“Tell your doctor if you have thoughts of suicide while on this medication. . .” the commercial warned
“Yay me!” I sarcastically joked, “It won't prevent me from killing myself, it will just make me happy while I slip the noose around my neck.”
A call was placed to my general practitioner and I made an appointment for the soonest available time. It was in two weeks.
The weekend turned to Monday and my wife went to work. I was alone with two high energy children looking at me to find some entertainment for them to occupy their busy bodies and minds. It wasn’t fair to them that I was this way. I turned the television on to PBS and instructed them to sit quietly and watch “Dinosaur Train.” I then walked over to my computer desk and began to check my incoming email. “The new Kindle Fire! only $149. . .”
“FUCK! this sucks!” I whispered.
I slumped over, hitting my head against the keyboard drawer. “I’ve got to do something to make this pain go away.” I thought, “Nothing is working.”
There was no energy in me to even begin to look for an escape on the LCD screen in front of me. Instead, I searched for help. Typing into the Google search bar “male sexual abuse” the results appeared before me, I clicked on the first result “Pandora's Aquarium.” After creating a login and a screen name, I began to read the stories of others in the same dismal situation that I was in. I found it comforting that there were others out there struggling with the same raw emotions and terror that I was experiencing, but also I couldn't help but think, “With all of these people chatting and describing various aspects of the pain and abuse perpetrated against them, is there hope for me a relative newcomer?”
I began to type my first post in the forums and within moments I had a response. “I understand. Iamnotbubba, you can do this.”
The next several days I spent almost every waking hour looking for support online. Trying to express my pain in words, rather than anger and shouting. I related to the others’ terror and confusion. I read each one with fervor, digesting each word as if it were my own. I found it helpful and comforting to be a part of a greater online community that was willing to give support and advice outside the weekly group therapy meetings and the individual therapy sessions. I could find help at home and whenever I needed it.
As I explored, that week, I found other sites that I found extremely helpful, http://www.malesurvivor.org/ was one of them. I watched the video by Dr. Howard Fradkin and began to read the 10 daily affirmations.
Howard Fradkin, Ph.D., LICDC, Co-Chairperson, MaleSurvivor Weekends of Recovery
- Recovery is absolutely possible and achievable for me.
- I will practice being disloyal to dysfunction and loyal to functionality.
- I give myself permission to connect to loving, affirmative, strong, sensitive, accepting men and women in my community.
- I release and forgive myself for any responsibility I have accepted in the past for my abuse.
- The abuser (s) from the past chose to hurt me; I will stop repeating the lie that it just happened to me.
- Offering myself daily compassion is necessary for my healing and growth.
- I commit to connecting to the boy inside me today so we can play, laugh and experience joy together, even if just for a minute or two.
- I believe deep inside me I possess the ability to face the truth of my abuse and to learn to use new tools for healing.
- I have the right and the ability to speak the truth of my abuse and deserve to be heard, understood, believed and supported.
- Feeling is healing; as I heal, I develop the ability to experience a wider range of emotions to enhance my health and connections to others.
“I can do this,” I said to myself. It was a beautiful summer day, and it was time to do something different instead of wallowing in self pity. I got up and walked with my children to the park where they could play and I could write in my journal, that I affectionately called my “therapist.” I was beginning to find that if I can express my rage in words and on paper, the 15 year old inside me was happier and more well balanced. I discovered that, if I allowed my inner boy to speak and tell me how he felt, it became easier to express the one thing I lacked when I started this journey over a year ago--LOVE. It was a good day, I was beginning to find a way out of the dark depression that had caused me to want to drive into a concrete embankment a few days earlier. The support and creative outlet I had found online and on paper gave a new spark of light and happiness. Each day, even now, I start almost every day writing these same words, “Today I feel, . . . “ I write this way because at the time of the abuse no one asked me how I felt or what I wanted.
I can't say for sure what happened, but the darkness came back. It was nearly as overpowering as before. Nothing I tried could ease the heartbreak, Self-medication didn't work; that just made it worse. Exercise was only a temporary relief. The support online was no longer effective enough to silence the war in my soul. It was as if someone had replaced my heart with a grenade, about to explode, pulverising my ribs into a bloody powder and scattering entrails for miles. Yelling and screaming only served to make me feel guilty that I was not healing and reinforced the belief that I was an animal for a person. I deserved to be alone and that I was incapable of achieving anything close to humanity.
It would only be a matter of time before I was homeless, living under a bridge, in prison, or in a grave. My doctors appointment was still a few days away. I needed help NOW! After feeding the children and putting them down for a nap. I went to my computer, typed, “help me” into the search bar.
The Google gods were there to help, I found the RAINN website with a phone number to dial for help. I reluctantly picked up my cell phone, “I never thought I would be someone who called these hotlines.” I thought, “Then again who would have thought I would have been that person who was raped.”
The phone rang, A kind voice on the other end answered. “First, I must ask you if you have plans on harming yourself or others?”
“Not at the moment.” I replied.
We talked for several moments and I was beginning to feel better, I ended the call and started dinner. Another successful day surviving and living with the knowledge that consumed my entire focus.
Although each day that summer was a tiresome struggle with the acceptance of the crimes and selfish horror, I was getting better at coping with the pain and my emotions were beginning to level out. Writing, writing, writing, each day I asked myself “Today, I feel. . .” The exercise of putting my thoughts on paper and allowing my inner 15 year old to speak, started to bring me some of the elusive peace I was searching for.
It was just a few days before my appointment to see the doctor. The children were asleep in the backseat of the car. We were driving north on the interstate. It was late at night. My wife suddenly turns to me and asked me a simple question that completely rocked my world and had the potential to change everything.
“Are you gay? I am not asking because you were abused, but looking back now with all of your struggles, are you gay?”