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I’m Lonely: 1in6 Thursdays on the Joyful Heart Foundation Blog

Matt, a 51-year-old farmer and an online friend, sent me an email about his intense loneliness.

“I go to bed at night feeling a void that’s been there since I was a child—a void that causes me either to fight illicit thoughts or give in to them. It’s so hard to believe that God isn’t angry with me for the mess that is still a part of my heart, mind, and soul. My marriage ended in divorce six years ago. I’m lonely, and I feel alone, unwanted, and unloved by everyone.”

Matt wrote two more paragraphs about the intensity of his loneliness, and he brought back memories of my teen years and early twenties when I felt much the same way.

Now, years later, I recognize that loneliness is common to us survivors—and perhaps to most people. Because we were sexually molested as children, we feel that we’re not worth loving and are worthless. And alone. Despite those negative emotions, we yearn for those who can truly see into our hearts, know us, and love us.

“Loneliness still intrudes into my life, but I’ve accepted it.”Maybe we need to reach out to others more readily, but that’s not easy. We were the kids who trusted the wrong people. The theft of our childhood made us feel different, isolated, and unwanted. Even as adults, we don’t know whom to trust and the more we hold back, the deeper our estrangement. We just wanted someone to care—and to make us know they truly cared about us.

Loneliness has often intruded in my life and, for a long time, I didn’t find it easy to open up. I feared “they” would despise or belittle me. That also meant guarding the secret of my abuse so “they” never found out.

Out of desperation, I finally took a risk and spoke up—cautiously. If they won’t like me after they know my deeply held secret, I reasoned, they probably don’t like me anyway.

The first three who heard me sympathized. A few others didn’t grasp that it was such a big thing, but they didn’t turn against me. That was my beginning.

And it’s not a once-for-all cure. Loneliness still intrudes into my life, but I’ve accepted it. One friend says, “It’s part of the human condition.” That means everyone faces loneliness at times, but, as a survivor of sexual assault, I tend to think that some of us feel it more acutely.

In the midst of personal struggles, I often reduce my feelings into short maxims. Here’s my resolution about loneliness and being unable to trust:

Nothing is as lonely as guarding our secrets.

Nothing separates me more from other human beings

than hiding part of myself.

 By Cecil Murphey

Read more on the Joyful Heart Foundation blog

Cecil Murphey ImageCecil Murphey wrote, When a Man You Love Was Abused and Not Quite Healed with survivor Gary Roe. Murphey is the author or coauthor of 137 books including international best sellers, 90 Minutes in Heaven and Gifted Hands: the Ben Carson Story. His latest book is Stolen: The True Story of a Sex Trafficking Survivor, written with Katariina Rosenblatt. His twice-weekly blog is