Men Also Suffer – Bill
I was the youngest of five, 3 older brothers and a sister. My father died of a heart attack at 47 years old. I was only 9 then. I remember not fully understanding what death really was, its permanence.
I felt very lonely and the need for a father figure/role model became very strong within me although I didn’t know that at the time.
When I was 15 years old I met a man through a mutual organization I had become involved in. He was in his early 30s, married with 3 young children of his own. This man befriended me and began to give me special attention, inviting me to join him on short day trips he had to take. I was very receptive to all of it because for the first time in my life I was getting my needs met being validated because I was “special”. I didn’t realize just how special until the day we went on a day trip and he stopped at a store and picked up a six-pack of beer. I didn’t think much of it at the time. He then took a supposedly short-cut down a dirt road where he stopped and each of us had a can of beer. As we talked I realized that it was hinting towards a sexual encounter. He began to fondle me and I found it very pleasurable. I reciprocated not knowing why because I had never had any sexual feeling or attraction towards him.
That incident led to a year and a half of similar circumstances like it.
I had then begun to label myself as “gay” because I was surely old enough to know better and I though of myself as an adult, in full and complete control of my life. So because I allowed it to happen and enjoyed the sexual pleasures then there had to be something drastically wrong with me. I just had to be “gay” and to a 15 year old being brought up in a very conservative and prejudiced home anything out of the “norm” was not a good thing.
I grew up into adulthood carrying those feelings in the deepest part of my being so that no one else would ever know what happened or how I was feeling about myself. I got married and had two daughters thinking my life would straighten out and the past be forgotten – ha! If I just didn’t think about it and pretend it didn’t happen I would be “normal”.
When I was in my mid-thirties I started to get some counseling because I just could not let go of the past. It was then I began to understand what happened to me was abuse and molestation that I did not ask for or want to happen. I became involved in a support group for adult men of childhood sexual abuse which gave me the connection of not feeling so alone. I found other men some like myself who shared the same heartache and isolation feeling that I had.
It was during this time that I was able to recover earlier memories of abuse that happened to me when I was 7 years old by an older boy who was 15 years old. It all began to make sense to me – flashbacks, feelings of discomfort, feeling out of control and everything else I carried with me all of those years. Through continued therapy I was made to realize that during that crucial time of 7 years old is during the psycho-sexual development period and I got mixed messages on how to relate to men. I learned from a very early age that the way for me to get the attention and validation that I was so desparately seeking, was to use sex as the vehicle to get me there.
So when my abuse happened to me as a teenager the stage had already been set. I was ripe for the picking so to speak.
I am now 47 years old with one of the most positive outlooks on life I have ever had. I truly like who I am now. I look in the mirror and smile back at that person who for so many years I disliked.
I’m thankful to God for carrying me through the most difficult journey I had ever made. I’m proud to say that I’ve moved on from a victim to a survivor and on to a thriver. A thriver of life and all the goodness it has to offer.
To all you men who read this, you don’t have to suffer in silence anymore. Trust in yourself that you have the power and strength within you to move out of the past and become all that you are meant to be. Please reach out, someone will be there for you. Someone was for me.