The first thing my sexual abuse taught me was to bury my emotions. Mostly just the negative ones, like sadness, frustration, and anxiety. I thought that if I could keep in control all of the time over my negativity, then no one would ever know what was going on inside. The side effect of this was that I also started burying my positive emotions, like happiness, contentment, and joy. The more that I remained stoic in any situation, the more I felt like a man. This, in turn, allowed me to cover up all of the turbulence that I experienced in my emotional life.
In order to further manage my sadness and depression, I’ve been on medication for years. It has certainly been able to curb my negative emotions, but it has significantly impacted my positive emotions. If I wanted to remain stoic for the remainder of my life, then I should certainly remain on anti-depressants. However, I’m discovering that the medication, even with therapy, doesn’t always help me manage my emotions. I can gather all of the tools I can during therapy to help me communicate better and understand the emotional turmoil that my sexual abuse has caused. But if I don’t experience my emotions, I’ll never be able to use the tools to be an emotionally healthy person.
I want to emphasize here that I’m not advocating for everyone to get off their medication. I believe that my depression and anxiety are in the mild range and my more significant issues result from a lack of experience and understanding of life as a result of my sexual abuse. So, for me, I need to find the smallest dosage of medication that will allow me to work on my issues.
I need to experience sadness, loneliness, frustration, and anxiety so that I can identify what those feelings are and use the right strategies to understand them and incorporate them into my life in a healthy way. I also need to be happy, excited, hopeful, and content so that I can understand how to live in a positive way with those emotions.
Again, I encourage you, if you are struggling in any way, to find a therapist to help you with tools and strategies to live life to the fullest. Also, share those experiences with others because there is such joy in coming along side others in the victories we experience.