Until recently I purposely avoided looking at any photos taken of me from age 14, when the abuse occurred, until early this year, when the serious phase of my recovery began. And ironically, it was a family pic my brother posted to facebook that kicked that recovery journey back into gear after years of stagnation.
You see, nearly every photo taken of me from 1972 up until recently, my face wore the same expression. Didn't matter if I was an 18 year old at a party, 30 something older brother escorting his sister down the aisle, or proud 50 year old Dad posing alongside one of his incredibly talented and beautiful children, I wore the same expression. My "look" has been invariably described as anything from determined, angry, scared, suspicious, and depressed. In truth the look was a combination of all those emotions, and they may as well been carved in stone.
For decades I had no way to bring out the smile stolen away when I was just a child. Through a combination of finding MaleSurvivor, therapy, and attending a WoR this past June, I've not only found the smile, but I'm able to wear the thing on my face as well. It's defintiely not easy, and I need to remind myself to do so sometimes, but quite incredible the feeling that comes from consciously changing a familiar frown into a satisfying smile.
You are not alone in this feeling, and I still sometimes feel sad looking at the angry and lonely boy in those old photos. But for me, they've become essential tools in reconnecting with the innocent boy that was NOT responsible for the evil things done to him.
My hope is you'll someday get to a place where you too are able to look at those old pics with strength, and tell the boy he's safe now that he's among friends that understand and support one another, and that he's going to be ok. Heal well and at your own pace brother.
"Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky"- Rabindranath Tagore