In this episode, I’m joined by Matt Pappas of Beyond Your Past. Matt joins me to share his story of how he’s been able to work through the effects of childhood sexual abuse and bullying to create the life he has now where he’s helping other survivors to not be defined by their past.
Click the play button below to check it out!
Essentially an only child, Matt found himself with a lot of personal freedom while his parents worked. When he was young (sometime between 5 and 10 years old) an older “cool” family friend up the street started giving him rides on his dirt bike. For several weeks, the rides were just innocent kids hanging out, but then it turned into being sexually abused by the friend.
Effects of the traumatic experience:
Matt became introverted and shy, which by the time he entered middle school made him a target for bullies. His parents recognized that he had changed, so they sent him to a therapist. When Matt first spoke about the sexual abuse with his therapist as an early teen, his trust in the therapist was damaged due to the therapist disclosing the abuse to his parents. Matt decided to leave it all in the past and didn’t speak of it again. In a way to distance himself from the past, Matt lost weight, bought new clothes, got a cool new haircut and life changed for the better.
Overcoming the traumatic experience:
Matt didn’t deal with the abuse again for twenty years. Although seemingly on top of things, he still had self-esteem issues and insecurities he kept buried. When his second marriage ended up in divorce in 2013, he realized that something had to change.
So Matt went to a therapist to “fix him” and at first did not mention the abuse. After working on a writing assignment, he was able to open up and let his guard down while in therapy. Matt came to a point where he could understand what happened and totally immersed himself in his own recovery by becoming consciously aware of what happened. He stopped suppressing the feelings, and instead accepted them.
Matt started sharing his experience with others and started his blog, Surviving My Past, where Matt has a downloadable book to help other survivors on their survival journeys.
What Matt does today: Matt is an anxiety and survivor coach.
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?
Matt's Answer: Understand that what happened to you was not your fault; it doesn’t define you and you are not doomed to live a life that is defined by trauma.
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