AM I GAY, OR IS IT COVID?

Where to begin? So much to say, and no words to say it with. This pandemic that has affected the world has left me largely untouched. A homebody already, I have found that my day to day has not differed much. The biggest difference for me, right now, is I should be shopping for back to school supplies for my children. This is largely unnecessary, as they are staying home. There is too much uncertainty for me to risk their health, and thus my family’s health, to send them when I am in a position where I can keep them home. This was a fairly easy decision for me to come to. There are parents who have no choice in the matter and must send their kids. Keeping mine home creates space for those who can’t. Mom only finished her chemo sessions last month, so she is still immunocomprised. I would be doing her no favours by sending my kids. They are okay with staying home. The biggest hurdle is neither of my kids have great attention spans. So it will fall to me to be encouraging them, without nagging, to pay attention and get their assignments done. I worry for my oldest. This is his last year in the french school system. He has chosen to go to an english speaking high school next year. This is a very important year both socially and academically. With an extra big adjustment next year. I hope I am not setting him up to fail.

As for me, I think I’m doing alright. I have had a lot of time to do some thinking, and some deep soul diving. Mostly about my sexuality. This is going through some deep revisions. I always considered myself bi, or, as a term my friend introduced me to, hetero-flexible. But the more I come to terms with my history and myself, I find this is not quite as fitting as it once was. I was talking to a guy, the first man I’ve talked to with the potential for dating, since the assault, and I found myself discomfited whenever the talk came around to us meeting. At first I thought it was just because trust with men is difficult. But the more we talked, the more I found myself finding excuses not to meet. Covid always was the go to response, but if I’m honest with myself, it goes much deeper than that. When my wonderful therapist asked if I felt ready to be someone’s sexual partner, I had a very physical reaction indicating the answer to that was no. I immediately zoned out, and started trembling. This confused me, as I have been sexual with women since the assault, and never had that reaction at all. So what was that reaction all about? A friend of mine is exploring her burgeoning feelings of attraction to women, and found an article on Compulsory Heterosexuality. She sent it to me, and wow, did it make a lot of sense. Did my early experience with M, the pedophile, shape me? After all, I did go home to be with his wife. And how did my even earlier experiences with my cousin affect me? Growing up in a very religious family, homosexuality was always taught as wrong. So i internalized my wrongness, and covered it up with a dual attraction to both men and women. Before I met my husband, and after our separation, I looked for validation, not from myself, but from men. Of course, I didn’t see it that way. I thought I had broken the chains that kept me bound, and was enjoying my freedom as a woman. But was I? I tried dating couples, thinking that would provide me what I thought I needed: a sexual experience with both genders, and no strong relational ties to bind me. I much preferred being with the woman, and was rather indifferent to the man.

Since then, I’ve been exclusively dating women. And I can honestly say that I don’t feel that I ever zoned out while being intimate. Not once that I recall. Yet I can’t remember, with any clarity, any of the times I’ve been with a man. All the memories are fuzzy and fade in and out with each other, faces and names long forgotten. I do remember always feeling surprised when we were done, as if I was someplace else, someone else, never feeling satisfied. And the last time I went on a date with a man, I went along with everything he wanted because I felt I couldn’t say no. From the moment I stepped into his apartment, every fibre of my being was telling me to leave. But I didn’t. And when he got violent, I accepted that as normal, and just shut down.

Talking to my friend, I posed the question, “How much of my lack of interest in men is due to my past experiences, my past traumas, and how much of that is me being legit into only woman at this stage of my life?” She responded with, “Does it matter?” I didn’t have an answer then, but I think I sort of do now. It matters to me, because I don’t want my life to be a knee-jerk reaction to my past, but something that truly comes from me. I don’t want to be a lesbian because all the men in my life have been abusive jerks. If I am a lesbian, I want to know it is because I am, not as a default, but because I truly love women. I joked with my former therapist that women were crazy, and men assholes, so it was better to stay single. She took a bit of offense to that. Maybe my crazy draws crazy. I can look at a man, and see him as attractive, but when I see a woman I find attractive, my body responds, not just my mind.

So that’s what keeps me up at night these days. Oh yeah, and by the way, when I had a kid free weekend and told the guy I was talking to that I was taking that weekend for some serious me time, and well, I haven’t heard from him since. Dodged a bullet, and now I can rest easy, knowing his true self.

I hope to start writing again with some regularity. Take care and be safe out there.

I BROKE HIM

I had a major epiphany this weekend.  Life-changing, send my world on it’s head epiphany.  Fifteen year old me, trapped in an abusive relationship with a 32 year old man.  Very abusive.  At seventeen, when he removed my collar, he told me I was “too old.  I have nothing left to teach you”.  I’ve spent twenty-eight years feeling rejected, broken, not good enough. But then I had a thought, ‘what if I look at his uncollaring me as freeing me, instead of rejecting me’?  Which opened up the flood gates.  He always called me a Brat, which is a type of submissive in the BDSM community. Which, I have to admit, I am.  Always have been, and likely always will be.  Now here’s where things get crazy:  what if he released me, not because he was feeling altruistic, but because he couldn’t break me.  What if I broke him?

He could never beat the mouthy out.  I always maintained that little spark of me.  I remember the way his wife was: never spoke, never looked up, never complained.  I don’t even remember her name.  That is what he wanted from me.  Complete odedience.  My dad tried to beat that into me till I was eighteen.  He didn’t fair any better.

I was sharing my new found outlook with my best friend, Jen.  And her reply was priceless, “You broke a paedophile!”  Which made me happier than it should have.

And on that note, good night.

GONE THE INFECTIOUS SCAB OF MEMORY

Hello again. For those following, you know that I spent two years in an unhealthy fake BDSM relationship. I was 15, he was 32. I was young, naive, hungry for love and acceptance. He was a pro at what he was doing. And next week is the anniversary of him callously removing my collar and throwing me out, stating I was too old. Two weeks shy of my 18th birthday. I was 17 years old, and had spent the previous two years as his abused sex slave. “You’re too old. I have nothing left to teach you,” indelibly written in my brain. I have spent the last twenty-eight years spending this month in great emotional pain, feeling rejected and not good enough, and all the other fun psyche damaging negative self talk. That ends today.

Today I pull off the infectious scab of his memory and forge a new narrative. Freeing me from his slavery was the best thing he could have done for me. Gone the beatings, the gang rapes, the honeyed lies. No more living in fear. Free to heal, to discover who I am without being coloured by him. It’s been a long, long climb to get here. But here I am. FINALLY! Slowly, painfully, learning and accepting it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t deserve what happened. I didn’t ask for what happened. And then he set me free. FREE!!! Too bad it took me so long to figure this out. That he was a paedophile, an abusive paedophile. As if there’s any other kind. And now I’m free. Free to re-write my narrative. Not my fault. And he set me free. He didn’t reject me. He set me free.

Here’s to a fresh new look on painful old wounds.

Alone in the Dark

Fortunately, most nights the prazosin does its job and my nights are nightmare free. Which is a relief after years of constant bad dreams and terrors. Unfortunately, it can’t stop the terrors. Or the somatic memories. Which are coming in full force. I always forget the body keeps track of the changing seasons, and the associated traumas that come with them. I ignore the tightness of the chest, the trouble breathing. The tightening of the body that indicates a collapse response. But to what? There is no reason for this sudden onset of dark memory. Until I look at the calendar, and realize this is the time of the great uncollaring. Two years a sex slave. There is no way to soften those words. The acceptance of the reality of the years I spent from 15 to 17 has been hard to swallow. The depravity, the cruelty, the bones of affection that kept me coming back. The collar that was supposed to indicate a commitment from him to me, me to him. In some ways, that collar was more symbolic than a wedding band. It meant my total submission to him. My mind, my heart, my soul, my body. And a promise to take care of all of me. To cherish that submission. Instead, I was trafficked, used, abused, and, jsut shy of my eighteenth birthday, he took the collar off. “You’re too old. There’s nothing left to teach you,” summarily dismissed. No contact ever again. Thirty years later, I’m still dealing with the aftermath of that cold abandonment. So much of how I see myself shaped by those cold, calculating hands.

And I lie awake at night, woken up by the spectre of his presence. Even now, there are times the agony of the missing collar hurts worse than the missing wedding band of a failed marriage. I swallow hard, expecting to feel the hard leather around my neck. It’s absence a hard thrust into reality. A reality where I feel my failure keenly. Even though, really, I didn’t fail. I was trapped. And even though the method of my escape was brutal and cold, I did. Not unscathed. Not whole. But free.

And yet I wake at night. Cold sweats. Rapid, shallow breathing. I feel his breath on the nape of my neck. The touch of the lash. The cuffs. As I type this, I need to practice my grounding techniques. The touch of the floor on my feet. I’m safe. I’m where I chose to be. I can leave. I’m alone. That’s the big one. I’m alone. I’m all alone. By choice. No one around to hurt me. No one to pin me down. I’m free to be the best self I can be.

GUILTY

A child on trial
Her torn innocence
On the stand

Ashamed and degraded
Her sins laid bare
For all to see

Being needy
Her greatest crime
Wanting to be loved

And she believed
His honeyed words
Even as violated her

A child on trial
Herself The Judge
The Jury, The Executioner

ONCE, LONG AGO

I’ve written about the past abusive relationship I was in from 15 to 17. How he trained me to be his play toy. A lesson I learned so well I had no sense of self worth outside of my body as an offering. One of the ways I process my shit is by writing. This is painful to read; trust me, it was painful to write.

Once, long ago

You told me that you loved me

Worshipped my body

With mouth and lash

Taught me that I existed

For others pleasures

Not my own

Though my body responded

Once, long ago

You claimed me as your own

Red marks on my body

Leather collar around my neck

You sold me

Watched as I was used

The ultimate symbol

Of your ownership

Once, long ago

I believed you

As you stripped me

Of clothing and will

Broken to

Your base desires

Years later

Still offering my body

Lost in a sea

Of misplaced desire

Seeking solace

For something that should never

Have been missing

RAVENOUS

Feel the need in your soul

The dark longing

Deep within

Face to the sky

Hungering for truth

For peace

Aching for something lost

An empty vessel

Full of want

Full of desire

Craving something so deep

It will never be sated

The ebony darkness

Caresses you

A lover that calls to you

Seductive and false

The moonlight dances

On the scars on your skin

On your psyche

It knows all your secrets

Even the ones

You keep from yourself

The hunger

The void

The vast emptiness

Within you

The one that calls for comfort

In any shape

In any form

The one that keeps

You up at night

Cold sweat on the pillow

The Beast has no name

Knows only it is ravenous

Rapacious

And under the moon

Most powerful

The starlight

Tickles its hunger

For flesh

For the blade

For release

In any shape

By any means

The Void so deep

An abyss in your soul

Nothing fills it

Nothing sates it

No warmth

No heat

Endless longing

Meaningless sounds

Spew forth

Conveying

How voracious

The appetite is

For flesh

For blood

Anything to take the edge off

If only

For the moment

ECSTASY HAS ITS PRICE

Strapped down

Unable to move

Unable to see

You taught me

To love the lash

Pain and Pleasure

Two sides

Of the same coin

The red welts belie

The soft coos of love

You whisper in my ear

Ecstasy always

Had its price

SHAME AND SELF LOATHING

I’ve been struggling with the facts that I stayed in a very abusive relationship with a much older man when I was 15.  I stayed until he ended it shortly before my 18th birthday because, as he put it, I got too old.  Despite the reassurances of my amazing therapist, Vera, I somehow still feel responsible for staying. Over the holidays, my young teenage self was badly triggered and I spent a solid two weeks,  at least, battling the urge to self harm.  Angry Dude (another part of me that has separated from the rest) has been bubbling up with rage and the two have been feeding off of each other. I finally let Angry Dude out, with some careful boundaries.  NO SELF-HARM!!!  Instead, he did some writing.  Harsh, angry words at me for going back again and again.  Here is his story:

IDIOT

You went back

Again and again
Knowing full well
What was in store

IDIOT

You hungered for 
His small mercies
Carfully played
After he used you

Good Girl
My Slut

Positive reinforcement
Being claimed
Being wanted

IDIOT

Was it enough
Was it worth it
The fist in the hair

The violent sex

The beatings
Was it worth it

Going back
Again and again

IDIOT

Not strong enough
To walk away
Though given ample
Opportunity

IDIOT

You let him do things 
No one should endure
Just for his approval

Those damning words
That get me every time

Good GIrl
My Slut

IDIOT

How could you not see
The end
How could you think 
It would last forever

IDIOT

Did you really think 
He wanted YOU? 

Claimed
He said

Your heart
Your body
Your mind
Mine

IDIOT

To be so naive

The beatings
The gang rapes
The timeouts in the closet

IDIOT

There was nothing you
Wouldn’t do for him
Nothing you wouldn’t
Let him do

Your innocence
Your dignity

You gave it all up
For what? 

A gentle touch
A kind word
Thrown like a bone
To a starving dog

IDIOT

You lost so much
Of yourself
Unable to find
Your true self
Given all up for
A gentle word
A false sense of belonging

IDIOT

How could you not see
What he was doing to you
Using you
Corrupting you
Defiling you

IDIOT

How could you believe 
How could you keep
Going back
For more
And more

IDIOT

Now you’re broken
Beyond repair

Vera can’t help fix
The shattered
Remnants
Of your destroyed
Soul

IDIOT

ALL ALONE

I met him when I was 15.  His wife brought me home to “meet” him.  He took my innocence and made me his. Shared me with his friends. Trained me to do his bidding, to serve unflinching.  Scars I’m still trying to heal.  Thanks for coming on the journey to healing with me. 

You take my hand
I’m all alone

You caress my body
I’m all alone

A crowd of strangers 
I’m all alone

Touching me
I’m all alone

Entering me
I’m all alone

Your words try to comfort me
I’m all alone

Empty words of love

I’m all alone

CONTRACTS

So I just realized it’s been almost three months since my therapist renewed my “Contract For Survival”.  Basically it’s a comittment to use my tools before self-harming, and to check myself into the hospital if the suicidal ideation becomes more than just ideation.

What got me thinking about it is tonight I really feel like self harming.  I’m not depressed, I’m not triggered, I just feel the need to feel SOMETHING.  Since my last med adjustment, life has felt flat. As miserable as being in The Abyss was, at least it was something.  I miss the highs, and am starting to wonder if the lows aren’t worth the price to pay.

My life feels like boring pastels, just a shade up from gray.  No vibrancy, no fire.  I miss the fire.  And it’s not as though I get manic, I just suffer from low grade hypomania.  Bad decisions regarding money, sex, whatever.  But isn’t that what life is about?  Making decisions that leave you feeling alive?  NOT stuck in some dull, flat, emotionless pit.  Recently I just had three of my poems published in an ebook.  That were requested. And I was excited for precisely 23 minutes.  And then back to ho hum. And that lack of reaction made me realize I’m missing out on so much emotion because I’m dulled.  Even my poetry is lacking.  It’s so frustrating.  First, the cognitive dulling, now the lack of emotion. I feel like a golem, going through the emotions, pretending to be human.

So this week I’m asking my doctor if we can take my lithium down to 600mg from 900, withough increasing the 15mg of Abilify I’m on. Wish me luck, I think I’m going to need it.

And no, I haven’t self harmed, at least not yet.

Admitting Need

Something my therapist and I have been back and forth with since the beginning is my refusal to admit to needing to need for connection.  Sure I have some real close friends that I have a real bond with, but she insists I need something more.

Because of my history, sex and relationships have always been separate from one another, and that has got me into a LOT of trouble.  The kind that exacerbates an existing PTSD condition.  The trauma work I’ve been doing is apparently working, since the last time I was intimate with someone who was just a booty call left me empty and feeling stuff I didn’t like but didn’t recognize.  She says that someting in me wants more of a connection but my mind has to catch up.  I wrote this poem while trying to sort this crap out. (Yes, emotional stuff is crap as far as I’m concerned).The last line betrayed me.  I almost omitted it when sharing it with my therapist, but I decided if I’m asking for help in fixing my brain, I better be 100% honest with her. And now, I’m sharing it here.

The night it is thick
My intentions are pure
I only want
To make love to you

There is no tomorrow
Only the here and now
I only want
To make love to you

No games to be played
No he said she said
I only want
To make love to you

No heartbreak heartache
No broken promises false protestations
I only want
To make love to you

A lonely life to live