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.

Me? A Controller?

I doubt that anyone thought of me as a controller—at least no one ever used that term to my face. But I was and had learned ways of controlling without appearing to do so.

The first time I became aware of that reality was when I met with a group of professionals in the publishing business. We met in a restaurant, where we sat at tables and got to know each other. Within minutes, I realized the other seven people at my table were hesitant to speak up, so I took charge by introducing myself and then asked each one to do the same. After that I threw out questions and kept the discussion moving.

At one point, two of them referred to personal problems connected with their jobs. After a pause, both times I made a humorous comment and moved on to asking why they came to the meeting.

Afterward, I realized I had taken charge of the group. Not that it was wrong; someone needed to do it. But I also admitted that I had manipulated the conversation to keep it on safe subjects—in that case, away from personal problems, especially my problems.

Over the next few weeks I was able to acknowledge that at times I manipulated others and dominated the decision-making process. It was still a long time before I had the insight into my motivation.

Eventually, I faced the reality: I needed to be in control—not that I used that word. I would have said, "I had to speak up." Or "I wanted to keep things on a safe topic." As a child, I had been helpless and powerless and I had that deep, unconscious need not to be dominated by others.

I still struggle with wanting to manipulate the outcome. The more secure I am inside, the less I need to dominate. And the more I can trust in a sovereign, loving God.

God, as you make me feel more loved and secure,
you teach me to manipulate others less. Thank you.

* * * * *

This post is excerpted from Cec's new book, More Than Surviving: Courageous Meditations for Men Hurting from Childhood Abuse (Kregel Publications, 2018).


Dan said...

I can relate.
As I process (largely internally) I was the go-getter. Lead the discussion, and speak up. Give an opinion (usually very good) lol, but didn't listen well. From those in leadership who i was under, I often rejected their authority. I rejected it mostly because my abuser was in a position of authority. So I had to control things for me to feel in some way that an abuse wasn't going to happen again. What I didn't see is my reaction to abuse. Not that the go-getters are wrong. We need go-getters. We need doers, but my "hidden motives" were covered up until I dealt with them. I'm learning to listen. Listen to those in authority, Listen to others, and listen to the subtle voice of GOD. Healing......slowly

Anonymous said...

I'm struggling with control now. I have always tried to control who knew about my abuse. I had this deep need to share but then a deep fear about sharing. Last week I shared that I was abused with 5 people in a group setting. I know that God wanted me to share and that He had been prodding me to share. But I have been totally freaking out this entire week about it. There is part of me that never wants to see these people again even though they were supportive and then there is another part of me that is glad that I finally did what the Lord wanted me to do. I am so afraid to tell my wife that i shared with these 5. I am a control freak. But i cannot control this. I have let the secret out and i cannot undo it. I dont know what to do or say to these people the next time i see them, and i am sure by now they have told more people. I am so full of anxiety over this, i dont know what to do. I have told others before but not a group of 5 at one time. I just remembered I have told another group of 5 before. The sky did not fall in and they were very supportive. I never told my wife about that group also and that was about 2 years ago. I also told my brother and 2 sisters, and even though my brother called me a liar and told some other people, the sky did not fall in. I have been thinking about a story I heard where a person went out telling stories on someone and then the person felt remorseful and went to a preacher and said I have sinned by gossiping what can I do. He told her to go out and toss feathers all over town. She came back after doing so and said i did as you said. He said now go back and gather the feathers. She said that is impossible. He said that is the way it is with gossip. This is the reason I stay anonymous on here.

Cecil Murphey said...

Anonymous, Thanks for telling us. Even though You did it anonymously, it's a beginning. And it is a big risk. But, as we point out frequently, it's a needed step for your healing.

You can't control what others say or think. But as you pointed out, you generally received affirmation. Keep it up. As many of us will tell you, it does get easier. I also frees you from trying to control every outcome.