Today is a day I hope I never forget, for it represents a turning point in my recovery. That said, it was not a day that I would consider fun. It was filled with a lot of pain, hurt, anger, misery and tears. I hope I never again have to live through a day like today. However, I realize that I needed to experience today, so that tomorrow and each day thereafter will be blessed. When my time comes to leave this world, I want I will look back on today as the day when hope took charge.

By outward appearances I've lived a good life. I have the best set of parents a kid could expect. My childhood was primarily filled with love and many, many good times. Unfortunately, it was also the time I experienced an event that I kept secret for 40 years. Somehow, I survived, though, and have achieved what might be considered success. I graduated from college in the top 1% of my class. I have two master's degrees. I have a job I love, and I've been successful at it. Nevertheless, these successes have been overshadowed by a profound sadness that has accompanied me through my life. I have had trouble trusting people, and trouble getting along with people. As a result, I have had trouble making and keeping friends. This has left me always feeling alone, yet simultaneously, I have rejected any attempts to set me up with a woman. I've never had healthy sexual relationships. I've battled depression and anorexia-like behavior. No matter how hard I worked, it never seemed good enough. In addition, I have always felt that I was undeserving of all the success that happened to me. While I never experienced suicidal ideation, I often wondered if things would've been better if I'd never been born. Summarily I have always felt hollow, a shell of a man/child, incapable of fulfilling my humanity.

So what happened today that may end up being the event that changes the course of my life? I exposed my soul to the world today, and survived. I first experienced CSA at the age of 11 at the hands of my parish priest. I also was abused in my late teens. I have experience what might be described as normal sexual experimentation, except it went too far due to my status as a CSA victim. In addition, as a chronological adult, I acted out, and involved myself in some damaging situations that likely would not have happened had it not been for my past. All the while I kept my secret hidden, or so I thought. Hidden or not, it was destroying me and it was escalating.

A couple of months I attended a workshop on keeping kids involved in sports safe. I never expected that the conference would be the impetus for me to reveal my secret and begin healing. When I heard several speakers talk of their experiences, it was too much to bear. That was when I decided to seek help. Two months ago, after keeping it inside for 40 years, I found a therapies and let it out my secret. The last two months have been, without a doubt, tumultuous. I've experienced highs and lows. I've had to face the shame for what happened and the guilt I felt for what happened and what I did. At times, I was angry for being robbed of my ability to trust, form friendships or develop normal sexual relationships. I've faced a myriad of emotions these last couple months- anger, depression, relief, guilt, joy, frustration, and even luck. Still, all throughout the therapy and healing, I hid a part of myself from others, and even myself, afraid to expose it. I addressed extrinsic emotions and actions - trust, forming friendships, sexual attraction et al. I didn't try to heal my soul, and that is what hampered my complete recovery. Today it came to me, what might prove to be the final step in revelation of my past. What has hurt me the most is the fact that they tried to destroy me, my soul and my identity. I was an innocent eleven year old kid when I was first abused. I was carefree, trusting, and full of vitality. When I was abused in my late teens, I was on the cusp of adulthood - idealistic, and feeling I could take on the world, make a difference and make the world a better place. My perps attacked that. They attacked my identity, my being, my existence. They crushed my soul when they used me as their sexual plaything. They were the epitome of evil when they set out to destroy first an innocent child and later a teen metamorphosing into a promising adult. The injuries they caused were not to my physical being, but to my self, the thing that made me me. For so long I feared facing this fact, for I truly felt that if I exposed the extent of damage to my soul, I would not survive. I impeded my own recovery by holding onto the hurt.

Today I faced it. Why, I'm not totally sure. I know in part, it is because of the support I've gotten here. MS has provided me protection and security. The friends I've made here are some of the best friends I've ever had. Without their help, I would have never fully recovered. Today I felt a spirit guiding me, telling me I would be safe and could no longer be hurt by what happened 30 and 40 years ago . I finally felt it would be okay to let my secret out,.

It was not an easy day, by any means. There was a lot of pain upon the realization of the evil inflicted on me. There were moments I questioned if I could live through the pain or if it would ever stop. I cried today more than a grown man should. I never want again to feel the intensity of the pain I felt today. But, the truth is I made it through and survived. I have come to fully embrace that I am safe, and I won't be hurt anymore by my perps. It is over, and I have made it. I realize I have a lot to live for. I have potential that, to date, has gone unrealized. I have a lot to accomplish in the time I have left on earth. As I said earlier, it is the day hope took charge.

I expect that there will be good days and bad days, and I can accept that. I can't change the past, and I have to learn how to live with the memories of my experiences. I plan to shrink their influence on me and focus on my talents and my potential for greatness. I'm not going to kid myself and think my fears will instantaneously disappear. The memories of the bad times will likely pop up now and again. I have a lot I need to work on. I need to learn how to forgive. I need to learn how to trust. I need to learn how to stand up for myself, and how to get along with people. I need to learn how to be a friend. I especially need to stop acting out, trying to relive my abuse. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to the future.

I am more optimistic than I've been in a long time. I wish healing and good lives to my brothers here at MS, and to a few extra special people, I am especially grateful for your friendship, for without you, I wouldn't be where I am now.

Take care. DavO