Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Moving Beyond the Abuse

(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)

"It's the past. Forget it and move on," my youngest brother, Chuck, said to me. We had both been sexually assaulted by the same person. He didn't admit being sexually molested, but he didn't deny it either. On the few occasions when I tried to talk to him about it, his answer was, (1) "You can't undo the past," (2) "We don't have to think about those things," or (3) "That stuff happened back then." His words implied that we need only to forget the past, leave it behind, and it's gone.

If only it were that simple.

Chuck died after years of trying to cure his pain through alcohol. I don't know if the pain he tried to medicate was the abuse, but I suspect it was. On rare occasions when he was drunk, he made oblique references to "that mess in childhood."

Outwardly, Chuck wanted to get past the sexual molestation and get on with his life. So why didn't he "move on" with his life?

I had a second brother named Mel, also an alcoholic. He was married five times and died of cirrhosis at age 48. Unlike Chuck, Mel wouldn't talk about our childhood. "There's nothing back there to talk about," was the most he ever said.

I write about my two brothers because both of them seemed determined to get past the abuse of childhood by forgetting, denying, or ignoring. That approach doesn't work.

We don't forget—not really. We don't forget because childhood abuse affects our lives and shapes our attitudes about people and relationships. Some guys want to hurry and get over it, but it's not something to get over and to move on.

Abuse happened to us. Until we accept it and face what it has done to our lives, we don't really move forward. We only live unhealed lives.


Robert said...

I finally have faced to my past. I realized how it catastrophically affected my childhood and my sense of self of who I am as a 53-year-old man. Now after facing my past and through God's help I no longer walk hunched over, but I stand my full 6'2" tall and I know who I am, I am a man who is loved by God and no one will take that away from me ever again

Roger Mann said...

My sister suffered some abuse also and it has devastated her health and emotional wellbeing. I consider myself lucky, it could have been much worse but God watched over me even through the worst of it all.

Robert said...

It's strange, but after facing the abuse and talking about it, I feel like I can become who I was supposed to be as a man. Simple things, like having good posture, not walking in shame. I even started a gym, working out and lifting weights...I am amazed at my progress in "looking like a man" versus someone who wanted to blend in arouond other guys. I think I felt so unacceptable as a guy because of the sex acts that were done to me by other guys as a child. I am throwing that all away, that is not my identity now. I am a man and what was done to me was not my fault, but I can say that I won't let my self esteem be victemized any more. Thank God for Cec and this blog and his book that literally changed my life....and I don't say that lightly or with exaggeration.

Cec Murphey said...

Robert, thanks for your comment about looking like a man. One of my good friends used to wear dull, gray clothes and slink into the background. At a business meeting, one person called him Mr. Invisible. He was shocked, but admitted that was who he was to others. He determined to change.
I saw him last week and he was reading a bright red T-shirt.