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The following is what the beginning of recovery from childhood sexual abuse looked like for me. I'm writing this so that others in the process of recovery can see a little of what it might be like for them.  

This part of the story involves recovering repressed memories (I will call them "RM") of childhood sexual abuse, and as such it may be triggering for some. Some may not believe in RM. I'd like to speak to that.

Are RM real? I've struggled with the question of whether mine are. Sometimes I still do. The events I remembered are too extreme for even me to believe sometimes. I can tell you that what I remembered has never changed, or morphed into something else, or into involving someone else (with one exception noted below). I can also tell you that I didn't want them to be true. Who would? I had no intention of ever using them for any gain. I did send a letter to the Catholic Church, but I never asked for, nor received any money from them. I had no reason to lie about what I remembered. I never confronted anyone directly (not that that is a bad thing). I only wanted the pain to stop.

I can find no scientific evidence that explains RM. I have been to Psychotherapy Networker Symposia where evidence of brain scans showing that those with RM (and PTSD) have electrically isolated parts of the brain that can be reconnected to the rest of the brain using EMDR therapy (and less efficiently with traditional therapy), but I can find no papers online to verify that. Perhaps those journals don't post online. I just don't know.

There is, however, a great deal of empirical evidence that they exist, and therapists who assume their clients are telling the truth can make good progress with their clients.

Do you believe that RM exist? Before my experiences, I probably would have said no. After my experiences of the last twenty years, I know better now. Some people think that therapists plant RM in their patients. I don't know whether or not any therapists do, but I can tell you emphatically that mine did not. Quite the opposite. Colleen (more about here later) was very careful to make a safe place for me to do my work, but at no time did she suggest anything. In fact, almost NONE of these memories of events came back in any therapists office. They came back in lots of places (more on that later), but very few in the therapists office.

One other thing: there are two basic types of RM; memories of events, and memories of the emotions connected to those events. The two are quite distinct and don't usually surface at the same time. What usually came up for me in my therapists office were the latter.

The final issue is, why care whether or not other people's RM are real? I guess the crux of the matter is, to what do people with RM do with those memories when they remember? If it is strictly to heal, I see no reason there should be a controversy over them. If you have a broken leg, and waving a maple switch over the leg sets and heals the leg, and no one has any scientific evidence that proves this works, does that matter? The leg is healed. In that context, it only matters to the person with RM whether or not they are real. Your opinions are irrelevant.

If that person is using those memories to accuse others of deeds they remember, then it's dicier. While I've already diaried that I have direct physical evidence (letters and an eye witness account), and a lot of circumstantial evidence, that verify that at least two of my recovered RM are true, I won't be addressing this issue in this diary. I'm not a scientist, and I can't speak to that. I can only discuss my experiences. I will say, though, that If I find you trustworthy, I'll believe you.

And there is also the issue on whether or not you believe me when I say that those two memories were actually repressed. If you don't believe that, well there's nothing I can do about that, and you will be wasting your time (and possibly mine) if you continue to read. If you feel I have enough credibility to at least give me benefit of the doubt, then read on. You may find this diary instructive.

If you'd like to watch healing happen (as ugly as that can be), join me below fancy orange dream cloud.

I started my tale here, and continued it here. I won't repeat much of that, as I don't want to bore my readers. I will start by providing a little back story, so that the rest of the story makes more sense. Oh, and if it appears I am dancing around certain facts/events, this is because I will of necessity be telling a little of other people's stories too, particularly that of Ms. BiM. Since I don't have the right to do that, I will tell of my interactions with others as briefly as possible. Except for the perps in the story. I will change their names, but that's all.

Twenty years ago, if anyone had asked about my past, I would have told them "I had a happy childhood" and mean it. Even now, I'm not sure why I thought that. I could only remember a handful of events from before I was eighteen. None of those were happy. What I did remember was rather innocuous really; I played the school marching band; I was on the track and cross country teams; I had moved with my family from a very small town to a less small town when I was sixteen. Stuff like that. But really nothing more, unless someone asked a specific question about a specific event in my past. I was then sometimes able to remember that.

When I was about 34, my wife started going through a really rough time. It turns out that she was about to be doing a little bit of healing of her own. Once that became obvious to both of us, I did my best to support her. But I was under a lot of stress. I was working full time (as was she), and in my spare time I was studying for a Ph.D. in science (as was she), and trying to be supportive of her during her healing. It was just too much. I was sitting in her school office on day, when I got a very weird feeling like I was looking out of someone else's eyes. I found myself looking for a rope to hang myself. The office was in the basement, and there were girders near the ceiling that would have worked nicely. That spell broke after a minute or so, and I was quite shaken. I decided that I needed a therapist. Not because I needed therapy. God forbid. I only needed someone to talk to about the stress of supporting my wife during her healing process. She had a therapist, so I chose someone (a man) in the same practice. I saw him for about six months.

At about that time, my wife and I were sitting watching Forrest Gump on TV. We got to the part in the movie where Forrest was in a church choir:

At that very scene, I blurted out "I was an altar boy". Until that time, I had no idea I'd done that. My wife looked at me and said "Really? You never told me that." And I replied "I just remembered it." I thought that very odd, but didn't give it any more thought.

That night, however, while I was laying in bed, I saw something in my mind's eye, as though I was remembering a movie. I saw the torso of a man. He was sitting on a metal chair, he had no clothes on, and he was quite erect. I saw it very clearly. I could tell that he was blonde and circumcised. And I was about to give him a blow job. And the realization hit me: he was a priest. I knew, KNEW, that he was my parish priest and that I had blown him, and I knew it had happened more than once. [Side note: This was twenty years ago, LONG before pedophile priests became common knowledge. I certainly knew nothing about it.] I felt horror and revulsion, the feelings that anyone would feel if they knew a boy was about to blow a man. I didn't feel any of the feelings that were actually attached to the memory. That came latter. When that started, my whole world imploded.

The emotions that came out at the time were really intense, and none of them were good. There was a war going on inside me. What I remembered can't be true. I had to have made it up. But why would I make it up, and if I did, why was I so upset about it? This is a priest we're talking about. A priest! Priests don't do things like that. They don't. They can't. They're the next thing to god!!! I didn't think anyone would believe me anyway. Anyone except Ms. BiM. She was always there for me. Always believed me. I can tell you quite honestly right now that I would have killed myself then if she hadn't supported me. [But no pressure, honey!] And she was in therapy and needed my support!

The odd thing is, it kind of made sense. It brought a lot of little pieces of my life together that didn't fit before. For example, as an adult, I've always known how to give a really good blow job. I knew exactly what to do to prolong it, or what to do to end it quickly. I knew what men liked and what they didn't. I had no idea how I knew that, but I did. I certainly had never done any such thing. I was a virgin when I met the future Ms. BiM, or believed I was, at any rate.

So, I went to see my therapist and I told him what I remembered. He seemed quite excited by it. I think that was because he thought we had had a "breakthrough". The problem was, he had no experience with PTSD, or RM, and he didn't handle it well. I was in a sea of agony, drowning in it, and he was doing nothing to alleviate it. He was trying to get me to let it out, actually increasing the pain. After weeks of this, I decided to get another therapist. Ms. BiM was pushing for that all along. She knew a woman who had a similar past who had a female therapist that was very good.

I told her "No way. I'm not talking to a woman." I'd always believed that I had rot inside. I had a human-looking shell on the outside, but if anyone looked closely, they'd see the rot. That went double for women. That was a funny thing to believe when I told, and was believed by, a woman , but there you have it. [As an aside, I spend nearly all of my marriage waiting for her to admit she saw the rot, so I  my feelings on in this particular case were the same as I had for all other women.] My feeling about men and women were polar opposites. Women were always good. Always. They never made a mistake. Ever. Men were evil. Always. They couldn't be trusted. Ever. The latter went double for me, as I saw myself as the worst example of a man. I was sure that if I told a woman what I remembered, she'd see the rot and then she'd use every bit of scorn and vitriol she could muster to tell me that I disgusted her. I couldn't take that. So, I found another man to be my therapist.

At about that time, I became obsessed with finding out who had done that to me. I made a list of all the parish priests I could remember. I lived in Maryland at the time, and Catholic University was nearby. I went to their main library and found the book records of which priests served in which parishes. As I made my list, I found that I had missed one priest on my earlier list: Father Cyrus. I had no memory of him. At all.

I called my mom and asked her about him. Mom taught catechism, so she worked with the parish priests we had and knew them all quite well. Mom told me, amongst many other things, that he was the only blonde priest we had while I was growing up.

At about this time, I had another memory. This time, I was being sodomized on my parent's bed. I was face down, so I couldn't see who was doing it, but I did see one arm. My head was turned to the right so that I could breathe, and I could see his arm in a sort of push up position, holding himself up. I saw that he was blonde. I assumed at the time that it was Father Cyrus again, but it didn't feel right. Some instinct inside told me it wasn't him, but I had not yet learned to trust my instincts. And, I didn't want to believe someone else was involved. One was bad enough.

I felt I needed to tell someone what I remembered, someone that would believe me. I chose my brother Collin. He lived near me. I sat in his living room on the couch. He was in an arm chair, facing me. I told him I had something to tell him, something I remembered that upset me. So I told him about my two memories of Father Cyrus. His reaction was quite strange. He got up and paced the room. He didn't say anything for a minute or so. Finally, he said "do you remember any distinguishing marks, anything that would prove who it was?". I told him no, but I was disturbed by the question. Why would he ask such a strange question? I remember he was quite antsy, and couldn't sit still. He asked if we could go for a walk, so we did. What we talked about, I don't remember exactly, but I do remember giving him more details.

About a week later, I got a letter from him. This seemed odd, as he he lived near me, and had never written any more than a short sentence in a Christmas card before. The letter said a lot of things, none of it nice. He told me that he knew for a fact that what I "remembered" could not have happened, and that I was making it up. If I continued with this, it was going to kill our parents, who sacrificed everything, EVERYTHING, for us. I was an ungrateful son, yada, yada, yada.

That letter was like a kick in the stomach. I felt shame and guilt. But I also felt anger. A LOT of anger. I sent a copy of the letter to my baby sister. I had told her what was going on with me, and she was quite supportive. She was outraged by the letter and sent Collin a scathing letter in response. She sent me a copy. I don't think I'd ever felt as much love for anyone as I did for her when I read that. She believed me! She chose me over Collin! I instantly forgave her for getting birthday parties and presents when I never did.

So, I started with my new therapist. What a nightmare. I told him about how I was forced to give blow jobs and I didn't think anyone should ever force a kid to do that. He countered with "Well, there are tribes around the world that use forced oral sex as a right of passage into manhood, and those boys turn out alright." I was stunned. I went home, and never went back.

I had reached the end of my rope. I couldn't find a man who would be a good therapist for me. I was considering suicide once again, when Ms. BiM suggested once again I go to see Colleen, her friends therapist. Finally, I agreed.

And Colleen saved my life.

In the very first session with her, I told her what had happened to me, and she was very sympathetic. I broke down. I had what I was later told was an abreaction. I started to act, and feel, as though I was six years old, and terrified. I thought the abuse was going to continue at any minute.

Colleen decided that I needed to be hospitalized. Seeing as how women were perfect and always right, I agreed. I went to the hospital from her office. I was there for the better part of a week, and the experience was traumatizing. This was a psychiatric hospital, one where to door clicks shut when you enter and you can't get out again unless the doctors there say you can. Which may be never. I had a number of people evaluate me. The men didn't think I should be there. I was calm, rational, lucid. In short, I was an adult. When the women evaluated me in my room, they would find me hiding under the bed, a scared six year old. I'm told the staff meetings were interesting. The men thought I should be released. The women thought they were nuts. I didn't understand it at the time, but I was soon to learn, that what I was remembering was  called RM, and that I had DID and PTSD. I had a fragmented personality. The men saw a protector part, because I believed they were there to rape me. The women saw my six year old, Billy, because I knew that they wouldn't. Women didn't do that kind of thing. Anyway, after they figured out what was going on and determined I was not a danger to myself (they were wrong) or others (they were right). I was released after a few days, and my therapy continued as an outpatient, and with Colleen.

Therapy actually proceeded rapidly, but it seemed to me at the time that it wasn't moving at all, as I had such long journey ahead of me. Colleen spent nearly a year teaching me containment: a way to contain my feelings (but not shut them off entirely) so that they didn't overwhelm me. She didn't allow me to make any real progress until she felt I was in a safe enough place, with my containment skills in place, to proceed.

And proceed we did. Memories started coming back, one after the other, each worse than the last. But, as I said above, not actually in therapy. Sometime in that process, I remembered that the sodomy on my parent's bed was perpetrated by my brother Collin, who is my only blonde brother. The one I had told! Jesus, how could I have been that stupid! [I've never told him this. That wasn't the point of my therapy for me. But I will probably address this in another diary.]

When the memories of the gang rape started to surface, that was about the time I tried to kill myself again. Exact chronology is difficult to reconstruct because I wasn't always the one driving the car called Bill. But I started to remember the gang rape from across the room. I didn't feel any of the emotions I felt at the time of the event. Those came later, and that nearly killed me too. And I didn't remember the event while IN the body until I did EMDR. YMMV, but that process was like surgery without anesthesia.

The surfacing memories had an odd property. If they came up, and I had a bad reaction to them, sometimes they disappeared again. At those times, I would know that something had surfaced, but I had no clue what. Usually they surfaced again at a later time. But I'm pretty sure some never did. I think that doctors can give you a certain kind of drug during certain operations so that you are awake and responsive during the procedure, but you don't remember it afterwards. If that's true, it was something like that.

As the years went on and the memories kept coming back, I learned to recognize the feelings I would have when a memory was trying to surface. It was like I had a governor in my head that would decide that it was time to bring a memory out, and it would let me know that one was coming. If I felt that I was strong enough to handle it, I would let it happen. If I had a knee-jerk "god, not NOW" response, it usually went below the surface again. One time, my wife and I were sitting in the middle of a busy restaurant, and I felt the feeling. I told her what was happening. I sent the "bring it on" message to the governor, and it came out. And I was a mess, like Ugly Cry mess. She had to get me to the car as quickly as she could. Telling it to come out then wasn't the smartest thing I ever did. But I knew that if I didn't, it may never surface again. And I WANTED it out. I didn't want to ever have to hold it in again: any of them.

So, I remembered the gang rape that took place when I was six, and how my other brother's friend tried to strangle me afterwards, the abduction and gang rape when I was eight, and my parents being angry that they had to go looking for me, meeting Father Cyrus when I was nine, being the main course for his buddies at sex parties at about the same time, and remembering my mother taking me to those parties. It seemed to me that every time a major memory came out, it was worse then the last.

And the last one was the worst; not stopping my baby sister from being gang raped by the same group that raped me a month earlier. I still struggle with the shame of that, even though I was six and the four boys involved were fifteen, and prone to homicidal rages. I never told her of that memory. I didn't think she remembered, and I didn't want to be the one to force it to the surface.

Eventually, the memories started coming more and more infrequently. And after that, I didn't remember anything new, and I had no sense that there ever would be anything new. Most of the last of the "memories" were the feelings attached to events I already remembered.

I haven't had any new memories for years now. I'm pretty sure that I've vomited up as much as I'm going to in this lifetime. And I think it's enough such that I am starting, after twenty years of therapy, to be happy sometimes. But only sometimes. I'm still in therapy. I still have parts, and always will. They get along pretty well now. [I'll save their story for another diary.] I have a number of issues that are related to my past that are negatively impacting my present, though I'm making good progress on them. But, I am for the first time hopeful that I won't end up like my father (also for another diary), and I will someday lead a happy life. I guess we'll see.


Here are some helpful links if you are a survivor (or a partner of one).

  • SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by  Priests)
  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network)
  • Male Survivor a great resource to find a support group or a therapist in your area (including overseas)

And if you are a survivor (or think you may be), please consider joining the House of LIGHTS group, or find a therapist that specializes in sexual abuse. Some (several of mine over the years) specialize in sexual abuse of boys. The House of LIGHTS has been nothing but supportive to me. I wouldn't have posted this diary without their help and support.

I hope you learned a little about the effects of child abuse. The floor is open.




Recovering RM had one other good side effect: I also began to remember the good times I had as a kid. [Believe it or not, there were good times too.] Those didn't surface in the same way as the bad memories. They were just there at some point, and I could recall those things with no trouble. I can't say when this happened, only that it did.

House of LIGHTS (Loving Inspiration, Giving Hope To Survivors). A place for survivors of physical, sexual, psychological, and emotional abuse, assaults, and bullying. A place for the people who support them. A quiet place for all voices to be heard. A safe place where we can learn to educate, support, and protect our children and each other.

In House of LIGHTS diaries we tell our stories, heal, support each other, and learn how to protect and empower our children.

LIGHTS: Loving inspiration, giving hope to survivors: LIGHTS.

We have a purpose: To heal ourselves, to speak for the victims, and to change our culture. The silence is over. We accomplish our goals one story at a time.

Everyone is welcome.  That said, we do have a few house rules:

This is a community diary for survivors of emotional, psychological, physical, sexual abuse and assaults.  Emotions run high in these diaries and comment threads. The experiences are personal, life altering, and traumatic. We ask that you be respectful and allow everyone the space to speak their own truth as they know it.

If you are supportive, even if you have not been a victim, welcome! However, if you cannot be respectful of the stories and comments, please leave now.  And most importantly, please comment and interact only as YOU feel comfortable.

Originally posted to What's the male equivalent of a DIVA? on Mon Feb 17, 2014 at 05:30 PM PST.

Also republished by Rape and Domestic Violence, Maryland Kos, House of LIGHTS, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  {{{{{Bill in MD}}}}}} (22+ / 0-)

    I believe you.  I had my own time of repressed memories suddenly triggered,nalthough for me it was a book and not a movie.  I am glad we both survived and have been able to share our stories.  Peace to you.

    Shop Kos Katalogue
    I’m a feminist because the message is still "don’t get raped" not "don’t rape"

    by Avilyn on Mon Feb 17, 2014 at 05:41:16 PM PST

  •  A comment from Aji (21+ / 0-)

    (With her connection issues she emailed me her comment for you, having read the diary while it was in the queue.)

    Yes. Rot. WE know it's there; we can feel it; we just KNOW everyone else can see it, too.  How damaged we are, in some way that's inexplicably our own fault, and that shows what a lack of character, of essential goodness, we must have.

    In some ways, I think THAT is the biggest, deepest damage done by such abuse.  It strips us of who we are, of our essential selves, and substitutes something that is not-us, yet what we're convinced can only ever be us anymore.  It doesn't just take from us.  It gives back something so poisonous that it is its own rot.

    But the human mind is an amazing thing.  Its ability to wall off those memories, to compartmentalize, to allow us to function, somehow, some way.  Amazing, but not always what I'd call good.  Nonetheless, who's to say that that ability didn't give you the strength, and the control, and yes, the POWER to be able to survive it, and to become the person you are, full of the life and love and essential goodness that you may not feel, but that those of us who love you see.

    And we do love you, and Mrs. Bill in MD, too, and we are here for both of you, always.

    Shop Kos Katalogue
    I’m a feminist because the message is still "don’t get raped" not "don’t rape"

    by Avilyn on Mon Feb 17, 2014 at 05:58:39 PM PST

  •  I believe you. Have my own RMs. I don't know if I (19+ / 0-)

    believed in them before it happened to me or not. I remember being curious about them and how the brain works. And it made sense to me that the brain might try to protect us by roping off those memories and not letting us get to them until we could handle them.

    I knew something bad had happened to me, something really scary, but I didn't know what. I suspected for a long time that my other had a nervous breakdown or tried to kill herself in front of me. (Which is another story completely, but made sense to me given our family history.)

    I thought that was the big, bad thing that freaked me out and made me remember the feeling of being terrified, but not the reason why.

    I finally realized, in talking to some friends, that there was something odd about how little I remembered about my childhood, mostly anything to do with my mother. Which also made me think she tried to kill herself, and I saw it. (And who knows? Maybe that happened, too. It wouldn't surprise me.)

    I've begged my mother, more than once, to tell me what happened. Sobbed and begged, and she completely shuts down, swears nothing happened. Which really pisses me off, although I'm sure now that she was sexually abused, too, and is repressing those memories completely.

    It was years later before the memories came back, in dreams, but they were so oddly vivid and the feelings I had were so intense. And honestly, by then, in a way it was a relief to finally know. I'd been begging to just know and be able to deal with it, to not just feel the fear and not know why.

    I tried with more than one therapist to get to the RMs, and none of them could get me there. In the end, it was on my own, in my dreams. I'm lucky to have friends around me that I can tell anything, and they'll believe me and be supportive.

    Haven't told anyone in my family except my mother when the dreams started. I didn't say I'm sure my grandfather sexually abused me. I said I dreamed something happened in my grandparents house. I saw the couch they used to have so vividly. A child died on that couch. I remember trying to tell someone, don't you see? A child died there? And it was like no one else saw it.

    No, she says. Nothing happened. (Right, mom)

    I thought maybe the dream was about a child in my life currently, a niece or someone like that, who was in danger.

    And about a year later, two dreams came, and I knew it was me.

    I just had those three flashes of memories, nothing else. I haven't tried to get anything more back. I think I have the answer and all of the memories I need. There's nothing more to remember that would help me, I think. I know what happened. I know who did it.

    I was very, very relieved that he's dead, that he was when I finally remembered, so I didn't have to confront anyone and there was no question of who did or didn't believe me.

    I guess if I did tell some people and they didn't believe me, that might piss me off. But I don't feel the need to tell people and to get them to believe me, other than to validate the feelings and memories of others who've suffered through the same things and to try to help them. I told enough people to get the support I needed, told my husband, my kids.

    Haven't told my younger brother and sister, and I feel a little bit guilty about that, because I would think it happened to them, too. But I don't know if they remember, and I don't want to bring anything back they're not ready to remember. And we're not close. It was kind of like a Survivor-Island childhood, every man for himself. I did what I could. I survived. I feel mostly at peace with the whole thing. It happened. I accept that. I can't change it. It helped make me the person I am today, and I feel like a strong, capable person. I have a very good life. That's enough for me.

    Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

    by teresahill on Mon Feb 17, 2014 at 06:13:44 PM PST

  •  {{{{Bill in MD}}}}}} (14+ / 0-)

    And, hugs to your siblings, too.   I hope they can come so far in their healing as you have done.   Perhaps you will show them the way, simply by having done it.    They will need hugs one day, too, if they are not ready for them now.


  •  Thank you for sharing, Bill. (17+ / 0-)

    I really do believe in repressed memories.
    From birth to my eighth birthday I lived with my great-aunt (and a great-gran but she was more like a shadow) and a whole host of extended family members. My great aunt was known to sort of informally adopt all the children in area and a lot of them were always over at her house.
    One family, was particularly close. They were more like family. I remember the mom, the dad, and two sisters. I remember their names and I remember there voices.
    When I left my great aunt to live with my grandmother, I lost contact with most of my cousins.
    Fast forward to some years ago, I reconnected with my some of my cousins and we are all so happy. In talking to one cousin one day she said, "Man, Gary (not his real name but close enough) is going to be so happy to hear from you!"
    "Who's Gary?" I asked? "You don't remember him?" she said incredulously. "No, I don't."
    Turns out that Gary was the only brother to the aforementioned family. "He was more like a brother to you," she said. She gave him my number and he called me. The first thing he said to me was, "you were a naughty little girl." "Naughty?" I asked. "Why naughty? I was but a baby when you knew me?" He quickly backtracked and said he meant that I was always getting into trouble. We went on to talk some more and it was during the time when I was going through a financial crisis, which we talked about some, with him offering house, car and boat rides. By some coincidence, we live in the same city. I have yet to meet him.
    To this day I cannot remember this man. At my 8 he would have been 14. Did he molest me? I have this recurring flash of little girl me with my panties around my ankles walking in through the backdoor of our house but nothing else.
    Why did he describe me as "naughty?"

    Maya Angelou: "Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

    by JoanMar on Mon Feb 17, 2014 at 06:24:29 PM PST

  •  You are a remarkable man (16+ / 0-)

    I haven't dealt with anyone who had recovered memories, but when I used to work with battered women I saw many who had repressed memories. These women would be talking about their childhood and then say something like, "You know, it's funny. I can't remember anything about 8th and 9th grade. The first thing I remember after 7th grade is running away and getting married at the the summer after 9th grade. My mom was really mad because my new husband was as old as my step-father." We always knew that something traumatic and inescapable had happened during the missing time period.

    The fact that you have had the courage to face the trauma and deal with it is a sign of real strength and character. I don't see you as filled with rot.  I see you as filled with a strength and beauty that can overcome the mire that others tried to drown you in. You are a really good person.

    The past 50 years we: -Ended Jim Crow. -Enacted the Voting Rights Act. -Attained reproductive rights (contraceptive & abortion). -Moved toward pay equity. Republicans want to take our country back. I WON'T GO BACK!

    by petesmom on Mon Feb 17, 2014 at 08:18:41 PM PST

  •  Thanks, Bill. (11+ / 0-)

    Reading your diary has helped me gain new understandings, and I think other adults abused as children will be helped by your diary too.

    My abuse was not typical sexual abuse, as I have written before on Daily Kos. I was not groomed or forced to suffer or perform horrible acts or threatened as a child.

    Instead I was genitally mutilated as a 3-day-old. My parents thought they were doing the right thing, but luckily I survived to my 40s and realized with perfect hindsight and to my horror just how damaging my mutilation had been to me, the physical scars, the tethering, the performance and aging issues which are very common with surgically altered men, the resultant emotional scars, and issues with relating.

    Like you, Bill, I have worked a long time to recover. I have not just recovered, I have re-covered.

    Infant male genital mutilation is a topic that many male and female Kossacks cannot discuss or tolerate and need to deflect or stop with jokes, shaming, and attacks.

    Bill, thanks for kindly inviting others to join our Daily Kos support group for survivors, House of LIGHTS.

    I, too, invite Kossacks to join us off-stage, in a private room in the House of LIGHTS, or around a campfire out back. Just mention in a comment that you want to join, or send one of the administrators an email, and we will welcome you. In fact, you do not have to say anything. Many of us just act as Witnesses.

    Loving inspiration, giving hope to survivors,


  •  Bill, I'm glad you have a place here where you (14+ / 0-)

    feel comfortable working through this.

    So much for a little boy to endure, too much. I'm glad you've survived and that you're helping others.

    Big hugs.

  •  Bill this is one of the most moving diaries (7+ / 0-)

    I've ever read here. I so admire your resilience and your willingness to tell us your story. May your and your wife continue on your healing journeys. What you experienced is just unbearable.

    Helping a food pantry on the Cheyenne River Reservation,Okiciyap.

    by betson08 on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 07:54:39 AM PST

  •  Thank you, Bill - this is the most courageous (8+ / 0-)

    diary I have seen here in years. You may never know how many people will find your words to be the explanation of their anguish, the key to their healing. I can only hope that writing this and interacting with the commenters gives you the comfort so long denied to you.

    •  Thank you Cassandra (5+ / 0-)

      I actually spent some time last night seeing if it was possible to get page views on this blog, because I think that most of the people who will benefit will not comment at all. Oh well, I'm happy if it only helps one.

      Hmm...and if it did help someone, I'll need an aircraft carrier and a large banner saying "Mission Accomplished". And a pilots jump suit.


      I don't know about Chris Martin, but I do know why Saint Peter won't call my name.

      by Bill in MD on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 05:04:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you, Rescue Rangers! (4+ / 0-)

    Congrats, Bill. Being listed in Community Spotlight is a major accolade. Such diaries can remain on the Front Page for a couple of days. More eyes. Well done, say I.


  •  Oh God this made me cry. (7+ / 0-)

    So sorry.

    "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." -- JC, Matthew 6:24

    by Chi on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 08:34:38 AM PST

  •  Stories like this make be a better parent (10+ / 0-)

    and a better parent volunteer.  I've taken child protection training in Boy Scouts.  It's a very good program and one that dives into the issues of adult behavior (i.e. grooming, separation...) as well as child behavior (trouble sleeping, acting out, quietness, fear, physical illness, etc...)

    Awareness is one thing, but adults in positions of responsibility need to be able to turn to a neutral, third-party expert.  BSA insists that authorities are informed.  The Catholic Church would do well to take a page out of the BSA handbook, believe it or not.  Two-deep adult/child interaction--no one-on-one, full transparency to parents and law enforcement, etc...

    But more importantly, your stories teach us as parents to observe our children carefully.  Every day.  Mood changes, reticence around certain people.  Pay attention.  Supervise interaction of older children with younger children.  And develop a relationship of trust with your children.  Treat them with respect and trust and they'll do the same with you.  If they have issues, deal with them, don't tell them to forget about it or ignore them.

    My parents were my first teachers.  When I was 6, I had a horrible, chronic bladder infection.  I was running a high fever and dehydrating.  I was rushed to the hospital where I was strapped down and given an emergency catherization.  No pain killers.  It was the most excruciating torture.  I remember it to this day.  My mother was screaming and pleading for them to stop, but it had to be done.

    She was furious.  The doctor suggested that he explain what he did to me and why he needed to do it.  Not only did he do that, but he apologized!  He handed me a plastic model of the urethra and showed me how to work the catheter.  "You get to be the doctor and save the patient.  I'll show you what to do."    THAT helped put a very traumatic experience into perspective as a painful memory, but nothing more than that.   Children and people need to deal with their trauma, not sweep it under the rug.  

    I wish you all the best with your healing and please, be gentle with yourselves.  I know of no 8-year-old who is in control of his or her world.  They depend on us, as you depended on the adults when you were 8.  The failure was on their part, not yours.  You are a success for surviving and overcoming it.  The rot, quite frankly, is on their end and it stinks!

    •  Thank you suzq (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      207wickedgood, Avilyn, RiveroftheWest

      And I would add one more paragraph to your excellent post:

      Sit your child down, look him/her in the eye and say "if anyone, ANYONE, makes you uncomfortable, touches you where you don't want to be touched, does something to you that you didn't want done, or makes you do something you don't want to do (chores and broccoli excluded), tell me. You can ALWAYS tell me. I will believe you. If you are not comfortable telling me, tell your father/mother. We will believe you. Keep in mind that if you make something up and we find out, you will be in trouble. But we will always believe you immediately."

      Or something like that. I mentor fatherless boys and we always tell the boys this.


      I don't know about Chris Martin, but I do know why Saint Peter won't call my name.

      by Bill in MD on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 05:16:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  As a lifelong RAINN Sponsor (6+ / 0-)

    All I can say is, thank you for your story.  But also, it takes a lot of courage to take the steps that let you find people who can help you and to help others.

    I'm glad you took the time to share your story, because it will help others who are in those situations, where sexual abuse harms their basic existence.

    We can all be better to each other.   Everyone can help each other.   We just have to decide we want to.

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 09:22:23 AM PST

  •  as a survivor who cannot recall (5+ / 0-)

    the worst of what I must have witnessed/experienced, I am on your page Bill.

    Since my late twenties, therapists have been telling me that it is likely that I have repressed memories.  Whether they  will surface or not is almost a metaphysical question.

    Since my sister had the details of her abuse, and I had the intuition about all of it, we don't know if I witnessed (she was 9 when I was born), or if I just had the emotional sophistication to understand.

    I thought the sexual aggression was aimed at me until she revealed her story.

    I thought RM were a scientific fact by now.  

    Hugs to you and I assure you that seeing villains and heroes in this scenario is quite typical.

    I would like to be invited to the group which I didn't know existed.

  •  This is INTENSE (6+ / 0-)

    Thank you so much for sharing.  One of my take away's from stories like yours is that the human mind is unbelievably complex.  Personally, I am and will continue to endeavor to NOT take human behavior and character at face value.  I literally have no idea what's going on in anyone's wetware.  I can't pass judgement for strange behaviors, addiction, anger mgmt issues, criminal past,  etc.  Not without knowing the whole story.  

    What's the difference between the Federal government and organized crime? One's legally sanctioned.

    by FrankenPC on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 10:20:51 AM PST

  •  You are such a brave man (6+ / 0-)

    for writing this. I haven't read any other part of your story. This part made me cry. But I stopped soon enough to feel awe at your bravery for starting to heal years ago and continuing the healing now. I honor Ms. BiM for believing you, and Colleen the therapist, for helping you in those early years.

    Thank you also for explaining RM and how memories surfaced as images when you were not in the therapist's office, or feelings when you were in her office.

  •  Repressed memories (9+ / 0-)

    It seems superficial to say "Thank you for this" but it is heartfelt.  I am pretty sure that I was molested as a child but have no specific memories however lately things have been bothering me. Very specifically, the whole Woody Allen thing had/has me hyperventilating and I have been on the verge of leaving this site because of the way people were defending him.  So what you say about getting in touch with your prepressed memories is helpful.  

    I am not brave enough to get in touch with my memories but I admire your journey: the exploration, the confronting, the coming to terms, the sharing. You have no idea how much your story has helped me in validating how I feel and perhaps helping me to understand a bit.

    So thank you ... I am  so glad I read this since I almost skipped it because I was afraid of what it might trigger.

    "Life is a series of collisions with the future; it is not the sum of what we have been, but what we yearn to be." Jose Ortega y Gassett

    by CorinaR on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 11:42:46 AM PST

  •  Wow - what bravery (6+ / 0-)

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Your brave diary sheds some light for me as someone who was affected by someone else's RM that later proved to be inaccurate.

    As a society, we have gone from "there's no such thing as repressed memories" to "repressed memories are always true and must be believed" to "memory itself is a tricky thing - sometimes true and sometimes not."  Hard to know sometimes who and what to believe.

    I believe YOU.

    (aka NobleExperiments). ‎"Those who make a peaceful revolution impossible make a violent revolution inevitable" ~ John F. Kennedy

    by smrichmond on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 01:05:30 PM PST

  •  It is hard to understand (4+ / 0-)

    how I could not remember a scene from a horror movie.

    When a certain memory was triggered by looking at old pictures it was so immediate. I shook and cried.

    One of my first and enduring thoughts was 'you repressed this because you could not handle it, so you must be able to handle it now.' I told myself that over and over, and I believe it must be true, at least for me.

    Thank you for your bravery and I wish you the best in going on and overcoming.

  •  thank you for writing this, Bill (4+ / 0-)

    it is very clear from your diary that your experiences are authentic and not 'made up.'  That is because your experience resonates with me.  I too had DID and most of my childhood consisted of memories of my teacher's names, the music piece I played at the annual music concert, and books that I read, because what happened in between was horrible and had been walled off by the dissociative process.  Just as you say - images of events sometimes are disconnected from the feelings associated with them, and seemed to return at odd moments, and I began to recognize that what would trigger a memory would usually be an image or a place that reminded me of something in the memory.  I too was abused by multiple perpetrators, within my family, and their rejection of my story and the confrontation (I did it by letter as part of my healing journey) happened while I was safely across the country from them.

    Try not to worry about the 'sense of unreality' - we have creative minds, and the mind was doing its best to keep your sanity intact, and thus broke those memories off into a dreamlike 'other place' where they seem different and less coherent than 'normal' memory.

    I believe my memories returned to me when I was strong enough to face them; and clearly - you were strong enough to remember yours as well.  When we reach out to each other, we grow even stronger.  God bless.  Louise

    "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

    by louisev on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 03:05:30 PM PST

  •  Big words. Big story. (4+ / 0-)

    These False Memory (TM) people who swear that most repressed memories of CSA are actually caused by therapists who "implant memories" are rapidly being discredited. The sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church opened critical doors in many minds.

    The lid is only just coming off this stuff. Mark my words.

    It's interesting that right now, before I opened this diary, one of the windows open on my computer was a word-processing file. It contained a letter I'm working on to my primary abuser. It's the first in a series, about the life-long effects of child abuse. No, I don't specifically remember sexual abuse at this time. But, believe me, there was a lot else.

    A history of CSA would well-explain many of my issues today. I'm going to keep an open mind, and follow where my intuition leads.

    More and more people in just exactly my boat, and precisely because of survivors telling their stories, are keeping this "open mind" about their personal histories.

    I see us transforming society in heretofore unimagined ways, subverting the authoritarian worldview. (Heh, no wonder they want to shut down the internet so bad.)

    Thanks again for writing.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 04:07:52 PM PST

  •  Thank you Bill (5+ / 0-)

    for you strength in sharing and your spirit of encouragement to others.

    As a clergy person, I've been invited many times to walk with someone through their pain, but I never find it easy. And I found it difficult to hear your story. But I think it is so very important that your story is heard.

    I believe you.

    If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.-Aboriginal activists group, Queensland, 1970s

    by left rev on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 06:11:04 PM PST

  •  Many Counselors Seem To Be Pathological Enablers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    2thanks, blueyedace2

    Family counselors are often pretty awful.  But hey it's a light lift and easy money to take the side of the abuser and tell the family that the lowest common denominator is the born ruler of the home.

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 08:27:18 AM PST

  •  About EMDR (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The VA/Veterans Administration evidently approved EMDR treatment for veterans with PTSD.

    I'm a lay person who has an interest and has read a great deal online about trauma and some about EMDR. Symptoms of trauma can also lead to OCD/Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which disrupts life greatly for the sufferer and those close to him or her.

    Evidently, as you indicate, these things can become hard-wired in the brain, so do look into EMDR.

    There was an interesting program on Dr. Phil's this week about the difference between RM/Repressed Memories and FM/false memories. The latter can be strongly suggested by an unethical therapist, sometimes with the use of hypnosis.

    All the best to you.

    "No people ever recognize their dictator in advance. ... When our dictator turns up you can depend on it that he will be one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American." Dorothy Thompson (1935)

    by DorothyT on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 01:24:18 PM PST

  •  Repressed 'em... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    My soon-to-be-ex-husband is emotionally abusive, and as a consequence of his abuse, I was prescribed anti-depressants and was on them for about 15 years.  When I came off of them, again, as a consequence of his abusive behavior, the fog in my head cleared [I never should have been put on the anti-depressants in the first place, but he'd conditioned me to do what I was told] and I remembered a lot of what he had done.  My memories were not as repressed as the OP's, but they were repressed, nevertheless.  I found that more memories surfaced over time, and I was able to write down the instances and types of abuse he perpetrated on me, finally, and see the enormity of what he'd done.  And yes, fewer incidents surface over time.  

    May blessings abound in your life, Bill, and healing continue.  

  •  Thank you (0+ / 0-)

    I do believe you.  I'm a retired school psychologist, so my experience has been working on prevention. I have worked with some children who have been abused and at least one DID.  In my position I had to be very aware of the issue of False Memories because children are very susceptible to
    suggestion.  I'm wondering if RM and DID are  really the same in many ways.  They are both ways the brain/ spirit protects itself from that which is too painful to deal with.  Or in some cases, too young to understand cognitively.  My heart just broke over your guilt for not protecting your sister. Of course, you couldn't do anything, but it doesn't matter to the child. They failed  in their eyes. I hope you can learn to forgive yourself.  
         You mentioned all are welcome at House of Lights. If this is the case, I would like to be able to listen and learn.  

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