Between 2000 and 2012 I was the victim of domestic abuse. As a man, it was not something I would admit, even to myself, because I was taught that guys should be tough and in control. My family told me so, especially during all I was going through. The expectation was that I should be able to handle myself and my family. After all, I was a man. I was supposed to be strong and independent, not weak and needy.
I was an embarrassment. I was figuratively bent over and fucked again and again because I believed my being subservient to my wife was the only way I could continue to see my son. That’s a hard sentence to write and a hard thing to admit. However, I can write this today because I was able to let go of the guy who couldn’t talk about these problems. I was able to stop blaming myself for a situation over which I had no control. The old me was embarrassed and hidden. That guy died when I began to be able to talk about this stuff.
But did I really die?
In my high school yearbook, all the seniors had a chance to put a quote under their senior picture. You know, inspiring things like, “Blab bla bla for tomorrow.” But I couldn’t help writing what I thought was the funniest quote possible: “1975-2012” which appeared right under my name. Strangely, during 2012, I started to become a little worried that I had inadvertently predicted my own death. I have come to realize that in a very real way, I actually had.
The fearful me, the guy who was scared to talk about his feelings, ceased to be in 2012 and John Emil Augustine, the pseudonym I took on, began to untangle the events that first lead to my life of hiding from myself. When I wrote, it helped me and it helped others. I have been rewarded since then by people who have fallen in love with my story and who have understood it and even learned about themselves and their own journeys by reading it. THAT is what we are doing here on this planet, sharing in each other’s failures and triumphs, and I believe I have a role to play now that I am again alive and brave enough to share my own saga of abuse and hope.
Whether I literally or figuratively died thus became immaterial. The result of my admitting my vulnerability was like a death; so like a death, in fact, that the part of me that was too macho to admit what happened will never walk this earth again. That guy is literally dead and only exists as a memory.
There are many guys out there in a similar situation to mine. I meet them all the time during my day job. Guys talk about these things just like women do, but it takes the right circumstance to bring most guys to even broach the subject of their own abuse, much less recognize and deal with their feelings about it. Most guys will not readily step up and talk about the feelings that I delve into with my books unless another guy starts the discussion. Nonetheless, guys need to do this as much as women. That said, I have found that women also appreciate my story and have expressed surprise at hearing about abuse from a man’s perspective. My story suggests to both men and women that those of us who were or who are being abused are in the “same boat.” The more feedback I get, the more I can see the story is helpful…to both men and women.
This fall I will reinvent my story, which first came out a year ago, in a way that is accessible and understandable to all readers. And, for me, that includes the music I wrote during this very terrible time in my life. I hope the music as well as the story reaches those who are in a similar situation as well as those who want to be there for those in a similar situation.
To put what I am writing in perspective, my story and I are not what is important. The hope as the result of having survived abuse is what is important, and it is a hope that we all need. My message is a well-traveled, universal message, and it is that there is a way out through help, hope, love, and mercy. These things will come to you when you look for them, and can be provided by you when you are looked to for them. Watch for these moments. This is why we are here on the planet and I am just one bearer of this message.
Love and Mercy