Friday, July 29, 2011

Two Responses to Lies and More Lies

Two of our regular readers responded to the "Lies and More Lies" post. The first is from Arnold Caines.

Television is one of the biggest purveyors of the world's lies. I remember being deceived as a child by that "classic" show, Happy Days.

Happy Days distorted relationships between men and women, especially as it related to dating. The focus of dating was to find some chick and to end up necking with her. The show's hero, Fonzie, personified that nearly every week. When I look back on the show, I'm astounded at the scale of the lie that was foisted on adolescents back then.

Years after the show ended I found myself battling concepts I learned from Fonzie who, in reality, was nothing but a womanizer. Amazing what a lie packaged up as a prime time hit TV show can do.

The second is from Heather Marsden.

The first time my father came into my bedroom, I was seven. "You are so stupid, dumb, and ugly no one will ever want to marry you unless you put out," he said. "I'm going to teach you how to put out."

Those words stuck with me most of my life. My first marriage was based on the fact that the guy asked me and I figured no one else would. It was a mistake.

Even today my self-esteem is not what it should be.

Words hurt, and they stuck.

My mother and sister convinced me that the abuse was my fault. I should have said no to him. I should have pushed his hands away. Somehow the abuse was my fault.

Later, my mom told me it was my fault my father died because of the embarrassment I caused them by being taken out of that house by the courts.

Those two lies still hurt.

But the biggest lie, the unspoken lie, was that I was not worthy of love. That no one could love me, not even God. I also thought all fathers were horrid, including God. It took time to trust in God the Father and turn my life over to the only safe Father there is.

Thanks for your blog. I find such encouragement in reading it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lies and More Lies

Most of us didn't have one single event that shattered our childhood. With some it was a prolonged abuse by one perpetrator. Others speak of multiple incidents. Regardless of the number of times, something happened and it damaged our lives.

Someone wrote me, "I felt as if I had been stamped with the word worthless on my heart." That's a lie he believed. He held on to it until he was 39 years old when he began a period of recovery.

Most of us were lied to or not believed, which made us appear as liars. We were exploited and sometimes perpetrators pulled us in with soothing words of love and tenderness. The worst lie is when a perpetrator no longer wants us around and yells, "You're only good for one thing."

What about you? What lies did you hear about yourself?

We were young and didn't know how to distinguish truth. We believed because they were bigger and older and we were small and young.

What about you? Will you write to me privately and tell me the lies you believed? How did you deal with them? How did you realize they were lies? I'd like to share them with our readers and I'll withhold your name if you like.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Pain Has No Teeth

The man wishes to remain anonymous but he gave me permission to post this. He said he had almost finished reading When a Man You Love Was Abused.

I think one of the things that's changed the past month is the pain. Every time the pain comes, I run away. Lately, the pain has been quite severe. However, I'm starting to see that the pain has no teeth. It cannot hurt me. I think that it may be a tool the Lord intends to use to bring needed change, freedom, and strength. I've already noticed a significant paradigm shift.

Things I used to run after to escape the pain are losing their appeal. I'm starting to see myself how others see me instead of through the lens of helplessness and inferiority. I'm sure there is still a ways to go, but it's nice to move beyond some roadblocks and live life with a little more breathing space.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Special Announcement from Cecil Murphey

Today I learned that the Kindle version of my book When a Man You Love Was Abused is available for $1.99 through Amazon. The special will run through next Wednesday, July 27. If you know someone who loves a man who was abused, or if you know a man who was abused, tell them about this offer.

This Saturday, July 23, in Grand Haven, Michigan, I will be involved in an important seminar to help those who have been abused and those who love people who have been abused.

Main sessions include: I Ought to Be Healed by Now and The Lies We Believe.

Breakout sessions include: When a Man You Love Was Abused, When a Woman You Love Was Abused, and Finding Hope in the Heartache.

For more details on the When Someone You Love Was Abused seminar, click here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Learning New Things

Years have passed since I dealt with my abuse. I cried so much the first two years I wondered if I would ever stop. But I gained insights about my behavior. I realized there were times when I spoke angrily and wasn't even aware of the tone I conveyed.

It still surprises me to gain perspective about myself that stems from the abuse of childhood. I constantly see new ways in which my past changed the way I see the world and react to people.

The more those things happen, the more victorious I feel. And even better: The more I like who I have become.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Feeling My Feelings

My major coping method of survival from abuse was not to feel. When the emotional level got heavy, I went numb. I didn't do that consciously, but it was my way to handle the trauma of childhood. Once I became aware that numbing was what I did, I also realized that I needed to feel my pain—to re-experience the hurts of my past—if I wanted to be free from the past.

Here's how I did it and this may work for others. Each day I said, "I feel my feelings." I usually looked into the mirror and spoke to my image. I wanted that message to get into my core being.

Although I hadn't talked to a therapist or a pastor, I sensed that facing the hurts and feeling them once again was a step I had to take.

It took months before I became aware of how I felt; it took even longer before I fully accepted the abuse of my childhood. It took years before I knew I had been healed. It wasn't easy and it hurt. At times I felt alone, unloved, unwanted, unworthy—and many negative emotions flooded through my soul.

Each time I felt my emotions, the pain seemed to lessen a little. Now, years later, I can honestly feel my emotions.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Forgiving the Consequences (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.

I had taken the step to forgive my abusers. I thought I had the forgiveness part of my healing down pat, and then a friend came and asked a deeper question: “You say that you have forgiven your abusers for what they did. . . the rapes, the acts of abuse. But have you forgiven them for the results in your life of what they did to you?”

I stared in shock. I felt as if my soul were being ripped apart. And right there, in a chair on the deck behind my house, I began to cry. Soon I wept convulsively. It grew more and more intense. It was as if I were throwing up emotion in waves. It went on for almost two hours.

My eyes were closed, and I saw myself walking toward my perpetrators and I carried a large, heavy bucket of filth. When I reached them, I set the bucket down in front of them and said, “These are all the horrid, devastating results in my life of what you did to me. These things have affected my relationships and the people I love. I won't carry this any more. These things don't belong to me. I return them to you. I leave them here. I forgive you.” Then I saw myself leave the bucket and walk away.

When my sobs subsided, I knew God had broken through and enabled me to forgive at a new level.

It was devastating to think of all the results of the abuse in my life. It was the key event of my childhood and it affected everything. Everything. Forgiving my perpetrators of the consequences of the abuse, as well as the acts of abuse themselves, was like a sledgehammer that broke the back of my bondage.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Forgiveness Releases Me (by Gary Roe)

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

“I thought forgiveness was releasing my enemy," someone said to me, "but when I forgave him I discovered that the captive I released was me.” I've certainly experienced that in relation to my abusers.

When I made a frightening phone call to my closest friend and told him what happened to me as a child, he was silent for a long time before he asked, “Have you been able to forgive them?” This question surprised me. I knew that my friend asked because he loved me and was deeply concerned about me.

I suddenly knew that forgiveness was about my heart. Forgiveness was about not letting my heart be ruled by the abuse and the abusers any longer. Forgiveness was about separating my person from what happened to me. Forgiveness was about letting God heal me.

I wanted healing. Forgiveness was the road to it. So I began to forgive. I had to forgive repeatedly. I had to learn to practice forgiveness. And somewhere along the way I realized that I'd been holding myself captive by not forgiving. Sometimes I even imagined that I was releasing myself when forgiving my abusers.

I'm not saying that forgiving is easy. It was far from painless for me. I once screamed into a pillow repeatedly as I tried to forgive. I found forgiveness to be like physical therapy after surgery—excruciatingly painful at first, but strengthening and healing over time.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Forgiveness as a Process (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.

I used to think forgiveness was a simple one-time act of the will. Forgive. Let it go. Move on. When I found myself confronted with the same emotions again, I assumed I hadn't forgiven.

Forgiving my abusers has been a process. It certainly began, as all forgiveness does, with an act of the will. God led me to the point where I chose to forgive, trusting that over time the feelings would follow.

Then another trigger would get pulled. A flashback. Someone would do or say something that put me right back under that ugly, familiar cloud of anger, shame, and guilt. Instead of wondering if I had really forgiven, I voiced my forgiveness again.

I've repeated that process dozens of times. Each time seems to get a little easier. Each time, I feel a little freer. I'm learning that I have to practice forgiveness, and sometimes it seems like moment by moment. Whenever the trigger gets pulled or the cloud of shame descends, I'm learning to see it as an invitation to forgive.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Flashbacks (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.

I was young when it happened and it happened repeatedly. The perpetrators were close to me. I had no memory of the sexual abuse itself, but I grew up with a sense of deep terror and anger toward the perpetrators.

Years later, I began having flashbacks. They started slowly and increased in duration and intensity. Finally, they came in like a flood. I couldn't believe what I was seeing and experiencing. I thought I was going crazy.

These flashbacks were intense, just like I was there and it was happening all over again. It was unnerving, confusing, terrifying, and exhausting. They continued over a period of two years.

If it hadn't been for my wife, a counselor, and a few trustworthy friends, I don't know what I would have done. I knew I couldn't handle it alone. I also sensed that isolation was my worst enemy. I had to share, to talk, and to stay connected with those I knew loved me.

After two years, the flashbacks dissipated and my health began to deteriorate. At random times my adrenaline went crazy. The anxiety was terrible. I felt like a deer being chased by a tiger. My life felt small and dark. Those “flashback aftershocks,” as I called them, continued for another few years.

To say that I'm grateful now may sound inadequate, but I am grateful for the flashbacks and their aftershocks. I'm relieved to finally know what happened. My life makes sense now. I understand why things were the way they were and why I felt and thought the way I did.

I had to endure those flashbacks. Denial was survival in my childhood, but denial no longer served me well. It shackled me. I had to go back and see what happened so that I could heal. I really am grateful. Now I can grow.