*The title of this post was taken from The Raconteurs song of the same name*
I was around 5 or 6 when it happened.
As I’ve gotten older, some memories stay clear while others have faded away.
Unlike others who have been sexually abused, I only had to deal with one incident. Although, it’s hard to look at circumstances like this and consider a silver lining.
It would take until I was around 17 years of age before I could face what happened and start to register how the situation had been affecting me through adolescence.
For me, being punished for doing the right thing at the hands of my abuser would affect the way that I approached nearly every occurrence of “good versus bad” ideas.
I remember my parents telling me things like “Telling the truth will always be better than lying.”
And in my mind the thought was, “Yes, but when I did the right thing with my abuser, I was punished. I don’t want to be punished again. So, maybe I should see what I get away with and hope to avoid being caught and being punished.”
For the record, I almost always got caught.
And I almost always got punished.
Coming to terms with this later in my teenage years didn’t lead to an automatic turn of behaviors.
I even took it upon myself to confront my abuser years after the fact to remind him what he did to me.
In case you’re wondering, he didn’t remember any of it.
It would take years of counseling, bouts of medication, and mountains upon mountains of street drugs to help me look past this situation and learn how to grow past it.
I’ve found through many of my interactions with clients that I don’t stand alone with my story.
While sexual abuse is more common than anyone would care to admit, I know men who have suffered a similar, if not worse, scenario but have been hesitant to share what happened.
I learned years ago, that sharing it not only had the potential to help, it had the potential to heal.
But it would take a long, painful road for me to realize that having this as part of my life did not make me a broken person.
And even though I felt broken, it didn’t give me validity to stay self-destructive.
I’m now over 35 years removed from the incident and if you (male or female) share a similar background, you are not broken either.
Find someone you trust to talk to. It can be a friend, a family member, or a support group.
Find an outlet. The gym has served me better than most anything else once I found a place to channel many of my negative emotions.
Believe in yourself. Every step you have to take forward is a step you have to take on your own but you don’t have to take it alone.
Your progress can inspire others who have temporarily lost hope in themselves. I feel as if every improvement I’ve made moved at a snail’s pace and was rarely, if ever, noticeable in the short term. It has taken years to develop a level of comfort in not only discussing my story but not letting personal tragedies define the person I am.
I am no broken boy soldier. However, my fight never ends.
And neither should yours.