Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Distorted Relationships (Part 3 of 5)

“If he hadn’t . . .”

I wonder how many times I’ve heard that statement from survivors. And it’s a true statement. None of us survivors of abuse would be where we are if he or she hadn’t done something to us.

It’s easy to blame them and say, “It’s all their fault.” And yes, it was their fault. They did it to us. We can stand as accusers every day of our lives and the statement will still be true.

And we’ll still be miserable.

Or we can make that our starting point toward healing. If we continue to focus on blame, we trap ourselves inside a cycle of negative, destructive thinking.

Why not say the sentence this way? “Even though she . . . ,” and we focus on our healing journey.

This is where my faith (despite being shaky at times) reminds me of a loving, compassionate God, who desires to heal me. I can point to a number of individuals who embodied the kindness and love I needed and embraced me.

I began this blog in 2010 to reach out to hurting men who could remain anonymous if they chose, but I wanted them to read about the healing that’s possible. I stand as one sexually, physically, and verbally assaulted kid who has traveled down that healing path.

I’m not quite healed,

but I’m getting close.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Distorted Relationships (Part 2 of 5)

“I have an inner circle—myself.”

Of all the things the man said, that’s all I remember. It took place in a meeting where I was the guest speaker, and several people responded to various questions about being open with a few people. I had suggested they establish an inner circle—a cadre of people they could trust, such as two or three individuals.

The man admitted that he had never had a close friend, and “I used sex as a way to achieve love.” He added, “For a few minutes I felt good, but afterward I felt worse.

“I can’t open up to anyone because I’m afraid they’ll tell somebody or feel disgusted with me.”

Before I had a chance to respond, the leader of the group said to him, “Several of us felt that way when we first came.”

“Yeah, I was one of them,” another man called out. “But after three meetings here, I learned that some of their junk was worse than mine.”

Another man called out, “One day I opened up and told the group a couple of terrible things I did. No one seemed shocked.” He smiled before he added, “It’s still not easy, but the only way I know to get rid of those fears and inner demons is to tell someone else. And these guys have pulled me out of my self-disgust.”

I could have said many things that evening in response to the man’s confession about isolation, but the other 20-plus men did a splendid job. The next thing I remember saying is, “When you admitted to us about being isolated from everyone else, you were trusting us. We could have told you what a jerk you were, but none did.”

His eyes clouded up, he nodded, and dropped his head into his hands.

One man walked across the room, hugged the newcomer, and said, “I want to be your friend.”

I don’t know the end of that story, but I sensed two things. First, the newcomer opened himself—not a lot, but enough to admit his aloneness. Second, the others nodded, encouraged him, and one of them embraced him.

The healing had begun.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Distorted Relationships (Part 1 of 5)

About a decade ago my friend Gerald Coker died of cancer. What I remember most about our relationship was his attitude toward women. I didn’t know all his history, except that he detested his mother, who was his abuser. I don’t know if there had been sexual assault (he never said, and I never pried).

She had abused him verbally and possibly physically.

The significance of that—and I think it’s often true no matter the form of abuse by a female—is the distorted perception of women in general. Not once did Gerald ever talk about women in a kind or caring tone. He mentioned women he had dated, and he’d say things such as, “I know she’s slept with a dozen men.”

His references weren’t limited to them, but he tagged every woman as immoral. We were still good friends when he married either his third or fourth wife, and she was one of the finest women I’d ever known. He made accusations about her I was sure were wrong, but he insisted he knew the bad things she had done.

That’s what I mean by distorted relationships. One time I said, “You’ve never had a satisfactory relationship with a woman, have you?”

“Not yet,” he answered.

The last I saw Gerald before he moved to another state, had married the woman he had vilified. And I thought, it will never last.

It didn’t.

I tell this about Gerald because he lived and died without facing his distorted view of women. That’s one of the sad results of abuse.

I want to face my pain
because I want to be free from it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Impact of Your Story

In a previous blog, I told you the question Paula’s husband asked. She’s a writer, and he asked her a second question: “What kind of impact do you think your story might offer those who’ve been wounded as you have been or who are still living in abusive situations?”

Powerful question, and I answer only for myself. In my case, I faced the molestation and have learned to talk freely about it. Would it make a difference if I specifically revealed the name of my first perpetrator? The only “good” I could see is that I would have been transparent. I don’t think any further revelation would significantly impact readers.

If she were still living, would I confront her? Perhaps. But first I’d have to decide what I expected to gain. If I wanted to force her to admit her acts, I’m not sure she’d do that. Even if she did, so what?

For me, the only reason I can think of for confronting that woman or the elderly pedophile, would be to say something like, “I know what you did, and I’ve come to tell you that I’ve forgiven you.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

My Struggle

(This post comes to us from Mark Cooper.)

I struggle with homosexual attractions, fantasy, and masturbation. Because of my Christian beliefs, I see this as sin.

I have finally admitted a long-seeded desire for revenge, especially against the older brother who abused me. He had more power.

As a “good boy” who grew up to become a man committed to presenting a good front, I stuffed my anger and desire for revenge. Sexual sin has been my drug to dull my anger. Sexual addiction is a result of the deeper issue, my anger.

In a moment of insight I’ve seen an issue that runs even deeper than my anger. That is my experience of being powerless when I was abused.

Every time the truth of my powerlessness hits, I feel terror. I can’t face that terror for longer than a few seconds. Then I pull away from both the reality of the powerlessness and the resulting terror. Anger kicks back in. The layers of self-protection begin again.