Sunday, October 31, 2010

some most important things

1) The person who sexually abused me was sadistic about it, mostly emotionally sadistic. Fear leaves less obvious marks than pain, and she used our fear in very intentional ways. This was about control. As best I remember, she preferred the unwilling. By a lot.

2) The person who sexually abused me was a child herself at the time. She is now one of my closest friends.

This was not an easy process, and obviously it isn´t always a comfortable friendship, but I think it was the most honest thing to do. I genuinely like her and enjoy her company. She is not the same person now that she was as a child. There was a long time of separation, and then I slowly came to know the person she had become as an adult.

As I write these words, that she is not the same, I wonder at them. Am I being honest? Am I hiding from myself? Am I betraying myself? Do I believe this? She´s not as different as I would sometimes like.

But she is not the same. And I believe in forgiveness; I believe in letting people become something different, if they´re desperately trying to, if they´re willing to behave differently, instead of locking them into what they were in your head. Someone who messed up before they were twelve deserves that. This, I unreservedly believe.

3) As far as I can tell, the response (or more often, lack of a response) and the cultural atmosphere in which I grew up did at least as much damage as the actual abuse. This atmosphere consisted significantly of my parents doing their best to create a gospel centered home. I alternate between being angry at God/Mormonism and wanting nothing to do with him. More later on this.

4) My parents, who I love and respect, were very negligent.

5) I am ashamed of all of the preceding items.

What makes trauma trauma is that your brain can´t quite handle it. You can´t grasp that this is actually happening to you. If it is happening to you, and it really, really isn't your fault, that means it could happen any time and it is completely out of your control.

That weigh is crushing, and frequently trauma victims will completely re-invent themselves to avoid it. I caused this, and so I must become as different as possible to stop it from happening again. It doesn´t work, of course; it can always happen again. And once you´ve accepted the adaptive premise that this is all your fault, the shame is permeating, brutal, reasonless, and nearly impossible to contain.

6) Lastly (again), in Andrea Dworkin´s words:

¨As a feminist, I carry the rape of all the women I've talked to over the past ten years personally with me. As a woman, I carry my own rape with me. Do you remember pictures that you've seen of European cities during the plague, when there were wheelbarrows that would go along and people would just pick up corpses and throw them in? Well, that is what it is like knowing about rape. Piles and piles and piles of bodies that have whole lives and human names and human faces.¨


___________________________ said...

Yeah.... that's a thing I've noticed about trauma myself.(I think... I always question everything) With most things, one maintains the basic psychological structure. With this, you end up breaking apart, and lose coherence.

I also agree with you that this is one of the major faults of religion. While, I will admit that I think that this is a misinterpretation of some religions, "religiousness" does come hand in hand with a suppression of certain realities.

The fact that you and her became friends is one of the most striking things you can say. I mean, your questions are deep and abiding, but... I dunno, that you even *could* do that suggests strong character.

misssrobin said...

My childhood abuser was a couple of years older than me as well. About 9 or so when it started. He and I have a relationship now as well. I wouldn't say close, we are just such different people. But we try.

The amount of self doubt associated with my own experience can be overwhelming. I question everything. My motivations. My accountability. Others' motivations and accountability. It's so tough not to take the whole thing upon myself.

I am glad you felt like you could write some more. I truly believe that writing or telling your story helps to clear some of the toxins out of your soul.

And, oh, I don't even want to get into my family life growing up. I still have so much work to do there.