Tuesday, December 26, 2017

An Email from James

The following is an email I received from James Fitzwater in response to the post titled “Naming Myself.” James gave me permission to share his words. (Cec)

* * * * *

Hi, I’m James.

Almost 5 years ago, my wife and I had come to a terrible place in our relationship. I was incapable of developing intimacy. In my mind I blamed her for her disagreeable attitude. Things were spiraling downhill fast as among other things she threatened divorce, left me and the kids a few times, and occasionally slept in the closet. As I tried to understand her behavior, it was suggested that she might have a personality disorder. I became convinced that this was the problem and sought pastoral counseling. When she ran across my email and found out that I had labeled her with a mental illness, she became angrier.

My wife was convinced that I was gay and wanted me to tell her what was going on with me. One night she was determined to get an answer, and under threat of divorce hours into the night—turning lights on and off and throwing water on me—I broke down and confessed that I was sexually abused. I felt relieved to not be in denial, or having to keep my secret any longer.

It has been a long journey of seeking help, joining and leaving a survivor’s group, CR, marriage counseling, and still having significant moral failures before a divorce this year. Now I realize my wife’s issues were primarily brought on by my issues. Beginning in June of this year with Not Quite Healed, I began a real recovery journey finally surrendering to Jesus. Now I’m in therapy, a sex addicts group, Celebrate Recovery, and a home Bible study group.

Sharing my story has been very difficult, the consequences of my sins almost unbearable, but those steps were necessary to get me on a healing journey. They were a tremendous grace extended to me. I am grateful for the mercy I’ve received, the strength to make changes, and the hope that I now have. Taking it one day at a time.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A Number (Part 2 of 2)

By Daniel K. Eichelberger

I am a statistic. The experts say that one out of every six boys have experienced the things that I have. A staggering number of individuals...boys…children...youth. The number is thought to actually be higher, as it is estimated that as many as 90% never disclose that they have been through it. And of this selected group (yes, we were certainly selected), there are yet more statistics. Disheartening statistics that indicate all of us nameless, faceless numbers are likely to engage in unhealthy and risky behavior in adulthood—drugs, crime, abuse, sexual deviance and promiscuity. The percentages there are shocking. Almost 80% are left with at least one psychological disorder.

Can anything less be expected when you have been robbed of your identity and ushered into that selected group where you are only one of a number of others, useful as long as your flesh is warm? (Did I say selected? Certainly, we were that).

I am a number. Yes. I am a statistic. But I am also something else. It is the miracle of God’s grace that, statistic though I am in the first sense, I have not become one in the second. I am definitely part of the one in six. Maybe part of the 80%. But I have been spared from the statistics of unhealthy and risky behavior. God’s love and grace caught me just in the nick of time.

So, while I am still just a number in one sense, I will rejoice that I am not in the other. I will praise my Maker for loving and seeking me out before my life was wrecked by destructive behavior. And I will dedicate my time, my life, my compassion, my empathy, my love to being His hands and feet in helping those other numbers, those nameless faces—those part of all of the statistics. It is the least that a fellow number can do.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Number (Part 1 of 2)

By Daniel K. Eichelberger

I am a number. I am one of many, a part of a selected few. Selected? Yes, but in reality, maybe we are not really few. If I am to believe experts in this matter, the number in this special group is more than most could believe.

Yet, among so many, I am just one. A number. One of the faceless amid the multitude that carry the dark secret, the unnamable burden, the smothering past. While it is certain that I am not alone, I am still just a number. Isolated. Disconnected. By my thoughts and emotions, separated from most.

To them I was just a number. Yes, I had a name and personality uniquely my own. They knew this. They called me by name. They gave me attention. They gave me their time. (Did I say gave me their time? I paid a high price for it). They taught me things. Things I should never have known at that age and under those circumstances. In teaching me, they robbed me of my identity and foisted on me a new one, for I could no longer be carefree and innocent. I could no longer view myself without abhorrence and shame. They distorted my self-knowledge and made me believe things about myself that were never true. To them, I might as well have been nameless.

I was only one of many. How many others like me did they use to satisfy their baser passions? Many before me. Who knows how many after me?

I can prove that I am just a number. I have the newspaper articles related to one of them. There were over two hundred like me. Over two hundred! Mine was the case that blew the whole thing wide open. Mine. The scope absolutely stunned the local authorities. Journal entries. Drawings. Photos. Spanning years. Years! I am positive that my photo was in there. Was there a journal entry in his diary about me, too? A drawing? One? Two? Eighty?

You see, I wasn’t special after all. Not to him, or to any of the others. I was one of many. A face. When it all boiled down to it, I was a body. That is all.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Running from the Past

My friend Gary Roe sent me a copy of his book Heartbroken: Losing a Spouse. Much of what he writes applies to healing from abuse as well as from the loss of a spouse.

One sentence stayed with me long after reading: "As we allow ourselves to feel the pain, our hearts will begin to heal."

Wonderful words, but the problem comes for many with the statement, "allow ourselves to feel the pain." That's what many won't or can't do.

"It hurts too much," is a common response.

Of course it's painful and traumatic. If it didn't hurt, the healing would have taken place long ago.

Instead of facing the situations, too many medicate themselves so they can run from their past—and it's not a conscious choice. It's our individual way of coping. Some resort to drugs, others by cutting off their emotions. My medication was busyness. For years, I was a driven man but had no awareness of it. "That's just the way I am," I often said.

Gradually, I learned to stop running (which is what my busyness was accomplishing). I wrote gradually because that's probably the best expression I know.

After I became aware, I decided to do something about coping with my drivenness. I read everything I could on how to live in the present and slow down. Taking time to read, in itself, was part of my slowing down. Yet slowing down was painful because I had time to think. And to feel. But I stayed with it and I'm making progress.

The struggle to run from my pain was useless. I couldn't outrun my childhood trauma.

But I could face it.

And I have.