The stories of healing from these courageous men will inspire a range of emotions.
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The Bristlecone Project

Portraits and Biographies of Male Survivors

Kirk Barnes

For decades after he was sexually abused at the age of eight, Kirk had closed himself off from other people and shut down his emotions. He lived “in a world of secrecy.” It was an adaptation that allowed him to succeed and move forward, academically and then professionally, but it was also an adaptation that kept his heart and soul in a deep freeze.

By his fourth decade, it was an adaption that had run its course. Kirk was married, but his emotional disconnection, and the behaviors it led to, put his marriage into crisis. And that crisis in turn put Kirk into crisis, the reckoning with his childhood trauma that he had so long avoided.

Prodded by his wife, and increasingly by his own urgency to heal himself, Kirk began seeing therapists. That process taught him, for the first time, how to express “what’s inside of me.” Not only the pain that is the legacy of his childhood trauma. Not only his feelings. But much more. Kirk found his faith, and in turn, his faith gave Kirk both inner strength and connection with other men who, individually and together, commit themselves to a “walk of faith.”

Kirk’s journey has led to some surprises. A man with no interest in or proclivity for poetry, he suddenly became a vessel for it. It started with a dream that woke him and left him feeling compelled to write down what he dreamed was written on a scroll. So he started writing, and was stunned to see a poem unfold before him. And the poems keep coming, by now about 250 of them. Kirk is beginning to plan his first book of poetry.

Kirk does not know what other surprises might lie ahead as he walks this walk, but he knows that the man who walks is a changed man.