser

(This post comes from Mark Cooper.)

* * * * *

Many of us felt confusion about our abuse because our abuser was also good to us. We enjoyed the good times, so how could what they did in abusing us be bad?

We may still deal with that confusion. How do we reconcile our conflicting memories of pain and pleasure? 

If we enjoy photographs taken with that person, or if we value a gift they gave us, are we betraying our inner wounded child? If we face the evil they did to us, are we betraying what was good about them?

I’ve had less depression, increased energy, a greater sense of purpose and peace about myself as a man, and more confidence in my relationships as I’ve accepted that my abuser indeed abused me and caused great harm in my life. But then I’d remember the turtle shell he showed me when I was ill, the time he gently held my hand to remove a painful splinter, or the oak plant stand he made for me.

Enjoying the good memories filled me with guilt. If he had been kind to me even once, then how dare I call the other times abuse? Admitting he hurt me caused me to feel as if I were to blame for the pain, just as it did when I was a child.

One day my friend Jason laid a pen on the table in front of me. He said, “The way you’re thinking makes as much sense as saying, ‘There is a pen on the table; therefore, I wasn’t abused.’” He explained what he meant. “Just like this pen has nothing to do with whether you were abused, his doing something good for you has nothing to do with whether you were abused. You were abused because he abused you!”

Now, when I start down my old pathway of thinking, I remind myself that a good memory doesn’t undo the abuse. Neither does the abuse void the good my abuser did. The truth is, my abuser did cause deep pain and damage in my life. He also did good and gave me memories that I still enjoy.

My inner peace grows as I accept that my abuser was capable not only of evil but also of good. I knew both sides of him.

Having a Terrible Time

This post is from Roger Mann.

* * * * *

Around certain meaningful dates, I’ve experienced times of intense increase in same-sex attraction (SSA) and desires to binge on pornography and masturbation. For me, I finally realized that the fantasies, memories, and desires were deep down my own boy inside wanting to make a different outcome than what actually occurred back then. It was like I was trying to re-write history— my sexual history with my father and others.

It was bad back then. But I didn't understand how bad. It was all new and arousing in ways I’d never dreamed of, but at the same time very unsatisfying. And as I got older and more aware of what kinds of things could have happened, I began to be drawn into fantasy of what might have been had this or that just happened. It fed a porn and masturbation binge time and time again.

Sometimes it led to actually acting out. The thing is, even when I acted out and the situation should have been perfect, there was always something inside me that said, “NO, this is not who you are." And the witness of the truth of that ruined it as it should have.

As I said, it was a terrible time. Finally, I began seeing that it was just my mind desperately wanting a different end—a fantasy relationship with my father. Or later with another my own age. And as I got older, with someone even younger than me. Perhaps it was in an effort to reverse roles to make it end differently that way.

I wanted the love, acceptance, and affirmation that I never got. I got sex from Dad, but nothing more. For the rest of my life I had been willing to trade my body for that. But that's not how one gets that, and that's not who we should look to in order to obtain it.

For me, God is the only one who gives unconditional love with no strings attached and none needed. It took me way too long to learn that, and I left a wake of destruction trying to find it in all the wrong places.

These Ashes

This post comes from Daniel Eichelberger.
* * * * *

I’m like a man poking through the cold ashes of a long-dead fire—bent, intently combing, sifting, and looking for remnants of a childhood untouched by pain, and where innocence is unshattered by the knowledge of forbidden things. I’ve been poking for a long time and coming up with nothing.

What kind of treasures can I really find in the leftovers of an inferno, the heat of which reduces everything to a substance nearly as light as air? If sifting through them is futile, why don’t I just give up the search? Why can’t I just leave them alone?

Some of my true friends probably silently ask the same question as they observe my persistent behavior. What power is there in the remains of experiences long past? They never ask those questions in my presence. A few of them even poke around with me in this gray-and-black mess. Although I appreciate their support, they really don’t know what they’re looking for or understand the attraction such a fruitless task holds for me.

Neither do I.

Maybe the remnants of a childhood aren’t what I seek. Perhaps it’s redemption.

Roger Mann's Response to "Excess Baggage"

The following is Roger Mann's response to last week's post.
* * * * *

There has been so much hurt and confusion in my life, and all of it has left its mark. Or maybe I should I say scar. Admittedly, I have not handled it well. To be honest, much of it was in response to my thrashing about trying to find a way to live with the confusion and sadness I carried from childhood disappointments that I never resolved. I hurt those I loved, and when you do that, it leaves a mark on you too.

So I guess I have a lot of baggage—a lot of excess weight that keeps me earthbound. I have walled off my heart from people, and God seems to be the only one I trust enough to allow His love to touch me. I don't want to hurt. That's a fact. But I don't want to hurt anyone else by allowing them to get close and then disappointing them. I overheard my wife ask our counselor, "Why am I not enough?" and I honestly could not tell her. I just didn't know.

Why do I get so sad some days? Why do I get so angry over such little slights? Why am I so insecure with her and so self-assured with strangers? People who don't know me well seem to love me. Those who get close discover a different person entirely. It's a lot of weight to carry around. It's a lot of balls to juggle and keep in the air. And it's similar to the personality of my father. Everyone loved Dad and loved to come and visit. Those of us who lived with him often wondered why he was so different with us.

I suspect there is a root belief somewhere deep that keeps this cycle going. I just don't seem to be able to find where it's located in that bag of mine and what form it takes.

Excess Baggage

The following article is from my April newsletter. I've had such good feedback from it that I decided to post it here. Next week I'll share Roger Mann's response. If you're interested in receiving my monthly newsletter, send me an email request at cec.murp@comcast.net. (Cec)

* * * * *

As I stood in line at Delta’s baggage check-in, the agent said to the woman in front of me, “You’re nineteen pounds overweight. You’ll have to pay for the excess weight or take out some of the goods.”

The woman dropped out of line to repack and stuff items into her large purse.

As I watched, I thought of the excess luggage most of us carry—hurts, slights, betrayals, and rejections. We haven’t let them go, even though they weigh us down. For example, whenever someone mentions a person we haven’t forgiven, we feel a heaviness inside. Even anger.

Those thoughts reminded me of Greek mythology and Atalanta, the fleet-footed goddess. Her father, King Schoeneus, wanted her to marry, but she refused. Finally, she agreed to marry only if her suitor could outrun her in a footrace. If the challengers lost, they would be put to death. Many young men tried, lost the race—and their lives.

Hippomenes became the next suitor and asked the goddess Aphrodite for help. She gave him three golden apples.

The race began and Atalanta was soon twenty yards ahead. Hippomenes rolled one apple in front of her, and she stooped to pick it up. A little later, he rolled out the second and she grabbed it. And the third.

By then, Atalanta was so weighted down, Hippomenes passed her and won the race.

The story teaches us that we self-sabotage by holding on to “golden apples” of anger, resentment, and unforgiveness. They hinder by weighing us down in successfully running life’s race.

We know they’re there, and we know they hold us back. Even so, it’s not easy to cast off those hurt feelings and rejection. With God’s help and opening ourselves to individuals we trust, we can dispose of the things that weigh us down.

I'm running a race of life.

I rid myself of every kind of excess baggage. 












Wounded Healers

(This post comes from Mark Cooper.)

* * * * *

Cec has written about those he calls the wounded healers—men broken by their pain who are healing and at the same time encouraging others who face similar battles. A scene in the recently released movie I Can Only Imagine illustrates the principle of the wounded healer.

The movie is based on the true story of singer Bart Millard. Bart grew up being severely abused by his father—physically, verbally, emotionally. During one of his concerts we see Bart sharing a bit of his abuse story and the healing he is experiencing as an adult.

As Bart speaks, the camera keeps cutting away to a young boy in the audience. He’s around 12 years old. Those around him appear oblivious to his presence. He looks small and alone. He might as well be invisible.

We’re never introduced to the boy; we never learn his name; we never hear his story. But his face tells us that his pain is a pain we who were abused recognize. He is intently listening to Bart’s story, hungry for hope. The scene ends leaving us with no idea what happens next for this boy.

We were once that little boy, alone and invisible. But somewhere along the line we heard a story of hope, or watched someone living with courage, or just knew within ourselves that there had to be a way to escape the pain we were living in.

Because we’re healing, even if ever so slowly, we may be the ones who give hope to that boy. We may never talk to him, and we may never know his story. But he’s watching. And he sees something about us that is genuine and real. Something that speaks hope to his heart.

One day he will become one of us, a man who though broken by his pain is courageously healing and offering hope to the next abused boy feeling invisible in the crowd.

Looking Backward

This post is excerpted from Cec’s new book, More Than Surviving, which will be published this week. It’s available through Amazon and many other retailers. 

* * * * *

When I was living in Africa, early one morning I watched an African with his ox pulling a plow through his fields. The lines were straight, and for the twenty minutes or so I stared at him, his gaze never focused anywhere but straight ahead.

I thought of that after I read an inspirational message that urged us not to look backward. Looking backward means going backward, the person implied.

Sounds like good advice in farming, but I’m not sure it’s helpful with wounded people like us. We need to look backward. That’s where our problems began. Unless we go back to the source, we stay so busy moving forward—but our childhood injuries stay unhealed and keep pace with us.

Going back to that damaged childhood isn’t easy. And it takes courage—a lot of courage—to re-experience those wounds. But as one authority said, The only way out is through. He meant that if we want release—true healing—we have to push ourselves to revisit that pain. The big difference is that we can accept our pain and let it help us move forward as mature adults.

We can learn to say things to ourselves like this:
  • I didn’t ask for that. I didn’t want it. 
  • I was a kid with no way to defend myself. 
  • That bigger person overpowered me and stole my innocence. 
  • I felt unloved and unwanted and someone took advantage of me. 
Those statements aren’t cure-alls, but they can help us feel tenderness toward that isolated child. Here’s a statement I’ve said to myself many times when I’ve revisited my childhood: I did the best I could.

For me, that statement means that I took care of myself through innate-but-immature wisdom and survived. No self-blame or recriminations. Being a six-year-old kid with no one to help him, I remind myself that I handled myself the best I could.

Now I can walk—and run—along the healing path.

Lord, instead of condemning my childhood, 
teach me to say, “I did the best I could.”

The Shock

(This post is from Roger Mann.)

* * * * *

I still remember the slow creeping shock that came over me when I first began to realize (or maybe I should say accept) what had happened to me as a boy. I had this fantasy of such a wonderful childhood that I clung to all my life. Clung to so desperately that it made my chest ache at times. Every time I heard about someone else’s wonderful childhood, I’d get angry and irritable and not know why. I should have been happy for them, but I was confused and angry and just wanted to go away.

I lost so much.

I can’t begin to tell you how sad and betrayed I felt. It took me awhile, going from weeping to rage and back to weeping for a week or so. I guess it was a grieving process, and I’m still not done. I’m almost 69 years old now, and it still stings. I’m tempted to list all of the might-have-beens that go through my mind still today, but I won’t.

It doesn’t matter. It is what it is.

Since the death of that denial somewhere back in early 2000, I have spent my life reluctantly but sincerely reaching out to others hurting from similar wounds and betrayal with sympathy and encouragement that I admit sometimes I didn’t feel myself. I share what was shared with me when I came looking for help with the pain. I share my experience as one who has traveled a well-worn part of this journey, pointing out pitfalls and traps that can keep one stuck in a particular sadness.

And I know those places well. I’ve had to learn how to recognize that I’m stuck and learn how to get unstuck and move on, even when I wanted so badly just to stay and wallow. And I’m not against a certain amount of wallowing. I earned it in spades.

But to heal, I have to crawl out of the pit and move on, which usually means climbing the ladder of forgiveness one more time. I sometimes hate that ladder, but it’s the only route for me to freedom and moving on.

Just my thoughts.

Roger

From a Wounded Man

This comes from Tommy, who gave me permission to post it on the blog. I think it would be wonderful if some of you would comment words of encouragement to him. (Cec)

* * * * *

Through my wanderings searching for help, I found you on the internet and am about halfway through Not Quite Healed.

I am 58 years old, successful, married for 34 years to a terrific woman who I am crazy about, and absolutely devoted to my Boston Terrier who helps keep me sane because he loves unconditionally and is with me nearly all the time.

I have known for many years through a vague and foggy memory that I was severely physically, emotionally, and verbally abused. And yet every psychiatrist I saw asked the same question (paraphrasing): “Do you remember sexual abuse?” I didn’t. But when I read the characteristics of men who had been abused as boys, I met 17 or 18 of the 20 or so bullet points. And then my mom passed away, and as I was going through her things, I found a semi-pornographic picture (for the 1960s) of me. And I felt a flood of memories that were new but still the same fog and vagueness.

Since then, I can remember as clear as day never having privacy in the bathroom no matter what I was doing. I can remember my dad showing me his genitals. I remember “baths” with Dad. And I remember that picture. That picture haunts me. And I remember my mother forcing me to sleep in the bed with her until, at 18, I just said no and left.

I have nightmares. Awful nightmares. Snakes. Demons. Rickety high towers and ladders that make me feel like I’m falling. Rushing water that seems to overtake me. Sleep paralysis that has me neither sleep nor wakeful and yet I see the door to my bedroom opening. That’s all. Just an opening door.

I have inexplicable fits of rage. I have weeping that makes no sense, at a movie, for example. And I have sampled all the evil that this world has to offer, and it makes me sick to my stomach. I know God loves me, but I don’t know how to let God love me. I don’t blame God for what happened, but I do wonder why He let it happen. God help me!

I guess I would have to say that I am either on my first step or maybe a few steps into the realization that “my little boy” was really badly abused. My wife is a bit of a picture person, and there are pictures of me as a youth of various ages around the house. Sometimes I pick one up, with my wife present, and sob, asking, “How in the world could someone do that to that little boy?” My wife is completely supportive and yet clueless as to what to do, as am I.

I suppose I have many years of work to get through this horror that we have all felt and endured. But knowing that others have, helps me know that I can too.

I am seeing a therapist who has helped me get to the point that I am. We will slog on.

Thank you, and God bless you for your work with us.

The Disconnect

(This post comes from Roger Mann.)

I never questioned what was happening to me. Not really. We had a normal family and a normal family life. In fact, because we were Christians and deeply involved in church, at times I felt a quiet sense of superiority over some of the other kids I knew whose parents argued, drank a lot, or were divorced.

Normal is just what is going on around you.

As I got older, the disconnect became uncomfortable. I looked around at others my age and discovered that my experiences were not common; sometimes they even appeared rare.

At high school age, it’s difficult feeling different, wondering if others think and feel like you do. But when you KNOW you’re different, it’s a whole new level of crazy. That crazy pushed me, and I pushed back. I won most of the time, I thought, but around 28 or so I began to lose the war. I was tired, alone, and so confused. At some point, I gave up and allowed myself to experience all that had been going through my mind in the quiet darkness.

And the darkness, quiet or not, will get you. It sure got me. I spiraled down until I was suicidal enough to really try and end it all. But it didn’t work, and I realized I needed to get help. I tried a few therapists, but I just couldn’t form the words. They would stick in my throat, and all I could see was that I was betraying my father.

Weird, huh? Especially when considering he’s the one who betrayed me.

Eventually, it was get help or get out, and I finally was able in a session to blubber out the truth as I understood it. I can’t describe the relief and sense of betrayal that I felt, but it was worth it. After the dam broke, the tide came pouring out, and together we began to sort it out.

Painful? You bet. But as they say, pain is weakness leaving the body. The more we sorted, the stronger I began to feel. Truth hurts at times; it also heals if you let it.

Learning to Walk

(This post comes from Roger Mann.)

My wife’s grandson, who soon will be 9 months old, is starting to walk. He crawled for a bit a month ago but soon got the hang of that and pulled himself up to a standing position when he realized he could. It wasn’t long before he’d stand up all by himself, balancing well for a child his age. Two weeks ago, he started taking tentative steps. Now, although he falls frequently, he can manage four or five good steps at a time. He’s ahead of the game right now. I can see him running around before long with us having to chase him down.

It hit home that this is kind of like God giving me a picture of growing and walking in the spirit with Him. He’s given me a cool illustration of how difficult it is at first and how much grace I should extend to myself and others. The kid falls a lot, mostly on his butt, but occasionally he will wander near something hard and edgy and end up with a small bruise or mark on his face or head. Thank goodness for a cushy diaper or his butt would be black and blue.

It’s not just his lack of skill and balance that gives him trouble. Sometimes he’ll go exactly where he knows he shouldn’t. He’s learning the word no and what that means for him. Of course, he can’t understand why we get firm with him around electrical cords or things that could break. He just knows we’re restricting his freedom and he’s not happy about it.

That too reminds me of myself. There are many pleasurable things in the world that I’d love to indulge in, but Daddy says, “No.” Sometimes I’ll try to sneak off and indulge anyway. When I do, eventually (and sometimes immediately) I find out why they’re on the restricted list.

The point is this: Like God, I’m not angry with the kid. I’m trying to save him grief or permanent injury. I grew up with some scars for that very reason. I don’t want to have any more than necessary, but some seem to be necessary if I'm going to grow and learn.

As Darwin pointed out, there are those that live and learn; and those that just live.

Lesson: I cut myself some slack. I’m human. But in this vast universe of His, I’m a child, and Father knows best.

I Dreamed

(This comes from an anonymous reader.)

I awake to a memory of a girl I worked with. Can’t remember how it came up, but she was bragging that she couldn’t be raped because being limber she could cross her legs and lock them so no one could spread them. I just shook my head and walked away, remembering my arms locked around my legs, my knees under my chin lying on my back.

I don’t remember the pain. I do remember the smells: sweat, Old Spice, and poop. I remember the shock of cold as I was cleaned up. I remember using a bar of soap and hot water on the cloth in the morning so no one would see what was on it. I remember using the same cleaning technique on underwear when necessary. I remember telling myself it didn’t happen.

There are things I’ve locked away in a dark corner of my mind never to be remembered. Things I promised to take to my grave. But some things won’t stay. Truth can set you free, but it can also break your heart over and over. So what does one do with such things?

I write them out, trying to get them out. I try not to be numb about it, but I’m afraid. I’m afraid that if I let myself feel I’ll be unable to stop the tears ever.



.

From the News

In the 8 years I’ve been doing this blog, I’ve never quoted from a news report, but I think this piece from the Inquisitor is worth reading. It was posted on February 6, 2018. Terry Crews is an American actor, artist, and former American football player and was included in the group of people named as TIME Person of the Year for 2017.

* * * * *

In October 2017, Terry Crews tweeted a series of honest, sad, and alarming messages.

“This whole thing with Harvey Weinstein is giving me PTSD. Why? Because this kind of thing happened to me.” He began to describe an encounter with an at-the-time-unnamed male executive who groped his genitals.

Terry said he feared how the incident would be reported, afraid that he could end up in jail. Hollywood and the public alike were shocked by Terry’s Twitter confession.

However, Terry’s unfortunate and frightening experience helped him understand those who have gone through similar things. It also helped him understand why victims of sexual harassment often choose to remain silent, he wrote in the same series of Twitter messages.

On the other hand, this has perhaps helped the rest of the public understand that these things can happen to anyone. Even men, former NFL players.

The public paid attention to Terry’s tweets, but until today, he had not addressed the elephant in the room properly — masculinity. The actor tweeted an interesting message today, along with a link to Esquire. Terry has finally spoken up what he calls the “man code.” He considers this phenomenon to be a subtle, unspoken cult of masculinity.
It’s the backlash I experienced when I came forward with my story: men who were angry that, at first, I didn’t name my abuser; men who questioned why I didn’t fight back, who said I let him do it, who said I must’ve wanted it, who said I must be gay. The man code is why I endured the male version of a female survivor being asked, “What were you wearing?”
Celebrities like Isaiah Washington, Gabrielle Union, and Tyler James Williams expressed support for the Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor, BET reported, after the same online magazine had pointed out lack of Hollywood’s response to Terry Crews’ attempt to call out his assaulter.[1]


[1] https://www.inquisitr.com/4774448/terry-crews-on-metoo-and-the-backlash-he-experienced/

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A note from Cec's assistant: As you may know, Cec's new book, More Than Surviving: Courageous Meditations for Men Hurting from Childhood Abuse, is scheduled to release soon and is available for pre-order now. We've recently learned the significance of pre-orders.They give the publisher leverage to convince retailers to carry the book and to give it a spot on their shelves. And we want the book to have as much exposure as possible! It carries an important message of hope and offers healing to hurting men. If you plan on ordering it, would you consider ordering it now and encourage others to do the same? Thank you for your help in making sure More Than Surviving is successful!

Words

By Roger Mann

Every now and again I hear a word or phrase that triggers me for some reason. The other night in a playful mood my wife said something about me deciding to attack her or not. Don’t really remember the whole thing but that word attack hit me cold.

​I’ve been attacked. I don’t remember ever attacking anyone else. I was always pretty sensitive to whether someone was “interested” or not, and if not then nothing happened.

​I don’t want to attack anyone. I want everything to be mutual and feel good. I’m not into pain at all. Been there, done that, applied the ointment.

​Words, a song, even someone just looking at me in a certain way can stir emotions spontaneously. I guess this is normal. I don’t know.

I do know it's annoying and sometimes disruptive. I’m trying to desensitize myself by examining and being mindful of what's going on when that occurs. I don’t want to be so sensitive that I miss out on good moments by having something ugly pop up all the time and throw me for an emotional loop.

Breaking Bad Habits

This post comes from Roger Mann.

* * * * *

During my abuse, and for years after I left home, I picked up some bad habits. I don’t know if it was the PTSD or being trained to see others as objects that might be useful or harmful to me. I developed a hyper alertness when out in public. I tended to notice every male around me and would check them out for hostile or friendly body language.

Most times, depending on the venue, it was indifference, but not always, and it was those times I would seem distracted to whomever I was with. Mostly it was because I was checking out where the bathroom was, where the nearest exit was, and trying to find a seat against a wall.

Also, I became almost obsessed with my body. I wanted to know every inch, learn about all its functions and what sort of sensations and scents it carried. Certain parts like knees have their own scent. Of course that led to a curiosity about everyone else’s bodies too, which got me in trouble on several occasions. Some people are militant about their modesty.

Abuse changed my whole perception on the world around me in ways I couldn’t appreciate for decades, and after many counseling sessions, I still have a few quirks, which I won’t share here. But I have come to realize that much of what I believed was not true and even dangerous for me.

I’m learning a healthier way to navigate life these days, and I’m more comfortable with who I am. I’ve learned to listen to my wife’s suggestions and watch people’s reactions to things I say and do so as not to be thought weird.

I can look back on many cringe-worthy situations that would never have occurred if my sensibilities had not been so horribly messed with.

Fortunately, I’m re-trainable.

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A note from Cec's assistant: Cec's publisher sent him a box of bookmarks for his upcoming book, More Than Surviving. If you would like to help Cec by distributing some of the bookmarks, please contact him at cec.murp@comcast.net and give him your mailing address. Thank you!

Just Be Over It

By Mark Cooper

This is my story. It is not the same as your story. But I hope my story will encourage you to more fully live your story.

Those of us who deal with trauma recovery are probably familiar with the unhelpful concept, “Just be over it.”

My brother and I were enjoying dinner with friends. We got into a discussion about a former neighbor, a veteran of WW2, who battled alcoholism. My brother told us that the man’s son described his dad crying anytime the subject of the war was broached. My brother explained to us that the trauma of war no doubt contributed to our neighbor’s battle with alcohol. He then went on, “Of course, after a while a person should probably just be over [the trauma].”

I had to fight tears as I heard his words; his words felt like a mockery of my healing journey from abuse, but more than that, they exposed his own battles. My brother knows the pain of trauma in his life, but shows little evidence of facing that pain. His “just be over it” statement, rather than being an expression of callousness towards our neighbor, speaks of the harshness he feels towards himself; an expectation that by now he should “just be over” the pain of his wounds.

Those of us who have entered the healing journey know that we will never “just be over” our wounds. Rather, we have embraced the hard work of dealing with those wounds. We have accepted that our journey will include countless tears, frustration and anger. We know we must continually be honest with ourselves, with others, and with God. We face the raw truth of how we were hurt and how we have caused hurt in attempts to sooth our pain. But as the tough work of healing progresses, we eventually realize that we have more peace—even if it is fragile—than we once thought possible.

That peace would never have come had we told ourselves to “just be over it.”

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A note from Cec's assistant: Cec's publisher sent him a box of bookmarks for his upcoming book, More Than Surviving. If you would like to help Cec by distributing some of the bookmarks, please contact him at cec.murp@comcast.net and give him your mailing address. Thank you!

Roger's Response

Over the years, Roger Mann has been a generous contributor to this blog, and I’ve been impressed with his insights and honesty. I’ve asked him to write occasional posts to help out. His response to my request impressed me, and I asked his permission to share it with you. I look forward to his posts in the future. (Cec)

* * * * *

Years ago, I'd only been working on my recovery for five years or so, and all I wanted was to get fixed and get on with my life. Once I was "normal" I never wanted to hear about this stuff ever again or anyone else who had experienced it. It was ugly, dirty, shameful, and socially unacceptable.

I laugh now, because once I began to accept what happened to me and deal with it I became aware and in contact with others who shared so much of what I felt and was going through. It tugged at my heart, and I found myself responding, replying, and supporting them in their struggle too. I was not alone. It was not my fault. I needed to share those truths with others who also were hurting. I couldn't leave them.

The site I most frequent now I have two threads that I post on for my personal stuff—the single men's forum and the married men's forum. I have noticed I have six times the views of the next most popular thread. God has blessed me with insight and the compassion to articulate it. I guess I know why. Someone needs to say perhaps the things that I say and to share the hurt and victories that I experience.

And so I stay. Even though my wife thinks it's too much, I know I am needed there on those forums as His voice. Deep down I still wish I could walk away but I know I can't. I'm not done yet. God's not done with me yet.

That said, we both feel I should accept your offer and do what I can to help others along this journey, if only by pointing out what not to do. Let me know where to go from here and I will do my best to send you what I can.

An Email from Preston

Preston Hill emailed me the following note in response to the post titled “Naming Myself.” He gave me permission to share it with you here. (Cec)

* * * * *

I have treasured your emails for a long time now. I have been feeling prompted, in my own healing, to reach out. This email is, perhaps, the straw that broke the camel's back.

Identification is a power healing step, one I have been feeling my own heart inviting me into. My first public admission was with one of my professors in Bible college. I later started a support group with this safe sojourner. This group brought more self-disclosure, more safe solidarity, and therefore, more disruptive naming of pain that was necessary for healing to occur.

We used to always say in the group, "You cannot heal from what you have not named." In many ways, my journey of healing has been a process of learning my name, and naming myself.

A Story and Guidelines

First, I’ll tell you a story.

For more than 30 years, I’ve made my living as a professional writer (primarily a ghostwriter). Back in 2010, male survivors contacted me after I spoke at conferences. By then, each time I made oblique references to my abusive childhood.

Almost every time I spoke, some man would come to me afterward and say sheepishly, “I’m—uh, one of those—uh, men.”

Often, I was the first person he had ever told. I felt those men gave me a precious part of their trust and I didn’t want to violate it. And, as many of you know, trust is hard for us.

Second, those experiences made me sense the need for a blog—a safe place for hurting and healing men. That’s why I started MenShatteringtheSilence. The blog is to offer insight and encouragement for sharing our lives with each other.

This isn’t a chat room or a typical sharing group. Please don’t send personal messages to other blog readers. I want the entries to be of a general nature and focus on healing and growth.

Third, I’m a serious Christian, and several blog readers don’t embrace the same faith. I don’t want them turned away because of the posts. That’s not to ignore God in our lives, but to ask you, the readers and commenters, to be sensitive to them.

Some of you experienced sexual assault by those individuals who were supposed to represent God—pastors, Sunday school teachers, youth ministers. I want this blog to be the kind where any hurting man can find healing for his soul.

Fourth, if any of you want to talk to me personally, you may email me at cec.murp@comcast.net. If you want to make direct contact with someone on the blog who gives his name, I’ll send your request to that person and leave it up to him whether to respond.

Finally, thank you for reading this blog. I’ve been on the healing path a long time. I’m still learning and growing when I read your comments.