A Realization

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It's been a very rocky few weeks for me, with a bunch of memories surfacing and coalescing in a way they hadn't ever done before. Maybe a year ago, when I began working through what I now recognize as my first set of abuse memories, my T warned me that this would probably happen. Even so, it took me by surprise when it did. The memories were so immediate. The feelings were so strong and so unlike any I remember ever having felt before. It was completely overwhelming, far more intense than the first wave of memories, which is really saying something. Overwhelming enough, in fact, to send me on a desperate search for some kind of community that would help me not feel alone in this. I was like a person in a shipwreck casting about for some piece of floating debris to grab on to. Face to face support groups for male survivors don't seem to exist in the area where I live, so...my first stop was Reddit. Bad idea. (Not to say there wasn't some useful support there, but dear God, the trolls.) Then I found this place, thank goodness. After reading around in the comments a fair amount, I wrote an intro and then started work on a Survivor Story. It took me a while to get to the point where I felt OK copying the story into the box and hitting "post thread," but I took the plunge last night, and it's up now. Thanks to whichever moderator slogged through all of it. The computer tells me it ended up being like 4750 words.

Writing that story took a lot out of me. It felt like an exorcism. And it was so strange. The emotions that led me to write it, and that got even more intense while I was writing it, were related to, but also very different from the ones I'd gotten used to thinking of as symptoms of the "trauma hangover" from my abuse. As I've mentioned in my intro, those more familiar feelings were my standard triggers for acting out, before I began my recovery. What I was used to was a mix of sexual arousal, anxiety, and shame/self-loathing. This new thing had those too (albeit with a much smaller dose of sexual arousal) but added straight up dread and a sense of abject powerlessness -- as if my self was dissolving and being forced to assume a new form I didn't want anything to do with. Those two new components, I realized, were what I had been scared of facing all this time. They were what my mind had edited out of "The Feeling" that motivated my acting out, and they were what my acting out was meant to keep me from ever having to experience. Thing is, compared to the wreckage caused by all those years of self-isolating compulsive behavior, they actually...weren't that bad! It's like that moment in the Wizard of Oz where the Wizard is revealed. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." Thing is, of course, that the decision to cope in this way wasn't made by the person I am now, it was made by ten-year-old me, and for ten-year-old me, this stuff was indeed well and truly far too awful to possibly face. Until I wrote my story I hadn't really seen that. Now I do.

Anyway, here's the realization. Last night, I was standing at the range making dinner. I'd thrown a pat of butter in the pan, waited for the foam to subside, and then tossed in a bunch of mushrooms. I shook the pan to get them into an even layer. Seasoned with salt and pepper. Then I'm standing there, smelling them, and this thought comes into my head: I am a whole man. And then I felt that wholeness! And I realized it's something I might last have felt when I was seven years old.
 
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