It was Carroll Bryant who said: “The shattering of a heart when being broken is the loudest quiet ever.” I spent over four decades screaming in silence as my heart was shattered first by the childhood trauma, and later by my vain attempts to numb the parasitic shame buried inside me. That deafening silence was shattered last year when I declared to family and friends that I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. From that moment forward, I unlocked a dormant part of me that has become a sacred beacon for personal healing, and most notably something I never expected—The calling to be of service to others still living in the deafening silence of childhood trauma.
I believe in serendipity, as I have witnessed its mystery at various times in my life. There are undeniable occasions in which the right person, those I call parachuting angels, appear when I need it most. The arrival of the incredible woman, who would eventual become my wife, set my life on a very different trajectory, and without her steadfast love and support, there is no doubt in my mind that I would not be alive today. 17 years ago, I lay ravaged by addiction and depression. Walking out of yet another AA meeting feeling abandoned and hopeless, I was approached by a young lady from the meeting who sat down beside me on a park bench, and she gave me the one thing I so desperately needed--hope. That lady would go on to become my sponsor. Hidden under the mask of my addiction issues was the core issue of childhood trauma, something I never expected I would be able to address. The truth is that I was sober, but I was not free. Hearing the former NHL tough guy, Theo Fleury publicly disclose that he too was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, gave me another lifeline to cling to—A seed had been planted in my mind that one day I could step forward out of the shadow of the abuse.
Most recently, another angel has parachuted into my life, giving me the confidence I need to continue on my healing path. Through this angel, I was introduced to Glori Meldrum, who is also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. In 2007, Glori formed Little Warriors a charity dedicated to “preventing child sexual abuse through awareness and the promotion of adult education.” Glori has worked tirelessly to raise millions of dollars to open the “Little Warriors Be Brave Ranch”, located just outside of Edmonton. Beginning this fall, this incredible space, created entirely without government funding, will become a reality as the ranch opens its doors as a “a spiritual oasis where neglected survivors can find the tools they need to heal their bodies, hearts, spirits, and minds.”
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting Glori and some of the countless individuals who have selflessly spearheaded this transformational movement. The culmination of the weekend was a charity fundraising banquet attended by some of the most influential Canadian power brokers and philanthropists. Towards the end of the evening, something so raw and beautiful unfolded. A gentleman stood at the front of the room and openly declared in front of his peers that he too was a “Little Warrior”, and he invited other “Little Warriors” in the room to step forward and join him. You could have heard a pin drop in the deafening silence of this grand dining hall—That’s when the magic happened. Among the survivors who stepped forward were I and two other men looking directly into the faces of those still sitting in the room, and declaring simply by our presence that we will no longer be enshrouded by the shame of childhood sexual abuse—These few steps towards the front of the room represented our “walk to freedom”.
Two days after the event, as my wife and I drove through the majestic Rocky Mountains on the way back to the Calgary airport, I became acutely aware that all the struggles I’d overcome in my life had prepared me and delivered me to the precipice in which I was standing. I had come to that moment where I knew for certain that my life would never be the same again. My mission, or my calling, lay before me—I need only to trust in the uncertainty and embrace the freedom of possibility. In the process of letting go, we have to learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. We need to let go of the idea of the “control” that we always equated with safety. My path forward is clear, as I now know that I am to act as a beacon for other men enmeshed in shame, fear, and rage—Together, we can change the dialogue and build authentic relationships between men, and men and their partners. I must always remember that “hurt people, hurt people.” Freedom comes through healing and acceptance. I’d like to end with the guidance of Rumi. “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”