Before I met my husband, I didn’t let guys too close. I kept much of my inner world private and never felt safe enough to let anyone know the real me.
I always just assumed that most guys just wanted to use women. Even though my dad was a great role model, I just decided that there weren’t any guys like him anymore. I assumed that men were not to be trusted.
Being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I also had such low self esteem that I was convinced that even if there were good guys out there, none of them could ever love me. That’s what I thought, anyway, until a good guy did fall in love with me.
I’m not sure why I chose to confide in Chris. Part of it might have been his personality. He is a lot like my dad who is very laid-back. Neither of them likes confrontation, and they are generally happy to go with the flow and do what others want—that is, unless it violates their principles. But overall, their temperaments are quiet and easy going, so they come across as very gentle when you meet them.
Of course, I didn’t share my deepest darkest secrets immediately upon meeting my husband. In the beginning, we would simply have conversations, and I would share what I really thought about things. He seemed to like when I shared things with him, and he would ask questions, wanting to know more. Our warm up was slow.
I would gradually reveal a little bit about myself, and his acceptance of who I was made me feel safe to reveal more.
After we had been talking for some time, he began to reveal parts of himself as well, sharing his past hurts and confiding in me things he hadn’t told others. I could tell he trusted me and I trusted him. So I began revealing more about my past hurts as well. I shared smaller things at first, and eventually I confided that I had been sexually abused. He was hurt, sad, and angry for me.
He empathized with my hurts. And when he spoke and listened to me, perhaps for the first time in my life, I felt like he saw me as an equal.
In the past, other men have made me feel degraded or belittled, or they wanted to put me on a high pedestal. But all I ever really wanted was for someone to accept me for who I was. And Chris did.
Starting small, then gradually sharing more and more has built our strong relationship. Being shown respect has always made me want to show all the love and honor I can to this great guy who took a risk on me too, and bore my faults and wounds with patience and gentleness. I’m glad I chose to take a risk and reveal the real me to Chris.