Okay. Here we are. The journey proper begins.
But before I start, let me just say that there’s this big part of me which is all like this:
Wanting to hide, feeling unsafe, wanting to protect myself, dreading everything that might be about to come. Unhappy that it has to be so difficult. Wanting to just cover my eyes and pretend to not be concerned by any stupid journey. But despite those feelings, this part of me is still being good, keeping silent, at least. No panic, just a littke unwillingness. And it’s just one part. The other part still wants to go ahead. So here I am, setting out for the journey.
Part one of the journey is called “becoming aware” and consists of four chapters. This is the first of those four and it’s called “realizing there is a sexual issue”.
The central statement of the chapter is that it says many survivors of sexual abuse don’t realize they have sexual issues and/or don’t want to face the fact that they do, because it’s embarrassing and personal and hard to face. Yeah. I agree. The chapter also said that often there’s a key moment or “flash of discovery” when people realize they do have a sexual issue.
Then the book prompted me to consider if any of those four apply to my own life:
- I’m acting in strange ways that don’t make sense.
- My sexual problem isn’t getting any better.
- My partner is hurting.
- New circumstances have made me more aware.
And that’s basically the chapter.
Phew! I’m relieved. Nothing too bad yet.
So here I am, giving those questions serious thought, even when I am pretty sure that I already realize that I do have sexual issues. But it can’t hurt to add some structure to the realization, so here I go. If you are sensitive to sexual content or feel offended by it, you might want to stop reading. Please make a safe decision for yourself.
1. I’m acting in strange ways that don’t make sense.
Bull’s eye. That’s pretty much the most obvious thing about my sexual issues. I am often acting in strange ways that don’t make sense. But that puts it mildly. I’m acting and reacting in strange ways that make me feel utterly disgusted and sickened with myself. I feel deeply embarrassed over many of those behaviors. At the same time I can’t switch them off. I’ll name a few, despite the embarrassment, so I don’t end up beating around the bush, as I guess that’s not the goal of “realizing”.
So what strange ways do I act in?
- I have a sick tendency to look for sex with random men as a form of self-punishment. I make myself available for whatever they’d like to do, kinky stuff, stuff that hurts, whatever.
- Imagery of sexual violence haunts me and torments and arouses me at the same time. I hate it. Sometimes it stops at the mental images, sometimes they come with urges to act upon them.
- I misunderstand innocent affection within the family for sexual attention and react accordingly. Or I get ideas all by myself and behave inappropriately towards dad and sometimes mom, too.
There are more things, but those are embarrassing me enough already and you probably get the idea. All those things don’t make sense, because I’m in no way living in an environment that appreciates or promotes those behaviors anymore, I really don’t want to behave that way and the behavior generally has unpleasant results. Even so, I behave that way.
2. My sexual problem isn’t getting any better.
I have been having those issues ever since I was removed from my family. That’s 11 long years ago this January. During the time I lived in and out of hospitals and group homes the problems haven’t changed one iota, but then, I never really cared about it. Ever since I came live with my new family, I have tried to keep the behavior under control, but it’s often not successful. Still. So it’s not really getting any better. Check.
3. My partner is hurting.
I don’t have a partner. I’m not anywhere near having one. I don’t even want one. I’m glad. So that, at least, isn’t a problem. But if I had one, that partner would probably be hurting.
4. New circumstances have made me more aware.
Well, the circumstances aren’t brand-new anymore, but even so: check. Coming to live with my family has definitely made me more aware that I have, indeed, issues. See, when I was living in hospitals and group homes, I was living with all those other people, other girls mainly, who were also a few cards short of their full decks, many of whom were not behaving that much differently from myself. So even when I was having problems because of my issues, I wasn’t the only one and I could still feel like this was somewhat normal. Well… now, living with my family, I’m definitely the odd one out.
Okay, so altogether this was a fairly gentle start to the journey. The realizing part is okay with me. It’s embarrassing to write about, but even so, still okay. So it was an easier start than I thought. I’m doing okay. I’m relieved.
Tomorrow’s chapter is called “acknowledging the abuse”. We’ll see how that one goes. Tomorrow.
Missed the past episodes of the journey? Here they are:
MALTZ, Wendy (2012): The Sexual Healing Journey. A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse; Third Edition; Harper Collins. New York.