Defective or Damaged?

No doubt you know how I answered that question most of my life... DEFECTIVE. How else to explain the struggles of life... the confusing acting out behavior? Clearly there was something wrong with me or my mother would simply have loved me and the neighbors would not have groomed me and used me as they did.

Coming to realize that I'm not defective, that in fact I was damaged, required actually remembering that trauma was part of my past. For decades that past was hidden from view and I was left with ONLY the possibility I was defective... or a sinner as the church kept telling me. Admitting I was a sinner did no good simply because I kept acting out in confusing ways, behaviors I couldn't be honest about because I felt too much shame.

I've been unpacking all of this for 35 years and have finally come to the truth of what happened, which allowed me to see that my struggles are the markers for the damage that happened through the trauma. In fact, I see the threads of the trauma tied directly to my acting out behaviors over the years. So yes, I was damaged and am not defective. But where does that leave me? My life has been a war zone, a hell realm of broken relationships, terror, shame, rage and grief. What do I do with all of that? Is there anything here worth feeling good about? At moments I despair. It feels too hard to do. I even shopped for hand guns yesterday, ostensibly because of the tragedies we seem to witness in the news almost daily. The thought passed through my mind that ending my life wouldn't be a horrible thing to do. It would stop the pain, the confusion.

Blessedly, one of the things I read over the past few months spoke about how the trauma cannot take away the essence of who we are. Yes, that essence can be lost/hidden because it isn't safe to share it. But if we look closely enough we can see it in our past behaviors, even in our present moments. We're told over and over again that healing from sexual abuse happens only when we mobilize ourselves through compassion and self-care. That part of myself, my essence, that buried himself deep inside, will ONLY come out if I extend an invitation. Yes, I could say that is all too hard, that I don't have what it takes to heal. In my darker moments that is exactly what I feel... then that 9mm handgun looks interesting. But I remember a few days ago when a friend sent an email saying how she was able to stay engaged in her healing journey because of the kindness I regularly extended to her in a 12 Step meeting. Can I bring that caring to myself, right now? In essence I'm a kind, gentle person. Can I give that person the opportunity to have a life, even at the ripe old age of 77? I'll find out today, since it is the only one I'll ever have. Being damaged doesn't doom me, if I don't let it.
 
@Visitor you put into words so much of the way I have been feeling lately. I have been in a place of wondering why people want to continue living. Honestly, not understanding why someone wants to continue life with all the pain and misery I feel. I still don't know the answer, but I know that for me, I would not put my family thru the trauma of suicide. My kids, my wife, my young niece and nephew; I know they love me and that I am important to them so I would not traumatize them in that way. Yes, buying a gun has crossed my mind as well, but after talking to my T about it, things evened out and I felt less doomed.

I also talked about how I felt that I was 'defective' after the abuse because I felt, at 11 years old, that my penis got me into trouble. It made the doc want to feel it, it felt good when he did certain things and that made him tell me how much I liked what was happening and so it should continue. I struggled to find a way to 'hide' my penis so that it would not 'invite' the horrible things to happen. I felt it was a defective body part, asking for trouble. I am just now learning to be ok with my penis and learning that it's not a bad thing. So weird.. this all came up today so I am still processing it, but the thoughts are new for me and remembering how scared I felt knowing that there was no way to get rid of 'it' and that as long as I had 'it' I would be hurt because of it.

I don't think we are defective or damaged permanently. I think we were abused and like an injury, we are trying to heal. If I get cut, my skin needs to heal but it's not defective, it is damaged for now, but if I care for it, it will heal. I am trying to be kind and gentle to my 11yo kid-self who had to struggle all alone to figure out very adult problems. I am trying to coax him out into the open, to let him know that he is loved, cared for and can talk about all the bad stuff that happened and not be blamed for it, but loved for being who he is. I want to give him all the caring he deserved all those years ago.

You are on a good path, knowing you are not doomed....you are healing.


Peace, brother. Let's keep going and do this together with all of our friends here on the forum.
 
...I don't think we are defective or damaged permanently. I think we were abused and like an injury, we are trying to heal. If I get cut, my skin needs to heal but it's not defective, it is damaged for now, but if I care for it, it will heal. I am trying to be kind and gentle to my 11yo kid-self who had to struggle all alone to figure out very adult problems. I am trying to coax him out into the open, to let him know that he is loved, cared for and can talk about all the bad stuff that happened and not be blamed for it, but loved for being who he is. I want to give him all the caring he deserved all those years ago...
Thanks Bryan. I mentioned this thread to my friend, former wife and she made a similar comment. We're certainly not defective and even the damage that resulted from trauma is awaiting the care that will deliver healing. The theme comes back on these threads as other men do this sacred work... we heal through truth telling and love, through the care we offer our damaged selves. No doubt this is a main reason we keep coming back to this website. We know we're with kindred spirits, who know the pain and who are working hard to move past it all so we can claim our aliveness. Appreciate your presence and your support Bryan. We'll keep doing this. We're not alone any longer.
 
It is a challenge, isn't it Tom? I had great difficulty letting go of the idea there was something fundamentally wrong with me. I began repeating a mantra a few years ago that said "I'm not a problem to solve..." That didn't ultimately end slipping into shame over my behavior but it was a beginning of a longer process. It was really the reading I did on how trauma affects brain development that made the big difference. I couldn't help but react the ways I did following the abuse I experienced. There were no rational choices, no preferences expressed... it was all knee-jerk reaction, all of which represented re-enactment of the abuse, subtly modified over time as I got older and new possibilities for reigniting shame were available. I could do some of the same self-destructive acting out even after releasing myself from the burden of defectiveness but it came without the added layer of shame. With time even the acting out diminished since I was no longer re-charging it with a new episode of shame.

Be gentle with yourself Tom. You're no more a problem to solve than I am... you're no more defective than I am. We're all survivors doing the best we can to live through this crazy world of feelings and behaviors. It will be through self-care and compassion that healing happens. We all deserve that.
 
Good advice @Visitor . @Tom E. I am sorry you are feeling that way right now. I go down that road often myself. Be gentle on yourself and know that we are here no matter how you are feeling. It makes sense that we would feel this way and I can hear that you are feeling bad. At the very least, you are amongst friends, supporters, cheerleaders, listeners and guys who understand and stand with you. Take care, buddy.

Bryan
 

KMCINVA

Registrant
At one time I believed I was both defective and damaged. Over time I began to accept words uttered to me. Defective is a more permanent state of imperfection, shoddiness, a non or malfunctioning being whereas damaged can be repaired or healed, the damage is inflicted by someone or something that is defective. It is the abuser who is defective and the damage we lived is a result of his/her defectiveness. We are damaged as a consequence of defective behavior. It took me years to understand and accept the difference. Maybe semantics but it helped me see I had been damaged and I could be repaired or more likely healed.

Visitor I do not know if this helps. Try and remember you were a person prior to the abuse and the damage occurred during and after the abuse. I hope you are feeling better and you are NOT defective.

Kevin
 
Thanks Kevin. You describe what has been my relationship to all of this. The notion I'm defective has lost most of its charge over time but even the idea that damage can be repaired is not at all time a relief since it can seem the work of repair is too daunting. I understand even that despair needs to be part of the process, that compassion for despair is a step in the right direction. Looking back it saddens me greatly that the damage was such I could not avail myself of the love being offered, the opportunities presented... living small because that was the best I could do. Blessedly, I don't spend a great deal of time in such ruminations... getting back in harness to practice the self-care I need to remain in this moment... one day at a time.
 
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