I guess this is a continuation of the last post... regarding isolation. Most things run in cycles. There has been a lot that has happened to me since my last post. I apologize for anyone who actually reads this for the delay.
To be real. I had major ups and downs over that past months. I was hospitalized. It was voluntary - as far as I can remember. I was taking off anti-depressants since they were taking a turn for the worst. I thought I was doing so well with blocking out emotion and preventing anxiety attacks. Anxiety is the culprit along with the major factor of having a mood disorder. I digress. So after 4 days of hospitalization (should have been more), I happily left thinking that was the low. It's not. I am still in the low point. It is the lowest section of the bell curve, the rest of the low points should be outliers, which can be omitted.
I got a new job... YAY! I was actually in an offer / counter-offer situation. It was much needed after not feeling worth being at the company I was currently with. It was stressful to be in the offers' situation because I am not good at making decisions. Even after a few weeks in the job, I am still ripping myself apart thinking I made the wrong choice. Did I? I know if my heart I made the right long term choice, but I can't get through what my head is telling me.
So the doctors I have spoken with tell me I have a mood disorder, most likely bipolar II, but no one has actually told me. I saw a psychiatrist a few months ago and took a blood test and did a sleep study, but I still really haven't heard the results.
I am 33 tomorrow. I have always been conflicted on my birthday. Should I be happy with taking on another year? Happy that I survived myself - my own worst enemy - one more year? I think the worst part about my birthday is everyone celebrating me... because that puts the focus right on me... and I don't like that... but I think my soul indefinitely craves positive attention and being around people for as much as I don't want to be near really anyone.
I was trying to dig into the reason why I don't like being around anyone... It comes down to the way I feel when I am around other people or mostly groups of people. It's the anxiety attacks... It's exactly what I am experiencing at my new job now, it is with birthday celebrations, it is with calling my psychiatrist, asking any person for help.... this is why I am a recluse and do not have a lot of friends. My anxiety was rooted somewhere else...
I have been journaling more - with an emphasis of reading scripture and writing it down. I think it is better than just writing to myself like I am crazy, because no matter what my mind says, I know I am not. I just need two worlds to come back together again... The one that is actually happening and the one that I am experiencing inside of myself. This is combing oil and water....
This walk is dark. I guess it doesn't have to be.
Peace be with you.
I remember playing this game all of the time. I even played spider solitaire. I learned the original game at my Grandmother's house - the good one, I guess you can't really say that either. I really had no good grand-parental figures that I can remember. Even the last one that is still alive, I connect her as an enable of the abuse that was incurred on myself and my siblings.
I had a couple really bad dreams this week - felt the rush through my body remember severe pain - or do I? I get to a point where I think I am getting a glimpse at what is happening enough that my body goes into a frozen shock and then I can't settle down. I was going to reach for some meds, but I have to take care of my kids... So I just tried to redirect my thinking. It really threw my day off. I am alone in my solitude.
I talked to my father a few nights ago. I feel so frustrated when I talk to him. I want to tell him. I want to tell him I am sorry for not being the son he probably always wanted. The one he could joke with, go fishing with, always count on, be there for, and just be the guy to hold the family grounded. He is a good man, but I have so much concealed anger when we speak. I literally cut him off and don't tell him anything about my life. I always speak in short sentences. I know I am doing it, but I feel like I can't control my emotions and my concealment in solitude. He wasn't there to protect me... My mother and father sent me to the abuser's home time after time after time... They didn't know... until my one of my siblings talked and then everything stopped. My parents found out about my siblings, but not me. This was my own doing. I go back to the moment a social worker came into my house with that doll and asked me to show her where the Pin Man has touched me on my legs... I was so scared to tell. I didn't. I just said that he touched me at knee level or below and they let me go back outside to play in the sandbox... by myself... thinking what in the world just happened. I didn't want anyone to get into trouble. I did this to myself. I, at that moment, could have changed direction in my life to immediate healing... but, I have gone 28 years of not healing, well - at least 18 of them completely not healing.
I wish I could go back and tell the little me that "it's okay. You don't have to hide. You didn't do anything wrong. This was not your fault. You are loved. We won't leave you again. We will help you through this."
But that didn't happen. I went back to the sandbox and then I can't remember anything else. All I know is I was not left alone in that house ever again. I guess my parents stopped the abuse for me without even knowing it.
I am choosing not to go back to that house. The last time I went back, I couldn't handle it. I can't stand the thoughts that go through my head. If there is any hypocritical situation I have ever been in, it has been in that basement of that house. Being forced to love someone that had stripped innocence from any that could have existed in this body.
I bury myself in solitude. I shut people out. I do it to everyone, even my wife at times. I heard or read something once that said... "I am not hiding from the world, I am healing from it." This really had me look at the solitude into a positive thing.
Even in my loneliness and solitude... God is with me. Romans 14:7 "For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone." My wife is with me even when she is not. My kids depend on me... I forget too quickly that I am loved and needed even if I seperate myself...
Like Dr. Evil said from Austin Powers... "Shh." or "Zip it."
How do you feel when someone offers you something? For example, you are at work and your director offers to take you and the team out for lunch. Do you automatically think happy thoughts of "free lunch" and just go or do you wonder what is the motivation behind the offer and reject the invitation with a lie that you already had plans? The latter is what I usually do and I realize that I do it after the fact. after it is done, I try to think about what am I doing and why am I holding myself back. These are important relationships (or are they?) in my business career and the more I isolate from them, the more I will be limiting myself for the future.
How do you feel when you are asking for help? Do you ask for help? I remember when I had broken my wrist and it took me a day before going to the hospital to get help - basically pushed by a friend that got me there - I was in a different country. I did the same thing years later and didn't get help after fracturing the head of my humorous (bone ) and ripped my rotator cuff... was taken by my wife to the hospital. Then the same pattern of not getting help when I had renal failure for days... finally taken to the emergency room by again... my wife.
What about when people ask you for your story? What do you tell? What don't you tell? At least from what I have read and from what I know about myself is that I hide things. Things that shouldn't even be hidden. It's like I never really found a voice for myself besides an internal scream only I can hear.. There was just this deadening silence like I am / was constantly silent through life. I am the person without a personality, without a spirit, without a soul... Well, I guess that makes sense, since innocence was taken away from me at an early age. I learned that the people that take care of you don't really love you and you have to be scared of everything because no one will ever protect you.
Then, I have learned... Mark 8: 34-35 ... "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel with save it." How great would it be just to be able to let go of these wounds and let someone else take them for you?
I went through life being this person I didn't want to be not being able to speak about the pain inside me. I never remember the Pin Man actually saying "never tell" or "it will be our little secret." Well, I only remember glimpses of abuse. I don't remember how I got into the situations, but I just remember in the moment disturbing clips of stuff that should have never happened. Most days, even at 32, I find myself replaying these moments in my head while in meetings at work, at the dinner table, in the car... actually I can't think of many days where I haven't thought about the abuse that occurred.
I finally asked for help without actually asking. I started therapy over six months ago... and I still haven't actually said the words... maybe I will ask this week. I have this feeling of also wanted to shut off and stop going... stop doing this site (who knows if anyone will read it or need it). My prayers are that it at least helps one of person feel like they aren't alone. This is a fight - stop completely and shut myself off from the world or open myself up and help someone else. I which someone would have done that for me a while ago... 20+ years of feeling like a freak, unloved by others, no friends, alcoholic, sexual destruction with no boundaries, self-destructed, mess... There have been a few people along the way that tried to help, but my protective walls were so thick I couldn't comprehend what was going on.
One of the biggest steps was trusting in God. I didn't really believe He loved me until August 2004. My wife led me to a church that I could feel the word of God in. I would have NEVER went alone. My anxiety levels were too high and my public fears were still out of control. It wasn't easy. I felt like I was being convicted personally for every sin I have ever committed. When anyone was speak, I felt like they could see my tortured soul and hated me. I felt like I didn't deserve to be there. I never spoke of this. Actually, not until now. However, my wife, or my friend at the time, was with me and I kept going. Things are easier to do when you have someone there for you. We ended up going to a different, smaller church with the same type of values. I actually didn't tell anyone at my church until the beginning of December 2011 (Age 31). My Secret, the hideous part of me I wish I could rip out, was received openly without judgement. I had to get support because I was freaking out about starting to go to a support group for male survivors in my local area.
The support group I joined has been nothing but one of the best steps I have taken in my recovering process. These courageous men have been sharing their lives and growing up with me even though most of them are double my age. I can tell you it has been a healing experience and the guys have been there for some really important moments. I remember when I first walked into the group for the first time - my heart was pounding so hard and I was ready to hit the doors and run out as fast as I could. I am so glad I have stuck with it. I am not alone - I can see the others faces... the pain inside... the smiles from recovering... the laughing... the tears... I am beginning not to be afraid of showing my emotions. Matthew 23: 26 ... "First clean the inside of the cup and dish, then the outside also will be clean."
Rejection. Hatred. Self-Contempt. Self-Destruction. Selfishness. Wounds. Ambivalence. Theses are some of the things all survivors are trying to clean themselves of.
Acceptance. Affirmation. Love. Trust. Stability. Protection. These are the things we all wanted. We have the chance to offer it to others. We have to choose to.
If snowballs could go uphill...
I guess this is how my positive thinking is working. It's harder for me to always think positive... I quickly flip things to the negative... I wonder if this is true of most other survivors. I think probably in everything I have ever personally written or thought becomes this uphill battle to remain on a positive note, rather than tearing it down in a negative tailspin. Like a tornado like tirade, my "inner-voice" takes over in a debilitating way. The more I try and push the snowball uphill, the bigger it gets and the harder it is to keep pushing it until it stops and then rolls over me back down the slopes to the bottom. My anxiety, I think, made this a thousand times worse before I got help.
Right now, I have a positive vibe at this moment. I wrote in my journal today, "Today's going to be a great day!" and that's it. Maybe it's my medication? Maybe it's talking to people again. Maybe it's the fact I can go through a whole day without crying once (not that crying is a bad thing). Maybe it's feeling loved by my wife and kids. Maybe it's that I am taking care of myself and enjoying it. Maybe it's because almost all of my vices are gone now. Things I have wanted to rid myself years ago are finally leaving. Maybe it's from being more positive to the people around me and making them smile and not expecting anything in return. Maybe it's being able to take a joke without taking it personally. Maybe it's feeling the love of God for split seconds of the day and remembering I am not alone.
I didn't feel this way a month ago, so maybe it is the medication. I gotta believe it's that combined with everything else. I still hurt and pain let's me know I am still alive. I've stopped beating myself up (for the most part). I've been actively participating in my own recovery. I have multiple forms of help. I've started this website. I am loved by God.
This is where the snowball starts downhill...
I found my old college journal 2 days ago. Besides writing songs in High school, I believe this was the first time I was actively journaling in my life. A few weeks ago I found these old songs I wrote back in the day and found a person I forgot existed. This is when I played the guitar and was an awesome rock-star singer . I was kind of nervous in opening this chapter of my life scared that it might rekindle old thoughts. In college, I had my suicide planned out. I was going to wreck my car on the highway into an underpass as fast as I could... I was talked into driving back by one of my friends and when I met him at a gas station, the cops were there. I was taken to a hospital completely ashamed and in shock. I lied to the social worker that was there, so I could just go back to "normal." However, things would never go back to "normal." Days later, I admitted to everyone that I was stressed and everything was fine now... The thing was, nothing was fine. I tracked it down to the 2 day time frame... It was October 5th or 6th, 2000. I want to say that the Pin Man was in the hospital with pneumonia and on his way to eventual death by November 24th 2000. Maybe this is when I was forced to go to the hospital and talk to him on his deathbed left alone in the room with him... Maybe this is why I hate Thanksgiving the most of all. Every year I dread this time of getting together with family... maybe this is the direct result or maybe it's just because I can't stand turkey and the horrible waste of food.
I have been trying to recreate a timeline of events in my life, but I can't remember a lot of what has happened in my life. I feel like I am putting a really complicated puzzle back together. This is probably why I am in therapy. I can't decode the cypher by myself. Even if I could find the key that unlocks the memories of what actually happened to me and how I got to today... what then? Regardless, college seems like a haze. High school seems even further away... beyond that, I just remember very sad moments. Things I don't want to remember. I have managed to turn everything I ever did a bad thing. Well not everything....
I keep coming back to my kids and my wife. I am a great dad and a great husband. As much as I fight myself on this, I know this is the truth. My family is healthy (even with my issues) and they are supporting me... FULLY. I guess really, what else do I need?
All my vices are gone... well, I guess I am dependent on Lexapro (if that counts)... Lexapro actually has prohibited many of my normal vices. Drinking, Staying up late, overeating, not eating, spending, on and on... I threw a lot of these vices away years ago... especially the nasty habit of smoking... I started smoking at a young age... I want to say I was in fourth grade... Wow, that's messed up. Back to Lexapro... in a way though, it has stabilized my mood, my anxiety, and my depression. I can get through a day without crying. I actually handled jokes today and was thrown into a on-the-go meeting and I could handle it with having what I think are anxiety shocks to my system.
My childhood was... best way to say it is I survived, well I am still surviving it. My twenties sucked, but I am surviving those too. At least the first 5 years of them. The last 4 years of my twenties I threw myself into a healthy family with appropriate boundaries that set me on a path
I think I always needed to be on. I also started going back to church - a real church where I found Jesus again (or he found me), I can say I am more than surviving my thirties, maybe even on the brink of thriving.
As a child, with the Pin Man always being there...
If snowballs could go uphill... Well, this is how I would end this post.
Jesus found me again and he has been working in me.
I may have missed out on the first quarter of this life, I still have at least 2 more.
I have a great family now, regardless if the one from the past is still around.
I am starting to let me forgive myself for a lot in my life.
I am smiling more.
I am choosing to heal, rather than sit in a dark cave by myself.
I am continuing to challenge my "inner dialogue" that only wants to isolate me.
I love my kids... one is becoming the age at which I was abused growing up. I can't project what happened to me onto her... it's not fair.
I don't drink anymore.
I don't smoke anymore.
I work out almost every day.
I run 20 miles a week.
I am smart.
God loves me.
Still need to get to the point where I believe all this stuff in my head...
Mine was really good... Even with the the big rock / snowball.
Warning... This may cause triggers or maybe too much information for some... Here goes.
I had a flashback, or a dream, or a nightmare on the morning of July 18th, 2012. Maybe it was the stress of a family reunion coming up? Or my father's birthday? Or recent thoughts stirring in my head? This day put me into a shock I have only felt a few times in my life. I have often experienced glimpses in the past many times a day, but very few times like this... I guess one of the horrible aspects of PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I was a child again. I remembered the Pin man standing in front of me, mostly unclothed. We were in the basement and I was on a work table, mostly unclothed. This is where the abuse occurred. I could smell the saw dust mixed with mold and mildew of the windowless basement. At this moment, I didn't realize anything was wrong. I was just a child listening to an adult family member. When all of the sudden, people started coming downstairs with video equipment and microphones (apparently he was getting local tv coverage for his woodworking. I felt a hand push my head down forcefully under the work table. I felt a rush of fear. Maybe this is where the fear started in my life. In this moment, I learned that what was happening wasn't right and it must be kept hidden. Or did ?. I remember I was wearing Osh Kosh overhauls that day and I had a hard time getting my buttons snapped that kept the straps over my shoulders. I asked a lady for help. She told me to go upstairs and get help from the Pin Man's wife. Couldn't she see I didn't come from the bathroom (with no door on it)? I sometimes wonder if again, this is where my fears of restrooms other than my home roots from. There were no boundaries in that basement. I went upstairs and the Pin Man's wife helped me with my buttons, and life went on from then. I can't remember the whole abuse (just pieces and parts that are connected). Worse than that, I can't remember anything else from my early childhood other than blips of abuse images that are incomplete and irritate my very being.
This flashback changed my mood, my behavior, my thinking... My wife had a therapy session that week as well - mainly to help cope during my recovery. She started talking about dissociation, dazed states... I can't even remember how the conversation started, but I think I started becoming delusional. I was avidly searching on the internet what was wrong with me. I started coming up with the idea that I had a form of Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly Multiple Personality Disorder) and I just became aware of my alters. Seriously, I thought I was losing it and I had no idea who had control over my body. I still had to go to my family reunion... feeling crazy... I avoided as many of my family as I could. My wife was there fully supporting me... Thank God!
I was fine... uhhh... if in the sense of "Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional."
My T noticed it right away and asked me to come back for another session that week. I couldn't remember the reason why I was starting to lose it in my initial session that week, like recent memories were fading from my mind. I went to my support group that night right after my session with my T and broke down again. One of the guys from the group checked in with me almost daily - I can't tell you how much this meant to me. At that point, I had isolated myself to the point that I didn't talk to anyone other than my T, my wife, kids, my work people... Someone from the group, let's call him Mario, that fully gets it and has no ulterior motive except to check my safety. Mario is a strong willed survivor who I have learned from in just a short time a sense of strong protection... He told me in a conversation, "No one's ever going fuckin' hurt my core again." I can't get these words out of my head... I think that's because this is what all survivors think, including myself. I can't stop thinking if this is an inner vow or if this is a positive boundary instilled for normal protection.
I came back for the second session and I could identify why I was losing it and I told my T about the flashback. I remember breaking down crying for the nth time saying that it feels like I can still feel the Pin Man's hand pushing my head down under the table. I feel like he's been doing that my whole life. I couldn't run anymore, emotionally or physically. I was breaking down. It was recommended by my T to talk to my doctor about anxiety medication. It was almost as if my T cared more about me than I did - or could think clearly enough to do so. I followed his advice and I am so happy I did. Back in February, during my full physical, I told my Doctor about the abuse and that I was seeking therapy - again, this was a huge breakthrough for me. Enclosed space, one-to-one conversation, a physical, a person I don't know (but a really important person to my life... a doctor)... The doctor gave me the best response I could think of... He said, if the time comes and I need to take a next step for help with medication, I can come back. This made the conversation easier by remembering this encouraging words. I still need to thank my Doctor for this.
My body was still in shock as well. I am still ashamed of how my body reacts... keeps on giving me the feeling again, that I don't have control. I never once got turned on from the flashback, but my body was "reacting" in a way that drove me nuts. Embarrassingly enough, I had seminal leakage for about 2 weeks after. I had a hard time going places... It consumed my thoughts which probably fed the problem. It would get so bad, that I would have to change clothes. Again, I couldn't get my body to relax. I kept on telling myself, "he is dead and he can't hurt me anymore." My T said the leakage was a normal reaction. This is what I needed to hear. I again was searching the internet for days on what was wrong with me. I didn't ask my Doctor when I had my visit... should have, but again, this was embarrassing. I finally told my wife about it about a week in. I can say now that my body has finally simmered down and I really don't want to ever experience that again. At least I know it is a normal reaction and I can lower my anxiety...
It's hard for me to realize how much power I give the Pin Man or maybe the memories) after so many years... like a parasite that has lived and grown with me over time... I have been feeding it with my fear and with my thoughts for so long. The parasite will die someday... It can't live without my fears and thoughts to feed it. Parasites cannot live without a sufficient host.
I don't have multiple personalities - at least my T has told me that I don't show signs of it. This also put some stability... I will leave that for another post though. Maybe the flashback caused something positive in my life. Actually, yes, I believe that it did. It pushed me to talk. It pushed my body through hell again and I survived. It pushed me to work with my T and ask questions. I am learning to ask for help and how to ask for it. I have not taken care of myself so long, I got to the point of not bothering people with me or my problems. It pushed me to talk to my wife. I again was told I was "okay" and that my responses to the trauma were "normal." It's funny (or not funny), I am starting to trust my T more and more. It's only taken six months. I have constantly questioned, if I picked the right one or not. Should I have picked a Christian counselor? Should I have picked a female instead of a male? Should I have picked a therapist with their doctorate? Should I even go? Is it really that bad? I question things until it cripples me doing anything. I picked the right one... because I know I am getting better... even when I don't feel like I have... if that makes any sense.
Let me say that again... I know I am getting better and people are noticing it... More importantly, I know God is helping me... He has always been with me. I just have a really hard heart to break into.
I am actually not talking about the bubble-boy in Seinfeld. Although hilarious, the bubble I am talking about was something that was great in the beginning, but harmful later in life.
I live in a protected bubble and in some ways, I am still a little boy. This bubble or wall I have created early in life keeps people at a distance and blocks intimate (not sexual) relationships from occurring. I believe this wall works both ways, it also blocks anyone from seeing who I really am. The wall was really successful early in life (I guess) by protecting me from any harm. This means, I can look at you in the face (or near your face) and not show my true emotion or feeling at that moment. Group situations cause fear from (what I am guessing) my brain making too many projections of what people are thinking. One-on-one conversations in enclosed spaces shut me down into a frozen type state if it is someone I do not know.
The bubble doesn't work on everything... It doesn't work on panic. It doesn't work on shame and embarrassment. It doesn't work on guilt. Most of the time, it doesn't work on my wife. It doesn't work on protecting myself from me. Most importantly, it doesn't work on God! I thank God that his powers are much great than mine.
Thinking about my wife and kids... They have unknowingly joined me in my bubble. It's no longer comfortable to be in here and I part of me if bursting out of it trying to make a new one. Interestingly enough, this is where God intervenes and takes control. Again, I am glad I am not God.
However, this bubble does work on keeping friends away. Throughout the end of elementary school, through middle school, high school, college, post college, through my professional career, through church groups, I have felt alone. The inability to talk, like I lost my voice, prohibited me to let people in. Of course, I hung around people... more like a loner I guess. I tried to be a part of things, that stuff will be in a different post (I have a theory about the reasons why I chose to be in the things I was in). Even now, at 32, I feel alone. Mostly when I am alone. When my wife is away and kids are asleep, or if I am away from home, or in my car, or just dazed in thoughts... I get in that place.
28 years. Like a horribly disturbing movie, this number really gets to me... This is where I get angry and frustrated at how long this has affected my life and where I feel like I had no life. I get to the place of if I had no life, what is the point? But then I remember, God put me here for a reason. God gave me the ability to dissociate when the horrible abuse occurred. I, at first, was scared that I learned about dissociation, but after time, I am so thankful he made my brain the way he did. He loves me and again, His people are not Him. I guess I am glad that the 28 number will not get larger in the same way... I have God... and I am getting help. I am in a local support group for survivors, I am reading books about the effects of abuse, I have medication for the out of control anxiety and depression, I am in therapy trying to put my life back together (or figure how to make myself functional again), and I have told more people the Secret than I have ever before.
Ironically enough, the sermon today at church was on inner vows that are made immediately after a hurt is incurred. These inner vows are promises that we will never or always do something. These inner vows are in most cases done without / against God. In some ways these inner vows make us out to be the exact opposite of what we were wanting to be. I know one of my inner vows after being abused was that I will never let anyone hurt me again... Well, I got hurt again, and again, and again... and I am sure I hurt others along the way. I also told myself I would never be laughed at, seen, heard, be taken care of, let anyone get close, get help... This is not who I wanted to become. I stopped being myself along the way... in some cases doing good. Isaiah 28:15 says "You boast, 'We have entered into a covenant with death, with the realm of the dead we have made an agreement. When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot touch us, for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding place.'" Scripture warns us not to take these inner vows lightly.
I don't know what exactly happened to me over this past year, but something inside of me woke up saying, "Something is wrong with me. I don't want to live my life like this. I need help." Maybe it has something to do with what's in Proverbs 3:27. It states, "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act." I am glad that I have started what I call my delayed journey. As I look at the others in support groups and from what I read, most survivors don't start their recovering (always an "ing" word, never an "ed") until much later in life. I got depressed about this at first thinking "these guys are old and I can't believe they are still dealing with this... is this what I have to look forward to?" I mentioned this to the guys and one of them responded "you're lucky your getting to this early then we did." This was an eye opener to me. Maybe I can beat this before I die, or at least be functional in society.
Bubble's are meant to burst... Economic, soap, packaging wrap bubbles... Some are more fun then others when they burst and some take a while. I hope when mine is completely gone, I can finally take a deep breath of fresh air that is much needed.
I never wanted this. I wonder if my Perpetrator (The Pin Man) knew what he was doing to my life. I had a really horrible flashback about 3 weeks ago, which affected my mind, body, and behavior for over a week in the aftershock. The constant remembrance of stuff that happened to me as a child and barely anything else. Like many other survivors, I have lost my childhood and feel like I have lost my life... until about 10 years ago. 10 years ago, I found out I wasn't alone. 10 years ago, The Pin Man passed away. 10 years ago, my life began to shift. There were serious ups and devastating downs (remember the dual pendulum) and still are. The abuse that occurred was not supposed to happen and the person claiming to be a Christ follower, in a form of leadership at my church and a grand-parental figure... I thank God that God is not his people, which a very good friend of mine reminded me off months ago. Again, I never wanted this, but I have it and it is up to me how to handle it. I was out of control of the situation then, but I do have control of my situation now. I know others out there have to feel like me. I know I am not alone just based on the numbers.
As of 2010, there were just under 152 million males in the US. If the incidence of childhood sexual abuse is really 1 in 6 boys under the age of 16, than that would bring the abused population to a staggering 25.2 million males with at least 12 million suffering from some level of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Just for my age range of 30 to 34, there are an estimate 1.6 million survivors out there (1% of the total male US population). If I drill down to my metropolitan area of 900,000 people, there are 10,000 male survivors. If I drill down to my zip-code, there are 344 survivors just in my age range.
This site is targeting (in a good helpful way) a small audience in most cases shut off from the world and feel alone... and sometimes (let's face it, most times) feel scared.
Thinking back, I expected for myself to be over all of this by now. I thought therapy would have been over by now. When I stopped acting out, quit smoking, quit drinking, giving my self to God, getting married, going on a mission trip to help minister to orphans (and survivors), started running, had kids, etc... I thought getting rid of bad habits and doing "good" in my life would stop the crying, the losing control, the panic attacks, the negative thinking, the thoughts of death, the feeling of worthlessness, the loss of hope... Although I have felt more in line with how I think "normal" people feel, the diseased voice still comes out and tries to tear my life and core apart. I am still trying to think how how this all started and I have to remember... my family... and boundaries... or lack there of.
When abuse occurs, it rips the family a part whether the family realizes it or not. Boundaries are non-existent, fear is instilled, trust is gone, and a secret ill-fated root is born. In Hebrews 12:15 it says "See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." Sometimes I don't even think it's the actual abuse that causes the long term damage, it's the Secret rather than the actual abuse itself... It's torment lasts. The secret holds a heavy burden of betrayal, guilt, shame, and loneliness.
I have constantly felt like I should be removed from society, just because of who I am. My therapist asked a good question. "Where do you think they should they put you?" I wasn't really sure how to respond besides, "I don't know, bury me." I guess my shame still comes out in that statement. After looking back at my acting out phase of no boundaries, I was asked what am I trying to find in this range of time. I was acting "normal" for how a person responds to huge wounds that have not healed yet. I looked my therapist in the eyes and said, "I guess I should bury the "stuff" instead of me."
We are forgiven, if we accept Jesus in all ways. I have to keep reminding myself of this. I have not always believed it... And I still do struggle with it at times. That's okay though. God knows me better than I know myself. I also have to be reminded that I know my self better than other people.
Regardless, we are all more than just the numbers. We are all more than our deficiencies... As far as my path I am on... Mathew 23:26 sums it up, "First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean." He won't relent till he has it all (all of our heart, sole, mind, core).
It's almost as if a huge dual-pendulum of emotion is thrown into hyper-drive, pulling whatever intelligent decision making apart. Polarizing thoughts are just one of the many issues survivors face (at least, that is what I have learned from my therapist, reading, and my support group). I am just hypothesizing, but I believe it started early on in my life, when I started subconsciously realizing I wasn't "normal" for the world (however, I know I am "normal" for what happened to me - as well as other survivors are "normal" too). I know I fight with myself every day possibly at least once every hour, if I can remember it's actually happening. Let me explain more about what I understand about polarized thinking. Ironically enough, I have done it with this website. I have gone through "it's a great idea to start this up" to "this was the worst idea ever."
There is no middle ground. Succeed vs. Failure. Hate vs. Love. Wanting to die vs wanting to live. Being smart vs. being a complete moron. Being sane vs. being crazy. Being involved vs. being completely removed. You probably get the point. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse feel the extreme polar opposites about everything all the time. It causes such confusion that it creates a debilitating effect. This has hindered me in the areas of friendships, work, family, etc... Basically if it is a relationship, it has been difficult for me to make decisions or think straight. I thank God I have a very understanding wife and family. The best example I can think of is a presentation I made for my CEO and executive team. The team was impressed and the CEO said "that was awesome." It didn't register right away. I could hear the words, but I still ripped the presentation to shreds thinking I did a horrible job and couldn't live up to what was expected. However, I did let the CEO's words in finally, but then shifted back and forth on if it was good or not...
This dual pendulum of short-circuited decision making is only the beginning. I know for myself, my normal pattern of thinking is to rip myself apart for all of the reasons I am not worth it... but then I know God made me and He makes me worth it. Luke 12:7 states "Indeed, the very hairs on your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." He loves me and has wanted to protect me from the beginning - still trying to really understand this... Mark 9:42 states "If anyone causes one of these little ones - those who believe in me - to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea." I wouldn't be fully authentic if I didn't say I wasn't still furious at God because I am. He is still working on my heart though, my core. That is all He cares about in all of us.
He loves us. He loves me. He loves you.
It's time to help others who need help. First things first. Call me Job - not to be confused with Gob Bluth from Arrested Development. I am not the real Job, nor a superhero, super-blogger, or a licensed therapist. I am however a Christian, husband, father, dedicated employee, musician, friend, and a child. This child, my core, is a child of God that has been afflicted by repeated childhood sexual abuse from around 4 to 5 years of age.
For the first time in my life at age 32, I feel like I have an outer shell of protection from the world. It wasn't easy and it took a long time to build up to this stage. Anti-anxiety medication helps as well. To think of trials in my life, I always think of Romans 5:1-5. My journey has been long, hard, lonely, enlightening, encouraging, character building and I realize I am just at the beginning... oh my poor wife. I am still going through it and as I am sure from what I have researched, it never really is over. I have talked in acronyms (like GAD, MDD, PTSD and DID) and found old songs written by a depressed person I don't remember, but can understand and relate to. I guess that is the scariest or the most awesome part about it... I can't remember my childhood or other parts of my past... at least the majority of the things that other "normal" people would remember.
What is "normal" anyway?
Didn't everyone have a trying childhood? Bullied by some kids, just like Karen Klein was? I am really happy for her that she is able to retire and take care of herself for the rest of her life. She actually gave some of the $700,000 in money that was donated to her to charities. See this link if you don't know what I am referring to: http://www.indiegogo.com/loveforkarenhklein. I guess the example isn't really true to what happens everywhere. However, didn't everyone go through school making mistakes, learning hard lessons, finding out where they fit in their social circle (if they had one)?
Didn't everyone have that older sister or older brother that nagged, hit, bit, scratched at every chance they had? In an extreme example, didn't Cain kill Abel so he could receive God's favor (Genesis 4:3-8)?
Didn't everyone have a mom and a dad that constantly told them no, miss an important event, or say something that stuck with there soul for the rest of their lives? "I should just get divorced, everyone else in the neighborhood is"
I would describe all of these examples as some type of "normal" because we all know "normal" really doesn't exist. Except for the not remembering parts of my childhood and randomly being thrown back in a flashback like I am in mash-up of Quantum Leap meets Groundhog Day to events I never want to remember, but can't remember how I got there. Childhood sexual abuse is not normal and was not in God's plan. I have turned my back on God more than once, but I have always come back.
If you read this and you relate to some of it, maybe I can bring light into your situation, give you a direction, be a sounding board, or just share my journey. If anything that I can convey now, I would like to say if you have suffered the most horrific offense you can do to someone's soul by making it split in half, you are loved. Probably by God and so many people and you don't even know it. And it's okay if you don't believe me, I didn't always believe it either.
So here goes nothing... or everything. It has all ready started for me long ago, but this site starts now.
Acts 20:24 - One of my favorite verses.