Truth is truth, right? And if it is so, then whether we agree with it or not, it’s still the truth. You may not agree with the concept of gravity, especially if you’re like me when you step on a scale. But if you step off a second floor balcony with no net to catch your fall, you will discover a hard, cement-tasting truth.
Copernicus, Galileo, Bruno and multiple other thinkers were at one time called heretics. In the end, what they found to be the truth went against ALL popular “scientific” notions of the day, religious beliefs or merely values held at the time.
I say this to bring to light the following truth I’ve discovered in my own life –
“You must enter your past to fix your present. If you don’t, you will have no future.”
I know, I know, sounds like a psychobabble cliche, but just as we call something a “generalization”, there’s a reason, that’s because they are “generally” true. So this time, with a non-judgmental or preconceived notion, let me repeat and have you read it once more…
…”you must enter your past to fix your present. If you don’t, you will have no future.”
I admit it sounds a bit ominous. And while it may be hard to hear, I’m merely trying to make a point, emphasizing the truth I discovered in my own life. It wasn’t until I went back to my past; the acknowledgment of the childhood sexual abuse that I endured from ages 12-15, that enabled me to begin to work through the issues of the present of that time. Once acknowledged and beginning to heal, I finally, for the first time in almost 10 years, began to see the potential of a future that lay ahead.
Once upon a time, I was heavily addicted to multiple narcotics to numb myself from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. This led to three arrests, jail time, fines, no drivers license for a year, loss of tens of thousands of dollars in wages from a career I was genuinely passionate about. And in varying degrees, it cost me a relationship of five years, another of four and even an earlier one of six years. This “past” was destroying my “present” and if something didn’t give, my “future” was going to be even more limited than it already was!
But my story is not an isolated one. It’s not even unique and definitely not as harsh, from my perspective, as some others have been through. But that’s just from my life view. We all have a different one.
So how do we do accomplish this task? How do we get from point A to point B? That is to say, how do we look into our past, into that abyss, without falling back in? Then how do we take that information, apply it to our present so that we have the opportunity to move on into a more positive future? A lot of questions with multiple choice answers, I know.
Even if you’re not an addict or alcoholic, I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “admitting you have a problem is the first step.” And with survivors of CSA, this saying has some weight as well, just with a different angle. It’s not that we have to admit we have a problem, we have to admit that a horrible event and crime was perpetrated against us. And this is not an easy or small task. In fact, in my case, I made numerous trips to the place where I knew I had to address my abuser. I drove past it, I stopped at the driveway, heck one time I even got out of the car, was walking up the door of the church, when I turned around and drove back home. In total, it took me 6 trips to finally be able to speak out against my abuser. To tell the people in authority above him exactly what he was, what he was capable of, and the danger he posed to the very children he was charged with protecting.
And that last thing i just mentioned was the real motivation behind what i had to do. More than just my own self-serving, self-healing desires behind the action I knew I had to take, more important than shedding the light on the past…even more at stake was the future of the lives of his potential victims.
I know now I wasn’t his first victim, nor was I his last. And how I wished, prayed and pleaded that someone had come forward before he got to me. So now it was up to me. Now I had the strength to face the cold, hard truth. I knew if the young boys he had access to were to have any chance of a future free from the emotional, physical and spiritual torture I experienced, I was going to have to step up and tell the truth of what this monster is.
If I was to have any potential peace with my own future I had to make sure, to the best of my ability, that no other little boy in his life would be molested, abused or raped. And so I did just that. I acknowledged my past, I took action in the present, and I know now I have done all I could within my power to help those boys have a decent future. And in doing so, my future too is one of peace and healing.
So do whatever you need to enter your past in a healthy way. Whether through one-on-one counseling, group therapy or any other professional help you require. Seek it out so you can begin to “fix” your present. And by that I simply mean whatever will help you begin to heal, I know from personal experience nothing gets “fixed” to what it was before. But in doing this, by beginning to heal, you will have a chance to take back what was stolen from you and to have a future and peace you deserve.
May 24, 2013 at 10:47 pm
What a lovely post that uses David’s personal story to drive home the point that we need to resolve the issues of the past in order to move on. This is so true when dealing with trauma that actually pulls us into reliving the past over and over again even while we avoid looking at it. You are either stuck in the past and don’t know it or are stuck in the past and doing something about it.
May 25, 2013 at 7:35 am
I agree that problems ignored don’t go away, they just continue to grow. It takes a lot of courage even to decide to revisit a traumatic time, and many will need professional help just to take that step. I’m concerned, though, that Dave includes confronting his abuser as part of his journey. While that may have been a crucial step for him, I don’t see it as being always a necessary step. Sometimes it is impossible (abuser has died, or the abuser is unknown) and sometimes it would be dangerous and foolhardy for the victim. Even when the benefits and risks of such a confrontation have been carefully weighed, it is a step that comes much later than taking the step of deciding to deal with one’s traumatic past. I’m concerned that a victim who’s been struggling with whether or not to confront his traumatic past might infer from Dave’s comments that deciding to address the trauma means confronting the abuser. I’m sure that isn’t what Dave means, but one could infer that direction from the juxtaposition of dealing with one’s painful past and confronting the abuser.
May 25, 2013 at 7:45 am
Hey Paul, thanks for your comments and your concern for survivors. You are correct, I did not mean to infer that every survivor must confront their abuser. I gave my example as merely one way and it was what I needed. If you notice at the end I stated, “do whatever you need to do in a healthy way.” I do not believe in a one-size-fits-all path to healing. I know from first hand knowledge there are no broad stroke ways of working through trauma. Thank you for pointing out to the readers this is only one way and I agree it’s not the only way. But I do think if it’s possible, i.e., they are alive, etc., and if the survivor is in a place they are able to, it can be valuable to them and a protective measure for potential victims.
May 25, 2013 at 5:37 pm
Dave I appreciate your comments, and understand that you weren’t prescribing confrontation for everyone. Unfortunately there are some out there who feel it is an essential component to the healing process, perhaps not unlike those who would assert that forgiveness is a necessary step. I also think that your final sentence while identifying the protective factors that need to be in place to guard against additional victimization, it is easy for an angry victim to allow the anger to outweigh possible scenarios such as the perpetrator using the occasion for additional verbal if not physical abuse of the victim. Many abusers years later still feel either justified in what they did or simply set in a pattern of abusing those around them. Some are incapable of empathy. My concern is that anyone who chooses to confront an abuser must weigh the anticipated benefits to them against the potential harm of dialoging with the one who abused them.
May 26, 2013 at 1:00 pm
Hey Paul, I agree with you and not to put too fine a point on it, my actual meaning behind what I did was not to have a face-to-face with my abuser, but to call him out by name, warning parents and let authorities know what he did. Although, it did lead to an eventual confrontation. So I agree with you, survivors must be aware of eventual outcomes.