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#388780 - 03/08/12 08:54 PM Different scales of importance
traveler Offline

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4151
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
Male survivor here with a question for both men and women:

As we have dealt with various things through the years – both related to my CSA history and also totally unrelated, I have noticed a dramatic difference in the values we each place on certain actions or statements. What I am wondering is – is this just a “normal” male / female difference – or is it caused by – or exaggerated by the CSA fall-out?

Example – recently after a BIG conversation, my wife said “This is pivotal!” We both agreed on that! Then she went on: “It’s like turning an ocean liner – it takes a while to see the difference.” I know what she meant – that she would need to wait to see if the results matched up with her expectations and my resolutions. But I felt – and told her – “To me it is more like an abrupt U-turn!” I had really gone out on a limb to reveal things that I was very uncomfortable, nervous, insecure, ashamed, and fearful about – something that was totally foreign and very scary and unheard-of for me to do. So it was a much bigger deal for me than it was for her. I felt a bit deflated that the enormity of what I had just accomplished had not been fully appreciated. I know I tend to downplay my thoughts, feelings and opinions when I do express them – which is not always very often… So I guess it’s understandable that they might be misinterpreted or taken only at face value – understated and therefore not very valuable. But I would think that the rarity of my self-expressions and revelations might give them greater emphasis.

Another: She said to me during a couple counseling session, “What did I just tell you last week?” Well – I started frantically rummaging through a mental inventory of everything I could remember that she’d said – and didn’t come up with the correct answer quickly enough to please her. (There was a lot to remember . No offense, ladies – but if I can be forgiven for generalizing – you do tend to say more than we men do – especially we survivor men!) She felt disregarded and unappreciated and hurt that I didn’t immediately recognize the importance of the vital statement. Once I had a couple hints, I remembered it. But it was not something that had seemed as significant to me at the time as it apparently was to her. Sometimes there is so much communication coming at me that I just can’t process it all as fast as it is given . Often I have a difficult time sorting out and identifying which are the important messages and which are less meaningful – which I should pay attention to and remember and which I can safely ignore or forget.

So – whaddya think – is it a human thing? – we are all equally susceptible? – or a male / female difference? – or a trait that is amplified by a history of abuse?


Edited by traveler (03/08/12 08:55 PM)
"My experience has shown me that I all too often tend to deny that which lies behind, but as I still believe, that which is denied cannot be healed." Brennan Manning, "All is Grace - A Ragamuffin Memoir"

#388781 - 03/08/12 09:10 PM Re: Different scales of importance [Re: traveler]
SamV Offline

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 5959
Loc: Talladega, Alabama, USA

It would seem that you may simply be overwhelmed. Perspectives of values change within external AND internal grouping. Men, women, sexual abuse victims, age, race, creed, and time all play a role in our prioritizing our sense of value in a given thought, thing, person or place. Dealing with sexual abuse recovery is heady! It is about changing what we had thought, felt and internalized from our damaged traumatic experience and shuffling through new thoughts and feelings in an attempt to support ourselves into a new strength. It is daunting!

Your supporter is coming at the recovery from her perspective, so when she remembers something significant and comments on it, she perceives it as "ground breaking" and obvious, an "Ah ha!" moment in recovery. The truth is, while she may be at the point where she can accept, assimilate and apply the information about sexual abuse recovery, you may not be ready to receive such information and use it. Alternatively, you may be able to use a part of it, and direct it to an area she may not have noticed or felt was a priority. NEITHER approach is incorrect, fellow survivor. It can however cause misunderstandings, confusion and hurt feelings.

There is no order of events or timeline as to the "proper recovery" a survivor needs to reach the ultimate objective. Recovery is a matter of culture, subconscious thoughts, trauma, personality and as well, information. If you are having difficulty adjusting to this format, you are NOT alone! Hundreds of thousands(and probably much more) struggle with determining their own course of action, but then to bring in the variables that male survivors have to navigate! Talk about an intense game of "Frogger!" Whew!

Take the good and positive, the connecting and securing of the recovery and celebrate it. Be satisfied when you and your supporter find something that is "ground breaking" and share it with each other until it is a "built in", then.., rest, recover, congratulate, rest, recover, and repeat!


MaleSurvivor Moderator Emeritus 2012 - 2014

#388787 - 03/08/12 11:52 PM Re: Different scales of importance [Re: SamV]
traveler Offline

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4151
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
Thanks, Sam - makes sense ...

Just realized that sometimes the opposite is true, too - I take something that is really trivial and personalize it too much - make it more of a big issue than it is meant to be - get worried or hurt over something really insignificant. paranoia in action...


"My experience has shown me that I all too often tend to deny that which lies behind, but as I still believe, that which is denied cannot be healed." Brennan Manning, "All is Grace - A Ragamuffin Memoir"

#388788 - 03/08/12 11:54 PM Re: Different scales of importance [Re: traveler]
hopeandtry Offline

Registered: 07/28/10
Posts: 476
The first incident you describe sounds like she is saying "I hear your words and this is pivotal BUT I will wait to see if it is a long term change." I think you can have a "pivotal" moment (or seem to) but time will tell if it really is pivotal. I would feel the same as your wife, honestly. I would think "Ah, these words/thoughts he is having are ground breaking!" but I would also have to be honest and say I need to see the survivor following through long term, if that makes sense. I don't post much here anymore but I read your post and wanted to respond. Don't get too bogged down by is partly male/female and partly survivor/supporter differences in communication or viewpoints. My best advice to you? Keep SHOWING your wife you mean what you say...but give yourself a break, too. If you know you really are trying, then hold onto that. She may be skeptical or impatient sometimes (and possibly with good reason), but if you are doing your best, that's all you can do.

#388791 - 03/09/12 12:59 AM Re: Different scales of importance [Re: hopeandtry]
peroperic2009 Offline

Registered: 10/09/11
Posts: 3827
Loc: South-East Europe
Hey Lee,
those your thoughts are wonderful example of some very common misunderstandings and plain communication "problems" between people. Because it is something between you and your wife (someone of greatest importance) even smallest misunderstanding could arouse to bigger proportions, no matter if this is something negative between you two, it is pure reflection of strong mutual connection. Energy between you two is great and that could be even reason for your "paranoia" in this respect.
I think that path for better understanding of others is mainly trough hearth, and it is possible to make progress in that compartment and even to train empathy.
This is life task for all people no matter if we are abused men or their spouses...

Take a look for this piece of paper which explains all those issues:

Even this article brings partly some Zen Buddhism perspective it is based on pure and heavy neuroscience - that is combination that I'm looked for long time wink . If you'll found it useful you could show it also to your wife, there are things written there that we all need to learn...


My story

#388847 - 03/09/12 06:56 PM Re: Different scales of importance [Re: peroperic2009]
GoodHope Offline

Registered: 07/05/11
Posts: 428
Wife here-it's a Man/woman thing magnified by the CSA. Keep talking and if possible, walk her through your perspective. Pain in the butt to do I know but it helps me tremendously. I need my husband to tell me "this is important to me."

Wife of a survivor

#388896 - 03/10/12 10:42 AM Re: Different scales of importance [Re: GoodHope]
Esposa Offline
F&F Greeter

Registered: 10/19/11
Posts: 811
Loc: NJ
Another wife...I'm with Hope
Man/Woman thing - magnified first by CSA and then made worse by infidelity wink I find I am super sensitive and try really hard not to be - and try really hard to note ANY move in the right direction re communication.

#389032 - 03/12/12 03:53 AM Re: Different scales of importance [Re: Esposa]
Anniemy4sons Offline

Registered: 09/29/11
Posts: 98
Loc: NJ
Here, Hear, Herd, Heard..

"I hear the cows".
"Here are the cows".
"I'll herd the cows".
"I heard the cows".

It's a perception thing. Man/Woman.. Complicated by CSA.
Confusing therapy mixed with a lot of emotion and past experiences SCREAMING in our ears, COVERING our eyes and making it difficult to relate to each other properly.

His CSA makes him untrusting and full of shame (he is still battling the shame), SA (sexual addiction) guilt that makes him full of shame.

I'm an outsider trying to understand that CSA has changed/distorted his thinking AND the infidelity that makes me very untrusting, hurt and angry.

We - He/I can say something and we perceive different things from it. The importance, the message. And we are both extremely untrusting right now. Both looking for the meaning behind the meaning. We are still trying to get to know one another. He is busy trying to make sense of what I'm saying, while I am trying to determine if he is sending me a message through what he is saying. Plus he uses A LOT of words (when imo) he could say in fewer, this makes it hard for me understand him.
He still says things according to my reaction and to gauge my reaction. Feels like he is halfway between an honest person and a person honest with their feelings. He still worried about upsetting me and I'm worried about setting him off.

He came home from a therapy session. Repeated something we had covered last week. Said it like it was the first time he heard it. And was excited at the powerful message.
What I didn't understand was that when he heard it the first time. It didn't resonate with him so he filed it away or forgot it( because it had no meaning for him yet). When he understands, feels, empathizes, or "gets it", then the message becomes "real". No longer abstract. To me, my reaction is, "been there done that, finally . OR you've already said that.." But the first time its "YES! and He is the one who looks blank".

We all need to agree to practice patience with each other. I now use the words, "keep this in the front of your mind because I think this is important". "I ask him is this resonating with you?"

or try "what did that mean to you?... because to me that means...."

Start a therapy journal, nothing complicated just take 10 mins after therapy. Stop at a coffee shop. Each of you write down what you thought was important or meaningful. Your perception of it. Refer back to the journal when you need to or read each others entries.

God is my teacher, Jesus my comfort and the Holy Spirit my protector.
I AM Listening...

Thank you Mother Mary.
Pray the Rosary every day.



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