Betrayed and sexually abused by the pastor of his church when he was a young adolescent, Joel buried the memories for decades. He struggled with addictions, and kept a part of himself walled off from everyone, even from Amy, whom he met at bible college and married when he was 24. Their bond was strong, yet their relationship was severely tested by his addictive behavior, moodiness and the secrets that Joel kept from both Amy and himself.
When their children came along, Joel became a full-time parent, but the simmering secret he hid from himself fostered a chronic anger that brought their marriage to the brink. In desperation, Joel committed himself to reading the Gospel of John, every day, from start to finish, for one month. “That changed my life. I was seeing the opposite of my life. Love, not hate.” His openness to what lies within finally unsealed the long-buried memories of the abuse.
He began writing in his journal (“my therapist”), a practice that continues to the present. He started his own web site (http://www.perpetuallyhealing.com). Today, through writing and counseling, Joel is on the mend, and he and Amy are closer than ever.
Joel is also one of my High School classmates from Longmont, Colorado.
1. How did you come up with the name “I Am Not Bubba?”
No spaces please, like Prince, or Madonna. I am, iamnotbubba, “I don’t know who this Bubba guy is, I am not him.” As an expression of self-identity I am not who you think I am. I am me and no one else. My mother used to compare me to my deceased father so as a gentle reminder to everyone including me. I am me. (try googling iamnotbubba)
2. Is writing for you the beginning of a career with multiple projects, or is it all about one very important and personal project?
I have always loved the art of words and word-play. I have an extremely macabre sense of humor. Yes, I would love to write something more fictional in the future. My entire focus right now is this one project. Getting it in front of as many eyes as possible. To help other men and women find the courage to “Redirect the Shame” back onto the perpetrators of such horror and violence.
3. What initially prompted you to write?
The one phrase that has played over and over in my mind is “write what you know and know what you write.” In this phase in my life as I learn more about me, I am able to discover who I really am and not what others may project upon me. Also, I find that writing calms the savage beast inside me. In some cases I am able to let him out. Re:Homicide
4. What is your favorite electronic or digital writing tool?
I use Google Drive exclusively. Its a very simple interface that is clear and easy to use. All of my work is backed up instantly. My computer is a Gateway laptop with Linux Ubuntu 13.04 installed. I absolutly hate Microsoft and Apple thinks too highly of itself. So I bought a cheap laptop and put a superior operating system on it,
5. What is your favorite non-electronic writing tool?
I use a mechanical pencil that I have had since college way, way back in 1992. I call it my lucky pencil, creativity seems to flow better through it.
6. What is the most persistent distraction from writing?
Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Oh yea and Facebook. LOL
7. What is your ideal writing environment? Have you ever been able to create it?
Right now, The Isley Brothers are playing, The children are napping, I am sitting in my favorite leather recliner, Freshly pressed coffee steaming next to me. Like that. Good music, Comfy chair, Tasty coffee.
8. How do you fit writing time into a busy life with a wife and two young kids?
The only way I get anything done creatively is noise canceling headphones and naptime. I am screwed when they stop napping. LOL
9. How do you get through writer’s block?
The last time I had writers block I took the family to Durango for a few days.
10. Has writing helped exorcise any of your personal demons?
Oh YES!! re: Homicide
11. Do you plan to keep Perpetually Healing in blog format, or will you put it all together in a book?
I would love to see it in book form. I want to create a whole advocacy group around “Redirecting the Shame” The whole idea is to advocate for other men like me both personally by reading my story and legislatively. There seems to be a bias in the court systems and society as a whole toward female victims. It is harder for a male to come forward and press charges for rape than a female. (not that any one is worse than the other) As men we are told to “suck it up buttercup” I refuse to accept that answer. Crime that is not prosecuted is still crime. I hope to change the national paradigm through this work that boys get raped just as much as girls. Its just not reported on. There also seems to be this nasty little impediment called the “statute of limitations” I would like to see that revoked for sexual crimes involving children. A Lot of times the children are not in a place either physically or mentally to report. Especially if the perp. is a family member.
12. Is the story ever really complete?
No, Its entitled “Perpetually Healing” for a reason.
13. What is the Wings Foundation?
The Wings Foundation is local support group network based here in Denver. They work to help survivors like me learn to cope with the lasting effects of trauma. I have been going to a group for almost 2 and half years. The support I have received there has saved my life,
14. What is the Bristlecone Project?
The Bristlecone Project headed by Dr. David Lisak is an online resource for men to see that they are not alone and that they can heal and thrive from such atrocities.
15. Is there a greater stigma attached to male victims of sexual abuse than to female victims?
Absolutely! For example, a friend of mine has been invited to speak at a TED conference here in Denver. When asked what motivated him, His reply was, that the the sexual abuse perpetrated upon him by his father and brother gave him the drive to do what he does. The organisers deliberately censored him and told him not to tell that part of his story.
16. How has the Gospel of John changed your life?
My wife asked me once. “Are you EVER happy?”
I was at rock bottom when I reached out for help. I was demonstrating the opposite of what I claimed to believe, hate. I was showing hate and yet professing love. Out of 7 days, 24 hours in a day I was in full rage every hour of the day. My life was fracturing. Amy was about to leave me. I knew something was broken but I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was. I knew from my seminary days that the Gospel of John was affectionately known as the “Love Book” I figured If I could find out what love was, perhaps I could do that.
That month in the garage trading time for time has transformed EVERYTHING!!! I am still married to the same woman of almost 17 years. My children are no longer afraid of me. I am happy, Yes, I am angry at AFB but I no longer want him dead.
17. I’m writing these questions on Father’s Day. How was the day for you?
On the outside It was good, My daughter decorated a glass jar and filled it with hershey kisses and love notes. On the inside I was mourning the loss of my innocence.
18. What’s the best thing about being a stay-at-home-dad?
I get to watch my children grow. I get to teach my children, I get to show them the world and see it new again. My children will know they had a father that changed everything to be with them. Rather than a parent that hired someone to raise them. (The opposite of how I was raised)
19. Do you ever get back up to Longmont?
I am actively working to take back my fear of Longmont. I was there a few months ago in an effort to take the past out of the present.
20. Who shot first? Han or Greedo?
Couldn’t they just hug?