We can understand why someone acted as they did but there is still as child inside us who is stuck with those feelings that resulted from actions beyond their understanding or control. There was a time when I scoffed at “the child within” because I didn’t understand that she wasn’t a person apart from me, she was me stuck at age 15. I don’t understand how she grew up to be 15 after what she experienced but it is what it is. Writing that made me realize that her mind protected her by keeping the details of most of her sexual abuse a secret from her. I have both resented and embraced that I have no memory of the actual acts in most cases, only the before.
I want to pass on to you a gift that I have received over and over and it is this, you have a right to your feelings no matter what they are. No one can deny your feelings because they are your feelings. You don’t say to yourself, “Hmm, I think I will feel this way.” Your feelings are a stimulii in reaction to your past experiences. You can control your reactions but you can’t control your feelings. I want to encourage you never to say to someone, “don’t cry” and when they cry ,don’t try to fix them. They need to cry and crying is healthy. Crying is a cleansing emotion and a release valve for tension. I have heard so many times, “I can’t stop crying.” Well, that’s because they are not finished grieving whatever loss they are feeling. If we don’t grieve, we don’t heal. But grief is whole topic unto itself.
I have talked about the sexual abuse that was committed against me, but I have never talked about my feelings surrounding that abuse. Why? Because I am not cognizant of those feelings. I can talk about it all day long and never shed a tear. I have had a couple of therapists point this out. I have stuffed those feelings and others deep inside and I only have reactions to physical stimulii. I have a tendency to cut the love out of making love which is so unfair to my loving husband. It is not something I do intentionally, it comes from the hurt and scared child. In past relationships, I just went through the motions of sex. I felt nothing. It was a means to an end, it was chasing the unavailable feelings of my partner and myself. My first sexual intercourse other than the one as a 4 or 5 year old was planned by me to coincide with my graduation from high school. My partner was my high school boyfriend and we planned to be married at some point. It was totally uneventful. I was depressed the next day but when we saw each other, I got past it. I began to release sexual feelings that I had hidden and apparently there were times when he felt inadequate and made me feel like I was doing something wrong. I felt shamed and my participation in the sexual act changed. I went on automatic pilot.
Until I met Danny. It would be unfair to divulge too much about something meant to be only between us but I can say that he is very unselfish. There is no such thing as automatic pilot with Danny because I never feel used or like I am seeking something I cannot have. The fortunate or unfortunate thing is that his love has unleashed hidden emotions and fears by simply knowing and loving me. I am emotionally invested in this relationship and sometimes it scares me. I let my guard down and body memories come to the surface. Fortunately, I understand where they are coming from but unfortunately I have no control over their affect. Luckily it doesn’t prevent me from enjoying lovemaking with my husband but it does inhibit. Enough said on that subject. However, I do want to talk about the other effects Danny’s love has had. I can sleep at night without my need to “keep watch” and I began to have dreams about unresolved relationships and feelings. It didn’t take much for me to understand what was happening. I felt safe. Safe enough for my mind to open up those stuffed feelings but not safe enough for those repressed memories about the abuse to surface. At one time I wanted to force the issue in therapy and was told that my mind would let me know when I was ready. I am no longer sure that I want to know. I do wonder if those memories are the key to unlocking my ability to “let go”. I don’t lament that I didn’t meet Danny sooner in my life because I know that we both had to be in the right place emotionally for our relationship to be successful. We had to be willing to work hard to get what we both wanted and needed. Love shouldn’t be work, you say. Well, maybe that’s true for people who bring no baggage to the relationship but Danny and I were and are both aware that we brought a lot of baggage.
Continued in Part Three