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#290141 - 06/03/09 09:17 PM Help - I need answers -
AwesomeAnn Offline


Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 14
Loc: California, USA
Hi I am new to this site. I am so appreciative having a place to ask my querie. In brief, I am a 30 y/o, professional woman who is dating a 39 y/o survivor. An amazing guy whom I love. I've read books, articles, even consulted religious people. I am at a loss - we had a great relationship for the first two years and wham - like a tidal wave he has entered into this depression and isolation that is nearly impossible to deal with. I don't know where to turn at this point. I have never met anyone who this has happened to (maybe I did, but they didn't discuss), my parent's were elderly when they had us kids and overprotected from all of lifes "unpleasantries", at my age - I've never dealt with anything so horrifying as what has happened to him at the hands of his older brother. I don't know what to do? Do these guys ever become normal - I'm so sorry if this sounds sophomoric or incosiderate - but as much as I love this man, I'm wondering is this the way of life for him and his behaviour of moodiness, self loathing, distrust, projection? He says he needs a break from life - he's not working (his folks support him), he's not thriving, he's a shell of the man I fell in love with.. how long does recovery take? I don't mean to sound insensitive, I'm sure I do - but I am frustrated. I show him all the love in my heart and he's still such a mess. He's in therapy, but I don't think it's helping - I don't believe his therapist is qualified enough - regardless, I'm reaching out to this community to answer this question: If you had to do it over again, would you? Would you choose the person you're with - with all the problems they bring to a relationship? How long does one wait and stand by their man before they just go crazy themselves. My God, the tiniest thing brings this guy to tears... is this part of the healing?? What can I do to expedite things? He's asked to be left alone - from what I gather, he should be around others to help lift him from his misery. We are different religions, actually he has become quite anti God at this point. He won't go to church? As I'm writing this I am saddened and ashamed of myself for wanting a quick fix.. I've been so fortunate in my life, I can't get my mind around such suffering.. but if this happened when he was 9 - shouldn't he be better by now? Please help - if I offended anyone in my quest for an answer, I don't mean to.. Thank you.


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#290164 - 06/03/09 11:42 PM Re: Help - I need answers - [Re: AwesomeAnn]
WalkingSouth Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/30/05
Posts: 16264
Hi AwesomeAnn. Glad to see you here and asking questions smile

"do these guys ever become normal?" - - Well, I like to think I am or at least becoming that way, lol

you're wondering if this is the way he's going to be the rest of his life. I'd say the answer to that question lies with him, but certainly as long as he's being enabled in some way in his behavior he will. I say that because you say he's living with his parents. what that means in practical terms is that there's no incentive to "recover" He's got three hots and a cot. what more can he ask for?

You're showing him love which you should, but perhaps there's no incentive there either. Sometime love has to be tough. Sometimes the survivor needs to be brought face to face with what he could lose in order for them to see that a positive change is mandatory in order to keep it. Sometimes love is simply not enough to make it work. That's the heartbreaking part of it. You can pour your heart, soul, and mind into loving him and it's still not enough. That's a pretty tough go and it's got to hurt. I'm sorry for that hurt.

What can you do to expedite things? Take care of you and make sure you're not enabling him. Love him and let him know he's got your support but you must also be able to set clear boundaries on what you will and will not allow in the relationship. It's your right to do so, just as it is his. Also, you may want to go to therapy yourself so that you have a clear understanding of yourself and your own issues because let's face it, everyone has them to some extent.

One other thing - - don't try to manage his recovery. Your job is a tough one because if he feels you're attempting to manage that he'll dig in his heels. The recovery is his and his alone.

As heartbreaking as his story is, and as long ago as it happened, time does not heal all wounds. He was wounded terribly at 9 years old. That wound apparently has never been treated, at least until recently. Sure the surface healed over but inside it has been festering and worsening unseen all these years. It's finally burst through to the surface for the rest of the world to see.

I think there a two basic things needed for therapy to be effective. The first would be a therapist that is experienced in treating men who were sexually abused as children. A woman's therapist will not do, and in most cases neither will a therapist who does not have the experience mentioned because they simply do not understand the needs specific to the male survivor. The other thing necessary to effective therapy is a client who is serious about recovery. Without those things it's going to be a pretty tough go.

Bottom line? Recovery is indeed possible but there's not timetable for it. It takes as long as it takes. For me recovery is the work of a lifetime but I'd say 5 to 10 years would be a good time frame for getting some of the major work done, with some differences showing up within a few months and other things taking much, much longer.

Please continue to read and interact. You'll learn much and certainly find a source of support among the ladies and gentlemen here. We wish you well.

John

_________________________
“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy ____…! What a ride!’” ~Hunter S. Thompson

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#290214 - 06/04/09 08:42 AM Re: Help - I need answers - [Re: WalkingSouth]
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5779
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
I concur with John about the therapist comments. A therapist who is inexperienced in treating male survivors will likely treat the symptoms s/he is familiar with like depression or anxiety. There are many underlying problems affecting male survivors that don't necessarily come up from the client/patient and unless the therapist knows what to look for, the issues go unresolved.

If you bf is living in the childhood home with his parents where the abuse took place, that can be a factor. Also, is the brother still alive, does he have contact with the parents, your bf?

One test your bf can do to see how he is affected is to try the 5 part letter exercise in this article:
http://www.malesurvivor.org/ArchivedPages/singer3.html

If he is minimizing the effects of the abuse, this may give him a sense of how profound the abuse was.

The exercise is not meant for him to confront his brother. At this stage of his recovery, I wouldn't recommend it but it could be later on after making some progress in treatment.


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#290258 - 06/04/09 02:32 PM Re: Help - I need answers - [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
AwesomeAnn Offline


Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 14
Loc: California, USA
Thank you both for such invaluable advice. A bit about him, since you are kind enough to care. He does not live in the family home, sold a long time ago. The parents have purchased a house for him, basically he is taken care of at this point. He works on and off and has a history of being fired from each job. The perpetuater brother is MIA - hasn't been seen or heard from in decades. The family doesn't speak of this incident(s). When I met him he was working as an executive in a Fortune 500 company and thriving. This 'breakdown' has been recent. Unfortunately I am not a patient person. I typically want things done yesterday - if he wasn't such a phenomenal human being, the old me would've walked out the day i saw such "weakness". I believe this is how every other woman has reacted. Don't want to do the same. I don't even know how to wrap my head around abusing a child? In my culture, children are "Gifts from God" and treated as such. My family both immediate and extended have taken the safety and care of children as their primary purpose in life. I can't mention any of this to my family as they're response would be to get the hell out of the relationship, too much drama. I don't think I'm that shallow, anymore. Love does change things. I am praying for the strength to go through this with him, but currently he has cocooned himself and doesn't want any communication. I'm giving him his space, we send each other short emails. Any suggestions as to where you think i should go from here in my limitted capacity as email girlfriend? I researched his therapist and he isn't trained enough in male abuse I do things a bit controlling and maybe that also scares him. If I mention anything about this lack luster therapist, he gets wound up. Come to find out, he's been in therapy on and off for over a decade, with different therapists. Doesn't that imply he hasn't found one that is adept enough to 'cure' him? It's tough being an 'action' person who is now with a 'passive why me' man? How could he change so much in such a short span of time? Can he one day just put it behind him and contrary to minimizing the abuse, just stop thinking and wallowing about it? There's so much suffering in the world - he has so many blessings, he doesn't seem to appreciate any of them. Tried to get him to volunteer at a homeless shelter and he just wasn't "emotionally there". I believe my get results attitude should be helpful, but to his psyche it appears yet another controlling individual? So frustrating. Thanks so much for any help... John, sorry about 'normal' comment...I'm frustrated to the point of inconsideration smile

ann


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#290317 - 06/04/09 08:07 PM Re: Help - I need answers - [Re: AwesomeAnn]
Anna1988 Offline


Registered: 05/29/09
Posts: 30
First off, what is normal? I have yet to find anyone, survivor or not, who fits this di>

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#290332 - 06/04/09 10:35 PM Re: Help - I need answers - [Re: Anna1988]
cstjude Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/04/08
Posts: 302
Loc: Canada
Ann,

It can be a terrifying, frustrating, crazy-making experience for both parties in a relationship when one partner is dealing with abuse issues.

The advice you've received here is right on, but I know that all the uncertainty of being in love with a surivor is hard to take sometimes. The worst thing to face for those of us who love these men is that we cannot love them into recovery. They must undertake and committ to that journey themselves. We can support and encourage, ressure (a lot), and educate ourselves. But we must never fall into the trap of wondering why our love isn't enough, or beating ourselves up for not being able to make it all go away. Simply put, it's not about us, it doesn't matter how long it takes, he might never recover, and all we have sometimes is the moment.

The good news is that recovery is possibe! That great strength and meaning and wisdom and a deeper understanding of love is posssible with a survivor!

It sounds as if your loved one is reeling from a trigger. Intimacy -emotional or physical - can be a terrifying thing for a survivor. Isolating himself is not an uncommon response. Do not take it personally.

One resource that helped me understand all this is a book by Browne and Browne called "If the Man You Love was Abused." It's not the whole story, but it might help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

You will need a strong sense of self and a clear idea of what your own boundaries are. Think about getting some therapy for yourself.

Always be honest with him, don't wear a mask, say what you mean and mean what you say. Be gentle with him and with yourself. Understand that on any given day he might be giving you all he can - mentally, emotionally, physically - and some days that's not much. Ive posted this exerpt from Khalil Gebrail before, but it speaks so eloquently to me about what it can be like loving a survivor:


When love beckons to you follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.

And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself. ...

But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.

Be good to yourself and to him,

C.

_________________________
C.
Female, Friends & Family Forum Fan

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#290337 - 06/04/09 11:05 PM Re: Help - I need answers - [Re: Anna1988]
expom Offline


Registered: 01/06/09
Posts: 124
Loc: Australia
Hi Awesome Ann, ADen here in the land down under. It looks like you are doing a pretty decent job at getting the help you need. Let me put it slightly differently; You getting you the help that you need to help you to help your BF.

When you look at some of the history of us guys who have been through this long dark valley, there are remarkable similarities in many stories. Apparently we are 8 times more likely to be retrenched and made redundant; our long term relationships are 4 times more likely to fail etc etc etc. I too was a high flier - and I will never to choose to go back there as I now see it was a means of avoiding the person that I was meant to be. I have heard my wife say far to many times "I would love to introduce you to the man that I married" - that was in the dark days. Now our relationship is improving day by day. By the way, I was able to tell my wife nearly a year ago about what happened - we were married in 1981 - that's right 27 years living with a guy who had been abused over a 3 year period from age 9 to 12.

Some mental adjustments are going to be necessary from both of you. I now view my issues as permanently life changing - in this way I don't have unrealistic expectations and I can avoid the unrealistic expectations of others. I view the CSA that I endured as that part of my childhood was amputated. Would you ever say to an amputee "Oh, get over it"? Sure say that WE have to learn to live with the consequences and those consequences can be minimised - amputees have now conquored Mount Everest; though many remain in wheel chairs not even putting on their prostheses because of fear of falling over, not being able to walk straight, it's easier to get everyone to do things for you. You know the drill. If you want to give him a quick fix then here it is - get him to grow a new leg. Turn back the clock and make sure that the abuse doesn't happen. This is the problem with product oriented people. Its time to accept that not only is it impossible for you to fix your BF it is wrong to try. Time to learn to become a process person not a product person.

For me this was hard - dealing with the injustice of not being saved at the time from what I went through, it is natural for us to want to be compensated continually by society and the others who should have protected me. To be looked after, paid for and excused. It turns out to be a living hell that only accepting the responsibility for my recovery provides a way out of. It will probably be a short period of time now before he gets to the stage of saying "Its my life, its my recovery, I'm going to do what I need to do in order to have a life worth living". This in effect is where most our journeys take us.

How long does it take? As Mike Lew says "a little longer than you'd hope but not as long as you fear". Because we don't know how long it will take, we need to make sure that each day is at the very least, tolerable.

Understanding the child abuse. If you can understand the abuse then please get the hell out of the man's life because the only way you can understand the abuse is to be like the abuser. Thank God - daily - that you can't understand how anyone could do these things. Then ask "OK. So what's next?" No matter how hard things are, they are never the last thing. There's always something else around the corner.

Are you aware that you use 'death sentences' in the way you talk? There are attitudes and beliefs that we hold that come out and show themselves in unusual ways. Let's play a game. If I say "I can't ride a unicycle" it conveys an air of finality that indicates that I have no intention of attempting to change that statement. If I add the word "yet" to the sentence watch how the feeling changes "I can't ride a unicycle yet". It implies hope that I will be able to in the future, that I am not prepared to stay in my 'unable' state.

"I am not a patient person" is a death sentence - it implies that everyone has to like it or lump it, because this is who you are and you have no intention of attempting to try something different or difficult. It's time to start a person journey of your own that acknowledges your own difficulties and says "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got." Try: "I have difficulties with bein patient" or "There are times when I get impatient with this sort of thing".

"I can't talk about this with my family" duh, what family is ok with talking about current or past sexual practices? Would you feel comfortable asking your mother about her sexual practices with your father? No. No one should feel able to disclose sexual abuse with "family" - I'm playing a word game here. You should, however, have a friend or two (they may even be related to you) who you can confide in. This is not a family issue, it is a personal issue and can be dealt with personally with certain members of the family that can be relied on to be trusted. I have made sure that my wife and parents in law are aware that I do not want the issue of me being abused as a child being discussed with my wife's sister - why? Because I have seen the way she deals with other people and I am worth more than that.
"I can't talk about this with my sister in law - YET !" would be a good way to start, for me. You get my drift.

If you are not prepared to work on your own issues then you will be of no use to your BF - sorry to be so blunt. But how can you see to get the speck out of his eye if you have a plank in your own. After all getting splinters out takes patience. Are you prepared to learn? The fact that you are on this website does imply that you are but - he is responsible for his recovery, you are responsible for yours and together you are jointly responsible for your relationship issues.

He's asked to be left alone. Difficult one, very difficult. Conflicts of "I say I want to be left alone but in truth I am subconsciously asking you to prove that I am of worth to you by your coming and seeking me out and comforting me" versus "I need to be in control for now and I need to see that you respect my decision to be left alone".

How to deal? Talk, discuss as equals - each has needs, rights, responsibilities and expectations in the relationship. Agree some boundaries - and put in penalty clauses. eg only 3 date cancellations before guaranteeing a face to face meeting; 3 emails to one phone call; no screened out phonecalls between 8 and 10 pm. Remember that there are no rights without responsibilities. Sure he has a right to constructive solitude but he has a responsibility to actively work towards processing the long term effects of the abuse and that cannot be done in isolation.

These are the musings of an expom, now an aussie, and are offered in the hope that you can find something useful. If not, then I'm sorry.

ADen

_________________________
I endured all my yesterdays. I prevail in all of my todays. I exercise my right to be able to enjoy my tomorrows. I choose not to do it alone.

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#290338 - 06/04/09 11:27 PM Re: Help - I need answers - [Re: AwesomeAnn]
WalkingSouth Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/30/05
Posts: 16264
A couple of things come to mind Ann, after reading your second post.

The first one is that the two of you did not fall in love in a vacuum. There are reasons why he was attracted to you and you to him that neither one of you probably ever realized. Relationships happen because of certain attractions. For instance, you say you,re a get 'er done sorta lady. You approach life from a "get results attitude". He on the other hand, according to your de>
_________________________
“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy ____…! What a ride!’” ~Hunter S. Thompson

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#290341 - 06/05/09 12:16 AM Re: Help - I need answers - [Re: expom]
AwesomeAnn Offline


Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 14
Loc: California, USA
Dear Aden:

Thank you so very much for your thoughtful advice. You hit the nail on the head,

Conflicts of "I say I want to be left alone but in truth I am subconsciously asking you to prove that I am of worth to you by your coming and seeking me out and comforting me" versus "I need to be in control for now and I need to see that you respect my decision to be left alone".


I understand alone time - I thrive best when I get an equal balance of it and chaos. I can't read which of the two scenarios to follow with him currently. I have read that survivors have severe control issues and don't want to encroach on his control - but he has numerous times complained that he wasn't hugged enough by his mom and ex wife and doesn't like feeling abandoned. I want to help him, he is so much more than this horrific abuse, but I have no idea which way to turn. He is so moody and depressed, nothing I do makes him happy - he would light up if I would surprise him by dropping by after work... He would be thrilled for calls in middle of the day, just to say hi and love ya. I'm getting such mixed signals... he is looking to blame me for something? Or so I feel. He has enough to deal with, without me adding my hurt feelings. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond, I appreciate it.


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#290342 - 06/05/09 12:23 AM Re: Help - I need answers - [Re: AwesomeAnn]
AwesomeAnn Offline


Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 14
Loc: California, USA
I want to thank all of you for your helpful advice. You are such caring individuals to take the time to take time for a stranger. I will do my best to help my boyfriend. It really is a major adjustment, but he is worth it. He's a great man. I believe we live in such a 'throw away' society, and I'd like to surpass my upbringing. Please accept my apologies for my inconsiderate use of the word 'normal'.. didn't mean to offend anyone.

Wishing all of you peace.

Ann


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