Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Forgiving Your Abuser

"Who says I have to forgive him for what he did to me?" an angry email read. "He ruined my life."

After several email exchanges, he told me that three of his friends told him repeatedly that he could never be fully healed unless he forgave his perpetrator.

I replied with a "Yes, but…" response. I asked, "Are you ready to forgive?" I suggested that he not allow anyone to push him.

"I'm not ready to forgive," he said.

When you feel you must forgive, that's the right time. Eventually you'll realize that's an important (but not immediate) step in your recovery.

Friday, August 27, 2010

"Will It Ever End?"

I asked that question a few months into what we now call my recovery period. The pain was intense. In some ways I felt victimized a second time. "I had to go through that as a kid," I said to my wife. "Now that I understand what was going on, it hurts even worse."

Maybe it wasn't worse; maybe it only felt worse.

And the pain went on a long time. I didn't keep any record, but the most intense period was probably about two years. I had opened the door and I couldn't shut it. I knew I had to keep going.

I've long moved past the pain. The memories have begun to dull the way most memories do. That's one powerful reward for pushing forward. But there's more.

I have healthier relationships with my wife and my family. I understand friendship on a deeper level than ever. But most of all, I have a good life. I like being alive and I like who I am.

The journey has been worth it, even with the pain.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thank You

(By BB)

I'm not ready to go public and have only told two people about being molested by my uncle. The stories from other men really, really encourage me. Thank you, Cec, for doing this. You may not hear from me again but I read the posts. Sometimes more than one time. So many hurting men, just like me.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Facing the Truth

I surfed the 'Net for sites about male sexual abuse. On one of them I read a sentence that seemed to implant itself inside my brain. But I didn't stop to ponder it. I went on to several other sites. After an hour, that sentence was still there.

I couldn't find the site again but the statement went something like this: The first step to recovery is to admit to yourself that you have been sexually molested.

Simple. Direct. But three words stuck out: admit to yourself. Since that day, I've thought of those words often. Many men struggle over those three words for a long time. They may not realize all the implications (who does?) of admitting the abuse, but they probably sense they've started trying to swim in the ocean and they're not sure they'll ever find the shore again. So they're scared—maybe as scared as when the abuse began.

Admit to yourself. That's where it starts. Once a man can admit to himself that it did happen, he puts his foot on the path marked Healing Journey Lane.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"I Zoned Out"

I heard a man say, "I zoned out," and it's not a new term; I understood what he was trying to say. I would say that I went numb. He had emotionally detached himself is a simple explanation. He felt detached from his body or his conscious awareness.

Zoning out occurs during a traumatic event, such as molestation, and it's not that uncommon. He said, "It was like being a spectator and watching the abuse."

And it worked for him. "I survived childhood without being filled with anger."

But like many short-term methods that work, it has a drawback. As an adult, it ruins relationships. The man who talked to me had been in therapy for more than a year and could finally say, "I'm beginning to feel sadness and anger—two emotions I didn't understand when I was seven." He's now 41. It took him a long time to learn to feel.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wayne's Story (Part 2)

This is a second post from Wayne and even more graphic. This isn't to offend anyone, but this is the reality of the world in which we live.

—Cec Murphey

I don't remember everything. I know I don't want to. But what do I do now? Cec, you had support groups and people to talk with. I don't and I'm not sure I want to. At times I just want to forget again.

But what I want most is to be normal. I want to be whole.

Most of my abuse came as singular events--hit-and-run predators. One was a relative, and it happened only once. Most were nameless, and only one threatened violence. It started when I was in elementary school when I was in 3rd or 4th grade, maybe younger. The last three took place after I was an adult--on my 18th birthday and during the following year. All three were strangers.

Most of the abuse I committed was short-term. Only the adultery that ended my marriage to my first wife and destroyed my family was long-term. And much of the sex, even though with initial consent, became abuse. I raped a girl; today they'd call it date-rape. I molested a teenager. My sister set me up with an older woman who used and abused me. I also committed incest with another sister.

I've done almost everything you can think of and fantasized about the rest. And I just want to forget about it all.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wayne's Story (Part 1)

The following email came to me from a man I know, and it's obvious why he calls himself simply Wayne. He hurts—and he's been hurting a long, long time. I've been praying for him every day for a couple of years. I hope you'll feel compassion for him, especially as you read the last three paragraphs. If you would like to join me in daily prayer for him, please reply personally to me at Cec_haraka (at) msn.com.

—Cec Murphey

I found myself in almost every chapter of When a Man You Love Was Abused. Maybe the beginning of healing is to know where it hurts. I'm learning why I am who I am. That's not to say that just because I exhibit a particular trait or behavior it's a result of sexual abuse. And it doesn't mean that anyone else who demonstrates certain patterns was molested. But it does indicate that those of us who were abused are likely to show certain kinds of behavior.

Much of the things I do may well be because of what I suffered. For example, I've been angry for years—longer than I realize—and I didn't know why. Or whom I was angry with.

I hold many authority figures in contempt and it doesn't matter if that person is my employer, boss, or pastor. Anyone who is ignorant and unteachable becomes a prime target. I detest ignorance, and I abhor stupidity. People who won't listen score extremely high on my list. And I suspect that's because even though I can't remember whom to blame for my abuse—other than the perpetrators—someone must be held responsible. And that's the problem.

Most incidents happened only once; a few repeat offenders. I know where only one of them lives, and he's a relative. Someone should have stopped him—should have stopped all of them. Someone should have protected me.

And no one did.

I can't remember if I told anyone, ever.

So I blame myself because the abuse made me feel good, physically and emotionally. But even if I had told and they didn't listen, I hold myself responsible. In that sense, I become guilty of not protecting myself—as if any child could do that. My mind knows better, but my heart won't cooperate.

I can't exact justice against those who molested me, and I can't blame others for not protecting me or at least coming to my rescue, so I hold myself responsible. I'm still angry with myself, even though I know I should forgive myself. I still struggle, engage in risky behavior, and worst of all, I easily lose hope.

At times II wonder if it's possible to be free from my past. And it's why I know that if I am ever whole, this healing process will take longer than I want it to.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Adam's Testimony

(By Adam Piatt)

I wish I had kept a diary. As time passes, the memories fade and I forget important things and lose details. But this much is clear: For a long time I knew I was different.

Because of my attraction to men, I acted on those feelings in my early twenties. I began to live as a gay man. I thought I had found freedom, but my lifestyle became a prison. I searched for love and companionship. I didn't find it. Instead my life spiraled out of control. I drank too much; I tried different drugs. Nothing satisfied me. I finally "came out" to family and friends and received mixed reactions. My family reacted with shock, anger, and disgust. Their attitude drove me further into the gay lifestyle. My parents asked me to speak to a minister they knew. With apprehension I agreed. I went to him and said, "I don't want to change. This is the path I feel I should be on."

He talked and quoted a few Bible verses. Finally he said, "There is no hope for you." He said I was to tell my parents that I was a lost cause.

In the parking lot I cried because I believed him. How could God love a lost cause like me?

Time passed and my wounds of rejection healed. I wanted a life-long partner and I settled for a string of relationships. As I learned, not many gay relationships last. They are riddled with deception, lies, and infidelity.

I finally met someone and we stayed together for six years. I had made a promise that I wouldn't leave him. "No matter what, this relationship will last. This is the one."

At my parents' request I started to attend a different church with them. I went a few times and listened to the conservative minister. To my amazement, I kept going back.

I assumed that because I was an ethical person, I would go to heaven. The pastor's sermons forced me to question whether that was true. His messages made me uncertain about myself and about heaven. I faced much inner fighting, many tears, and difficult questions. I wasn't happy and I didn't know what to do. "Why, God, why won't you let me be happy?"

My six-year relationship started to go wrong. My boyfriend and I argued—constantly it seemed. "And I'm going to hell," I told myself.

I kept returning to that church and I listened to the messages—even when I didn't want to hear.

Finally, unable to fight the inner turmoil, I knelt beside my bed and prayed. "God, I am sorry. I have sinned." The tears came. I didn't know I could cry so much and so long. That night I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. And I didn't know I could feel such wonderful, freeing relief.

I called my cousin, who had never stopped praying for me. She asked others to pray—people I didn't know. I told my parents next because they also had never given up on God changing me.

Finally, and with great hesitancy, I told my pastor. As I talked, I shed more tears—a lot of tears. I had hesitated because I was afraid he wouldn't want me to return to the church.

He listened and accepted me. He is still my pastor.

Since then, I have made many mistakes. I fall, but through the power of Jesus Christ I get back up.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"I'm Afraid"

Those were Evan's first words to me when he talked about his abuse. He had been in a support group through Celebrate Recovery and had come a long way in less than a year.

He was afraid, he said, that he might become an abuser and perpetrate what had been done to him. Because I didn't know what to say, I let him talk.

He had talked to his former pastor and the man said, "You be careful now. Most molesters were once abused as children."

"You mean you're afraid because of what the pastor said and not because of any urges or desires?"

"I wouldn't want to hurt kids. Why would I bring such pain on them after what I've gone through?"

Probably I could have said, "Your fears are unfounded," or "Your former pastor is a jerk." Instead I said, "As long as that troubles you, it may be a good sign that you don't want to molest others."

Evan stared at me for what seemed like a long time. Then he smiled. "You know, that feels right. If I wanted to hurt kids I wouldn't be afraid, would I?"

I think Evan understood a powerful lesson about life.