Tommorrow is my 33rd wedding anniversary and I am reflecting on the mess I've made of my life and the damage I've done to a poor girl from the country who's only fault was falling in love with me. We were 19 when we met. I had isolated myself completely since I was abused at 13. I wasn't looking for a relationship. Sex was the only selfish use I had for girls, and not that many had made themselves available. But I was not half bad looking and I could be charming if I thought it would get me somewhere. I got what I wanted and we began seeing eachother regularly. I kept all my secrets from her: drinking, drug use, compulsive sex, my Bi-polar and OCD symptoms, and of course my CSA. I would not let her get too close to me, hated intimacy unless it led to sex, and strung her along for three years. When we were 21, she insisted something wasn't right with me and that I go see a therapist or she would shut me off. I agreed and went. The therapist was a joke, I didn't tell him a thing, and I never went back. We seperated, got back together, moved in together and eventually she convinced me that marraige would be good for me. Maybe she thought it would fix me. It didn't. We got married at 22, in a pasture with mountains in the backround. It was a beautiful scene. I got drunk and pretty much blew the day off, but it was my wedding so noone criticized me.

Then I started the cycle of not showing up when I was supposed to. Not calling. Working late. Always an excuse. Always the secrets. We fought. She stuck with me. She thought having a baby would be a good idea. I went along. Again maybe she thought that would fix me. It didn't. 10 children later I was still the same asshole.

But I had a good career, made good money, a nice house and cars, and the family to go with it. From the outside everything looked great. Inside I was a gold plated phony, desperate to keep my secrets at all costs. My wife kept trying to get closer to me, to make our marriage work. Tried to get me to get help. I told her it was HER who had the problem and I was fine. If she would just leave me the hell alone everything would be okay. I was rude, uncaring, sometimes cruel. Demanded sex and didn't care how she felt about it. Was unfaithful too many times to count. She stuck with me.

Eventually the drinking got to be too much to hide. I was exposed. I stopped drinking, went to AA and got sober. But that didn't fix me. I still had all my other secrets. But without the alcohol to prop me up, everything fell apart. My Bi-polar and OCD symptoms went wild. I couldn't hide them anymore. Another secret exposed. I spent time in a Psych ward. Got on Psych meds, and started therapy. That didn't fix me. I still held onto my remaining secrets like they were gold.

After 15 years of sobriety, forcing myself to be faithful to my marriage, and ten years of pointless therapy, I was still the same selfish, angry prick. But along the way I had lost the job, the house, the cars, and was about to lose the wife and family. At this point there was no love between us, no sex, seperate beds, and she just barely could tolerate me.

One night last summer, while at work, I experiences a panic attack where all the memories of being sexually abused came flooding back. It was all I could do to get through the night. It took a few weeks but I worked up the courage to tell all this to my therapist. So many things made sense suddenly, and all the anger, fear and self-hatred were exposed. I even confessed my infidelities to him, but tried to make it seem like they were with women. It took a few more weeks before I could tell him they were all men. I was filled with so much shame about eveything. I kept all this hidden from my wife, and since we didn't talk much anyway, nothing seemed wrong.

Finally I told her everything except about the other men. My therapist told me it would be best to let that be. It didn't go well. She thought this was just another one of my excuses for not caring about her. I was ready to leave. Why she had put up with me for all those years was beyond me, but I was going to make the break and let her start over without me.

But somthing happened. She saw me in one of my panic attacks/flashbacks, crying and screaming in pain, and she believed me and she softened. We talked about it honestly. I confessed all my wrongs against her. I started to make amends to her as best as I was able. She became willing to work on our marraige with me. I promised no more lies, no more secrets. I am trying to become a real man now. I'm trying to learn how to love a woman for the first time. I don't want to be stuck emotionally at age 13, or selfish, or angry. Most days I don't hate myself anymore. It still may not work out. So many years of pain I inflicted on her. I can't take it back or make that up to her. All I can do is try to do the next right thing every day, and trust God to do the rest.

You younger men on MS, do the work now to recover. Become a whole healthy man now. Don't keep your secrets for years like I did. I promise you if you deal with your issues now, you will have an opportunity for a lifetime of love and happiness ahead of you. I have only regrets now.

Jude