I haven't been active on this spirituality forum for quite some time, but i have something that i felt i need to share.
A couple nights ago at my support group we were going through a lesson about GRACE and I had to answer the question: “In what ways have you experienced God's grace in your recovery?” I began with what I consider the first answer to my prayer for God to rescue me. I ended up with quite a list. In the past, I have repeatedly listed the traumatic events or individual abuses or crises in my past. I don't think I have ever looked at it from this perspective before.
At the age of 13, I was physically removed from a situation of severe bullying and sexual abuse/harassment at middle school and scouts, when our family moved to a different city/country.
At the age of 13, the step-dad stopped abusing me physically and seksually.
For years, nay – decades, I was able to successfully bury the painful details of the abuse and achieve a selective “amnesia” that allowed me to function semi-normally for some time.
At 18, I was able to escape – go away to college, leave the family home, and return only infrequently and briefly – and on my terms.
As a college sophomore, I was dumped by my first fiance – a cute and quirky girl who was also from a dysfunctional family – and which saved me from a disastrous, too early, marriage based on desperation and codependency.
After graduation, I married a more normal, healthy, faithful and compassionate woman, who has been a major force in whatever healing I have experienced.
My fear and insecurity – though crippling at times – also prevented me from acting out with real, live men – keeping me from disease, emotional entanglement, and physical harm.
Even the one time in my early twenties when I tried to go out and get picked up by a man, nothing happened.
Our three miscarriages, though painful, overcame my fear of having children and solidified the desire to have kids.
Our three kids all grew up relatively normally and have turned out to be delightful human beings who are all well-adjusted and seem to have no ill-effects from my life-long depression and SSA.
My series of diverse, dead-end jobs ended up being the perfect preparation and resume for the long-term career that I eventually blundered into, through no deliberate choice of my own.
Through several bouts of depression, I never lost a job, my reputation, or my career – for THAT reason.
Even the deepest depression was productive, in that it forced me – along with my wife's insistence and God's guidance – to seek and accept help from just the right counselors in my mid-30s and again a couple decades later.
Unlike many CSA survivors, I was spared developing a full-on addiction to alcohol, drugs, or sex.
Despite several periods of suicidal ideation, I never completed (surprise!) or even attempted to follow through on my plans, as circumstances intervened or changed.
Contrary to the commonly held myth, though an abuse victim, I never went on to abuse others.
My youthful struggles have made me alert and sensitive to the danger signs of at-risk teens and equipped me to intervene on several occasions, possibly saving several from suicide or longer spans of life without support.
My wife's discovery of my p0rn habit led to my dealing with that – as well as opening up all my abuse issues from the more distant past – with a Therapist - and also some unexpected healing on her part as well – and then couples counseling which also helped.
At the right time, I found this website for men abused as boys – Male Survivor – which has helped me immensely in understanding the issues and helping me change my thinking and feeling patterns, and has given me a voice and companionship and friendship in the process of healing.
When I needed a more faith-based approach to SSA, I discovered an on-line support site – which has helped me feel no longer alone, as I learned from and wept and rejoiced with a community of fellow-strugglers and fellow-believers.
When I felt the need for a face-to-face group of believers to support and encourage one another in our difficulties, I found a faith based 12-step program – Celebrate Recovery – and a support group with a great bunch of guys, a sponsor, and an accountability partner, that has transformed my life and my relationship with God.
Most amazing of all, our marriage has survived – and even been restored and deepened and strengthened.
Though I didn't want our overseas work to end as it did, it has transplanted us to a safer place for a period of healing and refreshment, and now it appears that we are being redirected overseas to a new opportunity to serve in a different school and different country – a fresh start.
Bottom line – I can't quite agree with Paul in ALL of these words, though i do like the first sentence:
“ But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:9-10
BUT – I can definitely see God's GRACE working in my life – EVEN through and in spite of the problems and difficulties and suffering. I am MUCH better off than many who have experienced similar challenges – though no merit of my own. And I am definitely not bragging when I say that – especially not wanting to make anyone else feel bad. (and i sincerely hope that no one will be angry with my expression of MY beliefs and feel the need to argue with me.) of course, i still don't understand why i had to go through it at all, but at least now i can see quite a bit of light in the darkness. this is quite a transformation in my perspective on life - more than just calling the glass half-full instead of half empty.
Edited by traveler (05/10/14 02:19 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"