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#463690 - 04/05/14 02:21 AM The Damage She Did
learning2remember Offline
Member

Registered: 10/21/03
Posts: 261
Loc: Europe
My Mom sexually abused me. This was both covert abuse or emotional incest or whatever you want to call it, and fondling.

That's what she did. Words, nonverbal signals, physical contact.

Here's the damage it caused:

1) Now whenever I see a movie with a physically attractive woman, and feel even the slightest interest, I catch myself and say, "This is the side of you that made it easy for Mom." (Mom sometimes had this "I know what you like," tone, even though she maybe never said those words. It was more if there was a picture or sometimes even a real person nearby, she'd say "I know what you're looking at," or maybe even not that bad, maybe just a "She's pretty." Which is nothing, really. Which brings me to my second point.

2) Sometimes I think I'm crazy. We all know it is perfectly natural to be aroused by visual stimuli. Somehow, though, I feel guilty. This, too, is pretty common, I bet. But here I am blaming it on Mom. If I calm down, I'll be better able to explain why this is her fault. For right now, though, I'm focussing on describing the damage, and sometimes I think I'm crazy.

3) I don't deal with touch very well, expecially from women. The other day, I friend and colleage, a guy, sat down in a chair next to mine after he'd given a presentation. As he did so, he rubbed my shoulder in a "Glad to see you kind of way." I could call it affectionate, not in any sexual way. Anyway, it got to me just because it felt so good. It was antother way for one person to tell another person he cares. If I'd seen it coming, I'd have tense up, but it caught me off guard and was over before I could over-react. What gets to me is how rarely I let that happen. And if it is from women, I shudder just to think. And, while sometimes I think I'm crazy (see 2 above), in this point I have no doubt. I hated teh way Mom touched me, just touches, but I hated it then and I hate thinking about it now and I'm not comfortable with touch from women...even from my wife. Which, of course, hurts my wifes feelings. It feels like something Mom stole from me (and from my wife).


Some of these things I'm working on, and I know there are ways to deal with them, and I've come a long way. But I am posting this because the other day my brother, who doesn't believe I was abused, was talking about how his wife had been abused and how that does a lot of damage. I just needed a place to say, again, I was abused and, for my own sake, to say the damage it did to me.

Thanks.
_________________________
"This is not my shame, this is their shame." Mona Eltahawy

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#463829 - 04/07/14 10:40 PM Re: The Damage She Did [Re: learning2remember]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 342
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: learning2remember
It feels like something Mom stole from me (and from my wife).


Learning2remember:

This is a familiar statement. It touches on the very confusion that leads to the crazy feelings. How did someone steal something without our permission? Why is life the way it is without it?

This may sound a little off-the-wall, tenuous, or abstract, but I think it's good to get it back. The very thing that was stolen.

The question is how...

Robert Bly often talks about taking things back from family members who have taken something from us. In "Iron John" he tells the tale of the Wild Man who is locked in a cage. The key was hidden under the Queen's pillow by the King, and it is up to the boy to steal the key back.

This story was helpful to me because it made me realize that I could never get my mother to unabashedly admit to what was done unconsciously, but that I could follow the energy and desire to have back that primal innocence if I wanted it.

After a lot of work on personal ups and downs and facing my resistance to expressing my worst fears, I have gotten a little closer to expressing healthy aggression. This is the kind of energy that says to whomever takes what was not offered, "It was not yours and never will be yours to take."

It can be a little difficult and exhausting at first to stay in touch with this energy. It brings up some pain, which can also be unbearable at times. But knowing that energy is there is a first step to throwing off the cloak of suppressed feelings, that are still ready to react in ways that hold me back, instead of moving forward to a better understanding.

I don't think we ever made it "easy for Mom". I just think she decided that it was easier for her to do what she did than face her own struggles.

Now that we are older, we have a choice. We can react in ways that are empowered, that hold the key to our own desires.

Hope you can continue to find ways to look at your own needs as you travel in this area of recovery.

FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#463835 - 04/08/14 02:11 AM Re: The Damage She Did [Re: learning2remember]
don64 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/09/13
Posts: 692
Loc: St. Croix, USVI
Hi Learning2Remember,

My mom sexually abused me, physically abused me, and tortured me in infancy and early childhood, and made it clear covertly she would and could if she wanted to later in life. I will never forget at 23, my mom sitting next to me on the sofa and resting her hand WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too close to my crotch. I froze. I was unable to move or talk or breathe. There was a term I remember from Zoology called "freeze immobile" where an animal freezes and is unable to move in fear. I know about that very, very, well. My father sexually abused me and was violent with me as well.

I was 53 before remembering the abuse from my father, and 63 before beginning to remember the abuse from my mother. But, I feel a different perspective from you and from FB. My sense is that all of me is still totally intact. All of my wonder and joy and expressiveness and openness to being loved and touched and to touching and loving--my ability to learn discernment and to learn to trust myself.

It is, however, behind a LOT of closed doors. I have yet to open those doors, because there is still a lot of damage between me and my own doors. But, what uniquely defines me is still alive and well and does not ever disappear. It's mine. It cannot be stolen. My access to myself can be severely compromised, but I FEEL connected to it. It's why I miss it so much. And, I make regular tiny, tiny steps in healing myself.

Love and good will to you,

Don


Edited by don64 (04/08/14 02:11 AM)
_________________________
Divine Law is not judgment or denial of self truths. Divine Law is honoring harmony that comes from a peaceful mind, an open heart, a true tongue, a light step, a forgiving nature, and a love of all living creatures. Jamie Sams & David Carson, Medicine Cards

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#464493 - 04/24/14 09:44 AM Re: The Damage She Did [Re: don64]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 342
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: don64
But, I feel a different perspective from you and from FB. My sense is that all of me is still totally intact. All of my wonder and joy and expressiveness and openness to being loved and touched and to touching and loving--my ability to learn discernment and to learn to trust myself.

It is, however, behind a LOT of closed doors. I have yet to open those doors, because there is still a lot of damage between me and my own doors. But, what uniquely defines me is still alive and well and does not ever disappear. It's mine. It cannot be stolen. My access to myself can be severely compromised, but I FEEL connected to it. It's why I miss it so much. And, I make regular tiny, tiny steps in healing myself.


Don:

To clarify, stealing back something which is stolen is a process of asserting oneself. As you say, in order to do that one must also gradually cultivate a trust in one's true nature.

Although at times I feel the presence and impact of "soul murder" as has been quoted in different texts on abuse, I also acknowledge that the true and healthy me remains intact, protected by many coping behaviors that I'm slowly understanding, accepting, coming to terms with and taking responsibility for.

I like your image of the doors which remain. It reminds me of something John Bradshaw describes when he says that the knob to the door to ourselves needs to be "on the inside". Bringing it within reach is what takes time.

Best to you,

FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#464592 - 04/26/14 04:41 AM Re: The Damage She Did [Re: learning2remember]
don64 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/09/13
Posts: 692
Loc: St. Croix, USVI
Hi FB,

I've just realized I have this love/hate relationships with your posts, which have NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. I really enjoy the effort you have put into educating yourself, and enjoy reading your perspectives. Your input has the possibility to open my own imagination and help me with my own journey.

What I have just understood is the calm and organized way you are able to present yourself triggers my younger terrified self who is screaming "get away, get away, she's going to kill you." My mother did murder my soul, for a few decades, but I'm stealing it back. I just wanted to let you know I do appreciate you, your ongoing efforts, your persistence and your perspective. Your calmness just scares the shit out of the little kid that is me. So, your posts are an opportunity for me to insert a little slice of light between my early terror and current reality. Not an easy thing for me, but majorly important for me to have any satisfying, present tense, personal, passionate expression.

Thank you for being here,

Don
_________________________
Divine Law is not judgment or denial of self truths. Divine Law is honoring harmony that comes from a peaceful mind, an open heart, a true tongue, a light step, a forgiving nature, and a love of all living creatures. Jamie Sams & David Carson, Medicine Cards

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#464967 - 05/05/14 10:02 AM Re: The Damage She Did [Re: learning2remember]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 342
Loc: NY
Learning2remember and Don:

What I appreciate most about this thread is that it touches on the fact that what Mom did was scary. It is very hard for people to get through their head that a mother's sexuality can actually be scary for her son. I suppose this is because on some level, we equate a mother's sexuality with birth and the womb. It's life-giving quality seems to deny any possibility for creating fear in any one.

But, as we know, sexuality is more than just giving birth. It is part of human dynamics. It is part of how people communicate. It can be used to to dominate and create fear if necessary. Leaving aside the question of why a mother would do this, simply acknowledging that fear can be felt by a young man or boy is the big deal here. Feeling fear is real.

Although there are many situations where this fear has stayed hidden, the one thing that I cannot argue with is my body. When fear is present, my body lets me know. My temperature changes. My heart races. No matter how manly I may be.

When I decide to accept that fear exists I actually calm down a little. I get a little more centered. I remember a little more of who I truly am.

I wonder if you have ever come across the phrase, "the body is the unity of actions". What this means to me is that even if I try in mind to get around what Iím feeling, my body will let me know whatís really going on. Whenever I get into the habit of denying my fear, my body tries to remind me itís not a lie. I may try to deny whatís going on inside. I may try to make it go away by telling myself I can change it through exercise or a piece of food. I may adopt a persona that is more welcoming yet inauthentic. When I do that, the dissociation returns, the anger starts to run my body. I can feel it close down or observe odd sensations and stresses in it.

So all of these efforts are short-lived. Eventually the fear returns and reminds me that I havenít dealt with it.

In trying to deal with it, I am reminded that while I could not run before, I could choose to run away if necessary now. I can also choose to confront reality and engage with what is difficult. Perhaps that is where the man in me meets the scared boy. He has an opportunity to lead that boy with wisdom.

Iím hoping he can continue to do this until the boy trusts he will not ever be left alone with his fear again. But to do so I must get the man in me to speak to the boy in ways that are not frightening. This feels part of creating an inner trust. For years this ability to help myself was absent. Like Don said, I think the calm and organized me scared the shit out of the rest of me. The ďmanĒ in me was very repressed and ready to strike out at things I couldn't understand.

After having children, I somehow remembered that having a matter-of-fact attitude did not equal being repressed and reactive. A long forgotten part of being human came back to mind.

Maybe I had left it for what I believed was a more sincere way of being. What I understood as sincerity, however, was probably more of a constant and vigilance of watching out for anger, mine as well as that in other men. This vigilance was a survival mechanism which covered over many lost resources that helped me connect to other men and myself.

Ironically, it may even have been an internalized part of my Mom that I adopted as a way of looking out for aggression.

Another way I understand it is a kind of traumatic bond with my mother against unknown forces. Of course, undoing this bond is no small task. It is so incredibly hard for me to see what she was up against, but also very important to not simply give in to what she was afraid of.

So, once again the subject of fear comes up. I suppose what I am saying here is that all in all, acknowledging fear is a very important first step to confronting it, to facing it.

As always, thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts and comments, or whatever else you want to say.

FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#464993 - 05/05/14 10:10 PM Re: The Damage She Did [Re: learning2remember]
don64 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/09/13
Posts: 692
Loc: St. Croix, USVI
Hi FB and Learning2remember,

Fear is the major thing I have to walk through in terms of the damage my mother did to me. She did systematically terrorize me into submission. I don't remember the source of child development, but for example when a child is scared by the roar of a lion at the zoo, it is not unusual for the child to roar, in an effort to feel less afraid. A twisted version of that resides/has resided in me. I incorporated a version of systematically terrorizing myself into submission, as I generalized my infant and early childhood experiences into an expectation in all situations and with all people. I am dismantling this early pattern now. Somewhere I read 'whenever something in you is disowned it wreaks havoc and a cleansing is required. Well dismantling my early beliefs are majorly wreaking havoc these days.

The process of holding my infant and child selves consciously in an energy of safety, consciously allowing that portion of myself to feel the programmed fears and terrors without allowing the old fears and terrors to impulse me into action is a challenging and exhausting process for me. However, I don't see any other choice. Allowing the old fears and terrors to run my life means living a life of self-fulfilling prophecies and constantly re-injuring myself. I figure the only way my infant and child selves will get re-parented and re-grow in a safe and healthy environment is to experience the consequences of decisions made by a conscious, healthy decision making me. Whew!!!!!

It's enormous work for me, and I have to pace myself carefully. I also have to very carefully manage my stress levels. It is working. I am seeing my mental reviews of life situations becoming less intense, more integrated, and moving toward (not there yet) a non-charged part of my experience that can move into wisdom and understanding. It's interesting to observe my mental reviews. I can revisit the same/similar situations many times, and observe the subtle shifting from fear/terror towards wisdom and understanding with each re-visit. Part of the havoc-wreaking is a few months of painful arthritic flare-up in my hands. I've been through acute symptoms--some feel chronic but aren't IMO--a few times now with this process. The purpose of the acute symptoms is to shut me down, not feel, and avoid anything my early programming sees as threatening--pretty much everything. I've found that sending love and compassion directly to the symptoms and continuing with my life keeps me out of the irreversible damage area while being able to continue healing the source of the symptoms. I don't do anything heroic in terms of making demands of my hands. It took me a few years to learn not to hurt myself with this approach. It took me a few years to unlearn that I was supposed to be able to do more than I can do.

Thanks for being here. This is very cleansing for me to be able share myself in this way. It is a way for my child self to calm down, feel safer, and slowly observe me as learning to take care of all of me in a healthy, balanced manner.

Don
_________________________
Divine Law is not judgment or denial of self truths. Divine Law is honoring harmony that comes from a peaceful mind, an open heart, a true tongue, a light step, a forgiving nature, and a love of all living creatures. Jamie Sams & David Carson, Medicine Cards

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#465004 - 05/06/14 07:39 AM Re: The Damage She Did [Re: don64]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 342
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: don64
Somewhere I read 'whenever something in you is disowned it wreaks havoc and a cleansing is required.


Don:

This makes me think of how difficult it has been to recover at times. It's as if the steps I took to be strong at some point sealed off what I really wanted to remember. Perhaps that is the simple experience of oneself that becomes painfully unused to anything but havoc, and a kind of dissolved way of experiencing it.

When things get a little better I think, why can't I just step back into a healthy knowledge of living...why oh why. Taking one's time feels right instead. Not sure what that's all about, but it feels like any passage to a new place must not be rushed through. It seems safer that way, but it also attends to something else. Maybe it is coming into an awareness of the here and now.

Peace,

FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#465146 - 05/09/14 02:29 PM Re: The Damage She Did [Re: learning2remember]
don64 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/09/13
Posts: 692
Loc: St. Croix, USVI
Hi FB,

I'm still in the havoc-wreaking stage, maybe will be for a while. I'm committed to doing all I can do, but as I surface infant level terror it is frequently very difficult for a period of hours to understand there is more to me than the terror I am experiencing. It's as if I am experiencing in real time now what my infant self experienced back then. I get through it, and I imagine each time I get through it I build some depth and strength and integrate a little bit more, and, hopefully, there is a little bit less terror stored in my tissues. I really get it why I'm just doing this at age 64. I didn't have the tools I needed to do what I'm doing now, and what I'm doing now seriously taxes my ability to manage my anxiety. I've added lots of ice cream in addition to medication. It works, but I hope this intensity resolves itself before I put on excessive weight.

Thanks for being here.

Don


Edited by don64 (05/09/14 02:32 PM)
Edit Reason: spelling
_________________________
Divine Law is not judgment or denial of self truths. Divine Law is honoring harmony that comes from a peaceful mind, an open heart, a true tongue, a light step, a forgiving nature, and a love of all living creatures. Jamie Sams & David Carson, Medicine Cards

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