Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"It's Easier to Look in the Mirror"

(This is an additional post from Anonymous.)

Last night I started When a Man You Love Was Abused. One of the things that's been helpful reading it so far is being able to have names for different effects. It takes things out of ambiguity and gives them concrete boundaries which make them much easier to sort through.

One of the things I saw on the blog that was great was something to the effect that it's not something that is wrong with us, it's that something wrong has been done to us. I've been rolling that over in my head a bit. It makes it easier to look in the mirror. :)


Friday, June 24, 2011

"I Rarely Feel Like a Real Man"

(This blog post comes from an anonymous reader.)

I wanted to thank you for your Shattering the Silence blog. It has been a tremendous help reading others' stories.

Starting when I was five, and off and on for a couple of years after, my older cousin would rape and fondle me and have me perform oral sex on him. Thankfully, the Lord showed me how to forgive a decade ago. Before that, I was planning how I could get away with burning down the house that everything happened in. However, now at 31, I find myself still dealing with the effects of what happened.

I rarely feel like a real man, always plagued by inadequacy and not being masculine enough. I've struggled continually with same sex attraction since the abuse happened. It seems that all I crave is to have a guy I consider a real man, tell me that I am man enough - to be accepted as a guy. The only time I feel like a regular guy is when I'm working out at the gym. I spend almost all of my free time there. Although I've gotten bigger and stronger, when I look in the mirror, all I see is shameful weakness. The shame is suffocating at times.

I'm trying to convince myself to get your book as I know it will be of tremendous help. However, having the pain become even more raw through this process is daunting. The pain has gotten more acute lately, and I've retreated into sinful behaviors to buffer against the pain. The fun part is I work at a church, and if they ever found this out about me (my struggles, my sin), I'd be let go.

Your blog has provided great comfort. I was watching a Beth Moore clip last week, and she asked, "Have you ever let God touch those deep painful places in your life, or are you just quickly scabbing over them?" I asked God to touch the deep places in me, and that's when I found the link to your site. I think I will get the book.

Through it all, the Lord has been so merciful to me, so gentle. I fight against myself every day to trust Him.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Living in My Own Head (by Gary Roe)

I invited Gary Roe to write several posts. He also shares his story in my book When a Man You Love Was Abused.

Sometimes I'm amazed at how self-conscious I can be. Due to the abuse, I developed long antennae, and I'm constantly gauging what people might think or how they might feel about me. I talk and behave in a way that I think will insure that they like me.

As a result, I've lived a lot of my life inside my own head—thinking, posturing, wondering, planning, and controlling situations. Unknowingly, I fashioned a nice, acceptable, and thick mask for myself. Others got to know the mask and seemed pleased with it (just as I had planned).

Not only did I not know how to be me (I didn't know who I really was), I successfully walled myself off from love. If I couldn't take off the mask and be myself, then I also couldn't really engage with others and love them.

My mask was well liked. My mask received the love, and I went on feeling unloved.

Slowly God began to dissolve the glue that held that mask in place. He used my wife, life situations, counseling, and a few trusted friends over a number of years to help me discover who I am. I now like the mask less and less.

I can live more outside my own head now, being more present to the people around me. God is healing me. I know this. I feel it and I see it. He is maturing me into who He has made me to be.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Feeling Responsible (by Gary Roe)

I invited Gary Roe to write several posts. He also shares his story in my book When a Man You Love Was Abused.

One of the results of the sexual abuse in my life is that I often feel responsible for almost everything.

After all, my perpetrators told me I was responsible for what happened back there. And then I heaped further responsibility on myself: “If I had only. . . ,” “If I hadn’t. . .,” “If I only could. . .then maybe, just maybe. . .”

So I grew up believing that I was responsible for the feelings and behavior of others. If something went wrong, I blamed myself. If someone was angry, I had messed up. I became a man who desperately tried to control what happened, including the people around me. I was trying to protect myself, making sure what happened back there didn't happen again.

I tried to control with niceness and great performance. It was a miserable life. I didn't know I was carrying the weight of the abuse around with me.

With the help of people like Cec, I'm learning to separate myself from the abuse. I'm learning to appropriately detach from the emotions of those around me. I've finally set good boundaries.

For me, this has been a long, sometimes painful process. But it’s worth it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Sign of Total Trust

(This blog post comes from Anonymous.)

A few weeks ago I wrote that your book When a Man You Love Was Abused has helped me in my relationship with my friend. Don't know if I got the title right, but you know the one I mean. Anyway, I wanted to give you an update. I recently visited him and his family and got to know him a little bit better. This is something that I never thought would happen. For him to make a move of this magnitude is a sign of total trust on his part. Also, for the first time in the 3 years that I've known him, he told me that he loved me.

Thank you for writing this book and for helping us.

Friday, June 10, 2011

An Emotional Roller Coaster

(This post comes from Anonymous.)

I'm halfway through reading your book, When a Man You Love Was Abused. After more than 25 years of marriage, my husband left me for his girlfriend.

Last year I met a man and he caught my eye right from the start, and I could say it was love at first sight. We started going out, and I knew there was something different about him.

We have been on an emotional roller coaster ride ever since. I thought there was something wrong with me. My husband hadn't wanted to have sex with me and this new man didn't want any form of intimacy. If I tried to get close to this new man, he pulled away. He showed no emotion and I didn't know if he had feelings for me or not.

I told him over and over that he lived in a shell and that if we were going to keep going out, he needed to tell me why. He finally told me he had been sexually abused as a child. His words shocked me.

I had about 100 reasons going through my mind, but that definitely wasn't one of them. So I went online because I wanted to understand. That's when I found your book.

I have told him, "I believe God wanted us to meet, because he knew we could both help each other heal." I want to stand beside him and help him.

I told him I loved him unconditionally and I asked nothing in return. I said I would help him if he wants me to. Most of all, I wanted him to know that I accept him for who he is.

He bought a copy of the book for himself and says he is ready to heal. I hope he is and I also hope he asks for my help.

In a lot of the ways he acts like the things you have outlined in your book. I just wanted to let you know and to thank you for your book. It's helping me see why he is who he is.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Silent Victims

This morning an email shocked me. It came from a woman I've known for 25 years although I haven't seen her in a long time. She learned about my book, When a Man You Love Was Abused. That prompted her to write me and tell me her story.

My brother molested me when we were teenagers, right in our family home. I felt I couldn't tell my parents because it would destroy the family. Instead, it ended up nearly destroying me, so I'm all for getting those things out in the open. I finally told my mother after my father died, and she admitted she wouldn't have known how to handle it.

As I read her story, I realized once again how normal most of us appear. I wasn't aware of my own abuse back then and certainly she gave no indication of anything wrong.

That's how it is with many of us—the silent victims. We're the ones who don't tell. Maybe we're afraid of not being believed or we want to "protect" the family. Sometimes it's because we feel the shame that our perpetrator ought to feel so we keep silent.

It's sad that many victims remain silent.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Adopt Healthy Coping Habits

In the previous blog I mentioned the book of 75 things men could do to help themselves survive and overcome childhood abuse. Number 73 read: "Adopt Healthy Coping Habits."

The author wrote eight paragraphs about how important it was to learn to cope and to do it in healthy ways. I had the same reaction on this as I did on self-love.

"Thank you for that advice," I wanted to shout at the author. "But tell me how to do that." I felt as if the author patronized me and pulverized perfectly healthy trees to have such a book published.

I'm a pragmatist. Don't simply tell me what, tell me how.

Most of us who've been abused have figured out that we survived by doing things that weren't helpful for recovery or for growth. My two younger brothers became alcoholics as their coping method. I coped by denial in the form of amnesia. When I began to face my painful childhood, my healthy coping method was to open myself to my own childhood pain. Instead of running from the memories of abuse, I began to do practical things to face them. (In my next blog I'll mention one of them.)

What I did wasn't easy, but it was powerful and life changing.