Proudly Sensitive

I named this blog in response to something my parents shouted at me when I was 21 and about to move out of their house: “What your brother did to you was normal!  You’re just too sensitive!”  Thus it was described as ‘normal’ for my older brother to violently assault me, to tell me I was fat, worthless, that no one would ever like me; to manipulate, rape me, and destroy my life under their noses. They proclaimed that he and what he did was all ‘normal’ and they were not saying that abuse is unfortunately very common, no to them ‘normal’ meant good, acceptable, right, they way things should be.  While to be sensitive was in their view to be “weird” (as my mother had once claimed: “you only think you’re gay because you’re so weeiirrd”) to be weak, immature, childish.

But I reject their standards as cleanly as I have rejected their having any presence in my life.  I value sensitivity, I see it as something good, something beautiful, and I know that many wrong, terrible, and ugly things in the world are prevalent, widespread, and even wrongly accepted by large portions of society.  Thus in the beginning of my healing journey, I was confronted very violently with the prejudices of my abusive family which stated that nothing “normal” (whether it was actually normal or just normal to insane people) could be abusive, traumatic, harmful, or bad.  I had once looked up to my older sister, but when I tried to tell her about my abuse experiences, she would often cut me off, saying “that’s normal,” or “lots of kids did that,” or sometimes she would let out a mocking laugh and then begin some condescending tirade based on this belief and her seeming view that something had to occur every day of my childhood to cause harm.  These beliefs go entirely contrary to scientific proof about how the human organism works and responds to violence, intrusions, and cruelty, which does not know cultural bias on what is supposedly “normal.”

Now I’m in my late twenties, and while I accepted and largely remembered the physical and emotional abuse I received from my 18 months elder brother, I repressed my own knowledge of the sexual abuse for a long time.  I first started having dissociative flashbacks to the sexual abuse in elementary school, and while it was his voice in the flashbacks (beckoning me to a ‘monkey game’) and we were in his bedroom, my mind still protected me from the horrifying truth for a very long time.  I accepted that I had been sexually abused but by whom?  I drew a blank for a long time; in fifth grade sex education class, I had to run to the bathroom, gripped with nausea and seeing red after the teacher had laid out some diagrams of the male anatomy, and I continued to be plagued later in life by a severe closeup image of my brother’s intimate part.

I was told for so long that I was the problem, my family members worked overtime to project onto me their view that I was just childish, stupid, and incompetent, not a teenage boy or young adult with PTSD, an eating disorder, social anxiety; they went out of their way to come up with the most insulting reasons for my behavior while they discounted the obvious signs and abandoned me to the wolf on account of their twisted views of what was normal.  I dissociated for much of my life–that is how I dealt with things on a daily basis, I would separate everything out, and as my parents finally arrived home from work, I dried my tears and moved on from what had happened to me in the time I was left alone with my brother.  But as he moved on to other things (running away, juvenile hall…) and I became an adult, I found that dissociating, turning on/off was no longer such an efficient lifestyle.

Things were disconnected, day to day, and I was so conditioned to just get through everything and dissociate away anything that was wrong that for instance, I learned to ignore persistent health conditions that lasted for a long time; as long as the symptoms weren’t 24/7, I forgot about it.  But of course that isn’t really forgetting; at a later date, I would always be swarmed waves of remembrance, of the extreme hypercritical emotional abuse I suffered at the hands of all of my family, about the betrayals and hurt.  But there was something I couldn’t access; I had been invalidated all my life, I had been mocked, I had been blamed for what happened to me.  I felt that I was locked out of my life, and I wished so badly for someone, some beautiful person my own age to come and validate me, to say that I was like them, not this monster they had brainwashed me into believing I was.   But of course that fantasy couldn’t happen.

I lived in secrets, my mind still needed time, still needed preliminary healing and safety before it would reveal the incest to me.  Now within the past year it has, and I want to be open, I want to reach into my dissociated memories and pull them into a coherent chain, into one life.  I’m making big life changes right now, I won’t be silent any longer about who I really am, I don’t want to hide or put up facades with other people.  This is my life, I am a sensitive person and I am proud of that.

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About proudlysensitive

Gay male survivor of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.
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9 Responses to Proudly Sensitive

  1. Wow! You are amazingly sensitive & insightful. I could relate to a lot of what you said in terms of emotional & verbal abuse. In the last 6 months, I’ve admitted to myself that I was abused by my family. I was the Sensitive one too. They projected & used me as a scapegoat all my life. I’m also beginning to believe they are pathological not just dysfunctional. They are good at putting on facades & covering up with other people. I cringed when you talked about how your sister reacted to you. She is afraid to face the truth! This whole family dynamic is not normal! Unfortunately, they will not wake up & see the truth and take responsibility. They live a lie but you don’t. You broke away & that is a normal & healthy response!

    • Thanks so much Jason, it is terrible being the scapegoat in the family–the target for everyone else’s resentment and (self)hatred. I’m sorry you had to go through that too. My family also put up facades well–some of my friends would actually say my parents were ‘really nice’ and they often were to complete strangers, but they were absolutely toxic to their kids and other people in their control. You’re right, my sister wanted to live in denial and perpetuate the poisonous family dynamic forever. I couldn’t stand that. It’s great that you’re starting to see the truth about your abusive family. Take care,
      -Caden.

      • Linda says:

        Hi Caden,
        A friend just referred me to some literature about being raised by an emotionally abusive mother-I found Emerging from Broken and started to read your blog yesterday. It took a lot of courage to write what you did. It makes my story look like a walk in the park, even though I’ve been struggling with some painful family issues lately. I am also a nurse who has worked in the mental health system with a lot of children who have been sexually abused-but your story still came as a shock to me-and I experienced your pain and read it through tears for you! With the entire family involved like that-you are stepping out and speaking up and working on your own healing. I commend you, Caden! Are you familiar with Joyce Meyer? I discovered her about 5 years ago, and she has meant so much to my life. She survived years of sexual abuse by her father and now has a huge, worldwide Christian ministry. She talks openly about her abuse and losing her childhood-but she teaches a lot on how to make the rest of your life the best of your life. You can check her out if you like-and listen to her broadcasts. Take care and keep up the good work, Caden! Linda

        • Thank you so much for your kind words Linda. You don’t need to compare your story with mine though, everyone’s pain is valid, and however you were abused in childhood, you have a right to mourn and be validated and heal.

          take care,
          -Caden.

          • Linda says:

            Thank you-you are an insightful young man and I will hold good thoughts for you in your healing process. I am usually very reluctant to make recommendations to others-particularly when I don’t know them really. Your story just struck a chord in my heart for sure! Joyce Meyer is such a down to earth person who has made a huge difference in my life-despite your religious beliefs, I think she is a great resource person in terms of healing from sexual abuse.
            Press on and take care too,
            Linda

  2. Caden,

    I am new to your blog and am weeping in relief to find someone ….so sensitive. Articulate, intelligent, and: sensitive. Yes, in my family that was a type of curse-word, and used when someone had hurt a child (my brother or me), but sensitivity is a good thing, and is a real thing, not a curse like was used when you were 21 and I was 4 and onward. Sensitivity is a character trait and one that often means one can connect _deeply_ with nature, other people, art…. Someday: let’s love our character trait that’s real, while we curse the evil that was done, with that word flung upon us.

    • Thank you Jeannie. I’m so glad you get something out of my blog. Yes, sensitivity is a wonderful trait, and something that should be respected, not thrown in our faces as an excuse for the abusive behavior of other people.

      take care,
      -Caden.

  3. bloggerita7 says:

    Hi Caden,
    I just read this blog post of yours and all I can say is I know exactly what you went through. I went through similar things at the hand of my brother. I couldn’t tell my dad, but I did tell my mom and she asked me to forget it. I was also deemed weak and sensitive. Some try to still do so. Some even try to make me believe I am abnormal. I even tried to end my life. But, I found hope, a ray at the end of the tunnel. My healing is still in process and I pray you will find yourself on the path of all good things and recovery. I know you do not know me, but I will send you a big hugs anyways, cause I felt all the pain as I read your post. I will continue to read on. Go on writing, it heals! Stay strong! – bloggerita

    • Thanks so much Bloggerita, it’s great to meet you and read some of your story as well. My family also told me to just forget about what my brother did to me, and implied I was the problem for not liking him after the abuse. Those devaluing, backwards statements can be just as harmful as the sexual abuse itself. But we aren’t abnormal, wrong, or defective. I’m glad you’re still around after everything you’ve gone through and are able to stand down that legacy too. I wish you the best in your healing journey too.

      ~hugs~,
      -Caden.

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