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#437710 - 06/10/13 07:56 PM Unsure of who I am
toddop Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/14/11
Posts: 219
Loc: California
Hey guys,
I have been feeling pretty low the past few days and a lot of it has to to with wondering who I am and how to connect to the real me.

I feel like I am always something for every other person in my life: my parnter, my co-workers, my friends, my family. But, the thing is that it all seems like an act, or a collection of responses for what I think each person wants me to be. I feel like I even put on an act of sorts with my therapist. After seeing her for almost 2 years, I still try to calculate what is the best thing to say, rather than how I feel.

As I spend time with myself struggling with the effects of CSA, I spend a lot of time with just myself. Absent having people around me to mimic and adjust my persona, it seems like I am left with this gaping hole inside. I just sometimes feel like there is nobody in there. Or buried so deep that it takes a lot of effort to get in touch with what is really going on.

This really scares me. I want to get back in touch with myself, and how I feel about things, but sometimes I feel like I don't know who I am and where to start.

Is this dissociation? Or do you think it is tied into hyper-vigilant reactions to the people around me. Or depression? Or all of the above?

If anyone has any advice around this, I would appreciate hearing about it.
_________________________
Todd

"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."
-Albert Einstein

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#437721 - 06/10/13 08:58 PM Re: Unsure of who I am [Re: toddop]
ThisMan Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/22/13
Posts: 767
Loc: upper south
Hey, toddop.

I have been spending more time with myself since last fall when I began to put things into perspective from my own life. And I know the feeling of the big hole inside. Probably we all do as we come to terms with our abuses.

I don't want you to be afraid. I can't answer the questions as to what the void means for you- or for me for that matter- but don't be afraid. Someone else can give the clinical analysis, but I share my thoughts on the void.

I was disconcerted at first when I began to realize the void existed. The unknown is always fearful. But for me, from there has emerged the "Little Me"- my inner child that I had never experienced. From there has come new perspectives and new boundaries, new memories long ago buried, and yes, even a new pain or pains that I didn't want to face. Pains that I had never felt before and they were and are sometimes difficult to deal with. But from within the same void is where I am finding- as slow a process as it seems- a new me. A new dream for life. And times of a new happiness, a different happiness.

So don't be afraid. And enter into the void only as you wish. A bit at a time. For inside that void, when it is all said and done is you. Is me. That is where we have buried ourselves in order to survive. So don't be afraid. You aren't alone.
_________________________
For now we see through a glass, darkly.



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#437737 - 06/10/13 10:40 PM Re: Unsure of who I am [Re: ThisMan]
toddop Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/14/11
Posts: 219
Loc: California
Thanks, This Man. Your response really had an impact on me.

Originally Posted By: ThisMan
I was disconcerted at first when I began to realize the void existed. The unknown is always fearful. But for me, from there has emerged the "Little Me"- my inner child that I had never experienced. From there has come new perspectives and new boundaries, new memories long ago buried, and yes, even a new pain or pains that I didn't want to face. Pains that I had never felt before and they were and are sometimes difficult to deal with. But from within the same void is where I am finding- as slow a process as it seems- a new me. A new dream for life. And times of a new happiness, a different happiness.


I have been starting some work around my inner child, so this really makes sense. One thing I do know is that my inner child is really pissed off. I also know that I have a lot of pain buried deep and that a lot of memories and such are in that space. I think this is what keeps me from diving in there.

Originally Posted By: ThisMan
So don't be afraid. And enter into the void only as you wish. A bit at a time. For inside that void, when it is all said and done is you. Is me. That is where we have buried ourselves in order to survive. So don't be afraid. You aren't alone.


I just realized when responding above that I jump back and forth between being all gung-ho to deal with all of the pain and memories, and then immediately retreating. I know in my mind that I have to go through that void to get to the other side and take on all that pain and memories, but I get right to the edge, then walk away from it. And then, the negative voices start about what a wimp I am, and how I should be able to handle it, and how I should have handled it by now, and that this is taking too long. No wonder my inner child is pissed!

But, I guess in the end, I have to admit that I am really afraid. I am scared of what I will find beyond what I already know. Scared that I will back off again and not deal with this and numb out again. Scared to let down myself and that little kid again.

It does make me feel better to hear your experiences with the void and how you have moved to a new understanding and appreciation for it. It definitely inspires and humbles me.
_________________________
Todd

"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."
-Albert Einstein

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#437745 - 06/10/13 11:38 PM Re: Unsure of who I am [Re: toddop]
ThisMan Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/22/13
Posts: 767
Loc: upper south
When you talk about jumping back and forth between being all gung-ho and ready to deal and then backing off, you have just described what all of us do. Its cool. Its the way it should be. I tried to encapsulate the healing into one big swift moment-like weekend... sort of like.... okay, this- this- this- and this happened. I will have a couple cries, a couple therapist visits, a drink for the pain and a drink for the celebration of recovery. That was the plan... unspoken, but the plan for healing.

LOL... doesn't work like that, does it? I had to backup because it is just too much for the head and for the heart. I have to take the memories as they come one at a time. They are that powerful and the hurt is that deep. I no longer call myself wimpy or downplay what my mind must do, because we still must survive as adults. We MUST SURVIVE and if that means one memory at a time, so be it.

Again, be not afraid. I can guarantee you will cry because of what has been done to you, but I bet you do that now. I still do. I come to this site without logging in and read what our brothers have endured or are enduring. I cry with them. I cry for them. I will be afraid with you, we all will. These guys have lifted me up so often over the 6 months- and they will do the same for you. But you already know that as well.

One small story about stepping away from progress ... just to show it still happens to me... just yesterday (Sunday) I posted a pic of 5 yr old me... last night I accidentally saw a m-on-m rape scene in a stupid movie. It so horrified and scared me, that to protect myself, I removed my avatar. How irrational is that? Big confession there. But as you said... one step forward, and then fear steps in. I'll put it back, I just don't know when. That friggin' void still scares me.

Be strong, toddop. Be wise. Be yourself and do what you must as you heal. There are no play rules to break. Only the goal of recovery.
_________________________
For now we see through a glass, darkly.



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#437757 - 06/11/13 05:46 AM Re: Unsure of who I am [Re: toddop]
concerned_husky Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/29/12
Posts: 587
This reminded me of a thread I had started earlier about 'fake' personalities - there were a lot of good contributions to it, so I hope this was kind of the topic you had in mind:

http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthr...3201#Post433201

At this point, I think having a social persona is more like a kind of social intelligence. You cannot and should not share the most vulnerable and intimate parts of yourself with everyone, so naturally you are going to set up some barriers and some facades, which might come across to you as acting or playing a role, so to speak. While it's a necessary part of life, I think you should counterbalance that by spending more time on yourself, processing painful memories, exploring new things and really just developing a wide spectrum of emotions/feelings which make you vital and alive. I think ThisMan has given you good advice regarding this, and crying and getting touch with your 'inner child' are healthy steps towards achieving that. I don't think painful memories should be dealt with all at once either - it's more of like a titration, drop by drop.
_________________________
Husky

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#437866 - 06/11/13 09:29 PM Re: Unsure of who I am [Re: ThisMan]
toddop Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/14/11
Posts: 219
Loc: California
Thanks again, This Man, this is so helpful to hear.

Originally Posted By: ThisMan
I tried to encapsulate the healing into one big swift moment-like weekend... sort of like.... okay, this- this- this- and this happened. I will have a couple cries, a couple therapist visits, a drink for the pain and a drink for the celebration of recovery. That was the plan... unspoken, but the plan for healing.

LOL... doesn't work like that, does it? I had to backup because it is just too much for the head and for the heart.


Guilty as charged. I have to admit I was right along with the "weekend" plan for recovery, or at least not prepared for it to be the ongoing and painful process that it is. My mind is always trying to break it down into tasks to get over and done with. I know it doesn't work that way, but I get so cerebral and task-oriented about it, just leaving out the feelings and pacing part of it. I really like what you said about it being too big for the head and the heart. That is very profound and sums it all up rather nicely, I'd say.

Originally Posted By: ThisMan
I have to take the memories as they come one at a time. They are that powerful and the hurt is that deep. I no longer call myself wimpy or downplay what my mind must do, because we still must survive as adults. We MUST SURVIVE and if that means one memory at a time, so be it.


Gotta admit, I am still working on being more gentle with myself and not calling myself names about it all. But, I dig what you are saying here.

Originally Posted By: ThisMan
Again, be not afraid. I can guarantee you will cry because of what has been done to you, but I bet you do that now. I still do. I come to this site without logging in and read what our brothers have endured or are enduring. I cry with them. I cry for them. I will be afraid with you, we all will. These guys have lifted me up so often over the 6 months- and they will do the same for you. But you already know that as well.


Yeah, I've got the crying part down. Had a fair spell of that after reading your responses. It just brought up all of those feelings from the void.

I have to get better at using the site more and being engaged with the other survivors here. I am really shy and tend to isolate, even in cyber-space (go figure!) so I tend to leave from time to time. But, I do want to be a more active part of this community.

Originally Posted By: ThisMan
One small story about stepping away from progress ... just to show it still happens to me... just yesterday (Sunday) I posted a pic of 5 yr old me... last night I accidentally saw a m-on-m rape scene in a stupid movie. It so horrified and scared me, that to protect myself, I removed my avatar. How irrational is that? Big confession there. But as you said... one step forward, and then fear steps in. I'll put it back, I just don't know when. That friggin' void still scares me.

Be strong, toddop. Be wise. Be yourself and do what you must as you heal. There are no play rules to break. Only the goal of recovery.


Will do, This Man. Thanks for sharing about your own experience and hesitancy to keep your photo up. I see you put it back, so good on you for building the courage up to do that. It scares me silly to think of doing that, because of my past history with being exploited through child pornography, so I recognize it as the monumental act of bravery that it is. Someday I hope I will follow in your footsteps and put my picture up there.

It just occurred to me that in this work, we are putting a powerful magnifying glass up to such horrible events and memories in our pasts. So, maybe it is a certainty that the void and the pain and the loss will appear that much bigger and scarier, particularly when you add the fact that we see most of it through the eyes of our inner children. You've given me a lot of invaluable advice and help here, and a lot to think about. I wish you the best in your own ongoing struggles.
_________________________
Todd

"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."
-Albert Einstein

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#437877 - 06/11/13 10:22 PM Re: Unsure of who I am [Re: concerned_husky]
toddop Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/14/11
Posts: 219
Loc: California
Thanks for the response, Husky, and the advice.

Originally Posted By: concerned_husky
At this point, I think having a social persona is more like a kind of social intelligence. You cannot and should not share the most vulnerable and intimate parts of yourself with everyone, so naturally you are going to set up some barriers and some facades, which might come across to you as acting or playing a role, so to speak. While it's a necessary part of life, I think you should counterbalance that by spending more time on yourself, processing painful memories, exploring new things and really just developing a wide spectrum of emotions/feelings which make you vital and alive.


This makes sense to me. I like re-purposing this as a social skill that can help create safe space. My first thought after reading the processing memories thing was I need to find out how to process feelings, and that maybe I'm not doing it right, and all that crazy stuff that happens in my head. That task-oriented thing kicks off in my mind again. But, this is something I do want to explore in more detail. I have done some work around this with my T, maybe I will bring this stuff up at our next session.

Thanks also for linking me to your past series of posts about a very similar post. Lots of really good information there. I am a total pleaser, people always say, "He's the nicest guy." But, I never feel nice. I feel disgusting inside. But, after reading the responses, I see how it can be a plus and a coping skill and not a bad thing in the end, really. I think it just feels off, because I have not dealt with all the internal stuff that makes me feel disgusting. So, to me I feel a bit skewed and unbalanced, but others may just see the nice, and that is not a bad thing in that context.

I really identified with the need to be selfish and take care of yourself and let yourself feel what you need to, when you need to feel it. I am working on that and trying to take more time for me to deal with these CSA issues and tone down the excessiveness of my giving to others, at least part of the time. It was great to hear people really talk from a place of personal power about reclaiming their limits and boundaries.

From your original post in that topic, I want to say that I really identified with you about how one of the ways the CSA affected you was the loss of your musical talent, or expressing that talent when you were in school. It seemed like something you were really good at and it brought you a lot of satisfaction and sense of accomplishment too. While I was never a musician, I was a young, aspiring gymnast when the abuse occurred. I have recently got in touch with a lot of anger about losing out on exploring and developing that talent due to the CSA (which was perpetrated by my coaches). I was so good at gymnastics and tumbling, and I loved doing it. But, after the CSA, I never wanted to do it ever again. In fact, I blocked out most of my memories around it. However, the first major episode of remembering was watching gymnasts perform in the park, which majorly triggered me and brought all of the abuse stuff back.

Sorry, for the long response, but I truly think having something so personal be taken away from me like that may actually contribute to the feelings about lost identity and uncertainty that I have. It makes me feel so angry and violated on a whole other level. And it makes me sad to think that you had a similar experience. But by sharing your story about it, it does help me (and others) to think about things and heal. So again, thanks so much for sharing. It is really invaluable.
_________________________
Todd

"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."
-Albert Einstein

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