Dear Charlie and Kev,
I'm writing this note to you guys because it was your brief conversation after one of Kev's journals that started this idea, but it's really for all you of guys who are still kids and might have questions that youíd like answers to. Since you said you've found it hard to be heard and have your concerns adressed, it seemed a good idea to start a thread that might begin to serve as a forum.
I'm not a therapist, just another guy who's been through abuse, but just having been there means having lots of ideas about healing. I hope this could be a good place for questions and answers for everybody. We're most of us still kids in some ways (I'm thinking of the teddy bear posts from awhile ago
The following things are responses to points Kev and Charlie made recently (though I'm sure i added things of my own
1. Itís an adultsí world. I donít believe that. The world isnít a generality. Itís specific. Each of us has his own little world, and we control a lot of it by respecting ourselves. When you speak of the world this way, it reminds me of my feelings of out of controlness and victimization. Those feelings were true responses to pain, but they are also filled with self-lies about myself. That my world isnít mine, or more precisely, that my world was taken away from me. That I am the problem, that I am the cause and am to blame somehow. None of that is true. I am a person who was hurt. The hurt doesnít have to be forever. I am not responsible for the hurt. I am not to blame. MY WORLD BELONGS TO ME.
2. These fears speak to something else I wish I had heard, so Iíll tell it to you. Itís true what Iím going to say. Even though I felt out of control, that sense of powerlessness is just a symptom. Itís not a fact.
3. To break the sense of powerlessness, speak out, just like you guys are doing here. And if any guy tries to hurt you again, SCREAM and YELL. How I wish I had done that. Just make a noise. I canít tell you how happy I am you are here with us and talking so early. The talking makes a huge difference. This talking I'm talking about isn't "disclosing" (I hate that word). It's just normal talk. Normal yelling. You've been hurt...that usually leads some noise (in comix it's ARGHH!) and to a story that gets told (to friends, not necessarily the police...)
4. Some of my sense of powerlessness came from shame. The shame was another symptom: THE SHAME HAS NO BASIS IN REALITY. I did nothing wrong. You have been stung by a bee and need a bandaid. I donít mean to belittle the size of the beeÖ.these are huge sores, but they are accidents and the abuser is nothing more than a giant insect. In my mind I'm seeing a giant hideously hairy spider oozing noxious gases and venom.
5. There was no reason for him to pick me. I was irrelevant. The abuse was someone elseís disease. THE ABUSE WAS NOT ABOUT ME. My dad was sick. It wasnít my problem. Remember that every day.
6. Because the abuse never reflects on me, I AM NOT THE PROBLEM. Therefore worries like Kev has about ruining things for his family are more symptoms rather than truths about his situation. I feel scarred and ugly and weak and ashamed and freaked out and horrified and horrible. BUT I ONLY FEEL LIKE THAT BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN SMEARED WITH SHIT AND NEED A GOOD BATH. Weíve all been sprayed by a huge skunk and need to clean off the goo. All the bad feelings are little more than nasty goo. They are not part of you. They are an infection from outside.
7. The reason there are so few books for kids is not because people donít care. People are only really capable of writing for themselves. As much as I want to write for you, I canít. I could meditate and call my younger self and ask him to do it, though. When I do, he immediately saysÖjust ask the right questions. Listen to the answer, but ask and judge for yourself. Take what you need and let the rest go. This is a game, and we can make up all the rules.
Kids are the most afraid to speak, so little gets said. Youíre talking here has begun at least a threadÖbut more could be done. As I said, people can only really write about themselves. So maybe you should write the book yourself. When you go to your T take notes and write. Keep track of your questions and the answers. Youíre an excellent writer, Kev, and writing a book about your abuse can heal you like nothing else can. I did it. And it made me cry buckets of tears, but it washed me pretty clean.
Thinking that not hearing your voice represented makes you nothing is somehow terribly true. Weíve all of us been silenced. Thatís the first terrible step. So in order to hear yourself or see yourself represented, you have to shout. Even a support site for men has taken years to come into being: and thatís only the first step. One of the things I've had to learn about abuse is that no one can do the healing for someone else, and that every generalization is a lie. All those guys with wives and kids and nine to five jobs are as foreign to me as they are to you...that's not the path I've taken, so it's basically meaningless to me. That's why it's so important to value yourself and trust your inner worth. That trust gives you the judgement you need.
8. Another thing about ďonly for men/adults.Ē I think youíll find a lot of us are still really kids. Not grown up except in age. I can remember my abuse like it was yesterday. I can certainly go back to that time to talk about it if you want.
9. Kev says his life is fucked up. Your life is not fucked up. You have been through a trauma and are shaky. That can and will pass. Remember the bug bite analogy. I think itís a good one. Our pain should heal and turn into a little scar. The awesomest thing about you talking now is that you can really heal it early before the wound gets big. Many of us have had bites that festered and became massively infected. Youíre cleaning out the wound in every journal you write and in every discussion you have.
10. Hereís an important one, Iím quoting Kev: ďonly 4% of ALL parents disbelieved their kid. This is like thunder Ė its the most important thing in the world!!!!!!!!!!!Ē Whatís so important about this one to me is your shock. Of course they believed you. They love you because you deserve love. That fear of disbelief is another symptom. Itís groundless. I remember it. It kept me quiet. You spoke. Fantastic.
11. This leads me to the most important thing: the patterns of bad thought are the killer. The abuse is nothing relative to what you tell yourself over and over and to what you allow yourself to believe. Life is pattern and habit. Habits of mind are more deadly and addictive than heroin. The absolutely best thing I can recommend for you and all the kids is a course in deep Zen meditation that allows you to be internally quiet so you can see yourself again. The Three Pillars of Zen has great ideas in it. For me the best thing has been to remember who I was before the abuse (very close in time for you guys) and to rebuild the patterns of mind I had then. Very much like setting a broken bone, I reset my thinking. I wrote some posts about this a while ago (basic meditation instructionsÖI teach meditation as part of my job).
12. Disclosure. You donít have to tell everyone or disclose publicly. Your choice. I never didÖ.turning it into a public crime scared me and seemed wrong (it was my dad and he was mentally ill). But allowing the abuse to be discussed in your everyday life heals. Again, the physical analogy is right. Youíve been injured. Who would you tell if you broke a bone? Let those people know. HAve the normal conversations you would have. You are just as blameless as in the bone breaking analogy, so only your false fear (remember itís a symptom not a reflection of real danger) is holding you. The shudders we get in thinking about abuse are wrong. Itís close to you. Let it out as part of the daily story. If you have friends, Iíd tell them. I canít tell you the relief I would have felt if I had gone to school the next day and told my best friend what had happened. Thinking of it this way also relieves the pressure of fear of someone blowing it off. If enough people talk the story grows and no one can blow it off anymore. For me, I donít care about sending people to jail, I care about open discussion. If we all talked nice and loud, even the abusers would start to get help and the social pattern would start to fade. Your friends will not disbelieve you. They will generally support you. Some of my friends have been uneasy about the subject. But Iím very casual about it, and I only talk if the subject comes up. You are near to the time of abuse, so itís a story that naturally wants to emerge. Back in the day I was holding my tongue, and that was wrong. I should have told my friends. I would have protected them. (One of my friends ended up being abused by another of my abusers).
13. You are not alone. We have all walked down the road you are traveling.
14. I couldnít care less about ďdisclosingĒ either. I only care about being able to talk freely about my life. You have that right and shouldnít be afraid. People care about you and actually many of them will want to know whatís up. When we freak out we begin to leave people behind. Thatís cruel. Keeping our friends out in the cold about our lives denies our love for each other. In the end it closes us up and makes us lonely. No point in that. Abuse is just another hurt. Not a curse or a shameful hiding thing. When I told the story the first time, I was not only amazed that my friend believed me, but that he was so angryÖhe really cared.
15. This is for Charlie: Itís not wrong to say you remember or to tell it the way you know it now when itís so fresh. Please do! I canít tell you how it would help to see that truth in the open. I tried to do it in a story, but Iím an adult with an adultís words. Part of the healing is being with others. We adults can offer you many things, you kids offer something amazing back: together we are a full perspective on the story. Hearing your words never makes me feel guilty or helpless. Iím not your keeper. Iím just another guy living his life. Thereís no real difference between kids and adultsÖonly superficial things. Inside Iím still the same person. I still love the same things and want the same things. Like I said earlier, itís the patterns of thought that really make the difference. If you buy into your fears you shape yourself one way. If you let them go, another side of yourself emerges. That other side is whole. People who live always in that whole side never lose track of themselves and think of kids as another species (though I can see why you think the way you do. Our culture wants adults to shut down and become drones).
16. Itís not wrong to say ďI want to get better!Ē Itís perfectly right. Something happened. Make it go away.
17. Itís not wrong to want a safe role model. Itís just dangerous. In the end, we make our own roads. You donít need a guide, all you need is a friend. People are never entirely safe: we all have our weirdnesses. But no one needs totally safe, they just need kindness and compassion. The role models are everywhere. Your friends, your teachers, your family. Remember to look deeply. See the good and the bad and grow as you would like to grow. Take what feels right. Leave behind the rest. Itís safely up to you, that way. And up to you, even when youíre a kid, is definitely the best.