Prior to sharing, let me say that I am a 52 year old man, in recovery from alcohol abuse with 20 months of sobriety. I am also recovering from two heart operations in the past year, a condition most likely aggravated by the prior two years of retraumatization with all the p.r. about abuse in the church. I remain married and have two fantastic kids, now 18 and 22. I am diagnosed with PTSD and go to therapy regularly, see a psychopharmacologist who has helped me a lot, go to cardiac rehab, and generally try to stay fit on many levels. I am doing just fine, no longer suicidal but now dealing with trying to learn to have new defenses as the old ones fall away. My story is one of hope. I was a mess, heading toward an early death...either through neglect of my health or by outright suicide. I am glad to be alive, proud to be a survivor and want only to show that there is hope.
I was a fairly inexperienced nineteen year old back in 1971, Junior in College and terrified of the war in Vietnam. I was facing graduation and possible draft. I felt strongly that I was a conscientious objector and wanted to file my papers with the draft board. Doing so would entitle me to a hearing. Being a CO was guaranteed only to members of the Quakers, Seventh Day Adventists and a few other religions who held a credal belief in pacifism. I was a devout Catholic, attending a well-known Catholic college. I was referred to the draft counselor on campus, based out of the Chaplain's office. The man was a Catholic priest and he indicated to me that it would be very, very difficult for me to prove my case because the Catholic church was not anti-war (kind of seems like an oxymoron)...he told me that I would have to prove my moral character.
During the ensuing counseling sessions he told me that he had to get to know me, very well. I started to share. I am the oldest child in a large, dysfunctional family. Dad was alcoholic, mom was depressed and I was the archetypical 'good boy' who became the parentified child. I did a lot of housework, child care, home repairs...stuff that a dad usually does. Anyway, I also shared with Father 'X' that I felt that I was gay.
"I kind of thought you were going to tell me that", was his response. He convinced me that I was punishing myself for many things and that one way to resolve my guilt would be for him to 'punish' me. Being a good Catholic boy I always did what the priest told me to do...
(this may be a trigger, so please be cautioned)
He told me to pull my pants down so he could spank my bare buttocks...which he did at least once...it gets blurry.
One thing led to another and being a normal, sexually arousable male...I got aroused in one of the sessions and he started to stroke my penis...stopped short of making me orgasm.
This went on for a while in our sessions. During one of the encounters a knock came to the door and he told me to pull up my pants. He answered the door and proceeded to give communion to another student, then came back and carried on with me.
Finally, when he tried to get me to do things to him, I collapsed in an emotional heap on the floor, crying. Probably the last time I really cried. That was over 30 years ago.
I got my letter for the draft board but never got called up.
The past 30 odd years have seen me go through life almost as an actor...going through the motions but always going to the shrink for some complaint, justification or drug. The day I walked into an AA meeting was the day I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. My decision to stop drinking was ultimately my decision to live and to thrive.
My days are now beginning to fill with hope and plans for a future. Little things like going to the Y, buying a used pickup truck, planning to build a summer camp...regular, middle age man stuff.
Oh yeah, I am resolving my sexuality. I am bisexual, no doubt and you know what, that is OK. I see my sexuality as a gift from my Higher Power...one to respect, honor and manage. A far cry from thinking the only way out was to die.
My wife is my biggest supporter, it is not always easy for her to accept me but we are working at it, one day at a time.
Hey, all my best to all male survivors and I look forward to sharing.
I survive, one day at a time...knowing that I now can accept the things that cannot be changed, change the things I can and find the wisdom to know the difference.