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#142677 - 02/21/07 09:42 PM some words from a survivor
tartugas Offline
Board Member
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 02/11/07
Posts: 513
Loc: NYC
Hello Friends and Family,

On behalf of all of us who have survived, thank you. If it were not for the love and support that you bring into our lives, many of us would not have made it this far. And lest you think that is a sappy platitude, let me assure you, it's not. If you doubt me, find a long time survivor and ask them what they would have done without the support and strength they received from someone they trusted.

In my short time on this board, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of F&F who get caught up in the pain of their loved ones’ struggles. I want to offer a couple of pieces of advice from my own journey as a survivor that I hope may be of some benefit to those of you who are really having a tough time supporting a survivor in your own life.

First off: Be careful around us.

In many ways, the role of lover or friend or family member to a survivor can be a tremendously confusing and conflicting one. Oftentimes, we survivors lash out at those who are closest to us, at those who actually are trying to help us. These attacks are hardly ever warranted, but tragically, are all too common. One of the reasons is that many of us were unable to lash out at those who had hurt us in the past after gaining our trust. Now, years later, when we find ourselves in relationships that require trust, we often find ourselves compelled to act in odd ways. We “shut down”, or we “get cold”, perhaps we turn “nasty” or “indifferent”. Sadly, too often we don’t understand why this happens, the psychological mechanisms of self protection are at work so far beneath the surface, that we can’t see the cause and effect.

But if we can’t see it that means that you have to. Frustratingly, you might not be able to tell us what’s going on, but you should at least keep in mind that we are not necessarily what we seem on the surface. You always have the choice to stand by us or to walk away (no matter who you are, even a family member). If you choose to stand by us, please be mindful that far more even we can see is going on beneath the surface.

The second piece of advice I would offer is: Don’t treat us like kids.

Those of us who have made it to adulthood are not kids any longer, even though a part of our personality may be trapped in the past. It may sound like a rather obvious statement, but the truth is, I see a lot of people making excuses for the poor behavior of the survivors they know. Holding us, as adults who are survivors, to a different standard of behavior, is actually counter-productive. When we act poorly, when we act selfishly, when we lash out in ignorance, we need to learn that our behavior is incorrect.

Remember, for many of us, our emotional growth and maturing process was arrested at a very young age. And we need to learn these lessons we would have otherwise picked up during our adolescence from people who are tolerant of our faults and can make it clear that while our actions may be inappropriate, we as people still have intrinsic worth. Oftentimes this role is best suited to a doctor or other therapist. We survivors can (and, in forums like this one, do) provide this to one another as well. Trust me, we know that we are flawed and broken in many ways. But the more you treat us like kids, the more you make excuses for us, the more likely it is that we’ll stay trapped in that place.

Third: Respect who we are and don’t try to “direct” or “force” us down a certain path.

Everyone learns primarily by one method and one method alone: Trial and error. This is true as true for children as it is adults, survivors as it is for you, our friends and family. No matter how clear our best path might seem to you, if you make it your duty to guide us along our journey, it stops being our journey and in point of fact becomes your journey very quickly. Don’t push us into therapy, don’t push us into rehab, don’t push us – period. You will not succeed in helping, no matter how noble your intention.

I truly feel that the biggest mistake my ex wife made in how she dealt with me as a person (regardless of my being a survivor) was in trying to "help me change". At first I took it as a sign of her concern, care, and even love for who I was. I actually relished the attention she gave me. She wanted me to get better. But over time it became clear that I was not, nor did I show any signs of soon becoming, the person she was trying to help me become. In the end, this truth drove us apart. She took solace in her career, in the things she could control, and I became even more isolated than ever before. I have made more progress since the marriage fell apart, since I took firm control and ownership of my own recovery. But it didn’t have to happen that way. It was ignorance and selfishness, on both our parts that got us to that point.

Fourth: Don’t mistake love for a cure all.

Love is an overwhelmingly powerful emotion, and oftentimes in our search for it, we can let our emotions take the place of out better judgment. I know that, in ignorance, I crossed some boundaries in the past, asked for too much from people, and hurt others through my own selfish hunger for love. I also know that, sometimes, despite the best of intentions, some who wanted to help me made some bad errors and set me back in my journey. Many times they were too hungry for love as well.

Survivors can be oddly charismatic. Despite the fact that we often wilt under the bright lights of social pressure, get us alone and oftentimes something magical happens – we seem to transform into creatures of rare insight, compassion, sympathy, and charm. Combine this with our vulnerability, and oftentimes we make for someone who is irresistible to many a love-hungry soul.

But be careful. As wonderful as we may seem at first remember that no human is a diamond in the rough, waiting for the right person to set them free. Each person is a self-actualizing machine, rather like a seedling that requires the right conditions, the right nutrients and care to grow and thrive.

Last and most importantly: Above all things else, love yourself first.

Don’t let our struggles take you down as well. Everyone in this crazy mixed up world is struggling with something. Don’t let the swirling chaos that is our healing journey distract you from seeking out your own need for truth and health. Don’t allow guilt (coming from us or from somewhere within yourself) to become a motivating factor in deciding about how you will deal with us. In being strong, in courageously making the best decisions for yourself, even if it means walking away from us for a time, you will be providing us with an example of how to live honestly that will prove to be more helpful than you can possibly know.

Remember that you are not the one who committed these crimes against us, and even if in confusion and pain it seems like we’re trying to punish you for what was done to us, don’t ever accept that burden from our hands.

Hmm… in looking over this again, it strikes me that I’m not painting a very pretty picture of us survivors. Well, in truth, the picture isn’t pretty. We all bear the scars that the abuses we suffered left imprinted in (and sometimes on) our bodies. However, in time, with effort and trust, with love and tolerance, with patience and with sometimes painful effort, we can all grow into uniquely beautiful creatures that will carry our scars as badges of honor and distinction. And that last point is just as true for survivors as it is for those who survive along with us.

_________________________
"I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.
And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill.
I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self...."
Healing D.H. Lawrence

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#142714 - 02/22/07 04:09 AM Re: some words from a survivor [Re: tartugas]
beccy Offline
Member

Registered: 05/28/06
Posts: 449
Loc: england
Hello Tartugus,


Thankyou for sharing those words of wisdom with us. Kind, thoughtful advice and insight, some of which I can relate to on a personal level....


peace
Beccy


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#142719 - 02/22/07 07:11 AM Re: some words from a survivor [Re: beccy]
sweet-n-sour Offline
Member

Registered: 10/03/06
Posts: 409
Loc: chicago
Dear Tartugas:

Wow! You have given me plenty to think about! Thank you for your post.

Best wishes,
s-n-s

_________________________
"As long as he continues to try, I will meet him in that determination and commitment."

cm 2007

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#142906 - 02/23/07 11:55 AM Re: some words from a survivor [Re: tartugas]
Feeling Helpless Offline
New Here

Registered: 02/06/07
Posts: 3
Loc: Bermuda
Thank you Tartugas,for your wise words.

My husband is a survivor and I've been looking at this site for about a month trying to find information with how to cope.Your words have given me hope that I'm on the right track. I'm in the information gathering stage and your post helped me. If anyone can give me any ideas they would be greatly appriciated.

All he has told me the he was raped at the age of 10. He says that he had 1 therapy session when he was young but that doesn't work for him. He says he doesn't remember who the perp was, and doesn't want to talk about it - which I respect, he's not ready to go there.
We have 1 child together and his substance abuse is becoming a problem. I know from my own family history that you can't force people to deal with substance abuse issues and I know he is using to numb the pain, he has said as much to me.I don't know what to do. Do I set boundries that he will see as me "trying to change him"? I can't force therapy. Where do I go from here?


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#142971 - 02/23/07 04:23 PM Re: some words from a survivor [Re: Feeling Helpless]
Brian Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 05/03/01
Posts: 1563
Loc: Upstate NY
Tartugas,

That was a VERY informative post. I think it should be required reading for all the members of our Families and Friends community! Thank you for your valuable contribution to our site!

Brian

_________________________
Recovery is Possible!

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#142981 - 02/23/07 07:22 PM Re: some words from a survivor [Re: Brian]
Nobbynobs Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/26/05
Posts: 1286
Loc: Toronto
I would add to that list:

1. Don't be afraid to leave if you have to go.

2. Don't let your partner act out his abuse on you.

3. Don't allow your partner to disrespect you. He's an adult and he took a vow to honour you. Call him out if he is being disrespectful or abusive.

4. Pay more attention to yourself than to your partner. The pain is terrible, and it is good that you are going through it with them, but be very careful that you don't get broken down by it yourself.

_________________________
When you go up to the bell, ring it! Or don't go up to the bell.

- Mel Brooks

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#142989 - 02/23/07 08:06 PM Re: some words from a survivor [Re: Nobbynobs]
AshSurvived Offline
Member

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 167
Loc: Australia
http://malesurvivor.interworksinc.com/bo...age=5#Post68088

It's always good to repeat these things, keep the ideas fresh. And perhaps things have been learned by all insomuch as this thread may not descend into anarchy like those who have bravely gone before it.

_________________________
"It's your world Dave, I'm just livin' in it"

- Harvey Pekar to David Letterman
(American Splendour)

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#143016 - 02/24/07 04:34 AM Re: some words from a survivor [Re: AshSurvived]
kishka06 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 38
Quite often, I read a post, and have an "Ah Ha" moment. This was definitely one of them.
The first point 'Be Careful around us'. My fiance can be very loving one minute, but after a disagreement (something that would have hardly rated a blip on the radar in past relationships), he becomes completely irrational. Sometimes not speaking to me for 2 days. The words 'shut down', 'nasty', 'cold' and 'indifferent' are words I would use.
I am hoping that this will stop, or at least become less severe, as we progress in our commitment to better communication (sometime easier said than done!).
Your next point (Don't treat us like kids) encourages me to do something I haven't really done yet - let him know the behavior is incorrect - and it hurts me.
I am hanging in there, though.
Kishka


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#143017 - 02/24/07 04:43 AM Re: some words from a survivor [Re: Feeling Helpless]
dean1320 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/06/07
Posts: 129
Loc: Atlanta, GA , US
hi , all i can say is just be supportive but tell him that if he chooses to drink and not talk with you and these nice folks here, then he needs to go drink by himself and not feel anything at all, however his own loneliness will drown him.


i'm a 35y/o man

peace be with u both, i wish i had this tool 20 yrs ago

T

_________________________
NEVER QUIT .

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#144313 - 03/06/07 11:09 PM Re: some words from a survivor [Re: dean1320]
testingWaters Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/19/06
Posts: 508
This is one of the best posts I've ever seen here. Thank you.


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