Suddenly it all became clear. The years of frustration, the screaming fear of physical closeness, all the poor choices and the ever present voices in my head telling me to end it all. It came in a flood of images of torture, fragmented, distorted, suppressed, violent and shameful. Try as I might, I could not escape them. How could I escape myself? A life destroyed, a soul left fragmented and adrift in the abyss of nothingness.
Denial of memories stuffed deep in my subconscious, deep in my body.
It all finally made sense. Was there light at the end of the tunnel or was it the headlight of an oncoming train? I could not have imagined the destructive effect that the recovered memories would have on my life. If my life was in pieces before I remembered, it was nothing compared to the devastation that would follow. Left in my wake was every relationship that had ever meant anything to me. Dismantled in the attempt to reconstruct something resembling a whole person. How can you construct a self with such broken pieces? Questions, only questions.
No one, no one can really understand the effects of such abuse on the sense of self that is so fragile in a child. The destruction of my soul felt complete. What I wouldn't have given to have someone sit down beside me and say they understood my pain. The deep suffering of a child damaged by a trusted relative looking … for what? I'll never really understand what motivates a grown man to rape his 4-year old grandson. I'll never pretend to understand the twisted logic that must have preceded and justified such an act. The destruction felt complete. I was annihilated. My childhood stolen from me.
With the aid of the sweat lodge, and counselling services (paid by the financial resources provided by my job as a physician), I began to rebuild my life. Later, much later, after I had reconstructed some sense of my self, I started to meet other men who had been molested. We met and supported each other and gave each other unconditional acceptance and love. There was light at the end of the tunnel after all. There was a way to transform the pain and suffering into something beautiful. The events which had defined who I was became just a piece of the mosaic of who I am. The work I did enabled me to have a deep understanding of human suffering, and helped access the strength within myself that I never knew I possessed.
Looking back, my recovery has been a difficult and wonderful journey. I would have liked to have come across an organization like The Men's Project here in Ottawa (www.themensproject.ca) at a stage in my healing when I could have taken full advantage of the services they offer. Instead, I floundered in the wilderness by myself, struggling to find a way to make sense of all that had happened and put the pieces of my life together. I didn't know there even existed counselling services for male survivors.
I was appalled to discover that the only available services were for women when, for years, it has been known that one in six men is a survivor of sexual abuse. Why have government funders and sexual assault services avoided the obvious by only serving half of the population? Why have we forsaken the lives of boys and men? This gender bias continues to this day. It violates all the principles of equality and fairness that I thought this country holds dear. Something is wrong, very wrong, in where we are at in 2010. We need to open our eyes and do what is right.
What follows are two poems I wrote. They speak for themselves.
No better word
To describe what eats away
at my soul
Go away ! Go away !
But I can't escape myself.
I hate you!
The war rages on.
But it is really me that I hate,
And me who is disgusting.
Unable to cope,
I turn the poison outwards
That which is most precious.
And for a brief moment,
My pain is eased,
As I see reflected in my partners' eyes
And inside I am crying out
Stop ! Please stop !
But I don't even know who I am talking to.
I have been to that most frightening of places,
And there is peace in the darkness
And in the solitude
and the isolation
What is the fear after all,
But a fear of being alone and vulnerable,
small and helpless.
There is love in the darkness,
Beautiful and strong and warm.
And in the silence and solitude
At the core,
Where all is one,
There lies strength of spirit,
Beauty, innocence, balance, simplicity.
Beyond the fear,
There is peace in the darkness,
And I am not afraid.
I still walk along the edge of the cliff,
With the thick darkness below,
Unafraid of falling.
Able to imagine myself being lifted up
on a warm breeze.
And feeling the sun shining on my body,
And the wind carrying me higher.
I glide and soar.
Suffused with the power and strength
of the universe and self,
Joined and connected.
Travelling in infinite bliss.
There is peace in the darkness,
And the silence is strong and warm
So I soar,
Grounded in the knowledge
And the silence of self.
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