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#14786 - 08/25/04 04:08 PM Recovering is Tough, Hard Work
dwf Offline
Moderator/BoD Emeritus

Registered: 05/24/03
Posts: 1223
Loc: Austin, Texas USA
This is the third or fourth time I've visited this site in the last 24 hours. Seeing the names of the guys who love me and support me in my efforts at overcoming sexual abuse and reading of their struggles and victories and their jokes helps me feel less alone.

This week I have once again been shown how very difficult the work of recovering from sexual abuse can be.

I've come here 3 or 4 times and each time decided not to post---I'm back now and forcing myself to write because I know from past experience that sharing my feelings is one way of finding my way out of the prison they can turn in to. That a burden shared is less by half.

I was blessed and/or cursed with a pretty good intellect. Through therapy and lots of work on staying sober and recovering from alcoholism I have gained a lot of awareness and understanding about how sexual abuse fucked up my life.

Now recently, within the last week, I have experienced the feelings associated with that intellectual understanding.

Up until now I UNDERSTOOD that I had feelings of anger, shame and sadness. This week I began to HAVE THE EXPERIENCE OF THE FEELINGS ALONG WITH THE UNDERSTANDING.

And the experience has been so hard.

Last week during a group session I finally was able to express my grief and my anger. Several guys in the group were very upset. Several also spoke of leaving the group. One of them told me that I was being abusive.

I was vocal. I raised my voice. I vigorously expressed my anger. I told the group how I felt that they were belittling me and shaming me for expressing myself and giving voice to my sorrow and anger. I never touched anyone or threatened anyone. The therapist was in the room all the time, monitoring the group and intervening when necessary.

For just a few minutes, I let go of all those nice societal controls, the coping mechanisms that have allowed me to shove my feelings down. I let the lid off of some long buried resentment.

Like opening up a neglected, festering wound the experience was painful for me and evidently very disgusting for those in the room with me. To their credit, they remained in the room.

This week I got to go back to the same group of guys. The anxiety I felt was intense. I thanked them all for staying in the room with me while I gave vent to my emotions the previous week.

I described somewhat the "emotional hangover" I had expreienced. Then I listened for the nour and a half as they discussed me, my feelings and their reactions to the whole deal.

Many said that my feelings had made them feel "unsafe". That hurt. I am a very compassionate, loving person and to think that others believed me "unsafe" is painful.

It is so very difficult. I did not apologize for what had happened. I am certain that my grouup therapy is exactly the place to do what I did.

I did speak of how I thought of myself as being a valuable, dependable, hard working member of the group. And then I listened. Allowing others the respect they showed me, I stayed in the room as they expressed their fear, disappointment and distrust of me.

It's just what I always imagined would happen if I ever dared show the people in my life how I felt, what was happening to me. About being attracted to men, about being sexually abused.

One of the long term group members, also the one who called me abusive, announced that he could not remain in the group with me and that he was leaving.

I could only think of all the heartache I have felt over the years imagining that my own father had left me because I did not behave properly. That his abandonment of me and my family was because of me and my behavior.

I understand factually that this is not true. But at the level of feeling it hurts and feels like a certain desperate truth.

So I got to have that sort of primal experience only this time in real time instead of just over and over in my head. This time as an adult. This time not alone. This time with resources. This time with men who love me and support and don't go away because I am too much for them to handle.

I am sure that this represents a tremendous bit of work in healing for me. My therapist assures me that it is so. I do not regret.

But goddamn it, it is so hard. This morning I feel terrible. Physically, mentally and psychologically beaten, headache, sorrow, confused and sad.

The guy leaving the group "because of me" (see I know it's not becasue of me, but it feels like it is) is my dad leaving me again. After that my mother died and I got sexually abused and then came the alcoholism and the self loathing and etc. etc.

I'm trying to let my intellect rest for a while and simply absorb the emotional impact of this latest chapter in my recovery. Instead of mentally parsing out the meaning, I'm letting the meaning absord and pass through me, be a part of me, but not all of me.

No rationalization, minimization, coping mechanisms or taking it out on others.

I am feeling these emotions because they are mine.

I'm not mad, glad, sad etc. AT anyone.
I just am.

One good thing, it is made clear to me once again how very hard this stuff is. It gives me a measure of forgiveness for myself when I berate myself for all the years I refused to deal with the emotional fall out of the abuse and instead retreated into alcohol and drugs.

No wonder we don't want to have to do this. It hurts, it's hard, it's so very difficult.

Right now I'm trying to shed some of this heaviness that seems to have invaded my limbs. Holding me down, pinning me to my chair. Glancing outside to remind myself that the reality of life is in the life and growth all around me and that I am a part of it.

I'm writing about this here so that others who may someday find the need to express long repressed emotions will know that it is possible to do so and to survive. I did not explode in a million pieces, all my friends did not leave me.

Out of 6 guys in the group, only one says he is leaving and someone else observed that he already had one foot out the door.

I'm here, I've got a terrific emotional, spiritual hangover.

I appreciate being able to come here and write even if I don't make much sense.

I'm listening to the soundtrack to "Hair"....a little time-travel via music will be good.

I'm going to be very gentle with myself today. I'm going to get my haircut today and go to an AA meeting tonight.

My black-eyed peas planted a week ago when all of this first started to unfold, are all up and growing. There is hope for them

And hope for me. And you too whoever you are.

Thanks all,

"Poke salad Annie, 'gators got you granny
Everybody said it was a shame
'Cause her mama was aworkin' on the chain-gang"

-Tony Joe White

#14787 - 08/25/04 04:42 PM Re: Recovering is Tough, Hard Work
Dan88 Offline

Registered: 08/07/02
Posts: 247
Loc: DC
Wow, Danny, sounds like a great breakthrough. On a personal note, I can tell you that my experience is that these moments of fury get easier and less intense as they're repeated. I think you've uncorked the soda bottle. Next time you uncork it I bet there will be less energy bottled up inside.

Since you're going to AA, I'm sure you've heard this before but I'll say it here again, I believe you've kept your side of the street clean. You can only control your actions, not how others react to you. You reacted within the boundaries of the group, so that's good. No worries.

My disinterested view of things is this is all good. It's a good thing this guy is going looking for another group. And it's a good thing that you're continuing with the other guys in the group.

He needs a group with different rules. And you all are benefiting from the group the way it is now. So, despite any attempts this guy is making to point the finger at you, everyone is doing what's best for them and that's as it should be in recovery. So good for you all for doing the hard work.

Take care.

#14788 - 08/25/04 05:46 PM Re: Recovering is Tough, Hard Work
CFO Dave Offline

Registered: 08/14/04
Posts: 104
Loc: Millis MA
That does sound like a great breakthrough.

I was wondering if group really works. I just can't bring myself to go. This post is encouraging.


"We deceive ourselves when we fancy that only weakness needs support. Strength needs it far more."
-Madame Swetchine

"The soul that is within me no man can degrade."
-Frederick Douglas

#14789 - 08/25/04 07:37 PM Re: Recovering is Tough, Hard Work
Mike Church Offline
Moderator Emeritus
Registered: 01/23/03
Posts: 3439
Loc: Toronto, Canada
DANNY: Think back seven short months ago. What a difference isn't it. Yeh it is not easy but dammit the rewards are immense. Keep it up brother. Not only your black eyed peas are growing. ;\)



#14790 - 08/26/04 03:10 AM Re: Recovering is Tough, Hard Work
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5781
Loc: Lyons, CO USA



Blissfully retired after 35 years treating sexual abuse

#14791 - 08/26/04 11:14 AM Re: Recovering is Tough, Hard Work
Bryan Offline

Registered: 07/30/04
Posts: 37
Loc: tokyo
dwf - do not Apologize to your group, but definitely Thank them. An emotionally incapable friend said on my crying out to a Hitchcock film (*Marnie*) *You can:t just dump ON me like this*, I had to later correct her that I was dumping In FRONT of her (NOT On her), since my words were not directed AT her or BECAUSE of her. She could not fault my logic, she was in fact, Safe. Like my friend, the person who left your group wasn:t quite ready to process their own stuff in a social may have more courage. I agree with the UnCorking comment of another reply, let it rip!

Myself, I at first thought I could not do a group, but then my problems were Isolation down to the Root for me. I:m now reading books lonely in Tokyo and wishing I had a group to goto...that:s where people who speak your language congregate, cos we understand AND feel your words. Congrads on the feeling, my brain trys to think thru problems too....but let it rip! Bravo, my breaking of silence took the form of Confrontation which I, and my family, were all ill prepared for and it came out miserably. Letting it out in the Group is the way to just as brave to confront your problems there as to scream at your abusers I:m now convinced. I hope the other Replyer to this thread follows your lead for Group Revelation, it:s good to let it out and see how others do the same.

Also, on the hangover after shoutfests; consider the ultimate goal...not to hurt punish others, but to free YourSelf...then congradulate yourself on being up FRONT. Yer alright as far as I can tell. good luck.

Bryan Beezer

#14792 - 08/26/04 10:55 PM Re: Recovering is Tough, Hard Work
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
I just love going to my group and letting rip some times, it's sooooo powerful \:D

And it's a great feeling to reclaim MY power!


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

#14793 - 08/27/04 11:34 AM Re: Recovering is Tough, Hard Work
Leosha Offline

Registered: 06/18/03
Posts: 3614
Loc: Right here

wow! I am so glad you came back the fourth (fifth?) time and posted this. It deserved to be heard, YOU deserve to be heard.

I am glad that you realize that the person leaving group 'because of you', well, really is full of shit. He is leaving group because of himself. Just as anyone who leave here, they are doing it because of themself, not because of others here. There is something about the group he is not able or ready to handle yet.

Yes, sometime it scares people, to see us emotional. Firstly, because so often we hide the full emotions, because as you say, society's expectations of us. So they are not seen most often. But also, because to see another's emotions so openly, it remind us of our own, that they exist. And some people are not ready to deal with that.

I hope that the next time you go to group, you are able to experience it more fully, more openly, without the 'hangover' afterward. You deserve to get fully out of it what is available to you.


Avatar photo in memory of my younger brother Makar.

"Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted."~~~Martin Luther King Jr., 1963

#14794 - 09/01/04 02:31 PM Re: Recovering is Tough, Hard Work
dwf Offline
Moderator/BoD Emeritus

Registered: 05/24/03
Posts: 1223
Loc: Austin, Texas USA
A few words to follow up....

Realizing how important it is for me to learn to express my feelings, and having the experience of witnessing how frightening and "separating" the expression of my anger can be has been a very difficult thing for me to deal with.

I refuse to go back and denounce my self for having the feelings. I refuse to say that since I don't know how to express my anger in a "perfect" way, that therefore I have no right to express it.

I adamantly refuse what I feel are attempts to "shame" me for having raised my voice or used foul language. While I admit that it is far from an ideal situation, I feel I must cling to my own sense of responsibility, not a right, but a responsibility to learn to say how I feel.

If I don't do it right, according to someone's standard, there is no need to feel ashamed. One of the guys keeps saying things like, "Yeah, but you have to admit that the way you expressed your feelings was wrong. You were really an asshole.".

I was glad that I was able to say out loud that I disagreed with him. I am not an asshole. I am a person who is trying to learn. I'm a man whose emotional development was severely affected by abuse and alcoholism.

I will not go back to degrading myself for expressing my feelings. That others choose to not be around me or to leave the group I can understand, but I do not have to take on the burden of their decisions.

With my therapist I have set the goal of trying to keep more current with my feelings rather than allow them to build up to the exploding point. That way perhaps my anger will not be such a frightening and divisive display.

But if I fail at that goal, I swear that I will not feel ashamed of myself for trying it.

I seem to feel a lot of pressure, real or imagined, to conform, to be quiet, to feel ashamed for daring to cry out in my pain and despair. This pressure has made me feel rebellious. I refuse to go back and to pretend.

But it is hard to do. And I feel these thoughts becoming obsessive in their persistence--the rumination, the ceaseless grinding away is disturbing and robs me of my energy.

So I'm here writing about it. It's tough growing up emotionally. The pressure to act as if everything was "fine, just fine" seems great.

Thank God I have support and understanding in my efforts to be whole.

For me some days it takes an incredible amount of effort to care for myself and to nurture and love the person who is trying to grow and recover.

Yesterday was one of those days. Paying bills, takinng care of the tulip business, housework, personal grooming filled up my morning. Fortunately I spent a little time in prayer and meditation before starting on all that.

I managed to go to an Al Anon meeting where I saw my sponsor--the topic was progress and not perfection.

Then to the periodontist to have my teeth cleaned, more painful scraping in sensitive areas!--followed by the therapy session where I felt like I had to defend myself--somewhere along the way I had to remember to eat enough to be able to take my anti-depressant meds.

After therapy I had planned to meet some recovery friends for a social outing at a mexican restaurant. After the very difficult group therapy, it was nice to be with people who know I am struggling and who are honest enough to admit their own struggles. Next door the restaurant is the gay AA group and I slipped in for the 8 pm meeting. Topic? Acceptance and forgiveness of ourselves.

I was able to speak briefly about the turmoil I feel as I try to mend and heal and make a fool out of myself when I fall short of my or others expectations. Then home for a brief glance at the MS board--I didn't have the energy to post, so I'm doing it this morning.

I slept well last night, thanks to the sleeping pill I took. And I woke this morning with many of the same thoughts repeating themselves in my head. "Why did I say that?" "What if..." and "next time I'll>>>"----

I'm loooking out the window now and seeing the birds feeding on sunflower seeds in my garden and trying to bring myself to be in today, in this moment rather than endlessly chasing the tail of the past.

Writing this down as a way of getting it out of my head is one way that I hope to be able to leave tomorrow behind and focus on what I have which is today.

Sorry for the ramble---somedays recovery is a lot of hard, difficult work. Yesterday was one of those days. Somedays the path to recovery is filled with sunlight, laughter and butterflies feeding of bright colored flowers....that's the day I'm trying to create today.

Thanks for being a part of it...whichever way it ends up.

Thank all you guys for responding to me and being OK with me no matter how I am....

"Poke salad Annie, 'gators got you granny
Everybody said it was a shame
'Cause her mama was aworkin' on the chain-gang"

-Tony Joe White

#14795 - 09/03/04 02:41 PM Re: Recovering is Tough, Hard Work
Bryan Offline

Registered: 07/30/04
Posts: 37
Loc: tokyo
Wow, you are really processing alot of info lately! Don:t worry about rambling here, nor screaming in your group - you are actively trying for change. Sooo much better than Bottling it up and running around town isolated and going crazy, which can create some *assholes*...I isolated myself during early recovery and it ended up making me talk to myself like a bag-person on the bus fulltime before I reached out and got help, your way is sane and self improving, I envy your bravery for going into a group with such a heavy burden. I:ll say to both you and I; our ramblings are a waterfall we need to start controlling with a faucet. I:m still figuring out how to use this site too and I:m starting to think (just for myself) of my Topics being self centered, but short and broad enough that many replies are invited, just a thought. Keep on keepin on.

Bryan Beezer


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