Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published on June 19th, 2019 and I am reposting it because anyone can be a survivor of abuse, be it mental, physical, sexual, or all of the above. Women, Men, Children, and Elders and everyone’s story is valid and important. While this is not gaming related this is my story, which I feel compelled to share for myself, my children, and our community. ~Anj
I’ve had more good days than bad ones lately, and over the last couple months I’ve made progress tackling my mental health. For every string of good days, I have times and moments like today where I feel like I’m fighting desperate actions in the dark. I’ve been confronting the ghosts of my past, opening up and revealing some of the traumas of my childhood that were buried so deep they haven’t seen daylight in more than 30 years.
Slowly but surely stripping myself bare to the emotional core and confronting my demons. Wounds that never healed, pieces of my heart and soul I stitched together with bubble gum and duct tape. Not healing just surviving, and there remains this very great ball of darkness.
I try every day to teach my kids that they are lovable, worthwhile and important people. That they are loved and each one is special and important and they should never settle for less than they deserve or put up whit people who don’t accept them for who they are.
That is what motivates this, I struggle every day with believing in myself, with feelings of worthlessness. I struggle with believing someone will chose me, that I will be the most important person to them. I’ve spent most of my life feeling like I was someone other choice, or that I wasn’t good enough or important enough. I try sometimes to hard and sometimes not hard enough to make sure my children know how much I love them and how important to me they are.
I refuse to be like my Father, who I’ve never been good enough for, or important enough to. I know my mother loves me, but I’ve always felt like the least important of her kids, the one that was just around cause she had to feed me or when I got older I was useful as a babysitter, but never really liked or that important.
I just want someone to chose me for once, I want to be selfish and have that feeling that I’m special and needed and the only one someone wants. I want love, loyalty, I want commitment, I think I’ve finally found someone who is doing that, I think she has chosen me, I hope so, but I have struggle to believe it, I struggle to believe she is telling the truth, or that she really just wants me. Not so much because I think she’s lying, but because I don’t think I am worth it, I don’t think I deserve to be loved like that.
I think she is too good for me, to special, too beautiful, too smart, too damn sexy, and just too much of good person for a lump of useless shit like me. I’m trying to believe, I’m learning to trust her, I’m trying to accept that I might actually deserve to be loved.
I could stop here I suppose, everyone will nod and be like “Hey my parents were assholes too”. But no i can’t, I have tried to advocate about Men’s mental health, shared articles and studies about the culture of silence men have been raised under.
I need to take control of my life, I am tired of being afraid, I’m tired of feeling worthless, I’m tired of feeling like I am not important, I’m tired of the darkness. I am terrible at friendships, I’ve been horrible at relationships because of fear, because of self doubts, lack of self worth. Because I didn’t think anyone would really be interested in talking to me, or caring about me, or wanting to be around me for very long. I thought I was just convenient, I thought I was just the handy guy to date, or talk to cause X person was already with someone, or Y person was busy that day. I have been terrified to let people in, terrified to be vulnerable, terrified to show people just how fragile I am, how weak I feel. Terrified to show all the scars I’ve carried. I’ve hurt people who meant to care about me, I’ve pushed away people who tried to reach me, I locked people out, I’ve shut down, I’ve built a fortress around myself and time and again it has cost me friendships, relationships, opportunities. It’s once again nearly set my life on fire. I gave up, I prepared to run away once again, I almost let the darkness win.
No more, no more running, I made a choice a few months ago, and that choice has turned my life around, and led me to this moment, to writing this. I’m done being terrified. If I go down, if I lose her, lose my job, lose everything I am going to fucking well go down fighting. I have to stand my ground and face the darkness that has chased me all my life. I have to deal with the traumas, deal with the things I was led to believe , drilled into my head. I have to exorcise the demons devouring my soul.
I was sexually molested when I was child by 3 separate people one 3 different occasions. Two were older boys, and one was an older girl. Before now I have only told a few people vaguely about one, and one person about the other, but never told anyone about all 3. The first had me convinced it was a “game” the other two used the same language.
“Let’s play the touching game, we’re friends and it will be our secret game” So exciting having a friend with a secret when you’re 7 years old. But when you finally say no your “friend” turns on you and says “Well we can’t be friends anymore, I don’t have time for a kid that doesn’t like to play, it’s not worth my time you worthless shit”
Hi, my name is Worthless Shit.
That’s who I was at 9 years old. the one who doesn’t like to play and has no friends and who nobody will really like” I hid it well, moving around helped, I went to lots of different schools when i was kid. It was easy to avoid making friends, or letting anyone get too close when I was expecting to move again. Every time I came back to Nova Scotia the kids I grew up with would mention “Wow you sure have changed” I didn’t really change, most of you never really knew me. The one person who really knew me best as a kid is no longer with us and gods I miss her. I did settle in once place for a few years and made a good friend at the time, though I never really let her in, otherwise a long string of disposable teenage girl friends when i wasn’t babysitting my siblings. Nothing lasted long, we were preteens and I’m a worthless shit, so it didn’t matter anyway.
My first really serious relationship was a flaming disaster in high school, in those days serious meant sexually active” relationship, so let’s just call it that. I’d like to take this moment to apologize. Sorry Zoe, I wasn’t a very good boyfriend, neither of us really knew what we were doing, so the fumbling was awkward and weird. At that point, Worthless Shit didn’t know how to please a woman.
Eventually, I got with the person that educated me the most about certain things and destroyed the rest of my self esteem, confidence, self worth and trained me in many of the behavioural patterns that have fucked up all my following relationships. I was emotionally and physically abused on numerous occasions. She was a master manipulator, she weaponized sex, and taught me that I was lucky she touched me at all. She taught me that I should be grateful when she allowed me to have sex with her, and that if she didn’t get her satisfaction I was failure and needed to work harder and do better at pleasing her.
She taught me that I was a failure if I couldn’t find a job, and when I got a job, she would spend every day accusing me of a cheating on her when i was at work, or making me feel guilty for leaving her alone to go to work. I lost my first job because she made me miserable and guilty and my job performance suffered. She was happy I was home for a a couple weeks, then the cycle started again and worthless shit needed to find a job because “You’re a man and you need to work so you can buy me things, I don’t want a worthless fucker, I need a man.”
Hi, my name is Worthless Fucker, who isn’t really a man, and who nobody will ever really love, or understand like she does because she is the best I will get”
Eventually I was able to work up the courage to get away from her, she was cheating on me I later discovered and of course accused me all the time of the same even though I hadn’t, but who cares about truth right? Worthless shit had left her, and most of my family blamed me and made me feel guilty, and like shit for doing so. (Note: For the most part they have since apologized) I got free, but I have carried the lessons ever since and it formed all the rest of my relationships and friendships afterwards.
I made friends sparingly and didn’t let anyone in close, in relationships I tried my very best not to ask for anything, not to expect anything. Attention I got were rewards and when asked what i wanted I would always answer “Whatever you want to do is great”. My whole purpose was to make sure I could give pleasure sexually regardless of my mood, wants, or desires. I would keep my mouth shut because I didn’t want to distract my partner, I was to focus on what I was doing and quiet and efficiently give my partner whatever made her feel good.
Money wasn’t mine to spend and when I did have money, I would buy myself cigarettes, and spend the rest of my partner when possible. I ask before I spend money, I would ask permission before I before I bought a cup of coffee, or I would skip eating to save food for everyone else. I had already learned to ignore being hungry, I was lucky to get something to eat because everyone else comes first. No these weren’t rules enforced by later relationships, these all came from either her, or my childhood.
You see, Worthless shit was lucky to get anything, lucky to get attention, lucky to be remembered, lucky to be talked to. Sometimes friends would be over and Worthless Shit would fade into the background so he wouldn’t be in the way, They were busy with their friends and Worthless was sure they would need him for something later so he would be around if called for, but made sure not to interrupt. It was interesting to sometimes be in a relationship with someone and all of that someone\’s friends. I’m glad she could talk to all her friends about me instead of too me, cause her friends obviously knew more about me than I did, but it’s okay, my feelings don’t matter and nobody chooses me first so I quietly fill my role and keep my mouth shut.
All of this nearly killed me, eventually air bubbles formed around my heart due to stress and had one of those burst I apparently would have died. I still suffer from the occasional chest pains when i get stressed out, or upset, my already too fast irregular heart hammers away and my chest cramps up and I struggle to breath. I used to run off somewhere, curl into a ball and cry my eyes out with no one noticing or seeing. I have gotten very, very good at that stoic, stone faced setting on my face. Don’t poke it though, it crumbles easy.
There, there is all is, yes things are turning around, like I said above, I’m with someone who has said the words I waited to hear. We have some ways to go before I can trust her, I don’t trust anyone completely. I trust certain people with certain things, in certain situations, but I know the limits of how far I can trust them.
The last couple of months have been some of the best of my life, I’m terrified everyday that it’s all some great mistake and she is going to catch sight of Worthless Shit behind my shit brown eyes and change her mind. We reach a point where we almost broke completely, stepped back, and started talking. We haven’t stopped since, I spent the last year building a new fortress around myself, I was preparing to be alone for the rest of my life. She has since kicked down the doors, blasted open the walls, and invaded with a loving Amazonian wrath that scares the bejesus out of me and honestly lights my fire like a plane full of napalm.
I am learning it is okay to want things, it’s okay to ask for love. I’m learning that I’m allowed to be loved, I’m allowed to say exactly what i feel, what i think, and say what i need , or say what i want. She says I’m worth it, that I deserve love and I deserve to be chosen, that I am special to her, and that she wants me, Me. I have cried more in the last few months than I have in years but it’s been therapeutic crying, not the heart broken weeping but the release of all the pressures, the releasing of all the secret scars, and facing the things I buried for so long. I’ve cried on and off while I’ve been writing this novel, it’s been rough but I feel better.
Hi, my name is David, apparently I’m worthwhile, I have ADHD, I am a father of 8 amazing children, I am a grandfather of 2 beautiful children. I have a job, I am a writer, a game journalist, a story teller, an avid video game player, audiophile, and cinema buff. I am battered, bruised, scarred, and a giant geek. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve made some stupid choices, and I’ve hurt people to create distance or lashed out because I didn’t know how to deal with people. I’m a survivor, I struggle every day to believe in myself, but I’m trying.
I’m sorry for being a horrible friend to the people who cared about me and tried to be my friend. I’m sorry to the girls I hurt as a dumb kid, and a dumb adult who didn’t communicate better. I realize how lonely I have been most of my life, and I need to make friends, make time for friends and communicate better.
I’m sorry, but I’m trying.
We have to break that culture, we have to break our socially impressed code of silence. Women are standing up, breaking their silences, they are brave beyond speaking, and examples to be followed. We as a human race, men, women, non binary, whatever you identify yourself as, deserve better from each other. I don’t want my sons and daughters or anyone’s sons and daughters to live feeling like I have most of my life or suffering under the even worse things that many others have experienced.
I know my kids may one day read this, I can’t advocate they speak up when they get hurt or bullied, and let me help them if I don’t set the example.
I need a coffee and a hug.
A lot has happened since I originally wrote and published this back in 2019, I have come a long way in my personal journey and growth. The pandemic has torn some folks apart and brought others closer together. I took up streaming and really put myself out in front of people, but more than that, I learned how to socialize again, I’ve learned to accept myself for who and what I am, and I’ve learned more about myself in the process of it all. I have heard from folks who read and appreciated sharing my story, I’ve heard the story of others, and more importantly we’re starting to see a growing movement to advocate for men’s mental health and the importance of everyone’s mental health. These are important issues, survivors have stories and it can take years before they are willing to discuss them. This doesn’t invalidate their stories or experiences, it reflects just how much damage can be done to a person and how long the road to even begin healing can take. Listen and be respectful of one another, you never know what someone else has gone through. Thank you for reading! All my love, ~Anj
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