Welcome to Journey On. I am D.J. Burr, the host and executive producer. I am a licensed behavioral addictions specialist and bestselling author of "I Just Wanted love - Recovery of a Co-Dependent, Sex and Love Addict," available on Amazon, Audible andiTunes.
This podcast is for male survivors of sexual abuse and assault who want to experience a life worth living beyond a tragic past. I'm a survivor, just like you and I know the complexity of healing from trauma. I also know the joy that comes from the healing process. Hear our stories and share your own. You are not alone. You too can breathe deep and Journey On!
I encourage you to visit the Journey On website www.journeyonpod.com. There you will find a link to sign up for my recovery journey newsletter, learn about my weekend recovery events for male survivors and my online recovery coaching services for male survivors. If you have questions, concerns or comments or would like to be on the show, email me at email@example.com.
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This week, we have a bonus episode. I know it is our first week. I'm just so excited to be able to bring to you another episode. Journey On is a gift and I want to give you this gift each and every episode so stay tuned what's next on Journey On.
Coming up today, we are talking with John. John is a child abuse survivor and a person in long term recovery. John is going to give us his experience, strength and hope around recovering from early childhood abuse and the impact that has had on his life. Hear his story and share your own. We are not alone.
DJ John, thank you for coming to the show today. Journey On is about survivors of male sexual abuse and assault. I am grateful that you have the time today to talk about your experience, strength and hope. So where does your story start, John?
John Well... It starts with, I came from the classic suburban family. My father, for most of my youth, was an officer and a gentleman in the Air Force and my mom was a southern belle and they were homecoming king and queen. From the exterior we looked like the classic "American Family". But inside and at home, there was some stresses and strains. My father grew up very, very, very poor. The only way he got to school was on an ROTC scholarship.
My mom was a farmer's daughter and not very educated at all in the ways of sex or even being a woman and a mother. There was a lot of dysfunction in her family. I think she always claimed that she was her "Daddy's special girl," but she would never explain why. I think that her dad was more emotionally attached to her than her mom. So the mom and the daughter were competing with each other for attention. My grandparents never showed each other any emotion other than arguing. They were big Italians - first generation in America. They spoke with pretty have accents. They were farmers in the South.
My Dad's family - his father was an alcoholic, died when he was 11 from drinking bad booze from the still that had previously made him go blind but he couldn't stop.
DJ Sounds like an alcoholic.
John Yeah - very much so. My dad was an alcoholic. His dad was an alcoholic. His brother was an alcoholic. My brother was an alcoholic... and I don't drink anymore.
John After I did a bunch of work. I was a seeker. I did a bunch of stuff - a lot of drinking and drugs growing up - a lot of outlandish behaviors. I traveled the world a lot. Before I was even 20... after high school, I was living in Europe for a couple of years, making my own way and then I'd break away and go to Mexico and back and go to Maine. I was just unrooted after living a life of moving around as a kid but I had finally decided to settle down in Arizona where my family was living and was working in the family business. Yet, my life - things kept falling apart. I couldn't figure out [why]. I spent a lot of time in therapy, belonging to men's organizations. I had done all kinds of stuff trying to figure out what was wrong, what wasn't right.
I uncovered that I had been abused as a kid through extensive therapy, kind of gestalt therapy, shuttling - whatever you want to call it.
I never wanted to face who it was for a number of years.
One memory of abuse that I uncovered at home was a memory of being abused in the shower. I was standing in the bathroom, cold and wet, the shower was running... there was somebody in there. I couldn't figure out why I was standing there, kind of petrified but I want clean. Why was I out of the shower if I wasn't clean? Why was I not getting dried off. It was because I had - because my dad was in the shower and I had broken free and had gotten out and he was trying to get me to perform a sexual act.
I have a lot of vague, grey, foggy memories that I can’t' discern.
At that period of my life, I slept incredibly light. I would wake up if somebody's pants legs rubbed together walking by the room.
I had wet the bed until very late. Part of it was because I would never go to sleep. I didn't want to be molested.
DJ It sounds like you were frightened.
The other abuse happened in church. I was raised Catholic. I studied to be an altar boy. My mom was never on time picking me up. I don't know whether the priest told her to come later or she was late - she was chronically late all the time anyway, was kind of a narcissist, not really concerned about her commitments to others.
That kind of threw me off of religion completely for a long time.
DJ So... you were molested
John [Continues] I was molested - yeah.
DJ How old were you?
John At that period, I think I was 11.
DJ So at 11 years old, you were molested by a clergy member?
John Yeah. By a visiting young priest. I don't know "visiting," maybe new. I think he was new. Where I had to learn, to take the altar boy classes wasn't even a regular church. It was somewhere across town. It was kind of like... there were no roots or connection to these people.
Then when I decided [to] not go anymore, nobody ever asked me why. When I finished being an altar boy, taking the classes, I never went and was never an altar boy during the services. Nobody ever asked me why.
DJ They just accepted that...
John Just like... something happened. I don't know. My family was kind of weird. When I was around them, they were hyper-micro-managing. My mom was super helicopter, like "do this, do that..." You know. But when I wasn't, it was like out of sight, out of mind. When I was 14, a buddy of mine and I went camping. We went floating down a river for 5 days. His parents thought he was with my family and my parents thought I was with his family. it was just me and him on a river in Virginia.
DJ [astonished] ... for five days.
John We got all kinds of adventures including having guns pulled on us by some hillbillies, almost got stomped by bulls one night. So it was this weird juxtaposition of when we were away, we could do whatever we wanted but when we were close, my mom was always in my face. I never wanted to be close because it was always too much.
John My dad was always the typical workaholic - always be gone.
DJ You talked about being in the shower with your dad. How old were you?
John That was around 8 or 9.
DJ Is that the first time?
John I don't know. I can't... I have no clear memories other than those two. I know there were more because my dad was horribly repressed drinker, kind of a Faulknerian, sort of southern repressed guy. He had no emotions, no emotions, no emotions, no emotions then Vulcanic explosions.
I feel like, when I am trying to find the elephant in the room of abuse... I've only found those two little pieces (which aren't that little).
With the priest, I was completely naked, he was touching me. He was telling me stuff like, "If it feels good, wouldn't God want you to do it?" Which was kind of coopting.
I believe in God - coopting his authority - not coopting but misusing his authority or his role. It really poisoned me.
DJ When you say poisoned, does that mean that it damaged your relationship with God?
John With God... with any authority figures. I just went my own way from that point on. I ran my own show. There was in family... My dad was not emotionally available to my mom. My mom emotionally... was always talking to me about her husband wasn't emotionally available. I was the sensitive one. I was about my dad's shortcomings. Then like why don't you go to a movie with the neighbor, why don't you go to the movie by yourself? She would always slam down any idea. I sad, "Well, just divorce him." Then she said, "Well, I can't do that." I said, "I'm only 16. leave me alone. She's following me through the house, trying to tell me how [about] the lack of my dad.
DJ Sounds like she wanted you to fix it somehow.
Then years later, my dad was retired from the military, business owner - owned a couple of businesses, had 30, 40 guys working for him and every now and then he'd get really drunk. One time, I had to go get him out of jail. Mom calls me and says, "Will you go get your dad out of jail?" I go, "Sure - what happened?" She goes, "I don't know." I drive across town and get him. I get my dad and I go, "What happened? He said, "This guy wouldn't stop talking to me." I go, "So?" ... "So I hit him, then he was a friend of the bartender's and they called the police." A typical non-answer answer, a non-explanation that doesn't get below the surface. A couple of days later, my mom is talking to me on the phone, "What kind of a bar was it?" I go, "What do you mean?" She was like, "What kind of a bar was it?" She wouldn't clarify it but she was, I'm guessing, she meant, 'titty-bar" or "gay-bar" or something was not spoken of in our family. I said, "It was just a dive bar." "Yah - but what kind of a bar? Who are the people that go there?" I go, "Who do you think, Mom?" because I want her to express her fears or say exactly what it is because here she wants me to throw my dad under the bus for her fears. I am put in this weird position. So, I just basically said, "You tell me what you're thinking - tell me what's the statement underneath the question." She would never do it.
So, my mom and dad were locked in this impasse of her not getting what she wanted - him being repressed something. I was sort of the mediator.
DJ Wow! It sounds like your parents placed you right in the middle of their chaos.
DJ ... And involved you in many different ways.
John Right. I was sort of robbed of my childhood and became sort of... something. I was also sort of the thoughtful one, the thinker. I was really good in school and my mom's sister was a single mom because her husband used to beat her. He was the chief of police in the small town where my mom came from so nobody every stopped it. She studied to be a teacher. I used to take her tests for her. I'd write her book reports analyzing children's books. When I was like 11 or 12 years old.
When I was in 6th grade, my teacher used to have me sit in class and take her tests to be certified in new math while she read to little kids outside under a tree. I would sometimes look out the window and see the big old tree and all the kids sitting under it and the shade and it looked really nice and I was sitting in here taking a test that was for an adult. I covered up the abuse by overperforming by going all into my intellect and going into being a smart-aleck, smart guy. It served me for a number of years.
DJ So you'd cover up the abuse so much so that you weren't able to uncover it until you were an adult.
I had 9 years of extensive therapy working on stuff and it took me about 5 or 6 to start telling the truth to my therapist. Because I was a full-on sex-love addict.
I grew up in a house full of secrets. Apparently, my dad did stuff that my mom wondered about. My mom could never talk to my dad about it. I learned to not talk to people about my problems so I would go in and talk to this guy and think I was covering stuff but I wasn't until I started telling the truth.
I ended up getting a divorce from my first wife - full on because I was unfaithful and I was emotionally unavailable. I started a new relationship. Before we got married, I finally said I got to tell this guy everything so I can try to figure this out. That's when we started uncovering.
DJ Would you say that your sex and love addiction is related to the abuse you suffered?
John Oh! Absolutely!
There's a diagram that kind of explains to me a lot of my character defects and a lot of my inability of controlled impulses around wanting to drink or drug or eat or sex. You know, self-medicate in many different ways. it's that tree of addiction where all of the branches are different forms of addiction whether it is sex, alcohol, gambling. The trunk is codependency. The root of that is abuse, childhood abuse, neglect, trauma which I think I've had all of them.
We moved a lot. I was friends with my two older sister's and younger brother. We were very, very close. My brother and I kind of experimented sexually when we were little. That sort of traumatized him but he could never talk about it until we were in our 30's or something. I didn't realize how traumatic that was but some people hold that touching another male is bad. We were experimenting. We were like 10 or 11.
DJ But it wasn't traumatizing for you?
John No. No. We were just talking about it and touching each other and it was consensual. We were asking. We were one year apart. It wasn't like there was a huge power differential or anything. But I do feel some shame because I was the older one so I feel like I am responsible because one year, although not a lot now, when you're younger, that's more important. You know, older brother, younger brother.
DJ I wonder if that happened after the abuse you suffered from your father?
John Well, that happened... Oh, yah! That was after. The house we were in was the next house. I believe that most sexual activity before puberty is learned. It's not natural outgrowth of human experience. I don't think at that point I had an orgasm so I didn't know. I kind of think that puberty is around the time your sex organs and your body changes. I don't know the physiology or the medical part of it.
DJ I think that some people - it depends. [There are] a variety of things I think influence the sexual development but it definitely sounds like you were mirroring that behavior, the abuse that you suffered from your father. You might have acted that out with your brother.
John I kind of think that's what we were... yah. I had said that I thought I was, I might be gay to my brother.
OMITTED 19.47 – 20.08
I can that now with ease, but for many years I had a lot of shame about it. Until he and I talked about it, he never expressed it to another person. He held a lot of shame about it.
DJ How is your relationship with him now?
John He died. He died a few years ago of his liver shut down. He couldn't stop drinking and drugging.
DJ So he was medicating too?
DJ It's sad when abuse happens, especially when things happen that are out of our control and we have to find ways to medicate that pain. What are all the ways that you learned to medicate?
John One of the ways was doesn't sound simple but I used to travel every couple of years. My family stopped moving and my dad retired from the military and started businesses and I kept ricocheting around the world every couple of years. It was also when relationships got tough sometimes. Boing - I was out of the there and [gone]. I went to Maine on a vacation and ended up and staying and having my family mail my tools to me and I lived up there for a couple of years. I went down to Mexico on an exchange program with my college for one semester. The day the semester was over, I went out and got an apartment and decided to stay and lived there another year and a half. Then after the magic - those were geographic fixes that don't ever work. I'd go somewhere and the magic wears off and then I'd come back or I'd go somewhere else. So, I was just ricocheting around the world avoiding myself. That was one way.
Another way was i drank a lot. I medicated with food and entertainment. I became quite a foodie. I was involved in the hospitality business building restaurants and that kind of a thing. I was always out at the latest restaurant and bar, celebrity chef and acting like a big shot. I was acting like one of the cool people... and that sort of assuaged my ego or fed my ego. The feelings of abuse or less than and inadequacy were covered up by being a gadfly.
The other way was with sex. I did not believe that I could get my needs met in any relationship. I was never honest or truthful in any relationship. I was unfaithful. That goes with friends, girlfriends, guy-friends, whoever. I was just, anything that moved, especially when I was traveling and out of town (which I was a lot for work and vacation.) I did a lot of travel in my youth.
DJ What were the consequences of this self-mediation?
John Well, there's a lot of damage. There's a young boy from my first marriage from the age of one until the age of eleven. His mother and I were married for 7 years and we got divorced. Even though I helped him after he was out of my life, I helped support him through high school and had a college fund for him and stuff. He hasn't spoken to me for the last 10 years. I feel like he's a step-son. He has a father who is alive. I never adopted him. I raised or helped raise him. He's very upset with me and my behavior something. He can't even talk to me about it. I pretty much blew up my first family. I blew up a business that I owned. I have gone through more money than I thought that I would ever have in my life. I could be retired by now but still have got to do some work.
So the consequences are in every aspect. You know, financially, in relationships and family. There's a lot of wreckage due to the abuse and due to trying to medicate against it under the table where people aren't looking.
The other way is work. i used to work like a fiend. What I used to explain is I'd show people my hand and I'd go, this is my work addiction when people are looking and then show the back of my hand and the sex addiction is what I'd do when people aren't looking.
DJ I am assuming that the tides turned when you got into therapy and got some clarity about the abuse. Can you talk about that impacted in what you did after learning?
John First, I was doing some men's work which was very helpful in many ways because it got me in touch with feelings. It helped me do the work to uncover and own the abuse and also uncover and own some of the behaviors but men's work alone is not a substitute for either twelve-step or focused addictions counseling. So in some ways, I thought I was doing my work and I didn't really get at the heart of the matter. So for about a dozen years, I am doing my work (I think) but the acting out didn't stop. The infidelity in my current marriage didn't stop. So, I was still lying. I was still doing a little cheat here and there in life. It doesn't just limit itself if you're medicating. If I am medicating kind of off the books then I'm doing other things off the books too.
The men's work didn't have the discipline. It's like a men’s group and we're all equal but there's no facilitator and there's not focus. You can think we're doing work and we can think we're holding each other's feet to the fire but really sometimes we're just cosigning each other's bullshit.
That's the danger in not having a focus on the group of sobriety or truth telling. I finally got involved in an addictions counseling process, focused on my sex addiction - my love addiction. That I finally owned that my dad was an alcoholic, my brother was an alcoholic, his brother is an alcoholic, his dad was an alcoholic, my sister is (my oldest sister). I probably have some problem with alcohol. It's like the old adage. If you think you have a problem with green beans, and you’re not sure you have a problem with greenness, well most people think about green beans and don't think about it. If you think there might be a problem, there probably is. Its benign for other people and if it's not benign for me then okay - what am I attaching to the green beans or why am I hording them or why am I gorging or whatever?
I've stopped drinking. I went to an accountability circle which is one of the best things that helped my sobriety and my recovery and that is in addition to going to a lot of meetings and having a sponsor is sitting around with a bunch of men and calling each other on specifically on our sobriety and our program or our lack of sobriety or lack of program. Sometimes you go down and hey - I masturbated or hey I did this depending on what your bottom lines are. The accountability circle which was facilitated for a number of years, four year, was really the key to it. Now, I don't belong to one of those circles but I co-facilitate one. I show up for guys. I do a lot of service with a bunch of other people so I am constantly confronted with other addicts or alcoholics and I have to moderate and modulate myself and my ego in that case when you're doing service. Sometimes, somebody's in a worse place and sometimes somebody has something to give you. So it's constantly right-sizing me. My sobriety is based on me being able to be equal to you and other people not trying to power down and get up above it, power down or feel like a piece of shit or less than.
I was used to my life previous the 11 or 12 years when I was with my men's group, I was vacillating between those two. I wasn't spending time on equal ground.
DJ It's important… to see yourself as either one up or one down.
John Right. And that was really hard for me because I had always worked for myself so I was always bossing other people around. I came to believe that I had better ideas than people because of my upbringing. I was taking my aunt's test and my teacher's tests for them. My work situation was I was always the boss. People would say, "Oh! That's a great idea but mainly because I signed their paychecks. I started to believe the bull that they were feeding me because they were just being polite or nice to their boss. When your boss tells you to do something, you go, "Yes, boss!" and you go do it. Well that's what they were doing. I was thinking it was because I was brilliant. I wasn't any smarter than the next guy. In fact, in a lot of ways, I'm not. People learned lessons at an earlier age that I didn't. I'm having to re-learn my childhood and re-parent that little guy.
DJ Well, it sounds like you are active in that re-parenting for yourself and I think that's a huge thing to focus on in any type of recovery whether that's from sexual abuse and assault or recovery from alcoholism or any other addictions. We have to go back and re-parent ourselves. Most of the times we miss valuable information because either our parents didn't know it or they didn't know how to communicate it. I am hearing a great amount of doing [that].
John Hundreds - probably thousands of hours learning what most people learn in kindergarten. How to be nice to other people and considerate and not be self-absorbed.
I was self-absorbed in my first marriage. I was self-absorbed even as a father then. I was self-absorbed and I was going to be losing my other two children's love because it was only my reality that I was letting them have when we were having conversation - before I got fully in full recovery and got through the denial and take my ego down several notches. I have a good relationship with my younger two boys. They're 27 and 23. They call for advice every now and then where before they were like, "I don't want to talk about it dad."
Because they knew that I wouldn't listen and there was no give and take.
I remember the first time my oldest son by blood asked me about girls. I said, "Well, you know I haven't been too good in that department." That was like a watershed moment for me and him that he actually asked for some help and I was able to say, "I'm not really sure" instead of saying do this, do that - give him prescriptive things. We just had a conversation.
DJ Sounds like some authenticity.
John Yah. The re-parenting thing... When I was just doing the men's work without the focus on addictions counseling and the real meat of the matter, I discovered the inner child in me was abused and I had know that from therapy but i just kind of let him go, run amuck. I didn't face him. I didn’t face all of his feelings of abuse or whatever. I just basically put blinders on and said go. My acting out on my addictions got worse. So, I was doing all of this work and I had all of this language but I was lying because I wasn't facing that little guy because I hated him. He was gangly and weak.
DJ ... and he was still being ignored.
John ... and he was being ignored - exactly. I relived the abuse or the neglect that I had while growing up to myself. I used to get colds and flu like 5, 6, 7 times a year because I would just push myself in work. Then, after I worked so hard. I'd have 48 hours by Wednesday, you know. Then I'd go act out and would get no sleep and then of course I'd come down with a cold then be back in the office. I was not only neglecting the metaphysical but the real self.
DJ Our bodies can only take so much.
Can you talk about how much time and what specifically you've done to learn to love yourself again... or maybe even for the first time during this reparenting?
John Well... The first couple of years, when I first discovered this inner-child, I kind of embraced him and talked to him a little was 1997. I don't think I really started to reparent him until about 7 years ago. In that interim time, I had an on-again, off-again relationship. I was going through therapy. I was doing some men’s' work. I wasn't focused on my own character defects, my own addiction, my own saying "Hey - I might be an alcoholic" r I am an alcoholic or I might be a sex addict or I am a sex addict." I was just kind of doing the usual talk therapy kind of stuff.
It's been in the last 7 years, it's been a lot of meetings and pretty strong program. Sometimes, in order to get to a meeting, because in my work I drive up and down the Northwest, sometimes I'd have to drive 90 miles to get to a meeting but I would do it most of the time. At least once a week I would drive 40-50 miles to a meeting - to go to meetings.
DJ So, going to meetings is a way that you demonstrate love for yourself because you're not avoiding. You're engaging. That's helpful for you.
John Right. It's helpful and it's also - when i go to these meetings, I'm open. I have access to all of my feelings. I am dealing with some family health issues that I have a lot of sadness about. Sadness was the one feeling that I would not let myself have through most of my growing up phase. It's like if i stuck my lip out as a kid, my family would make fun of it, calling it a front porch or say, "What are you sad about? I'll give you something to be sad about." So sadness - don't show it.
And then fear? Nope. Don't show your fear. Dogs can smell it. I grew up thinking that I had no fear which was a lie. Fear was running the boat for me... that whole show, behind the scenes, unknown to me. Sadness was a thing to be avoided at all costs. So the only feeling I had left was either joy, which was from acting out or imbibing or this false jocularity - you know, entertain myself. Use my friends for entertainment. Use people for entertainment. Or anger. Those were the only two. I had this false jocularity or anger or nothing.
Safety was nothing but that was boring when I was in my addictions so I want to get out. How do you get out? Well, I could use anger to get adrenaline and get things done. I was constantly late to things. I would use adrenaline that way to get to meeting and do stuff. I over-booked myself to not act out. I was using work to modulate the sex addiction. It was like using beer to not drink whiskey.
DJ Not going to help you.
John No. Didn't help at all. Didn't help at all.
I was really busy running around like a chicken with my head cut off, making money and being a father and not doing any of it very well. Then there was a lot of drama. Of course there was drama. If there wasn't drama, I'd have to make some.
The way I started... going to meetings. Doing 90 in 90 days.
I was sitting in a meeting about the 3rd or 4th day of doing 90 in 90 - that to me was when I was recommended to do that by my sponsor. I finally had said that I am going to do what he says because nothing else was working. I was getting suicidal even though i couldn't figure out why. Nothing had changed. i would just be driving home at night - late at night from working too much and the freeway's dark and there'd be a curve coming up and I would think, "Ah. I'd be better if I just drove straight."
Like the sirens of old luring the sailors to the rocks. I don't know what. This lulling voice just to end the endless cycling of thoughts or something.
DJ Sounds like depression.
John Yah. It was probably depression masked by drinking and working and other stuff. So, I finally gave myself over to the "simple" program of 12-step. I said Okay - I'll do what I'm told. That was really hard for me to do what I'm told because I was used to running my own show since I was a kid.
I mean, my first job, I worked for myself. I was a paperboy. After that, I was always working for myself.
I went to 90 in 90 and about a few days into it, there was a guy in a meeting and had just crawled out from under a bridge - a homeless guy. He went to this early morning meeting just to get a hot cup of coffee so he could get his fingers working again. He's holding this coffee like it's the holy grail... sacred coffee. When he talked, he sounded alternately mad, crazy and brilliant... like some people are. He sounded exactly like my brother - my crazy brother who died from drinking and drugging. I realized in that moment that I am not different than him. I'd always claimed that I was different than my brother because my brother was barely had a house and for a long period of his life was homeless. I had three homes at that time. On the outside, I looked different, but I realized on the inside, he and I are brothers - that crazy guy that just crawled out from under the bridge - and we are brothers. We are just the same. That moment, I got off of my high horse, climbed down from my grandiosity and accepted that I was as messed up of a human as that guy right there. We are at the same meeting. That's when I attribute my recovery to starting.
That was actually 9 1/2 years ago, but I have 7 years of sobriety because I did a slip a couple of years later.
DJ Congratulations on your 7 years!
DJ I'm curious if there has been forgiveness for your father, for the priest, for yourself?
John The priest - No. I have... I still have a very hard time with any organized religion. I'm not very... That also was a very big problem for me to find... to give myself over to a higher power. I couldn't figure out what to do.
DJ I can imagine why.
John You know, God to me was... God and religion were bound up. I would always think that God was this story from the Bible of this guy in a flowing robe, sitting on a cloud - whatever. He was being manipulated or coopted by these institutions that were abusing young kids. It took me a long time in 12 step to come up with one and I have. It’s pretty evidence based. It's actually the wisdom of the group. It's called group consciousness which we say a lot.
John The best thing is that I don't run my own show anymore. I don't make my own decisions. I run them by my group of guys or people call it, "your board of directors." You could call it your network. Call my sponsor. If I'm going to make a decision, even life decisions sometimes - they're not part of THE 12 steps but hey, am I making this for the right reason or am I just trying to escape my problems.
DJ It sounds like you finally have the support system.
John Yes. I feel like I do. In fact, my support system helps govern what some of the things whether I'm going to relocate... Do they have a support system there? Can I plug into it or do I want to remake my support system?
DJ No more bouncing around about the plan...
John Right. That's exactly right.
We are at - my wife and I are at the stage in our life where we want to evolve to a retirement phase. Where we live has to have a support unit.
Did you forgive your father?
John I accepted my father for a long time in the first dozen or twenty years after I uncovered the [abuse in] therapy. I demonized him. I hated him. I don't demonize him anymore. I know that he gave me a lot of good traits as well. So, I think that I've accepted him. He died before all of this stuff - before I got into recovery. He died when I was uncovering the abuse in therapy.
DJ Wow - that must have been hard.
John Yah - He died in front of me of a heart attack. That was traumatizing. Every time my heart blipped for a period of like 5 years, I was like, "Oh my God! I'm having a heart attack!"
DJ Your story is remarkable, John.
What would you tell our listeners who are in recovery and are recovering from childhood abuse or sexual assault, even as an adult - What message could you leave them with before we close?
John The biggest fear I had that why I couldn't face the abuse, why I couldn't face my own character defects and problems was that I felt the sadness was too huge... That it was a bottomless pit. I was in a very, very difficult situation where a friend of mine that I recommended do this process with men's work was supposedly a good thing. He almost died of a heart attack because he was being pushed by the leaders too hard. I really reacted very poorly in front of like 50 people. I was going to shut down the whole process because my friend almost died.
I realized that I was making the leaders into bad dad. I finally owned to somebody other than to my therapist that I had been abused - in private to the leaders of that process.
What I realized was that was when I really hit the bottom of the well because I had acted outrageously in front of 50 people and I got a little road-rash to prove it. But I felt really good after that. I felt like, okay, I hit the bottom of the well but the good news is - it has a bottom.
I started to come out.
The message that I would give is that - Go! No matter how scary it is to go towards the fear, you get through it with guides... do it with people that are recovered (1) and do it with professionals (2) do the inner work, do the fame and fortune work, do the addictions work. I think you've got to do them all. I was operating [where] I did one for a while then another but you've got to do them all together. They come together. One's the root, one's the trunk, the rest is the tree.
DJ Absolutely. I totally agree with you, John.
I want to thank you for sharing your story with us today. It's a very powerful story. I encourage you to continue doing your work. I'm sure love will be with you.
John Thank you very much. Thanks for inviting me, D.J.
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