This mythical story of “Beauty and the Beast” is a metaphor for dissociation, the psychological separation from oneself.

My out of body experience during my Childhood Sexual Abuse was no accident. God was not only protecting me from the perpetrator, but also from myself. My egocentric self needed the ultimate reminder of how ugly we can be as humans, how deep our sin runs in us. It is the realization of this ugliness that is truly “more than we can bear.”

From the moment of that experience I could not see or accept myself for who I was. Inside I remained that 14-year-old boy. Psychologists call this “arrested development.” Afterward, when I looked in the mirror I only saw an aging, ugly man, defiled and corrupted by this cruel turn of fate.

And what about this “turn of fate,” this childhood sexual abuse? We are taught to blame the abuser, never ourselves. But what if God, in his infinite wisdom, which is beyond all understanding, allowed this to happen for a reason? What could the experience teach me? What was the hidden lesson behind my abuse?

Truth be told, the perpetrator’s grooming which lead up to my abuse, fed into the lies I was already telling myself. As a child, I had allowed myself to believe I was entitled to more. That I had been selected to receive not just more than I deserved. God knew in my heart of hearts that I was expecting not just more than I earned through my efforts in life, but more then would make me human. I was already on my way to becoming the arrogant, angry beast in that myth. I only know this in hindsight, of course, but God knew I was going to be a tough nut to crack from the very start. The perpetrator identified this in me and made his move over several months.*

rob maniscalco photo

rob maniscalco photo

When we attempt to depart from humanity, to a superior place among men, when we aspire to become the idol of our own desire, to rise above, we are destined for a fall. Countless Greek myths and Shakespeare dramas show us how this plays out again and again. It is part of the human condition.

Sometimes the fall is hard, but never harder than God knows we can bear. Sometimes the fall happens when we are young, sometimes it doesn’t happen until very near our death. Some never are interrupted by this hardest of all lessons along their life’s journey.

But occasionally, these tortured souls are able to spin the delusion that they are entitled, and turn it into fame and fortune. Some bring much joy and insight to the world through their successes – Robin Williams comes to mind. Some even manage to become president – Donald Trump comes to mind. More often than not, however, these poor souls also leave much misery in their wake, because they are living a delusion.

Of course, not all who rise to the pinnacle of success are the products of this delusion. These are the ones who endure, who are beloved, because they struggled, yet learned to recognize their place within humanity. They realize they are part of a greater whole. They don’t take themselves too seriously. They play their part and realize they have received their advantages for the soul purpose of making the world better. They take on that responsibility with the ease and joy that comes with gratefulness. They recognize that no one is entitled to anything; it is all a gift and must be treated as such.

How do some seem so easily to join this latter group, while others struggle their whole lives with their egos?

I don’t think it has anything to do with talent or tenacity. Nor even with good acts or or kind words. Some seem to be born humble, while others are destined to learn humility the hard way, however long it takes.

I think both types of people serve a purpose in God’s plan. God is not so interested in our talent and knowledge, our fame or fortune, or our power and influence or even our words and deeds. He is interested in our understanding of the journey, in our way of being along the way, in how we do unto others, in our humanity, moment by moment. He is interested in who we are being in the present, based on what we have learned from our past.

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* This in no way absolves or excuses the actions of the perpetrator. But it does lead to the forgiveness necessary for the survivor’s healing. Learning and embracing the truth behind the hurt will set us free. If the truth is too painful to bear, that is a good sign it still has you in its grip. I’ve come to believe the only answer is to face the trauma until it loses its hold on you. Let me know if you were a victim of criminal abuse and would like to find out about Exposure Therapy.

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