I always wanted to be normal, but I never really got a chance.
In 4th grade an older kid in the neighborhood molested me. I knew something was off, but he convinced me this was normal. It wasn’t, and when I hit puberty in junior high I concluded I was a freak and damaged goods.
And then the bullying started. Maybe it all stemmed from a growing self-hatred, but I made a promise that no one would ever see my pain. So, I crafted a carefully designed, bullet-proof image and act.
I kept everything perfect on the outside because everything was collapsing within.
And I withdrew and became lonely, but no one knew. In between classes, I went to the bathroom to hide and wipe my face from anxiety-induced oil and sweat. I was tardy daily, hoping to avoid the dreaded section of the hallway where bullies would mock me.
Then New Year’s Eve my sophomore year came, and I no longer had friends. My parents and sister were celebrating with their friends. I was home alone watching some music video countdown.
Where were my mom’s keys? She always put them on top of the bread box. I wasn’t 16 yet, so I wasn’t going to drive. I was going to commit suicide.
I frantically looked everywhere to find them, but nothing. Finally I went down to the kitchen and pulled out a knife. I was tired of the mask. It would be better for everyone to see my misery this way. My parents would finally understand.
But, before I could do it, I laid down and started crying.
For I know the plans for you. I have plans for hope and a future.
It was the first time I heard from God. Not an audible voice, just a whisper only my soul understood. A peace came over me, a vision of hope, and it was enough for me to put the knife back in the drawer.
I would’ve missed out on so much. I would’ve missed the friends who came into my life a few months later. I would’ve missed being on student council. I would’ve missed speaking at graduation. I would’ve missed becoming radically popular in college: president of a fraternity, Greek God, Homecoming King. I would’ve missed becoming the #1 sales representative in my company. I would’ve missed winning a bodybuilding competition. I would’ve missed moving to Los Angeles, and becoming friends with other movers and shakers. I would’ve missed meeting Kristen: Miss USA, my dream girl, and now my wife. I would’ve missed the most amazing close group of friends a former lonely guy could’ve asked for.
You are not alone.
It’s the worst lie you could ever believe. Have you heard the statistics? 1 in 6 guys are sexually abused before 18, and this is probably an underestimate.
You do have hope and a future. It might seem hopeless this moment, but hold on…there is greatness waiting for you.
Is everything perfect for me now? No, but I’m on a worthwhile journey, and you can start too.
The first step starts with transparency.
It was my junior year of college when I finally opened up to my fellow campus ministry leaders. One of the girls on the team told me a few days later she was sexually abused by her dad.
The more I shared, the more I discovered there were many others battling just like me.
We’re all fighting great battles. Don’t do it alone.
Each time I’ve shared, I’ve taken another step to discovering my greatness.
One of the bullies asked me a few years ago if he was a jerk to me in high school. He apologized, and said it was because he was jealous of my accomplishments.
Have you shared?
Thank you Lewis Howes for opening up and being authentic. You’ve inspired me to write this, and I hope many more men will open up and find healing.
Thank you for allowing me to share this with you. While it’s difficult to write and share knowing it’s now solidly revealed, I hope others find hope through my story. For more information, go to RAINN.org and 1in6.org.