This is potentially the longest reply in MaleSurvivor history. I am first going to explain my current thoughts on the subject, then I will reply to each one of the men here who have offered their kind (and very appreciated) words. I'll say straight away that I was impressed by the conversation that resulted in this thread. I think it's a very important topic and I'm glad it has been discussed as it has.
So, where I'm at now... I have done a lot of thinking about this subject since I originally posted this topic. As well, I had the benefit of consulting my therapist about it today. I actually just printed off this thread after I wrote it and brought that to her. She had a read over and thankfully wasn't offended
In discussing it with my therapist, I think I've made a decision of my own... we explored the topic. Basically, all of these conflicting arguments were boiling down to fear and paranoia of the process. As I explained in my original post, I am basically terrified of losing any form of control over my mind. Especially in reference to my struggles with dissociation and effectively losing control... I am afraid of going there. This also ties in to my lack of trust. I feel as though I can trust my therapist, so long as I'm in control. This actually ended up leading somewhere very interesting which I might discuss in this topic or perhaps a new topic all together.
Something about Little Brian that my therapist also clarified for me is that when dealing with trauma we need to deal with the thoughts and feelings that surrounded that trauma. In this case we need to essentially recognize and validate the child that was hurt on the child's level because if we try to throw a bunch of adult-level logic and reason at a hurting child, it simply won't be understood. This doesn't mean reliving and re-experiencing the trauma to appropriately deal with it, it just simply means recognizing what that child, what I, went through and how that child, how I, felt about it at the time.
What I'm learning is that there is a lot more sadness, hurt, and anger than I imagined possible. I'm actually rather surprised now that I survived at all. The emotional trauma that is there is close enough now to the surface that I think I'm getting a pretty clear picture of it. It's ugly. I can't believe how skewed my thinking was as a child. The things I had to worry about when interacting with people. The conclusions I made are staggering. I find I am deeply fearful of having to face these feelings and thoughts now. Perhaps fearful of undoing these things as they are there for my own protection. I fear leaving that protection behind, even though my adult mind knows that they are detrimental to my ability to lead a full life.
Also, to expand on a lack of trust that I mentioned a few paragraphs back, this does tie into the paranoia I mentioned. I've always been a fairly skeptical person, especially when it comes to other people. I'm not sure what fuel drives this but I have a pretty good guess it comes from the abuse. While doing EMDR today, a few words floated to mind, which I think tie into this. I'll quote what I said now. It both disturbs me and is somewhat discouraging to think I've been carrying this around for 20 years. "I feel safe only with those who don't want physical contact or touching from me... I never want to be touched again."
I uttered these words amongst EMDR treatment and when my therapist read them back to me, I was completely stunned. Processing these thoughts now as an adult I am just floored at the kinds of emotions and feelings I was dealing with as a kid. It explains a lot though... and this is good. I think I have a lot to work on but at least I've got a good place to focus my attention right now. So that's essentially where I'm at with this subject today. I think I'm a lot more at peace about the whole thing. What's better is my therapist is on the exact same page and knows my feelings about it.
I guess what I'm saying is that, being skeptical is okay. It's allowed. But understanding that it was the child who was hurt and as such I need to heal the child -- that makes sense to me. I can do this all by being a functional adult. This is good news.
Next up, there were many very thoughtful [and very lengthy] replies. That being said, I'm going to do what I always do and respond to each one of those in a solitary post. I want to firstly thank all of those who responded with their own thoughts, feelings, and background information on such a subject. I was happy to see such a range of opinions. Interestingly enough, I think I agree with all of them. I guess that's the good part about having conflicting thoughts about a subject, you get to agree with all points of view. Ha.Roger,
I really liked what you said about the dollar signs and maybe a new car. As turtleman (Chris) said in his reply, it's a sad truth but these kinds of therapists are indeed out there. I'm personally glad to have found a therapist who seems to actually give a damn about what she's doing for me. It's always good to recognize, too, that there are good and caring therapists out there as well. The jokes about them just aren't quite as funny though!
I totally know what you mean by wanting to 'kick his lil butt'. I have spent a lot of time being angry at the little me for 'bringing the abuse on myself'. I spoke with my therapist about how angry I was at myself (little me) for this and when she fed it back to me as "beating up the little kid who didn't do anything he wasn't supposed to" and quite blatantly challenged me on it, I felt really bad about it. I'm finally recognizing now how hurt he (I) was by the abuse.
You really have a good sense of humour Roger. "As I matured (I used this word loosely for lack of a better one)"
. It so perfectly describes the 'maturing' of an abused child. Quite simply, they do mature in terms of physical prowess, and knowledge and memorization... However when we're abused I believe we actually stop growing emotionally and instead of those emotions, we fill that void with coping mechanisms and self-protection so that whatever traumatized us in the first place, doesn't get to us again.
You said it perfectly that we no longer need those mechanisms and it's time now for better ways to deal with things and how true it is "Old habits die hard and some with much discomfort". Ain't that the truth? Now here I am stuck with all of these coping mechanisms and defenses and they aren't doing me a damn lot of good. Getting angry at myself for having these defenses in the first place isn't going to get me anywhere. I've got to understand why they are there in the first place. I think that's what I'm finally starting to comprehend now is just how much effing pain and anguish there was.
I have to ask you after posting such a thoughtful and agreeable post why on earth you would write that you "could just be full of s**t too"! Roger! You've absolutely no need to dismiss your comments as being invalid. You and I both know that as children, we spent ENOUGH time feeling invalid. You are valid. You are worth the while bud, don't doubt yourself.Carl,
I'm honoured to be considered your kindred spirit
I have no doubt that the reply I'm in the midst of writing right now is indeed a disservice as I see it gaining considerable length and I've only made it to the second reply of the original topic!
It's funny you should mention the WoR's "Shame Busting" session. I was thinking a lot of that night as I wrote the post. I couldn't figure out exactly how it connected in to all of this, but I think you nailed it on the head. During the Shame Busting session I, too, felt really out of my element. I pushed myself through it and while certain parts of it did feel like people pleasing... There was a certain... what's the word for it... refreshing... aspect to the activity. It really puzzled me and the bond I felt with my 'buddy' for the exercise was very intense. It was as though a part of me was just waiting and waiting and waiting to just 'play' innocently as I occasionally did in childhood. It was empowering and I'm glad I did participate. If I were to attend the WoR again though, I have my doubts I would participate in Shame Busting again. While it was an intensive experience that forged a really great bond, It was exceptionally uncomfortable for me as well certain parts of it triggered sheer panic within me.
As I said earlier, I think its perfectly acceptable to be skeptical. That's just what we do as adults. I too now feel that there is no separate entity within me known as Little Brian. Rather its a collection of thoughts and feelings that are stuck in motion as a result of intensive and misunderstood trauma. I most certainly agree with your point.
I love the part about Randy as well. I would suspect that, if you chose to assign your 'collection of thoughts and feelings' a body, Randy might just be a suitable candidate. Can I ask though why you don't go by your first name? I don't know if you had a chance to read it but some time ago I posted a thread entitled "The Name's Brian, and I'm taking my life back". In that thread I talked about how I had been uncomfortable using my given name for a very long time and was finally reclaiming what was mine. It was a good moment in time. It's when I finally started signing my posts with "Brian" rather than "B". Kinda off topic, but just curious if you might have had similar reasons for going with "Carl" instead of "Randy". Rick,
I just want to say, I really appreciate you. When you highlighted that there was simply not two of you... How you put it at the end too, There is no integration because there is no separation I am one!"
was a really powerful statement.
That's essentially how I'm feeling today. I feel safe in recognizing Little Brian in that I am not referring to a third entity that is somehow separate from the adult me. There is great truth to the fact that they are just different aspects of a single person. Further to that, how you mentioned that you do believe in acknowledging the pain you felt as a child... I've said it a few times now, but it's worth saying again. I'm *finally* starting to acknowledge and validate that hurt and pain that I felt. It's one thing to acknowledge that we were abused, but it's another thing to own up to the feelings and thoughts and pain and hurt surrounding it. I think as boys and men we all too often try to put on the 'tough guy' persona and make like we're better than that. I know this is a struggle for me. I just want to deny that I hurt -- that much.Turtleman, Chris,
I admit... As I was noticing how seriously long my post had become, your name came to mind... and it made me feel somewhat more easy about the length. Thank goodness we're not charged by the words here. I would surely be broke in no time. What I'm finding is that, after being silent about the abuse for 20 years, I have LOTS of words about it. I'm just glad that there are guys here at the site who will actually take the time to read through all of these words and come up with meaningful replies such as the ones here in the thread. You guys have no idea how much it means to me. [Actually Chris, I'm guessing you do have an idea!]"We live in a consciousness that is constantly analyzing the present both on it's own merits and in relation to our pasts"
Damnit Chris, I sure hope you're writing a book. You have an incredible way with words. I think this describes to a tee where I've settled in here after my therapy session this morning. As I've mentioned in my replies to the other guys who spoke up here, I also couldn't agree more with "We all carry aspects of our child selves into our adult lives". To reiterate, I think a big part of my child self I've brought into my adult life is quite simply... My defenses and coping methods. This became a big subject during EMDR therapy today.
I am so appreciative that you took time to actually speak on, and validate every single aspect of what I was saying. Thank you for taking the time to do so... It's truly helpful.
RE: Fearing the inner child. This directly ties into something my therapist was talking about today in that, she avoids the term "inner child" because of these such connotations is carries. In addition to that, she referred to the 'inner child movements' and things that are happening in the world. She asked me if I felt there was any difference between saying "Inner Child" and "Little Brian". My reply was "Same Shit, Different Piles". But I see now the term, "Inner Child" does indeed carry with it specific connotations that I wasn't previously aware of. All the while, I think that misrepresentation of the separate entities is the part that I fear the most... and somehow it had gotten all jumbled up in my mind and that eventually led to the original topic being posted.
I too feel my additional level of concern is warranted due to events of the past concerning dissociation. I will take your words to heart when you say "it is imperative that you find ways your inner child is actually a part of who you are". Today has been a big day of that and I think I'm getting some peace about it. Further to that, I think my fear of dissociation is diminishing. I have to reassure myself that dissociation was a coping tool that I relied on. Now that I'm healing, I no longer need to return to that, consciously or subconsciously.
RE: Inner child and adulthood. You're definitely on to something here. As I read this I was dawning on the various jobs and positions I've held at various companies. I was thinking about my bosses oddly enough. How true it is that the bosses who knew how to be more goofy, jovial, and childlike whilst still keeping a balanced mind on the business seemed so much more successful than the ones who seemed to have something, perhaps maturity, to prove. That being said, I'm going to keep telling and laughing hysterically at fart jokes until the day I die. I don't think this is an unhealthy thing by any stretch.
RE: Inner Child and Therapists. I personally have found a therapist whom shares my view on labels and such and quite simply... she doesn't use them! I really don't want to be labeled. I don't want a diagnosis, I want to feel better. I can diagnose myself; I was sexually abused. That being said, I do have an inclination that I could benefit from getting treated for depression. It might help prevent such hideous crashes like early this week. Though if it weren't for the crashes, would leveling off and returning to normal still feel good? Thus far my therapist is meeting all the requirements as laid out in the "Consumer's Guide to Therapist Shopping" article found on the site. This is most certainly a big plus for me. You might have noticed how many times I've mentioned her guidance in this reply alone. I have a lot of respect for her.
Interesting what you say about being your own parent. During my crisis I phoned my therapist and she challenged me whilst on the phone and said, "What can you do right now to take care of YOU". I had no effing clue! This leads me to believe I'd be a pretty abysmal parent and self parent if I had dependents to look out for. While I would love to have children of my own by now, I'm sure glad I'm getting all this rubbish sorted out beforehand. This way when I do have a 6 year old of my own, I'll have to keep myself from smothering them with respectful kindness
Thank you for taking the time to write out your thoughts. What a great post!Weapher,
That website that you linked to I think is one of the key things that got me started on this tangent of mine. It's a very well explained site full of good information but all the while I was reading it I was having all these conflicting thoughts. Now that I've made peace with that, I ought to go back and re-read that site and see if it goes over a little better this time.
Thank you for sharing your experience in dealing with your 'inner child work'. Today I went through something that I think is similar to what you described as "finding you were living in a protected insecure and angry place in your life'. I observed infinite sadness and anger associated with it. I found it was a constant mixture of the two actually. When Little Brian was sad, I was angry. When Little Brian was angry, I was sad. It was an interesting paradox but I am sad for how angry he was and angry for how sad he was. I'm confusing myself here... but hopefully you get the idea. I hope that I can start to find some reprieve from this ever present state of mind.
I agree with you in that, whatever its called, I think it is most certainly a helpful concept. I mentioned in my original post an observation that the times I've recognized my inner child have been fairly nearto my breakthroughs. I suppose for me I just needed to really explore this in depth prior to embarking on it and trusting my therapist with it. I've gotten a pretty damned good head start here today, that's for sure.PeaceSeeker
I am SO glad you felt so inclined to submit a reply here! You said a tonne of really great things with your reply, so well done!
I think life lessons learned in childhood are quite similar for most men who have been through such things. All over this forum there is countless references to all of the things you mentioned... Shame, lack of trust, hiding emotions, secrecy, and even invisibility and a downright skewed sense of self existence.
For me, I have found that I don't seem to feel comfortable in the 'adult world'. It all seems so foreign to me, as though it's something I have to learn where some people just seem to naturally function properly. I have a sneaky suspicion that's something abuse takes away from us. Oftentimes along with it goes our ability to in turn care for ourselves as any functional adult should. Granted, there are other reasons that this could be lost somewhere along the way, but in the present time and context, this makes sense to me.
Looking back at my own progress, I do believe I'm at the point where I have found what I am comfortable enough with to refer to as an 'inner child' or 'Little Brian'. I have been slowly learning self acceptance over the past year and I believe today was very big for me, I think I found true reason and desire to stand up for him (myself). I love the mental picture you painted with the samurai warrior
Reminds me of the black karate-suit pajamas I had as a kid.
I also really took in what you said about seeing yourself now and finding it easy to loathe one's self. However not being able to cast the same loathing and hatred on, for example, a photo of that little kid when he was just 8, or in my case, 6 years old. That's big. I'm glad you posted it. I think I'm going to take another look at the photos from my childhood. See if anything different appears while I browse thru them.
So good to see you're getting much from the site. It's been a great resource for me. You've absolutely no need to apologize... Your thoughts were an excellent addition to this thread.Everyone:
If you're still awake, and still actually reading this... thanks for bearing with me through all of these thoughts. This has been a great discussion and I thank those who posted and welcome any more thoughts that are added to the pile. Once again, you've provided me with validation and simple sweet assurance that I'm not alone. That's so truly special, so relevant to me. I can't thank you enough.
How appropriate is it that Secret Garden's "You Raise Me Up" is the song my iPod chose at random as I concluded this reply. *sigh* This site, and the community surrounding it, gives me so much strength...
P.S. I'm about to hit "Submit". I wonder if this will set any records?