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Bearing Through It >> Share Your Story >> Confused (part 1)

Message started by btimb on Dec 28th, 2003 at 4:44pm

Title: Confused (part 1)
Post by btimb on Dec 28th, 2003 at 4:44pm
I am a male, the oldest of four siblings.  My mother was the oldest in her family, and so her youngest sibling was my uncle, who is 7 years older than I am.  When I was young, I looked up to him, admired him, craved his attention -- sort of like "the older brother I never had," I suppose...

When I was about 7 and he was 14, I slept over at my grandma's house, and I slept in his bed.  He introduced me to what I learned much later are termed mutual masturbation, and oral and anal sex.  He told me we'd get in big trouble if I told anyone, so I didn't.  

What was always so confusing about it all, however, is that he didn't force me to do it, and that I didn't hate it at the time.  I had so much trust and admiration for him that, at the time, what I experienced most was a special closeness to him to be introduced to this "secret, special relationship" with him.  I knew at the time that parts of my body involved were private, but I was so young that only understood that this "privacy" in terms of "bathroom" bodily functions.  I knew that what we were doing was wrong, but I didn't know just how wrong...

Thus, I didn't know how wrong it was when I introduced this game to my younger brother and our mutural friend, who were 5 and 6 at the time, respectively.  However, somehow my parents caught those two "at it."  I'll never forget the shame my dad displayed when he questioned me about it.  

It was the first time I'd ever seen him cry -- to this date, one of the few times I've ever seen him cry.  He cried in conveying to me the shame, disgust over what I had done.  Clearly, it was just unbelievable to him that anyone would do such a horrible thing as we had done.  It was then that I knew just how wrong what my uncle and I had done was.  I didn't know the word at the time, but in retrospect I can describe his view of me as a "pervert."  It was clear that he had NEVER done such a thing and never would.

I asked if they were going to tell my Grandma and Grandpa what had happened, but my mom and dad said they weren't going to: it would only serve to upset my grandpa and grandpa very much.  Life went on as if nothing had ever happened.  No one ever made reference to it ever again.

However, for me it was a watershed moment in my life.  What had been an "exciting secret relationship" with the older brother figure in my life -- a relationship which was suddenly ruined, of course -- had led to what I feared was irreparable damage to the relationship between myself and my father.

What complicated matters was that my father was not very physically affectionate person to begin with: once I and my brother reached a certain age, he no longer hugged and kissed us anymore.  Thus, the only physical contact came in the form of spankings, pinches, and, when we were older, punches in the arm.

And what I had done seemed to me to increase the distance -- or justify the distance, the lack of affection.  And not only that I had DONE it -- that I had ENJOYED it!  This planted seeds of a sense that I was perverted.   It was a loss of innocence, without a doubt: at a tender age, I suddenly had been told by my father that people did what were considered to be terrible things with "those" parts of their bodies, and yet the fact that I was too young to understand WHY he considered them so terrible only made it worse, I think.  It planted an irrational belief that I was perverted.

Title: Re: Confused (part 2)
Post by btimb on Dec 28th, 2003 at 4:46pm
(continuation of part 1)

This painful shame, this dark secret, persisted into adulthood.  In my adolescence, with other male friends, I had my first exposure to pornographic magazines.  I suppose on some level I enjoyed knowing there were far more perverted people in the world than I.  Plus, I suppose the fact that there was a certain amount of male bonding through the acquisition and exchange of these magazines was part of the experience.  At some level, it made it seem like this was just something that “young men do”  -- although, unlike my friends, I secretly found “the letters” more interesting than the pictures, especially when the story recounted in the letter involved incest.  And so the secret shame continued…

My wife and I got married in our senior years of college.  In time, I was able to finally tell my wife enough about what had happened (minus the lurid details -- she just knows that inappropriate sexual contact took place...) so that I was able to experience a large amount of relief.  Also, after I was married, my relationship to my father changed so drastically -- becoming a warm, affectionate one that persists to this day that I didn't find myself thinking about the "dark secret" much anymore.

And before now, I've never really been inclined to research the particular impact that incestuous relationships can have on someone.  However, over the past two years, I 've come to be diagnosed with depression -- and, more recently, ADHD.  Happily, medication and counseling have been very effective for me.  However, in the counseling process, I look back on my life, taking stock of feelings I had growing up and why I did certain things that I did, there's no getting around the "dark secret" that was there.  

One of the things I've grappled with most in my career life is my relationship to my father through it.  I felt enormous pressure on myself to follow in his footsteps, career-wise.  At first, I went in an entirely different career direction, and this was actually the moment when my relationship to my father began to improve.

However, I teach at the same college he does -- in the same department, even.  My hiring required a whole host of special exemptions to the college's nepotism clause.  I struggle with creating my own identity within this college, and, for the most part, I believe that I am succeeding in doing so.  But in counseling, I still find myself wondering, "Am I still at some subconscious level craving my father's approval, such that the person I think that I want to be is actually who I think he wants me to be?"

I told my therapist a little bit about what had happened with my uncle.  I asked her if that could figure into "the equation" at all.  She said "Well, let's just consider it one of the many experiences that has gone into the formation of the person you are today and leave it at that."  We've never returned to the subject.

However, while I'm working so hard at managing my depression and attention difficulties, I find myself starting to wonder: am I failing to come to grips with a key "part of the picture," here?  Would it be helpful for me to actively seek out a better understanding of how this experience had -- and perhaps still does have -- an effect upon my life?  Or should I just be aware that it's there in my past and leave it at that?

I have three young daughters.  I’ve never had even a flicker of incestuous feelings toward them.  However, I realize that, all along, I told my wife that I was hoping only for daughters: I wasn’t sure I could handle a relationship with a son.  Before now, I’ve never wondered if this was related to my childhood experiences…

However, my marriage has begun to become troubled.  I have always battled a low self-esteem, but, over the years, this has begun to translate more and more of a self-absorption.  I’m starting to wonder: do I have trouble with intimacy?  

Anyway, this why I joined this message board.  To be honest, I’m surprised by how much has become apparent to me for the first time in just forcing myself to write this post…

Title: Re: Confused (part 1)
Post by MelindaE on Dec 29th, 2003 at 3:06am

Thank you for writing down your story, your thoughts and feelings but most of all, your heart.  I too, believed I had entered into a special relationship with my abuser, never knowing what a relationship with a father was supposed to be like.  My abuser was my step father.  I don't believe I was ever threatened.  However, I was severely physically abused by both my father and mother.  I was literally scared of both of them all the time.  I didn't dare question anything either of them said or did.    But, I can understand not fully understanding what was so wrong with what was going on.  

My situation was different though.  My mother and step father divorced.  I told of what he did to me, sexually, and my mother acted quickly and started pressing charges.  To this day, I still wonder if they hadn't divorced, would she have believed me if I told?  Would he have still abused me until I left the house?   Would I have let him?  

Those are questions I don't want to even think about.  Maybe later down the therapy road.  

I appreciated hearing your story.  So far, in my life, one of the effect of being sexually abused is a fear of men, certain men and I am very distrustful.  Your story has helped me to realize that there are men out there who have been abused too.  That men are not all bad or all liars or that they ever need to be in some sort of group that I can't trust.  

Sorry if I am rambling, but more than anything else, I want you to know that I sympathise with you.  I wish you well and hope that you can find some answers to your questions.  Perhaps going to a new therapist, or additional one, having to do with sexual abuse may help clear some things up for you.  And maybe shed some light on your intamacy questions.  

Thank you for loving yourself and your wife enough to try to figure things out.  You're a good man.


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