One Year Ago
It was one year ago last Monday when I first found Male Survivor on the internet. I was at home, laid-up on disability for the treatment of a serious medical condition. I was also off of work facing a legal problem for a traffic accident that I had been involved in. I noted that Mic Hunter, one of my former therapists, had been involved to some degree with the site and its parent foundation, and that an article that he had written had been included in a section of professional writings on the site. I was depressed and despondent after the best years of my life had seemingly come to a grinding conclusion. My wife was away from our home on an extended basis caring for her elderly parents. I was "home alone" in the worst way. I had all of the time in the world on my hands and little to occupy my time with.
I read with some interest a number of the professional articles. One of them really struck me and it encouraged me to give mentoring on the site a chance. Certainly one of the reasons that I came here was to try to get a handle on my feelings, which were then in a downward and negative spiral, not unlike what occurred after my divorce in 1990. I resolved that this time would be different. This time I would try to re-establish a support group instead of giving-up. And I would also try to take what I had read about mentoring and try to share my recovery experience with the members on the discussion board here.
Below is a portion of the professional article that inspired me to try to share my experience & try to help-out on MS:
-------------------------------------------------------------Articles by Professionals
Finding the Child Within Through Helping the Child Without
By Philip Tedeschi, M.S.S.W., LICSWhttp://www.malesurvivor.org/ArchivedPages/child.html
" Several years ago I was fortunate to facilitate a survivor group for adolescent male sex offenders all of whom were victims of abuse. Although I've run these groups many times, this particular group was uniquely powerful and transforming. I managed to find two adult male survivors of sexual abuse who agreed to speak with these young men. The men felt it would help them in their recovery to talk about their abuse experiences. They saw that it was destructive and painful to be isolated with the secrets of their abuse. Both men also said that this process of revealing and sharing was crucial for building a trusting relationship with their child within.
The men served as role models who helped the adolescents understand more of their experiences of abuse. It is vital, for both the treatment and recovery processes, to know that one is not alone and that it is possible to overcome the damaging effects of sexual abuse. Adolescents generally have a difficult time seeing themselves in the future; it is difficult to imagine themselves as men. Their encounter with adult survivors helped them realize that the effects of sexual abuse are far-reaching and, if avoided, do not simply go away with time. This encounter provided them with the impetus and support they need to begin dealing with victimization issues now rather than later.
As the facilitator of this group, I observed how the adolescents' therapeutic progress was significantly accelerated by the presence of adult male survivors. I believe this joining of two generations may be beneficial to other groups addressing sexual victimization issues. I want to offer a special thanks to the two courageous men who joined the group, for making this experience possible".
Fred, one of the two men who participated wrote about his experiences, and in closing he wrote, "I strongly believe that survivors, regardless of our age, can help each other. I have wondered what might have happened if the child I was had the opportunity to talk to a man who believed, supported and loved him."
An entire year has now gone by. I have a support group that is larger and friendlier than I ever imagined possible. I have met men in recovery and in recovery services from all over America, Canada, Europe, and indeed, from all over the world. I also have an in-person support group in the Denver, CO area where I live, and I have made a number of close friends through my involvement here. I have dozens of thank-you notes from many of the guys that I have helped inspire onwards. Certainly, my involvement here has been a learning process, and i have stepped on a few toes too. It wasn't my intention to do anyone any harm and any person that I have offended I have tried to make amends to.
Thanks to Male Survivor for the opportunity to rebuild my self-esteem from where it had begun to head last Spring. Thanks to Phillip Tedeshi for contributing his experience and inspiring me. Thanks to Mic Hunter and all of my other therapists and my various group brethren over time. Thanks to my stepdad, his friend Jeffrey, my mother, my sisters, and my wife Teri for their support, and to my boss at work for his. And a special thanks to Hazelden in Minnesota and my counselor there Jim Atkins. Thanks for helping to make the last 12 years the best years of my life.
In 13 days I will be starting back to college for the first classes that I have taken in 19 years. I am taking 10 credit-hours toward my chosen major Urban Land-Use Planning. Metro State College in Denver had graciously agreed to transfer 48 semester credits from my two previous attempts at college, some of which are now 33 years old. Certainly the last thing on my mind a year ago was heading back to finish my degree. Thanks to my involvement with Male Survivor, I have substantially improved my computer skills, communications skills, and writing skills. My self-esteem and confidence have been restored. And I am much more confident in communicating my recovery issues and experience even into major public media.
So this is just a special thank-you for everyone that has helped me accomplish what I have here over this last year. Thanks so much for your friendship and guidance. And here is to another good year of trying to help others find the level of freedom that I have enjoyed in my life since I left Hazelden in the Fall of 1997.