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Breaking The Cycle (21)

The events at Penn State may have been a trigger for many men. This article address how to help them begin, or continue to heal.

This article may not have the festive cheer I would hope for this time of year. Unfortunately my mind has been occupied and my heart heavy with the news of scandal at Penn State. This article will be an important on to remember as you gather this season with your friends and family for all of the men in you life, or yourself.

Anyone who has suffered trauma or abuse knows how hard it is on relationships, on you, on loved ones, and on your recovery. But there is hope for healing for you and for those you love. Part 4 and the final installment in a series on the necessity of trauma-informed recovery.

If there is one message I truly wish to impart to anyone who has been reading this series, it is this: you can heal from the effects of trauma, even devastating trauma, and there is hope for you and/or the person you love. And so, it is important that we do all we can to recognize the effect of trauma on our lives and the lives of our loved ones.

We know that approximately 75% of those who enter treatment for addiction have experienced at least one kind of abuse. So why are we still not talking about it? And why are there so few addiction curricula out there that are truly trauma-informed?

I was recently invited to speak at an event in the same small Virginia town where I started my recovery journey and had the chance to be with some of the people with whom I first got sober 17 years ago. There were the guys I called the Fantastic Four: my first sponsor, my first best friend in sobriety, the man who taught me how to say “Hi” to other people, and the man who had what I wanted. And there were the incredible women—especially Mama T and all the adopted grandmas.

Author Dan Griffin shares his personal journey with violence and explains why it is essential for those in recovery to be trauma-informed.

My passion in looking at men and trauma comes primarily from my personal experience as a young boy, first growing up in a violent alcoholic home and then having to deal with the impact of that trauma long into my thirties — and long into my sobriety. I still have vivid memories sitting on the top stair outside of my parents’ bedroom, hearing my mother screaming and crying as I was trying to get up the nerve to open the door or bang on it, once they/he had finally gotten smart enough to lock it. Or crying myself to sleep through the only slightly muffled sound of my parents yelling, cursing, and belittling each other — only to pretend like nothing had happened the next day. Or my Dad grabbing me by my leg as I was trying to get away from him,pulling me down the stairs and then proceeding to hit me. I could go on.

It doesn’t take much to figure out why many men are so resistant to therapy. We come by it naturally. From the time we are boys and all through adulthood, we are literally trained not to do anything that remotely resembles therapy. Think about the expectations for therapy or any form of personal growth: Ask for help? Uh, no – not even directions. Talk about feelings? Feelings, what are those? The thought of it just makes me mad! Be vulnerable? No thanks, that doesn’t help me; that is for women and girly-men. Talk about the past? Get over it.

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