I thought it was time for an update on how things were going. As this is a sequel, you may want to take a minute to read my first entry by clicking here.
I see so many stories here from people just beginning the journey through recovery, and I began to wonder what happens to those successful ones that really break free from the confines our abuse imposed on us. Where are their stories? I came to realize that recovery happens so gradually that it can be difficult to detect, it sort of sneaks up on you like a warm spring breeze that makes you smile without really knowing why. I figure those of us who make it for real, must drift away on that breeze distracted from this place as the outside world opens up to them as a flower opens to the sun, and seeing life in this new marvelous way draws them out into it, creating such a distraction that those left behind are sometimes forgotten. Not in a conscious ill spirited way, just in a sense that when the outside world is so joyous, a look back shows how far one has come. With such beauty ahead, it can be difficult to come back and find your roots.
With this compliment to my first story I wanted to show that with hard work and lots of help, recovery is certainly possible, and what's more, you can be even healthier than those out there that never had a problem when they were little. I used to think there was no way I would ever be where I am today; I thought it impossible to be like those guys that could find positive things in life. Later I thought, “Ok, things are better, but I’ll never be like normal people.” Now I realize I have become the person I was meant to be (scoff all you want, I thought I was just in an “up” phase too… I’ve been there for six months now and my therapist has ended our sessions (with an invitation to come back if I need anything)). I hope to reach out to you guys and your families and show you there can be success, life can improve, and it is possible to look back and lend a hand by giving back to your brothers.
When I last left off in my first survivor story, I thought I was in a good place, and I was. However, if you read the next to last line, it says:
"I'll answer any question anyone wants to ask. Maybe I'll cry when I answer it, but really, that's the worst that can happen."
That still holds true, and crying is still the worst that could happen, but it doesn't happen anymore. What I began to find is very time I thought I was better, I was always given a shove forward from somewhere, most importantly from the level I retreat. At that point, I was still saying that I would never be completely over my abuse because of these uplifting shoves that showed me there was always room for improvement.
Talking with others about my experience helped me work through all the junk I still had in my closet, so every time I used my story to help others I was helping myself as well. In May of ’04 I had the opportunity to speak at a conference
about the affects abuse had on me as an adult. Forty-one people signed up to listen to what I had to say and that was an incredibly moving experience since we all know that having folks listen to us and being believed is the core of our desires second only to being happy. Yet there was a side effect to all of this. The organizers of the conference told me there had never been any press coverage of their work in the past, not even print, but this time there were two television crews there to talk to me! I asked them why me when there were experts there with a whole bunch of letters after their name that would be glad to give a more educated view to the days activities. It turns out they wanted me because of who my abuser was. I did the interviews but made sure they also spoke to the others as well, but more importantly, what I learned that day was I had a tool to help get the word out about the importance of adult victims seeking help. I learned whenever you say the word "cannibal" in a serious conversation people listen to what you say next. This allowed me to take something negative and turn it around to do something good, and my abuser is, ironically, helping me help others. I am using him now instead of the other way around, ha!
All this time I had been working through all of this with my therapist, ripping open my closet, taking everything out, examining it, and putting it all in nice neat compartments, it was a lot of work with ups and downs. There was trouble at home with the wife and kids sometimes, with the usual fights about chores around the house, disciplining the kids, all that stuff. I was still chasing the elusive true happiness as my level I lurked ahead.
I have never been so excited, frightened, nervous as I was while anticipating my level I Five Oaks experience in Paris, Ontario. It would be a pilgrimage of sorts with the ten-hour drive North across the boarder, my first time away from home alone since marrying my beautiful wife Ilene, and spending the three nights in a whole other country.
When Friday morning arrived, I found myself with a scratchy throat, signaling I would be sick by the end of the day. Luckily sickness held off until I was home and all I lost was my voice. Funny my voice tried to take off the days I would be doing the most important talking of my life, it was if my own body betrayed my mind in one last ditch effort to keep me silent about what happened to me so long ago, "This is between us, we don't need any help." My body was saying. "Just keep quiet, we've handled this alone for years, you don't need to tell anyone else!" That was wrong, I knew it and I didn't let a little thing like the inability to speak up keep me from shouting how I would no longer be anybody's victim!
There were two very huge jumps in my recovery at Five Oaks. I gave myself permission to sit out Improvisational Movement since I wasn't really comfortable moving my body (I move now though!), but I listened to the music and enjoyed watching those confident enough to be carried by the music. I contemplated what was missing from my recovery while I listened and I came to the conclusion that I was nearing a turning point in my life. I had a visualization of my "closet" almost being clean, and figured out there was one last thing in there I needed to face, and that was my parents.
My parents were sorry about what happened and felt terribly guilty about sending me to be tutored by a teacher that turned out to be a predator, but I never really got the recognition I craved when I confronted my abuser in court and later when I reached out to other men a year later with article which I used for my first survivor story. I had brought the articles about the court hearing to Five Oaks not knowing how I would use them, just with the thought it was better to have them in case. I wasn’t looking to show off and I know there is a fine line between being proud and bragging but I thought they may come in handy somehow and my instinct was correct.
For those of you who have been on a retreat you know all about the ‘safe room’ set aside in case we need a little one on one. During the movement exorcise, I grabbed Howard and asked if he would spend some time with me in the safe room because I had an idea about what I needed for closure. I met him there with the articles and explained that although my folks, most importantly my dad, told me they were proud, they had still been pretty quiet on the issue (understandably) of the court hearing and my post court work. I told Howard I knew I was close to finishing up the cleaning of my closet, but one last thing was missing and I asked if he would listen while I read him my articles. He agreed and did a great job of being patient while I read.
When I was done I just about cried my eyes out and got that safe male fatherly hug I was so direly craving. Howard was so patient and supportive, I’m not so sure he knows just how pivotal a roll he played that night and how much I appreciate the time he took with me to just listen
and let me be proud. After that, on the way out of the safe room, which in Five Oaks was not much bigger than a closet, I looked back at how clean and bright that room was and declared my closet clean. We turned off the lights and left it to go upstairs and bang on some drums.
It was that drum circle where I asked for and received the standing ovation
I finally felt I deserved. What a night!
If I did nothing else that weekend I would have been on cloud nine, but there was still a letter to write to myself the next day. I chose to write from the little me to the big me, the key for me was using my non-dominant hand (Thank you Dale!) and naturally by the end of that exorcise I was crying from happiness because I finally got in touch with the little me! I visualized a bridge leading back over the bad years where “that bad man” couldn’t reach me, in my visualization, I found the little me sitting there on the other side waiting patiently and perfectly in tact. He said, “There you are! I’ve been waiting for you!” We got reacquainted, became fast friends again, and very quickly over the next few weeks became the one person we were supposed to be all along, not the “two” people broken apart when I was little.
What a weekend! If you have the means, get to one of those retreats; I can’t say enough for them.
By the time level II came around only about three months later, I discovered that life could really be beautiful. I discovered meditation and that the whole early to bed early to rise theory is really invigorating. I can now deal with everyday problems calmly and rationally, and even the big problems are now challenges and learning experiences that help strengthen me. I wake up now and say to myself, “Cool, another day being me.” I am on a committee
working along with nearly a dozen law enforcement agencies
to help analyze sex offender management from a victim centered approach in Dutchess County, NY, to help change where the system is lacking, I work with a taskforce on campus promoting SA awareness for men...
Life is good and I’m finally able to enjoy it. I love the work I do to help others, there is so much intrinsic reward and I love the fact that I have embraced what once made me feel worthless to make good of something bad.
Am I bragging? Yeah, I guess a little. Please try not to let it put you off, I want to show that recovery really is possible, after all, isn’t that why we came here in the first place? I just want to say thanks and that I’m here for you guys the way you have been here for me. This site will always be a part of me especially since I wouldn’t be where I am without it. Feel free to PM me and say hi, that ask any question statement still goes. All you guys are so special because you are here to make a difference for yourself and others.