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#348055 - 12/14/10 03:11 AM My Life in Cardboard Boxes
CruxFidelis Offline


Registered: 06/16/10
Posts: 486
Loc: NJ
I only have a few memories from the first few months after my assault. I don't know where my mind was during that time, but it sure wasn't engaging with the people around me. I don't remember last thanksgiving. I don't remember my birthday. I only vaguely remember Christmas. I remember that my wife was pregnant, and I remember that she went and bought a house that I didn't even look at.

I do remember the day I was discharged from the rehab center where I stayed for a few weeks. I was still in very poor health and would need round the clock care. We used to live in Baltimore but she moved us to New Jersey because of her job. So when I entered the hospital, I was living in Baltimore but when I came home, it wasn't the home I always remembered. It was a different home.

I was fuming with anger over the fact that she went and bought a house without getting me involved in the decision making process one bit. Seriously, WTF? I know she did what she had to do, and there wasn't anything I could really do to help the situation but still, it would have been nice to at least see a picture of the house before you CLOSE on it.

On the ride home, she used words like "our," "we," "together," "family." Yes, we were a family now. Me, her, and our little one--barely big enough to cause a small bump on my wife's belly.

As we went through the front door, I realized how light and airy the house was. Our stuff wasn't so cramped and there was enough space for us to spread out. The walls had nice, warm shades of paint. Everything was in great shape. A nice yard for our unborn son to play in. Good schools in the area. Yet, why was I still fuming with anger?

She showed me each bedroom, the kitchen, the living room and finally the basement--which was piled high with cardboard boxes. "We'll unpack all these boxes eventually. There's no rush. Most of it is baby stuff. I need you to help me pick out colors for the nursery." She was trying so hard to cheer me up and get me excited. She had no idea what kind of excruciating pain I was in. "Hey, maybe when we get all this stuff cleared out, we can turn this basement into a nice 'man cave' for you. How does that sound?"
"Funny, I didn't notice any stalactites dropping out of the ceiling. I just hope that this basement doesn't literally turn into a CAVE, as in, there's water running through it."
My wife rolled her eyes. "You know I told you 10 times already that this basement is waterproof." It took me a few bad rainstorms to believe her.

That basement is still piled high with cardboard boxes. All of them are filled with my things from the old apartment. I didn't pack them up myself, she packed them so everything is probably all jumbled and not the way I would group things together. I don't know when I'm ever going to get the energy to sort through all this stuff. I don't know when I'll be able to emotionally cope with all those tactile reminders of the "stuff" of my old life. We are not what we own, so why does this project seem so daunting to me?

It's been over a year since my assault and I've managed fine without all that stuff. Part of me is very tempted to throw all of it out, so at least it won't be there to remind me of who I once was.

It is so hard to care about anything these days.

_________________________
If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.

- Saint John of the Cross

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#348068 - 12/14/10 08:20 AM Re: My Life in Cardboard Boxes [Re: CruxFidelis]
prisonerID Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/17/08
Posts: 1247
Loc: Oklahoma
As a man who has stated that you had your life pretty much together. You were married to the woman you wanted in your life and a career that you enjoyed. Your health began to change which is hard enough for anyone to have to deal with but you had more. You then had a brutal assault placed in your life as well. The lack of power a grown man feels when he is subjected to that breaks our spirit. No man wants to feel like he has no power in any situation.

It is natural to resent what happened afterwards. Even what was done by your wife out of love and for your benefit can feel like you are still under the subjection of another. Rape is like a thread that runs through, to borrow from a commercial, "the fabric of our lives". And many things that people do "for us" can bring resentment when familiar feelings come up like what you describe here. "I had no choice" is not what a grown man wants to admit.

I have fought the very ones who have tried to help me over the years. And when not fighting them I silenced them and me so that nothing of a deeper level was discussed. But they are not my enemy. I have been pondering who I sometimes think is my enemy and how often I am wrong. Your wife is not your enemy. I doubt she intended to wrong you. I would encourage you to talk to her and balance is with honesty and appreciation. Honesty in how you feel but appreciation for all that she mustered the strength to do for you, for her and for your son. She failed to communicate but she did not fail to love you or to take care of you in the best way she thought possible.

As for the boxes I can really relate to that. When I moved back to Oklahoma I had a ton of them and then had some more brought back. They sat in storage for a long time. I began going through them finally and threw away almost everything - clothes included. I could not bear to have that stuff around me anymore. It was hard to face the life I felt I had lost. And I spent many years trying to get that life back or at least wishing for it. That is not going to happen. But What I am discovering is the "things" in me that I thought were gone forever are not really gone. I am changed, I am not the same but there are parts of me I am discovering were never really gone. They were and are just buried deep somewhere inside me. Under a mountain of rubble. I will never be the same but that does not mean I have lost all of me and the qualities I had. Still not sure who I am going to turn out to be yet.

I hear guys talk here of having "pity parties" or apologizing for feeling sorry for themselves. True, a steady diet of that can really bring one down if he stays on that track for a long time. But what is there to apologize about? All have the right to mourn what was done to them and what they lost. If we do not mourn we cannot move on. And mourning is not a stage thing but rather a continual part of our recovery. I still mourn what I lost and what was done to me at times. You were assaulted last year and I was twenty years ago. Take the time to mourn it all and let it out. Keeping it inside just breeds worse things for us.

You lost a lot. But the man you were is still inside you. He is not gone nor boxed up somewhere. He just needs to mourn.

Thank you for this post for it reminds me of a lot of things.


Daryl

_________________________
Broad statements often miss their true mark.

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#348073 - 12/14/10 08:41 AM Re: My Life in Cardboard Boxes [Re: CruxFidelis]
earlybird Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/17/10
Posts: 1007
Loc: WA USA
Crux,

Your words echo so much of some of the struggles Im sure many of us have and do wrestled. I know your wife, in buying the house without your participation, was her doing what she felt she needed to for the family to survive and move forward. But it is completely understandable why that struck so hard at your core. In the hospital when you were sexually assaulted the perpetrator was attempting to take more than just your body he wanted your control. To take power away from you and keep it as long as he possible could. In a way, though innocent in nature, when your wife bought the house without your input I would imagine it was a loud echo of that part of the rape. This is not a negative spot light being placed on your wife just recognition of how easy it is to misstep as a spouse/partner as both try to figure their way through this swamp.

One other thing you said struck deeply into my past.

"It's been over a year since my assault and I've managed fine without all that stuff. Part of me is very tempted to throw all of it out, so at least it won't be there to remind me of who I once was.

Id like to suggest not throwing away anything. There is no rush to go through it either. Take your time and as you move through this process called healing there are things in those cardboard boxes that today you may want to toss out which when tomorrow comes that decision my bring regrets. I have nothing from the time of my rape backwards. I dont remember getting rid of anything but I have nothing till years later. Sometimes I wish I could pull out a picture or a trophy or medals from my past but they are all gone. I like to suggest give it lots of thought before giving Waste Management your history.

_________________________
Balanced (My goal)

There is symmetry
In self-reflection
Life exemplified
Grace personified

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#348076 - 12/14/10 09:46 AM Re: My Life in Cardboard Boxes [Re: earlybird]
CruxFidelis Offline


Registered: 06/16/10
Posts: 486
Loc: NJ
Earl & Daryl,

Well, I sure as heck wouldn't want to give Waste Management a dime more than I already give them!

You are both right in saying that in my mind, the move and my wife buying that new house are "echoes" of the rape. I don't know why, but they feel connected, even though that isn't necessarily true. I have tried to view the move as a good thing but so far it is hard to see it that way.

Buying a house was something I always wanted to do, ever since I first met my wife. This isn't where I planned on settling. I wanted to settle in the DC/Baltimore area. Not New York. Not New Jersey. All our friends were down there. My wife is a fantastic conversationalist and she has the sort of personality that people either love or hate, so building up a social network up here hasn't been a problem for her. All my social contacts down in Baltimore were built on shared experiences--doing activities together like music or academia, being on the same sports team, co-workers. I don't have any real friends up here, and I'm not sure as if I even desire that right now.

Everything about the house is solid... it's in good shape, she got a good price for it, and I know that if she got me into the decision making process I probably would have steered her towards renting until I could go out on trips with the Realtor. We would have paid a lot more for the same type of house if she waited any longer, and it wouldn't have necessarily made anything easier from a practical perspective. I am sure it is easier for a woman to move all of her stuff and her husband's stuff earlier in the pregnancy, and even then she probably shouldn't have been lifting all those heavy boxes. She wanted to take that job as soon as possible, and I can't fault her for accepting such a good offer. I like the fact that when I ask her how work is going, she can smile and say, "Very well." So many people go to their jobs every day and hate it there... if my wife has to work instead of being a stay @ home mom, she might as well have a job that gives her fulfillment and the right compensation.

I feel like a jerk for saying this, but everything about her decision making was correct and I hate that. I hate that it wasn't my decision. Sometimes when I talk to an old friend, and I mention that SHE bought a house, they say, "oh, congratulations!" Can't they see how upsetting a man would be? Can't they see how disturbed I am that I had absolutely no control in that situation?

I do need to take that bitterness and anger and not direct it at her. It's hard not to feel vulnerable whenever she talks about doing something to the house, or setting up a "man cave" for me. I don't need a man cave, I need to feel like I'm the man of this house. I need to feel like I live here instead of feeling like I'm living in someone else's house. I need to let go of my old home and bloom where I'm planted.

I hope that sometime when I'm ready I can look through all those boxes and recover some pieces of myself that I thought I lost.

_________________________
If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.

- Saint John of the Cross

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#348081 - 12/14/10 10:53 AM Re: My Life in Cardboard Boxes [Re: CruxFidelis]
prisonerID Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/17/08
Posts: 1247
Loc: Oklahoma
You are not a jerk. Everything you are saying you have a right to say.

_________________________
Broad statements often miss their true mark.

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#348087 - 12/14/10 12:25 PM Re: My Life in Cardboard Boxes [Re: prisonerID]
Ever-fixed Mark Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/02/10
Posts: 727
Loc: United States
It's no surprise to me that a man who had a traumatic experience where he had no control would be upset about a major life decision where he once again had no control.

The wrongness or rightness of the choice made without your participation isn't material. That it happened without *you* is. Your wife did what she thought would be best for all of you when you were not in a place to make decisions. Now your work is to understand how and why this affects you and to communicate it to your wife so that she understands what you need.

-efm

_________________________

Everybody here's got a story to tell
Everybody's been through their own hell
There's nothing too special about getting hurt
Getting over it, that takes the work

- "Duck and Cover" by Glen Phillips

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#348215 - 12/15/10 01:08 PM Re: My Life in Cardboard Boxes [Re: Ever-fixed Mark]
Castle Offline


Registered: 10/03/09
Posts: 727
Loc: NJ
Pete,

I cant tell you I understand some of the ASA stuff...cause as a CSA guy things have been different for me at an early age...However

I want to look at old home movies to find some good times...but I resistt it....I want to know life wasnt always bad....full of hurt...part of the problem is I was fake so much I probably wouldnt even see the truth in myself through those video...IDK.

What hit me the most in your post though is this :

"I don't need a man cave, I need to feel like I'm the man of this house."

Feeling less of a man because of the abuse...hard stuff...I hope you come to relise you are the man of your house (regardless of gender roles...work situations whatever)...Your a Man, husband and father...you need not prove anything about being a man..society sucks in that way. what you endured and making it through, being a good dad, proves to me your plenty man..IMHO.

Go easy on yourself buddy...I wonder if you can sell your house to yourselves..at least figuratively....go looking at some houses...look at yours..and decide to "re-purchase" it together as a couple....IDK just food for thought.

H

_________________________

My posts can self destruct at any time..read them while you can.

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#348239 - 12/15/10 09:18 PM Re: My Life in Cardboard Boxes [Re: Castle]
CruxFidelis Offline


Registered: 06/16/10
Posts: 486
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: Castle
Pete,
I wonder if you can sell your house to yourselves..at least figuratively....go looking at some houses...look at yours..and decide to "re-purchase" it together as a couple....IDK just food for thought.


That's a VERY interesting idea, Castle. I know my wife would go for it. She loves looking at houses and stuff and our conversations often exist in the hypothetical realm... so going hypothetical house hunting would probably be up her alley. We've been married for over six years but we never bought a house together...always rented an apartment. We always talked about buying a historic fixer upper and restoring/modernizing it. When my dad wasn't working his butt off, he was always fixing up our house and I spent a lot of time as a young teenager following him around and learning how to do all sorts of carpentry. I can't do that stuff anymore, and it bothers me. My wife bought a newer house in nice condition because she knew she wouldn't have a man around who could do all the heavy work.dd

When my wife and I first got to know each other, in high school, we were sitting in her room one day. It was still decorated like a little girl's room--poufy pink curtains, dolls everywhere, ugly pink carpet, pink walls. After my wife was raped, she said she couldn't stand being in that room--she knew that the last bit of girlhood was stolen from her and she had to become a woman right away. I know it was really healing for her when we decided to re-paint the room, I put in some wainscoting, and crown molding, we got rid of the carpet and there was hardwood underneath (in great shape too, whose idea was the carpet anyway!?)and I made these built in shelves. So now I'm the one living in a house that I feel isn't mine. I wish there was some way to make it my own.

I'm a little worried that if I go house hunting again, I'd find something I like better. I don't want to become more bitter with her than I already am. But I know I also might find that this really was the best option to suit our needs even though our last property tax bill really knocked the wind out of me!

_________________________
If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.

- Saint John of the Cross

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#348368 - 12/17/10 11:30 AM Re: My Life in Cardboard Boxes [Re: CruxFidelis]
Castle Offline


Registered: 10/03/09
Posts: 727
Loc: NJ
I can't help but read, often, that you consider yourself less of a man...I hope you work through that..cause your plenty man...a Hurting guy...is still a guy...and I cant do crown for shit...am I less of of a man?

I'll keep reminding you, you are plenty man.

go easy on yourslef pete...time I hope will help.

_________________________

My posts can self destruct at any time..read them while you can.

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#348372 - 12/17/10 12:22 PM Re: My Life in Cardboard Boxes [Re: Castle]
Ever-fixed Mark Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/02/10
Posts: 727
Loc: United States
Perhaps it's a good moment for us to consider Rudyard Kipling's thoughts on what a man is...

Quote:
If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

-efm

_________________________

Everybody here's got a story to tell
Everybody's been through their own hell
There's nothing too special about getting hurt
Getting over it, that takes the work

- "Duck and Cover" by Glen Phillips

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