A voice in my head

flying

Registrant
An update: I've been doing the CBT exercise, where I write down a situation, then the automatic thoughts that come with it, then I write the cognitive distortion, and then the rational response. It is helping slow my mind down and stopping the hamster wheel in my head.

I have been reading about the effects of sexual abuse, and it's so common to worry about our sexuality. In fact, it would be almost impossible not to worry about it after being sexually abused.

That's my update. I don't see my therapist until the end of the month. Oh yeah, I did look at porn the other day to escape from my anxiety. But I hadn't done that in a long time. Practice not perfection.
 
That sounds like a great exercise to release some of our crazy thinking. I hope you continue to do that. I've been writing daily in my journal and it helps keep things in perspective. Of course, I have to be honest with myself, which is my version of practice not perfection.

Hang in there and use this forum for support as you feel the need.
 

StuJ

Registrant
Thanks Yama, this is really helpful. When I am happy I am not judging myself, or labeling myself. I am just being me. I accept myself, feel confident, don't worry about my sexuality, I just feel good. I love that.

When I have the inner critic I am very judgemental, hard on myself, compare myself to others and I don't measure up.

This negative voice in my head has been one of my biggest struggles since adolescence. When I am scared of my feelings I shut down and go into my head. Then, the critic takes over and tries to convince me that I'm a bad person.

I am a good person, I'm honest and loving. I'm a good dad, a good husband. I reject the labels of my sexuality because I don't feel like they define me accurately. I am me, and that is good enough. I deserve to feel good about it, without shame.
You just described me, so I totally understand. Despite all the shit inside your head it still feels better to be in there than dealing externally with feelings and emotions you don't understand. It's also a defence, if you criticise yourself no else can and you remain in control.

I too always took responsibility for my abuse and believed it was my fault. That way I wasn't weak or a victim and I had control. When I told my story to the police and counsellors, they all said it wasn't my fault and thought they were helping my guilt. It just took away my control, my strength and made me fill like a victim. Maybe that's good long term, but right now its fucking 100x harder. Never cried about it until then, and that also adds to the feeling of lack of control.

The best healing I've had is learning from the amazing people on this forum that others feel the same as me and understand my struggles. Hope this helps you too.
 

StuJ

Registrant
An update: I've been doing the CBT exercise, where I write down a situation, then the automatic thoughts that come with it, then I write the cognitive distortion, and then the rational response. It is helping slow my mind down and stopping the hamster wheel in my head.

I have been reading about the effects of sexual abuse, and it's so common to worry about our sexuality. In fact, it would be almost impossible not to worry about it after being sexually abused.

That's my update. I don't see my therapist until the end of the month. Oh yeah, I did look at porn the other day to escape from my anxiety. But I hadn't done that in a long time. Practice not perfection.
Thanks Flying. Just started CBT myself but only 1 session of planning. Helps to hear your positive experience.

My grooming was via porn and abuse through masturbation and forced oral. I was "taught" that porn is normal and manly and I use it now to "prove" my masculinity to myself. It's also my escape, a stress and anxiety relief. I hope one day that I can use real sex with my wife for that, rather than have a dirty secret. I know my therapist shouldn't judge, but I'm scared of telling her about the porn, even though I told her about abuse. Also I guess I fear losing that outlet.

Have discussed the use of porn with your therapist and do you think I should. It feels like a gambling addiction, good and bad at the same time. Feeling really confused about this.
 
It is good Stu that you recognize pornography was an integral part of grooming you and therefore fundamental to the trauma that is still affecting your life and relationship with your wife. Pornography came later in life for me but it too held me in its grip. What has become clear from spending time on this website is that indulging in porn is effectively a re-enactment of the trauma and keeps the perpetrator in charge of my life. If I want my life back, I have to stop doing the things I learned to do when traumatized. Engaging in anonymous sex was a re-enactment. And using porn, which I did for years, was how I kept generated shame that I carried because of the sexual abuse and my response to it, much as you have. Porn is NOT your friend Stu... it is keeping you in the grip of your perpetrator. I'd encourage you to tell the truth to your therapist. We can't heal from trauma until we're able to tell the truth. You're not getting away with anything by hiding. You're just keeping yourself trapped in the past which is the last place any of us needs to be. I sense from what you share that you know this and really want to move past it. I encourage you to use the support of this fellowship to take this on. You can do it! We're here to support you.
 
And always be gentle with yourself Stu. We can be our own worst enemy... that seems to be part of the shame cycle we get in. We want to learn self-compassion even as we learn self-care. All the best to you on your journey. This is a great place to find support along the way.
 

flying

Registrant
I have discussed porn with my therapist, and masturbation which is embarrassing. I've been listening to a book by Brene Brown about shame resilience and it's helping me see how much shame has affected my life. All of this stuff is hard to deal with, sometimes I wish I didn't have to. I'm learning more about myself and I am growing, but it is slow.
 
I have discussed porn with my therapist, and masturbation which is embarrassing. I've been listening to a book by Brene Brown about shame resilience and it's helping me see how much shame has affected my life. All of this stuff is hard to deal with, sometimes I wish I didn't have to. I'm learning more about myself and I am growing, but it is slow.
Remarkable to realize our primary task in healing from trauma is learning how to be the adult in the room rather than the frightened child. We begin by finding compassion for ourselves, for what happened and what we did as a result... then learn how to care for ourselves so we don't have to keep doing those things, most of which generate shame. Growing up isn't easy. We should have begun that process as children but the trauma interfered. We didn't receive the guidance and support we needed to learn how to deal with life. But it is not too late. We can grow up and we can care for ourselves so we don't have to live in our childhood trauma any longer. It is heartening to know we CAN claim our lives as grownups.
 

flying

Registrant
Reporting on my feelings. Battling a little bit of shame. Some confusion too. I've been getting in touch with myself and learning more about me. I am very attracted to my wife and I like making love with her. I notice attractive women everyday and most of my sexual fantasies are about women. I have some sexual fantasies about men, and I notice attractive guys sometimes too. But it seems pretty clear that the majority of my feelings in this way are for women.

The confusion stems from the obsessive thinking about my sexuality, wondering what I am, if I'm really gay and in denial. This is very painful for me because I have been very honest with myself and my wife about my internal self since the beginning of our relationship 26 years ago. If I focus on my feelings, I'm not confused at all. I know who I am and what I like. The confusion is with my thoughts. The spiral, the obsessive thinking, the shame, the wondering.

Today I was feeling some shame for no reason, and I got overwhelmed with the thought that I must really be gay. The image in my head was me in the distance, in a field, all alone and unloved. It wasn't of me with a guy, that doesn't even seem to be what it's about. It was about being unworthy of love, not deserving the life I have, not deserving to be happy. That I am fundamentally flawed. I think this fear of being gay and rejected is from the shame I experienced when men tried taking advantage of me. I confused the shame and their behavior with sexuality.

It's crazy, I am not confused at all when I listen to my body and feelings. Women turn me on more than men. I believe that if I was gay I would have accepted it because I am a very self aware, thoughtful person. I tried accepting that I'm bi for many years, but I don't feel like that label fits me. I am me.

I am realizing that I have feelings for men that aren't sexual. I've just distorted every feeling as being a sexual one. If I see a handsome guy, I usually just realize he's a handsome guy. I don't really have sexual feelings for him. But the fact that I realized he was handsome makes me automatically think I'm sexually attracted to him. I am learning that people are able to notice other people as being attractive without necessarily wanting to have sex with them. This is new for me. Any feeling of any kind is usually interpreted as a sexual feeling. Whereas when I see an attractive woman I have a genital response, it gets warm down there and it does feel sexual. Sometimes I do see an attractive woman and I don't want to have sex with her, and I shame myself for not being manly or something.

This stuff is frustrating but I'm sharing because it helps me and I hope it can help someone else too.
 
Last edited:
...Today I was feeling some shame for no reason, and I got overwhelmed with the thought that I must really be gay. The image in my head was me in the distance, in a field, all alone and unloved. It wasn't of me with a guy, that doesn't even seem to be what it's about. It was about being unworthy of love, not deserving the life I have, not deserving to be happy. That I am fundamentally flawed. I think this fear of being gay and rejected is from the shame I experienced when men tried taking advantage of me. I confused the shame and their behavior with sexuality.

It's crazy, I am not confused at all when I listen to my body and feelings. Women turn me on more than men. I believe that if I was gay I would have accepted it because I am a very honest, thoughtful person...
Feeling unworthy comes part and parcel with being sexually abused. We end up confused and unworthy. The term "fundamentally flawed" probably completes the picture for most of us. It certainly has for me. When a marriage would end I'd encourage my partners to leave BECAUSE I'm no good, unworthy, fundamentally flawed. These are thoughts we do best not to entertain. We don't need to string affirmations together, but leaning into the reality that we are deserving of compassion and care is healthy. I know the women in my life have been very confused by the stance I took, of being unworthy. They saw a person they loved and wished to build a life with. I was so caught in shame I couldn't see the truth. So please be gentle with yourself and do a bit of reality checking here. Your mind wants to take you back to shame, likely rooted in the abuse. You don't have to go there. As some folks on this website note, you're permitting the perpetrator to stay in charge of your life when he really needs to be banished. This is your work my friend... taking back your life and your aliveness.
 

flying

Registrant
Thanks Vi
Feeling unworthy comes part and parcel with being sexually abused. We end up confused and unworthy. The term "fundamentally flawed" probably completes the picture for most of us. It certainly has for me. When a marriage would end I'd encourage my partners to leave BECAUSE I'm no good, unworthy, fundamentally flawed. These are thoughts we do best not to entertain. We don't need to string affirmations together, but leaning into the reality that we are deserving of compassion and care is healthy. I know the women in my life have been very confused by the stance I took, of being unworthy. They saw a person they loved and wished to build a life with. I was so caught in shame I couldn't see the truth. So please be gentle with yourself and do a bit of reality checking here. Your mind wants to take you back to shame, likely rooted in the abuse. You don't have to go there. As some folks on this website note, you're permitting the perpetrator to stay in charge of your life when he really needs to be banished. This is your work my friend... taking back your life and your aliveness.
Thanks Visitor, reality checking is a good idea. Any time I go to shame, I need to get away from it. Shame does nothing positive. I am worthy and we are all worthy of being loved and accepted.
 
You're doing the work Flying... and that is the best we can do. Patience is called for... patience and gentleness. You're building new muscles, or more accurately new neural pathways in your brain to replace the track that developed around shame. Now you're strengthening your capacity to be responsible for yourself, to CARE for yourself, to engage in your life positively, to lean into your intimate relationships. This is how healing happens... NOT in the past.
 

flying

Registrant
I have been listening to a Brene Brown book about shame, and I think a lot of this stuff I am talking about is shame triggers. Sexuality obsession is definitely a trigger for shame in my experience.
 
That has been my experience too Flying. I've needed to disengage from everything that has the potential to capture me... it can be thoughts in my mind or things I encounter, like an attractive woman I can use to launch into fantasy. It could be some of the eye-candy we find EVERYWHERE on the internet. Turn my eyes away, release the provocative image/thought that would in the past have led to fantasy, then pornography, then shame. Brene Brown on "shame" is a wonderful antidote for it all, but moment to moment it remains a spiritual practice. When we see/feel something we know is tied to acting out behavior, we turn our attention to something else. I have a couple of altars in my home and photos of myself as a young boy as reminders of what I'm committed to now. I have favorite quotes on my refrigerator door, a small teddy bear on the sofa in front of me who represents the frightened child who had to go away to escape the terror. I have this website to remind me I don't have to go back into the trauma, into the pain. You're doing the work my friend. It really is the most important thing any of us can be doing because it has the potential for giving us our aliveness, unencumbered by shame and fear. With our aliveness anything is possible!
 

flying

Registrant
An update: saw therapist last week, she suggested showing compassion for this worry, not to fight it. It came from all of my experiences, and it makes sense considering what I went through. It isn't about my identity, it's a kid's response to abuse, trying to make sense of everything.
 
I've been reading of late about "positive" psychology that suggests rather than simply focusing on what isn't working, there is great value in leaning into what fosters well being. No doubt, finding compassion for ourselves is one such thing we can do. For a couple of years I've been using the line "I'm not a problem to solve." It is an antidote to the message my mother repeated during my life..."I was a difficult child." I now believe the difficulty for my mother was the fact I cried a great deal... and I cried a great deal because I was terrified by the inappropriate ways she was treating my genitals. I didn't feel safe in the world from the very beginning.

Sadly, I can't change anything about the past, but I can stop harming myself with either behaviors or attitudes that hurt me. I need to be an advocate for myself, to have compassion for all of me both past and present. I need to stand on my own behalf so I can make positive, life-affirming choices that will allow me to be fully alive. I use the line "I want to be in the middle of myself, in the middle of the moment, with my heart open and my belly soft." We can have compassion for ourselves Flying. You saw it very well... all the pain is a product of the past abuse. It is not at all who you are or how you need to live your life. You're worth the compassion and kindness... every bit of it. We all are.
 

flying

Registrant
Thanks Visitor, I appreciate that. Sometimes I feel like I'm always going to be down on myself or insecure. But I know that there has been a lot of growth. I need to say to myself that I am good enough, I am good just as I am, I don't have to fit into a box. I am me, and that is good. To embrace all of me, good and bad, and have compassion for the vulnerable parts and the scared parts of me. I am doing a good job as a dad and husband and I deserve to be nice to myself. Thanks again Visitor.
 
Deep respect Flying. I was never able to keep a marriage together and I was too terrified to consider having a child. That you're able to do both is worthy of respect. And no, we don't have to do anything perfectly, but it is good to be able to do them at all. If you're feeling good about your family I'm very happy for you. Your own healing work will take however long it takes. My former wife gave me a card on my birthday last week that says "It takes as long as it takes. Be gentle with yourself." I can't imagine better advice for any of us. The best to all of us.
 
Top