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Trigger Points Anthology

Breaking the silence, Breaking the cycle of abuse

Fathering As A Survivor – Matt

In searching for fathers to reach out to about the Fathering as a Survivor series, I came across Matt’s website Surviving My Past. His writings and podcasts quickly grabbed me. One article that drew me in right away was titled Breaking down barriers – Talking with my kids about my past.

“Other than sharing my story with my sister-in law previously, this is the first I will speak of this abuse in person to anyone other than my therapist J. Talking about it in the safe confines of her office is one thing, but talking to my own kids, I can feel the anxiety rising by the minute. I know I need to do this though.”  Breaking Down Barriers – Talking with my kids about my past                                            ~Matt

I would highly recommend reading this piece. I know many in the Trigger Points community  will identify with his fears and the results of having that difficult conversation with his children. Thank you Matt, for being a part of the Fathering as a Survivor interview series.


matt

1. Before becoming a father, did you look forward to becoming a parent?

Sure, I was excited to have kids and build our own little family with my wife. Our first was a honeymoon baby. Plans changed quite quickly from what we envisioned our lives being and the timetable we had set for ourselves out of the gate.

2. How did you feel when you first learned you were going to be a father? Did you have any specific fears and/or joys?

Scared to death as the time got closer to my first child being born. At first it was all, yeah this is cool we’re having a baby, it’ll be great! I will love this child, we’ll do fun things together, make awesome memories, and she will be loved and cared for no matter what.

When she was born though, I was scared to death. I had no idea what I was doing and how to raise a kid. What was I thinking? This little child is completely helpless and dependent on me and my wife to take care of her. Talk about anxiety!

3. Were there any triggers that came up for you while your partner was pregnant?

Mostly when people would talk about how babies cry all the time, never sleep when you sleep, and grow out of clothes faster than you can buy them. They would say this in jest but it was trigger for me because I had no idea how I would handle it all.

4. What has surprised you most about parenthood?

How I just seem to be able to figure it out as I go along. There is no manual on how to raise a kid. Sure there are books and people have view points on how to deal with this situation or that situation, but when it comes right down to it, we as parents just kind of figure it out. There is trial and error and you learn from mistakes and “what I should have said or done,” but children are forgiving and just want love and to feel safe. You’re bound to screw up as a parent, it’s going to happen, but you learn from it and pass along your knowledge.

5. What acts of parenting have led you to be triggered? Examples could be disciplining, bathing, showing affection/touching, etc. Have you learned anything from these triggers about your own fears, or the parts of you that still need healing?

Mostly dealing with bullying issues in school. I was bullied big time in late elementary and middle school. When my two sons experienced that it just broke my heart and infuriated me at the same time. I wanted to save them, encourage them, build them up, and let them know above all else they were amazing, loved, and special. I would go to bat for them in a second, every time. I couldn’t be there every second of the day though and I couldn’t stop the bullying from happening every time. That’s hard to handle.

6. What is the greatest lesson you have learned from your child(ren)?

Unconditional love and never giving up. I went through tough times after my first marriage ended in divorce. I was in a bad place with alcohol and being around the wrong people. I wasn’t spending enough time with my kids yet they always loved me. They always had a smile, hug, and a kiss for me. No matter what they never gave up on me and I’m so grateful. Eternally grateful for that. I love them more than anything.

7. What would you tell another survivor father who is expecting their first child?

Being a father is the most honorable and amazing thing in the world, but also the most terrifying. You can’t save your kids from everything. They will face trials and hurt and they will need you to be there for them. Encourage them, love them, validate them. Never, ever invalidate a child’s needs.

You have been given the most honorable gift in the world, the gift of mentoring a young innocent mind. Take it seriously but don’t take yourself so seriously that you don’t enjoy the little things that a child will bring into your life every day. Laugh a lot, embrace the craziness and know that your job is the most important one in the world to that child.

Bio. 

Matt lives in Pennsylvania with his three amazing kids. He is a lifelong rocker and founder of SurvivingMyPast.Net – My Life with Dissociation, Anxiety, and PTSD.

Twitter – @SurvivingMyPast

To hear more about the unique challenges parenting survivors face, get your copy of Trigger Points: Childhood Abuse Survivors Experiences of Parenting, available on Amazon.

Trigger_points_square_thumbnailHere’s what readers are saying:

“The book so many of us looked for and craved and ached for. And couldn’t find.” ~Christine W.

“I work as a psychologist and a researcher. …This book made me a better researcher because it gave me dozens of hints to study different aspects of abused parents’ emotions.
But most importantly, it made a better father because it helped me reflect on my experience as a parent through the memories of my own childhood.”  ~Luca

“This book has been a life changing revelation for me!”

“What I find most impressive – aside from the raw, honest writing – is how the editors chose to include journal prompts and several different types of resources for readers. This is a workbook, really. Incredibly well-written and thoughtfully arranged.” Beth T.

Finally a book where parents who have experience CSA can go from essay to poem to essay and say “me too.”    ~Lara 

Join the Trigger Points community on Facebook and Twitter

Fathering as a Survivor – Ray Charles

In preparing to publish today’s interview by Ray Charles, I watched a video Ray created in collaboration with Shatterboys UK, a respected peer run support network for male survivors of sexual abuse. The video is Ray’s story, in his words. It’s not an easy, feel-good listen; however, it is one of the most raw and truthful depictions of what it is like for survivors of sexual abuse I’ve ever heard. It may be triggering for some, as it was for me, but by the end it was hope I was left feeling.

We are so honored to have Ray’s participation in this series. His story and the responses to our questions offer such insight in to what adulthood and fatherhood are like for abuse survivors. Ray’s dedication to raising awareness by using his own experiences are incredibly selfless and admirable. We thank you, Ray.


1. Before becoming a father, did you look forward to becoming a parent?

I was kind of numb about it. At the time of both my kids being born, I was undisclosed and in a dark place, sometimes light but surrounded by what I know now as triggers. I never gave as much love as I should have. I didn’t have it to give.

2. How did you feel when you first learned you were going to be a father? Did you have any specific fears and/or joys?

Obviously, my fear was that my kid would be exposed to this shit world. I was happy at the prospect but the whole thing was beyond my comprehension. I was an island really.

3. Were there any triggers that came up for you while your partner was pregnant?

It’s tough to answer as it was 25 years ago and I was really fucked up back then–drinking, being super selfish. I guess I did fear the event happening, mainly because I knew I wasn’t worthy. The pregnancy didn’t hold any specicfics that I recall.

ray charles
Ray and his grandson.

4. What has surprised you most about parenthood?

How much I regret missing them grow up. How much of an old turkey they think I am! How much I love my grandson..like melty ..slushy ..tear inducing love. He’s just the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I KNOW he will be safe!!

5. What acts of parenting have led you to be triggered? Examples could be disciplining, bathing, showing affection/touching, etc. Have you learned anything from these triggers about your own fears, or the parts of you that still need healing?

Can’t say I had issues with any of these. I was/am strict, which at the time seemed harsh to them and their mother but… they didnt know what I knew.

6. What is the greatest lesson you have learned from your child(ren)?

I genuinely do not know. I’ll think about it for a while.

7. What would you tell another survivor father who is expecting their first child?

You have 9 months and counting to help yourself to try and climb out of your own issues (sounds easy, its not). This little person will need you forever. Seek help. Be open with those around you about all and any issues you may have — bathing, touching, affection — because you cant run away from them. If I’d have had some kind of advice back then who knows what would have been different. You are a survivor. Your kid will love you regardless of your foibles. It’s a great opportunity to heal some more and be happy.

You can follow Ray on Twitter
We recommend checking out Shatterboys UK on Twitter as well.

To hear more about the unique challenges parenting survivors face, get your copy of Trigger Points: Childhood Abuse Survivors Experiences of Parenting, available on Amazon.

Trigger_points_square_thumbnailHere’s what readers are saying:

“The book so many of us looked for and craved and ached for. And couldn’t find.” ~Christine W.

“I work as a psychologist and a researcher. …This book made me a better researcher because it gave me dozens of hints to study different aspects of abused parents’ emotions.
But most importantly, it made a better father because it helped me reflect on my experience as a parent through the memories of my own childhood.”  ~Luca

“This book has been a life changing revelation for me!”

“What I find most impressive – aside from the raw, honest writing – is how the editors chose to include journal prompts and several different types of resources for readers. This is a workbook, really. Incredibly well-written and thoughtfully arranged.” Beth T.

Finally a book where parents who have experience CSA can go from essay to poem to essay and say “me too.”    ~Lara 

Join the Trigger Points community on Facebook and Twitter

Fathering as a Survivor – Jeff Glover

Today, We are sharing with you an interview with fathering-survivor Jeff Glover. Jeff is a father to two, an active member of the malesurvivor.org community and a writer of poetry at rendered heart. Jeff’s answers to our questions open my eyes to many ideas I had never considered, which is exactly what we had hoped for with this interview series. Thank you Jeff, for being a part of this important conversation.


 

1.  Before becoming a father, did you look forward to becoming a parent?

As a young man I totally wanted to be a dad. It seems odd to say but I wanted to know it could be done. My father was verbally and emotionally abusive and even outside the sexual abuse my life was confusion …chaos really. I had tremendous fears about it but I wanted kids much more than a wife! Dealing with adults has always been more difficult for me and especially women because my first abusers were women. By far the hardest part was finding a woman who could deal with me where I was then.

2.  How did you feel when you first learned you were going to be a father? Did you have any specific fears and/or joys?

When I found out my wife was pregnant my biggest fear was that my wife and I might not remain married. The thought of not being there always to protect my child, and the idea of someone else touching them or caring for them was terrifying. Further along in the pregnancy when some difficulties came along, the guilt was unbearable.

3.  Were there any triggers that came up for you while your partner was pregnant?

Sex did this… I did this and now it was going to destroy the one person who could love me. Once again sex had proven dangerous and ultimately an enemy. I hated myself for doing that to her. Any real joy about the pregnancy was shut down immediately. I knew that if something happened to make us lose [the baby], I could never bear that and so I wouldn’t engage. There was a constant fear that I was not good enough to be a dad, that I would become a victimizer. And all of the medical touching and probing of the body it was like I gave her to the abusers. To this day the day my first child was born is to me …. The worst day I EVER lived through.

“I learned that as I teach my child, I learn a lot more myself…. If I will listen”

4.  What has surprised you most about parenthood?

What surprised me most was that I was good enough. It surprised me that the do over was possible and that because I knew so much of what not to do it helped me to know what to do. It surprised me that even though I would freak at ANY imagined inappropriate touch or anything like it. I could play with them and wrestle and give them the attention I so wanted. It surprised me that there are ways to keep myself sane and still see them grow and be healthy.

5.  What acts of parenting have led you to be triggered? Have you learned anything from these triggers about your own fears, or the parts of you that still need healing?

I found that being angry with the kids was triggering to me. I never allowed myself to discipline the kids while angry and felt compelled to explain in great detail what the discipline was all about. My own parents, my mother specifically lashed out in a rage and hit me with anything that was handy and it made the whole experience insane to me and touching was nearly UN allowed. I found that I was compelled to hug my kids and show intense affection. All of the interactions with my children taught me a LOT about areas of my life that were still raw. Unfortunately, it took me many years to seek help.

6.  What is the greatest lesson you have learned from your child(ren)?

I have learned more lessons than I can count. I have learned what trust looks like, and love that is truly safe. I learned that what I can manage to give to a life can pay back many fold. That God exists and that he is amazing. I learned that as I teach my child, I learn a lot more myself…. If I will listen

7.  What would you tell another survivor father who is expecting their first child?

I would tell him to brace himself! The journey has been the most intense that anyone could imagine. But for all the pain and fear and yes face it the vampire syndrome you are not destined to be like them. In fact, the do over is possible. We can imagine what it might have been like to be untouched and give our kids that opportunity, but do beware there is an odd jealousy that happens sometimes, a longing for our past to have been different.

Bio:

jeff glover2Jeff is a father of two and a moderator for malesurvivor.org, where men from around the world come together to share their experiences and help each other heal from the trauma of sexual abuse. He is also a writer, using poetry to express the chaos of emotions felt by many survivors of abuse, helping others to connect with deeper hurts they find difficult to express. Through his talent with words, strong faith and the support of his loving wife, Jeff works with the team at malesurvivor.org to help forge a path to healing for thousands of men. To see more of his work and connect with other brave survivors, please head to www.rendedheartpoetry.wordpress.com and look out for Jeff’s first book which he is diligently working toward finishing”


To hear more about the unique challenges parenting survivors face, get your copy of Trigger Points: Childhood Abuse Survivors Experiences of Parenting, available on Amazon.

Trigger_points_square_thumbnailHere’s what readers are saying:

“The book so many of us looked for and craved and ached for. And couldn’t find.” ~Christine W.

“I work as a psychologist and a researcher. …This book made me a better researcher because it gave me dozens of hints to study different aspects of abused parents’ emotions.
But most importantly, it made a better father because it helped me reflect on my experience as a parent through the memories of my own childhood.”  ~Luca

“This book has been a life changing revelation for me!”

“What I find most impressive – aside from the raw, honest writing – is how the editors chose to include journal prompts and several different types of resources for readers. This is a workbook, really. Incredibly well-written and thoughtfully arranged.” Beth T.

Finally a book where parents who have experience CSA can go from essay to poem to essay and say “me too.”    ~Lara 

Join the Trigger Points community on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

Fathering as a Survivor — Byron Hamel

We are kicking off the Fathering as a Survivor series today with someone we consider a true warrior in the fight to raise awareness for parenting survivors, a great dad and a friend of the Trigger Points community. Byron Hamel of Trauma Dad speaks openly and honestly about the challenges he faces as a father and a survivor.

“I grew up severely abused by a father figure who was put to death for infanticide. Left with traumatic stress, depression, and an eating disorder, I’m determined to be the best dad I can possibly be to my two girls.”                             ~Byron Hamel

byron hamelWe are so lucky to have Byron participate in the interview series and to offer us a look in to what Fathering as a Survivor means to him.

1.    Before becoming a father, did you look forward to becoming a parent?

Before becoming a father, I thought long and hard about the decision.  Most of what I knew about parenting came from very broken people.  I felt that, because of my horror of an upbringing, my children could potentially have an awful childhood too.  I loved them too much even before they existed to put them through that.  For awhile, I did not want children at all.  That’s something I’m going to recommend.  If you don’t want to have kids, DON’T HAVE KIDS.

I really did want to have kids.  I just didn’t want to end up being terrible to them or something.  So instead of deciding not to have children at all, I decided that the only way I would choose to have children would be if I was emotionally and psychologically mature enough to have them.  If I couldn’t get there, I would not have kids at all.

I knew I’d have to work harder than people with good childhoods.  I knew that I needed to make damn sure that I myself would never be an abusive parent.  So I worked very hard to improve my character.  I did everything I could to become a better person, so that I could be a good daddy.  I stayed clean and sober.  I practiced kindness.  I found ways to serve others with no expectations of reward.  I brought myself to account for any good or bad that I may have done in the run of a day.  I researched and delved into various religions and philosophies, and developed wisdom and skills I could pass on to my children.

I knew my abuse had a very deep effect on me, so I dug deep and dealt with a lot of issues I had related to my own abuse as a child.  Finally, after much work, self-control, patience, and learning to love myself, I was in fact ready.  I was excited about becoming a daddy.

2.    How did you feel when you first learned you were going to be a father? Did you have any specific fears and/or joys?

I planned both of my daughters with the person who was my spouse at the time.  My deepest fear about becoming a dad was that I might not be able to show a deep love to my child.  My relationship with love was quite broken, having spent my entire childhood never feeling what love was like.  That proved to be an irrational fear though.  Knowing my children has taught me what true love is.  The love I receive from my children is the greatest joy I have ever known.

I don’t think that love magically appeared.  It came from developing myself enough to recognize the love that inherently could exist between myself and my children.

3.    Were there any triggers that came up for you while your partner was pregnant?

I always feared losing the baby, which was a normal fear I suppose, especially because we did have some deeply sad miscarriages.  I wasn’t prepared for how devastating those miscarriages would feel.  The losses made me feel as though I had somehow failed the children while they were still in the womb.

The depth of my feeling of failure was something I knew was related to my being abused as a child.  It was an extreme level of self-blame, and out of sync with the reality that I could not have done anything to prevent the miscarriages.  After much emotional devastation and opening up with others who had gone through these things, I realized that miscarriages are sad, but a very natural thing that happens to a lot of people.

4.    What has surprised you most about parenthood?

I am surprised by how good I am at being a daddy.  I’m amazing!  No really, I am.  I’m very involved, but I don’t hover.  I give them lots of freedom to learn and do things their own ways.  In truth, I’m not sure it’s normal for most dads to be as involved, from what I can see, but I like my way of doing things better, because I get a lot out of it.  Time with your children is a precious thing, and has a lot to offer the parent too.  I really do see a lot of dads who aren’t getting as much out of being a daddy as they could be, and that’s sad to me.

I honestly think most people believe an abused boy is inherently going to become an abusive or neglectful dad.  I gotta call bullshit on that one, because I really am great, and my abuser went to death row for how he treated children.

But to be a great dad, when you are a product of abuse, you have to put in all that hard work.  More than most people put in.  You also have to be there for your kids every step of the way during their lives.  Sure, you can relax sometimes, but your number one job is to simply be there for them, whether they realize they need you or not.

My kids adore me, and I’m their hero.  I’m good at educating them, protecting them, nurturing their little hearts and minds.  I’m good at telling them stories and singing to them.  I’m an exceptional book reader, because of all my time voice acting in radio (and acting school, I suppose).  I’m good at counseling them through any emotional issues they come to me with.  I’m good at listening, cooking, baking, and playing with them.  I’m surprisingly good at correcting behavioral issues with productive and reasonable solutions, and I’m REALLY REALLY REALLY great at loving them unconditionally.

5.    What acts of parenting have led you to be triggered? Examples could be disciplining, bathing, showing affection/touching, etc. Have you learned anything from these triggers about your own fears, or the parts of you that still need healing?

I was drowned nearly to death in a pool by my main abuser, and to this day, I will not take my own children swimming.  Pools are terrifying to me.  That makes me feel like a coward and a failure.  But I do what I have to do, and simply avoid taking them to pools, in order to stay healthy and maintain more important functions, such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, playing, etc.

Playing with them can be hard when they scream loudly.  Sometimes their happy screams make me remember how I felt when I was a kid screaming my scared and in-pain screams.  I didn’t play with my parents.  I hid from them, or got beaten.  A scream doesn’t mean “happy” to my brain.  It means other things.  But I let my kids scream happily.  I developed an effective precaution for that.  I simply carry earplugs in my pocket at all times.  I put them in my ears whenever we’re about to play, and then we can all pillow fight to our hearts’ content, with no triggering whatsoever.

6.    What is the greatest lesson you have learned from your child(ren)?

My oldest daughter taught me that love doesn’t need to be limited.  She once said to me, “I have enough love for everybody in world!”  I think she’s right.  And I think that, jaded as I am, I could stand to make more space in my heart too.  My younger daughter taught me to beware of children who are too quiet in the playroom.

7.    What would you tell another survivor father who is expecting their first child?

You are not the people who abused you.  You are your own person.  You are responsible for your own life.  If you have not corrected your own behavior, get on it.  I can help you.  Instinct and behavior are NOT the same.  Thinking horrible thoughts doesn’t make you a bad person.  Doing horrible things DOES.  Either way, if you do think horrible thoughts, you have a lot of work to do.  Don’t be ashamed of seeking professional help, or confiding in a trusted person who has been through what you’ve been through.

People are going to gaslight you.  They are going to try to make you seem awful because of what you have been through.  They won’t care that you’ve been through enough already.  You and I both know there are lots of people who like to hurt other people.  They will use your history and vulnerabilities to hurt you.  Especially your in-laws.  They will likely do it more than others will.

NEVER put your kids in the middle of any of your social and/or family problems.  Always do what’s right for your kids, even if it’s embarrassing or humiliating for you.  Their well-being and happiness is more important than yours.  You take the brunt of the hurt.  You eat the burnt pancakes.  Not them.  You protect them.  You love them.  You see them through, and you treat them like the treasure they are.  Do all that, and you will be a hero.  That’s what a daddy is.

Bio:

Byron Hamel was raised by a violent man who got the death penalty for torturing and killing a baby.  As a result of his upbringing, Byron dedicates his life to fighting child abuse.  He lives with Complex PTSD, Depression, and Anorexia, but is still an amazing dad to his two lovely daughters.

An award-winning Canadian journalist, and television producer, his documentary film, “A Breaking Cycle”, is a powerful journey into the world of tough bikers who protect abused kids.

Byron is currently writing for his blog Trauma Dad.
Follow Trauma Dad on Facebook and Twitter.


To hear more about the unique challenges parenting survivors face, get your copy of Trigger Points: Childhood Abuse Survivors Experiences of Parenting, available on Amazon.

Trigger_points_square_thumbnailHere’s what readers are saying:

“The book so many of us looked for and craved and ached for. And couldn’t find.” ~Christine W.

“I work as a psychologist and a researcher. …This book made me a better researcher because it gave me dozens of hints to study different aspects of abused parents’ emotions.
But most importantly, it made a better father because it helped me reflect on my experience as a parent through the memories of my own childhood.”  ~Luca

“This book has been a life changing revelation for me!”

“What I find most impressive – aside from the raw, honest writing – is how the editors chose to include journal prompts and several different types of resources for readers. This is a workbook, really. Incredibly well-written and thoughtfully arranged.” Beth T.

Finally a book where parents who have experience CSA can go from essay to poem to essay and say “me too.”    ~Lara 

 

Male Survivors to Speak About Fatherhood.

Excitement is building as we get ready to share the Fathering As A Survivor series with you next month. Men openly talking about challenges of fatherhood is somewhat rare in our culture. To hear from men who have had to overcome traumatic childhoods, in order to become the kind of father they may or may not realize they were meant to be is unheard of.

That is why this particular series is so important to us. We are so encouraged by the fathers who are willing to share their answers to our questions. It is our hope that a connection with their stories will be made, and will offer validation for those who can identify.

Here’s a sneak peak at what’s to come.

byron hamel.jpgByron Hamel of Trauma Dad was one of the first fathers I thought of to include in the series, because of his raw, honest and empowering voice on the topic. When asked, “Before becoming a father, did you look forward to becoming a parent?”…he answered:

Before becoming a father, I thought long and hard about the decision. Most of what I knew about parenting came from very broken people. I felt that, because of my horror of an upbringing, my children could potentially have an awful childhood too. I loved them too much even before they existed to put them through that. For awhile, I did not want children at all.  That’s something I’m going to recommend. If you don’t want to have kids, DON’T HAVE KIDS.

shatter boysRay Charles of Shatter Boys UK replied to our question, “What acts of parenting have led you to be triggered? Examples could be disciplining, bathing, showing affection/touching, etc. Have you learned anything from these triggers about your own fears, or the parts of you that still need healing?” with this:

Can’t say I had issues with any of these. I was/am strict which at the time seemed harsh to them and their mother, but they didn’t know what I knew.

“… but they didn’t know what I knew.” I thought that was so powerful. I think even for those who have been able to talk to your partner or loved ones about your experiences leading up to parenthood, it may still feel or be impossible to help them understand. And so we’re judged. And that’s tough.

jeff gloverLastly, I’ll share a quote from Jeff Glover that struck such a chord with me, for its vulnerability and ability to speak to something so many parenting survivors have in common. I just love his answer to the question: “What has surprised you most about parenthood?”

What surprised me most was that I was good enough. It surprised me that the do over was possible and that because I knew so much of what not to do it helped me to know what to do. It surprised me that even though I would freak at ANY imagined inappropriate touch or anything like it, I could play with them and wrestle and give them the attention I so wanted. It surprised me that there are ways to keep myself sane and still see them grow and be healthy.

If you are interested in participating in the Fathering as a Survivor Series, there is still time. To learn how, read our original call for submissions. We have extended the deadline until June 10th.

Joyelle and I know how craved and important this discussion is to have and to share. We are honored to bring these brave dad’s voices to our readers, and those who are searching for voices that reflect their own.

You can help us pass the mic and give father survivors an opportunity to offer their insight for new and fellow dads by sharing our call for submissions. Here’s a shortened link for easier sharing: http://bit.ly/1M8jjCJ.

We can’t wait to share these highlighted interviews in their entirety, along with the other interviews we have lined up with you through out the month of June.

Stay Tuned!

 

 

 

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