BEGINNING TO FEEL

For Survivors, feelings can seem like problems. Even pleasurable feelings like love and sex can be connected to painful thoughts. In a crisis, you may be experiencing distress such as flashbacks, sudden memories, and suicidal thoughts. It's understandable if all you want to do is stop feeling all together. Survivors often get into this habit of not feeling much. They may describe themselves as, 'spaced out', 'numb', 'unreal', 'not connected', 'not all there.' This 'spacing out' can take a number of forms:

Does any of this ring a bell for you?

Not feeling is a habit formed in childhood. It's easy to see why, as a boy, you may have worked out that your best way of surviving was not to have feelings

When you look at it this way, going numb is revealed as a very useful way of surviving. You did well to use it and survive. But there comes a point when it's no longer as useful. As a man, not feeling can be a handicap - one faced by many men, even those who haven't been sexually abused as boys. This is because, in our society, men are not really brought up to have many emotions. It's usually OK for them to get angry, but emotions like fear, sadness, and vulnerability are not thought manly. 'Boys don't cry', as the saying goes. Many men 'space out' from emotions because they've been taught as boys that it's wrong to show them. On top of this you've had to contend with the pain of your abuse. There are a number of problems with not being in touch with your feelings as a man:

The important thing is to get some control and start to feel your feelings. Getting control helps you to take charge of the crisis. Beginning to feel takes you through the crisis and into recovery. You're steering your life raft over the rapids and into the calmer water beyond.

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