These are challenging times for many of us. For survivors, the challenges which often accompany the holiday season are magnified by the uncertainty and disruption created by the Covid-19 pandemic. It is easy to forget to even stop and breathe. I invite you to stop and take a breath. To pause and take courage and strength from others who have journeyed before us. A little while ago I had the privilege and pleasure of a conversation with one of those persons, Jordan Masciangelo. I felt uplifted and encouraged after our conversation.
Jordan is a brave and adventurous soul who wants to get as much out of life as he possibly can – something that many of us can likely relate to. From near the beginning of his recovery journey, he has sought to help others on their own healing paths. In 2019, he journeyed to East Africa to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and used the experience to support the work of MenHealing. You can read about it and watch the short film he created here: BEYOND SURVIVAL: Finding Hope & Healing on Kilimanjaro.
You can learn more about Jordan’s work with MenHealing here.
There is no way for me to capture all the content of our conversation. I have taken some excerpts which highlight his “moving forward-moving on” attitude toward life and recovery.
We talked about his motivation for the Kilimanjaro climB
… I was so stoked to really hone in on focusing on the healing aspect of recovery; what male survivors can do in spite of the horrors we may have endured. In my experience, much of the recovery material I was hearing and seeing in my advocacy work seemed to revolve around the actual experience of abuse and the horrible things that came after, not necessarily the hope and the healing part. When I first began my advocacy work, it was sort of that same thing – and I wore my abuse like a badge.
I became this poster boy for surviving childhood sexual abuse
I became this poster boy for surviving childhood sexual abuse. I had overcome a lot – I was a drug addict, a self-harmer, a cutter, a prostitute – all at a very young age. When I started to tell my story publicly, I was like, “I did all these horrible things. I almost died a thousand times over. And look, I am still here.” And that is all great and important – it shaped where I am now in my life, but much like myself, many male survivors get stuck in that one place – that place where they have moved past the trauma, but the trauma, that pain, is still defining who they are in some way.
Recovery can be SO much more powerful when survivors flip that focus from the trauma to their present healing experiences. I want to hear how you are doing now; what things you’re doing to improve for your life, the lives of others. How are you making the world a better place? How are you making your personal world a better place? And that is where the Kilimanjaro idea sprouted from – the idea to DO MORE – and that has been my mantra since.
For me, surviving isn’t enough.
For me, surviving isn’t enough. I am not here just to survive my circumstances. I don’t want my legacy to be surviving my childhood. That’s not like something I want to be known for…
So my message to most guys, if you want to do something, if you want change in your life, get off your ass and do something about it. Nothing will EVER just happen. It is up to you to construct the life you want after trauma. I know it is easier said than done. I’ve been there. I went through recovery groups, therapy, weekends of recovery, substance abuse programs – it took me 12 years before I was able to make any significant changes in my life. I know it is not easy, but for me, I wasn’t happy being just okay, I wanted more; I wanted to thrive. I wanted to do everything I dreamed of and Kilimanjaro was one of those dreams. I had to make it happen.
I had never climbed a mountain. I never had the experience or sort of money to do something like that….But I wanted to do it. I love adventure and feel like that whole “getting outside of your box” thing can be extremely valuable and healing. I could live the life I was living , live to be 90 and be “just okay,” but I feel like I would have regrets. I couldn’t be complacent with my life anymore. It was time to get off my ass and make something happen.
What would you like to say to other male survivors?
What would you like to say to other male survivors?
Take risks…whatever your dreams might be, make them happen. It is all achievable. It CAN happen.
I had a light switch moment…this is bigger than me – I can do more and by me doing more, I can inspire others to do more too. Advocacy work is my recovery now; it is the extension on my healing journey.
Survivors have so much to offer !
Survivors have so much to offer ! I feel like the world is being robbed of so much beauty, art, talent and passion when survivors of sexual abuse keep the status quo. Survivors are honestly the most compassionate, loving friendly people you will ever meet.
Take courage my friend. You can do it. You are not alone. Take inspiration from Jordan and make it your own.
Please feel free to leave comments below or to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be well. Stay safe. Take good care.