Dear Fellow Survivor Blog: Leaning on my brothers

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Dear Fellow Survivor Series - Leaning on My Brothers - freedomforcaptives.com/

Summary

This is a blog post series by the author who wrote the devotion series "Dear Survivor". Follow along as he blogs about the background of his experience on his continued journey of healing.

Dear fellow survivor,

Last week, I wrote to you about the group of friends (I call them my brothers) whom I have gathered around myself to help me bear my burden. This week, I had planned to talk to you about the specific benefits I derive from having this group of brothers who help me bear my burden. I wanted to talk about how being able to talk to them helps remove the shame I might otherwise feel, since if I can talk about something I don’t need to be ashamed of it. I wanted to talk about giving yourself the gift of vulnerability.

But then I woke up this morning.

A little background first. My mind finally seems to be starting to let go of the horrible lie that has imprisoned me for almost four decades. I’m not going to express that lie right now, since even to mention it gives it more power to hold onto my mind. But, given what I’ve written in the past, you probably can guess what that lie is. That lie has caused me enormous pain for a very long time. But my mind was familiar with it.

Now, my mind is moving into new and unfamiliar territory.

Unfamiliar is uncomfortable, and uncomfortable feels unsafe. When I feel unsafe, my mind goes into self-defense mode. And that is what’s happening right now.

I met with my therapist yesterday. He confirmed my evaluation of what’s going on and encouraged me to do everything I can NOT to think too much about this. What I need to do right now is not think but do. No assessments, just observations. Be OK with being uncomfortable in this unfamiliar territory because eventually the unfamiliar will become familiar, and familiar will become comfortable, and comfortable will feel safe. So that’s what I’m really working to do right now.

What follows is a long series of text messages I sent to four of my brothers from the time I woke up this morning until the time I was sitting in my car after my morning workout at the gym. The messages will describe what I was going through.

And, I pray, they will show you much better than I could ever describe how valuable it is to have a close group of brothers or sisters who are there to help you carry your burden. I could not have made it through this morning without my brothers there. And, in case you’re wondering, they were totally fine with me starting to text them at 5 AM. They are my brothers, and they are there for me.

The big LIEI pray that my experience with my brothers will encourage you to build your own group of brothers and sisters on whom you can lean when you are struggling.

You are not alone. Please, dear brothers and sisters, don’t try to carry your burden as if you are all alone.

In Christ,

Your Brother Survivor

 

 

5 AM. Alarm goes off. The VERY first thought in my head is the lie that has tormented me for so long. Satan has put it there. He knows I’m starting to heal. He hates that and will do everything he can to prevent it.

I immediately grab my phone and start texting my brothers.

 

Brothers, please pray for me. The very moment I woke up, Satan greeted me with what I’m calling the big lie. I’m not going to say what it is. You know what I’m talking about. I am fighting really hard right now. I’m still in bed, but before I get up, I’m going to breathe for a few minutes and inhabit my body. Then I’m going to say my prayers, get up and go exercise. No thinking. Just doing.This lie is a lie and I’m not going to let it have any power over me. No thinking. Just doing.

Dear God, please help me! I know you’re with me. I’m going to trust in you to give me everything I need to overcome this lie.

Thank you, brothers, for being there.

Just got done with my breathing. What did I observe? I observed a whole lot of tension throughout my body. No assessment. Just observation. I’m feeling afraid. But it’s ok. No thinking. Just doing. Prayers next. Then exercise.

[I say Luther’s Morning Prayer and text my brothers:] In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.(I am baptized.)I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, your dear Son, that you have kept me this night from all harm and danger. Keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please you. Into your hands I commend my body and soul and all things. Let your holy angel be with me, that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.

[I say the Lord’s Prayer, and text:] … but deliver us from evil…Ok. Off to the gym.No thinking. Just doing.

[I arrive at the gym.]

My heart is heavy. My jaw is tense. I can feel the tension throughout my body. I am afraid. But it’s ok. No assessment. Just observation. No thinking. Just doing. Off to do my upper body workout.

God is with me. He knows my fear. He knows how to carry me. He has given me this wonderful body and now he’s going to help me use it and inhabit it.

It’s ok. Everything will be ok.

[I start to work out. I’m having trouble breathing.]

I hate this feeling. It’s hard to breathe. Need to breathe. It’s ok.

Skipping “Big Time” by Peter Gabriel in today’s workout soundtrack. Don’t need that word pounded into my ears right now.Depeche Mode. That’s better.

What am I learning here? I’m learning that I can feel like this, feel this fear, and everything is still OK. I’m not being harmed. I’m safe. The world is going on. I’m going on.Positive experiences build new beliefs.

Experiences can be positive even when I’m scared out of my wits and really uncomfortable.

I feel like crap. But everything is still OK. This won’t feel safe unless I stick it out. I can do this. God is with me. I am a grown man. Everything is ok.

“Secret World” by Peter Gabriel on the soundtrack right now. [This was the song that my wife and I had our first dance to at our wedding reception.] Dancing with my wife at my wedding. New story. No fear.

Mind calming. Keep moving.

Feeling like crying right now. Can’t tell if it’s from fear or from perhaps a release from the fear. Doesn’t matter. Keep moving.Just don’t want to cry in front of everyone here.

Too late.

Yeah, I’m crying. So what. If anyone notices, so what. It’s ok. Everything is going to be ok.

I don’t have time for this.

No. I DO have time for this. I need to do this. I need to go through this. I won’t feel safe unless I go through this.

Keep moving through the tears. It’s ok. It really is ok.

Tears drying. Breath calming. Fear still there. But it’s ok. Keep moving.

Weights done. Walking now. Not crying anymore, but feeling close to starting again. It’s ok.

I feel a little calmer. Fear still there. But I’m still here too. I’m going on. It’s ok.

“I’m Not Scared” by The Pet Shop Boys on the soundtrack right now. Very appropriate.

Brothers, I’m not going to apologize for taking you along with me this morning. Part of me feels like I should apologize. But I won’t. That’s why you’re here. Thanks for being there.

I’m feeling calmer now. Tears have stopped and I don’t feel them on the verge of returning. Fear is still there, but I’m surviving. It hasn’t killed me. It won’t kill me.

Going to go into the locker room now to shower and get ready for the day. I’ll let you know when I get out safely—because I will get out safely.

I’m a grown man and a child of God in Jesus, my Brother. Yes, I’m afraid. But that’s ok. And Jesus is ok with that too. He is with me and loves me. Everything is going to be OK.

Ok. Gotta stop before I start crying again.

“Forgotten Years” by Midnight Oil just came on my soundtrack. Need to listen to that. Then I’ll go into the locker room. Keep moving. You’re ok. Everything is going to be ok.

Pictures newlywed me dancing to this song with joyful, reckless abandon at his wedding.

Ok. Here I go into the locker room. I’m a grown man and a child of God, even with this fear. It’s all going to be ok.

I’m safe in my car. I made it. I am safe. Still afraid. But I am safe.

Thankfully not many other guys were in the locker room at the same time as I was. So I didn’t have to struggle with that.Continued to struggle with myself instead. The “p” word and the “s” word—and the two of them together—came rushing into my head. So, I worked really hard not to think, just do. I brushed my teeth. Felt the toothbrush on my teeth and gums.Went into the shower. Really had to work hard not to think, just do. Of course, I was naked. Body dysmorphia was strong. Really strong. No thinking. Just doing. I washed my hair. Felt my fingers working in the shampoo. Felt my fingernails on my scalp. Rinsed. Felt the water run over my head and face. Picked up the bar of soap. Left arm. Felt the soap on my arm. Chest. Had to go and wash down there too. Couldn’t skip it. I was sweaty down there as well. Tried to do it without thinking too much about it. No thinking, just doing. Up to the right arm. Face. Rinse. Water pouring over my body.Got out of the shower. Dried off. Got dressed. And now here I am, safe in the car, still scared, but ok.

The rest of the day lies ahead. And just as God was with me so far, he will continue to be with me. I’m afraid, but that’s ok. I am a grown man and a child of God in Jesus, my brother. I am safe. Everything is going to be OK.

Thank you, brothers, for walking with me this morning. Blessings on your day.

 

 

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