Here for support and to learn from others' experiences

Hi! I'm Nick. Since one of the things I do for a living is write, there is a serious danger here that I'll go on and on. Once I start it tends to pour out, which is part of why I initially put this post together at one thirty in the morning my time. I figured maybe the need to get to bed would lead me to wrap things up more quickly. Turns out, um, not so much. ;)

At some point I'm hoping I'll develop the courage to write a survivor story, expressly about my abuse, to contribute to the anthology you've got going on this site. Over the last few days I've been reading around in it, and they've been both gut-wrenching and reassuring. After having felt so profoundly isolated for so long, it's great not to feel so alone. Male survivors have so much in common.

So here goes with a thumbnail version of the part of the story that got me here. I'm 48 years old, and have spent the last 38 years spiraling deeper and deeper into a well of isolated compulsive sexual acting out. It started with fantasies (gay) and masturbation, passed through online sex stories (gay and straight) and masturbation, then maybe 20 years ago became porn (gay and straight), roleplaying chat (gay), and masturbation. The compulsion cycle was depressingly predictable: I'd experience a trigger, usually rejection or criticism, and then I'd be overwhelmed by what I came to know as "The Feeling." It would be extremely intense, and I always narrated my acting out as "taking care of things so I can concentrate again." Thanks to my T, at this point I have recognized that this feeling's a braid of three strands: sexual arousal, anxiety, and shame. When it expresses itself I feel it in the groin, stomach, and chest. Until about a year and a half ago, I had no idea what to make of "The Feeling." Recognizing it as an emotional flashback to my abuse has been life-changing for me.

When I was younger, like in my teens and twenties, I'd assumed "The Feeling" was "authentic passion," and it became the basis of a number of very unhealthy relationships. I'd feel intensely attracted, but also either unconsciously work to sabotage the relationship in some way, or, if the other person was just too attracted or wounded themselves to allow the sabotage to work, found myself hating and cruelly treating the person I felt this crazy attraction to. It came along with a bunch of sexual confusion. My first sexual feelings were for boys, when I was between the ages of 11 and 16 or so, but by my early 20s, at least in real life rather than fantasy, it was mostly women who interested me. The idea that I'd possibly "end up gay" worried me a huge amount, for reasons I now understand much more clearly than I did then.

Anyway, I was fortunate to have met a wonderful woman in my late 20s. She's now my wife. From the beginning, I knew she was the one. I've always enjoyed her company, admired her wit, and found her very attractive. The thing is: my attraction for her, while strong, didn't really involve "The Feeling." There was sexual excitement, but none of what I now recognize as the anxiety and shame/self-loathing components. That meant the relationship was much healthier and more durable, but also left me reliant on compulsive acting out to deal with "The Feeling" when it was triggered. This was toxic. I retreated into a kind of double life. There was surface me, going through the motions, throwing myself into work; and then there was "acting out" me, who I desperately tried to keep hidden. The person who really suffered here was my wife. I felt unable to slack on work, because I needed success there to prove that nobody else could see the reasons why I felt such profound shame and self-loathing. To make space for acting out, then, I short-changed her. We became like roommates. There was a five year stretch where we didn't have sex once.

Fast forward to a year and a half ago. My wife was out for the weekend for a conference, and I decided to open a bottle of wine and watch "Leaving Neverland." (I was interested to see that Kal, whose posts I've appreciated a lot here already, seems to be a "Neverland kid" too.) Something in me broke open. A few days later, it felt like my whole life was collapsing. I couldn't do it anymore. I confessed my acting out to my wife. She was far more understanding than I had any right to expect, and it changed my life. We talked and talked.

In the course of one of those conversations, I had a memory that was like a kind of zap. A high-res color photo. Terrifyingly vivid. Then another. Then things started pouring back, experiences that I'd been more or less aware that I'd had, but had kind of stuffed away, never really thought through with any sense of how they connected together. From the ages of eight to ten, I was abused by a neighbor boy on my street, who also included a girl who lived near us in what happened. The girl and I were naive and desperate for approval, he was a manipulator who'd probably already been abused himself. Recognizing that helped me see what needed to happen next. I found a T and started dealing with the sex addiction shortly after. It's been a hard but rewarding road. I've learned a ton. I've gotten sexually sober. My wife and I are closer physically than we have been at any other time in our relationship. There's physical intimacy and actual healthy sexual pleasure in my life for what I now suspect is probably the first time.

Then, a week or so ago, more memories came back. I think it's because I'm working the 12 steps and really digging in. I finally had the courage to think more about a set of things that happened when I was ten. At first it was just three disjointed memories: one of a tall, slim guy with grey hair approaching me at the end of an after-school art class, all enthusiastic about what he called my "great talent" and therefore eager to have my phone number; one of a creepy phone call, in which a man started out by claiming to want to speak to my mother, but instead ended up pulling me into a long conversation about sex; and one of the inside of a men's room stall at a local park. I'd never been able to put the three in chronological order before. When I did, I remembered exactly what happened in that stall. I felt the way you feel after just barely avoiding a potentially fatal car accident. Adrenaline, relief but terror, nausea, shaking. (Also, Kal, a wet spot with no erection. Crazy how many of us seem to have that when big memories return.) As more details have come back, there's been more nausea, grief, distress. So much now makes sense. So much hurts.

That's my mood at the moment, and the mood I was in when I did the internet search that led me to this forum. I just felt like I had to have a community of survivors to talk to and learn from.
 
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Your Intro posted! Congrats!! (reading it now)
 
wow - sounds similar to what a lot of us have experienced.

Thanks so much for sharing from you heart - never worry about over-sharing or being "too wordy."

Your Neverland-Kid brother,
Kal
 
Thanks, Kal! I won't worry, then. :) Sharing is such an enormous relief.
 

Healing light

Registrant
Hi! I'm Nick. Since one of the things I do for a living is write, there is a serious danger here that I'll go on and on. Once I start it tends to pour out, which is part of why I initially put this post together at one thirty in the morning my time. I figured maybe the need to get to bed would lead me to wrap things up more quickly. Turns out, um, not so much. ;)

At some point I'm hoping I'll develop the courage to write a survivor story, expressly about my abuse, to contribute to the anthology you've got going on this site. Over the last few days I've been reading around in it, and they've been both gut-wrenching and reassuring. After having felt so profoundly isolated for so long, it's great not to feel so alone. Male survivors have so much in common.

So here goes with a thumbnail version of the part of the story that got me here. I'm 48 years old, and have spent the last 38 years spiraling deeper and deeper into a well of isolated compulsive sexual acting out. It started with fantasies (gay) and masturbation, passed through online sex stories (gay and straight) and masturbation, then maybe 20 years ago became porn (gay and straight), roleplaying chat (gay), and masturbation. The compulsion cycle was depressingly predictable: I'd experience a trigger, usually rejection or criticism, and then I'd be overwhelmed by what I came to know as "The Feeling." It would be extremely intense, and I always narrated my acting out as "taking care of things so I can concentrate again." Thanks to my T, at this point I have recognized that this feeling's a braid of three strands: sexual excitement, anxiety, and shame. When it expresses itself I feel it in the groin, stomach, and chest. Until about a year and a half ago, I had no idea what to make of "The Feeling." Recognizing it as an emotional flashback of my abuse has been life-changing for me.

When I was younger, like in my teens and twenties, I'd assumed "The Feeling" was "authentic passion," and it became the basis of a number of very unhealthy relationships. I'd feel intensely attracted, but also either unconsciously work to sabotage the relationship in some way, or, if the other person was just too attracted or wounded themselves to allow the sabotage to work, found myself hating and cruelly treating the person I felt this crazy attraction to. It came along with a bunch of sexual confusion. My first sexual feelings were for boys, when I was between the ages of 11 and 16 or so, but by my early 20s, at least in real life rather than fantasy, it was mostly women who interested me. The idea that I'd possibly "end up gay" worried me a huge amount, for reasons I now understand much more clearly than I did then.

Anyway, I was fortunate to have met a wonderful woman in my late 20s. She's now my wife. From the beginning, I knew she was the one. I've always enjoyed her company, admired her wit, and found her very attractive. The thing is: my attraction for her, while strong, didn't really involve "The Feeling." There was sexual excitement, but none of what I now recognize as the anxiety and shame/self-loathing components. That meant the relationship was much healthier and more durable, but also left me reliant on compulsive acting out to deal with "The Feeling" when it was triggered. This was toxic. I retreated into a kind of double life. There was surface me, going through the motions, throwing myself into work; and then there was "acting out" me, who I desperately tried to keep hidden. The person who really suffered here was my wife. I was too narcissistic to slack on work, because I needed success there to prove that nobody else could see the reasons why I felt such profound shame and self-loathing. To make space for acting out, then, I short-changed her. We became like roommates. There was a five year stretch where we didn't have sex once.

Fast forward to a year and a half ago. My wife was out for the weekend for a conference, and I decided to open a bottle of wine and watch "Leaving Neverland." (I was interested to see that Kal, whose posts I've appreciated a lot here already, seems to be a "Neverland kid" too.) Something in me broke open. A few days later, it felt like my whole life was collapsing. I couldn't do it anymore. I confessed my acting out to my wife. She was far more understanding than I had any right to expect, and it changed my life. We talked and talked.

In the course of one of those conversations, I had a memory that was like a kind of zap. A high-res color photo. Terrifyingly vivid. Then another. Then things started pouring back, experiences that I'd been more or less aware that I'd had, but had kind of stuffed away, never really thought through with any sense of how they connected together. From the ages of eight to ten, I was abused by a neighbor boy on my street, who also included a girl who lived near us in what happened. The girl and I were naive and desperate for approval, he was a manipulator who'd probably already been abused himself. Recognizing that helped me see what needed to happen next. I found a T and started dealing with the sex addiction shortly after. It's been a hard but rewarding road. I've learned a ton. I've gotten sexually sober. My wife and I are closer physically than we have been at any other time in our relationship. There's physical intimacy and actual healthy sexual pleasure in my life for what I now suspect is probably the first time.

Then, a week or so ago, more memories came back. I think it's because I'm working the 12 steps and really digging in. I finally had the courage to think more about a set of things that happened when I was ten. At first it was just three disjointed memories: one of a tall, slim guy with grey hair approaching me at the end of an after-school art class, all enthusiastic about what he called my "great talent" and therefore eager to have my phone number; one of a creepy phone call, in which a man started out by claiming to want to speak to my mother, but instead ended up pulling me into a long conversation about sex; and one of the inside of a men's room stall at a local park. I'd never been able to put the three in chronological order before. When I did, I remembered exactly what happened in that stall. I felt the way you feel after just barely avoiding a potentially fatal car accident. Adrenaline, relief but terror, nausea, shaking. (Also, Kal, a wet spot with no erection. Crazy how many of us seem to have that when big memories return.) As more details have come back, there's been more nausea, grief, distress. So much now makes sense. So much hurts.

That's my mood at the moment, and the mood I was in when I did the internet search that led me to this forum. I just felt like I had to have a community of survivors to talk to and learn from.
Hello welcome to ms I hope it helps you as much as it has me

Peace
HL
 
That’s a fabulous intro, Nick! No small amount of courage too.
I’m sorry you need to be here. But it’s good that you’re here. Hopefully you’ll continue to benefit from the collective experience. We’re here for each other. This stuff is just too hard to deal with alone. It’s too intense, confusing and even frightening.

Welcome!
Peace,
daivd
 
Thanks for the kind words, HL, David and Michael!
 

BMB

Registrant
Hi, Nick.
I can relate a lot to what you wrote. Thank you for sharing your history with us.
When I see part of my own history in somebody else one I am always with mixed feelings: in one side, I am relieved (I am not crazy, I am not making things up, I am not alone); in another side, I am sad with the fact that one more person went through something that was not necessary at all, something that can hut so much for so many years.
Congrats on your commitment to the 12 steps program.
Welcome to the forum!
 
Yes, sharing is such an enormous relief... Just like that... the unfolding continues as elusive memories bubble to the surface. For decades all we know is our acting out behavior and the shame attached to it. You describe "the feeling" well... the driven quality of it. I remember driving down the freeway, fully aware of the location of a video arcade where I'd engaged in anonymous sex. It hadn't been my plan to take that particular exit but "the feeling" led to a turn signal, an exit and five minutes later a stroll inside the arcade... over and over again... this arcade, that arcade. Alcohol before and after, food after, shame always. What a relief I don't have to do that any longer. I don't even have to turn on my computer and start searching for the image that would arouse me. THIS is what we're unpacking and working through... with the help of therapy perhaps, spiritual practice in one form or another, 12 Steps perhaps, support of friend to whom we've told the truth... and now with support of the brave men who found their way to this website. I'm so glad you found us and decided to join the conversation. None of us are alone with any of this.
 
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BDD

Registrant
Hi Nick, Sorry I am late to welcome you. (I am a slow reader and waited til I had time.) I hope you are proud of the changes you have already made!
 

Flying B.

Registrant
Hi Nick, just read your intro - I haven't read your story.

I am a member of a 12 step program for sex addiction, and related when you talked about the intensity that aroused from working through those Steps. Working through step one was a marathon - It took me a year to have memory of anything before high school, let alone work to write it down.

Anyways, this is my first post. I appreciate this group and look forward to further recovery.
 
Nick,

These emerging memories have been such an enigma to me because so many victims of CSA seem to have them, and I seemed to remember much of mine. Come to find out, I recently went through a very bad episode, had to to get some more specialized therapy and started a new procedure and apparently there are some rattling around in there that I can't seem to get access to directly. I now have two groups of specialized doctors and they assure me they will get everything under control, all I have to do is cooperate with them.

Listening to the way that yours unfolds layer by layer just to be honest scares the heck out of me. I can tell you what I remember is not good and if what I am not remembering is worse in some way I am not even sure what to say to that. I am glad to hear that you and your wife have such a strong bond and are as close are you are. I don't think it can hurt having someone in your corner pulling for you that is close and loves you like that. Best of luck to you and all my best......

Respectfully,
jperky010101
 
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