“It was a very scary time, not only for me but for my wife and my children. The thought of not having it together for them was sickening for me. It was like hard to deal with. I was just so worried, so scared, praying that I would get it back.”
—Keyon Dooling, player with NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies
Keyon shares in the Boston Globe about a very painful childhood history of physical, emotional and sexual abuse that had been repressed for many years.
Dooling achieved success at the highest level of his profession but now had to face the vulnerability, anxiety and fear that rushed upon him as this dark abyss opened up in his soul…revealing deeply painful and disturbing memories and emotions of childhood abuse.
What a challenge for any man, but perhaps more so for one who soared so high as an athlete to come crashing down into the pain and anguish of deeply repressed painful events from his past. Reading the story I am struck how life saving were the colleagues that reached out to him after his nervous collapse such as Celtics Coach Doc Rivers. God bless Coach Rivers for making sure Keyon was connected to the best healing resources and not left to fall into further dysfunction, isolation and perhaps abuse in the wrong treatment center.
As he continues to learn about his past and how to heal in the present, Keyon is discovering that as painful as this process is, he is growing as a man:
“I feel different emotions depending on what time of day it is,” Dooling said. “There’s a lot of hurt still right here, brother. I’m learning how to embrace the different feelings that we have. That means I’m growing as a man because I can feel emotions that I never felt before. And I can deal with them and I don’t have to run from them or feel insecure about them.”
The Sexual Abuse/Abortion Connection
Men with sexual/physical abuse and neglect in their background can find themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy. I encountered a number of men as team counselor on Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats who had a history of previous abuse and were involved in an abortion decision.
As they explored that abortion decision they shared a deep sense of shame that they abandoned their vulnerable unborn child.just as they were hurt when vulnerable and defenseless children. These men felt they allowed their unborn child to be abused by the abortion procedure.
This was like ripping open the scab from their childhood abuse wound. When combined with the normal complicated emotions men experience after abortion, it became an overwhelming force that led them to addiction, violence and even suicide attempts as they struggled to cope with the tidal waves of emotions. Fortunately healing for these men on an after abortion healing program provided the opportunity to grieve the loss of their child to abortion and also to begin the recovery process with their own childhood wounds.
Even without previous abuse, men can have some powerful emotions after an abortion …and like Keyon long repressed memories and feelings about a previous abortion can be triggered years after the procedure…by a song, an event, an ultrasound image, the birth of a child, the death of a parent etc.
When I read Keyon’s story I was so grateful that he got the help he needed, thanks to the love and support of colleagues and family.
Men who have suffered abortion loss often suffer in isolation…we know that without healing the repressed pain hurts men, their health, relationships and work life.
Inspired by Keyon’s courage, please reach out to your friends, colleagues and family members who have at some time shared about an abortion loss and perhaps have abuse in their backgrounds. We must especially reach out to those men who were powerless to stop an abortion, and are acutely aware of their loss…and in desperate need of immediate support and healing resources.
With sensitivity and respecting confidentiality, let them know you understand how difficult and scary it is to open up such painful memories and feelings…but acknowledge the high price paid by repressing this pain. Encourage them that with the right kind of help, like Keyon they will grow as men…that finding a safe and effective way to deal with this pain will make them better fathers, husbands and colleagues in the workplace.
Perhaps someday soon with God’s grace we will be read about another pro athlete who has the courage and faith to share about the shame, grief and pain of his abortion loss, and the good news of recovery in the Lord.