It’s Not My Fault

Today in therapy I had the realization that, after thirty years, I still blame myself for being sexually abused. Behind that blame is a lot of shame. While I knew there were still part of that blame still within me I didn’t know how deep and raw it was. I also didn’t realize how much remained after all these years. The last time I worked on blaming myself was in 2004. I spent almost two years working hard on the trauma. Prior to that time I had never really dealt with the abuse. During that time guilt and blame was something that I dealt with in length. I thought I had moved past it but I couldn’t be more wrong.

There were certainly signs but it wasn’t something on my radar.  Lately I’ve struggled with flashbacks. I haven’t been able to hide from the abuse. Each year my Mom’s family would go on vacation up north in Michigan together. Usually that meant sharing a cabin with my Grandmother who raised my cousin. I can close my eyes and i’m in the cabin where I was abused at. I can feel the walls of the room. The couch I slept on each night after my abuser took what he wanted from me. The shower where I couldn’t wash the shame. The band that was playing next door. I vividly remember it all. My memory is horrible but that week is crystal clear. I remember and can feel the guilt and shame… the fear of not knowing what had happened but knowing it was wrong.

Walking up to my parents door, ready to knock, to tell them what happened but turning away when I feared that they wouldn’t believe me. Not knowing how I would tell them that my male cousin had just sexually abused me. Instead I turned to that aqua blue couch with the old fashioned cloth. I can feel the patterns and how uncomfortable the couch was. I remember waking up in a panic early in the morning fearing that my family would question why I wasn’t sleeping with my cousin. How could I tell my parents that I didn’t want to sleep in the same bed? So I went back into the lion’s den and waited for my cousin to get up. The next night I thought maybe it won’t happen again but it did. I would wait for it to happen… and then wait for him to go asleep… I would shower and sleep on the couch until the sun came up. Somehow I knew when to wake up. For the next week I repeated this pattern.

You are probably wondering how any victim could blame themselves and unless it happens to you it will seem illogical. My brain knows it wasn’t my fault but the other parts don’t. Guilt is a common occurrence for sexual abuse victims. It’s even more complicated when you are gay and your abuser is a male. Abuse is welded into pleasure and self-worth at an early age. When you reinforce these early beliefs for decades it becomes extremely difficult to pull apart that spider web.

It was during puberty that I became an object and my adult years confirmed that to be true. When I was abused I didn’t even know what sex was. I use to think that a woman got pregnant by touching feet with a man. That gives you an idea the frame of mind that I was in. My sexuality from the start was tainted. The abuse was the only thing I had to go by. I didn’t get to go through the typical thing teenage boys do. When something painful becomes pleasurable it becomes a vicious cycle. That’s where the guilt and shame stems from. If you find it pleasurable then you must have wanted that. Society does a good job of victim shaming. My family did when I finally told them eight years later. If enough people repeat these message then eventually sinks in. I was right to not trust my family the first night, which just made me feel even worse. Though I will say my Mom was different. She never doubted me and supported me fully. The rest of the family, including my father, were different.

My cousin was the star of the family. I was the black sheep. For eight years I held this dark secret and was forced to see my abuser often as he lived down the street with my grandmother. I grew up believing my family didn’t love me because of how close they were with him. My father loved my cousin because he hunted and played sports. I did not. I wasn’t worthy of his attention or affection. My grandmother didn’t drive which meant my Mom had to drive him everywhere he wanted. It killed me to watch and not be able to tell him. Many nights I cried myself to sleep.

The day after I told my father that I was abused he went hunting with my abuser. When he found out that I was upset he told me that I had to forgive and forget. All of this just furthered the dialogue that I deserved what happened.

This might sound fucked up but my cousin was my first love interest. I was groomed to fall in love with him. I didn’t ask for it. He took my heart. When he was done with me I was left with rejection, shame and guilt.

I blame myself because I didn’t stop it. That’s the problem with trauma from your childhood, it stunts your growth. So while my body and mind grew up the hurt part of me didn’t. Inside of me is that ten year old boy. So while I can verbalize it’s not my fault to my therapist, I don’t believe it.

I don’t want to believe it. I wish I didn’t. That belief has affected every aspect of my life. When good things happen to me I believe I don’t deserve them so I run away from them. My two years in Chicago were some of the best days of my life. I had my own place and a good job with benefits. I had the most friends that I had ever had. I was involved with the LGBTQ community. I had all of this and it wasn’t enough. I didn’t deserve these wonderful things so I self destructed. No amount of therapy could stop that and I had an absolutely wonderful therapist. I didn’t deserve her either. I tried really hard to be a productive citizen who didn’t have a mental illness and I failed miserably.  While my time in Chicago was some of the best times it was also some of the worst. I was hospitalized twice. I had never stuck with any job longer than a year. My job in Chicago lasted 1.5 years but I was on short term disability twice. Life became too much and I returned back to the only thing I ever known.

I was groomed into accepting the bad as the truth. The darkness is comfortable. It’s all I have known. What will it take to overcome these beliefs? I’m not sure. There is a part of me that wishes I could just put the lid back on pandora’s box and pretend like nothing is wrong. Unfortunately that’s not possible. Once the abuse is out in the open it takes a long while to process. The flashbacks are troubling and I can’t control them. I wish I could deal with the trauma without them. It’s not as easy as wishing them away. It’s not a thought that you can make go away. A flashback is so much more than a thought, it’s an experience that uses all the senses. Very quickly you are transported back to that time. Every door you open leads you back into that room.

Others might think that I’m falling apart but honestly I’m doing great considering what I’m going through. In the past this type of awareness would have meant hospitalization. So far I haven’t had to go. I certainly have had moments where I was close to that but I have been able stabilize myself. I don’t think I have had this level of awareness. What makes this time different?

I think for starters I have stopped comparing myself to others. At least to the point where it prevents me from moving forward. I’ve stopped trying the person that others needed me to be. I will never be the typical person who works full-time. I have tried that for the last twenty years and I have failed every time I tried. I have started to take my mental illness serious for the disease that it is. I must manage the symptoms like someone with Diabetes. Each time in the past when I would try to work full-time I would crash into a downward spiral of depression. Workplaces only allow so many sick days before you’re fired. They don’t understand that with PTSD that there are just some days you can’t be convinced to leave your house. Each job that I lost would cause me to lose my insurance and housing. The instability of the last twenty years has also contributed to the deterioration of my mental health.

So what is different about where I’m at today? For starters I have medicaid which allows me to receive continued treatment. I won’t lose this for not working. I know that many people won’t understand my decision to go for SSI disability but they’ve not had to live my life or endure what I have. I’m trying really hard to break the cycle. Going back to work would be a short term solution that would end with me quitting from a nervous breakdown. The next one could be my last and I can’t risk that. If I lose my insurance then I was certainly have another breakdown.

I’ve been in therapy since 2013 and have been on medicine since then as well. This is huge for me. I have never stuck anything out like this. It’s honestly my lifeline. Being on SSI disability will allow me to become more healthy. I won’t have to worry about losing my healthcare (that’s if Trump and the GOP doesn’t take it) from not being able to work. No matter what I know that I can go to therapy and get my medicine. Those two constants have become my stability. SSI will just add one more aspect. I’ve never had stability. Honestly I don’t think I have ever been this stable emotionally.

I have a therapist now that I really like and trust. I have seen various therapists the last four years and this is the first time I have been able to trust someone enough to talk about the sexual abuse in length. Today’s session was tough and I was able to get through it to the point it did put me in dangerous water. So that’s definitely progress.

My stability has allowed me to open up more about the trauma. Being able to recognize that I still blame myself is huge. I just need to continue what I’m doing. Keep moving forward. My therapist in Chicago told me that healing is like an onion, there are many layers. I really feel that I have hit the core or at the very least really close. As tough as it is to be aware of the abuse and the trauma it’s allowing me to heal.

I am able to verbalize that it’s not my fault. A month ago I didn’t even realize that I still blamed myself. Awareness is half the battle and I’m one step closer to believing that I deserve good things. I will continue to process the trauma until I don’t have to anymore.

I was a boy. The responsibility is not mine to own. I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t want it. I was groomed. I deserve love, respect and happiness. I have to stop letting my cousin and others control my body and happiness. I’m not an object. I wasn’t meant to be used or have things taken from. For the very first time I’m taking care of myself and able to see things more clearly. It’s allowed me to have some difficult realizations about myself and admit that I never really stopped blaming myself for the abuse. This was a huge step today and hopefully will allow me to heal. I’m one day closer to believing that I didn’t deserve the abuse, that it’s not my fault. It never was.

It’s not my fault.

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The Devil Within Me

monster_in_the_darkness_by_jutamahmud-d7vn8gf (1)

*******TRIGGER WARNING: POST INCLUDES TOPICS LIKE SEXUAL ABUSE******

If people could see the beast that lives in you then maybe they would take mental illness serious or at the very least treat people differently. I see depression as a monster. A force that pulls you under no matter how hard you fight it. Sadly the beast is invisible. No one else knows it’s there but you. That’s the trick and the game it plays. Depression feeds off isolation, fear and control.

For a long period of time I thought I was the monster within me. I wasn’t able to tell the difference between me and the beast. The lines blurred to the point of no return. At least what I thought.

The beast controls me. I have no control of over him. I could be skipping along (okay I don’t skip) and it’s hand comes out from under the ground and it drags me to the depths of hell. My father use to tell me that I was going to hell. What he didn’t realize that I often live there.

While in the grasp of the beast I can’t see anything but darkness. I’m isolated from everything good and pure. Light is a million miles away. The beast lies to me and most of the time I believe it for a period of time… until I get tired of feeling horrible then I start to fight. I haven’t always fought my way out of depression. Sometimes it gets to the point of psychosis and the only escape is through the doors of a hospital.

Currently I’m in the middle of a depressive episode. This time I was able to notice that the beast had me. Most of the times I don’t realize until days if not weeks later. The longer I’m under the control of the beast the harder it is to escape. Even when I do it can be weeks until I fully escape.

Imagine living in a world where a monster constantly follows you. How would you handle living with this for over forty years? I guess most couldn’t handle even a day. This is what it’s like for someone living with depression. You constantly live in a horror film. Each day you wake up the movies starts all over.

I feel things so deeply that it’s painful. It becomes a burden to love so deeply. With love comes loss and that loss is just amplified with depression and empathy. At times I wish someone could cut it out of me. I’ve begged God to take it from me. I’ve begged God to take me from this world.

Tonight I was able to face that monster. Each time it’s just as difficult as the last. It’s very convincing. It’s voice pierces my ear drums and most the time it just whispers. You’re a horrible person. You are a loser. No one loves you. You are the monster. Unlovable. Worthless. These are all the words out of the beast. For a very long time I just believed him.

I no longer do.

While I’m fighting harder than ever it still hurts like hell. It doesn’t ever get any easier. It’s just as frightening to. There is nothing more lonely than being where I’m at. To know that you’re alone with the beast. Even when you’re surrounded by a bunch of people. It’d be easier if people could see him.

A while ago I was asked what the beast looks like and I couldn’t answer. I never really see him. It’s the absence of everything good. Something deeper and darker than a shadow. Larger than anything in this world. It doesn’t take shape either. Though I do occasionally see him when I look in the mirror and that’s probably the problem. The beast lives within me, it’s never exterior.

People see what they want to. This lovable, laughable human being full of life. They expect that 24/7. It’s frustrating when one day you can be the life of the party and then the next you’re debbie downer. People just can’t grasp the contrast. If you can be happy one day then you can the next. Just chin up. Cheer up. Think positive. If only it were that easy as smiling. If it were that simple everyone would do it and depression wouldn’t exist.

I use to hide the beast. Pretend that it didn’t exist. For many years I tried to do it alone. I might not be able to escape the beast but there are things that I can do to control it… keep it at bay. One way I do this is by taking my medicine daily. Another is to see my therapist regularly. Sadly there is no cure to get rid of the beast. He will always live within me. I have come to terms with the fact that he’s apart of me and it’s something that I will have to manage for the rest of my life.

To have the strength to look the beast right in the eyes is freeing. I have to must every last ounce of willpower that I have to fight off the beast. It’s a battle that’s gradual. Tonight it took a few hours to notice that I was in a depressive episode. I started to feel absolutely horrible. It started by staying in the dark. I didn’t want to turn on any lights, other than the tv. Tonight it was a song that woke me up.

I’m not sure what it is about this song but it speaks to me.

So here I am sitting at the table late Tuesday night feeling drained. Overcoming the beast is very tiring. I feel very off. I will probably feel this way for the next few days. While it’s freeing you will never be free. I know all well that it could return any minute it doesn’t take much either.

I have struggled the past few months with getting triggered over the whole metoo movement. It’s caused my abuse to resurface which just feeds the beast. It’s fuel. I can’t get away from this feeling that I deserved the abuse. That I still deserve that kind of abuse. Opening these wounds is like opening pandora’s box. Once you’ve unsurfaced the pain it’s tough and almost impossible to put back… at least right away.

I hate feeling worthless. Dirty… No amount of soap will clean up that nastiness. Pure filth. Muck.

In the past I would act out sexually. For the most part those days are past but I still go through the motions and sometimes I do act out but not to the depths as in the past. For some reason I try to recreate the abuse. It’s tough when the abuse becomes something that stimulates you down the road. That’s the thing about sexual abuse that part or all is pleasurable. For me it wasn’t pleasurable until I hit puberty. Most boys fantasize about normal things. I fantasized my abuser. As a teenager that ate away at my soul until I was left with very little. I have grown up into an adult and have found myself in similar situations that further damages me.

Sexual abuse destroys you. It leaves a mark on you. It’s like a horcrux. When the sexual abuse happens around puberty those beliefs learned from the abuse are hardwired into your consciousness. I grew up hating myself and my body. I felt great shame that I could find pleasure in something so horribly dirty. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that I had fallen for my abuser. He got me to love him and to feel lost without him. Him leaving me was the final rejection. My abuser took what he wanted and then left me to pick up the pieces. I was humpty dumpty and no amount of glue would ever keep me together.

No amount of time will make the shame and guilt go away. It lingers long past the days when it occurred. Once triggered it’s tough to get out of it. So while I’m out of the depression episode I’m still in the ptsd bubble. I have been for months. That’s the problem when you get triggered related to the abuse. I want something meaningful but that seems impossible. To find someone who will value me for who I am inside and not my exterior just seems out of reach.

I’ve given up trying to find someone. I’ve accepted the fact that I could be single for the rest of my life. Right now I’m just trying to survive. So it’s really not on my radar. Though it’s always in the back of mind that there is still this chance. It’s why I keep apps like Growlr still on my phone.

I am desperate for connection and apps like Growlr are the wrong places to find that. Most are after sex, even the guys who say they’re just looking for friends. It this giant trap and I think most don’t even realize that they’re in a spiders web. I have gone periods where I remove these apps but I always reinstall them. My sexuality falls into two categories. Obsession and Repulsion. Two extremes. Even in the obsession stage often times there is some sort of repulsion and that usually surfaces when you know what happens. It’s pure guilt and shame from the sexual abuse.

I don’t have Growlr on my phone for sex. I don’t look for sex and most the time I don’t really want to have sex even when I feel like I do. My profile is very g-rated but that doesn’t stop guys from propositioning me. I have this exterior that’s just an illusion. My stature and size put me in this false narrative of being the aggressor. I can’t escape it and I try. For whatever reason many gay men want to be used and abused. For years I gave them what they wanted and it almost destroyed me. I reversed the roles and became my abuser or at least that’s what I felt. This only made the beast in me stronger and larger. I finally got control over the abuse but it was just an illusion. While the sex was consensual it was still using someone else. I was doing to guys what was done to me… but they were wanting it and asking for it.

Guys seem to only want me to for sex. No one ever seems to be able to look past my size. One group wants nothing to do with me because of my body and the other side only wants me for my body. No one seems to want my heart and it just reinforces the feelings of worthlessness. For the longest time I gave men what they wanted. I went a period of two years where I was very sexually compulsive. I felt some sort of attention was better than nothing. I now realize that’s not true.

I still fall trap to that lifestyle but I’m no longer the abuser. I’m the victim. That’s what it was all along. I was reenacting the abuse in the eyes of my abuser.

I wish I could just delete these apps forever but I’m chained to them. Very few people on here want anything meaningful. Finding friendships on there is like finding a unicorn. No matter how hard I try to get away from the illusion that I’m the aggressor, many just see me in that light. I can’t hide my stature and size. I can’t tell you how often guys proposition me wanting me to the dominant one. It just makes me feel awful.

I’m a teddy bear. I’m not a grizzly bear. Most guys just see the grizzly bear and that hurts like hell. When they do see that I’m a carebear then they want nothing to do with me. It all just reinforces that I’m just an object. Useable.

So I haven’t been able to escape the feelings of being an object since the metoo. Honestly it was always there I’m just aware of it now. I wish I could put it back on the shelf. I don’t like feeling this shame. It’s hardcore and raw. I’m constantly hemorrhaging. I don’t want any more. My existence has been wrapped up into being an object. So it’s not been easy to overcome. I’m trying though.

I guess that’s half the battle. Well I guess that’s it for now. I didn’t quite expect to go down this road when I started writing but here I am. It’s all connected…

sweet_halloween_dreams___P_by_begemott