Last week, I realized that it was unlikely that I would ever feel comfortable with my own sexuality, not regard it with disgust and respond to my sexuality with self-loathing, unless I really committed to dealing with what happened to me as a child. (To be clear- I don't have a problem with other people's sexuality, just my own. So other people don't disgust me, I disgust myself.) I've thought about the book a lot in the past couple of years, and told myself about a thousand times that reading it, all of it, and do the writing exercises, working the book and using it to really deal with all my feelings around the abuse, was something I had to do in order to move on. But I find the whole topic abhorrent. I hate thinking about it at all. I feel angry that I was given this burden, but not that angry. Mostly I feel really, really sad.
The pain is somewhat similar to the pain I feel over my brother's death, overwhelming, limitless, like looking at the ocean disappear into a thin, watery blue sky, but it feels very different. I think of the loss of my brother, and it feels like someone is beating me over the head. I think of the sexual abuse, and I feel like a jagged, serrated sword is twisting through my internal organs. When the despair of Jeff's suicide washes over me, it makes my head feel like it's going to explode. When the despair of the sexual abuse overtakes me, I catch my breath and my chest tightens.
Yesterday, I started over with the book and made it to page 37. Laura Davis, who was sexually abused herself, says in the preface that:
"It's been my experience that every time the subject of incest comes up in any kind of personal way, I reexperience the terror I felt as a child being abused." (page 22, third edition)Of course reading a book about it brings it up a lot, which is why I avoided it. While reading those 37 pages, I wept, especially when reading the experience of someone I could relate to. I stopped reading after a half hour, and went to the kitchen to get a bowl of cereal, weeping the whole time. I sat on the couch and cried. I packed my hockey bag and drove to practice, crying the whole time. After practice, I cried while I drove home. I feel like I could keep crying like this forever, and never stop feeling sad and hurt and damaged. I feel like I could grieve for the rest of life over what was taken from me, over the way I was introduced to sexuality at such a young age, over how I was forced to separate myself from my feelings and my body to survive, the numbness, the twisting up of my insides, the betrayal. In that way, it is like the grief I feel over my brother being taken from me, that it goes on forever, but the sexual abuse cuts deep into my sense of self. It is shame over who I am down to the core of my being.
Even though deep down, it is not about anger or revenge, if I could have one thing it would be to be able to give this pain back to my abuser, to give all the pain to all the abusers out there. Abusers minimize what they do, rationalize and make excuses, but if they knew what this felt like for their victims, they couldn't do that. If they knew and felt this despair, they wouldn't be able to live with it. Live a life of sickening terror.
I made a 4 month plan to finish the book this time. I have other books, about being sexual when you are a sexual abuse survivor, about rape and recovery and PTSD workbooks. If I can make it through this book, the book that's scared me for so long, I think I can take a step forward in getting better. I'll never be "normal" but maybe I can be happy with who I am. I don't think the people I know realize how far I am from that now. I have an idea of what I'd like it to be, though.