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How can I ever forgive my past abusers?

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  • #40063
    Zenhen
    Participant

    Marilyn,

    Thank you for your words of encouragement. I am inspired to know that you were able to forgive and let go. I am working towards that. Now more than ever I see healing myself and letting go as a tangible possibility or should I say reality. Once, while feeling some pain stir up inside of me, I saw an image flash in my head of me carrying a carcass of my wounded child self on my back. At that time it felt like a burden. I wondered how long would I go carrying this dead child. Now I can see myself holding that carcass lovingly and finding a proper resting place for her. I don’t want to bury that carcass the way I did before. I found shallow burial grounds, thus she always came back up. I suppressed her and her voice and her pain and didn’t want to hear her story. Now, I can bury her and honor her, place her on a high peak in the Andes of my heart. Now through this healing she can rest in peace.

    Strangely enough, during this healing process I have had dreams of caring after a baby girl. It took a while to realize this was really about taking care of my self. I hope you take care too! Thanks once again!

    With Love,

    Zenhen

    #40064

    It is inspiring, Zenhen, to read your responses to those, including me, who have offered you support and guidance. As you accept what is given, your words reflect the learning taking place and the loving changes occuring in your heart…It is just so beautiful…

    Love and peace,

    Marilyn

    #40327
    kristin
    Participant

    oh, yes.

    to it all.

    i offer you this latest writing of mine.

    this is the girl i sob for now. deeper sobs than i’ve ever known.

    – – – – –
    the secret task

    she runs in small frantic circles, wide eyed and working. she’s busy.

    she’s small. her hair is wispy and long. she has on a dress, creamy colored and hard to notice. her feet are bare, she likes it that way. her eyes are big. her mouth is opened bird like. she isn’t hungry or dirty or cold. she’s been fed homemade yogurt and bathed in ivory soap and allowed to wear what she wanted. she’s been hugged and talked kindly to and reminded of her goodness. unknowingly, she has been amply prepared for her secret task: to look beyond for safety.

    she sees it in a relaxed-smiled person, a bird who calls back and forth, a dog with slow wagging tail, a low-branched tree, a pile of blankets. her eyes notice it, her heart swells for just a second before the openness is too big and it clamps down.

    she can’t settle in those. this isn’t her task. she is to look beyond safe. she is to look for danger.

    quickly organizing the danger into a vertical tier of threat, she can move this order with incredible efficiency. the bottom is low threat. the top is high threat.

    oops, the way you raised your eyebrows at me just made you a little more scary, up you go. wait, you just reached down and pet that dog, okay, down you go. you are a baby. you are lower than the bottom. i like to be with you. yes! you smiled back at me, but since i had to work so hard to get it, you stay right where you are, and you’ll probably move to the top…so i’ll keep a little extra attention on you. uh ho, i thought you were sitting on the sidewalk reading but really you’re asleep and the newspapers are your blankets! up you go. you are the president of the united states, so you go to the top. but since i can’t interact with you, i just fantasize that you’re my grandfather. then you’d put a tarp over my house and no nuclear bombs would hurt me. hey! you ignored me when you walked past. thank you! down you go…but i’ll look over my shoulder a few times and see if you’re looking back at me…your final position to be determined. hmmmm, you are pushing your shopping cart, but you’re not looking at anyone, you go just below center. no wait, you just put fresh fruit in your cart, you go just above center. you are my friend, you are at the bottom.

    wait. you’re touching me under that hard to notice dress, you soared to the top.

    wait. no. now it’s over and you’re being nice and talking to our other friends…so i will pretend you’re at the bottom but really you’re at the tippy top…and you earned the first fixed position there.

    (little did she know that in the coming years, the tier would grow to have a gravity defying shape of wider at the top, several people who proved the world of her body was dangerous sharing the fixed position of the tippy top)

    ok. new plan for everyone:
    the further you are at the top, the more i will act like you are at the bottom.
    the further you are at the bottom, the more i will watch you.
    i will get to you before you get to me.

    and now to make it simpler:
    if you are smaller than me, you are at the bottom.
    if you are bigger than me, you are at the top until you prove yourself otherwise.
    i will start at the top and work down the ever shifting tier of danger.

    kind of hard since she’s so small. her calf muscles are developed from standing on tiptoe. her neck is limber from straining to see. her arms are flexible, busy with daily work in order to keep her task hidden. her face is toned from forced expressions of change. her heart is strong from swelling at safety and the immediate constriction of fear that follows. every time.

    don’t let your guard down.
    work from the top.
    win them over.
    keep them happy.
    stay alert for clues.
    stay alert for surprises.
    keep the work secret, no one can know where they are on the tier.

    well, that little girl, a bit feral, has been approached.
    the tier of old memories is bathed in light.
    the same primal love of soap and food and kindness has corralled her.
    so now she scrambles a little more.
    her well worn paths are reduced to choppy segments.
    her legs used to more space, she’s awkwardly stumbling.
    her eyes used to darting further on the landscape, things are too bright.
    her heart used to the familiar dance of swell and constrict feels oddly numb.
    her ears used to waiting for startling sounds, quiet things are louder.

    scrambling and peering through cracks,
    it’s getting harder and harder to see beyond the fence of love that moves closer all the time.
    backing away from love lands her only against more love.
    the corners have disappeared.
    she’s losing her job of organizing danger.

    she’s still little. little enough to hold. and show things to. and hide.
    love edges in, crouches down, arms outstretched, promises repeated:
    i promise it’s over, i promise it’s over, i promise it’s over
    maybe while standing under a tree.
    and hearing birds perched low.
    and noticing a pile of blankets.
    knowing the places to land
    where the heart can swell and remain open.
    knowing she’s been found
    and it is safe.

    “here is the world. beautiful and terrible things will happen. don’t be afraid.”
    -frederick buechner

    august 2013
    kristin neufeld epp

    #40376
    Amelie
    Participant

    Dear Zenhen,

    Thank you for your loving and emphatic words! I’m sorry I didn’t answered earlier, these last days were so difficult for me… I’ve been asking the universe to help me, to understand why so many things in my life aren’t the way I wanted (especially my professional life). And then, I run into this very forum thread and writing to you – I see now – was the first step to start looking in a now way at the abuse and how it has an impact in my life until today. I’ve been reading scientific articles and blog testimonies about sexual abuse in the last few days – something I didn’t wanna do last year. It’ve been discovering a lot about sexual abuse and about myself too… I decided to create a blog to share my feelings, emotions and conclusions – hoping it may help other people who have gone through the same situation. I’ll start the blog today in a few hours – I’ll put the link here 🙂

    About rediscovering anger and pain… When I started doing that mentalization, huge waves of anger came! I felt more angry doing the mentalization than in my normal state, just remembering what happened. I was so angry while I was doing it, so angry that I had to control myself – I wanted to punch things, break things! Looking back now I see that the words somehow made me “extract” those feelings from inside. I also re-experienced many kinesthetic memories while doing this mentalization… it was extremely hard, but as I said, I was desperate… I decided to do whatever it take to get out of that misery I was in. So I did it… Today, now, I don’t feel anger anymore. But I can’t say that it’s all over – I know that there are memories I didn’t allowed to come up at the first time they began to emerge. But, please, don’t criticize or judge yourself for feeling angry, for not being able to forgive. Don’t judge and criticize yourself for nothing at all, please! Be gentle and kind to you.

    “I did however see it as a form of love since it was the only type of affection and attention I received. So because of this I have made the ill interpretation that if a guy doesn’t want to sex me up 24/7 he doesn’t love me. However, when I am with men who physically want me all the time I just feel used and kinda disgusted.” I understand this. It’s a very positive thing that you are aware of the link between sex and affection. Any other person in your position would have made the same interpretation and “learned” in the same way you did… Same about the other feelings you reported. So, again, no judge on you please!

    About your questions:
    1) I’ve been feeling this about not being real in the last days… it’s weird, it’s painful like if I was screaming but no sound could get out… don’t know how to describe this otherwise… I haven’t really thought about how to deal with this. I’ll think about it and tell you.

    2) I have already felt this tingling without being aroused… I believe it has something to do with chakra energy because I’ve had this feeling also in other parts of my body that I know are points of energy (like the palm of my hands and fingertips). I interpret sexual arousal more like a warm sensation together with the desire for sex.

    3) I have many body sensations that are still a mistery to me – many times I cannot link them to a feeling. What our bodies feel are always reflection from the mind… So the way, I believe, is to start paying attention to your body and your emotions in a non-judgemental way. With time you’ll learn what message is your body sending you.

    4) I grew up in a catholic family, where sex wasn’t spoken about… When I came to the age to learn about these things, I got a book from my mom, not a conversation. This “sex is bad and dirty” thing from our society is one of the things that messes up our minds – its a violence to make people feel that natural things are dirty and ugly.

    5) I need to thing more about if nonsexual desires and needs make me feel guilty, but I have realized that I’ve been sabotaging myself in so many things… due to the extreme guilt of feeling pleasure during the abuse. This is so strong now that I’ve been feeling physical sensations in my body… it’s scary, but I’m facing it.

    I have to go know, I’ll answer the other questions today, later!

    See ya =)

    #40563
    Zenhen
    Participant

    Kristin,

    Wow! I really enjoyed your writing. I am glad that you have found an outlet like writing to express/release your pain and hurt. I feel you and relate to you on being on high alert. Constantly scanning for danger. It is overwhelming for both the mind and heart. Even though you didn’t directly answer the questions, your story answered them all.

    “i promise it’s over, i promise it’s over, i promise it’s over” Kristin, in a way it is over but in a way it never really is over, is it? It feels like the suffering will last forever. Even though it is physically over the wounds we carry are constantly and forever bursting open. However, I have faith that the suffering will be over, that we can learn to heal and that we can learn to love ourselves and others properly. Yes, the memories will still be there but they will be ever so faint, ever so far, ever so small.

    Thank you so much for sharing and once again I am happy that our heart songs and heart cries can comfort each other. Please don’t be afraid to reach out. You are supported.

    Sending lots and lots of love,

    Zenhen

    #40567
    Zenhen
    Participant

    Amelie,

    Woohoooooooooo! I am so pleased that you were inspired to start a blog about abuse. I can’t wait to see it! Please send me the link once it has started up. If you need any help, please also let me know. I started a blog last year with the intent of writing about relationship issues and taboo topics including sexual abuse but it was for men only. It was my way of learning not to hate men and trying to be understanding. I was doing great with it but I could never get around to open up the abuse topic. I wrote about everything but that. I felt kinda of like a fraud. Then I stopped writing altogether because I felt stuck. However, starting topics here and replying to people has helped me get back into the swing of writing. I forgot how just how much I enjoy it and enjoy the exchange of ideas. I am going to try to write a new post by the end of the month. Wait, I will do it not try. Check it out at http://www.cybermancave.com.

    I look forward to hearing more from you and your blog!

    Thank you for taking time to answer some questions. I could relate to many of them. I am glad that you have begun this road to healing. It is scary but I am glad that we are being brave and facing it.

    Sending love your way,

    Zenhen

    #40605
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Reading this forum had helped me so much. I have suffered great pain in my life at the hands of an abuser. It’s good to know that there are so many of you that have managed to overcome this great hurt. Thank you!

    #40610
    Zenhen
    Participant

    Hello Moonflower (Sean Lowe),

    I am glad that our stories could be of help to you. The Good Men Project has several articles written by men regarding their experiences with sexual abuse (http://goodmenproject.com/). Just look for it in the search engine. Also http://toysoldier.wordpress.com/ is about male sexual abuse. I like this site but it also seems to be a bit anger fueled, which survivors like us need to express that anger and have ever right to be angry but we also need to focus on healing. Lastly there is also male survivor http://www.malesurvivor.org/. Matt, who has shared such healing advice on this topic, is also a male survivor. I am sure you have read his replies but I go back and reread them when I need to be soothed.

    It is a shame that sexual abuse carries the weight of secrecy and even more so for men. People usually think of men as the abusers rather than the abused. I dated a man who was sexually abused by both his step dad and mother. I am glad I met him because until then I secretly hated men and wondered if they were all abusers. He inspired my website http://www.cybermancave.com. I intended it to be self-help and relationship help for men in an amusing yet healing way and also hoped to bring the topic up of male sexual abuse but at the time I just couldn’t face my own abuse much less discuss the abuse of others. Now by creating this topic and through the inspiration found on Tiny Buddha (such a god sent site) I feel I can bravely talk about this, especially seeing how it has helped so many people. If you ever want to share your story on my site please let me know.

    I hope you can transform your suffering via self healing and self love!

    Sending you lots of warmth and understanding,

    Zenhen

    #40617
    Jaydee
    Participant

    Hello all,
    I have been following this thread for quite some time but have been avoiding writing a response to it. This was on purpose. Everyone sounds so brave, everyone sounds like they’re on this fast-track direct path straight to healing. This has not been my experience. This is a journey I started about 3 years ago. At times I feel that I am healing but other times, like the past few weeks, I feel stuck and completely back where I was before – stuck in shame, in fear, with a heart that is closed off and a mind that is frustrated, angry, and hateful. Sometimes I get so sick of trying to heal – and I think at these stages I am in CONTROL mode where I try to control my experience, control my emotions – through thought. And then I deny the truth of my emotions. “I am tired of feeling this way – I’m going to force myself to feel or do this…” But of course I can’t and just end up feeling frustrated. I am really afraid of my emotions in a way. I think that I might explode with rage or shrink into a hole with shame or cry and never stop.

    It’s been hard for me – being a heterosexual man who was abused at a very young age by boys much older than me (one being my brother). There’s a loud voice coming both from the inside and the outside screaming, “That should never happen! What happened to you is not something that happens!” It’s crazy right? I called a women’s center one time because they had a group that would meet to provide support as they had been victims of sexual or domestic abuse. The woman on the phone knew that I was a man and so she said, “This is a woman’s only group but we do have groups that meet too for abusers”. I’m not an abuser! I’m an abused! Sometimes it feels like there is no room on this planet for people like me. Men who were abused by other men. It makes me extremely angry. I’m filled with so much anger sometimes, it’s unbearable. And then I read about how you guys have healed and are healing and it all sounds like flowers and sunshine. I am happy that you have all made such progress in healing but a voice inside of me is saying, “see, they can heal – but you can’t – with you, there’s something ESPECIALLY wrong”. I know how that sounds and I am in no way trying to minimize ANYONE’s pain. I hate it that you all went through what you did. I also see how this voice thinks that my circumstances are “special” and of course they really aren’t. THere’s nothing special about my pain or my suffering or my trauma. But a voice, an energy source in me somewhere THINKS that way. I know it’s just a voice in my head but it reaches over and grabs the steering wheel from me so often it is really hard to live a life free from despair, fear, anger, and hopelessness. Maybe I’m just not healing enough – maybe I”m not doing enough to heal myself. Maybe I’ll never heal. That’s what I’m afraid of. I so desperately want my heart to be open and to have compassion and love for myself and for everyone. Really, that is my deepest aspiration. To experience that level of freedom is what I want more than anything. But how to do this? I seem to be making progress and then my heart CLOSES down and I’m filled with terrible thoughts and feelings again that seem insurmountable. I can barely do counting meditation at that point without getting distracted by a million voices in my head. Is this normal?

    I’m afraid that after writing/saying this people will exclude me from their hearts. Is this shame or truth? It’s really hard to tell sometimes.
    Thank you everyone for being brave and writing about your experiences.

    -J.D.

    #40619
    Zenhen
    Participant

    J.D.,

    Your story brought tears to my eyes. Not because I pity you or feel sorry for you but because I know how awful it is to feel that way. Also how incredibly painful it is. Really rather indescribable. Because even when you don’t want to think of it, it still comes up. In dreams, when you shower, in conversation…always seems like there is some kind of trigger for the pain.

    “I’m afraid that after writing/saying this people will exclude me from their hearts. Is this shame or truth?” I can tell you that it is shame not truth. Opening this thread made me feel extremely scared of judgment. I even began to panic thinking that people will tell me I deserved to be treated that way or will look down on me or not respond at all because I am somehow untouchable. Even when I go back to respond to replies there is always a bit of fear in me.

    In a way your pain is special. It is difficult to talk about abuse when you are a female and even more difficult when you are a male. There is very little support for male survivors. People don’t seem to understand that men were once boys, boys that needed protection and were unable to defend themselves. I am so sorry for your pain and hurt. I personally know that is is even more painful because your own relative abused you. I hate that I will always be linked to him.

    No, healing isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. Sometimes actually many times healing is more painful than the actual event itself. I realized I needed healing in 2009, secretly I knew all along but thought that other things could fix it. I didn’t really do anything until October of 2012. I had to get six stitches to my ankle when I split it open to the bone while on my mountain bike. It was a blunt strike so I felt pain at first but it subsided. However, it was way more painful to get stitched up, to apply the topical solution, to walk on crutches for two weeks and then to slowly walk on it again. The healing process was way more painful. Before this accident, I also had a kidney infection that sent me to the ER. Then in February of 2012 I was diagnosed with allergic asthma. Being a highly healthful person, I didn’t know why 2012 was such a sickly year for me. I realized my body was telling me I needed to slow way down and needed to heal and the reason I had avoided it was because healing was painful. My injury and illness was a powerful lesson for me.

    When I started the healing process in October, I actually became very depressed. I remember New Years Day was a day I stayed in bed and ate all day. I tried meditation, yoga, writing but I would fall back again. Then I had to redefine what I considered healing. Healing wasn’t forgetting. Healing didn’t mean I was okay. For me, healing means opening up, talking about it, releasing this old pain and anger. I finally started seeing a therapist a little less than a month now. I wrote it down on the info sheet but still haven’t talked about it. I just can’t seem to talk to about it face to face yet. My throat physically closes up and my face feels like its burning even when I try to mention it. Before I left the last session he told me, he knows there is still a lot to discuss and that he is just waiting on me. He also told me to feel angry and to grieve. I told him I am scared to feel, scared to grieve, scared to cry. I told him my emotions feel so powerful that I fear I would die if I fully released them. He told me although my emotional pain feels like real physical pain it cannot harm me. He told him I cannot heal until I grieve. So don’t suppress and don’t judge your feelings. What you are going through now is actually part of the healing process even though it seems absurd. You have to feel a lot of pain, hurt, anger before those feelings can be transformed into love for yourself, honor for you and your body, compassion, etc. It is more of a transformation, a transfer of emotion rather than a healing. I have a scar on my leg now. I didn’t scrape my legs up in childhood because I was busy hiding in closets away from abusers or inside reading. Books were how I escaped the trauma from abuse. People have always complimented my legs because they are long, naturally tan and smooth. I like the scar though. It reminds me I that I CAN heal. Also even though it is nearly a year since I got the scar, ever now and then there is a slight pain/itch if I stand too long or am in an awkward yoga position. So the pain will always be there but it will be less and less frequent.

    I am now currently listening to Restoring the Body, it is about trauma. I turned it on while working and since work can get boring, I decided to check Tiny Buddha real quick. I take it as no coincidence that you decided to reply at the same time I was listening to this. Please listen to it. It is highly insightful and is really pertinent to our situation of abuse: http://www.onbeing.org/program/restoring-the-body-bessel-van-der-kolk-on-yoga-emdr-and-treating-trauma/5801.

    What happened to you was wrong but it doesn’t make you wrong. I tried really hard to be perfect because I thought if there were some type of flaw in me then this would point to a fundamental flaw or wrongness in my being and if there is something wrong about me then it would explain why I was abused. Again its a cycle of shame. Shame as described by Brene Brown is “I am wrong versus I did something wrong” or “I am a failure versus I failed”. You are not wrong or bad or ugly or unlovable or untouchable. You are a brave, beautiful man just as you are, abuse survivor and all.

    Know that you can reach out. Know that you can express the disgust, awfulness, hate, anger, etc. I will listen.

    Sending you lots of love and support on your journey,

    Zenhen

    #40626
    Matt
    Participant

    JD,

    My heart is open to you. I’m also a heterosexual male who was abused by males, and I can relate to a lot of what you’re saying and what you’re not saying. I also felt like a stranger in a strange land, like an alien/human crossbreed that no one could understand or relate to.

    For me, it was a combination of things. I have known from a young age that I form romantic connections with women. But my body seemed to prefer the intensity and feeling of being taken by a male. There was a surrender that happened within me that was very appealing, and my body would become overwhelmed with pleasure. This happened to me for the first time around 10ish? My memories are a little hazy that far back. It was something that didn’t happen to me in a sexual experience with a woman, and yet I fell in love with women, never even feeling attracted to a male. What a crazy predicament!

    At first, I thought I was gay and simply repressing it because of shame. Then I thought perhaps my attraction to women was envy. Then this and that and whatnot until I finally said “screw it” and dropped labels altogether and started simply exploring. What I found has been very remarkable. You, me and everyone are a mix of masculine and feminine energy. Yin and yang. My feminine side was alive and well, and had healed from a lot of the forced penetration and abuse. The body feels pleasure, and my body felt pleasure. It wasnt sex though, because the openness and maturity that is part of sex was absent. It was one man penetrating another for pleasure, and one boy feeling pleasure from being penetrated. As I saw the difference between that and sex, the femininity inside me settled and learned to be peaceful.

    However, the masculine side was not healed. I was so scared of passing on my abuse… to either my partner or my kids, neighborhood kids, even friends through my “twisted mind”. I didnt trust men, or the man inside me. To protect others from my abuse, i had something similar to what you describe. One of my teachers called it a “shame core” or a knot of energy inside my mind and body which tried to shut down contact with others. For instance, I would see a beautiful woman, and immediately see them as sexy and vibrant. But it didn’t feel safe to have that feeling, because that leads to abuse (I often sought my abuser for stimulation). So the whole system collapsed and I would “turn away” from their beauty. Or, I would see a beautiful girl, say 12, and as soon as I would see her beauty shut down, because men cannot be trusted with children, and I am a man.

    This caused soo much painfulness and isolation. When I would talk to people, a nagging itch would scrape at me “please don’t abuse me, please don’t let me abuse you, please no sexual feelings for this person, please just platonic kindness”. This dialogue would shut down my heart, disrupt my communication, and produce the isolation.

    I felt very aligned and awake to the Leonard Cohen lyrics in hallelujah: “I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch and love is not a victory march, its a cold and its a broken hallelujah.” Yes, there was a heart inside me. But yes, it was wounded. This made me feel what I did have to offer was broken love, wounded love, a depressed and icky sexuality to my partner.

    The solution for me was threefold. The first was the words of a friend, who said that our history is something we can’t change, but we can change the way we relate to it. I started looking closer at who I was and what my mind was doing in each moment, and started to actually heal and let go. I found that the problems I had as a kid turned into an amazing kung-fu. Sure, there was abuse, but there was also surrender.

    The next thing that helped me heal was metta practice. It is difficult to sit with shame and not be swept into it. So instead, we can generate a stability of warmth inside us. As we become more and more practiced at metta, the confusion melts away, the agitated mind melts away. It produces a quality of mind which is free from aversion, free from greed… smooth, peaceful.

    From a state of stable mindedness, after cultivating metta, that is when I do concentration meditation, such as counting breaths. Your “my mind is chaotic” noticing is very normal at first. Before I even got to 10 the first few dozen times I did it, I felt like I was pushing toward a signpost in a windstorm. Then, I would lose concentration after the first round, and be fighting sleep and mindlessness during the second round of 1-5,1-6,1-7 and found myself starting over again and again without even seeing 8. Normal, usual, expected. Keep at it! Metta first helps. Actually many Buddhist meditation groups start with metta mantras first for exactly that reason.

    Finally, we are all different. We have different histories, genetics, and perspectives. No matter where you come from, there is nothing in your body or mind that is unlovable or unworkable. We were little kids, and as we grew into men encountered a lot of painful and confusing moments that many don’t have to go through. So not only do we have little cartography available, but our uniqueness means even maps of others out of the maze don’t always work. Consider that my heart and wisdom are here for you, and I am not enlightened, but I have walked away from many mazes and consider it a sacred honor to help in whatever way I can. If you wish to be more specific, I will aim my best. Namaste, brother. You are loved.

    With warmth,
    Matt

    #40654
    Aria
    Participant

    Thank you all for posing all your heartfelt experiences, It helps to know that I am not alone, and to hear about the various ways you all are trying to heal.

    Matt, Zenhen, kristen and J.D. – your posts brought tears to my eyes. many of the problems you all face and tackle with are the same issues I have faced and am learning to overcome now.

    Matt – I really appreciate you sharing your outlook on the healing process, and how guilt, anger and fear all must not be avoided, but processed to create a balance within oneself.

    I have recently been going through my own healing process. I never really acknowledged my abuse until about 3 years ago during my first sexual experiences. Before this time, I was diagnosed with depression, and had quite a few bipolar tenancies. I am happy to say, I have grown from this and have recovered (almost completely from the depression). However memories of the abuse keeps re-emerging: feeling of low self-esteem, low self worth and the feeling of being ‘unlovable’.

    Zenhen, I can completely relate to your problems with intimacy with your partner. For a long time, I would always submit to my partner’s sexual desires depending on his mood. After completing the deed, since I could not accept gestures of true intimacy, I would never hold hands or cuddle. Though this may seem small in the bigger picture of sex, small things like that are what create a bond between partners. I found myself always throwing myself at him when he was angry or upset at me, hoping sex would solve the problem. Moreover, I would always push him away when dealing with my depression, not allowing him to help, or show that he cares. Even though (later on) I was able to share my experience about the abuse with him, he could not understand the psychological trauma I had faced through the abuse at such a young age. With no blame to him, he could not acknowledge my pain and could not help me grow within our relationship. Moreover, he continued to express himself the same way sexually, which reminded me via flashbacks of the abuse.

    I find a lot of what Matt described in one of his earlier posts to be completely true with my current partner. Allowing for passion to grow, and controlling the pressure between each other lets my mind and body enjoy the pleasure, without any residual guilt. At a young age, I found myself returning to my abuser because of the pleasure. I am able to acknowledge this today in a healthy spirit because I understand that pleasure is not the same as what I experience now. Sex is not only about the physical release, but about the mind being comfortable enough to experience that sort of a release with another person. I am still afraid to let my heart to love someone, but I am now confident that if I do express such intense feelings for someone it will be because of the safety and reassurance I receive from them. Most importantly it will be because they respect me, for who I am and for who I’ve become.

    This brings me to the healing process. I have recently turned 21, and finally decided to confront my abuser. For the past year I have released my thoughts by writing him angry letters, with disgust and provocation. Much of it was filled with how I was so young, could not know better, and couldn’t have pushed him off. However, due to fear of denial, I never sent these letters. I came to a resolution one night, and realised there was no point in swearing at my abuser, calling him names, or provoking him. This would only lead to more hate, possibly more harm in the future. Truth be told, I sent him the wikipedia article on child sex abuse as a message, and said ‘I thought I’d provide some light reading for you’. I’m sure he understood my sense of sarcasm, and subsequently I could sense his panic in his response. We arranged a time to speak over the phone (since we could not meet in person due to distance). As he was a family member, we started by catching up a little, then he starting pouring how horrible he’s felt over the years due to his mistake. He said he sought after a therapist for years, took medication and has had various intimacy problems with many of his relationships, and many a time, it was the reason the relationship could not proceed.

    I was mainly looking for closure through the conversation, as I only wanted to move on from it and let the past stay in the past. He apologised profusely, and asked whether I had been facing problems with my relationships due to the abuse. He said the reason why he started the abuse was because he felt inadequate with himself, and thought he was ill-equipped at the time to pleasure women. My guilt trip of how young I was only spurred his apologies even further. In a sadistic way, I became a bit more content because he had problems in his life because of the abuse. He said he had always avoided me during family meetings or occasions because of sheer guilt, and he didn’t want to remind me of the abuse if I had not remembered already.

    I would say that I feel more resolved after speaking to him, but I wish I had read this thread before I had. I would like to note, that even though I spoke to him, I still have not forgiven him. I did not realise how big of a step it was to confront an abuser, especially since he is a family member. More than this, all the resentment and hatred over the years towards him, suddenly changed by sending him that link to child sex abuse. I keep asking myself, maybe he deserved to receive one of those hate mails, maybe he deserves to rot with what he did. Now I feel like I am stuck in a dilemma, on whether to acknowledge this and move on, or whether to reach a better resolution with him, or on my own. More than this I am unsure how to process what I am feeling, or rather evaluate what I am feeling. I feel nothing at times, and everything at others. This emotional roller coaster has lead to avoiding food, insomnia, and a small amount of drug abuse. I am bettering myself, by consciously eating more, sleeping appropriately and staying sober. I feel much better, but still feel this empty ‘fog’ feeling.

    On a different note, I recently have told my best friend about the abuse. I did not have the strength to tell him in person, but did tell him over the phone. It felt like such a huge release, so much weight was lifted off my shoulders. What I have learnt is that abuse is nothing to be ashamed of. It is not common, and nor did we deserve it. As helpless children, we can only look now to care for those around us, and be mindful of harmful situations. I found that all the pent up anger was only due to frustration: frustration with the effects of abuse, frustration with lack of protection by our supposed loved ones, frustration with the predicament, because we couldn’t have changed anything at the time. Frustration with the lack of regret, abuse cannot be changed as we were children, and as it was hard to understand the abuse, or speak up. I knew as a child (growing up in an Indian family) that most of my family members would deny it happened, or be able to acknowledge it. Even today, they would think of it as an attention grabbing method, because they do not understand the emotional and physical trauma I have experience due to the abuse.

    Dealing with all this on my own just shows how much courage and strength we can have, and how we should not sink into a corner as we did as children. But rather, hold our heads high and be proud of the journey we have made. Looking at people on the road, I always think, everyone has their problems, which is why they act the way they act. But it is how we deal with our problems, that shows how strong we are.
    Is it important to know, no one is alone in this process. We can be loved, we are loved and we can love.

    With warmth,

    Aria

    #40657
    Matt
    Participant

    Aria,

    Thank you for your post. It brought tears to my eyes as I read it, thank you so much for sharing. I’m especially impressed how you’re so young, and yet still carry with you a dignified maturity. Bravo! Your dilemma brought something to heart.

    “Now I feel like I am stuck in a dilemma, on whether to acknowledge this and move on, or whether to reach a better resolution with him, or on my own. More than this I am unsure how to process what I am feeling, or rather evaluate what I am feeling. I feel nothing at times, and everything at others. This emotional roller coaster has lead to avoiding food, insomnia, and a small amount of drug abuse. ”

    I know this view, this pattern, and was stuck in it for a long time. It happened in the interim between seeing the abuse as abuse and forgiving my abuser. The way I finally saw through it was “there is nothing on earth which is not natural, not part of the whole” Whew, even typing that still is very powerful for me, and I’ll try my best to explain.

    All actions and effects are part of the natural process of life. Being abused is quite natural. Its painful, confusing, and sad… but it is natural. The abusers suffer with boundary issues, narcissism, sexual addiction… all sorts of issues. Let’s face it, healthy people don’t abuse children. On the other side, abused people feel violated, ashamed, scared, guilty, confused, angry. All of this is still natural, normal. Cause/effect. Action/reaction.

    One of the results on the abused side is the feelings of resentment and anger for the people who abused them. That is also normal. However, resentment and anger feel icky inside us. This is also normal. Icky feelings inside us are like associations. If we get mad every time we see red, then we suffer every time we see red. To protect our heart, our mind tries to create a fog so we don’t see red. This leads to ups and downs in our feelings. Sometimes we feel fine, when there is no red. However, when there is red around us, we don’t see it because of the fog, yet feel “empty”. The fog is being maintained by our energy, depleting us.

    Consider what a family party might look like for you. You look at mom, no fog. You look at him, fog. You don’t see him, you see an icky conglomerate of past actions… or, you see only fog (which arises as anger or shame or whatever). This is like a fracture in our mind. There are parts of nature we accept, and parts we refuse to accept. The refusal hurts us, because we push it away. This is why we forgive our abusers. Its not about their peace of mind or because its what God or Shiva or Buddha would do, we do it to clear the fog, take back our power.

    For me it started as “even though you’re an asshole, I will forgive you because I am a better man.” Then it was “I forgive you to reclaim the parts of me held back by you.” It progressed deeper and deeper inside me (a journey for you to take in your own time) until the fog lifted.

    Then view that arises is deeply peaceful. What I see are victims. Some victims of urges, of ignorance, of others… but the fracture of abuser/abused healed. People pass down abuse like a twisted family heirloom, and we lucky few can put it to rest.

    Remember that settling it is about you. It makes us suffer, naturally, consistently, when we want others to suffer. Its just painful to our bodies inherently. Buddhism teaches “do no harm” which includes setting down the arrows, and accepting that our abuse has injured us long enough. Now we can settle, heal, forgive, and find inner peace. After all, it is far more invigorating in our own bodies to love everyone, unconditionally.

    With warmth,
    Matt

    #40658
    kristin
    Participant

    right on, everyone. right on.

    I totally relate to feeling numb.

    I think of it as labor. I’ve had three children and I remember the in between times of contractions.

    sometimes I could relax and enjoy the break. sometimes I’d feel panicky knowing another one was coming.

    the in between times of waiting are hard.

    the sheer joy every now and then surprises me.

    the grief where I cry and dont recognize myself is healing.

    I think of it as getting the shit out to make more room for light.

    I used to think I was failing at “letting go” because I would end up feeling the pain anger shame guilt fear all over again.

    so, like birth, the baby’s head is half way out.

    no turning back.

    #40679
    Jaydee
    Participant

    Matt,
    Your description of the abuse as being a kind of “red” is very interesting. Have you read “Autobiography of Red” by Anne Carson? It is about this very thing that we are talking about and she uses the color red as a way of relating to it. Very very beautiful book.

    -JD

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