Friday, September 30, 2011

We Belong (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 belong.

I look in the mirror and I say it again. I shout, "I’m here. I count. I matter. I belong."

I’ll likely bump into other people today who don’t feel they belong. Statistically, I’ll encounter several people today who are also survivors. I want to give them the right message—the true message through my facial expressions, words, and actions. I want it to be a clear, resounding, “You belong.”

YOU belong. I belong.

We belong.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Belong (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.

My abuse lies to me. It tells me that I am worthless and less than nothing. That I am an object waiting for others to take advantage of me. That I don’t exist apart from the perpetrators and what they did to me. My lying abuse tells me I will never belong.

My abuse wants to define me.

I mustn’t let it. I must remind myself of what I know is true.

I’m not an accident. I’m not merely the result of the union of a sperm and an egg. I’m not just the genetic combination contributed by my parents and my family tree.

I’m a personal creation of God himself.

Knowing I belong is the beginning. I have to believe and acknowledge this fact before I can begin to live it.

How do I do that? I don’t know. I stumble along as I travel forward. But I started by telling myself the truth. Repeatedly. Throughout the day.

I belong.

I don’t just exist here. I belong.

I’m not simply biding my time, trying to make the best of things. I belong.

I belong on this earth, doing whatever God has called me to do.

I belong to the people around me whom I love and who love me.

I belong.

For me, this is making a difference. Over time, this truth will sink in.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Need to Belong (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 grew up feeling different. Different from other boys. Different from other kids. Shy. Insecure. An outsider. Feeling very small, less than, and badly damaged.

Given the sexual abuse and the verbal messages of my perpetrators, it’s no wonder I felt that way. If there is any wonder, it's that I'm as healthy as I am.

For a long time, no matter whom I was with, I never sensed I really belonged. I always felt I was outside the happy home looking through the window at others' lives. I wanted desperately to belong, but my self-confidence was non-existent, and my self-hatred was enormous.

Then one morning, while reading my Bible and journaling, it hit me. God knew me before I was born. He personally created me in my mother’s womb. He wanted me and he wanted me to be happy.

God wasn't simply trying to make the best of a bad situation. He thought of me and planned me. He wanted me.

I belong. I belong to him. I belong here, on planet earth. I was meant to be here at this time.

I belong.

So I am going to face the world today as someone who belongs. I am going to continue to heal.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Can Heal (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 can heal—I am healing. And as I heal, I experience more safety. The safer I become, the safer I am to help other survivors.

I can’t change what happened to me; I can stand against the evil of sexual abuse by becoming a safe and faithful friend.

I'm learning to deal better with my anger. I'm experiencing letting go and forgiving those who hurt me. I'm slowly figuring out how to manage the anxiety and depression that lurks around me.

I'm living a freer life and it shows because I'm able to open my heart to others. They say I'm compassionate and wise. Maybe I am—or maybe it's because I've climbed a few more hills and tripped over a few more potholes than they have.

But I can heal; I am healing.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Being a Safe Person (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’ve had so much fear in my life. I don't want to trigger fear in anyone else. Instead, I want them to feel safe and peaceful when they are with me. I want to show that I'm trustworthy. Protective. Caring.

Being a safe person is a gift I can give others. By being safe, I stand alongside them and against the great evil of sexual abuse.

To be that person, I must continue to heal. Healing is a long, long journey full of hills, valleys, potholes, and speed bumps. It’s excruciatingly difficult at times, but it’s worth the effort and the pain.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pursuing Safe People (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.

Even though I had wonderful, safe people in my life, I went off to college and distanced myself from them. Contact grew less frequent. I thought I wasn’t worthy of such wonderful people. They couldn’t possibly want to stay in contact with me. I slowly isolated myself.

That became my pattern. I did the self-distancing with almost every safe person in my life. At first, I was thrilled to be with them, but then, the old form of behavior reasserted itself. I didn't know how to cope with safe relationships. I began backing off.

Now I understand.

If I want to feel safe, I need to stop obeying the old patterns. I must take action. I have to find and initiate relationships with safe people. Initiate and keep initiating: That's my goal.

And guilt enters into this as well. I ask myself, "If I feel so safe just hearing their voices, why wouldn't I not call, sometimes daily?"

And yet, I tell myself that I don’t want to bother them. That's a lie. Life is busy and I forget to reach out to them. That's another lie.

How long will I keep doing that to myself?

The abuse programmed me to self-isolate. I had no control over what happened to me back then; now I can choose a different path. I can reach out to the safe people God has placed in my life. I can choose to believe what they say about me and to me rather than accept messages my abusers gave me.

I promise myself: I'll resist the temptation to withdraw. I’ll reach out.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Needing Safe People (by Gary Roe)

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

The sexual abuse in my background took place early in my childhood. My world was very small. I can’t remember knowing any kids my age during that time. When I started school, things began to change.

I met a few safe people in my life—several teachers, a few classmates who became good friends. I became a serious competitive swimmer, which put me in touch with more safe people and families.

When my family blew apart, and my dad died suddenly of a heart attack, one family took me in. Living in their home, I experienced safety from the inside out. I could feel myself beginning to relax.

To this day, whenever I talk to anyone in that adoptive family, a wave of safety washes over me. Whenever I am with them, I feel as if nothing bad could ever happen again. And even if disaster did occur, I know that everything would be fine.

I was able to imagine what it might be like to live from that kind of reservoir of safety. Wow.

I didn't look for those safe people. I believe God brought them into my life. They would say God brought me into theirs.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Best Revenge

This post comes from John.

I heard a Holocaust survivor say that the only real revenge against the genocidal murderers of Nazi Germany was to live.

That statement impacted me deeply when she said it, but over time I realized that in many ways that I was not living because of my abusers. In more ways than I could count I had shut down in life and was still under the control, abuse, and victimization they had inflicted on me in my innocence.

For instance, I lived under a cloud of generalized guilt, believing that I had brought the abuse on myself and that I deserved it. I felt inferior to everyone around me—everyone. It was as if I didn’t deserve the air I was breathing and if anyone knew it they would take it away from me.

Another way I was still being victimized was by an overwhelming fear inside that was turning into what one doctor diagnosed as “the third stage of agoraphobia." That generalized fear of anything and everything can become so debilitating that some people never leave their house for fear of what will happen. I wasn’t too far from that level.

I had to hit bottom before I recognized that my abusers still had tremendous power over me. I had to come dangerously close to losing all I loved. It was important for me to recognize that the guilt, anxiety, and phobias controlling me had deep roots in the early childhood invasions of my soul by reckless, abusive sexual perpetrators.

It has not been easy, but I have slowly begun to deny access to the negative power of the shameful memories, replacing them with the healthy, life-giving power of my present choices and opportunities to be the man I really am and want to be.

I have found for myself, as the Holocaust survivor said, that my only real revenge is not just to live, but to live well.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Longing to Feel Safe (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.

Living out of fear isn't fun. I seem to have a baseline feeling that all isn't well, that I'm not well, that everything is potentially dangerous. All of that is my fault.

That isn't surprising. The abuse programmed me to think that way.

I yearn to feel safe.

I'd like to let down my guard and relax more. To let go more and to fret less. I want to stop investing vast amounts of mental energy into heading off every possible disaster at the pass. I want to be less self-conscious and more at ease in the presence of others. I want to live less in this cloud of anxiety, compelled to make certain that I'm never abused again.

My abusers told me the outside world was dangerous, implying that they were the safe people. They would take care of me. I could count on them.

If they were the safe ones, what did that make everyone else?

I'm thankful that I've finally experienced feeling extremely safe. Several safe people made that possible. But it wasn't easy.

They had to prove themselves—and it took time for me to trust them. Like many survivors, I was short on trust and long on suspicion.

Safe people have been the source of a lot of healing in my life. I want more healing. And for me, that means I need to be in deeper relationship with safe people.