In memory of
Jared High
Matthew's Story
The Trauma of Bullying Goes

On and On...

I am a divorced man in my 40ís who was bullied constantly for three years, grades 7 through 9. I lived in horror of gym days, which were three days a week. I slept with my bare feet outside of the covers in the winter to make myself sick. I ran the thermometer under warm water. I went to the bathroom (at home) and took the toilet bowl scrubber and stirred up my waste. Then I called my Mom in and said, "Look Mom. I can't go to school today because I have diarrhea."  I always have been creative. :-)

I have been treated for and/or am on medication for major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety, general anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. Sometimes death seems to be the only answer. I have an obsessive thought, "I was raped as a child and nobody came to my funeral."  Meaning it killed me and nobody cared. Also high on the list of recurring thoughts are,  "What's wrong with me?" and "Why don't people like me?"

I am on four drugs for depression and anxiety. The doctors want to keep me sedated so I won't kill myself, which would make them look bad, although they won't admit it. None of my psychiatrists or psychologists has dealt with my abuse as a child because it is easier for them to say everything is the depression, write a prescription, and show me to the door. My next plan is to get into group therapy or some kind of support group.

But pills will never stop the depression until the abuse issues have healed more. The pills are not helping me to function. Here it is 30 years since we moved away from the bully and he still controls my life. I want my life back. I am tired of being a freak.

Over the years, I have had a series of bizarre health problem. Wonder why. Sometimes I don't eat. The food doesn't look right or it is too much effort to eat. I have almost no social life because I don't go anywhere to make friends. My attendance at church has been sporadic through the years. I would go for a few years, then experience some crisis or stress in my life and quit. Then I would go back in a few years. It would take me that long to get my courage up to walk into a group of unfamiliar faces. If I donít see someone regularly, they become a stranger to me and I have to get used to them all over again, like I have to reevaluate whether they are safe or not.

I thought people stared at me when I walked down the street. When I am walking with people, like down a hall or down the street, I walk a step or two behind them. This is in case they don't want to be seen with me.

People talk over me in conversations. I will be halfway through a sentence and they will cut me off and go on with their own dialogue. I am invisible. (I actually have tried to be invisible -- unnoticeable -- at times so that if someone wanted to bother me, I would not stand out as a target.)

Loss
When I ask myself, ďAm I a Survivor?Ē I also have to pose the following question. ďJust what is it I am trying to survive or overcome? What the bully actually DID to me. Or what the bully TOOK AWAY from me?Ē

I never got to be a kid.

I was never allowed to like myself, so how could anyone else like me?

I must keep myself hidden away so I cause no one any embarrassment or pain.

I want to spend time with people. But, especially with men, I am terribly uncomfortable and suspicious, actually quite afraid.

Elementary School
My parents are good people. But Dad was away a lot for work. I have two sisters. I am the middle child. Just before first grade, we moved to a small town. The school said I had to go to first grade and could NOT go to kindergarten because my birthday was past the cutoff date. So I went to first grade and almost flunked it. I didn't know anything that was expected of me. I thought I was stupid. After this, the school said I could have gone to kindergarten if we had just asked. My parents HAD asked and were refused.

Mom also asked the school what the policy was on stuffed animals, security blankets, etc. They said to feel free to bring anything I wanted. When I walked into the classroom, the teacher quickly tore my teddy bear from my arms and said school was no place to bring it. (I was taunted about my teddy bear for years.)

I was a full year younger than the other kids and could never keep up with them at recess, etc. Being a small town, you could call it a closed community. If you weren't born there, you didn't belong there. I was always the outsider.

The Bully Ė What He Did
This bully at school bothered me for three years in gym class, grades 7 through 9. He made up rules for me to follow. Then he would change the rules and yell at me for not following them, even though he never told me the new rules yet. He said he knew I was all screwed up, but if I listen to him and take his advice, he will straighten me out. Like he was my mentor. And I was his protégé.

If a ball were coming to me, he would try to make me nervous and would yell that I was going to miss it. Then I would miss it and he would yell at me for missing it when it came right to me. The gym instructor encouraged some of this.

Quick note about a secondary bully. There was also another bully who bothered me a lot. But it wasn't anything to the magnitude of aforementioned primary bully. The secondary bully would just do things like making me get on my hands and knees so he could sit on my back like a bench. Or tripping me and making me stay on the ground.

It seems that once you have been a victim, you somehow stand out like a sore thumb to a predator looking for his next target or victim. As though the predator can smell the blood from your old wounds and is drawn to that blood like a shark is to an injured fish. So history keeps repeating itself. You are powerless to break the cycle. You even unknowingly do things to perpetuate the cycle.

Back to the primary bully. He dominated me with threats, intimidation, and mind control. One time when I was at his house, he said they keep their dead uncle in a closet there. If I weren't good, he would lock me in the closet with him.

I dreaded going to school and having to endure his fits of rage. He took every opportunity he could to touch me. He could even pick me up, flip me, and carry me on his hip. In the locker room, he would block my passage with his body or lift me and move me to where he wanted me to be.

Showers were particularly scary because there was just a stall a little bigger than a home shower stall, but still with only one showerhead. So we were always short of time and had to cram more than one person in the shower at a time. I dreaded being in the shower with him.  It killed me when we were both naked and he touched me. He lifted me to move me in the shower, if I were in his way. And I worried where the soap might end up.

He talked about wanting to have sex with my sister, who was in his class. He talked about wanting to have sex with my mother. I really don't think I needed to hear that. He chose women by name and described what he wanted to do to them. He took advertising jingles and changed a few words to make them tell a sexual story. Then he would grab himself as he sang his version of his little ditty. But he never touched my genitals or vice versa.

He told me his behavior was entirely my fault. He said he did not want to do these things to me. But I made him. The bully would do the Vulcan mind probe on me. He would wrap his hands around my head as though he was doing the mind meld and we could read each other's minds. He would ask me things like what was wrong with ME, as if I were going to give him an answer.

The Bully Ė His Grand Finale
He took my clothes off on the stage at the end of the gym. I had to run naked to the locker room. Anyone could have walked through the area, but fortunately no one did, except for the other boys. My religious beliefs told me that no form of public nudity was permissible.  Private nudity was acceptable with only your spouse and doctor.

Modesty should not allow guys to strut their stuff around a locker room; they certainly should not see each other touching their (own) genitals in the locker room. So to me, the ultimate humiliation I could face from a man was for him to strip me of my clothing. (Sorry if I sound like a stuffy old prude.)

Then on another occasion, when we were in the locker room after gym and had our street clothes on, he stripped me naked again. But this time he was unable to hold me down at the same time he was trying to get my clothes off. (Street clothes are harder to pull off than a T-shirt and gym shorts, etc.) So he made some of the other boys sit on me while he stripped me. (It was an intensely physical scene, although no injuries resulted.) Sometimes it hurt me more that the boys helped him than what he did. I knew they didn't want to. But they did outnumber the bully. Attacked and betrayed.

Then he dragged me through the locker room. Then down the first hall out. Then he said he was going to drag me up and down the main halls where everyone was so they could see me naked. And I believed he was going to do it because this was not my first public run.

After what seemed like an eternity, he laughed and told me to go get my clothes on. Everyone there was sure he was going to follow through with his threat. Within two hours, everyone in the school new. This is how he got "caught" so to speak.

My parents knew nothing of the bully harassing me before this. A psychologist later told me that sometimes children do not tell their parents things because they think their parents are all powerful and already know everything going on.

My parents went to the minister for guidance. It was a small town and the church was the unofficial governing body. And my family and the bullyís family both went to the same church. My parents were told to look the other way because the bullyís mother had health problems. This news would be too hard on her. (Mom later told me she thought it was really because the bullyís father was popular in town.)

From this, I learned that everyone else is more important than I am. And no matter how great my need is, I should be ashamed to ask for help because someone else needs the attention more than I do. The bully was the one who needed help the most, not me. He was the victim, not me. In the end, neither of us was helped.

Here is what I felt my role in the situation was.  Somehow he wanted me to get him some help because he showered me with all this attention (albeit negative).  The locker room scene was to be the catalyst to get him the help he so desperately needed.  I was thrilled at the prospect that the church would talk to the bully and maybe they could help him in some way. I hoped he would receive some counseling.

Maybe that was my role in life, to have other people abuse me, but eventually they could be pointed toward help when they are discovered. The church talked to me -- but not to the bully. The church didn't have the guts to face the issue. Note: I am not bashing churches. I am just presenting the faults of one weak man.

I felt that my abuse could somehow be justified if it led to his being helped. But the church saw to it that there was no chance of that happening. I wasnít looking for vengeance. I just wanted them to ask him what drove his behavior. Why did this have to happen?

What is the best word to describe the bullyís actions? He bothered me. He harassed me. He tormented me. He tortured me. No. I think he terrorized me is the best description for what he did to me.

The Bully Ė His Profile
Yes, I knew the bully. He outweighed me by at least 70 pounds. He was a grade ahead of me, but two years older. I was growing quickly, but not gaining any weight yet, so I was very thin. We were in the same Sunday School class. I had looked up to him as a role model. I thought he was perfect. My parents and his parents were best friends. So we "ran into" each other a lot since the time I was in first grade. I can remember sitting in the far back of his parents' station wagon with him going places. I remember being in his house.

Some said he was the strongest kid in school. He could play any sport. (I still hate sports.) He was in the band. He had a beautiful voice. The girls thought he was the cutest boy in the school. Why he needed attention from picking on me I'll never know.

Most of what happened to me could have been prevented if I had reported it. But I didn't know any better. I didn't know what was considered average everyday stuff versus something is definitely wrong here stuff. Remember I knew him a long time before all this started. I trusted him. So I didn't have any reason to believe he was doing me wrong.

Soon after this, my Dad was asked to transfer to another state, so we were outta there. Then we learned that he raped a girl in his class. I hold the church (well, just the minister) responsible for that girl being raped.

Sometimes I wished I hadn't moved away because maybe if he were bothering me, he wouldn't bother other people. Or what should I have done that could have prevented the rape? I already knew what the church should have done. The rape was not reported. But everyone knew about it.

I can't explain this, but I feel I was also somehow responsible for or involved in the girl's rape. The bully had talked so much about sex while harassing me, I felt I had a mind connection with him, or even a psychic connection from the Vulcan mind probes. Even if I were not responsible for the rape, my connection to the bully made me feel like I was present at the rape. I relived the rape in my mind as though I were actually there. I can still see him carrying her down the stairs to the basement as she cried and pleaded for him to stop.

All those times he had bothered me, I felt his rage building up and becoming more violent. I knew what would eventually happen someday. But I was powerless to stop it. Why couldn't I find a way to defuse this walking time bomb? (Thatís a lot of responsibility for a kid who was 11 through 14 years old during the bully years.) Even after I moved away, I still had a feeling he was watching me and knew what I was doing.

My Personality
Let me draw an analogy between this situation and another. When my little doggie was young, I took him to obedience training. In one of the classes, the instructor told us that you have to know the personality of your dog when reprimanding him or giving him commands.

She used a German Shepherd and my dog as examples. She said the shepherd had a strong, almost defiant personality. You need to speak firmly and sometimes rather loudly to him, and maybe even give him a little smack to get his attention.

My dog, on the other hand had a very soft personality. He was very eager to learn and to please. He was submissive. She said you should use a much softer voice with him and NEVER hit him. If you are too forceful with this dog, you will damage his personality. My dog was standing in front of her. She said she was going to go toward my dog to see what he would do. She raised her hand to him and he flip-flopped over on his back so she could rub his belly! He was adorable. Everyone laughed.

So where is the analogy? I have a very soft personality. I am eager to learn and to please. You need to use a much softer voice with me and never hit me. If you are too forceful with me, you will damage my personality.

Rest of My Teen Years
I grew up during the Vietnam war. I was sure there would be lots of bullies in the army, so I was planning on killing myself when I turned 18. But the war got over and I didn't have to.

I never made any plans for my life as to what I would do in the future because I didn't expect to have a future. I was caught off guard. It was like being given a whole other life to live. But I wasn't prepared for it and I didn't want it. I was afraid of people. I was afraid of life. I was unable to relax and enjoy anything.

I can't go to the bathroom in a public restroom unless no one is in it (and I think no one is going to enter it). Sometimes I can if I go in a stall. I was able to use the bathroom properly in grade school because I remember standing in line at those weird urinals that go all the way down to the floor covered with those tiny little tiles. So this must be the bullyís handiwork. This rules out events longer than two hours. I avoid certain kinds of rooms, areas in a building, and certain kinds of structures. I like to know where a door is in case a quick escape is necessary.

In grade 11, I started having mysterious headaches that disappeared during the summer. They came back when school started. I thought I had a psychosomatic illness and was avoiding life because of the bully. I went to specialists but they found nothing. I thought I was crazy. I would have nightmares and wake up screaming. I stayed awake to avoid the terrible dreams.

I was afraid something bad was going to happen to me in bed. I donít know by whom or by what, but I thought something would get me.  I had watched too much Star Trek and worried if aliens might be watching me. I had a ritual whereby I would transfer a small part of my soul and mind into a jar.  Then if something seized control of me, the portion of me that was still in the jar could rescue, save, and restore my captured being from the thing that held me captive.

I wondered if it were possible for me to have special powers to protect myself.  But I was afraid the aliens would sense my powers and that would lead them straight to me. So I wondered if I could transfer my powers to my dogs, which the aliens wouldnít suspect of having any powers. Then when the thing captured me, my dogs would come rescue me and set me free. I thought it would be entertaining to watch my dogs overpower the horrific, all-powerful, unsuspecting  monster. To this day, I still wake up screaming sometimes. (We did eventually discover a physical cause for the headaches.)

I felt myself changing but I didnít know change was normal and could be a good thing. I resist change. If I can't predict the outcome, I won't try. I thought I had to remember all the details of my past and replay them in my mind or I would forget who I was.  I might change and be a different person and not know who I was.

Past + Dreams = Tomorrow
I thought I had to keep the past alive because of the saying that we are the sum total of all our past experiences. To leave out one of my past experiences would take away a part of me, leaving me empty and incomplete. I used to believe this. But not anymore.

The truth is that we are the sum total of all our past experiences PLUS everything we can dream or imagine for tomorrow (with emphasis on the PLUS). So instead of worrying about adding or subtracting things from my past, I found a new career. My new job is to open my eyes to all the wonderful possibilities that already exist around me.

Those possibilities may be hiding under a rock that I will have to overturn. Or those possibilities may be buried 10 feet below and I may have to dig for them. Or I may have to climb a mountain or two to realize those possibilities.

Life is a series of mountain climbs. With each peak that we reach, we are given a fresh view of a new valley. Each mountain along the way is higher and harder to climb. But thatís ok because the view from the top of each new mountain just keeps getting better and better! Now the only way I can feel empty and incomplete is if I donít try at all.

When I do feel empty, I know that emptiness is only a gap separating me from someone. Now that the emptiness has alerted me to the gap, I can start building a bridge to span that gap. And I thought the bad would never go away. But emptiness is so efficient it gets rid of itself! See, things are looking up after all!

When I quit fiddling around with the old chapters in my life's book, I have the time and energy to explore and write the new chapters.

Here's a pen (or keyboard). Start writing a beautiful new story today!

Sent with a loving PUSH up that hill,

But, yes, it is difficult, it is lonely. But I am hoping someday I will get the knack of not using the excuse that if something is difficult or takes too long, I can't do it.

I would rather be alone in my parents' spare bedroom than in a mansion sharing the bed with a stranger. Even if that stranger may be the partner that I used to think loved me.

My Reactions to the Bully
Did my mind actually regard the bully as a person? Or did he just represent the situation I was in? If he was just a situation, it is harder to get angry at a set of circumstances than a person. How do I forgive a circumstance? I have never been able to get angry with the bully. I don't know if I have been conditioned to not respond to the situations because I have no control over the outcome anyway. And why should I be angry with him when he told me it was my fault anyway?

I thought no one would understand my special problems, like just saying it out loud wouldn't be enough for them to comprehend the magnitude of my suffering. I would have to explain in detail why everything bothered me. This would just humiliate me even more than I already was and would serve no purpose.

I didn't think I actually could sin. I blamed all my sin and mistakes on someone else. "Oh, that person MADE me sin. He forced me into a situation where I had no choice but to do it, so it wasn't my fault. That doesn't count as sin." My self-image was too deflated to accept any responsibility for wrongdoing.

Since I spent so much of my time in compromising situations, it seemed natural to me that I could not make decisions or take charge of anything. When you are forced to act a certain way, you lose your will.  You become accustomed to someone else thinking for you and telling you what to do.

I never had the confidence to approach other people to start a conversation or a relationship. I couldn't believe anyone would want me to be his friend unless he was going to get something out of it for himself. I waited for them to make the first move. That was the way I had been trained.

At the end of a grade or any contacts with people, when we were going our own separate ways, I would realize they actually did like me when it was too late. I never knew the possibilities until the opportunity had past. I had to be able to examine a situation and know what the outcome would be before I would assume the risk of the communication becoming spontaneous and I would have to ad lib it.

Employment
I earned a Bachelors Degree. I have had highly successful careers at two companies, except for gaps when I couldnít work due to health issues. I had a two-year period in my 20's when I could not work due to depression. I have not worked the last few years for the same reason.

I couldnít go to the gym to workout with the boss or participate in office sports. I felt those who did received special considerations at work that I did not. I always had to prove myself far beyond what was expected of me. I am a perfectionist. I can't stand for anyone to find fault in me.

I can usually interact with one other person pretty well. After I get used to him/her a bit, I can be quite personable. But when I am in a group I keep quiet so no one will notice me and find an excuse to attack me.

There were two more critical factors in my past careers. First, when I was unhappy in a position, I was afraid to change environments, so I stayed there until either the company drove me into the ground, or I went into self-destruct mode and did it myself.

Secondly, every time I made a change or started something new, there was someone in the new environment drawing me into it. They pleaded with me so much to come on board with their team, I felt safe and secure going in. But now that I am older, no one is chasing after me anymore.

If someone even looks at me cross-eyed, I think they are mad, disappointed in me, etc. My work has to be better than perfect. I can't seem to get it through my head that a relationship with someone is an ongoing process and is NOT built on the thrill of one specific thing done well, or the disappointment of one little mistake. (I think one little mistake carries more weight than a huge success.)

Boundaries
How could such an evil person be given carte blanche access (permission) to say and do whatever he wanted to me? Just for his fiendish pleasure. He was always touching me. Why wouldn't any good people touch me? Why was the evil one so adamant about carrying out his mission to torment me and make my life Hell, yet the good people don't seem to care enough to lift a finger to help me or to find the road back to normalcy? I needed to let a man re-earn my trust.

When other people cross over boundaries with you for years, you lose your sense of where boundaries should be maintained. Sometimes you forget they exist at all. For some people who have been abused, this means they will cross over boundaries and violate the rights of others, or at least make them uncomfortable. For me, it meant that in order for people to reach me, they had to make exaggerated efforts that would cross over my boundaries, as I was already accustomed to. If the effort was not exaggerated, they were only making a halfhearted attempt.

I looked forward to Doctor appointments because I knew I would be touched (in a proper way) during the examination. I loved having surgery at this one hospital. They would have you lie on a stretcher with wheels and would strap you in and roll you from room to room. I didnít even mind being held prisoner and not being able to move. The anesthesiologist was so compassionate and kind. He would hook you up to the IV that provides the sedation. And then he kept stopping back to check in on you. He would ask you if you were Ok, doing all right. And he would pat you on the shoulder to reassure you everything would be fine. And I donít mean it was one of those quick pat-you-on-the-shoulder fast before someone catches you touching another man pats. He placed his hand on you and he left it there. I was in heaven! I have been to this hospital several times and have never been disappointed!

Psychology of the Matter
When I was growing up, pop psychology said that people have all these deep, dark secrets buried from their childhood. When they become adults, they have to try to remember the traumatic experiences they are suppressing. For many years, I wondered what else had happened but I had suppressed it. I still canít remember what he looks like, or even his face. But thatís Ok with me. I donít ever want to see it again anyway.

Another prevalent theory was that in order to release yourself from a traumatic experience, you have to role play to reenact the situation. But during the role playing, either reverse the roles or arrange it so the outcome is positive.

This made me think the only way I could be "cured" was to find a man who would let me take his clothes off him, to reenact the situation and reverse the roles. I knew this was not going to happen. Reliving the scene backwards, or giving it a different ending (like someone helped ME instead of HIM) would reverse the curse. Neither scenario was going to happen.

Since I knew I would never act out the role playing in person to undo the damage, I started a role playing fantasy. I had different versions. In one version I pictured myself undressing him. Having to undress a man made me think I was gay, although I am not.

In another version he tried to undress me, but some people came to my aid and rescued me. Then they comforted me. It was during this time (headaches) that I developed the intensely painful need to be held. I needed a protector to cradle my brow to his bosom. But perhaps it is not the adult in me that needs comforting as much as it is the child in me. The adult wants to shrink down and become a child again to fit in the arms of a protector and comforter.

Sometimes I wonder if, instead of seeking a comforter, am I really seeking a better role model? I have witnessed some poor examples of masculinity. Not only have I had a damaged perception of how men are in general, I have also had a damaged perception of how women perceive men (because men are so inferior to women and men treat women as sex objects).

I was looking for a man to show me that a man could be all the things that I am now, but was afraid to be when younger. In other words, I have had the goal of being more than what I have witnessed personally. Could I show others love, compassion, and consideration above and beyond what I have received myself in the past? Yes, I have done that. But only after I began to reach out to help others instead of trying to get others to reach in to help me.

Fantasy versus Reality
But nothing in reality could ever be as perfect as something conjured up in your mind. I knew ANYTHING would a disappointment, whether good, bad, or indifferent, when acted out in person. I could just imagine me after role playing in person and thinking, "Is that all there is?"

I don't really WANT to take someone's clothes off him. What I am looking for is just the realization that someone could love me enough that he would consider letting me do this if it would be therapeutic for me.

I want to be healed. But I don't know what to do. I was manipulated to act a certain way. I was backed into a corner. I don't want to have to manipulate someone else with a sad tale to get attention. I want to be loved freely as a fellow human being, not because I backed someone into a corner with no way out other than to do what I demand to get me off his back.

So which should make me feel greater guilt? Things that happened to me in the past? Or what I have to do to receive comfort and encouragement in the present?

In gentler terms, perhaps I need to meet an offender who is sorry for what he has done to someone else. But he would apologize to me because I was there. We could help each other out.

I think I would be much better off if I lived in a foreign country that is not homophobic like America is. In many countries, men openly display affection with each another, just as women do in our culture. I have a feeling that this openness between men would have been a soothing balm to my wounded spirit. Or at least it would have opened the door to a relationship that would have provided a way to salvage my self-esteem and identity. It is hard for me to know who I am because I try to be who people want me to be.

I have never talked to another adult who was bullied as a child. But I have talked to several men who were sexually abused as children. They say it is very common for a man who was abused as a child to want to be held by another man. These struggling survivors live their lives hiding their pain because they would rather suffer through anything than to ask for comfort and risk being labeled a homosexual. What a tragedy. So many wasted lives. These boys and men do not deserve to be condemned to a life void of feelings, numbed by the pain. It is as if they are frozen in time, never free from the past, and never free to live a contented life in the present.

Women and Men
Women I don't even know will sit down and tell me their whole life story. There are no walls or barriers between most women and me. I have been told I have a woman's heart. I am a good listener. When I was 16 I was told I had a quiet dignity and a reach beyond my years.

People tell me their revelations. And I sense needs I am not directly told. It frustrates me that women are so open with me while men live in their own little worlds. Am I really trying to get a man to comfort me? Or am I looking for the opportunity to comfort or otherwise encourage him, but have not yet discovered an appropriate avenue? Maybe I shouldn't want to help him. Maybe no one could believe I would want to help him. But I do.

Perhaps in my quest to make contact with men, I am trying to break down the barriers and receive permission from them for me to reach out to them. Perhaps I do not need for them to initiate a "neutral zone" between us where it is acceptable to let your hair down, so to speak. Maybe in the course of living the barriers will come down by themselves.

Catharsis
I have always felt that I need some kind of catharsis to relieve myself of these experiences. But when I have talked to psychiatrists and psychologists about this, they are impressed with how well I have done on my own simply because I can talk in a calm and rational manner. But I was calm only because I was telling the story of another person, like the victim was someone else not I.

So what I have is a bad experience that is classified as unfortunate, but it is not considered a traumatic experience. But I still feel traumatized by it. I can't go to a support group because not "enough" happened. But it still hurts inside.  I canít get angry about it because nothing really happened. I canít ask for help because I had not reached all the extremes possible in the situation.

I have actually spent my life hoping for progressively worse things to happen to me. (Yes, they did happen.) Maybe eventually I will hit on the right trauma that would be severe enough (or acceptable enough) for someone to offer some comfort to me. I want to ask God for someone to be a friend to me. But whether I will deem myself worthy to accept that friendship is questionable.

I wonder if people think I am overreacting to this since I was not technically raped. I don't want someone to humor me. I want them to believe my need is real.

Building Relationships
For some reason, the role playing fantasies never made me feel any better. They just made me feel more guilt and shame. But they did eventually teach me something. I didn't really want to have control over someone, to have all the power. I just wanted enough power to keep myself safe. I didn't think that was too much to ask.

Fantasies will NOT be what will cure me. A fantasy can merely be used as a tool to give me hope. I can use this tool to make goals to which I can look forward from this point on. I even redefine the fantasy as I grow and mature into something more realistic and something that will better meet my needs as I get to know myself better.

I have to beware of the magic pill syndrome. Take one pill and everything is fixed. Right now. No effort. No waiting. No guessing. There is only one thing I can come up with as an answer to that failed fantasy: SLOW DOWN.

What we are all trying to do is to make up for all the lost time we have had snatched away from us forever. We have been cheated! However, regardless of how badly or brutally the rules of society have been broken by our attackers, we as victims are STILL obligated to play by the rules of society -- if we ever expect to find any kind of peace in this sometimes hellish place we have no choice but to call our home.

There comes a point in our lives, that instead of trying to undo the damage from the past, we must focus all our energy and effort on enjoying the present and building for the future. Yes, it is all right to enjoy yourself, and even life itself.

Ask a "happy" person and they will tell you that relationships take time to build. THAT IS THE LAST THING I WANT TO HEAR.

We think the world owes us some kind of special consideration (waiving the rules) now to pay for the injustices we suffered in the past. But it ain't gonna happen! We may meet a few nice people along the way. (I hope we all do.) But we can't expect everything to be handed to us on a silver platter. We have to go out there and get it ourselves! What are we waiting for?!

But, we cannot start a relationship, then watch it grow into a healthy, productive, satisfying relationship in just one evening! When we think we can, we are only fooling ourselves.

Marriage
I didn't get married until I was in my 30ís. I thought I was contaminated and no woman would want me. I wouldn't have gotten married at all if I hadn't gone on an antidepressant. It gave me a false feeling of invincibility. I moved too quickly. And then drugs have side effects. After waiting until my 30ís for marital relations, I could not fully appreciate the beauty of the experience. What a kick in the teeth.

Due to my late start I have no children. I was hoping for three or four. My ex-wife was having trouble getting pregnant but never got around to taking the fertility drugs. Then she left and divorced me. Now, in my 40ís, I am too old to start a family, especially since I am not even working.

My wife leaving me was the best thing she ever did for me! People tell me I didn't deserve to be treated the way she treated me. And she didn't deserve my kindness.

Hope for Tomorrow
Here is where it all starts to fit together. I could never really deal with the past abuse because people didn't believe me or they denied that it hurt me. But the one thing everybody kept telling me about my wife and the end of our marriage is, "It's not your fault!" EVERYBODY kept saying the same thing. It's not your fault.

Somehow their reassurance that I wasn't a bad person and a bad husband helped me to see that every bad thing that happens in the world is NOT my fault. Somehow the reassurance I received from a shattered marriage was able to wipe just enough sewage off my face so that I could see more clearly. Clearly enough to reach out and let some warmth filter back to my heart that had been turned to ice.

I have always felt I needed a "story" to receive any attention or affection from people. But this squeaky clean person with a big smile and a sparkle in his eyes is starting to peek out from inside me. I don't need the stories much longer. This glowing person inside me will soon be able to attract all the tenderness I need.

Epilog - March 6, 2005
I can't blame the bullies or anyone else for everything that goes wrong in my life. However, sometimes it seems to set a precedence, from which the grip is almost impossible to break free from.

I have not worked for over six years.  I am on Social Security Disability for a list of mental illnesses.  I had not been diagnosed as bipolar when I wrote before. I now have been, nine years after it actually began.

Why am I writing? I wrote something I thought you might like to read. This is for a church newsletter.

God Made It Easy
"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (1 Peter 3:15a). Sometimes I tell God that I am too tired to show hope in the face of adversity, although I will at least try not to complain too much. I want to smile to show my hope, my joy, but at times that seems too difficult, too much to ask.  I want to testify about Him. So I ask Him to provide ways to use a situation to His glory, to be a witness. Of course He provides. He always does. 

I have suffered from depression for many years. And there was social/general anxiety, OCD, and PTS.  Now add Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depressive Disorder) to the list. But it went undiagnosed for nine years. The doctors completely overlooked (or ignored?) the bipolarism. So the medications they gave me just fueled the extremes. I had doctors from excellent practices. But none of them would/could identify the condition.

I can get up in the morning wondering how I made it through the night. Then in the afternoon of the same day I could think of an idea that will earn me a Nobel Peace Prize. And then I start working on this idea, as though I will actually complete the project. Then in the evening of the same day I could be plotting my suicide. I am so versatile! Most days arenít like this. (Some days are worse.) But the cycles are usually spread out more than this.

I wasnít working, had no income, and my insurance had expired. So I went to a free (for me) community services organization. I sat in the lobby with homeless people. As with any place, there is some good. And some not-so-good. But God was watching over me. I was assigned their best health care professionals. They immediately knew I was bipolar and began drug therapy with the correct medications for this condition, as well as talk therapy. That was a year and a half ago. Results are not immediate or foolproof. It is difficult to find the right combinations of treatments. I am not where I would like to be. But I am SO much better than I was before they started treatment.

I thought it was a disaster that I lost my insurance. However, the free clinic gave me what the expensive mainstream doctors could/would not -- much improved mental health. I have a reason to testify about God. He made it easy for me to prove to others that hope exists.

That was mental. Letís do physical next. I am 46 now, and seem to collect things ahead of time. I was diagnosed with glaucoma when in my early 30ís. I have had four surgeries on my eyes, two on each for glaucoma. I need four more procedures done on my eyes. Both need surgery again for glaucoma, and cataracts have now been found. So I will have the lens replaced in both eyes during the glaucoma surgeries. (I have to see the cataract specialist before the glaucoma specialist can plan the glaucoma surgery.) And I have osteoporosis and I am two inches shorter than I used to be. 

I said I thought it was a disaster that I lost my insurance and lost my mental health care. But God provided. The same is true for my upcoming eye surgeries. I thought it was a disaster. But this gave God another opportunity to show how He provides. I went on Social Security Disability last year. So I started receiving some income, but still had no insurance for medical coverage or hospitalization. How is God providing for the eye surgeries? A Medicare card came in the mail. 

I will have some medical and hospitalization coverage through Medicare. This coverage becomes effective on the same day I have my next appointment with my eye surgeon Ė April 1. That means this coverage begins on the exact day that I need it Ė the day my eye surgeon will announce he is ready to proceed with the surgeries.  I donít have to postpone the surgeries hoping that someday I might have insurance. God is providing that coverage now. God is covering me now. I did not plan the timing for any of this. I did not apply for Medicare. It just ďhappensĒ two years after SSD begins. (I was afraid to go to the free clinic. But it is responsible for me receiving the SSD benefits and therefore the Medicare benefits.)

I have reason to testify about the reality of God, and witness about God, even when I donít feel like smiling through it. God made it easy for me to prove to others that hope exists through Him -- even when I canít prove that hope exists within me. I believe they call that faith. 

Surgeries, divorce, bankruptcy, unemployment, giving up my house and pets. This was recently said of me. ďIt is not the height of great successes that mark your victory, it is the fact that you get back up each time.Ē Itís true what he said about victory found in not giving up. But I am still claiming a few more successes. I believe God still has a few more mountain tops in store for me -- for me to raise others up to. 

When I could not smile, my joy still showed. Hope through God was still evident. I showed everyone I had a reason to get back up. A reason to live. Not always for myself.  But always for Christ Jesus! >
 
 
 

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