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#191920 - 11/20/07 12:33 AM Am I crazy or what? Needing some feedback
Peter 1950 Offline

Registered: 11/29/05
Posts: 51
Loc: Atlanta
Hey guys,
It's been awhile, but I'm back, looking for your thoughts. I'm sorry for what's brought each of you here, but thankful that this place exists.
Quick summary: At age 13, friendless and alone, I was suddenly befriended by a minister who was 24 years older than I. Flattered, I enjoyed his company and went along with things when it became apparent that he wanted something in exchange for his friendship. Two years later, he moved to another town, and things ended between us. Back to being largely friendless. Worried that I was gay and trying to hide it, I avoided anything that would reveal who I was.
During college, dealt (poorly) with bouts of depression, and I did see a therapist, although this was back during the time when homosexuality was still classified as an illness by the APA. In my senior year I met a girl who was attracted to me, and I proposed (sort of). While I'd stopped seeing my therapist, I did check in with him before going ahead with the marriage, but he encouraged me, asking did I plan to ask about all of her prior lovers. (Bothered that he'd see my abuser as a lover, but I let it go.)
Years go by...over 30 of them. We raise two beautiful girls. At their births, I was relieved that they were girls, because I was afraid that I couldn't be a good enough role model for a boy. Finally nearly four years ago, I tell my wife about the CSA and that I'm attracted to men. Throughout our marriage, I've been faithful, but she now thinks I've been emotionally unfaithful, a concept that I reject. We struggle for years with all of it.
Recently, she's come to accept me more and we've become very close. I feel like I'm ready to put all of this behind me.
Last week, my therapist had me talking to my "younger self" in an empty chair, and I told him (me) I was sorry for not being stronger at the time and avoiding all the subsequent pain.
It was brutal to relive all those emotions. I'm inclined to quit therapy and focus on the present. Seems too painful and non-productive to rummage around in the past.

#191921 - 11/20/07 12:44 AM Re: Am I crazy or what? Needing some feedback [Re: Peter 1950]
Gerald2007 Offline

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 157
Loc: Southeastern US
I am in just the opposite situation. I quit my therapist (T) because he seemed to only want to deal with the present.

The feelings can be overwhelming when dealing with the past, but I am now looking for a new therapist.

I am also in the Atlanta area. I am hoping to be able to help put together a group of male survivors in this area for peer support meetings.

Take care,

Alumnus: Weekend of Recovery - Dahlonega, May 2008 and May 2009
We are bound together by the pain of the past and our hopes for the future.

#191930 - 11/20/07 01:08 AM Re: Am I crazy or what? Needing some feedback [Re: Gerald2007]
mogigo Offline

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 1331
Loc: Colorado
Just wanted to say that the best thing I've ever done was joining my support group. Go for it, it's changed everything.



#191975 - 11/20/07 12:31 PM Re: Am I crazy or what? Needing some feedback [Re: mogigo]
Paul1959 Offline

Registered: 05/17/06
Posts: 525
Loc: NYC
Until we understand our past and our feelings about our past, those feelings will continue to affect our behavior today. Sort of like being bossed around by a bunch of ghosts. When we are able to understand our feelings and where they come from, they lose their power over us. I've been in therapy 18 months and can't tell you how true this is. The ability to identify feelings and their sources is HUGE in life - not just for CSA survivors. I had one survivor once tell me that he wasn't glad he went through all this, but the fact is that he has come out a better person and far more stable than his coworkers who stumble through a day always reacting to what is going on around them.
Now, I'm not going to tell you that the attractions to men will cease, but when they come up, you'll recognize them for what they are. You'll probably be able to understand what just triggered the attraction - and no, it isn't always the guy that walked by. Often you'll be in an emotional state where you have unconsciously set the trigger to go off - You were just feeling lonely, insecure, anxious. That moment makes you crave security. Where were you trained to get that security? At the hands of your abuser. The next guy who has ANY sort of bearing similar to your abuser could very well trigger an attraction.
The cure? Eventually you'll build healthy relationships and you'll know that everyone feels those fears and it's ok. You don't need to fix them, let them be felt and you'll realize they aren't so scary. The trigger is not set to go off nearly as quickly.
OK. Do I do this? HAHAHAAHA God, I wish. But my T has hammered it into me that this is my goal. I need to recognize the anxiety, recognize it, comfort myself and it's power over me will diminish. Gee, it sounds so easy doesn't it?
Sorry for the ramble. Can you tell i'm working on the same things you are?
All this was to encourage you to stick with therapy. It will help. We just can't do this alone. It's like trying to get over a broken leg by yourself.
Love yourself

#191992 - 11/20/07 05:01 PM Re: Am I crazy or what? Needing some feedback [Re: Paul1959]
GateKPR4 Offline

Registered: 10/29/07
Posts: 955
Loc: North Carolina, USA
Welcome Peter,
I think right now I got more triggers than a Remington factory. But you know something I feel emotions now that I never let out before. This has truly been a healing experience and as time goes on those old bogymen seem to have less and less control. This is all still new to me and I am slowly learning and gaining control over my reactions to those triggers.

I'm a normal person dealing with abnormal experiences.
The greatest discoveries we will find within ourselves.
|| || || || || || |

#191993 - 11/20/07 05:12 PM Re: Am I crazy or what? Needing some feedback [Re: Paul1959]
Peter 1950 Offline

Registered: 11/29/05
Posts: 51
Loc: Atlanta
Thanks much. I'm appreciative of your responses. It all helps, particularly the feeling of connectedness.
Paul, your comments were especially helpful. I've experienced a lot of loneliness in my lifetime, so your comment really hit home. Sounds like your T offers something much more directed than mine, who basically sits there and listens to what I have to say for 50 minutes, then schedules another appointment. Last week's approach was in apparent reaction to my saying that I felt guilty and ashamed that my wife had looked on my computer and found gay porn sites. I think he saw that guilt and shame going all the way back to age 13. He was right, and I hadn't really thought much about that before. I verbalize that it was all the perp's fault, which I know it is, but I still felt some amount of guilt for allowing it to happen.
I do have a very close friend who knows the whole story. He thinks I need to put the past behind me. I've been in therapy for nearly four years, and I really don't know what else I'm going to learn from it.
I may have learned more from your post than from my T. He expresses care and concern, but not much in the way of things I can do to better understand all of this and to begin to move beyond it.
My friend thinks therapy does more harm than good, and there are times when it sure feels that way.
Thanks again to all of you for your help.

#191999 - 11/20/07 07:54 PM Re: Am I crazy or what? Needing some feedback [Re: Peter 1950]
MemoryVault Offline

Registered: 03/02/07
Posts: 693
Loc: NJ
Sort of like being bossed around by a bunch of ghosts.

Paul, that's a great way to put it!

Peter --

I think we need a balance of past and present in our work, however we're doing it. Our inner child is important because he is the "father" of our outer adult. He learned the survival skills--our job is to decide whether they're still helping or hurting us today. He discovered fear; our job is to turn that fear into a realistic assessment of what's safe and what's not. He learned to put up walls; our job is to admire our ways of protecting ourselves, and decide which ones can come down now. Same with attractions...some will turn out to be unhealthy reactions to old traumas--some will be real expressions of our sexuality. That's our decision. I agonized over whether being assaulted made me have same-sex feelings when I was growing up, but came to decide that being gay was really what was natural to me. That was my reading of my sexuality; you can understand yours differently.

Ignoring the past means we continue dealing with symptoms and reactions, but don't understand where they come from--the issues just pop up again in other ways. Making the past the main focus, on the other hand, means that we are dedicating all our energies to changing the one thing -- the past -- that can't be changed. (No matter how many times I see Titanic, that ship still sinks!)

But when we see how the past lives on in the present, we gain the power to make new choices about it.

Edited by MemoryVault (11/20/07 08:00 PM)

#192105 - 11/21/07 04:55 PM Re: Am I crazy or what? Needing some feedback [Re: MemoryVault]
DanM Offline

Registered: 11/09/07
Posts: 540
Loc: So. California

It is interesting how you read someone's thoughts or experiences and they echo your own. I kept my abuse a secret for 41 years and finally got the nerve up to tell my wife this past New Year's Eve. I had finally got to a point in my life at age 51 to be able to deal with my emotions or lack of them and to try and understand why I would have these fits or rage when life got to stressful and tough and why I treated my wife and children so poorly. Everytime after these bouts of anger or depression occurred I would feel so bad. I would ask myself why am I acting this way, I am not that type of person..or why am I having these one night stands? I love my wife very much. It was as if was another person when these things occurred.

So, I also went to see a therapist and we meet every other week for about 6 months. I think I was mentally beginning to understand the effects fo the abuse, but seeing the therpist helped to be able to verbalize my feelings. This is something that I was never able to do as an adult. It is still difficult for me, but it is getting much better.

I am at a similar point in my recovery, I am not sure if I should continue to see a therapist or work through my feelings on my own and just use the support group on-line. I have told my wife a number of times that I think the therapist was a good, but she primarily just sat and listened and didn't seem to delve into the abuse or the source of my feelings. It seems so much of this is becoming self aware and breaking down the barriers that we have created over the years to protect ourselves. I have to say once I started therapy the emotions just began to continously rise to the surface. I do have days where I feel like I have been on an emotional roller coaster. From everything I have read and from what my therapist told me, this is the start of the healing process. I am not sure how long this will last, or if this is something that is permanet. I was a bit concerned when my therapist implied that these feelings and moods might be the best that it gets. Hs anyone ever been told the same thing.

I apologize for the rambling, but I do find it therapuetic to be able to express my thoughts and feelings. I can honestly say, that I have derived more benefit from this site then I have from the therapy. However, without the therapy, maybe I wouldn't have sought out this site and been able to express my feelings.

In closing, I want to wish everyone and their families a Happy Thanksgiving.

Dan M.

#192109 - 11/21/07 05:15 PM Re: Am I crazy or what? Needing some feedback [Re: DanM]
thesun3 Offline

Registered: 11/06/07
Posts: 49
Hello All & Happy Thanksgiving!
Therapists need to have training in Male sexual abuse. Except for this site, I haven't seen a lot of effort in academia to address this issue. Males react different to sexual trauma and it takes an empathic and KNOWLEDGEABLE therapist to help us through. JMO.

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.

#192114 - 11/21/07 05:29 PM Re: Am I crazy or what? Needing some feedback [Re: thesun3]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA

My own experience in dealing with the past was that I had to go through that - not only to acknowledge and recall what happened, but also to acknowledge and own how I had felt about it at the time. For example, as an abused boy I felt terribly ashamed and guilty for "liking" the physical arousal I experienced. That made me feel like I was "in on it", and of course the abuser played that card all the time. Acknowledging how I had felt gave me a solid foundation I could build on, in that my therapist and I were able to begin by looking at those feelings and deciding how valid they were and what I could do about them now.

But there did come a point where we could see that all I was doing was spinning my wheels - I wasn't learning anything new anymore. Talking about the past just meant feeling bad and agonizing over things I can't change. That was when I could see I needed to move on.

I can now say I am happy to be staying present, for the most part and concentrating on topics and issues concerning who I am NOW. And I understand that so long as I can do that, I remain in a part of my life where I can expect real improvements - the present and future.

So for me the key was balance. I needed to go back to the past in order to learn and build for my present and future. But I also had to learn when enough is enough. When I feel myself tempted to go back and weep with Little Larry in the past, what I tell myself is that when I do that I put myself and him back under the emotional control of a guy who's been dead 13 years! Why should I do that? What I seek to do instead is bring Little Larry forward to me in the present, so I can share with him the joyful and fulfilling things I see for us together.

Much love,

Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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