A journey through therapy and beyond.
It has been almost a year since I disclosed my abuse to my family and my friends. I’d spent much of the previous five years looking for help, but being a male and seemingly high functioning, help wasn’t easy to come by. I’d had numerous silent breakdowns, unbeknownst to those around me during this time, followed by periods of calm and hope. Like any battered old boomerang, the inevitable happened and the lows came again. Each time, they got worse as the realisation of my past dawned on me, and there became a point where I felt I had to get help or end the cycle. I could never quite bring myself to end things, I have been close a number of times and although it is continually there in the dark recesses, help has become my only hope.
I was lucky to stumble across a charity local to me who help those suffering from domestic and sexual abuse but from experience, most only dealt with women. To my surprise, they asked me to come along for a chat. Initially, I had to wait 4-6 weeks before seeing them, but they’d had a cancellation that morning, in fact, I had to leave straight away to get there, otherwise, I may have panicked and made an excuse to not go along. I didn’t have time to analyse. I honestly believe given time to think, I’d have made an excuse not to go.
During the initial period of therapy, the changes were great and I slowly started to recognise where I had been, I wasn’t alone in my suffering and there really was hope for the future. I read numerous academic texts, books on male survivorship, other survivors blogs, and really felt that I could do this. Therapy wasn’t easy and some very dark periods were frequent in the early days as I confronted that which has dogged me for over 30 years. This was probably one of the most difficult periods of my life and made me question everything I knew.
Things did improve, I felt rejuvenated. I felt an energy I’m unsure I had felt before.
Having made so much progress through therapy in a short period of time, I had thought that was it, I was fixed! A number of months went by on such a high and with much fewer lows, hardly noticeable. A break from therapy ensued and a lapse in the day to day reading and note taking followed. Around Christmas time, things very quickly turned back to normal, and therapy resumed. Note-taking and reading restarted. The realisation came that this is something I will most probably deal with for the rest of my life. You don’t just forget childhood sexual abuse.
New memories emerged, as grim as these may be, they can help you to understand certain actions you now have as an adult, certain reactions to certain situations, and for me, I now look at this as a positive. I think this is where I am coming from with the title. I don’t think it is positive to ever feel you are fully out of the woods. There is a need to have an awareness of where you have been and what you have come through. To continually work on you as a person and to be the best person you can be.
So to ask, Will you ever be completely out of the woods? Why do I say this. A year on from disclosing my past, I’m in a very different position.
Having hidden much of my thoughts and feelings from everyone I’d ever met throughout my life, I have now come to realise I don’t really know myself. Who am I? What makes me tick?
Having a past that is compiled of events and actions I have done to continually hide my anxiety, worry, guilt, and shame, I’m unsure as to what makes me happy. I am now on a journey of discovery and the only way to get to know what makes me tick is to get to know myself better. To be alone. To be strong enough to say ‘no’ or ‘yes’ for that matter.
My default these days is thoughtful, quiet, and calm. The last few months have been tough, I’ve been more down than up and I’ve been in and out of a very dark place over this period. I am however slowly learnt how to listen to myself day to day and do only what I feel comfortable with. To not be forced into things I don’t need or want to do. This may sound selfish, but I have worked out through trial and error that this is the only way to succeed.
It is okay to be different. We are all different.
Am I happy? No, but I feel like I am on a journey to finding some kind of happiness. As
things become more clear, I have a greater acceptance that I can feel so low so quickly
following periods of highs and realise this is ok. To not become frustrated at this, worried
or even anxious as to what others may think of my ‘moods’.