Here is Jason's story. If you can help, please do.
Asking for financial help from family, friends and strangers is not what I want to be doing. But I am trying to put aside my pride because my family needs my help. My family has incurred significant debt helping and supporting me, and we are in a position of financial crisis, without a clear way out. Due to my current condition, I am not yet able to work and my wife is already working more than what is good for her or our children.
What I am able to offer is my story, in the hopes that it speaks to you or someone you know. If you are unable to donate financially, please consider forwarding this to others. If nothing else, I am hopeful that my story will add to people’s understanding of the impact of abuse and early childhood trauma.
Thank you for reading this.
I am a survivor of childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse. This is difficult for me to say, much less write down and have people read. I have worked hard for many years to keep this a secret from everyone- my family, my friends and even myself. Secrecy has always seemed like the best option. I put lots of energy into pretending. I built my walls high and fortified my defenses. I believed I was protecting people, people that I loved.
But secrets eat at you, and pretty soon they begin to destroy things. They destroy dreams, and plans, and relationships and then they attack your will to live. Eventually they begin to destroy the very people you were trying to protect.
6 years ago I was dying a slow and certain death from vodka. I have now learned that I was doing what so many addicts do- trying to drink my pain away. At the time I thought I was just a worthless alcoholic. I was living only to die.
The woman who is now my wife, along with my family, gently and firmly convinced me that I needed to go to a treatment center. It was a big step, and a very helpful one. At the time, I naively hoped that 60 days in treatment would be the solution to all my pain.
I have since learned that healing takes an incredibly long time.
I have also learned that early childhood trauma affects every part of your life. From my physical health, to my career - surviving through severe trauma changes you. I recently decided I needed to go back to a treatment center, not for addiction this time, but specifically to work more on trauma recovery and to begin to tackle the shame and guilt that inevitably accompany trauma. It was scary, just like the first time, but it has turned out to be invaluable.
I have been officially diagnosed with Complex PTSD, and a few other fancy terms that basically mean that I have come a long way, but have a ways to go. My wife, Jennifer, and I have been hoping and assuming that I would be able to work soon in order to alleviate the financial pressure we are under. However, I have had to accept the fact that now is not the right time for me to be taking on the responsibility of a job - beyond that of taking care of myself, and in the midst of it all, trying to be a good husband and step-father to my wife and daughters.
My therapist has told me that approximately 1 in 6 men have survived childhood sexual abuse. Few speak about it. I would prefer not to speak about it, but I refuse to hide any longer behind the shame. I wish very much that I wasn’t in a position where I need to ask for help from family and friends, but the reality is that the trauma I experienced affects me every day of my life. And getting good, experienced and professional help is expensive. Despite having moved to Canada, where the healthcare is supposed to be amazing, therapy is mostly privatized and therefore costly.
The dream I am cautiously allowing myself to have is to eventually be “well” enough to go back to school. My therapist in the treatment center strongly encouraged me to think about becoming an addictions counselor- this is something I would really like to do. I know that a significant part of my healing will be to give back. Eventually I want to be in a position to be able to help others to recognize their trauma and work through their shame. Eventually I would like to have my life back.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Thank you as well for any donation you are able to make.
For anyone interested, I am including some links that could be helpful if you or someone you love has survived trauma and abuse.
www.traumacenter.org Bessel Van Der Kolk – a leading expert on the impact of treatment. He also wrote “The Body Keeps The Score”
www.sidran.org Excellent resource on PTSD and Dissociation
www.acestoohigh.com Significant research about long term effects of childhood trauma
www.healingspringsranch.com An excellent treatment centre. Unusual because it focuses on the trauma behind addiction.