by Cecil Murphey
I wrote an email to a hurting friend, who suffers from the effects of terrible things he’s done to others. I’m sorry for his pain, and delighted he’s facing himself. It takes courage to look at ourselves and admit that we committed acts we condemn in others. (In fact, condemning others for those very acts is often the way many try to cope with their issues.)
When I faced my childhood physical and sexual abuse, I learned an invaluable lesson. I don’t know if I read it, someone told me, or if God whispered it to me, but here’s the lesson: What we don’t receive in childhood, we spend our lives seeking—usually on an unconscious level.
Like most people I focused on the symptoms—not doing things I knew were wrong. Years ago while visiting an AA meeting, I heard the term “dry alcoholic” and that sums it up for me. Dry alcoholics no longer drink but their behavior doesn’t change.
I figured out that “unacceptable behavior” (a nice term to cover compulsive problems) is a painkiller. My dad and brothers killed their pain with beer. The most notorious gossip I’ve ever known died recently. Many times I’ve thought that carrying the latest news (true or not) gave her a sense of feeling significant, perhaps even important. The “medicine” each of them took for temporary relief usually worked temporarily.
Because of a loving God who worked in my life through my wife and my best friend, I was able to accept, struggle, and to have those needs fulfilled.
I was a lonely kid who felt different from those around him. When I was 18 months old, a dog attacked me and left terrible scars on my face. Plastic surgery took care of most of the visible scars, but the invisible ones remained for years.
The worst part of my childhood is that I never felt loved. As I ponder some of the things I did which made me feel guilty and ashamed, I now say to myself, “It was my way of searching for what I didn’t receive as a child.”
I’m probably no different from some of you, so I repeat the sentence that pushed me to face reality: What we don’t receive in childhood, we spend our lives seeking—usually on an unconscious level.