Do you ever wonder about what life would’ve been like without the abuse?

trevortins

Registrant
This is my first post so sorry if it’s in the wrong place or not on topic. My abuse has caused me a lot of pain, sleepless nights, anxiety, depression etc. But the one thing that really haunts me is the feeling that this is not who I really am and how I would be without the abuse.

Would I be able to have a normal relationship with women? Would I still have an eating disorder and porn addiction? Would I still be so uncomfortable around people? So many questions I have about who I could’ve been and how I should’ve been able to grow and develop on my own. But I’ll never know what parts are really me and what was just formed as a product of the abuse.

I really can’t even describe the feeling this gives me it’s like I’m trapped in a body that’s not really mine and I’m constantly being forced to do things I don’t really want.
 
A lot of my depression stems from how unfair I feel my life has been. My abusers stole so much from me especially in the way of having a family that I fear I'm too old to ever attain. I do wonder what my life would've been like or how I feel things were supposed to be for me.

I never thought I'd end up alone. I've never had a relationship. Not because I haven't wanted one, or I'm afraid of women, it just has never happened. It hurts me immensely and I don't know how to fix it. I have no clue what my core identity would be and that hurts too.

I have the additional identities that I've pursued like my military background and my job title, but I don't know who I am at the core and only can only fantasize who I could've been. I know I'm a good guy, my talents, my manners, my other abilities. But, who am I? I've felt as if at the core I'm a victim. Now I can identify as being a survivor as a part of my identity but I don't feel whole... yet. Still, I grieve for the person I could've been. I think I would've been a really great guy if I'm already considered that by people I've met and friends despite the challenge of being sexually abused and assaulted in life. I keep fighting for just the chance of accepting who I am at the moment. It helps to have the support of others that remind me I may not be as far from who I could've been. Under the layers of suffering there's a piece of me I just haven't quite found yet, that piece that kept me alive and able to fight on
 

Dan99

Registrant
I wonder a lot about that. I know some of the choices and decisions that were driven by my history of abuse. But I also know it's tough to predict what exactly would have happened otherwise. I try to keep that type of speculating to a minimum and stay in the present, but I know how tempting it is to imagine, too. Sometimes it can be a really pleasant break from reality to let my imagination wander. Just have to make sure it doesn't start creeping into denial. I'm very good at finding reasons not to do what I know needs doing, and fantasizing about what might have been can be a great way to get me off track if I'm not careful.

Take care.
 

trevortins

Registrant
A lot of my depression stems from how unfair I feel my life has been. My abusers stole so much from me especially in the way of having a family that I fear I'm too old to ever attain. I do wonder what my life would've been like or how I feel things were supposed to be for me.

I never thought I'd end up alone. I've never had a relationship. Not because I haven't wanted one, or I'm afraid of women, it just has never happened. It hurts me immensely and I don't know how to fix it. I have no clue what my core identity would be and that hurts too.

I have the additional identities that I've pursued like my military background and my job title, but I don't know who I am at the core and only can only fantasize who I could've been. I know I'm a good guy, my talents, my manners, my other abilities. But, who am I? I've felt as if at the core I'm a victim. Now I can identify as being a survivor as a part of my identity but I don't feel whole... yet. Still, I grieve for the person I could've been. I think I would've been a really great guy if I'm already considered that by people I've met and friends despite the challenge of being sexually abused and assaulted in life. I keep fighting for just the chance of accepting who I am at the moment. It helps to have the support of others that remind me I may not be as far from who I could've been. Under the layers of suffering there's a piece of me I just haven't quite found yet, that piece that kept me alive and able to fight on
This is very similar to how I feel, I feel like I just don’t know who I am or was supposed to be at my core. It leaves a lot of unanswered questions that we can never truly know the answer to.
 
I hear you, and because I have wondered I am saying the following as gently as I can:

Navigating that pain and anger is important. But slipping under the spell of "what ifs" is dangerous. They are tempting to ponder. I am afraid spending to much time there it leads to disappointment and bitterness. Neither states help us fight the very real affects the abuse left on us. Our battles are here and now, to build what we can, heal what we can and to find peace.

I wish it were otherwise, but we need to deal with what was, not what it displaced.
 

MO-Survivor

Greeter
Staff member
This is a question that no - we can't ever completely know. But yes, I too wonder about this.

The thing is... the deeper I go into healing... the deeper I find that this has all affected me. I had already thought about how my mom described me as a very "rambunctious" toddler. And I was always a big kid until I stopped growing. She said she was afraid I'd hurt someone in preschool because I was so rowdy and rough & tumble. I think my abuse started at 3 1/2, although I have no memories that early. It's an age my subconsious gave me in a dream one time - and it makes sense to me. Because what I remember as a kid - I was not rambunctious or rough & tumble at all. I was cautious. I was careful. I didn't like conflict at all - or anything that might bring about conflict. The complete opposite of what I was described as when I was 2 & 3.

But there are plenty of other things too. I posted not long ago about the revelation that I both wanted and needed connection and touch. And that I have told myself for most of my life that I don't need it. I've been reaching out to my sister, trying to hash through some of this and how it affected our family dynamics, and specifically how it affected our relationship. It has been stirring some deep, scary, lonely and painful feelings I haven't felt in a very, very long time. Last night I was trying to go to sleep and I startled myself awake - out of fear. Some unknown, wordless fear. And then I started crying - but didn't really feel anything while I was except for that twinge of fear. And sadness. It's the closest little boy feelings I've had in a while.

So I sat there, as my wife came to bed, thinking this was the perfect opportunity to see my need for connection and touch - and ask for it. My brain tried to think of all the reasons why she probably couldn't give that to me right then. And I didn't ask outright for it. I needed her... but in that moment I realized I have never told anyone, "I need you." Never. Not in my whole life. I haven't felt it. I haven't said it. I told my wife that, and she said, "Yeah. It's a defense mechanism. I've said before, 'I don't really need them!'" And I responded that yes, I've felt, thought and said that - in that context before too. But that what I was experiencing wasn't that. No, what I experienced was a very core-of-my-being belief (not just a feeling or a defense mechanism) that said: "I don't need anyone." I learned early on (very young) that no one would meet that need. And so I grew up never believing I needed that, and never, ever saying it.

It's surreal to think that I have to teach myself to ask for this from my wife. That I have to teach myself to feel the actual need and then to open my mouth.

All this to say, @trevortins, I would not be the same person I am today if none of this had ever happened.
 

MO-Survivor

Greeter
Staff member
I hear you, and because I have wondered I am saying the following as gently as I can:

Navigating that pain and anger is important. But slipping under the spell of "what ifs" is dangerous. They are tempting to ponder. I am afraid spending to much time there it leads to disappointment and bitterness. Neither states help us fight the very real affects the abuse left on us. Our battles are here and now, to build what we can, heal what we can and to find peace.

I wish it were otherwise, but we need to deal with what was, not what it displaced.
True, @BDD. I think passing observations and questions are okay. But dwelling in the what-ifs can be a grief-filled hole you can fall into.
 
I hear you, and because I have wondered I am saying the following as gently as I can:

Navigating that pain and anger is important. But slipping under the spell of "what ifs" is dangerous. They are tempting to ponder. I am afraid spending to much time there it leads to disappointment and bitterness. Neither states help us fight the very real affects the abuse left on us. Our battles are here and now, to build what we can, heal what we can and to find peace.

I wish it were otherwise, but we need to deal with what was, not what it displaced.
We are what we are here and now. Loving ourselves means loving the person we are here and now -- damaged, struggling, weird though we be, but also brave, determined, sensitive and always seeking.

I think that on some very basic level, wishing to be someone who we were "meant to be" is wishing that who we now are didn't exist. That is a treacherous path. It seems like we want something better for ourselves, but if that "better" never really was, or is simply impossible, we are simply inviting bitterness into our lives.

Just my two cents.
 

CarbonTiger

Registrant
True, @BDD. I think passing observations and questions are okay. But dwelling in the what-ifs can be a grief-filled hole you can fall into.
I want to fall :(

Let me fall down that dark hole.

..so that I may love that part of myself. The little one that ran away forever and hid from the cruel world. The only way out is through!? Instead of turning around and heading back to the light. I want to take the quickest way out even if it means I lose everything.

I must.
I can.
I will.
 
This post makes me think about how it is so very difficult to accept the challenges and difficulties that our lives present us with. Certainly depression is one of those challenges for me. Depression can be looked at as the inability to accept or grieve loss. What I hear you saying @trevortins is that it is difficult for you to accept the challenges in your life as you describe them above. You wonder what "you" would have been like had abuse never happened to you. It's a difficult place to be. I know there is pain in being in that place that because I know that place very well. As others have mentioned, it is easy to get stuck in that mindset. And as others have mentioned, they can relate to your experience. Getting stuck in that mindset is perhaps what depression is all about. I think it's important to realize this. I also think it's important to somehow find a way to grieve what was actually lost. This is, of course, much easier said than done.

Reading this post and it's responses brought an image to my mind of me bending down and picking up all the shattered pieces of my broken personailty. Because when it comes down to it I am broken. And the only way to begin to put the pieces of me back together is to first pick them up. It is in that first step of picking up those broken pieces that I can begin the grieving process. And it is in that first step that healing begins, because I would have accepted the responsibility for putting myself back together, in whatever form that may take. Who knows what that form will look like. It's impossible to predict. And frankly I can't lead anyone down that path because I'm stuck where you are. I can just tell you that I know the feeling you are describing. I've lived with it for over ten years now. It's a feeling of not being comfortable in ones own skin, of wishing you were someone else. It's pure torture.

Maybe there is something in what I wrote you can relate to or find helpful. I'm glad you posted this question and this dilemma and also for the responses it got as it's been helpful for me to read and share my thoughts and experience.. So, thank you.

Take care
 
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Brian76

Registrant
This is my first post so sorry if it’s in the wrong place or not on topic. My abuse has caused me a lot of pain, sleepless nights, anxiety, depression etc. But the one thing that really haunts me is the feeling that this is not who I really am and how I would be without the abuse.

Would I be able to have a normal relationship with women? Would I still have an eating disorder and porn addiction? Would I still be so uncomfortable around people? So many questions I have about who I could’ve been and how I should’ve been able to grow and develop on my own. But I’ll never know what parts are really me and what was just formed as a product of the abuse.

I really can’t even describe the feeling this gives me it’s like I’m trapped in a body that’s not really mine and I’m constantly being forced to do things I don’t really want.
I feel you completely. I don't know who I am or how I am supposed to act. I have been wearing masks so long I forgot who I am if I ever was anyone to begin with. Life feels like a job that me. Trapped. Unfulfilled. Scared. Lonely. I hope you find peace brother.
 

MO-Survivor

Greeter
Staff member
I want to fall :(

Let me fall down that dark hole.

..so that I may love that part of myself. The little one that ran away forever and hid from the cruel world. The only way out is through!? Instead of turning around and heading back to the light. I want to take the quickest way out even if it means I lose everything.

I must.
I can.
I will.
I listened to a podcast yesterday because a friend here is doing therapy and their therapist is using an Internal Family Systems (IFS) approach to helping him through all of it. While I've had some training, we never really dug into the details of IFS. So I figured someone had a podcast about it. There is a podcast on Apple called, "IFS Talks." Even though the podcasts are topical I figured I could pick up on what IFS was all about by listening.

So the episode I listened to was from May 13, 2021 and was titled, "Sexual Abuse through an IFS lens - revisited." They have a guest - Robert Falconer - who had quite horrific abuse at the hands of his father and his father's friends (eventually his older brother too, when the men told his brother he could either join them in abusing or continue to be on the receiving end; Robert said if he had been offered that, he would have chosen to join the men too vs. enduring what he did).

Anyway, Falconer started talking about IFS and its use as a lifelong growth model. As a way to understand ourselves and view ourselves and our "parts" in a way that allows us to grow and grow. At one point he described the ongoing therapeutic journey for CSA as:
(paraphrased) "...like looking at the stars on a dark night. When you first glance at the sky, you see a few bright stars and planets. Then, maybe you pull out binoculars and look and are able to see more detail - more stars. Eventually, you pull out a telescope and things that were so far away suddenly come into focus. And your view is filled with a multitude of stars."

But where that detail feels good or bad, you do have to look deeper and deeper for deeper and deeper healing. You do have to go down into the dark hole, and then crawl your way through... ever darker, ever deeper... and eventually you can come out the end of the tunnel. Actually, you can tunnel your way up and out anytime you want. But without going deeper - you will stay at the level of healing you are at with maybe the occasional insight and change. So... good for you @BDD! Keep digging.
 

CarbonTiger

Registrant
I can.
I will.
I must...

I must save myself, so that I can help save others from those depths. I think you of all people know where i'm going with this. You are definitely a bright light on a cloudy night my friend.

Thank you, I love you @MO-Survivor :)
 

KMCINVA

Greeter
Staff member
This is my first post so sorry if it’s in the wrong place or not on topic. My abuse has caused me a lot of pain, sleepless nights, anxiety, depression etc. But the one thing that really haunts me is the feeling that this is not who I really am and how I would be without the abuse.

Would I be able to have a normal relationship with women? Would I still have an eating disorder and porn addiction? Would I still be so uncomfortable around people? So many questions I have about who I could’ve been and how I should’ve been able to grow and develop on my own. But I’ll never know what parts are really me and what was just formed as a product of the abuse.

I really can’t even describe the feeling this gives me it’s like I’m trapped in a body that’s not really mine and I’m constantly being forced to do things I don’t really want.
This is a difficult question. For decades I wondered what my life would be if I had not been abused. It controlled me, but I did not realize how a fantasy could control me. It took over my life, and caused great pain. I thought happiness would be part of my life, love and a more confident person. In time, the abuse took control of my life. I suffered syncope and dissociative fugues. As I began to heal, which was a difficult and long process, I learned I needed to accept the reality of the abuse and to let go of the guilt and shame I carried, believing I was responsible for the abuse. Sounded easy, it was not. I slowly learned the abuse is part of my history but I needed to let it go, instead of letting it control my life. Once I achieved a sense of healing I slowly stopped thinking of what my life would have been, instead I accepted I could not change the past. The only think I had control was how I lived today and tomorrow.

I too felt trapped, today I feel free and accept the guilt and shame is that of the abuser and those that denied my abuse. Take care o yourself and remember you are valued and try to focus on what you can do today and tomorrow.

Kevin
 

MO-Survivor

Greeter
Staff member
I can.
I will.
I must...

I must save myself, so that I can help save others from those depths. I think you of all people know where i'm going with this. You are definitely a bright light on a cloudy night my friend.

Thank you, I love you @MO-Survivor :)
I love you too, CT!

And you, my friend, are helping and rescuing others. I 100% know where you are going, and I'm happy we have you here to also bring light and life to so many guys.

I wrote this to someone here - the wife of one of the guys. I think you, too, can relate to what I wrote in reason #2:
"As for me freely sharing my journey here, the reasons are twofold: 1) it helps me to write things out and solidify them within myself, and 2) when I think about men here, because of the journey I've been on, I cannot help but think of the little boy / teen living in each of them. And where there has been captivity and no help for so long for all of us... I want to share a light and a path to freedom for them. Think about it... a group of little boys in a room... having been used and sexually abused, and without hope, and of limited help to each other. I'm just the boy who decided to speak up: "Hey guys! I think I found a way out of here! Come on. I'll take you all with me! I'll show you the way! Who's with me?" Sadly, some of those boys will stay and not follow - for a multitude of reasons. But many... will slowly walk toward the exit, gradually pick up their pace, and eventually they will start sprinting to freedom! I really, really hope - your husband is one of those boys."​
 

Khabeni

Registrant
Honestly I wouldn't change anything. My abuse has left me to be stronger and independent. Yes, I don't trust anyone. Yes, I have poor coping skills. But it has left me able to be content with my own company. And I have two wonderful children that I wouldn't give up for anything. I probably wouldn't have had the courage to find my ex-wife if it weren't for my abuse. Yes, she's an ex now, but we have kids like I said and I wouldn't want to change that. Plus, I feel more wise than most people.
 
Piggy backing on @Khabeni's comment, I have to wonder if I ever would have discovered how fierce I am. Not that I recognized it at the time, it was secret weapon I couldn't acknowledge I possessed, even to myself. But I have since.

I pretty much think if it was never called upon, it would have been there, but dormant and unknown
 
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