I am having some breakthroughs. This is one.

I grew up in a crazy, alcoholic home with parents who had a lot of damage in themselves. They carried it forward. I only had worth if I did certain things well like presenting a good image to the outside world, playing a sport well (which I had a hard time with), not bringing my problems to my parents, etc. Most of the time I did something "wrong" with my parents and I was cut off or punished or humiliated or ___________ (fill in the blank).

I sought attention from someone outside the home and I got it through sexual abuse that my brain interpreted as attention. I was a 13 year old sex object to men and I confused that attention with my self worth. So after my initial abuse, I sought more sexual attention from men and really what I was seeking was more abuse. Underneath the good feelings of being seen and touched were feelings of this is wrong, this is dirty, this is really empty and dark and devoid of life. I walked with a lot of guilt and shame but I couldn't stop the cycle because I didn't understand it. It felt like needs were being met.

I've had 7 months of sexual abstinence and I don't plan on stopping it or I don't have a plan about it. It was just the right time to do it. With the abstinence comes some clarity about my lack of self worth and what I did to feel something good about myself. Now I'm left with letting go of the illusion that my worth was affirmed through sex and realizing that I was used for my youth and innocence and youthful "beauty". And I ended up thinking those things were the most important things about me and made up my worth.

It is very difficult to see this and to let go of it and face the feelings of abandonment, neglect and deprivation that I was raised with. However, not letting go of this stuff keeps me in a cage that my young brain built to protect me from the truth. This is revolutionary in my life to do this. It is changing deeply ingrained patterns of thought and behavior that are just traps which seemed to save me as a kid. What the abuse did was just abuse my needs for protection, love and care and take them and twist those needs to serve the needs of adults.

Rather than simply be ashamed of this stuff and feel badly about myself, I am looking for another path. Acknowledge and accept what happened, what the boy inside me did with the information that he had and that I was abused and it is up to me to find the real source of self worth.

Where does self worth come from? How do you get it when you are a man and you are looking for it for the first time? This is painful stuff.
And more, much more, the heart may feel,
Than the pen may write or the lip reveal.
Winthrop Mackworth Praed