Saturday, November 14, 2015
This next part shaped how I defined my sexual behavior to date, and how I would view it in the future. I warn you, it deals with sexual abuse, specifically, my father. I had remembered the first part and consoled myself it had stopped with oral sex; it had stopped at age six because my grandfather put a stop to it. I could go into all the reasons I pieced this story line together, but it comes down to one thing; I needed to believe someone had saved that precious little six year old girl. I needed to believe my childhood wasn't a nightmare. The recurring dream/memory of the devil beside my bed was a frequent night terror. It bothered me I couldn't remember much of my life but I had come to accept this was how it was. I kept wondering why I couldn't remember though. It bugged me and I tried to find the answers in family pictures. All I saw in pictures was the members in my family who sexually assaulted me. My father wasn't the only one, but he certainly carried the most influence when you talk about shaping sexuality and relationships toward men. I couldn't find any memories when I stared into the pictures. All I saw in them was pain. I wanted to remember, but you can't make the mind accept what it isn't ready to acknowledge.
I can't remember what day it came flooding back, but I remember where I was and what I was doing. I was in the basement of the marital home getting laundry out of the laundry chute. I don’t know what I was thinking, but suddenly the light bulb became illuminated in my mind. I don't know why I didn't see it before, why I didn't put the pieces together. There never was a devil beside my bed, the devil had always been my father. As the shock of this new realization wore off, I saw my mind shattered like a fragmented mirror. I saw my father come out of the shadows of nightfall, his face falling into eyes of my six year old self. I saw the evil smile he always had when he was about to assault me, I smelled the stink of beer on his hot breath. I felt his hands jerk my legs together, squeezing them tight. I closed my eyes as I heard the zipper on his pants and I squeezed my eyes tighter and tighter when he pulled down my panties and stuck his penis in between my legs. He never penetrated me, I guess some pedophiles have their limits. Maybe he justified what he was doing because it wasn’t technically sex. Who knows what goes on in the mind of someone so damaged they have to extinguish the spirit of another human being, particularly that of a child. I can't say I remember the rest. I believe that's when I checked out of myself, why I thought I had fallen asleep after the devil approached my bed. Now I knew why a larger part of my memory began when I got my period. He stopped at the point when I was physically able to become pregnant. Every shattered piece of my memory was being put back together and my life was making sense. I had my memory back and it nearly destroyed me.
The magnitude of what I remembered ripped through my soul. I couldn't stand. I fell into a heap on the basement floor, screaming, crying, sobbing harder than I ever had in my entire life. No one had saved me. I endured my father's assaults for years on end. He stole my precious memories, stole my innocence and set me up for a string of promiscuous encounters, so fractured I would have sex as a poor substitute for the approval of a man. I wasn't anything unless a man wanted me, desired me for sex. I had no sense of self outside of sex and spent most of my life wondering why, trying to claim some sliver of self esteem, some independence from the approval of men. I degraded myself for an approval that never came. Nothing filled the void my father left.
I have never been as shattered as I was that night. I truly did not think I would survive it, and I almost didn't. I don't know how long I lay on the cold floor, it was Christmas time and the cement chilled my bones but I didn't pay it any attention. After I had spent my grief, I picked myself up and went to bed. The next days were a blur. I tried to keep it together for the holidays and I couldn't. I attempted suicide. I was completely and utterly broken. I was devastated at the length of time the abuse went on, I was crushed the people around me didn't protect me and I was in awe I had hidden it from myself for so long. My mind was trying to tell me, but I couldn't comprehend what had actually taken place. What I had remembered prior was bad enough. All those years of night terrors about the devil and I never put the pieces together. All those years I spent in pain, struggling with depression, all those years feeling empty and worthless culminated to this moment. I was so very lost, so alone and there didn't seem to be a way out. Not even my children were a comfort to me. All they saw was their mother in pieces, and not understanding what was happening to me they rejected me for ruining their Christmas. They blame me to this day, but I never don't think I ever told them why I tried to kill myself or what was happening during that time. I felt betrayed by them because they responded to my pain with anger instead of compassion. They wouldn't talk to me for a long time after that.
It took a long time to come back from the memory returning, from the rejection of my children and to come to terms with my childhood. I stopped dating, and lost all interest in men. I quit flirting, and did all I could to become unattractive and invisible. Sex was the last thing on my mind and I chose to become asexual. I wrapped myself up in work to avoid dating. I thought I had finally come to a comfortable place in my life with sex and men when my world spun out of control with the return of my memory. I no longer felt comfortable with sex or sexuality. I became celibate. I wanted nothing to do with men or sex. This went on for some years. I acted like men didn't exist. If men flirted with me, I didn't notice. I coexisted with them in a professional capacity, but I made no effort to socialize with them.
I healed, eventually. I'm glad my memory returned, as painful as it was. There had been an empty space deep in my heart, my soul had been splintered and I didn't know why or how to fill it. The return of my memory closed that hole. It didn't happen overnight, but gradually, bit by bit. I don't have night terrors any longer and the devil doesn't torture me. I haven't seen him since. I tried to have casual sex, knowing I was in no place for a relationship but I simply wasn't interested. It felt mechanical, something I was doing because it seemed like the thing to do. The passion was gone. I had no desire to repeat the performance.
I've had one short term relationship since then, and it was a relationship I knew would not last. It has been more than a decade since the memory returned and I remain celibate for the most part. I still desire sex, and masturbate frequently but I have no desire to seek out a relationship with a man. I remain hopeful that a man will enter my life to break through the walls I have in place, but I know it would have to begin as a friendship. I can't think of men in terms of relationships or sex any longer, it is too frightening even now. Healing isn't recovery. I don't think people can recover from something like this. The scars run too deep, the damage irreversible.
I think I have some to a place where I have the healthiest attitude about sex than I ever have possessed. I know who I am, what I want, what I expect and that I am no longer willing to trade it to fill some void left within myself. Even though I am celibate, I watch the evolution of sexuality in our society with great interest. Through this, I came to understand I am most likely bisexual, but because of religion and societal expectations I will never realize it in any real form. I have let go of preconceived judgments regarding sex and have come to see sexuality as fluid rather than set within a narrow range of parameters. I've learned there are many reasons to have sex, all of which are valid and there are reasons not to have sex. I am happy being celibate, but I do miss intimacy. I know I don't want to go back to casual sex, but I'm not sure I can deal with a relationship. I will always hold out hope for a kind, gentle soul to enter into my life, someone I can share a life with and build a future, but if it never happens I can still be happy. Despite what I have remembered, I am at peace with it. I spent most of my life trying to define what sexuality was, what place sex had in my life and how to use it as an extension of myself only to come to a place where it isn't important anymore. I don't have to spend any more time searching for myself. I was here all along.
Several things influenced the dark and hidden subject of sex and pussy. My sheltered and abusive childhood, religion, faulty sex education in high school, the shame of having a period, of being a woman. There were the expectations of being a wife and mother in a patriarchal marriage which defined what "good" wives do to service their husbands. I learned what it was to be raped and I learned I sometimes had sex out of fear instead of true desire. I have learned a lot about what consent truly means and I understand there were times I had not given consent, but rather I gave in to pressure or expectations. It wasn't rape, but it wasn't consent either. Having actually been raped, I understood the difference. I have learned some people may be born to a strict definition of sexuality such as being straight or gay, but I suspect the mass majority of us are bisexual as I see a fluidity in sexuality. Had we not all been oppressed by damaging views of sex, we might express ourselves with greater freedom. I believe the vast majority of humans see some shame in being attracted to the same sex, so we do not admit the truth even to ourselves. Being bisexual is different than being gay, and I think people confuse the two and carry with them a secret shame they might be gay. I am not a lesbian. I prefer sex with men, but I did have a threesome once which involved another woman. I didn't have sex with her, but there was some degree of sexual play within that encounter. I have come to understand we were created to be sexual creatures and heaping shame into sex does us all a great disservice. There are all kinds of sexual expression, and if done between consenting adults there is nothing wrong with any type of it. Just because S & M and bondage aren't in my playlist, doesn't mean the people who enjoy it are doing anything deviant.
Sex is expansive and we have not cracked the surface of what drives us and in determining who we are attracted to but our first influence in developing sexuality and attraction lies within our childhood, determined by our parents. I spent years acting out the abuse from childhood, not understanding what it was I was pursuing or what void I was trying to fill. A woman's self esteem is a major component in determining how much she will assert herself during sex, and also determines how she feels about exposing her body to another person. Sex doesn't begin and end with our genitals. It begins at birth and if we live a full life it never ends. I don't believe sex has ended for me, but it has taken a rather lengthy time out. I don't have issues I need to play out with sex. I'm not sure what the future holds for my sexuality personally, but I remain willing to explore it with someone I care about. It has been an epic journey of discovery, and learning to let go of the shame surrounding being a sexual woman. I gave up the myth of my golden pussy and it allowed me to understand sex through wiser eyes. That single understanding alone gave me permission to let go of shame, and ended the confusion and disappointment I felt if I guy didn't call me again. It wasn't me, it was him.
Everyone's journey through sex will be different from mine but we all explore sex with some type of baggage. We all carry some degree of guilt or shame at least for some periods throughout our lives. It's what religion and faulty sex education instills into us. My journey is still being written, but after five decades I can say I have finally come to a place where I understand myself and my sexuality with a clarity I could not have achieved had I not went in search of answers. Getting my memory back nearly destroyed me, but it didn't. It explained my sexual behavior and why I felt empty with some of my encounters. While I am satisfied with my sexuality and expression at long last, I know there are few rules and limitations with sex. For now, celibacy is what I enjoy and that it is also nothing to be ashamed of. It is rather poetic I have come full circle. I have gone from searching for my value in sex, to finding I have value without it. This is the perfect ending to my journey for now.
Saturday, November 7, 2015
I've never been a big fan of porn. I don't have any ethical or moral problem with it, but the industry itself relies on the exploitation of people, particularly women. Most women who get into the business are broken, and most of them beyond repair. A great many of them were sexually assaulted as children, and or horrifically abused. For a very few, it is an expression of their sexuality, a path or process of empowerment. For them, it is a rebellion, an ownership of sexuality in a society which goes so far as to place laws and limitations on women who choose to embrace sex. Those women I admire, and it is those women who are bringing about change within the industry. Change is slow though, and it will be decades before porn can be a part of our culture without also being inherently derogatory to it. That is the problem I have with pornography, and why I have trouble viewing it without also feeling badly someone is suffering exploitation to produce it. I understand men are visual creatures and some men rely on pornography to enhance a sexual experience. I have no problem with this in theory. I would share the experience with a partner if that was something he needed. The problem with my husband was he was not sharing the experience with me. I tried to express this to him, but he acted like a boy caught looking at a Playboy by his mother. He said he wouldn't do it anymore. Wanting to come to terms with our relationship, I allowed myself to be placated by this compromise, without trying to delve deeper into his reasoning, especially why he would rather tell me he wouldn't engage in it as opposed to sharing the experience with me.
For a while, life went on. I lived behind my rose colored glasses and our sex life, the intimacy we once shared continued to decline. I tried to comfort myself by telling myself all the things we tell ourselves when we don't want to admit the truth. "We were going through a phase." "This is just how things are after you have been married for a while." My friends asked me why I didn't have an affair, but I thought he deserved better than that. I wasn't getting what I needed from the relationship. I missed the intimacy and sex had become a chore. There were times I would get him off so I could get to sleep or move on to something I wanted to do. When we got a computer, we had hellacious fights because he would view porn on it, and the computer was accessible to the entire family, even the girls. Porn sites would leave icons on the computer, some would leave cookies you couldn't get rid of and my husband was too illiterate to erase the browsing history. I wouldn't show him how to cover his tracks, either. I was infuriated my daughters were being exposed to his pursuits, but I was even more furious he quit making love to me and used me like a doormat. There wasn't any tenderness any longer, there was no effort to please me, I was a wet hole he used when he got horny. He would stare at those images rather than try to create something meaningful with me.
This rejection devastated my self esteem. I tried marital counseling but I was the only one interested in building a relationship. He barely talked. He didn't participate. We quit after a few sessions. I knew then our marriage was doomed, and I didn’t have a clue why. This process was a slow dissection that happened over a few years, and with it went my self esteem, the image I had of myself and I lost touch with my own sexuality. I not only did not feel attractive, I didn't believe I was sexually viable. After all, if my husband preferred porn to a real live woman, what hope did I possibly have? Now I understand this was his problem, not mine, but back then I took the shoulder of the blame. I have this tendency to take an unfair burden of blame. It goes back to control. If I am at fault, then I have the power to fix it. I was determined to fix it, even though it was costing me who I was as a woman. It was a fight I would lose and it would take a very long time for me to understand I could not have saved the marriage because I was the only one in it.
The marriage collapsed and so I set about trying to repair the shattered remains. I was working all the time, struggling to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table but I wasn't meeting anyone. I tried the bar scene again, but it was full of the same broken souls, twenty years older. I tried internet dating and ads, but wasn't prepared for the misogyny I was subjected to in the replies. I wasn't prepared for the lies and manipulations, for the men who wanted to use me, or for the men who wanted to cheat on their wives. Even with my experiences, I wasn't prepared for any of this. I tried to weed through it, I tried to be careful but I did not want to deal with what men my age wanted from me.
I set clear boundaries, and most men crossed them. Those were the easy ones to delete. If they pressured me to talk to them on the phone or to meet sooner than I was comfortable, then I knew they would have no problem increasing the pressure to do other things I didn't want to do. One thing I learned from being single and accepting sex in exchange for something else was that it always left me feeling empty. You can't let a man have sex if you are trying to trade it for something else. I wasn't willing to go back to bartering my body. I wanted more this time. I wanted a relationship and wasn't willing to barter sex in order to find one.
I thought I was careful. I was honest and straightforward in what I expected and what I wanted in a partner. I exchanged emails with a fellow. I can't remember his name but I'll call him Stan. He was a superintendent of a public school system in Pennsylvania. He said he was in the process of divorcing his wife but that the marriage had been over for some time. I could relate to that. He seemed to want the same things I did, he said all the right words and we had talked for some length of time. I agreed to travel to PA to meet with him and have dinner.
I wore a cute pair of sweats to drive in and brought along a really nice retro style dress. He was a little older than I was but I was open to anything. When I was close, he called and told me he left the garage door open, I was to pull in and he would close the door. He said he had a reputation and didn't want his neighbors gossiping about him. That was suspicious. When I got there, he arrived at the door in a pair of old and tattered sweats and was much older than he told me he was! You would think he would want to make a good impression and at least have dressed for my arrival. As I approached him, all I could smell was old people. He reeked of old people. I decided then and there I would make it through dinner and that would be the end of him. I entered his home, and asked if he had a computer. I wanted to check in with my friends, a part of the safety measures I was putting into place. He did and while I was logging on, he massaged my shoulders. That was too much too soon. Then he tried to talk me into having dinner in the privacy of his own home. That was also a resounding no. It was bad enough I was subjected to an uncomfortable dinner, but I was not getting a good feeling about this. I suddenly knew why I agreed to sex with some men, even though it really wasn't what I wanted. Fear. I was afraid in saying no I was going to be hurt in ways I didn't want to be hurt. I was getting a little afraid that was going to happen here, but I wasn't the child I was before. I wasn't going to barter sex so I didn't have to be afraid, either. I told him I wanted to change so we could go to dinner and asked him where I could get dressed. I was apprehensive. I went into the room and closed the door, wondering if there was a hidden camera somewhere. The creep meter was swinging off the edge. As I looked around, I saw jewelry and perfume, the signs a woman was living in this room. I asked him about it and he said it was his wife's bedroom. She was off at a conference for the weekend. They were getting a divorce but were living together until the divorce was final. That was the last straw for me. I assumed when he said he was getting a divorce that they were living separate lives. They had separate bedrooms, but that is far from separate lives. I gathered up my things to leave and told him he shouldn't call me. There were too many lies. He became agitated and his voice rose as he tried to justify his lies, to explain them away. He started to threaten me and suddenly thought better of it. He tried to block my attempt to leave when I reminded him people knew where I was. If he wanted to keep his reputation, he would let me leave unharmed. He moved out of the way. The entire drive home I thought I had dodged a bullet. I was very grateful my friends wanted to know my every move. They had his full name, address and we had done a background check on him before I went. Too bad you can't do a background check on being a douche.
I learned something important from him though. It's a shame I felt sleeping with a man was better than being hurt if I didn't. It puts a whole new perspective into the rape culture conversation and I wonder how many other women felt it was better to endure sex rather than to be hurt? Would I have been raped if I declined? I will never know, but I do know this time I wasn't willing to barter potential safety in exchange for use of my body. You can't call it rape if you are trying to avoid potential harm, but you can't call it consent either. A woman should never feel obligated to have sex in fear of the man getting angry enough to hurt her. That's as gray as a gray area gets.
I did not have good experiences with my ventures into online dating. Men there are not shy of being abject pigs. I tell them I will not engage in cybersex or sex talk and they do not hold their contempt for my boundaries back. I am clear on what I want and expect and they don't hold their despise for me back on that matter either. I am honest and straightforward and get called names for it. Some men went so far as to write pages of their thoughts on the kind of woman I am. I think they must send them out like form letters to discourage confident, assertive women from venturing out into the online dating field. It worked, I wasn't ready for that kind of negativity and hostility. I did have a couple of really good connections, which ended abruptly when I told them I wouldn't sleep with them the second time we went out. I was clear I wanted a relationship, but they thought they could charm me into a hookup. One guy seemed to be on the same page as I was until I mentioned I was an Atheist. He was shocked and offended. It was on my profile, I wasn't hiding anything. I'm thinking of giving online dating a try again, maybe after the holidays. I know what to expect now, and my spirit isn't as fragile as it was after my husband left. I'm in a better place. I'm stronger, and more self assured in my sexuality.
I went into dating thinking that was what I should do. It was a mistake for many reasons, and I'm happy now a relationship did not develop. It would have been another failure. I wasn't in any kind of a place to choose someone who would make a good partner for me. I had a lot of healing to do from what my husband had put me through, and I was about to take a massive hit I never saw coming. I thought I had remembered what I needed to about the sexual abuse I had endured as a child. I could not have been more wrong. The next memory to break through would shatter my growing sexuality, and bring it to a screeching halt. You can't grow what you haven't healed.