Posts tagged ‘fear’

Hurt

I haven’t posted in a while, mostly due to not knowing what to say.

A few weeks ago we were woken late at night by a call from a member of the Boyfriend’s family notifying us that his daughter had been raped at a party.

Quite honestly, the list of women (and men) I know who have been raped or molested is staggeringly long. That doesn’t make it any easier when you hear that it’s happened again, especially to someone you might barely know, but whom your loved one loves dearly.

The compressed anger I felt from my own past experiences (the ex-husband was an abusive bastard), including my daughter’s molestation when she was in grade school, resulted in me just shaking for the next 24 hours. I watched the Boyfriend’s daughter being surrounded by friends, family and more adults than I’d thought possible jumping in to support her, help her and hound the police to do something.

Part of me was comforted by that. Part of me was crushed. Who was there for me when I lived in fear of my own husband for eight years? My mother, for one, but other than telling me that the spare bedroom in her house would always be available to me whenever I was ready to leave the bastard, there really wasn’t much else in the way of support. I put on a stubbornly brave face and told everyone I was FINE, leave me alone. So they did.

When my daughter’s rape was reported, most of the adults involved–friends of the perpetrator–denied it could have happened. They called my daughter a liar, backed themselves up with age and authority, told me they’d known him for so many years and didn’t believe he was capable of such a thing.

Denial. Suppression. Willful blindness. Arrogance. Delusion.

Driving the Boyfriend’s daughter back from a therapy session recently, she confided that she was tired of talking about what happened. She didn’t want to keep bringing it up, just wanted it to go away.

How often does rape go unreported for the same reason? Just make it go away. The boys involved and their friends have tormented her, posting on twitter and facebook, spreading rumors. Maybe they’re scared, maybe they’re just that badass that they don’t care, I don’t know.

What I do know is this has been a devastating situation for the Boyfriend. My own father never knew what I went through. If he had known, I would have been mortified and deeply ashamed (as if I wasn’t already, just very good at hiding it behind a veneer of aloofness and superiority). I watch the Boyfriend go through grief, anger, frustration, and other emotions while I hide behind my all-too familiar aloofness. I’m fine. Just stop asking what’s bothering me. 

I’m grieving the loss of innocence my daughter and I suffered through, and the lack of support we had to get on with our lives. I am slightly jealous that the Boyfriend’s daughter has an army of people behind her, smothering her with love and support, and that my daughter and I didn’t. I am selfishly crushed at how this has affected my relationship with the Boyfriend, at how distant we’ve become recently, just as we’d moved in closer. Sex? What’s that? Something that happens once in a while, if we’re lucky. He’s too tired, I’m sick, someone else needs one of us to be somewhere else for hours on end, etc. The stress is overwhelming. I feel like I’m supposed to be supportive and help him through this, but there are too many conflicting emotional gremlins nipping at my heels to keep me on the selfless path.

I want to feel loved, protected, safe. And I do, but for all the times I haven’t been safe and had to stand up for myself. Because of those times, I am always on the defensive. Trust is a huge issue. I’ve never allowed another lover to be physically dominant with me in the ways I’ve allowed the Boyfriend to. I trust him fully, but do I trust myself? The honest answer is no, so I pull away, retreating to anywhere but where he is.

There has got to be a way out of this.

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guilt

Occasionally Married Man and I have long text discussions about life, kids, relationships, sex, and whatever else comes along, including guilt. Recently he shared the following:

Freedom is being able to choose what makes you feel good and bad as opposed to being pushed or pulled. Now you select a code of ethics that suits you… it’s based on love, respect, and your thoughts as opposed to a preconceived notion or externally injected belief.

Imagine a world with no jealousy or envy? That’s paradise.

Having been raised in a family in which guilt was part of the glue that held us together, it’s taken a lot of work for me to get past it. Guilt served as the driving force in so many relationships, and even helped to keep me in a miserable marriage for too many years. There is perhaps a healthy level of guilt which keeps us human, and I respect that. What I choose to ignore is that level of guilt which we, especially in the US, consider to be “normal” and dictates how we respond to one another.

At some point guilt becomes self destructive, not socially constructive. To feel bad for causing another being pain is to feel empathy. Guilt is not necessary in that case. It becomes negative reinforcement, whereas empathy becomes positive reinforcement. Typically, animals (including humans) respond well to positive reinforcement.

How did I move past my own guilt and get on with finding a better life? Talked to my friend Angela Lord at Feel Good On Purpose. I find that since my session with her last autumn, I’ve not had the same fear/guilt pangs that I had previously accepted as “normal”. I can choose to empathize with people, or I can choose to remove myself from a situation, whichever suits the situation best. There are times when guilt really serves no other purpose than to drag one’s self-esteem down, which is counter-productive in the grand scheme of things. My mind now reasons things through by asking “is that going to be a good thing for me to do, or will it harm anyone?” before I commit to an action. Guilt serves the same purpose, but at the end instead of the beginning. Guilt says “that was stupid. Look what you did” without offering much in the way of constructive help. It’s more deconstructive, really.