I am now in mid term remission from all of the above. I am a male survivor of 29. What follows is an outline of my past and my struggles to overcome the consequences of it. They may have taken my innocence but they could never take my heart away. In fact even my innocence has been reclaimed. This is my story of personal courage, the quest to heal and the redemption of learning to care for my inner child and coming to love my adult self. Be gentle with yourself if it brings feelings up and share with safe friends. If you have no support I suggest you browse the web and get some before reading this. Any criticisms of any methods I have used are intended to be constructive, I needed to use all the help available, the comments I make are retrospective. I needed lots of support, I never thought I’d meet so many people, let alone need them.
I was born to two alcoholic and chemically dependent parents. My mother was 15 when she conceived me, my father 21. My parents broke up not long after I was born. My father was blacked out, pissing in cupboards and the like.My mother was pilled up enough to leave me in my pram in the mid-day sun whilst she popped out for an hour to buy cigarettes. I was used as the rope in an emotional tug of war between them. I was physically beaten and bruised as an infant by both parents, cousins etc. I would be left screaming in my cot because they new I’d shut up eventually. Eventually, by about 3, I ended up with my paternal grandparents. My father went to sea and only visited occasionally till I was 9. My mother stopped visiting me aged 4 following my paternal grandmothers verbal assaults and manipulation.All the above was gleaned as an adult from interviewing my parents and other relatives about themselves. They all lied about each other but seemed to think what they themselves admitted too was just funny. They all believed the myth that mine was a ‘normal’ family. I have nothing to do with any of my family today although I would support the younger generation if and when they’re ready to own the truth.
My paternal grandfather took pleasure in telling me how he’d offered money for a private abortion to my mother to get rid of the ‘problem’. He also told me that the only reason he’d let me in the house was because my grandmother was suicidal at the time of my birth and needed something to occupy her. That I certainly did. I was forced to call her ‘mum’ and never allowed to speak about ‘that whore of a woman’ who was my real mother. She was a strange woman full of passive aggression which would come out on me as shaking and twisted ears when she couldn’t suppress it further. She cried if I ever mentioned that she was really my grandmother. I was taught that my words upset her so much that she wanted to die when I said such hurtful lies. My grandmother used me as an emotional dumping ground throughout childhood. I was a surrogate husband. She used to expose herself whilst touching herself and I recall her trying to ‘feed’ me and using me as an emotional and sexual comforter. The thought of her kisses in public still make my flesh creep.
My grandfather openly expressed hatred for me. He is the only perpetrator who I got an admission from when I confronted. He blamed his actions on his wife's lack of affection and the horrors he’d seen in the second world war, including dismembered women and children, gang rapes and murder of prisoners. No justification for his behaviour.
By 7 he had attempted rape on me and continued to visit my bed and bathe me till I reached about 12. The sexual assaults and physical violence were all repressed and disassociated from by me till I hit adulthood.
As a child I had ‘out of body’ experiences to get away from the terror. My body numbed so that even before and after my years of chemical dependency, I was physically numb. I was also touch phobic and had fits of rage aged 6-9, blamed by others on having absent parents. I would overheat and attack any one near me. This was a release for the anger at being violated. This stopped because I found drugs that controlled my pain till they started to work less, and finally not at all towards 17. Aged 9 I had a major road accident and a fractured skull. More trauma. I think I was subconsciously seeking to end it all when I went under the wheels of the motorbike. It says something about the human spirit that I survived this and all the other trauma to come through the other side. A whole, mature, responsible and self aware adult member of society.
When I was 6 my uncle through marriage would make stories up for me. This helped me develop a rich imagination which I would retreat into. This became a creative asset for me later. I loved his attention and would do anything to keep it. He would give me dead legs and Chinese burns in ‘play’ but I was used to that kind of treatment. I was so desperate for someone to love me and tell me I was wonderful. Some people have been sceptical when I tell them that there were more than a couple of perpetrators in my family system. The reality was, and this makes perfect sense to me using family systems theory, that all adults in my family were either perpetrators or married one.
The stories my uncle would tell got more and more scary. I’d scream to my grandmother but by then they were used to his stories making me react that way. He assaulted me and made me do things to him. I still wanted his attention. When his wife gave him two daughters he stopped talking to me. One of these was investigated following signs of virginal dilation and a thrush infection aged two. This was covered up and explained away as caused by obsessive self stimulation. I have informed social services and child protection of the ‘family business’, they said I should put the past behind me. I, not the perpetrators was ‘sick’ and talking about it would screw me up more! BACKLASH!!!
By 9 I was medicated on a barbiturate based anti-convalescent because of the crushed skull incident. With other kids I’d started smoking cigarettes, stealing drinks and sniffing glue and aerosols. I felt I fitted in at last. I always seemed on the outside looking in. Now I was able to show what a real man I was because I could get more blitzed than any one else. Being a ‘real man’ in my family meant never showing any emotion other than rage, drinking heavy, and being able to pretend physical pain didn’t hurt. I remember how my grandfather would twist my arms and when tears finally showed, laugh at me for being ‘a big girls blouse’ or ‘a little poof’.
After the accident my father was manipulated to get more involved for a short while. He had two other children by then and a new wife. He got sober for a while and tried to make amends for his absence. I still remember his apologies. Then he turned around and said ‘fuck it, you don’t even remember what I did do you?, come on you little c**t (his favourite name for me)’ and took me for a beer. I always felt closer to dad in drink in my teens. Continuing in my fathers footsteps, except I was the one who was going to break a limb from the family tree. I first took a knife to my father in self defence aged 13.
He was a frightened and lonely man with a major capacity for sadism. His was a well off working class family with connections to organised crime, arms dealing, extortion and neo-nazi terrorism. When my grandfather told me that my father would kill me if I ever talked about anything outside the family I had evidence to confirm this was likely. My father liked to pick me up by the throat and squeeze. I’m not sure about sexual abuse from my father but emotionally know he did. He was always ashamed to be near me. He held drunken orgies in a room I shared as a baby with my mother, her sister and other drunks they’d picked up. Again this story and how, on my parents wedding night, he had sex with my mothers sister were found amusing by both sides of the family when questioned about it.
I refused to go visit my fathers house when I was ten. My grandmother didn’t want me to go which helped but I was terrified for my life when he drank. My half brother was dropped on his head deliberately, by my father, in front of me whilst drunk. My brother was only an infant. He was a ‘slow’ child after that. My half sister adored my father and would hold him like a lover. She tried getting in bed with me but fortunately I was totally terrified of being touched. One other incident like this happened in my early teens when I got aroused whilst ‘play’ fighting with a cousin. I didn’t act on it. I was terrified that I was going to hurt someone. After that I was ashamed to be near younger children till I started to get help for my past. To make this clear, I have never been attracted in reality or fantasy to children. The incident mentioned above happened once just when I hit puberty. At that time anything from bus vibrations to game shows would arouse me. This incident and the way it left me feeling was the only thing I remembered when I first started looking back.
I initially blamed myself for being abused and carried the guilt of the whole family despite it having nothing to do with me. Adults are supposed to be responsible for their children not the other way around. My later fear of exploring sexuality with same age teenagers was excruciatingly painful and confusing. I equated sex with pain and harm and hated myself for becoming physically mature.
In my teens my aunt through marriage orally stimulated her infant son in front of me and pulled his genitals. She told me she had to do that or he might end up gay. As I said before, all members of the family system were party to the abuse. This wasn’t an organised or consciously expressed thing. I guess shit attracts flies.
By 11 I was violently penetrating myself with all sorts of objects. In my minds eye the abuse would play back but I pretended it was fantasy. At school I was underachieving. I couldn’t handle being around people. I was afraid that I was going to be assaulted all the time.
Until 9 I had found solace in the church. I had been treated with respect there and enjoyed sermons about an all loving god. Unfortunately; what with an old testament judging god, to confuse my childhood hopes, my grandfathers warnings, that god would tell him or my father if I told the truth, and then torture me in hell for my lies, I was a bit mixed up. I enjoyed singing in the choir. I may have got a sense of rhythm through this that led to my main creative outlet of poetry. I can’t think why else a child from my kind of family would have started to write verse. However at 9 a friar beat me around my already damaged head with the spine of a bible for talking whilst he prepared to speak to an assembled group of children at the local vicarage. I blacked out. Came too then raged. My family supported the idea that Christians were all c**nts and my hopes died for a loving god.
I was a very able reader. My attention could hold if I was in a room alone. I started looking for a new spiritual hope. I wanted my awe, wonder and hope back. I found Taoism lacked an anthropomorphic deity which was a relief. ‘My father who art in heaven’ wasn’t much of an image considering what the word ‘father’ meant to me. At 12 I cut out drink and pills and solvents for a year or so. I became a Vegan, tried to eat macrobioticaly and got obsessed with martial arts. The later was excellent for channelling my rage and I had to be moved into an adult class for not pulling my punches. After a session at the dojo one night I got drunk and smoked a joint. I got bang back into getting out of it and forgot all my desire for balance and peace.
I was an angry young man who tried to hold to rebellious hippie values. I was the most well armed peace protester I knew! I skipped school a lot to get stoned and drunk. My sharp intelligence just got me through exams despite not having studied. At 13 I started reading occult books. I learned to cut myself to try and control my feelings from one such book. I new my father was into the occult and despite all the abuse still wanted to have something in my life of his. My obsession with the occult became a defence. My family started to be scared of me. I adopted a dark personae and performed rituals and meditation obsessively. All the occult stuff claimed these practices would get me closer to god. For me all they did were take me further away from my reality. Which of course suited me. The ethical systems I learned were anti-Christian and anti-life, they helped deny the damage the drugs were doing. It also helped to rationalise the abuse away as something that was only wrong because others said it was. Occasionally I’d buy a new age book by mistake or some of the more grounded stuff on earth mother worship or spiritual healing. I’d get really angry about phrases like ‘unconditional love’ and ‘following intuition’ or ‘feeling the feelings’. To me that meant only one thing, pain.
My heart had other plans. By 15 I was overdosing regularly, slashing my wrists with the intent of killing myself etc. Despite all the ways I tried to avoid my feelings they kept breaking through. I had a control and release cycle on survivors ‘guilt’ and grief. I was very lethargic with or without sedatives. I got the idea that life was pain and that I could escape by boosting meditation with hallucinogens. At 16 I had lost the ability to maintain even drug using ‘friendships’ and spiralled into isolation, drugs and religious addiction. I believed I had been spoken to by the devil in a hallucination and tried ritually selling my soul to be able to be like other folk, able to face life.
By 17 I had my grandparents in a grip of fear and hid away in the private prison of my bedroom. I was fitting from alcohol withdrawals and thought this was part of my process of spiritual enlightenment. I tried working to support my habit and after falling for a girl for the first time, but not being able to get intimate, ended up at college. I pretended to be cool and have it all together, I was a year or two older than the other kids. I got a girl to move into a flat with me where my rituals and drug use must have terrorised her. We never had sex but I wanted to possess her. She went with another lad whilst I was using hallucinogens in ever increasing doses. At the start of going to the college course my English tutor asked for an assignment about what we’d done prior to enrolment. I wrote about drinking and pills and how I’d decided to sort my life out by stopping and coming to college. I really believed my own denial. To my English tutor, ten years sober in AA, he saw an opportunity to reach out a hand of help. He said he knew where I was at and waited till I was ready.
It didn’t take more than a couple of months till I bottomed out. The girl I was living with tried to leave and I threatened to kill her with a knife. I overdosed that night and did a pretty good job of it. My mind had snapped. Nothing could control my feelings anymore. I had tried to get away from my family and ended up in a psychiatric ward.
The amusing thing about this was how concerned my family all seemed, even my father visited me. I didn’t realise how scared they all were that the truth might out. I was too blitzed to tell the truth, I had delusions of psychic powers and thought demons were everywhere. In a sense they were. Having made excellent performances of how concerned they were, my grandparents had me released to their custody. Within days I tried to torch their home. They covered it up. I couldn’t see any help anywhere, if the mental health system just returned me to hell what hope was there. I tried going back to college but of course my out burst with the poor girl I’d lived with had circulated. I thought I was paranoid because every one gave me funny looks, spoke behind my back and tried to avoid me. In retrospect I don’t blame them. I’ve never had the opportunity to apologise to the young lady.
I feel real sad and guilty that I hurt others in my flight towards safety. I’m not so sorry about how I treated the adult members of my family, they didn't get half what they’d given. I guess they were really damaged to do what they did. I’m not excusing them but I kind of wish they could have been helped rather than my adding to their burden. At the end of the day I had to look after number one, I needed out but couldn’t find a way.
My English tutor saw he had a live one. The college counsellor wanted me to be permanently medicated and was really manipulative in trying to get me to react at her taunts. I was too burned out for her stuff to get at me. Her only solution to my problems was to get me controlled and swept under the carpet. Not unusual for someone with clinical training. My English tutor intervened, he hit my hand hard, with a book called ‘Coming of drugs’ which was Narcotics Anonymous orientated. His sincerity broke through my defences. I could see in his eyes he had something to offer.
When the book said a spiritual path could solve all my problems I was convinced. I was so burned out from cult practices and drugs that it made perfect sense to me. As fortune would have it, my out patient psychiatrist saw a glimmer of potential in me despite all the madness. She said she was only working there a short while and was only training for a more general medical practice. She listened to me and my desire to get off drugs, including psychiatric medication. She told me she was prepared to take a risk on me if I showed willing and warned that other clinicians would, in her words, try to trap me into their system. I got the message. I took the self help route.
I started doing AA and NA meetings and took three months to detox. In this time I was very aggressive towards my grandparents. I wanted to get away from their control and all that meant. I hit the streets and after a short period of living on couches and under bushes got helped into B&B. This was terrible to say the least, broken windows, no carpets or heating, lingering vomit smells from prior ‘guests’. At least it was away from the nightmare. I eventually freaked out at the conditions and managed to assert my needs with out hurting anyone. Eventually I got a better B&B.
I got off the drugs but was very disorientated. I would forget my name and where I was. I would wander the streets for hours. 12 step group meetings gave me a little hope, some structure and somewhere to talk. I shared all soughts of stuff as and when it came up. I shared at nearly every meeting. I could contain nothing. I was still suffering chronic shock and was terrified I would use drugs or kill myself. I punched a lot of walls and cried alone. After a few months a woman in her late twenties at AA took a fancy to me. This was my first consensual sexual experience. We became enmeshed. I was physically numb when we were close. She liked this since it meant I found it difficult to climax. In retrospect we were two lost souls hanging on to the first bit of wood that drifted by. When she had enough of me it devastated me. I was using her as an emotional crutch. I relapsed on drink immediately. I’d been about a year clean by then. AA doesn’t focus on childhood issues, it is more about taking adult responsibility for our lives. To be honest if it had been different I don’t think I could have got sober. I can seem critical of AA methods at times. AA isn’t designed for survivors or other adult children. If it were it might not achieve results. It saved my life. By putting the chemicals at the top of my list of problems to address, I had a focus.
My first slip lasted a few weeks. I tried to get residential Minnesota model treatment for addiction but was turned down on the grounds of my recent arson being an insurance risk. My NA sponsor of the time had to let go of me, I was using and out of control. He’d done his best to reach out to me and showed me attention without seeking anything for himself. I was offered one to one counselling for free instead of treatment. I needed it. During the slip I prostituted myself, ended back on the streets and got violently raped. This got me back to a little sanity regarding the consequences of addiction. I went back to NA and some how got housed. I stayed clean. My counselling was with a recovering addict. We did a lot of reality orientation, emotional containment work and a bit of emotional release around my abandonment issues. At that time all I was in touch with was my mother and father not being there. I expressed fear about my father.
My mother had become a mythical hope, I dreamt that she would come and make everything alright. I’d taken another emotional hostage in the name of a relationship, again clutching at straws. She had a troubled home life and I played Knight in shining armour. Things were no fairy story. I tried to own her through emotional manipulation. This wasn’t through choice, I was so needy and was terrified of loosing her. I was a doormat as well as a puddle of tears.
After a year I got a new NA sponsor from Kenneticut and started to follow suggestions. I got a job, a new flat and started to look real good on the outside. My counsellor, I think, knew there was a lot still buried but made no suggestions. He sat back and gently guided me to looking at my co-dependency on my girlfriend. After two and a half years clean I was still occasionally cutting myself. I changed jobs to care work and focused on trying to fix others rather than looking at myself.
The 12 step programme involves making amends. I apologised to my grandparents for being so rageful towards them and wondered why this made me feel worse! I started to suppress anger using prayer and became a sports addict. I numbed out on endorphins, running, swimming, cycling and doing weights. This along with a full time job looking after others, doing night classes and having a relationship left little time to look at me. I wanted so much to live a happy ‘normal’ life.
Then my girlfriend got pregnant. I told her I had a dark secret that I’d never told anyone. I told her about the incident with my cousin but was very harsh on myself in my descriptions. I was so obsessed with my being a defective addict with an illness of self centredness that all I did was berate myself. I was still living in shame. Of course she couldn't handle this and left me to have a termination. My house of cards started to collapse. After a few months a rebound affair went under, my knees got damaged from running too hard, my NA sponsor moved away and my counsellor decided he could offer me no more help. After all, now my life was all together.
I was in the all together. I was wearing the emperors new clothes. Focused entirely outside myself and unaware that my front was just a facade. I was acting and I didn’t know it. My attempts at perfectionism and self control were in exact proportion to the depths of my shame. In other words they were absolute.
The abortion floored me, it put me in touch with how alienated I felt with others and from myself. I did what I knew and shared in my groups but I was beating myself up thinking that I should be sounding better for new members. Still focusing on other peoples stuff. People who gave me feedback after this period said I sounded like a preacher. I thought that’s how recovery should look. Little did I know what was coming.
My feelings were building up like a pressure cooker. I was scared that if I let out some steam the lid would blow. I pushed it down and used all the techniques I’d needed initially, to contain myself whilst detoxing,and tried to apply them to this deeper layer of emotion. It was like trying to do up a bolt nut with a sledge hammer. Eventually the bolt snapped. I tried to kill myself. I bled into a bucket, all the time convinced I was the most unworthy piece of shit in the universe. Flash backs of abuse were by now more conscious. I blamed myself, I thought I was going crazy and making it up. Finally, despite staying clean another couple of weeks, I hit the bottle.
I had got onto a degree programme through efforts to complete my education whilst sober. I got a fat grant cheque. I spent it all in six weeks on drugs and booze. I screwed doctors for tranquillisers. I hit every pharmacy in town for analgesics. I was doing up to seven different substances, in quantity, on a daily basis. I was screwed, I was still in pain and wanted to die. I overdosed and fell unconscious for three days, I awoke paralysed down one side. Despite relapse I kept crawling to the odd meeting of NA and was in a pre-group for an experimental day treatment programme. They were doing a family systems Minnesota model. After the OD I did a high dose mix of MDMA and LSD, this while coming off opiates, tranquillisers and anti-depressants. I wanted to be back in my old hallucinogenic escape from reality. Permanent insanity seemed less scary than facing the rising turmoil of emotions and memories. Fortunately it didn’t work. I ran out of money just as a place was offered in the group therapy. Just in time.
I arrived in treatment, ten days clean and emotionally collapsed. Any attempt at control was no longer possible. All the old defences had stopped working. I wept buckets and grieved a lot. After three months I was still crying every day. I cried in all my NA meetings, much to the apparent discomfort of some others. To be fair I only noticed the people who my honesty was disturbing. Lots of people were really supportive. I had friends in recovery by going through treatment. Before I’d only spoken to my sponsor and a counsellor. The people who helped the most were those who just let me be and bought me lunch.
In treatment I learned some new ways of seeing myself. I did an inventory on how I controlled others in relationships. I learned about shame. I did a family tree showing the addictions of each family member. I was tired of controlling. I let go and faced the world with no defences. In treatment this was fine. I would have liked to have stayed forever. I lived with my treatment buddies. Some died of addiction over the years but they all helped to save my life. They were there for me. I was beginning to sense I was loveable just being myself.
I went to an inner child workshop which gave me a take on what was happening. I was in meltdown and didn’t know it. I found dialogue was immensely rewarding. It gave me a focus within the floods of tears. I started to care for the kid who had no choice but use the drugs in the first place. Not such a bad kid after all, just really hurt.
A week after getting in contact with my inner child a letter came through the door. It was from my mother, absent for twenty years. It seemed like magic but I’d only just set firm boundaries not to see my grandparents anymore. It was put to me that this would allow me to learn to stand on my own two feet. Seeing how I was invited into a survivors group in treatment and refused I guess that where I was coming from was becoming pretty obvious. I was still obsessed that it was all my fault. I took responsibility for other peoples guilt to defend the sinking ship of my mythical happy family. Quite spontaneously I took a knife to my grandfather and confronted about the incest. I didn’t have much visual memory but I felt it deep inside. I didn’t let him know that I was unsure. He admitted to it and said if I killed him I’d be the one left rotting in prison. He was already close to death from kidney failure. He made his excuses and seemed to want to die. The last time I saw him alive was that boxing day. What a Christmas present. I let him die slow, I didn’t need to put him out of his misery and I didn’t need his blood on my hands. At least he died knowing the secret he’d tried all his life was out. In a strange way he seemed kind of relieved.
I assume my father contacted my mother to try and get me back in the fold. When I confronted him on the phone about incest he hung up calling me a c**t. He hit the drink heavy and put a shotgun to his third wife's mouth. She contacted me to tell me she couldn't tell me everything about the past but that I was on the right track. He got taken in by the mental health system. Here’s to you old boy! C**t!
I met my mother in the treatment centre with a very experienced family therapist. Again for free. I’ve been given so much. All from going to that first AA meeting, following suggestions and when I needed extra help seeking it. What a journey!
Mother was not impressed with my floods of tears and hugged me with tension. She was addicted to pills and drink. This was the last place she wanted to be. I got to know her and expressed my feelings. It became apparent that if I didn’t put a lid on it I would loose her. Eventually I kept quiet. I picked up a drink and played happy families. This time I’d been eighteen months clear of drugs and got to burn off a lot of the fuel that fed the fire. My drinking was less suicidal. More of a steady descent into hell than a free fall jump as before. I stayed in therapy.
My therapist was against inner child work. She was one of these rigid disinterested looking types. I started therapy clean and sober. She wasn’t interested in that. I started therapy in my feelings and felt shamed into rationalising them. I even went through convictions that I was suffering oedipal delusions despite all the evidence. Her professional front of detachment left me cold. At the time I thought I was working on my stuff. I learned some cognitive stuff but the orientation was back to control not expression. She often looked bored by my talking through my memories of incest. Her detachment felt like more abuse, I didn’t want her pity but some emotional aliveness would have helped. Not all therapists are like this. She also turned out to be a member of a religious order. The church had spotted a lost sheep to go chase after.
During my relapse on chemicals I remained aware of much of what was going on in my life. Powerless over it but pretty much awake. It was like watching a movie of my life being played back to me, I was acting out for the last time. I have discovered for me that all theoretical models of ‘recovery’ fall short. They weren’t created to support the individual needs of survivors. If anything many ‘healing’ methods were designed to keep us quiet. See Jeffrey Masson - ‘Against therapy’ and Alice Miller ‘For your own good’ and ‘Thou shalt not be aware.’ I just needed someone to be human and listen without making suggestions or interpreting it. Despite this criticism at least the therapist was someone to dump it with. It could have been better, but it could also have been worse. I needed some kind of support.
I met another survivor by accident and we enmeshed. I had never met anyone with the same issues who talked about it. She had a son with extreme problems. She had extreme problems. I was back in mine. We really tried. She got me to meeting other survivors. Since I was getting away with sneaking the odd drink and pill and had lots of prior recovery experience and language I played it all together in the survivors movement. I self sabotaged by sharing about the incident with my cousin as though something happened. My description of the situation was that I ‘nearly’ abused them. How can any one nearly abuse anyone. We rolled around, I got physically but not emotionally aroused, I walked away. End of story.
Being part of something so close to my core was very liberating. I introduced others to inner child dialogue. Meanwhile my kid was real angry and screaming for me to put the bottle down. I became progressively distant from my emotions. My self parenting had gone out the window.
I married. Our home life was a mess. I was chronically depressed and immobilised with the shame and fear of all the memories. I wasn’t drinking most of the time, I was depressed enough with out it. My wife had an abortion. History was repeating itself. I caught her kicking her son. I reacted. From then on if she looked like striking him I’d step in and strike him first. I falsely believed I was in more control than she. I went and spoke about my actions with child protection. I’d never struck anyone as an adult before, let alone a defenceless child. Thankfully they took him into safety. I spoke out about my own and my wife's behaviour and her family history. I feel more guilt for physical abuse to my step son than anything I have ever done. There is no justification. Yes, I got him help but I also became part of the problem. Big sadness. The buck didn’t quite stop with me on physical abuse. I offered to give him my house in amends when I divorced my wife. Not to buy his forgiveness, I just wanted him to have a stable place to live. His mother had been running, much like myself, for years. It was all very sad. Eventually I had to walk away.
Her parents denied the incest and had contacts with legal authority. They pinned all the boys challenging behaviour on my having smacked him. In the same breath saying this wasn’t on since I wasn’t part of there real family. In the UK physical chastisement by parents is still legal. Bad policy. There is no such thing as a lite smack. All hitting harms a childs esteem. I should know I’ve been on both sides of the equation.
I shame spiralled at the end of the relationship. My ex-wife had affairs. She pushed my buttons deliberately and eventually I struck her. Anything I had said about her and her families behaviour became eclipsed. I became her puppet. I bottomed out on alcohol when we separated. I wanted to leave her and I wanted to stay. It was very confusing.
I knew the relationship was killing me. After I divorced her, my ex-wife later said she did everything for revenge at my getting the truth to the authorities. I had no contact with her after that. I did what I could and it messed up everything. I’m glad I was true to myself despite it not paying off as I might have liked. I wanted the whole family to get help. It wasn’t to be. My ex-wifes parents got custody once I was out of the picture. For all I struck him I tried to love him better than I knew how. I hope I was part way successful.
When I got sober again I had to face what I’d ran from. I confronted and disengaged from my mother. I divorced from a mutually abusive marriage. I started to discharge anger safely using scream and pillow beating. I started to take my creativity seriously. I made restitution to my inner child for having abandoned him. I took full stock of the abuse I suffered and all of its consequences. I started to take responsibility even for those things I am not accountable for.
I still have amends to make to myself and others. I’m working on this. I’m being gentle on myself, taking my time and learning to appreciate a less hurried lifestyle.
I am rediscovering my own sense of spiritual awe and wonder. Not in esoteric practice or rigid religious dogma. I have found myself and learned to sit comfortable in the knowledge that I can experience extremely uncomfortable emotions. I am learning to be my own healer rather than looking for everyone else to fix it or have the answers. I am learning from experience.
I am discovering a creative energy for good within me. I see it mirrored in the trees, the bird song, the ripples on the rivers surface. I am sensing a new self esteem and love within and without me. I am slowly learning to trust my intuition. I am learning to try to meet my needs and leaving the results out of my hands. I am getting more honest with myself and others. As I care for me, other people, the environment and animal rights are becoming more of a concern. The rat race where I ran away from myself is less attractive. I dance and write and sculpt and paint.
My compulsive behaviour becomes less the more I listen to my feelings and try to meet my needs. I am beginning to realise just how resilient I am. I am not only a survivor, but a whole creative individual who has a lot to contribute. My experience is not in vain. Slowly, by reaching out and following my bliss I am learning to triumph.
Some things are going to hurt no matter how long I am in recovery or how much healing I do. My life doesn't have to strive for perfection anymore. I am perfectly imperfect and can love myself warts and all. The literature of Survivors of incest anonymous has helped me make sense of so much.
I am grateful to all those who truly supported me. To those who could never understand, but were well meaning, thanks for trying. To those who were against me, I make mistakes to. To the perpetrators, I expect nothing from you today, you’re too sick to own your wrongs. I hope that ‘help’ finds them, I still feel rage towards them. I forgive myself for that.
I thought that working the 12 steps and all the counselling had failed me not so long ago. What I didn’t see was that I was learning to practice the tools in all my affairs. All the struggles led me to deeper understanding and acceptance of myself. I have learned to talk about my history in generalised ways with people who haven't been through similar or who I’m not sure are safe. Lets face it the only person I can trust unreservedly is my self today. That in itself is a change.
I still have lots of fears. I’m slowly facing life. Most of the time things aren’t as bad as I tell myself they are going to be. I still have lots of messages in my head telling me I’m not worth a fulfilled life. The family-ar voices can shut the fuck up. Most of the time now these shame tapes are no longer my first thought in any situation. I have found a centre. My voice is loving towards myself.
I’m not suggesting my addictions were caused by incest. I’m certain that was genetic. The fuel of emotional distress certainly fed the fire. I’m also not making any excuse for things I’ve done that were wrong. I am accountable for all of my mistakes. To forgive myself, I needed to understand. To stop the cycle of self abuse I had to go back and clean out the wound. The plaster I was given at AA wasn’t a bad one, it just got stuck over a dirty wound.
At first all I needed was to ignore that stuff and focus on getting some order in my life. I’m glad I did it in that order. Behaviour, feelings, core issues, return to my spirit. I had to go to any lengths. 12 step programs aren’t for everyone. SOS is just as useful for alcohol treatment. I love Survivors of Incest Anonymous, there literature has allowed me to see how programs for other issues can sometimes hold us back.
Some days I just need to cuddle up to a teddy and listen to relaxing music. Maybe a walk by the river. A phone call to a friend. Other days I am at least as ‘functional’ as any one else out there. The only real difference between me and a lot of folks is that I’ve learned to talk about my challenges. Honesty is tough. I’ve re-read this twice to check what I’ve written. To the best of my ability this is my truth.
I was told the truth would set me free. No one said it would win me many friends. The price of integrity, in a sometimes dishonest world, is a certain sense of detachment. I can live with that.
I’m glad no one told me my journey was going to be so tough. In retrospect it’s been real interesting. For those in the midst of it I offer you my respect. I was crippled by depression and chronic fatigue for years. It was part of my healing not part of an illness. I just needed to rest up. I hope that when the courage seems but embers, the words from those others who KNOW, can help to re-light the fires. This is my heart. They couldn’t take that from me. To those who want one, safe hugs.
One final note. An apology to those individuals in the survivors movement affected by what I have said in public or in private about ardent feminist political agendas. As a man obviously some views are hurtful and I have reacted, sometimes inappropriately. I still think its time to bury the myth of the bad man. In the UK, female perpetrators still aren’t treated as criminals by the system, just ill, with diminished responsibility. This is the final conspiracy of silence here. In part my dis-ease about certain political views is that they seem to fail to support the need for new legal statutes in the UK to make male and female perpetrators equal in there accountability. Let us bury the hatchet, now.
When all that is said, the survivors movement deserves my full support. As individuals we may have different views on some issues but we are all in this together. I never realised till recently how big the backlash to suppress our voices is. I don’t think a lot of people even know what they are doing.
I can’t afford to criticise those in the same life boat. What ever it takes to get help and resources to others is justified. There is a power greater than the darkness, in our hearts there is a strength beyond that of those who are against us. Divided we stand, together we rise. We can triumph. The greatest vengeance is to live happy, and free lives. Maybe!
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‘The life of a man is a circle, from childhood to childhood, and so it is in all things where power moves.’
Pierrot= Little Peter.
Wolfchild= Honouring the wolf that came to me in dreams as a small child
to protect me from the nightmares.
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They said 'tell it as it is' and no one listened.
They said 'say it with flowers' and all the princesses ran from the thorns.
They said 'say it with anger' and I couldnt see them for dust.
They said 'say it with love' and I choked on the sentiment.
They said 'say it with spirit' and all I saw was an empty glass.
So I said it with my own words and if nothing else,
get to eat them once in a while.
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Back To Share Your Experiences Or To Pierrot: An Essay On Anger
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Back To Abuse Hurts Everyone
This page was posted with kind permission of the author
on 18th March, 2000