Isolation and aloneness are two of the critical characteristics we face on our journey of recovery. Many of us feel constrained, shamed, embarrassed, scared and other feelings that keep us convinced that we must do our recovery work alone. How would anyone believe me? They would think it was my fault. Who could I talk to? Where can I go? These are just a few of the many self-imposed barriers we create that keeps us isolated.
After many years of struggling with a story I could feel but couldn’t understand or remember. I realized I had been asking myself all the hard questions I had, and then answering them! I was repeating all the thoughts and memories I had and kept interpreting them the same way. I was both the “asker and the answerer” all by myself. I was acting as my own counselor, therapist, friend, mentor and problem solver.
This deadly approach was leaving me in a “thinking-circle”
This deadly approach was leaving me in a “thinking-circle” I didn’t realize I was in. I finally named the process I was using, The Ask And Answer Center, (TAAAC). I ask the questions and I answered the questions. For a long time my approach seemed to work, or so I thought. It wasn’t until I was in therapy that I realized managing my own recovery in my way, had been driving me around in an emotional circle!
I realized I was keeping myself locked into just the amount of self-awareness I could tolerate. I wasn’t learning anything about my pain or why I made bad decisions when I knew what a good decision was.
I finally got into therapy and it was only with the help of my therapist that I could really understand what kind of help I needed. I gained faith in my therapist and trusted her to guide me in those moments. Having the courage to listen and look for those who could help, takes a courage that is unique to survivors. Think of the phrase “I need some help, I’m struggling” and ask yourself who do you know that might listen?
I finally got into therapy and it was only with the help of my therapist that I could really understand what kind of help I needed. I gained faith in my therapist and trusted her to guide me in those critical moments of new self-awareness.
The truth can be very hard to come by, but in the end, it makes all the difference.
Even in therapy I kept using The-Ask-and-Answer-Center until I had developed enough trust to ask my therapist the real questions I had. I started to learn how to listen to her questions and understand the dialogue we developed. Learning to actually listen to her questions and to force myself to answer her specific questions was very hard. When I realized that no matter what my answer was, as ugly as they could be, she never doubted me or shamed me or rejected my comments. The truth can be very hard to come by, but in the end, it makes all the difference. It is a matter of whom you can trust, and doing it when you realize that talking with someone, anyone, is becoming critical to your life.
What I can say specifically is that there are many local and national programs that focus on survivors of sex abuse. What I can also say with certainty is that all of them will understand that you may feel ashamed, you fear that people won’t believe you and you fear you’ll be blamed. MenHealing is an example of a caring and supportive group that focuses on the realities of what survivors go through as a result of their abuse. On the MenHealing site you can learn what kind of support can be gently introduced to the newcomer that provides safety and the tools of recovery. Try it!
Aloneness is a terrible feeling
Aloneness is a terrible feeling and can keep us feeling and thinking like we did when the abuse was active. Years of aloneness can happen and deepen the hurt and lock the damage of our experience into the middle of our heads, leaving us reliving pain we never deserved. Even surrounded by caring people, I spent years of wandering around in my head until there came a time when I had the courage to begin focusing on my reality. I finally came far enough out of my denial that self- honesty had to happen or I was headed to a destructive outcome. I had to ask for help from others. It was humbling, but it saved my physical and emotional life.
How do we break out of a circular mental routine we don’t even realize is happening? How do we stop clinging to our version of The Ask And Answer Center? In my case, I had promised myself to keep moving forward, away from my abusers, both physically and emotionally. Early on I didn’t know what I was moving towards, but knew I could not keep sitting in my own home-made emotional stew. An inch at a time, a yard at a time, a day at a time, I just kept moving forward.
IT IS ALL ABOUT YOUR PROGRESS, NOT YOUR PERFECTION
Each month you can follow Kevin’s Journey as he shares wisdom he has gained during his years of healing. You will find his previous post in the blog archives.
Do you have an untold story you’d like to share? You can tell your story through narrative, painting, song, arts, dance, poetry. If you have a story to share with use this form and I will be in touch. Remember, your voice matters! You matter!
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Be well. Stay safe. Take good care.