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#444551 - 08/17/13 02:10 PM CSA Cliché ***Triggers***
toddop Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/14/11
Posts: 224
Loc: California
Three weeks after the visit with my mother, the aftermath has been far more revealing than the actual visit. Reflecting back, I see how new information I received about my early life, and subsequent releasing of new memories continue to open up new avenues of thought.

What I wasn’t expecting from it was to learn more about my biological father and his impact on my life and its trajectory. My memories of him have always been spotty. I was 5 when he left the picture. But, I know enough to know he sexually and physically abused me.

My mother told me about an episode at Christmas. They had gotten into a fight, and it turned physical. Their struggle knocked over the Christmas tree. My brother and I witnessed it. He screamed at her and fled into the night. My brother remembers this, but I don’t. She was worried and took us to her mother’s house. He called and threatened her that if she didn’t bring us back, he would kill her and my grandmother. They took us to my grandmother’s sister’s house. He broke into my grandmother’s house and ransacked it, then collapsed on her couch. They found him there the next day. My mother subsequently divorced him.

We had visits with him regularly after that. Then, he decided he wanted to move to North Carolina. He brought us out their several times for visits. The sexual abuse continued. During this time, my mother, my brother and I became a very insular and tight family unit. My mother remarried, and my stepfather entered our lives, but he was a stranger. He was also a workaholic and spent a lot of time building his business. He was emotionally distant in a lot of ways, and I kept him at arm’s length.

Eventually my stepfather got a job overseas in New Zealand. We were planning to move. That is when my biological father decided that he would terminate parental rights. My mother couldn’t understand it. He had always been talking to her about us spending more time with us and how much he wanted us to live with him. So, he terminated his parental rights. My stepfather legally adopted us, and we moved to New Zealand. We moved back several years later, but we never heard from my biological father ever again, until my brother made contact with him about 25 years later.

So not only did my biological father sexually and physically abuse me, but he decided he no longer wanted me. It never really hit me, the impact of that. Whenever I used to think of him, it was always just emotionless with indifference. But, now that I am getting in touch with the younger memories and feelings, I am realizing how devastating this was to me in so many ways. Not just the raw sadness and feeling of abandonment. But other, more insidious feelings that came up after my abuse by the coach when I was 7-10. Was my father just a perp and I had outgrown his desires, so there was no need to keep me around anymore? Did he just get tired of me? Was I really as awful as I felt?

And I realized the impact that this had on the setup for the abuse by the coach. We had returned back overseas, and I had difficulty making friends because I was made fun of for having a New Zealand accent. I didn’t click with other boys and I was bullied. I had a sense of abandonment, a distant relationship with my stepfather, and was probably looking for some positive adult male attention. I was a perfect little storm for my coach, the perp who abused me. It must have been like his biggest Christmas present ever. And I ate up every bit of attention, compliments, and grooming he threw at me. I was the one who was going to be a great gymnast. I was the one who he would take extra time with. I was the one that he wanted to photo for his advertising brochure. I was the only one that could do the special exercises that he said I needed to learn.

As insidious as that was, I now realize that my history, at even so young an age, created structures in my mind that stopped me from telling about the abuse. After the sexual abuse started with the coach, followed by the pictures and films of the abuse by him and other perps, I realized at some point, or was told, that I was damaged goods or dirty. And that nobody would believe me or want me if they saw or found out about the things we did. And I had only to look as far as my biological father to see that it was true. He had deemed me unworthy and cast me out of his life without a second thought after the things we did together. So, when the coach told me that, I believed it. To such an extent that I erased most of the abuse out of my mind, or hid it away at such a deep level. But, that feeling of being unworthy and dirty has saturated my life ever since. It runs really deep and I think it will always be there, fused into my DNA with the abuse.

Another thing that really kept me from telling was also fallout from my biological father leaving. And that was just feeling protective of my mother and brother. When I first talked to my T about disclosing, the main thing that came up for me not wanting to tell them was because I didn’t want THEM to feel bad. I wanted to shield them, and not have them feel bad or guilty about what happened. And that harkens back to the insular little group we became after my biological father abandoned us. I was parenting them, and always have since the abuse in some ways.

I titled this post CSA Clichés. I am making so many new connections and revelations. They are extremely painful to look at. They bring up a lot of uncomfortable and shameful feelings inside. But, I guess I feel like a lot of this is new to me because I am just now uncovering memories and feelings long buried. I feel behind the curve from most of you on this site, who have been struggling with actual memories and the fallout since the abuse. I feel like sometimes I am taking CSA 101 in a room full of graduate students. But the answers and connections while new and fresh to me are those that anyone could find in any book about CSA. Like a bullet point list. There’s nothing wrong with that, it is just odd sometimes to feel that I as a unique and different person can fit the puzzle spot of CSA survivor so perfectly. It is like I am just one big CSA cliché.

There is pain in that, but also a feeling of not being in this alone. I have learned so much from what the men on this site have shared. I guess this post is long, and a bit of a downer. But, I felt I needed to share and get these feelings out.
_________________________
Todd

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

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#444555 - 08/17/13 03:07 PM Re: CSA Cliché ***Triggers*** [Re: toddop]
DavoSwim Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/06/13
Posts: 333
Loc: Iowa, USA
Todd,

I am so very sorry for the injustices you suffered as a child. It's a tribute to you that you have survived and have become such a thoughtful caring man. Remember, this is your journey to healing. It doesn't do anyone any good to compare yourself to other guys on this site. Remember, you can only know what they reveal here on this site. The truth is known only to each individual. It's not necessary to make generalizations about other people's recovery. We all recover at our own pace. There are no rewards for getting there the fastest. Again, this is your story and whatever helps you recover is the right way. It's tough enough, please don't burden yourself by comparing yourself to others. I wish you well Todd. You are helping a lot of guys by telling your story. Keep moving in the right direction.

Dave

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#444564 - 08/17/13 05:14 PM Re: CSA Cliché ***Triggers*** [Re: toddop]
Rich1967 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/17/13
Posts: 288
Loc: PA
Todd,

This may be textbook CSA stuff, but seeing it in yourself and writing about to help others IS NOT easy. Understanding where our sense of worthlessness comes from was a big step for me to realize that I am NOT worthless. Understanding what happened and how it affects you now can be very empowering.

I hope you begin to have a sense of accomplishment from this and can be proud of it and yourself.
_________________________
Rich

"Me too" - I don't think I will ever get tired of saying or hearing these two words.

My Story:
http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=441625#Post441625

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#444574 - 08/17/13 10:39 PM Re: CSA Cliché ***Triggers*** [Re: toddop]
Jude Offline


Registered: 08/09/12
Posts: 1557
Loc: New England
Hey Todd,

You are no cliche'. Yes, your story has some in common with others here, but it is also unique because it happened to YOU. And your recovery is unique becasue it is YOUR recovery. Don't waste your time thinking that it wasn't that bad compared to some, or that your recovery is lagging behind, compared to some.

You have done a fine job of telling your story. The facts are all clear, and the feelings of shame and worthlessness come through loud and clear. That is a a HUGE accomplishment, and something to be proud of. Let it be a springboard to greater understanding of all the ways those CSA experiences have affected you. For myself, I expect that to be a life-long pursuit. Some of those negative effects are correctable, some are not, but I will take them as they come up.

Be well.

Jude
_________________________
Everyday is a winding road
I get a little bit closer
Everyday is a faded sign
I get a little bit closer to feeling fine.
Sheryl Crow

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#444624 - 08/18/13 07:39 PM Re: CSA Cliché ***Triggers*** [Re: toddop]
concerned_husky Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/29/12
Posts: 589
Todd,

Thanks for your post. I had been following it for some time but it took me a while to compose my thoughts - you bring a wealth of perspectives on CSA in writing about your own. Ironically, at the moment, I'm the one who feels like being at a CSA 101 lecture.

I'm sorry for all that you've went through. I can't imagine how devastating it must be to be abused by your father and just abruptly discarded, and then have it followed up by further abuse, not to mention carrying on the burden of having to be the emotional crutch of your mother and brother amidst all of your pain. The fact that you are here, telling your story and making connections between the present and the past, I think, just shows how brave, resilient, intelligent and compassionate you are in your approach to your abuse.

I could find so many themes that resonated with me - violence, threats, bullying, abandonment, secrecy, grooming, parenting a parent... Your story has helped me conceptualize things about my own abuse that I hadn't thought of before. I guess it hits home with what you say about being a CSA cliche. To some extent, I don't think it is a bad thing, since as you said, it does foster that sense of belonging with others and not being alone in all of this pain. That being said, I really, really, really want to stress that CSA is but a part of us. You are unique, you are different; you have your own hobbies, attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, interests, qualities, purpose, goals etc. THOSE are the things that really make you into the person you are. While recovery from CSA is paramount, I also feel that basing our identity on CSA and recovery thereof can be destructive. There is so much more to you than this, to every one of us.
_________________________
Husky

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#444670 - 08/19/13 09:23 AM Re: CSA Cliché ***Triggers*** [Re: toddop]
traveler Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 3450
Loc: somewhere in Africa
Things become cliches because they are TRUE.

Todd - and all of you- recognizing truth and owning it - though painful - is so necessary and positive in the long run.

Keep going - you can get through this.

Lee
_________________________
As my life goes on I believe somehow something's changed
Something deep inside...
I've been searchin so long to find an answer
Now I know my life has meaning
Now I see myself as I am, feeling very free...
When my tears have come to an end I will understand
What I left behind: a part of me. Chicago


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#444737 - 08/19/13 10:37 PM Re: CSA Cliché ***Triggers*** [Re: toddop]
toddop Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/14/11
Posts: 224
Loc: California
Thanks so much for the responses, guys. And for the very powerful words. You have given me a lot to mull over and think about where I was at when I wrote it, and where I am now after having gotten that out and read your responses.

Dave – You always have such kind words to say. It’s funny, when I wrote the post, I had no intention of thinking about comparing myself to others, but I guess at the end that is exactly what came through. It started as just an appreciation for all that I have learned from people who have actually held clearer memories for a longer span of time than me and that they have struggled for longer than I have with them. In reality, I have carried them with me all those years, but on a sub-conscious or near-conscious level. But, I it did cross over into self-judgment and self-criticism. I have such a strong internal judge. I guess we all do. That is a truth that I will have to face.

Rich – You’re right, it is not easy, but it is helpful. I just wrote to someone earlier that through this process I have felt sadder but stronger. Getting it out does help, and I learn something new about myself every time even if I learn it through what feels like chewing glass. Thanks for pointing it out as an accomplishment. That is what it is.

Jude – Thanks for affirming my uniqueness and that it is MY recovery. Good stuff for me to hear right now. I agree with the springboard idea. In fact, if I look back at myself 2 years ago when I started to actively deal with all of this stuff, I would never have thought I would be where I am now. If that is the case, I look forward to where I will be in another 2 or even 10 years.

Husky – Thanks for the very kind and inspiring words. I guess we are all students in this together on this site. But, rather than the end being recovery, I see it as working toward greater and greater degrees of freedom. Freedom from the past and old, destructive ways of thought.

It is hard to see those words that you are using to describe me, because part of me rails against them ever possibly being true. But, thank you for saying them all the same. There is an inner part of me smiling to see those words directed at me, rather than the words I typically allow the inner critic to tell me all the time.

I do have to remember when holding the magnifying glass up to the darkest part of myself to remember that it is not really that big and to allow it to hover over the good parts of me that also contribute to my personality and person. Thanks for reminding me I am bigger than the abuse.

Lee – Thanks for reframing cliché for me as a source of truth rather than condemnation. You’ve given my complaint about being a cliché a new weight as something to be proud of. I am proud to be here, to share, and to connect with others in my truth.
_________________________
Todd

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

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#444742 - 08/19/13 11:29 PM Re: CSA Cliché ***Triggers*** [Re: toddop]
Chase Eric Offline
Moderator
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 1389
...


Edited by Chase Eric (11/21/13 08:48 PM)
_________________________
Eirik




Click my pic to see why I'm here

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#444787 - 08/20/13 11:23 AM Re: CSA Cliché ***Triggers*** [Re: Chase Eric]
toddop Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/14/11
Posts: 224
Loc: California
Thanks Eirik, for bringing your keen perspective to this.

I like your metaphor of the dragon's lair. Remembering deep enough is very on par with that description. I can rationalize the how's and why's and intellectualize the reasons. However, they never tell you that you are also going to be feeling the intense emotions of the kid that you were at the time the CSA happened while you are doing that work.

I think if I have learned anything from this process, it is not to run away from the pain, or bury it again, but to just feel it and let it out. It often feels so intense, like a bottomless well of intense dread or sadness. And it always feels like it won't EVER stop.

But, it does, and then comes this deeper level of understanding. Then, the understanding spreads like lightning to all the parts of my life that have been impacted by what I have learned, illuminating the connections. I end up exhausted emotionally, but know myself more than I ever have, and that to me is key, as you say to fixing it or dealing with it.
_________________________
Todd

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

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