*** Triggers ***

I am sixty-nine years old, am happily married to a loving, supportive wife for nearly forty-four years. We have three grown children and nine grandchildren. My wife and I and our children all have serious ongoing health issues which add stresses and challenges to our lives.

I am the youngest of four siblings. My parents had high moral standards and they had a remarkably good marriage. This was a great achievement considering the highly dysfunctional and often immoral families from which they came.

Because I was born with a heart defect I became fatigued easily, so I was not as active as other kids (the lie: I was not a normal boy). I was not required to participate in physical education classes (the lie: real boys are athletes). And I was excused from military service (the lie: real men are warriors). I was tall and very thin (the lie: real men are fit and muscular).

My earliest memories are from around five years old. Many of those memories have a sexual component and elements of being disrespected, of being fearful and of having an exaggerated sense of modesty. These memories are not "recovered" memories. There was never a time when I was unaware of those events.

Much of my understanding of sexuality was too advanced, too complete and too accurate for my age. There was also inappropriate behavior in my extended family. One example: I was present when an uncle fondled his wife and his own toddler son in the presence of pre-adolescent family members.

I share many characteristics with people who have been sexually abused as children. However, most of my memories are of verbal abuse, some of which was of a sexual nature.

When I was about five years old my brothers and I were led away by an older boy in our neighborhood. His intent was to introduce us to anal sex. Before the act could occur we heard our mother calling for us. When we arrived home our father took my brothers to another room, leaving me with our mother. Having just learned a new word I asked Mom “What’s wrong with f…ing?” She slapped my face really HARD!! That may have been the most emotionally devastating thing that has ever happened to me (the messages: we don't ask, we don't talk about sex, my protector just became an abuser).

My first exposure to pornography was when I was about ten years old. I came upon a younger cousin who was holding a deck of cards. Each card had a picture of a different young woman, each naked from the waist up.

From preschool age to age twelve I shared a room with a brother who was four years older than me. On several occasions he ridiculed my lack of physical, sexual development. He made a point, multiple times, of letting me know that he considered me a freak, not fully male. I was a “late bloomer” with no evidence to question his assessment, so I believed him. This has been the most persistent, most wounding lie in my experience. I often feel inferior and experience deep shame and expect disapproval when I’m around other men.

When I was 16 years old I had mumps. If mumps spreads to the groin area in males it can cause sterility. While I was reclining on the sofa, my mother came and sat beside me. She placed her fingers under the waistband of my pajamas and slid her hand down my body. When she encountered pubic hair she withdrew her hand. It seemed totally out of character for her then, and it still does. If her concern was medical, she should have taken me to a doctor.

A few years ago I began experiencing prostate enlargement, low testosterone levels, occasional erectile dysfunction. Then came the dreaded Peyronie's disease. Scar tissue formed in my penis. The deformity (bending) is moderate but continues, slowly, to get worse, causing intimacy with my wife to be a greater challenge, physically, mentally and emotionally. I don't have the pain that many men have with this disease. But the scar tissue has caused a significant reduction in the length of erections. Surgical correction can actually shorten the shaft further and significantly decrease girth. All of these male disorders add power to the old childhood and adolescent fears. Am I less than a whole, real man? Is my masculinity damaged?

About two years ago I was dealing again with some stresses ranging from childhood abuses to present health concerns and financial difficulties. I found a Celebrate Recovery group that meets near my home, and through that program also found BAM (Biblically Authentic Men). Through Celebrate Recovery and BAM I have found a treasure of authentic men who not only face their own struggles honestly but also support other men in their journeys. I have also met two excellent licensed counselors who have experienced some degree of abuse in their own childhoods, so they really understand. I have been very blessed to have the encouragement of many men. I am growing from victim - to survivor - to thriver - to (someday) victor. My ultimate goal is to become a mentor and encourager to others.

Recovery is a process, a journey, a lifelong struggle. But we must keep moving! We must keep telling our stories for the benefit of those who will come behind us.

Presently, my biggest struggle is dealing with today's health issues and the old lies that say I'm not man enough. How do I refute the self talk that drags me into the pit?

Edited by ModTeam (08/18/14 01:46 PM)
Edit Reason: Trigger warning added.