Survivor Stories
Greg Holtmeyer

A work colleague, a priest, therapists, fellow survivors, and Greg’s own courage and perseverance have enabled him to confront the past and open up a hopeful future.

When Greg began to confront the traumas that marred his childhood, his therapist told him that he had experienced “the trifecta.” He had been emotionally, physically and sexually abused. “How did you survive?” she asked. Like so many abused children, Greg survived by sealing away the pain, by building scar tissue. He suffered, but he suffered alone, never telling anyone about the scars, or about the suffering that had caused them. Inside, he felt branded by the abuse. He felt unworthy, less than, undeserving. He harbored a seemingly unshakable belief that he was responsible for what had been done to him.

And then, in his forties, the seals began to crack, and just in time, a series of angels appeared. A colleague at the school where he taught who recognized his suffering, and guessed at its cause. A priest, Father Thomas, who met with him weekly and selflessly helped Greg find his way back to a relationship with God. A therapist who told him simply that he was deserving of love, and when Greg shook his head she repeated it, and when Greg said, “please stop,” she repeated it still, until Greg succumbed to his tears and to the possibility that he was deserving of love.

Greg has embraced the work required to heal. He has reconnected with the abandoned boy within himself, and he is looking forward to living the rest of his life unburdened of the secret that for so long weighted him down.