Welcome back to moodyspeaks. My wife and I just returned from an inspiring and emotional event in Charleston, South Carolina. The event was the movie premiere called the Stewards of Children. It is a training movie for sexual abuse prevention and healing. The movie featured 8 survivors including myself. The opportunity to speak with other survivors and hear their stories and see their courage was so inspiring for me. The movie will be available for viewing in the middle of October and I will post the link when it is up. The film is a great educational tool for sexual abuse prevention, how to see the signs and what to do if you suspect sexual abuse to a child. I will say I was nervous at first to watch the movie, but my fears were quickly removed as I watched the movie. It was so well done and listening to the other survivors and the information for prevention was comforting. The only real emotional moment for me was when they called us all on the stage after the premiere to get our awards for courage. As the audience stood to clap for us, the last 47 years of my life since being sexually abused raced through my mind. The survivors were a former Ms America, a 2 time Olympian medal winner, business owners, a college student and mothers.
This last year of my life has been interesting. When I started my blog in October 2012, it was to celebrate 25 years in business and tell of the journey in reaching 25 years in business. As I began to tell my story, I began to realize the impact my childhood sexual abuse had on me my entire life and affected my 25 years in business.
I begin to dig deep and peel back the layers of my life and see the damage done and I decided how do I repair this damage in my life. I realized I had a few panic attacks as a child. I had two events when I said I couldn’t breath and was rushed to the hospital. One time visiting my grand parents in Louisiana with my parents, and once in Chicago. Then when I was 15 years old, a few months shy of my 16 birthday, I started losing weight and couldn’t stop, I dropped to 135 pounds and was 6 feet tall. The doctors couldn’t find anything wrong, I didn’t have a lot of energy, I was just wasting away. I turned 16 years, got my driver’s license and all of sudden I was better. It was very weird and I always wondered why. Could it be from my childhood and the one of those moments.
The more I have peeled back the layers of my life, the more I could see the damage that was done to me. I have so many of the symptoms of a child sexual abuse victim, low self-esteem, worrier, nervousness, panic attacks, PTSD, the desire to excel at something good so I could improve my self-worth. I always felt guilty about not saying no, it was my fault, I was a coward because I let him get away. Letting him get away has been one of my toughest affects to accept. It has eaten at me for years. I often wonder did I allow a predator to continue to hurt children? This is why I think I have for years tried to solve everyone’ s problems or hurts, because I felt I needed to take away others pain or problems because I left a predator on the street because I didn’t want anyone to know what was done to me.
When I look back over my life, I know there is a God that watches over me. I know some people will say how could you say that and God let you be abused as a child. I often asked that question myself, then I reflect on all of the good in my life and how telling my story is helping others heal and hopefully someday prevent other children from being abused. God held my hand and got me through college, then architecture school, allowed me to marry the greatest woman I could have married, two great kids, great friends, build a business in a field I love. The list of great things in my life is too numerous to list. The best thing God did for me was allow me to see and know love and blessed me with a constant smile and joyful heart. The year 1992 will always be the year my faith was tested to the limit. That is the year I said for the first time to anyone I was sexually abused. I told my wife, and few months later my entire world turned upside down. I begin to have panic attacks so bad that I know only God could heal me. I had them so bad, that one day as I cried, I looked in the mirror and said Lord, I don’t know why or what is going on, but I will never give up my faith and trust in you. There is no other explanation for my recovery than God’s love, grace and mercy for me. I was in such a bad place I didn’t think I would ever recover. They were the worst ones I could have and not have a complete nervous and mental breakdown. ( Read the blog post from 1992 for more information )
Fast forward to September 30, 2013, I am now on a journey to repair myself. I am excited to try and run my business with confidence. I never had confidence the first 25 years, I was always fearful of failure and just waiting on the other shoe to drop. I have downsized my business over the last few years. I was seriously thinking about retiring because I was emotionally tired. I just wanted to take a year of doing nothing and just find myself. I thought about retiring for a few other reasons when I peel back the layers of my life. I was tired of living in fear of my childhood. I was tired of being responsible for other people lives that work for the company. I was just tired of making decisions. I felt everyone was depending on me, my parents, my wife and kids, my friends, my employees, my church, I just felt overwhelmed with responsibility. I felt it because I never forgave myself for my past. I had forgiven everyone but me.
I have realized now the most important person to forgive is me. I heard a fellow survivor say in the movie a statement that is so true. When we don’t forgive, it is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. I realized by not forgiving myself I was drinking poison and hoping someone else died. I had forgiven my abuser, but not me. I was still carrying the burden of it all and missing out on that internal peace I have always searched for in my life.
We all have a story to tell, my story has just taken longer than most, but I know it will have a happy ending. I know life will never be stress free or worry free. I am on the journey of finding myself free from my past and the releasing it day by day. I pray to God to give me at least 25 more years in business so I can see what I can do with my business with my past in the past.
I will keep you posted on my journey. I am going to take a 30 day walk about in the near future and go off the grid. I am going to go off with my wife and just enjoy nature, hike, bike and take pictures. I am going to kick-start feeling free for the first time in 47 years. I know my journey won’t be easy, but I am excited about trying. The affects of my past won’t control me forever.
Keep going for your dreams and never give up. Life is so great and worth living. We don’t only survive we can thrive with a smile. Enjoy some pictures of the movie premiere and of the city of Charleston. View the movie trailer from the premiere. Let’s protect the children. Thanks for the support. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vW4_8-tmr7g
See you in a few weeks.