Into thin air…
“As I cautiously allowed God access to those deepest hurting places, healing eventually came.”
A couple of days after Valentine’s Day, that conflicted holiday where love meets heartbreak meets denial meets confusion meets buying roses or chocolates or some other token of affection to replace the real thing, which is elusive at best, rarely attained for very long, and those who say they did it, well, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. So to see two people who truly love one another is a beautiful thing, it is our gift from God, it is the way we replicate that super-strata-higher-beingness’ greatest trait — the infinite capacity for love (because thinking makes it so, the will to love, to allow love in is what love really is — the open door, to let love in, is love itself; to love without needing something back, another layer in the game, and to love because you appreciate another soul so completely that you actually feel something other than the blase break from perpetual narcissism which accounts for what a lot call ‘love’ when it’s really just a short-term connection, a place in time where the loneliness is broken for a little while, but usually ends up in some bitter lesson where your skin feels like it’s been ripped off, the ‘shedding’ part is not so passive, but more of a necessary process in order to keep trudging on, as we must, for some reason, I ‘m not entirely sold on, just yet.)
I looked at those words when I opened the document where I keep my mind, a bit too unorganized for an army officer (by Campbell-Strong evaluation), Virgo, writer enamored with precision, and they drew my eye right to them — the hurting places, well, that is all Billy and I talk about when we deal with the ongoing process of unraveling the chronic dysfunction that evolves out of sexual abuse that happens to a girl before she even knows her own body, before she can even be expected to understand what pleasure and love mean, when she should be protected from such a predatory onslaught over the years, that lends its damages to associations that continue for a lifetime.
The tricks used to get you there, the promise (in your own coping mechanism system) that it won’t happen again but it does. Lured in based on a seduction that appeals to a child who isn’t even 10 years old yet.
To be told I am a ‘very sexual’ woman still makes me nervous, I don’t know what that means, and I feel the same old pit in my stomach of over-responsibility, the deepest pit of despair for that is the mantra, “It’s all my fault.” You believe (over time, indoctrinated, in tandem with complete submersion of any reality, a default reality world where none of this happens, your life is normal, the overcompensation is a means of expunging the ‘dark matter’ that collects every time a touch makes you want to crawl inside and go away, back into the womb, curled up in a dark cave — the desire to disappear plagues me to this day because I just wish I’d been invisible when I”d walk by, get summoned and submit because I didn’t know what else to do, it felt like I had no choice, I had no ownership over my body from the time I was 4 until at least 11 — and then I was deeply depressed because I never went on a date, while all my friends had boyfriends, I was the perennial third wheel, sometimes making out with their boyfriend’s default friend).
I wanted to be in love, I wanted that most of all. When that didn’t happen, I sublimated, big time, set goals (absent of any reliance on the mercurial attentions of boys) that I achieves, like getting into every college applied to, getting mostly As (I think Calculus burned me) — the turning point A+ on the poetry book assignment for Miss Eppes that everyone else hated, but I loved. It allowed me to sink, deeply, into this world of images, words and meaning that transported my imagination out of the chronic hell I was in, submitting my body to be taken, whenever it was demanded, under the threat of my worst fear coming to fruition: being returned to sender, if I were to tell the truth.
The ‘sender’ being my 16-year old mother and 17-year old father (who she probably lost touch with as soon as he graduated even though they shared this supposed bond of me but in the end, I never feel that way, I feel exactly as I was made to be — an unfortunate result of passion and the sexual expression of what passed for love at that age — a baby no one really wanted for such a promising young woman, my mother was smart, she played the violin, why did I have to come along and screw all that up?) — my birth parents as it were, when I was told, if I told, I would not only never be believed (which made me feel the loneliest of all, the feeling that you will be held accountable for being victimized, it’s one of life’s worst conundrums) — but, because I was adopted, it was okay that my body be used as a toy for a pubescent boy whose beatings at the hand of a parent made him need to take it out on the next one down the line, which happened to be me.
That reality compounded with the matter of being ‘adopted’ really made a mess out of my psyche in so many ways. To be told it’s not wrong, it’s not really incest, because ‘you are adopted,’ to be other, to not belong, to be the one who can be taken advantage of because, as I came to believe over time, I didn’t really exist. By that, I mean, not in the way others existed, as part of something that couldn’t be broken, a family, the ties that bind, blood relatives have this short hand I will never be able to master — it’s just a given. And I have, somewhat, come to terms with that, over time, more of a resignation, a tiredness for coping, analyzing, adjusting, trying to “fix” myself. It’s not that I gave up, I just let go of the whole drive to for perfection, which I had anyway, being a Virgo (or so I was told over and over again until I had to just agree, yes, I am those things, and they were always bad) — and, with my Leo rising (creative energy roaring out) and Scorpio moon (my dark and brooding ‘dark’ side where the poems came from for so long, as a means of processing, in metaphor — because, remember, no one would ever believe the truth from me, and if I even dare try it, the ones I loved most in the world would all turn their backs on me).
The painful irony? It ended up playing out, 30+ years later, around 38-40, when I did tell the truth and, like clockwork, people turned their backs on me, told me I was making excuses (when I was just trying to explain my behavior so they would know I was finally trying to deal with an emotional repression and sexual dysfunction that had been going on my whole conscious life — I mean 4 years old is about as far back as my memory goes, and it’s all cloaked in this sadness of being touched in a way that wreaks havoc with all your emotional triggers of trust, your notion of love, your feeling for your own body, which is a foreign thing that brings you shame, so you just forget it, separate your head and move on through life, only being capable of intimacy when inebriated, unable to trust anyone, really, ever, always holding onto that caveat where those closest to you will do you the most harm).
Well, clearly that is no way to live and it’s taken me my whole life to even understand that. First there was the experience, ongoing for years, that created a dual mentality — my life as I seemed to be living on the outside, and my internal self-effacing infinite shame, which evolved into self-destructive tendencies, a not so carefully veiled desire to just disappear, culminating in a series of massive life-upheaval moves–abusive bosses, abusive partners, a DUI, a mystery illness, losing a place to lay my head, sleeping on the sidewalk across from Capitol records (where the Beatles are still in the window) — a massive failing, and for the person I was, the one who had tried so hard (to be authentic, to be a decent person, to work hard for everything she ever got, to appreciate all she had, to be a good friend, a good daughter, a good sister, and then, bam, at 22, a good “mate” to a man who replicated the dysfunction I’d come from to a tee–abusive, creative, smart and adventurous — luring me in with the good stuff, only to slam me down with some form of exploitative — I went down to the drugstore / to get my fair share of abuse – power play. In this case, it was always and forever his house and I could be evicted, at will, for not fulfilling some unspoken expectation — once again, a pattern my family perfected — that would get me in trouble weeks later when I couldn’t even recall the perceived infraction.)
What this was a perfect playing out of the same patterns I had been subjected to and then embraced, the Stockholm syndrome-redeux, a slight spin on the principles of wagging your tail when your torturer comes by with some bread. You love the crumbs you’re given, the sparse approval, the very rare instances when you are not put down for being ‘stupid’ (yes, the very same person who was molesting me, 7 years my senior, would tell me I was ‘stupid’ for asking kid-questions about things on tv, a plot hole in a movie, trying to understand my world, and being told I was dumb, basically I could never understand, I was just that way, and I should just shut up.
So anyone out there keeping track you’ve got a girl, who is adopted, who is told it’s okay to exploit her because she’s not really part of this thing called a family unit, she’s the spare part, the thing to be discarded, used up, touched when she doesn’t want to be, intruded upon in places she’s not ready for, exposed to the confusion of sexual pleasure before you are ready to feel the things about that contact that make it matter, give it meaning — like love, or just being attracted to someone roughly your own age who you might want to express that physicality with for an instant, in the long timeline of consorting with another for human contact to the baseline conquests that come from all sides as the years pass, and you don’t even know you’re in some kind of prime.
Luckily, I’ve had three so far, the 22-and-seeing-the-world (having given up on the whole boyfriend quest) phase, where I was fleshy and sensually blossoming from birth control pill side effects; around 33, when “the prime” hits, and I finally got to enjoy being in my body–oh, but my mind had not caught up, in the least bit; and now again, I get another peak experience as mind-body-and soul have moments of convergence, when I can actually feel something akin to love expressed through the intimate act of letting myself be — loved.
And, for this, I have no one to thank by Billy, the man who’d had more lovers than average, even by the most generous standards, but who is the opposite of the men I grew up with — he is loyal and true. Oh, sure, there are many other demons–they have been qualitatively accounted for, lived through and performed the requisite ‘almost did us in’ acts involved with pain, addiction and self-loathing that come with the territory of an injured body, tortured soul and drug-induced mental state in order to cope with the world as it is, because it’s just unacceptable on so many levels.
The point of all this was that I saw these words:
“As I cautiously allowed God access to those deepest hurting places, healing eventually came.”
…and I felt it, today, in fact, I felt these points exactly — ‘cautiously allowed God access to” my pain — I never trusted God either, in fact, sometimes that entity is the worst of all — how could you, if you are omniscient or omnipotent or even supposed to represent ‘good’ allow this to have happened to me, to so many children in the world, still to this day, when we have the means to evolve our consciousness into healthy human behavior, how could you let this happen? To me? How can I ever believe in some spiritual force that let something this horrific go on for so long and at such a vulnerable age, effecting my whole life, creating hardship for me that I would have rather not had, having endured so much so early on.
But, over time, I have come to realize or is it simply to believe and therefore “hope for the best” in my most plucky mid-west borrowed accent, that it is not that way at all. It is something else entirely. This suffering may have no ultimate meaning, it may just be senseless after all, but I am going to ascribe some meaning to it within the context of my life. I’m not sure what that will be, I may not even know when I die, what it was all for, but I have stopped considering ‘the other,’ as in what might have been had I not endured such a perverted perspective from the time I can remember knowing I was a girl (before that you are just a kid) until I barely reached puberty, and then I wanted to love, but couldn’t.
I’m not even sure I can truly love now. I think it has been ruined for me. I love animals, children and good friends. I love trees, horses and a great photograph. I love poetry, music and the beach. But can I love another human being as fully as I think we are supposed to — I am not sure I know what that feels like to tell you if I can.
I love and adore the man I’m with for our emotional honesty, our unspoken closeness, our support of one another, his love for me, his encouragement and his healing through a sacred bond that 2 people decide on when they commit to see it through and learn what they can from the process, grow together and always come back to that feeling we have that we were meant to be together, for some reason, in some way.
So it’s not that — what it is pertains to my capacity to love, I will always wonder about, because a part of me is just, well, dead. I cry at sad movies, I feel empathy, I care for people — but I don’t know if I can let myself go, ever, to love the way I think other people might. It’s just the way it is.
I never had the storybook wedding or the romantic newlywed time (I sort of had that with the surfer-jeweler who would fly off into a rage and pull the rug right out from under me, like I’d seen my grandfather do to my father, to all of us, when he drove us out of his house with insanity manifested as rage and bile–I was familiar with it, so I guess it had to come around again, I don’t know why it just can get easier, as if you’ve put in your time and now you get a break — everyone gets a quota of assholes they have to deal with, and then it’s all over, they get to use cruise control for a while, until another bump in the road — wouldn’t it be nice if life worked like that, right on schedule, pain and suffering doled out equally and over time so no one gets more than their ‘fair share.’)
Instead, I get to be told, by the obnoxious lesbian who calls my end of the spectrum “you people” (dirty heterosexuals) “don’t let your bad karma rub off on me, I’ve had a great January!” Yeah, well, my karma must be for being a real asshole sometime in a past life, maybe a Genghis Kahn-type or a real player with no regard for the hearts I broke, because my heart has been broken so many times the scar tissue is what’s holding it together.
And yet, there is this, which spoke to me because I cautiously approached God, let him/her/the spirit in the sky in at my darkest hour, and instead of turning a blind eye, walking away, berating me or abandoning the kid with major abandonment issues (you can’t help it, being adopted, in our society, the way it is about bloodlines and namesakes, genetic disposition — taking credit for when it works out, dispelling as an anomaly when not going so great — “he must be the milkman’s” syndrome — you feel abandoned, it’s in your bones, the construct of your head, and working on it all your life will only make it fade, never completely dissipates, but that’s okay, I don’t know anything else, so I am adjusting to the resignation and replacing it with other ‘feelings’ to approximate what I have never known anyway) — instead of just not belonging anywhere, to anyone (there have been times when no one would claim me) there is this entity who, if I let him/her/it in, will heal me.
“As I cautiously allowed God access to those deepest hurting places, healing eventually came.”
If only because I am the most broken I can be. I deserve forgiveness, I guess, but what did I do to need to be forgiven? It’s forgiving myself that has been the impossible feat, the mount Everest of emotional rites of passage, the sense of shame that an abused child puts on like a cloak, assumes as their own, and adapts to suit their own version of self-destruction — if I do myself in first, no one can finish the job.
The gasp of recognition grasped is this: to open the door to that force of light, goodness, love and hope is the only shot at healing, which is something I strive for, more than anything else, to reclaim where I was before I got derailed (slowly letting that go–because, as Billy says, I wouldn’t be the person I am now, without all these horrific experiences–I am not sure what that means exactly, just yet, but it feels right, it feels like something I can be proud of, if not quite wearing a badge of honor to proclaim what I’ve been through and how I’ve come out on the other side repeatedly), to let go of what I thought I was supposed to be by now, where I would be deemed worthy, where my brainpower, definitive approach to life and carefully culled style and grace, based on how well I can turn intent into action (instead of the all-too-often scenario where we find ourselves in full-on bull-in-a-china-shop-mode with our intent spilling over into the aisles and we knock over everything we are trying to keep from breaking — and we aren’t able to stop it, the best we can do is see the reality of the situation and move on, to bigger and better mistakes, mishaps and what-do-I-do-know-itis).
Getting one’s intent into alignment with one’s ultimate actions and effect on other people is part of this healing, I hope, taking the pain that was inflicted upon me, and continues to infect my life, manifesting itself in all sorts of self-destructive maneuvers (what people who take all the credit for the good fortune that comes their way call ‘choices’ and the inherent laws of attraction whereby we each are so powerful in creating our good luck, our fortune and fame, our celebrity-status, our Oprah interview and Presidential invitation to shake hands, that anyone with a spell of bad luck gets conveniently written off as someone who not only didn’t bring good stuff to them, but actually invited in the bad, knowingly, willingly and with a certain reckless aplomb).
What doesn’t get factored in to that equation is when things happen to us, the random chaos of the universe inflicting itself upon us to see how we react, the senseless suffering– do people who are starving in Africa really manifest that upon themselves, all because they don’t follow the rules of the Secret, which isn’t available in their village.
I simply don’t get that, I can’t abide by it, I feel that we are all susceptible to bad as well as good, it’s what we do with it that matters, it’s how we can take those experiences and shape and mold them into something that might help ease the pain of another, to help lessen the collective, unnecessary distress that has been passed down for so long (abuse, anger, violence in the generations before me turned into sexual abuse, psychological manipulation and emotional exploitation, to such an extent that it’s taking me my entire life to get over)–so there’s your answer, when you asked, “Did that mess you up?”
The answer is a resounding ‘YES!’ but I am going to overcome the mess and rebuild a more beautiful life upon the ruins of the past. Wish me luck in this.
God, I let you in, please hear my pain, you know what to do, I am sure, and help me heal.
I have only gotten to this place by believing I would not survive the very same things I now rely on for my strength. It is the true secret, one must feel to be human, and to be human is to accept the suffering of all mankind and to do your best to alleviate it, any way you can, this seems to me to be the healing part.
And that was more than I ever intended to say on the subject, being in the thick of it as we speak, patterns of not knowing how to protect myself adequately, where I stand on anything at the moment, why I can’t pull myself up by the bootstraps, why sometimes I just need to disappear from the world and its obligations, its demands on me, the inevitable (as it’s become, unfortunately, and I am not always sure how to stop it) taking advantage of me, because I never learned how to set boundaries, I wait til the steam roller is at my toes, and I am too giving-in because I don’t want to have more conflict than I already have, I want some ease now, I want to disappear every now and then, but I can’t because then the guilt plagues me, the avoidance becomes its own game — leads to shame, knowing you’re no good, after all, throw the baby out with the the bath water, and return via stork to the high school kids who didn’t ever want to get pregnant in the first place, one more thing to feel guilty about, ruining my mom’s life and now, making my mom-who-raised-me disappointed in me — all because I can’t wrangle the cause and effect and say, as long as there is divide, this continual punishing of me, by the very same factions that have already done me so much harm, I will continue to struggle because the depression, hopelessness, shame and lack of will to live still lay in wait for me, for the other shoe to drop, the tide to turn.
These days of ease, or relative non- disaster, always have a taste of temporal reprieve…