Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Same-Sex Attraction

(By Cecil Murphey)

As a child who never experienced love or affection from this father, I was easily marked for victimization. But more than that, I gravitated toward any male who showed me affection. Mr. Lee, the pedophile who molested me, intuitively grasped my neediness.

For a long time I struggled with an attraction for any man who reached out to me. As a young adult, I didn't yield but the feelings and the temptations were there. Of all the residual effects of sexual abuse, same-sex attraction has been for me the most shameful.

I blamed myself for being needy and vulnerable.

As an adult, I've learned to say that I had what someone has called "a father wound" and another refers to as his "father hole." It's that inborn need for a healthy, significant male figure in my childhood. I needed affection and the loving physical touch of a caring man.

If that hole isn't filled in a healthy way, acting on same-sex attraction is one way to get a temporary fix—a very temporary fix.

I think of a woman who came to my office years ago. She had gone through countless affairs and said, "I wanted love and I settled for sex."

That's the sad story of too many abused men.

The things that have an unhealthy attraction for me 
point to those unmet needs of my childhood.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

Friday, April 26, 2013

What I Don't Know

(By Cecil Murphey)

I don't know the answers to every problem—even though I may sound as if I do. I don’t understand why some of us gain victory almost immediately and for others it takes years. I don't know why some male survivors fall back in their old patterns and some never do.

I wish I could give perfect answers to every dilemma and shine a bright light on every dark path. I don't always have enough light for my own path. Even when I know the answer for myself, I sometimes fail to live up to my convictions.

I do know this, however. It’s shameful to admit we’ve failed, especially after we’ve determined not to repeat our wrong behavior. And that can refer to anything that impedes our progress.

Almost as bad is to fail and deny it. We're ashamed and try to hide the fact. Or we make excuses for ourselves by blaming circumstances or saying, "Yes, but if he hadn't . . . " Such negative responses mean we by-pass a chance for healing.

Admitting each tiny step in the wrong direction 
can be one positive, 
small-but-powerful step toward full recovery. 

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"You Did so Much for Me"

(By Cecil Murphey)

"You did so much for me." Monroe ran up to me, embraced me, and thanked me.

He thought I had done so much; I felt I had done so little.

"You listened," Monroe said and hugged me again.

In terms of my doing something, I felt inadequate.

For Monroe, I did the one healing thing I could do: I allowed him to talk and didn't judge him. That’s all he needed—someone to listen and not to tell him what a terrible failure he was.

That incident happened many times when I was a young pastor, and it took me a few days to process. Each time I had kept quiet—not out of wisdom, but out of not knowing what to say. I didn't want to offer advice out of my discomfort, or say something to make the situation worse. So I did the right thing—and, only in retrospect, understood it was correct.

Monroe and the others who came to me didn't need answers, sage advice, Bible verses, or a lecture on healthy behavior. He needed me to care, and I proved I cared by listening and accepting him in his dark moments.

If we want to help but don't know what to say, 
we wisely say nothing.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Your Addiction

(By Cecil Murphey)

I've never been stimulated by or addicted to pornography. I suppose the major reason is because it wasn't available during my growing-up years. Today it's easy to make a few clicks on the keyboard or press buttons on the TV remote and the porn is in front of us.

A few men speak with disdain over others' bad decisions. They're repulsed when they learn that a friend has sneaked back (even temporarily) into old habits. Roger visits his friends Norm and Stan for dinner and ends up drunk or smoking pot again. "He should have known better," Stan says.

Perhaps it gives the speaker a sense of superiority or he feels smug because he doesn't do those things. He can talk dismissively about others who are still caught with their addictions or weaknesses.

I think of a verse from the Bible that urges us to help those who have failed and adds, "Humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself" (Galatians 6:1).

I may not have your problems, but I have my own. I'm not better than you (or worse). Each of us faces our own weaknesses.

Your addictions or problems are yours; 
I must not forget that I struggle with my own issues.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Acting Out

(By Cecil Murphey)

One of the most distasteful sentences I hear from other survivors goes like this: "I acted out."

I call it distasteful because it's a way of hiding from the truth. It's what we call a euphemism. That is, using a nice word or term for things that sounds too direct or unpleasant. By making the cover-up statements, they're not truly facing their actions and the results.

For survivors, I plead, don't use such terms. Either don't tell us anything or say it straight. "I went to a gay bar Thursday night," or "Even though I knew better, I watched porn on my computer." Those words may not be easy to say, but they're necessary if we want to move ahead.

I'm not interested in hearing or reading graphic descriptions; I am eager to hear direct, honest statements. When survivors of abuse say it straight, they move forward in their own healing; they also encourage the rest of us. It helps us to know we're not the only ones who stumble and make mistakes.

To gain the most benefit from my failure, I confess in simple direct words. 
I grow from the experience; I encourage others to grow after their failures.

(This post is adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Survivor's Comments

Nathan Albright contacted me after reading the book Gary Roe and I wrote, Not Quite Healed, which he read as a reviewer for Author Blog Tours. He is also a survivor. In our email exchange, he wrote the statement printed below. I thought it was worth sharing with you. He refers to his own abuse:
The experience has certainly made me a kinder and more considerate and understanding person, but the suffering and grief and loss are something that I deal with just about every single day.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Lonely All the Time

(This post comes from John Joseph.)

One of the first books I read in my recovery was Lonely All The Time: Recognizing, Understanding, and Overcoming Sex Addiction, for Addicts and Co-dependents by Gregory Crow, Ralph Earle and Kevin Osborn (Naperville: Bennett Books Ltd. 1989). It was the first book that helped me identify the feeling I carried inside that drove me to unwanted behavior and attractions. For the first time I felt that someone understands me. That feeling gave me just enough hope to carry on. 

Since that time I’ve read many books on abuse, addiction, and recovery. Some were more helpful than others, but my hope of healing has been fueled be each book in one way or the other. Reading on recovery topics is actually called bibliotherapy and is a valid path to our healing. Without a strong desire to be healed and some drive toward digging it out for myself by reading, I know that I wouldn’t be as far along in my journey as I am now. I am thankful for the counselors, psychiatrists, and authors who write on abuse-related topics for our benefit.

The feeling that I am lonely inside is a remnant of the abuse I suffered. The secretive nature of childhood abuse cut me off inside from others who loved me because I carried the secret shame of what was happening to me. It formed my psyche in such a way as to keep a safe distance from people and it actually taught me to reject their love.

As I read I come to a deeper understanding that this feeling lies to me and that I should reject it, opening my mind, heart, and arms to genuine love in my life.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Learning About Myself

(By Cecil Murphey)

My blog entries may imply that I jump from insight to insight, change to change, growth to growth, and race toward total healing.

I wish it were that simple.

It hurts to learn more about myself, especially when others are aware of my defects. I don't like it when I realize I've been petty, selfish, or envious. Such concepts don’t fit with what I call my self-image of being a nice, caring person.

My immediate reaction is to say, "I'm not like that." And yet even as I protest, a deeper part of myself admits that my denial doesn't make it less true.

I could blame the abuser, the perpetrator, or throw the guilt on someone else when I confront those uncomfortable, painful parts. Sometimes it's not even outward behavior, but an inward attitude toward a person or an incident.

"Am I really like that?" That's the question I need to ask myself. It's not easy to face my self-image and realize that I don't live up to my own mental picture. I usually feel anguish, self-disgust, and sadness. Once I change, I also feel at peace. I don't like the hurt, but I need those self-accusing fingers to move me to positive action.

I don't like the self-accusations and the anguish, 
but their occasional presence reminds me that I'm growing.

(This post is adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Dream State

(This post comes from John Joseph.)

One of the worst things I’ve encountered in my recovery from childhood sexual trauma is dreaming about it. I've relived pieces of the abuse thousands of times now. I never know when it’s going to happen. There are no predictors of which night I'll be overwhelmed by one of my abusers and re-experience something about what happened decades ago. The dreams are often scary, and I always wake up feeling slimed by it. What to do?

Not sleeping isn’t an option, though I’ve tried it. Sleeping pills dull me out so much the next day that I’ve given up on them. Alcohol makes everything worse. One unfortunate side effect of the medication I’m on for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and anxiety are extremely vivid dreams. I’ve always had flashback memories of the abuse, but this medicine makes my nighttime visions extraordinarily real. I often wake thinking that what just happened in a dream really just happened. It's frightening and frustrating.

The only thing I’ve found that helps with this is to acknowledge that my dreams are probably a combination of the physical brain firing off stored memories, my unconscious mind trying to make sense of things that won’t ever make sense, and perhaps some kind of spiritual warfare—good versus evil, the Devil versus me and all that.

But wherever nightmares come from, I have to deal with them. So when I wake I try to take some settling, re-centering breaths, and shake them off. If that doesn’t work, I talk with my spouse about them or journal and pray. If they’re really bad, I talk about them with my therapist and see if she can help me process them and help me find some meaning or relief.

I may have these awful dreams the rest of my life. I hope not. I’m thankful that I get to wake up and remember that the dream state is no longer reality.

I have survived.

Maybe I can learn to be thankful for the dreams and use them as vivid reminders of my progressive healing from childhood sexual abuse.