With courage and determination, Nate freed himself from a community that tried to crush his soul, and learned to embrace himself.
It has been a long and, at times, a torturous journey toward health and healing for Nate. He grew up in the deep South, in a family and a community that was gripped by religious fervor, but also rigid in its beliefs and riddled by hypocrisy. It has taken most of Nate’s life to extricate himself, and to discover and embrace the human being he is and always has been.
Nate was sexually abused first by a neighbor girl, older than him and herself a victim of abuse. She reenacted her own trauma on Nate’s six-year-old body. At thirteen, he was groomed and abused by a 36-year-old man who ultimately exposed Nate to a pedophile ring that carved a deep scar into Nate’s psyche.
As a young boy, Nate knew that he was different and early on suspected that he was gay. But there was no room for such difference in the religious community that enveloped Nate. When he disclosed the rape and abuse he had suffered at the hands of the male predator, he was told to repent, and then sent to a series of “conversion” therapists who force-fed him a toxic blend of blame and utter rejection of Nate’s essential self and humanity. It was soul-crushing, and it very nearly cost Nate his life. “I believed I owed God an apology for my sexuality.”
At 31, Nate had a breakdown. For months he hid himself away and wrestled with the trauma and suffering that had been inflicted on him. He emerged to seek help from therapists, this time seeking professionals who actually “had letters after their names.” And so began Nate’s climb out of the abyss.
He has committed himself to years of intensive therapy – EMDR and internal family systems therapy. And books, he has read stacks of books, a man who until his 30’s could never sit still long enough to read a book. “I learned I could sit still and be safe in my body.”
Nate’s commitment to healing has paid off. He has embraced himself, who he is. “The five-year-old and the thirteen-year-old in me, they are affirmed and celebrated and honored. I used to think they were the reason I was hurt, and instead, they were the ones who carried me.”
Today, Nate is a life coach, an advocate for abuse and trauma survivors, and a blogger and creator of a podcast (https://theothersideofsaved.com).