Loss and Reclamation
I have often heard it said that child sex abuse kills a person’s soul. I have uttered those words myself. I know now that it does not actually kill the soul, but it definitely damages it and breaks the heart as well.
I built walls to protect myself, and kept the secret hidden and stayed broken for four decades, so it is a long road to wholeness. I started therapy for the sexual abuse I suffered as a teenager 5 years ago, in my late fifties. Recovery from the impact of child abuse has included reclaiming my heart and soul. For me going back in time and sifting through the pain and hurt to find the lost child has been the hardest part of the journey. And yet without my child-self, I can never be me. It was so long ago. What was he like before; before the touch; before the lines were all blurred; when there was innocence and playfulness; when there was hope and joy.
It is not an easy path moving beyond the anger and pain of all I have missed and lost because of the actions of a “Holy Man”, a “Man of God.” What did I lose? Innocence, trust, faith, hope, warmth of loving touch, my natural sexuality, the joy of intimacy, the ability to have equal and healthy relationships with others, the strength to go through a day without getting high, dreams and long term goals, confidence, self respect, and any sense of being comfortable in my own skin. The “ick” feeling I had during the abuse, became my fallback position throughout my life, only I applied it to myself.
The control issues I developed kept me from being a successful parent, partner to my wife, employee and friend to others. I was driven by fear (which I thought was strength) to control everything and everybody around me, and I guess I thought that using alcohol and drugs would ease the pain inside. Just getting through the day without anyone getting too close or threatening me in any way seemed to be the goal.
So survive I did. I have often been told I am a good survivor. What a lonely existence! It has only been since I entered therapy that my life has begun to make sense and I am finally growing beyond just surviving. Love has replaced fear, and new relationships have replaced loneliness. I’m sure I will always have to deal with my issues, but at least now I have the opportunity to start each day anew.
The first steps are the most painful, but with support and persistence there is truly the chance for joy on the other side. There are things I have lost that I will never recover, but the things I have reclaimed make every difficult step worth it.
Randy’s careers include community health worker with Multnomah County Health Department, Portland, OR, a youth camp manager at a church camp in the Cascade Mountains, a Realtor in Bend, OR, and a lumber wholesaler in Portland. In 1999 he moved to Ashland, Oregon and began remodeling houses. He now works as an advocate for survivors of child sexual abuse and has authored many articles on the subject. He has a book, Boys Don’t Tell; Ending the Silence of Abuse ,which has recently been published by Morgan James.
Randy works with several organizations on abuse prevention and awareness. He is a member of CAN, Child Abuse Network of Jackson County, which is a collaboration of over 40 agencies working together to impact child abuse in Southern Oregon. He is Board President of OAASIS, Oregon Abuse Survivors in Service, based in Portland.