Sunday, September 21, 2014

Thank You, Charles M. Blow

Charles Blow, 2014. Photo by Chad Batka for the New York Times.
Writer Charles M. Blow has done what I was not able to do. His new memoir, Fire Shut Up in My Bones, deals with two subjects also addressed in Patrick Husted's memoir Excavating Pieces: An American Childhood, which came out almost exactly a year ago. As the editor of Excavating Pieces and as Patrick's ex-wife, I had high hopes for the book. I still do, but I am not a prominent columnist for the New York Times and I do not have Mr. Blow's following, so I am delighted to see this new book make its debut. The subjects I refer to are the sexual abuse of boys, a much more common occurrence than most of us realize (1 in 6 per U.S. health statistics), and its lingering effects, particularly as they pertain to men who are somewhere in the middle of the gay-straight continuum. Mr. Blow's essay in today's New York Times, adapted from his book, covers ground that is very familiar to me—the rage, the guilt, the confusion and self-loathing on the long road to healing and forgiveness. Its resemblance to my ex-husband's story is eery. In fact, I have heard versions of this story many times, not only from male survivors but also from wives and mothers. The men don't always make it. Depression and suicide run high in this population. We desperately need courageous men like Charles Blow and Patrick Husted to come forward and tell their stories. And when they do, we need to pay attention.

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