In this episode, I’m joined by Larry Ruhl, author of Breaking the Ruhls: A Memoir. Larry joins me to share his story of how he’s been able to heal and thrive after growing up in an environment where he experienced multiple forms of abuse and suffered with the effects of complex trauma as a result.
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Larry grew up with a mentally ill mother who was irrational, unstable and unpredictable. Larry's father started sexually abusing him before he even attended kindergarten. Outside their house, his dad was well liked, respected and very charming – propagating the story their family was perfect. When, in second grade, Larry told a teacher that things weren’t good at home it backfired by getting Larry in trouble at home and firming up the family pact of silence. Because he was often sick, Larry struggled in school. The abuse from his father turned into a smothering love into his teens which confused Larry as to what normal boundaries were. His mother’s best friend’s son also sexually abused him before he hit puberty.
Effects of the traumatic experience:
Larry learned people pleasing at young age, which he took into school and into his adulthood. He was guilted by his parents into staying at home for two additional years after high school instead of escaping away to college. Larry's mother outed him as a gay man after reading his journals, causing Larry to confront his confusion about his own sexuality. Larry found it very difficult to navigate the years of uncertainty and establish independence of self. And although owning his own business, Larry started to suffer from anxiety and panic attacks.
Overcoming the traumatic experience:
Larry saw a therapist on the advice of his partner who helped him work through his anxiety. After he was stabilized on meds, Larry started to remember the abuse clearly and understand that the moments of clarity in the past were actually correct. Until the therapist, Larry had not shared these experiences with anyone.
Larry found it cathartic to reach out to other survivors; talking about shame and experiences became a profound part of his recovery. He learned coping skills to deal with triggering incidences. He also turned to the internet and found online sources to help him. Being able to talk about his abuse openly began to negate the shame.
While struggling with Father’s Day triggers he started writing down his experiences on Father’s Day, and in doing so, found himself healing. It became a powerful and painful experience. He named it Breaking the Ruhls as he felt it was important to use his own name in order to break the family contract of silence.
What Larry does today:
Larry is an author, serves as a board member for Taking Back Ourselves and is a registered speaker with the RAINN network.
Given what you know now, if you could go back to when you were going through the tough times and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Larry's Answer: Trust your instincts, they won’t steer you wrong.
www.BreakingTheRuhls.com - The website for Larry's book, resources and contact information
Breaking the Ruhls: A memoir - Larry's Book on Amazon
RAINN.org - The nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.
Affiliate Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links. There is no additional cost to you, and I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.
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