Out Of the Dark
The day had been oppressively hot. It was now two or three o'clock in the breathless hours of a bus stop
night. I say bus stop because I know the same bus will inevitably again broadside me on schedule before I
will ever be able to recover from tonight's state of shock or numbness. I describe it as a bus because one
does not associate predictable encounters with a Mack truck on a specific schedule night after night. This
was a way of life, a real-life twilight zone; a place of distorted reality and distorted love loyalties.
In those early hours I slowly became aware of the reprieving morning breeze that lofted the ghosts of white
sheer curtains almost to the ceiling. What drew my attention to this silent happening was the slight cooling
of the sweat on my body and it aroused me. I left my mother's side to bathe my body in the incoming flow of
the invisible. As I looked out the bay window and up to the street corner under the canopy of billowing
sheers I could see the traffic lights indifferently changing from red to green. Even they had no purpose on
the vacant streets of this vacuous dimension other than doing what they were wired to do. Though they
would be warm to the touch they didn't care about anything about anything other than their own scripted
purposes. A black cat scampers across the street focused on nothing but its own purposes. Nothing is
affected by my deafening internal screams of pain and impotent rage. The screams were like a chronic siren
that began somewhere in the distant past. They have a sense of always having been there as an
ever-present part of the fabric of my being. Tomorrow night the bus will be back again without a driver to
whack someone vulnerable and loyal. This bus had purposes and an energy of its own. This purpose was
beyond what I could possibly have a capacity to see at that time. Even my external self was unmoved.
Underneath were the hysterical pleas
"Please somebody help me!!! I dont know what i'm supposed to do here!!! I-I-I-eee cannt stannnd thisss
any more! E-E-E-E-E-E-EEEEEE!!! These words were in my silent screams. Part of what this terror was is
the fear of what might happen next, the dropping of the other shoe.
The breeze vacillated between enriching the air around me, and sucking all the life from the environment and
from my lungs. As I sat on the floor under the windows and out of her field of vision I then listened to her
breathing to make sure she was sleeping. I then began to relieve myself of some sexual tension in shame
and humiliation. There is no way this felt sexually exciting to me on a conscious level. Why was I doing
this? I must really be depraved, a real sick-o. I cant stop doing this/Why do I do this? /I hate my penis. I
know she wanted a daughter. If I didn't have a penis I could be there for what she really needs and not make
everything dirty by having a penis.
I know now this young man never had a chance at normalcy. Sometimes what he needs most is what he
fears most, love understanding and acceptance. These are all the qualities that evoke getting in touch with
vulnerability, a place where breathlessness lives. Once, later in my recovery my wife brought to me her
awareness of my most recent need for emotional distance. I acknowledged this and said to her there is a
fourteen-year-old boy in the room who is desperate to have someone to hold him. But there is no way he can
let that happens. If someone tries to do that he will bite, fight, scratch or do anything else he has to keep
anyone from getting that close. If I grab him and hold him, will you hold me? As soon as she said yes the
young man went limp and cried nonstop for about two hours in both of our arms. He is still skittish about this
thing called intimacy. I expect this hesitance to be there for a lot longer, but I understand him better now
and he feels more and more accepted in his frailties.
I don't care about anything. This was the lie I protected my mother, and myself with. I would tell myself that
"she just doesn't understand what she is doing". I am also aware that if I ever confronted her with my
feelings, her response would be something like "How could you be thinking such things." This would imply
that she was about a mother loving her son who, in turn, defiled that love with his own selfish garbage "and I
protected you from your older brother," she once protested
My older brother always was a bully. He was my father's favorite. My younger brother and I always were my
mother's favorite. When my father died I was ten years old. My older brother was displaced in the order of
important family personages. This order of importance he perceived was a myth. She was the Queen
mother, and do I ever feel the ungrateful child for saying so. This notion was a myth for herself too because
she was the bus without a driver. He was given the title surrogate father to his younger siblings, and of
course he resented that (so would I have. Who needs a childhood anyway?). He molested me until he was
sent to a boarding school. His revenge for being displaced was to damage those of us under him. He was
sent to this boarding school for being to difficult for my mother to handle. The message I got was be
compliant or suffer the same consequences.
I must have been about 13 or 14 years old when the ickiest things began to happen between her and I. It
didn't stop until about six months before I entered the military. Most incidences with her were covert,
though she would sometimes slide her hand under the waistband of my briefs at my hip "to warm" them.
Once while in bed with her she asked me if I knew how babies were born. I was 15 years old and I still didn't
know the facts of life. On some gut level I knew I didn't want to hear those facts from her while I was with
her in bed. I blurted out "YES". She said, "how did you find out?" "Friends?" I said,"YES." The questions
stopped. Fastening her bra after her bath was my job. She made me her confidant, her special Bobby. I
remember one day when I arrived home from junior high; she and my older brother were sitting in the living
room. She said drop your pants I want to see if you have a hernia. At that time I had no idea what a hernia
involved or even how babies were made. When I was hesitant and look guardedly at my big brother, she
said, "he's just your brother, another boy." How I now see that incident is that I was forced to strip in
humiliation before my rapist and a mother incredibly devoid of sensitivity to an extent that verged on
sadism. When I dropped my pants I had no genitals and I am not quite sure when I first lost them. I saw my
brother smirk while standing behind her chair. It was his usual sadistic grin. It was always difficult for me to
see this incident for what it was unless I change the gender of the victim in the story. What if a father said
to his 12 or 13 year old daughter to strip to the waist because he wanted to examine her for lumps on her
breasts? The police would be breaking down the door and rightfully so. No one heard my silent screams.
Instead all I heard was "what a concerned mother."
It began with her one winter night. After the nightly news we both began to get ready for bed. She went to her
room and I went to mine. Once both of us were in each our beds all you could hear were the creaks and
croaks of an old house peopled with soulless bodies. About five minutes later in a syrupy sweet singsongy
(little girl) voice floated down the hall feeling like fingernails on a blackboard. She said, "Bobeeee won't you
come to bed with meeee? I-I-I-mmm sssoooo coooold! This was only another beginning with her.
Later my younger brother replaced me in her bed when I left for the military. When I arrived at the airport
upon my return from Vietnam, she was there to greet me. Sounds nice don't it. Within moments I couldn't
remember why I wanted to come home. There was really nothing there for me. Wasn't there someplace else
I could be? My family was a myth, but it was all any of us knew. I began to develop the need to be a pain in
the but to her. To figure some stance that I might protect my younger brother from her poisonous phallic
talons in her persona as the Oedipal Sphinx. I think I finally understand her riddle. now that I'm 55 yrs old
--------------------------------Till another day.
Rage Acting out
The skill that I need to be in place before doing such regression work is the skill of being able to reach one foot in the past while
maintaining one foot in the present (the here and now where the abuse is no longer occuring.)
During the earlier period of my compulsive sexual acting out, I was doing things that shamed myself. Things that repeated or reinforced the feeling that that behavior was all I was good for and how I defined myself. I was impotent with my mother she showed me how to be with a woman. My brother showed me what i was worth as a man and how I could be used. I knew how to make men, perfect strangers, spend time with me. Male friendships were terrifying for me. While I couldn’t perform well sexually wih women, I could wow them in about every other way. Much like how I learned to wow my mother. The 0ne-two punch of what my surrogate father did to me, and what my mother had done to me left me with such sexual confusion that I never had a chance to sort it out with the only skills I had as an adolescent. The Alfred Hitchcock film , Psycho was the nearest thing I had to a role model for how to deal with my traumas. It was a surreal life with a surreal mother and a surreal big brother/dad. I was a surreal kid image juxtaposed next to the image of my mother in her bed with her hand “LOVINGLY” (right ? !!! please....) inside the waistband of my Fruit of the “Womb” briefs. As empathetic as I was to the character of Anthony Perkins, that was not me. The massive nuclear explosion of impossibly silent impotent rage was me. With hormones raging, resignation to the fury of impotent rage left me numb and dissociating and wandering in the shadows at night many years later. I was the tragic figure of a gothic vampire wandering the streets devoid of hope and long lost humanity only to re-enact my sexual traumas from my adolescence as if i were trying in some way to figure out how to get it right this time. The piece I could not actualize was that I was not an adult man when it first happened, so I was still trying to understand with the skills and remnants of warped magical thinking of an emotionally anihilated adolescent.
What I encountered on the streets was others like me, that many of whom, I believe, were resigned to the same self-destructive and hopeless lot we were all assigned. We were the blind leading the blind into deeper shadows, knowing well where the dirty secrets of this driven folly would lead us . My fellow driven and willing victims. We were ships at first passing in the night, then heading for the same iceberg whose depth of foundation was unfathomable. We were moths fatally drawn to the flame. From mybed with my wife, I would compulsively and stealthly bolt upright resigned in revisited terror in flashbacks. I had brought to our bed my seedy contamination of it and my shame. I did not deserve her love, and I tried to prove it.
They didn’t seem like flashbacks in the way I expect flashbacks to occur. I expected to be able to describe flashbacks as coming out of the blue. They didn’t and still don’t occur that way. Its more like a parallel universe that is kept apart from the here and now by a transparent osmotic membrane invisible from the side of the here and now, and opaque from the vantage point of life in the past lane. I’m suddenly into wrote scripted behavior, and I didn’t see it happen.
The 80’s the movie “Manhunt” was again another stereotyped film about childhood male victim of his mother’s sexual aggressions. as an adult male perpetrator he was portrayed as a driven sociopath commiting haneous rapes and murders.
I suppose if I look at these stereotypical characters and their behavior as expressive works that connote the anihilation of the humanity of the male child victim and the immensity of his rage, it works, for that purpose. It works much in the same way the title of L. Shengolds book title “Soul Murder” works by connoting the magnitude of the profound devastation that is caused by severe child abuse. However both examples are slightly misleading in that the subject of the Manhunt’s humanity is not destroyed, it is severely warped to where it is barely recognizeable. And the murdered soul, that Shengold’s title suggests, does not really die, though it may feel like it to the victim. It becomes deeply hidden for its own protection, in it’s state of frozen pain and terror that is hopefully able to thaw and be expressed in a safe, supportive therapeutic environment, and safe supportive. relationships.
___________________________________________________________________________ Rage Acting out
I have had similar nightmares for many years. By similar I meal that one of my dreams is much like the next. The inevitability of my death in each of the dream is consistant. There is a man with a gun climbing a steep hillside to get to me and kill me. What is always implied is that he will sexually assault me before he murders me. Another dream might have me waiting for an elevator,and a man with a gun steps off and threatens me in the same way. The scenario ending maybe the same, but the storyline is
sometimes different. I usually have these dreams when I'm finally getting an adequate nights sleep. I wake up screaming and terrify the rest of my family doing so. I start screaming when I am finally trapped and powerless to stop him and waiting for the inevitable.
A repeated nightmare I have had in the past is being in a cave. The floor of this cave is covered with burning coals. There is a nun, in the black habit nuns wore in my childhood, in the cave that forces me to dance in the air over the coals. If I stop dancing I descend onto the burning coals amd sear the bottom of my feet.
Posted by RJD (Member # 204) on February 08, 2003, 04:53 PM:
In a P.M. this is part of what I said to Dave. "Thanks Dave I crave that kind of feedback. You have helped me with your honesty
both here and in the past...."
Here is another piece that continues from what I wrote from above.
I had read books that talk about the child within while I was still sexually acting out. I was holding other men accountable for their behavior and violence in their lives. Yet I was still acting out my secret life, another form of violence and lack of respect for myself and those I loved.
On one such shadowy night I slipped out of the house succumbing to my obsessive compulsion and went cruising to live out my victimization once again. I knew it was the shame of it I was drawn to, but to know this didn’t seem to halt the behavior. It was the profound shame that was inseparably tied to sexual stimulation and secrecy that was my opiate. As I drove near the place of icebergs, I was feeling powerless. I felt so undeserving of life itself, and the proof was happening again.
Instead of fighting it, which always feeds the flames I was drawn to, I suspended judgement for a moment. Detachment comes all too easy, but this time was a little different. I decided to just look at what I was doing. I took a skeptical but somewhat caring (adult as I now see it) stance. With the frustration, anger and impatience I as a child, had learned to expect from adults, I asked this so called child within,“ O.K. Bobby what do YOU want to do here.”
Instantly I was in abandon and tears pleading,”I want to go home.” "I don't want to do this anymore."
I had to immediately pull over. I cried and cried tears from a place deep, deep inside. I cried for another 20 minutes then drove home.
Things started changing in my life around my acting out behavior.
I had learned to force him ( Bobby ) to do what he didn’t want to do. I then was able to experience the knowledge I never really wanted from my brother what he did to me. Sexual stimulation was too powerful an experience for me to be able to deal with as an early adolescent, late pubescent. I needed my brothers mentorship, his love, his esteem. I did not need to experience my maleness as something to have contempt for, or to see it as a mirage as he and my mother needed for me to believe. I did not need to be used sexually and have that as my only worth.
FROM THE TOPIC-- HOW LONG--Started by Lloydy RageSuicide
Posted by RJD (Member # 204) on February 10, 2003, 11:21 AM:
I once called a suicide hotline when I was in college the first time. I had been slowly disintergrating over several months. Suicidal thoughts preoccupied me.
I had a wife and a daughter.
The volunteer on the suicide hotline turned out to be the head of the psych department at the college I was attending. We made an appointment. My therapist was the first person I told. When I told him about the SA I had experienced with my brother, he began to talk about how he had no sexual identity problems and spent the rest of the session talking about how secure he felt in his masculine identity.
It was like having my spine slit open with a scalpel without anesthetic while pouring salt into the wound.
I soon began making my first suicide attempts. I was dissociating all over the place.
I now know why that therapist headed the psych department, he had no clinical experience or skills, and was in need of therapy himself.
When I arrived inpatient I was described as having no ego left, whatsoever. I was assigned a new therapist who I saw for 7 yrs.
I believe I lived in a dissociative state all the time. The doc on psychiatric rotation said that I was in such a deep depression that they wern't worried about suicide at the time. The concern was that as I started to feel better I might become suicidal again. He said that was what often happened.
He was right.
After I was discharged they made the mistake of giving me a three month supply of maximum strength antidepressants (ELEVIL).
I was internally raging.
It was a time when you went to a therapist to get fixed.
Freud, Jung, Karl Rogers, Albert Ellis, Fritz Perls, and a few others ruled the
patriachal professional culture.
I remained suicidal during this time, but no real attempts. I had no specific plans, but I was always exploring options. Would it be this bridge abuttment while driving , or that wall?
I started active recovery work shifting from victim to survivor, maybe ten years after the first inpatient stay, when I read "Healing the Shame That Binds You" byJohn Bradshaw.
Suicidal ideation (thoughts) began to cease.
I became aware that my mother taught me to think that way. Suicide was one of her threats. She said she wanted to die if it weren't for us boys. So I became responsible for her very life.
When I said the same words to my wife, that if it weren’t for the kids... , she reminded me of my mother's words to me. It was like a cold splash of water in myface. I needed that shock back to reality. I thanked her. They were my mother's words. My mother was, “alive and well,” living inside me.
I first spoke about the abuse in front of an auditoriun full of people about 5 years later.
It has been 27 yrs since my first overdose.
I think the help that is available today could have speeded my recovery tremendously.
This board in itself, would have done so much to speed my recovery along.
I was a freak of nature out there. What had happened to me had never happened before in the history of time. Adam had no mother to sleep with. Then came Freud who put the subject on the table, but what he presented was passed through his own distorting filters.
I am not alone, and as I find my voice, my voice becomes a beacon out of the darkness. Women have done this before me, as well as men. There is now a pattern of light out there, and it can now be studied and verified. I am not alone
----I try to be gentle with myself now.
FROM THE TOPIC -- IS SUICIDE REALLY ALL THAT BAD
Posted by RJD (Member # 204) on March 01, 2003, 02:14 AM:
I still understand the pull of suicide too.
Once that choice is acted upon to its completion, there are no other choices. Just knowing that became a deterent for me, what if it was a mistake. Knowing I could end the pain, that I had a choice, helped me to hang on a little longer. Suicidal thoughts
comforted me in a very sad way.
While driving the thought of just letting go of the steering wheel at 70 miles an hour and it could all be over. No more pain.
I ignored the possibility that I could live through it with permanent brain damage or be paralized from the neck down.
I entertained thoughts of suicide for several years, but I told no one. In my head I was always exploring methods for doing it.
By not commiting suicide on a particular night I eventually came to experience some days that weren't half bad. It was much like the song says"help Me Make It Through the Night,"and "The Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn." I found that second saying ever
soo true on sleepless nights. The next day wasn't as oppressively tough to endure. After experiencing this many, many, many times, hanging on became a little easier.
As I've said in Lloydy's "How Long" survey post, a book by John Bradshaw titled "Healing the Shame That Binds You,"helped to turn my life around. It differentiates between guilt and shame. Guilt is about a mistake I made, or something I've done wrong.
Shame is about - I am a mistake, my very being is a great error.
Part of suicidal thoughts were about finding relief for the never ending agony. Part of my suicidal thoughts were about murdurous rage. Suicide is self murder.
The murderous rage could not be at my "loving" mother, what kind of ungrateful son would I be. It had to go somewhere so I joined everyone else in my family who tried to destroy any self worth i should have had.
I swallowed a three months supply of maximum strength anti-depressants (Elevil) in my murderous rage after I walked out on a conjoint session with my wife and my therapists.
I drove to a nearby park, and waited for death.
When The medication began to get into my system I started to feel better and I couldn't remember why I was so rageful, so I turned myself in to my therapist. The little blue pills bounced all over the place on the ER floor. I was soon unconscious.
It is now 27 years later. I have come to experience life as prescious. I have come to claim a life for myself. Suicidal thoughts were about what they taught me about myself. I know now they were so very wrong.
Posted by RJD (Member # 204) on March 01, 2003, 02:58 PM:
Here again, unknown to them while growing up, my daughters have been my teachers.
I learned on an intellectual level that all children need unconditional positive regard.
Even adults need that, but we hopefully have the skills to cope when we don't get that positive regard.
To have that skill as an adult, we have to have recieved unconditional positive regard as children.
I didn't recieve that as a child, but there is a saying in recovery circles to,"Fake it, till you make it." I was serious about wanting the best for my kids. Even though I knew down deep in my soul that I was shit, I could still see how precious they were. The shit, I
came to believe I was, covered and hid the precious child I was born
My daughters have grown now. Their unconditional positive self-regard has brought them into full bloom in reaching their potential as adults. Oh, they have their self doubts, but they take risks that earn the respect of the people they gather into their lives and the people they work with. They dare to face life on it's own terms. I burst with pride just thinking about them.
The darker side of seeing them flower is how it glaringly illuminates... what I didn't get.
So now I've come to understand I have to re-write the legacy of what my family did to me, and parent the little boy in me at least like I parented my daughters. I parented them with patience, forgiveness, understanding and unconditional love....and joy.
If I had an adopted son who had had the experiences I've had, I would listen to his story of agony until he had healed enough that he no longer needed to tell me one more time. (The tears are puddling again for that young man whose heart was torn every which way but loose.)
If he then needs to start his story all over from scratch at some other time, I will lovingly listen and, no doubt, I will cry with him again. I would do this because, I especially, know that kind of pain.
It is a joy to care for him that way as it was a joy to be the loving father to my daughters.
When suicide again becomes an option for him, I will take him to someone who can help. When he is that rageful, I cannot take
care of him on my own. I need to seek outside help.
There is another book by John Bradshaw titled, "Homecoming." In the book there are some very powerful exercises. I think they work better in a gruop. At the time I was in a men's support group with survivors of various kinds of childhood trauma. It was a
self led group of men with no facilitator though the men understood well the need for safety. These were men seasoned in their recovery work.
I recorded my own voice reading the passages from the exercises in the book. Especially for me, it was powerful hearing my adult voice talking to little Bobby, taking him by the hand and going with him into the house he grew up in. I walked him up to my mother , father, and big brother and told them Bobby will not be coming back home because they did not know how to take care of him. I told them I would be taking care of him from now on.
With that, Bobby and I left together, hand in hand.
Bobby was in terror because of my history with him, but he sensed where my heart was and he was comforted with that. His eyes were filled with tears, he now had somebody to take better care of him.
I had some work to do to be able to live up to my commitment to him.
I ENCOURAGE ANYONE TO NOT DO THESE EXERCISES ALONE.
Surround yourself with people who can do that kind of work on their own personal issues. THEY CANNOT FIX ME. All they can do is listen and share their stories of pain or joy. That is also all I can do for them
The little boy in me already feels like his soul was murdered, as long as there is a murderous threat to his physical body he cannot feel the safety it requires to do the healing work on this terribly, terribly wounded soul of his.
Posted by RJD (Member # 204) on March 01, 2003, 09:18 PM:
Bitter pills for me to swallow: "You're just feeling sorry for yourself." the expression lacks soul to me, and I have often heard it used as a put-down.
"What is this getting you?" I've even seen that used as a put-down, but I also have heard it as a good question.
I'm with you all the way here Bob.
"You're just feeling sorry for yourself."---The good news and the bad news of "getting better" then attempting suicide was that My rage was finally getting to the surface. That was the healthy part of coming out of a catatonic depression.
The downside and unhealthy part of attempting suicide was that I dumped on the first support system I've ever had: my theripist, my wife, and myself. The three of us recieved all of the pent-up impotent-turned-potent rage of the terribly wounded boy/man in me. He wanted someone else to feel what I could only try to numb out. In retrospect, they represented my architypal mother, and the kind of care I was accustomed to.
Another vulnerable bystander was my 4 y.o. daughter, who was not yet aware of what was going on,though she was not unaffected by the drama.
I lived and breathed suicidal thoughts. They were how I got through the day.
What they got me was relief with the thought that I could opt out of the pain at any time. But what they also got me was to reinforce how I felt about myself as a sick fcker and deserved to be continuously tortured and threatened with death that way. I complained about it. but I also wallowed in it.
Then one day the question came to my attention,"What would life be like without all this self-loathing. ...Now there was a scary thought...
Self -loathing was part of my identity. I had learned to do it so consistantly that I knew no other way. Could I 'choose' not to do that anymore? Since when did I have this choice?
The key for me was when I began to tell my story over and over again and the secret that I should "never tell anyone, because they won't understand," was not a secret anymore, and it gradually released it's hold on me. (over several years.[ages 30-40)
I still pick up a hammer and instinctually beat myself with it, but now I catch myself and can stop sooner than I used to. (some of you might remember the post under "I hate wasps" when I did that quite litterally.)
Choices are now visible to me that were impossible for me to see even a few years ago.
Going to grad school 3 yrs ago was a step into my light that was terrifying to me. Beating up on myself was a way of life. Stopping that behavior and daring to think that I deserved to be able to get a masters like anyone else who's ever gotten a masters before in history was so presumptuous of me. Surely the school made a mistake when they decided to accept me.
I litterally had to say "stop that Bob" on a regular basis for the past two years. I'm on the other side of the experience now, and it is still a crisis for me even though I've graduated.
I had to understand what I learned as a child. Then I had to unlearn what I learned. Then I had to teach myself a new way to live life.
I am envious of those who learned the right way from the very start. .
Posted by RJD (Member # 204) on March 03, 2003, 12:55 PM:
My wife was furious when I was suicidal (at least 3 attempts) and could not be supportive. I had the feeling she was impatiently tapping her foot when she still said two years later, "When are you going to be done with this THERAPY THING.
What I now understand is that I had attempted to abandon her just like her just like her alchoholic dad did emotionally. I became all men to her.
It is understandable that because I had figuratively slapped her in the face, she wanted to figuratively slap back.
It has been 33 yrs together and for several years I have seen how I just ditched the love she had for me back then. I can now understand why I had to do it, but that is not an excuse now either.
We all have our frailties.
FROM THE DISCUSSION TOPIC -- INNER CHILD INNER CHILD
Posted by RJD (Member # 204) on March 19, 2003, 05:20 PM:
................ when my daughters were young I was going through a major depression, and I was very paralized by it, I barely functioned. Actually for a period of time I ceased to function at all. If it weren’t for my wife’s reasonable stability, I don’t know what would have happened to my children. I flunked out of college because of the depression .
Recently, antidepressants helped me get my ducks in a row well enough to finish my undergrad as well as my grad programs.
My oldest once said of my emotional unavailability ( at 4 yrs old), “I don’t like sad.” Today ( at 30 yrs old )she is a trained actress that shines in improvisational comedy. When we are gathered as a family we sometimes have to litterally say, through our belly laughs at her antics, “OK, you can stop entertaining now.” I think her wonderful sense of humor has it’s roots in the pained 4 year old’s “I don’t like sad.”
When they were little I was very, very wrapped up in my own agonizing pain.
Once when I worked on a hospital psych unit , a therapist who worked on the unit used an analogy that explained some of the dynamics of trauma and it’s effects on self esteem.
He said imagine going to a local hospital’s newborn nursery. After looking at each of the infants, your task is to pick out the newborn that was not born precious.
Anyone who had any remnant of a heart would find this an impossible task to be burdened with. And yet within a few days or weeks, some of those infants will already have learned that he or she is not precious.
One of the qualities of self esteem is that it can’t be taught by declaration, “you need to have self esteem”, it can only be taught by example. We show them how to love themselves by loving ourselves.
I believe my daughters were born precious. I believed I was born a shit, at best.
There is a problem .
There is a saying they use in AA, “Fake till you make it.” I had to learn to at least act as if I mattered. It sure didn’t fit my beliefs about myself but I had to say it anyway. Gradually, with more therapy and self help readings and a heavy dose of patience and
self tolerance, self love began to fit and now , most of the time, I no longer have to fake it.
In disciplining my daughters I would ask myself will they still feel precious when I’m through punishing them? They were allowed to express their displeasure at being sent to their rooms. When they declared “I hate you”, I also understood they also loved me
I highly recommend a parenting book, “Between Parent And Child,” by Hiam Gonot (? spelling.) I have not read his other book, “Between Parent And Teenager,” but I’ve heard it is very good. He helped me understand the meaning behind children’s
statements and questions.
Other books that focus on the inner child are listed in the public forum, books for survivors. As has alredy been mentioned, there are some earlier posts that explore the notion of the child within.
My children taught me many things about the child within me. For example how eager a child is to please. All I had to say was “I don’t like it when you climb on the furniture and my daughter wou;d say, “OK, daddy-man!.” I’m not saying they were always
angels, but they were always precious, even during the so called “terrible two’s” when they begin to assert their autonomy as human beings. ( The secret was to not ask questions or make demands that could be responded to with a “NO.”)
The little boy in me learned early on that my own needs were ignorable. When my mother needed to be consoled for what was inconsolable in her, I was a well groomed
to try to please her. She took me to bed with her through most of my adolescence.
The ongoing struggle is to forgive him for being so naively vulnerable. We are all biologically programmed to be so vulnerable, it is in our nature as human beings.
What happened to me taught me to despise and reject the little boy in me and the vulnerability that is part of his nature.
To be so vulberable means we can again experience that searing pain that no one should ever have to endure. It is no wonder that we adopt the defenses that we do.
The problem comes when we are trying to live our adult life. Not letting people in close defeats our adult relationships. It helped us to survive our childhood, but is very destructive when we are emotionally absent with our children and our adult relationships.
However even as adults there are times when it is a good skill to be self protective when we are around adults that are emotionally caustic. As adults it is about the selective use of this defensive tool. It is not about throwing away old tools as if they are no good (which is what I wanted to do), it is about the selective use of these tools.
My kids were definately responding to the healing work I was doing while they were growing. By doing my own recovery work I am showing them how to be a survivor, even if they don’t know the reasons behind the therapy and other recovery work I am involved in.
It helps me to remind myself that my inner child is a very wounded and needy inner child. It is important that I have my own support system that allows me to not use my kids to fulfill my unmet needs of my own childhood.
Inner child - Loss
FROM THE DISCUSSION TOPIC -- COMING TO TERMS WITH LOST CHILDHOOD
GUY43 DEC 25TH 02
Posted by RJD (Member # 204) on December 25, 2002, 10:26 PM:
This is a piece from "My Story" where I describe a piece of how I come to terms with my childhood.
[QUOTE] " I know now this young man never had a chance at normalcy.
Sometimes what he needs most is what he fears most, love, ... understanding... and acceptance.... These are all the qualities that evoke getting in touch with vulnerability, a place where breathlessness lives.
Once, later in my recovery my wife brought to me her awareness of my most recent need for emotional distance. I acknowledged this and said to her there is a
fourteen-year-old boy in the room who is desperate to have someone to hold him. But there is no way he can let that happens. If someone tries to do that he will bite, fight, scratch or do anything else he has to keep anyone from getting that close. If I grab him and hold him, will you hold me?
As soon as she said yes the young man in me went limp and cried nonstop for about two hours in both of our arms.
He is still skittish about this thing called intimacy. I expect this hesitance to be there for a lot longer, but I understand him better now and he feels more and more accepted in his frailties."
I have been part of an ongoing support group of men for several years. Pieces of my work have happened there too.
When I joined New Warriors I was able to continue my work there also.
A therapist asked me how i was able to go so deep into my painful past and then close a session and go home and function. I told her I have been dealing with these issues for a long time. Quite a while back I had learned to put the issues on a shelf in my
heart and have a life outside those issues. When I leave her sessions I know I can revisit them whenever I want or need to.
Whether it is with my wife, or with a trusted friend, on these pages, or in a support group. With a Warrior Brother network I know I can be almost anywhere in the world and I can connect to someone who can speak the language of the heart. I can hear and be heard. I know For the rest of my life I will probably revisit the pain and loss from time to time, but healing is always going on as long as I am giving a healthy voice to what pain my heart speaks. As long as I do this, There is also room for joy, anger,
sadness, laughter or whatever feelings are there. I am alive.
My black hole is my unmet needs of my childhood. My wife could not meet those needs in the vignette above. She can never meet those needs of mine. The time for getting those needs met are gone forever. I have to teach myself how to meet those
needs for myself. Only I myself could have held that fourteen year old boy. My parents should have taught me how to do that, but they didn't because they did not know how to themselves. They never got those needs met and they tried to get them met
through me and my brothers. No matter what I would do to try to fulfill their needs, it was never enough. Sleeping with my mother didn't fill it. I tried to fill her black hole because I loved her and didn't want to see her hurting, and I lost my childhood by trying and losing my sense of "self" in the process. You cannot extract a higher cost than that. To expect my wife to meet those unmet needs and to love me as I always needed to be loved, is what is referred to as co-dependency. Many wives and husbands lose thier sense of "self" trying to do fill their spouses black hole of unmet needs from childhood.
Relationship addiction fits here too.
Posted by RJD (Member # 204) on December 26, 2002, 03:05 PM:
Watching my daughters grow up is a way I learned what the little boy in me needed. Even with my own emotional limitations I could hear what they were needing. Even without them needing to say specifically what they were needing, I, as an adult, could
hear and understand their language loud and clear. It especially helped to have a wife who was even more skilled in listening to children. We did make a good team.
There were many times when I knew intellectually what they needed to do but I sometimes fell short. For instance when my youngest was 5 yrs old, she was talking to me and telling me something important. Without realizing it I began to drift off (one
of many dissociative episodes). Suddenly her little hands had me by the shirt collar and using her whole body she shook me and said, "Daddy you're not listening to me!" She had succeded in bringing me back, and I gave her a big hug and said thank you.
She started to tell me what was important to her again, and again I drifted away. This time though I had an awareness that I was drifting and I could at least give her eye contact so she continued her saga while I came and went. I think she overall felt heard
otherwise I do believe she would have let me know. I was blessed with a child who could do this, my other daughter's constitution was blessed in a different way. I don't believe she would have brought it to my attention that I was emotionally leaving her. I
believe she would have believed my shortcoming was about her. Those seem to be some of their personality differences. Granted, my older daughter had already been traumatized by a stranger in the neighborhood. In this one scenario of when my 30 yr old daughter was five I have an opportunity to see what it would have been like to have had a parent who could have tolerated my anger and still love me. I could also accept the ambivalence and anger of my other daughter. My mother could have never allowed the autonomy my daughters have exibited. My mother's fear that she might be
unlovable left no room for my needs. While I do not resent the met needs of my daughters, by meeting their needs I became even more painfully aware of what I did
not get. There was always more grief work for me to do while they were growing, and even now my grief work continues when I see two adults who have a healthy sense of self and their place in this sea of humanity. I am humbled and blessed. I am proud of
who they have become, and who I have become in this process of healing
Posted by RJD (Member # 204) on December 27, 2002, 05:53 PM:
Welcome to manhood -jer. Every piece of your reply here speaks
volumes of your epic struggle as a man wanting to thrive and not
just survive. You have survived, and what I hear is that you want
more. Because you want more ,I believe , you will get more than
what was dealt you by life.
I remember telling my therapist the same thing, that what I looked
like in the therapy session is not what I look like during the rest of
the week. “Does he not realize what a total mess I am!”
Those were excellent insights into your rage towards those men
when the youngest began throwing snowballs. Those are the
insights of an adult man.
I have heard it said that things won’t be revealed to us until we
are ready for them, and in my own recovery work I have come to
believe this is true. No matter how much of a hurry I’m in to be
done with this “recovery crap”(quoted from my words to myself)
things won’t present themselves to my awareness until the boy
in me can trust that the man in me can handle it and still feel safe
(whatever “it”is,) I will be blind to some issues. As long as I am
raging at the boy in me for being vulnerable and naive and
susceptable (? spelling) to being used (I still catch myself
calling him a stupid bastard asshole, fuckin shit and more), the
precious little boy in me will stay hidden. His words to me will
continue to be masked. It is not that I used to do this to myself
and now I’m healed and I don’t do this anymore. No such luck,
It just doesn’t work that way. I’m driving along in my car and I’m
not even aware of the insideous ways the sheer habit of
terrorizing the boy in me manifests itself. It might start “Oops I
forgot to (do something) at work, dammit!“ then the brake lights
go on in front of me and my train of thought stops. When my mind
is back at the task of driving and a lull overtakes me I ight slowly
start backwith self deprecating mentras like “You little punk,
contemptuous faggot, sissy, jelly spine, you like to suck it, you
even suck your thumb mama’s boy.” A piece of me sees my
words to you welcoming you to manhood feels a little hollow like
“when did you die and become a man Bob.” Suddenly someone
cuts me off in traffic (like that’s a rarity in Chicago) and I mumble
“bastard!, asshole, what the fuck do you think you’re doing!” I
truly believe that If I was not already venting my rage on myself
that I would have just have absorbed someone elses
I have carried my rage too many years to even begin to thing it is
not going to be a part of my ongoing life. How much it will
dominate is up to me.
It is the same with my childhood trauma, it has affected how I
see the world, That view was caused by someone else. Now it
is tempered with, “that isn’t only way to see the world”, and “how
do I want to see this world today. “ Almost any event in my life
can suddenly become a trigger for my old defenses to activate.
It could be the death of my youngest brother, moving to a new
city, starting school, visiting my daughters junior highschool, or
a sunny day casting a light so bright indoors that the room
glows and so on....
The following is about me and please take it as that, unless you
feel that it fits you too. If i may say, what I heard in the scenario
where you vented your rage on that young man, is that you saw
his vulnerability in his innocent playfulness and it was too painful
for the boy in you to see. When I’m yelled at I shut down to
protect myself, even as an adult. I heard you trying to protect that
young man by causing him to kick in his defenses by yelling at
him. A way I am familiar with when I protect myself. I hear
that as your relationship to your inner child as it is also mine.
The three responses to fear are:
fight (I might overpower whatI fear and live,)
flight (I might get away from what I fear and live,)
or freeze (I wont be a threat to my attacker and I might live
unless he or she is hungry.)
In my mother’s bed my response to fear was to freeze, and keep
my rage passive. My response to my older brother’s aggression
was passive rage also, because she offered no protection(I think
she giggled inside.) In both cases my rage was impotent.
To protest was futile. Who would listen or who would have
believed in 1960.
To listen to my daughter is of no simple consequence. The truth
is” we pay attention to the things that are important to us. I think
my understanding of this came from a book,” Healing the Shame
That Binds Us,” by John Bradshaw. I do not want to falter on
that monumental responsibility of mine as a parent. The very
least and the very most I want to give my daughters as their dad
is that they feel significant in this world, that they matter, and that
they know how to love and respect themselves. The problem is
that I cant just tell them they are important and they should
respect themselves. That would go in one ear and out the other
like it did for me when I heard it in school. I never hear that at
home, they did not know what those concepts were. If my
daughters KNOW IN THEIR HEARTS that they are important,
the world is theirs and they know where they can fit in it and
thrive. They learn self respect the same way we all learned it,
through our parents. Now there is a problem. I had to learn to
love and respect myself, and it had to be for me, not for them.
Otherwise they would learn their value was in their relationship
to someone else, which is also a piece of what I learned. On this
topic also, I cannot say “do as I say and not as I do.”
I’m not perfect as a dad, especially with the energy of my
experience to foul things up. There is a notion out there that all
we need to be, is a “good enough parent “ ( I don’t recall the
author) in order for our kids to do well. I hope my daughters know
that at least I tried. They are both adults now and the evidence
( the evidence being what my heart knows) shows that they do
They dont know that they taught me that I was born precious
before I learned otherwise, and what that looked like. Their
natural instincts to honor and care for themselves and others as
extentions of themselves put me in touch with how to do that for
myself. They just had to know they were significant,and they
flourished on their own. What marvels they are too.
That was all I really needed -jer and by extension I know that
was all you and others on this page really needed. When I held
my daughters in my arms to comfort them when they were in
pain I knew what that experience looked like, but could I dare
risk being held like that? A young voice from down deep inside
me says “fuck that ,I don’t need that shit.” I say to him as loving
adult says to a child “I know Bobby, but what if someone wanted
to give you the kind of love your heart is so aching for” A feeling
of terror comes from deep inside and the air around gets
swallowed into a black hole leaving a vacuum that tears the
air from your lungs. Then a loving voice from Bob with tears
in his eyes says,”I thought you said you were tired of
being lonely” Would you like to know what it feels like to
lovingly held while you cry with the person who is holding you
crying tears because he knows your deepest hurts?
(My eyes are puddles)
It really helped to be in a men’s support group to do this work.
I don’t ever remember being lovingly held by a father while I
cried when I was growing up. I was able to experience this
with men who have gone through an initiation with the New
Warriors. Since then I have been honored by a trust powerful
enough, by fellow grown men, to have let me hold them while
their hearts poured forth and their souls healed.
enough! I have other things I must do.
I thank you for your questions that put me in touch with a very tender place
within myself. I needed that today
---------- be gentle with yourself
ps go to the survivor stories section on the public forum here on these pages.
also check post Sept 14,2002
Posted by RJD (Member # 204) on January 02, 2003, 12:43 AM:
Bless you Bob and the work you do. The boy in me wants to be in your care.
Have you ever been lovingly held held while you cried while the person who is holding you knows full well what your tears are
about. If You've never experienced it yourself, how would you know how to do it for yourself. It is certainly understandable why
giving yourself a hug feels so awkward. Even a T in this day and age has to forgo such physical contact for fear of being
mispercieved. A father has to know what it feels like before he can really hold his son or daughter in full support. I knew what it
looked like being held, but I hadn't experienced it till years later.
The skill that I need to be in place before doing such regression work is the skill of being able to put one foot in the past while
maintaining one foot in the present(the here and now where the abuse is no longer occuring)
This is topic I wish my mother--?triggering.../ a stream of "thoughts" response to "fantasies" in forum Male Survivors at
MaleSurvivor Discussion Board.
To visit this topic, use this URL: http://www.malesurvivor.org/cgi-local/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=001286
Posted by RJD (Member # 204) on November 24, 2002, 02:38 AM:
I've learned that I have to create my own sense of safety when I'm around others,or alone. there is also a place for judgment
here. When it's someone elses turn to say something insensitive I have to know it is about their own pain not mine. It would be a
loving thing to do to let them know the impact their words or actions have had on me When it is my turn to be insensitive I need
to hear about it from those I've hurt, it is a loving thing to do.
I wish my mother had a supportive place to go to talk about her fantasies before she started begging me to go to bed with her.
I'm glad I sought help before my daughters were born because what I knew about intimacy, I had learned from her and I was
pretty disgusted. Because of that, I was terrified that I would hurt my daughters. I have known many people who have vehimently
hated what their parents said to them and vowed to never inflict the same words on their own kids only to catch themselves after
My brother who perped me also perped his own daughter.
My mother learned about intimacy with men from her father and grandfather. My brothers and I were in trouble from the
'git-go.'(the day she learned about men.) (Is that how to spell git-go?) From when we were born, her days with us had already
been scripted. It was because her thoughts were so unmentionable that she failed to mention them,---- because there was no
one who could hear what needed to be said, -- because thinking those thoughts made her evil. I believe she perped her baby
brother when she was little,(she was obsessed with him, and he moved a thousand miles away,and rarely communicated) and so
her silence was sealed by shame, and she believed that everything happened because she was bad. When she had intimacy
needs, they were warped by her experience. I was vulnerable by my very nature as her child and by mynatural ensuing loyalty. I
was also vulnerable because of cultural gender biases-- mothers don't hurt their children.
At this point in my life I have accomplished the skills for having deep intimate friendships with friends and my wife and children. I
want their esteem and their love. Because of the experiences I have had around intimacy I have to be on guard that my
boundaries might get fuzzy. If I let that happen I might jeapordize the friendships/relationships. However, aside from my
children, if that even starts to happen, I trust that they will bring it to my attention immediately. I believe they want my esteem
Jung refers to the term shadow and describes it as that part of us that we find unacceptable. He suggests that we learn to love
and accept those parts of ourselves. If we fail to do this they tend to control our behavior. I see one of my shadow as the twisted
version of intimacy I learned. It is what I learned, my real life experience, if I can't learn to love and accept that part of me, then
I can't accept my self. I see it as what that precious wounded child learned and this adult has learned that life doesn't have to be
that painful, and can make better choices than the ones I learned. I can unlearn what I've learned. A recovery expression I have
heard said is,"If I keep my shadows before me I control them. If I let my shadows slip behind me (denial)then they control me."
If the possibility of my being a jerk is not allowed as part of my self concept / is a way I cannot allow myself to be seen, then I
run the risk of being a jerk. For example: While early on in the men's movement we gathered as men struggling with trying to
redefine masculinity and each of us wanted to see ourselves as noncompetitive caring sensitive men. So what happened? We
unconciously began to compete to see who was the most sensitive caring man. Sensitivety one upmanship prevailed, our shadow
was our veiled aggression.
Whenever I hear statements, by myself or others, like "I would never do that," I think, Oh,Oh!
---- be gentle with yourselves
Posted by RJD (Member # 204) on November 25, 2002, 12:36 AM:
Thanks for your loving support guys. You have all blessed me by your responses.
A powerful image for me is" The monsters in the terrifying shadows of night lose their power as soon as I turn on the light switch and can see the slipper under the bed for what it really is."
Patterns of my fears hold me back. "I'm shit", "If you really knew me you would hate me", "Everyone I come into contact with
becomes contaminated," I don't deserve to have good thing happen to me," have been some of my lifelong demons/monsters.
These demons were a way of life for me.
To turn on the light by seeking support/therapy/telling my secrets carried a life and death level of fear. Who would I be without
the terror I lived.
Then (many years later)I read, "It is not our shadows we fear, it is our light."
Wow!-- It shifted my focus of overcoming my fears
to embracing my light. I think it helped give me the strength to believe I deserved good things. I went back to school and turned my academic track record around. Some of you know I have recently completed a masters program. To do so was to step into my light. My shadow said, "they made a big mistake accepting you into their program, you know better," but I managed to keep my light in focus.
I still have much work to do ------------ RJD
Posted by RJD (Member # 204) on November 25, 2002, 04:02 PM:
jer you said,
"What a reality for me this is!
I laughed when I read this.
A playful part of me extends it to so many other issues...
Who's the most healed? Who's had the worse abuse? Who's the wisest of them all? Who's in the most pain?
Who's the most dysfunctional? Let's play "Name that Dysfunction!" I'm sometimes able to recognize when I engage in these games. I have real difficulty knowing when I'm acting out of veiled aggression.
I'm glad you went where you did with this playing with it. It sounds like your sense of humor is a big, strong part of your survivor resilience. A T once remarked at my sense of humor in my ability to laugh at myself. Another said I had made he first joke about incest that was actually funny,
So here it is "My family is into insects and it still bugs me."
OK so I'm not Robin williams.
Anyway I often find myself saying, "I'm doing it again".
Your statement had me grinnin ear to ear. Thank you jer. And I look forward to more of your "crap"
Posted by RJD (Member # 204) on October 18, 2002, 01:55 PM:
I started this under the mother-abuse topic but when I looked at the original topic it didn't seem to fit anymore, though it is still
Somewhere in my belongings I have a button that says "Men are not the enemy, they are our fellow victims -- Betty Freidan." She is a writer I believe the springboard for the contemporary feminist movement (?late 60's-?early 70's.)
I think the gender converse of this statement fits here too that women are
not our enemy, they are our fellow victims.
Feminism is about gender equality as I understand it. If it weren't for feminism we wouldn't have this forum today.
Feminism isn't the cause of sexism, it j