Painful Pasts Leading to Extreme Risk: Dickey (Review)

There’s more than one way to commit suicide.

For some, a painful past leads to extreme risk and can result in death. If you struggle with your past, seek hope and healing instead of putting yourself in harm’s way.

 

Wherever I Wind Up

Extreme Risk Suicide Attempts: Don’t let something in your past lead you to commit suicide through extreme risk.

I remember “Extreme Risk,” an episode of Star Trek: Voyageur, where  B’Elanna Torres is suffering from various injuries because she is going on dangerous holodeck programs with the safety mechanism turned off. She eventually tells Chakotay that since she learned of the death of most of their Maquis friends, she has been numb. The risks she’s been taking have been to try to find out if she’s still alive inside.

In reality, this is clinical depression. And B’Elanna might very easily have died.

An accident? In some ways. But it’s also a form of suicide. People who play with fire usually get burned.

I was reminded of that episode recently while reading the book Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity, and the Perfect Knuckleball, by R. A. Dickey, with Wayne Coffey.

R. A. Dickey is a baseball player, a knuckleball pitcher, and last year’s National League Cy Young Award winner.

But while his book certainly chronicles his journey to become a major league baseball player, it’s about a lot more than that. Like B’Elanna, R. A. did some crazy things because he felt numb inside.

Dickey’s parents got married because his mother was pregnant, and according to him “the marriage didn’t last five years.” They divorced when R. A. was 8 and his mom turned to alcohol for solace. His dad, who had been a good father, gradually eased out of his life. R. A. felt alone and confused.

Then, when he was 8, a 13-year-old babysitter abused him sexually. Afterwards, in his words, “I feel discarded, like a piece of trash. She acts like she’s mad at me, like I didn’t follow her orders properly. I lie on my bed by myself, wondering if what just happened is real. I am trembling, still sweating. I feel paralyzed, my limbs leaden.”

It happens four or five more times that summer.

But something even worse happens that fall.

While visiting with family in a farming area, a boy of 16 or 17 finds him alone and grabs him, then overpowers him and abuses him.

R. A. boxes all these memories up and hides them in his mind as far away as possible. And he becomes numb. Until he’s 31 years old, he never tells anyone, doesn’t even let himself think about them. On the outside, he appears to be normal, but without his even realizing it, the memories are impacting him, telling him he’s “filthy and bad, like the scum of the earth, only worse.”

This goes on until he’s 31 and his own marriage is in serious trouble.

He finally breaks down and tells a counselor about the babysitter. He feels a measure of freedom, but he can’t go all the way; not to the brutal experience with the teenage boy.

A year later, on June 9, 2007, he does something absolutely crazy. While in Council Bluff Iowa with his triple A baseball team, the Nashville Sounds, he jumps in the Missouri River to swim across it. The water is brown and sludgy and there are strong currents and undertows. He’s wearing boxer briefs and taped-on flip-flops. He is basing this swim on the fact that he’s in good shape, and once upon a time, years ago, he swam the 200-meter freestyle for a local team. He believes he can do it.

And that’s where I was reminded about the Star Trek episode.

Because this isn’t the first time he’s done something crazy. In his words, “You could say—and some have—that I have a death wish. Not sure. I think it’s more accurate to say I have a risk wish, somehow clinging to the notion that achieving these audacious feats will someone make me worthy, make me special, as if I’d taken some magical, esteem-enhancing drug.”

He doesn’t make it across the river; instead, he almost drowns. But as he realizes he’s going to die in the muddy water of the Missouri, he finds a new desire to live. And afterwards, he’s finally able to talk about the worst experience of his life, and face the darkness and the anger that has burned inside him for all those years. Anger at the boy, anger at himself, anger at his life, anger at the God he believes in but up until now couldn’t fully embrace . . .

And he begins the journey to freedom, to feeling truly alive, and to helping others break their shackles of self-condemnation and shame.

Terrible things happen to most of us.

They don’t even have to be huge things, like sexual abuse or violence. Sometimes it’s just a person who constantly puts us down or tells us we aren’t good enough that stays within us and makes us numb inside.

No matter how much we try to pretend they never happened, they don’t go anywhere. They stay inside and tear us down.

We have to find the strength to bring them out and examine them, talk to people we can trust about them, and let God heal us and cause good to happen.

R. A. is now passionate about helping kids who have suffered from abuse.

Check out what he had to say recently.

More about the book, Wherever I Wind Up.

Finding Hope after Male Sexual Abuse

By Laurie Winslow Sargent:

 Cecil Murphey: “I’m a survivor of sexual abuse. As a child, I kept quiet; as an adult, I “forgot.” When I felt safe, I faced my abuse and talked about it. The more open I am in sharing my pain and recovery, the more healed I become.”

 

These personal words come from Cecil Murphey, also known as ‘Cec': best known as a New York Times’ bestselling author and international speaker, with 100+ books including 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson).

Now Cecil is helping men (and their families) deal with the pain of past sexual abuse.

Cec’s own abuse led to suicidal thinking at age twelve. (See his video interview, below.) However, it wasn’t until age 51, when his memories of abuse began to return to him in full force, he felt he could begin to deal with those memories with God’s help and the help of loved ones, including his wife.

Thankfully he did not follow through with those suicidal thoughts, as his words have blessed countless readers and writers for many years. He now brings healing and hope to male sexual abuse survivors and the spouses who want to emotionally support them.

As Cecil realized in recent years that his own past abuse–and the topic in general–should be addressed, he wrote: When a Man You Love Was Abused: A Woman’s Guide to Helping Him Overcome Childhood Sexual Molestation.

Cec has a blog for men who struggle with past abuse, called Shattering the Silence.  He is also a guest blogger for the Joyful Heart Foundation website founded by Mariska Hargitay (actress playing Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit).  A recent post of his there is: Why am I Still Not Healed?

In the video below, Cec discuss how his abuse affected him as an adult, including feelings of shame and self-blame, and his journey to healing:

Do pay attention to his final words:

“If you are a man and you were abused, remember this: you are not bad. Something bad, something terrible was done to you. It totally distorted your life. However I hope you would see that God loves you just as you are. You may not be able to talk about it, but it’s so important for you to break the silence. Find someone to trust. Find someone to whom you can talk and begin to open the door.”

If you or a loved one are struggling from the effects of male sexual abuse, DO visit Shattering the Silence at MenShatteringTheSilence.blogspot.com.

When a Man You Love was Abused – Cecil Murphey