Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Courage to heal, Male survivor of child sexual abuse, survivor of child sexual abuse, transgender ex-husband
My ex’s best friend came over for dinner last night. He is 41 years old, and has just gone through a divorce. I excused myself after dinner to go to my bedroom and play Candy Crush Saga on my computer, while they sat around talking. Their discussions don’t usually interest me, because they discuss their shared childhood (when my ex understood herself as a boy), so their discussions usually center around stereotypical ‘boy’ childhoods (like their shared experiences in Boy Scouts, or being altar boys, etc.)
While I was up in my room, I heard the friend blurt out “I was molested. I’ve never told anyone before.”
I was pretty surprised, but not as surprised as I should have been. I have seen firsthand how completely dissociated he is from his emotional self.
Anyway, the whole situation reminded me of a time when I was a teenager and I was sitting in my incest survivors group. The group facilitator was reading a narrative from “The Courage to Heal”. The narrative was from a 92 year old woman who was on her deathbed. While dying, she grabbed the nurse’s hand and said “When I was a little girl, my brother molested me. I just had to tell someone before I died.”
After telling us that story, the facilitator looked at us and said “That won’t be any of you. You’ve all broken the secret and now you are working on healing.”
The friend has broken the secret. Now that it is broken, may it no longer hold the power it did over him. May it no longer rule his life. May he rediscover the boy he once was, the boy he would have been, the man he might have become, and the man he actually did grow into. May his healing journey begin.
Filed under: fear, Uncategorized | Tags: CPTSD, fear, safety, survivor of child sexual abuse, transgender ex-husband
Recently, during two different lunches with two different divorced friends, both friends asked me when I was thinking about physically separating from my ex. In each instance, I immediately felt that same knot of fear I always feel whenever I think about us physically separating from each other. I told them both “I think when it’s time to move out, I will know.” I say that so they will shut the fuck up already.
The pressure is getting to me though, so I talked about it with my therapist. I said “The thing is, neither of them know about my sex abuse past, or my CPTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) present. No one knows what it’s like to live in my head with me, with my constant fear, or what happens to me when I am alone. They have no idea what it’s like to have your heart beating in your chest so loud, or listen constantly for signs of intrusion, etc.”
My therapist said “Plus, you’re getting advice from two women who hate their husbands and who feel completely whole and secure on their own. That’s not where you are right now.”
I agreed, and said “For me, the whole thing boils down to safety. I am 39 years old, and this is the first time in my whole life I have ever felt safe. And it’s only been in the last few months that I have been able to even acknowledge that I might be safe here. Why the fuck would I leave this situation that I finally feel safe in? I mean, like last night, we both went outside and sat down, and neighbors came by and chatted with us. I went outside. I WENT OUTSIDE. I felt safe enough to leave my home and sit outside.”
She agreed, and said “To be honest, what I keep thinking is ”attachment”, the developmental stage of attachment. You never felt safe with your mom, because she was never able to ensure your safety. So you created all these fears and rituals and phobias in an attempt at keeping yourself safe. But now you have found a situation where you have safely attached to someone, and she is providing you with the kind of safety you hadn’t experienced before.”
I said “Wait, so you mean that my ex is kind of a mother figure to me now?” (The funny thing about this statement is that I have always joked that I married my mother. I just didn’t mean it in this way!)
She said “Kind of, yes. It’s not a bad thing. It’s actually a good thing. You are exploring safety the way a toddler explores safety. A toddler ventures a few feet away from their mom, sees it is safe, and inches away a little bit. That’s where you are. Now that you realize you are safe, you are exploring your surroundings. Since you never learned safety as a child, you are learning it now as an adult, in a healthy safe way.”
This whole conversation blew my mind. The thing is, she’s right.
I said “So it’s okay for me to stay exactly where I am right now?”
She said “More than okay. That’s exactly what I would advise you to do. You’re not ready to leave yet, so why are you allowing others to pressure you to do so?”
I said “Well, they think that it’s unhealthy for a divorcing couple to live with each other.”
She said “It would be unhealthy for them to stay with their exes, because they hate them. But you and your ex love each other, treat each other with respect and love, and co-parent your child together. When it’s time to leave, you’ll know.”
I said “How will I know? Won’t I always want safety over anything else?”
She said “Well, toddlers grow up and when they reach teenagehood, they begin to rebel. They want to leave, they want to explore boundaries, they want to see the rest of the world. So eventually you will actually want to go. But right now, this whole safety thing is so new for you, you are exploring that. Once you feel totally and completely safe, you will want to see what else is out there.”
I think she is exactly right. Right now, the idea of leaving this safe place is so fucking scary that I can barely think about it without panicking. But maybe it won’t always be so; maybe one day I will want to explore further than my own backyard. I can’t imagine it right now, but maybe one day it will be so.
And if one day it isn’t so, then shit, where I am isn’t so bad either. I grew up in a world of shit, of unsafe shit. And now I have at least achieved safety. So I figure, okay, if my ex is now a mother figure to me, then I am grateful to have found that kind of safety and love at this point in my life. I will learn what I need to from this situation in order to grow into an independent person. My goal will be to eventually learn safety enough to be able to learn how to understand safety independent of my ex. (Panic rising in my throat just as I write that sentence.) Maybe that day will come in one year, ten years, or never. I don’t know what the future holds, but I also never thought I would feel safe and I achieved that, so who knows! The sky’s the limit now.
Filed under: Uncategorized
This weekend we went to a gender reassignment surgery specialist, so that my ex-husband could who has been living outwardly as a female for almost a year now could become an anatomically correct woman. The surgery date has been set, and my ex will become a woman in the eyes of the state on that date. She has understood herself to be a woman for her whole life (with much of her life spent dissociated from that reality).
Anyway, so on that date, the surgeon will cut off her penis, invert it into a vagina (kind of), and that will be the end. The thought that keeps recurring in my mind is ‘And that will be the end of (Husband’s Name), and it will be like I imagined the whole thing. It will be like I imagined that a man once loved me so much that he asked me to marry him and spend the rest of our lives together. I will have imagined that a man wanted me in that way.’
It’s very similar to surviving abuse. After the abuse has ended, when all we are left with are murky shitty memories – we ask ourselves “Did I imagine this? Perhaps I am only imagining the intent behind what was done to me?’
We wonder if people will believe us. There’s no evidence for them to see, no ‘Ah-ha!’ smoking gun that allows people the kind of evidence they really need in order to verify our truths. (Unless you count the nightmares, the night terrors, the flashbacks, the complex post-traumatic stress disorder, the phobias too numerous to count, the dissociation, the traumatic amnesia, the hypervigilance, the checking under the bed and in the closets every night before bed, the obsessive compulsive disorder, etc.) But no one sees those things, and no one saw the abuse either, so we end up asking ourselves if we are crazy.
Did I imagine this? Did I imagine that I was less fucked up than I thought and a man really did love me? He’s a woman now. He was probably a woman then, in man’s clothing. A sheep in wolf’s clothing. Did I imagine it? Am I nuts?
Did I imagine what happened with my dad? Did he do those things to me? He had a look on his face, and I was uncomfortable. I ran away from him. Was he a child molester? Or am I nuts?
This is yet another way that being abused as a child has fucked me again in adulthood. I end up wondering if I am nuts, on a daily basis.
I am 39. 34 of these years have been spent wondering if I am nuts. That’s a long ass time to question my own fucking sanity. But as you know, this is my year of empowerment.
In that vein, here goes my new line of thinking:
I am not nuts. I am a survivor of child sexual abuse. I didn’t imagine it. It happened, it was real, and I am trying to work through it the best that I can with every resource I have.
A man asked me to marry him. I didn’t imagine that either. Just because he is now a she does not invalidate my life. Someone loved me. A man loved me. And I loved him. And we still love each other, just not romantically anymore. None of this means that I am not good enough or sane enough to have love in my life again.
May we all stop questioning our own sanity, and start believing ourselves. What happened to us was real. Terrible but real. I believe myself and I believe you. And I applaud you for the courage you have to believe me and to believe yourself.
Filed under: Uncategorized
I found this letter on UniteWomen.org, and I am reposting it in its entirety here:
Dear Jane Doe of Steubenville,
I know that right now you may not think that life will ever get better. I know that you may think you will never have the life you dreamed of before this happened. No matter what just know this – you are not alone. There are millions of us in this country. There are billions of us in the world. We once were Rape Victims and with time and healing we have become survivors and you will too.
I am so sorry that you have joined this group that some of us belong to. I am sorry that at such a young age your life has become this. I am sorry for the guilt you sometimes feel. I am sorry for the shame you sometimes feel. All of us in this group have felt the same at one point or another. It won’t be easy, I won’t lie to you but I do know this – you will survive, one day at a time, you will survive. As each day that passes and you survive you will move from being a victim to a survivor. I know right now you don’t really understand what that means yet, but in time you will. Until then know that millions and even billions of women and young girls around the world are holding you close in their hearts.
We are holding you in a place that those of us who belong to this group know that women held us when we went through the same feelings. You may not know those of us holding you in our hearts but we are here just the same. We will to continue to hold you and every other young girl and woman who is a victim of rape and we will wait for the day when you understand that you are a survivor.
We will be your voice. We will be your face. We will be your strength. We will not stop holding you until that day, and then we will stand hand to hand, heart to heart, and you will rise up with the millions and billions of other voices to say I AM A SURVIVOR!
Until then we will continue this fight to stop violence against women. Until then we will RISE UP and when you join us you will realize that you were with us all the while. May your journey be filled with people around you who love you, protect you, and support you. We will be waiting here holding you in our heart.
The Survivors of Rape From Around the World
Filed under: babysitter, brother, father, fear, survivor | Tags: babysitter sexual abuse, brother-sister incest, diet, fat, father-daughter incest, Jon Gabriel Method, overweight, potatoes not prozac, sugar addict, survivor of child sexual abuse, weight loss
I would like to lose weight. I am unhappy at the weight I am at. The problem is that whenever I have lost weight in the past, I get to a certain point and no matter what I do, I can’t lose any more weight (even though I would be considered fat at that weight on any doctor’s scale).
Two years ago, I began The Sugar Addicts Recovery Program. Kathleen DesMaisons feels that if you eat enough protein in the morning, you won’t have as many cravings through the day. I think she is right, so I have been doing that ever since. Then about a year ago, I found the Jon Gabriel Method. He explains that if you are anything more than 10 lbs overweight, it is because you do not feel safe losing the weight. He says that as long as you don’t feel safe, your body will never release its hold on the weight because your body simply doesn’t want to be thin.
I couldn’t agree with him more. I have always known that my fatness was about safety. I didn’t start gaining weight till my brother began molesting me. As an adult, every time I have tried to lose weight, I have mostly failed. A thinner body is a smaller body. When I was in a small body as a child, three people used my smallness to their sexual advantage. They used my body for their sexual pleasure, and enjoyed their power over me. When I think about being in a thinner body now, I equate it with smallness. Smallness hasn’t worked out well for me in the past. These thoughts and anxieties have thwarted many attempts to lose weight, and eventually my subconscious overtakes me, and I have put on more weight than I have lost in diets.
This, of course, is why you shouldn’t fuck kids. You don’t like the obesity problem in America? Stop fucking kids. I was once at a conference on incest, and I swear to G-d, every single one of us (and I’m talking hundreds of people) was overweight. Some of us were massively overweight. We have all cleverly figured out that weight is a good shield, a good measure of insulation that keeps people far the fuck away from us. And honestly, this has worked pretty well for me so far. Somehow when I reach a certain weight, I become invisible to men. This weight has kept me safe.
But the truth is that my adult self is unhappy with this weight now. I don’t feel protected by it so much anymore. Instead, I feel hampered by it. I feel like my weight is holding me back from being my best self.
As you know from my last post, this year is my year of trying to empower myself. I have spent a lot of time working through this issue in therapy, and listening to Jon Gabriel’s visualizations. And today I had such a lovely thought. I tried to imagine myself in a thinner body. And immediately my mind did its usual thing where thinness=smallness=me getting violated again. But today I changed the ending of that thought. The violator still tries to violate me, but in my thinner smaller body, I am confident and fit. I am strong and I have a good relationship with my body. My body and I work together and I fight my would-be violator, and I KICK HIS FUCKING ASS.
He will think twice before ever fucking with me again.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Being a mom, divorce, empowerment, future, survivor of child sexual abuse, transgender husband, update
I haven’t posted in a while. The thing is, I got freaked out. I have been secretly keeping this blog for about 4 years now, and when I started it, it was because I had something to prove. I needed to prove that there are a lot of hidden ways that being a survivor of child sexual abuse has affected me in my daily life. Most of these effects are the kinds of things that no one but my ex-spouse would know about it. In other words, it would take someone physically living in my space to be aware of the myriad ways that surviving child sexual abuse has fucked me up.
Of course, even living with me wouldn’t be enough to know all the hidden ways, because a lot of the effects take place in my head. For instance, fear is a constant effect of having survived the abuse.
My newest fear is that the people I work with would find my blog, or that future people I need to work with would find my blog. It’s disgusting, but in my line of work, people would judge me for being a survivor. So I hide it. But I worry that people would find my blog anyway. I keep it anonymous for that reason.
The thing is, what began as a blog to prove things has also become a journal about my life. I never could have predicted that so much change would occur in the space of four short years. My husband is becoming my ex-wife. My career is doing stuff I never even thought of. And I am trying to find myself, heal myself, and figure shit out in the meantime.
So that’s where I’ve been lately.
The ex-spouse and I still live together. We’ve formed a lovely sisterhood, and we are raising our son together. We will eventually get divorced, probably. My sweet beautiful son has known his father as a woman since he was 3, and the other day his teacher told us that he explained his situation to another child (in the exact same way we explained it to him).
We originally told him this: “Some boys are born boys, and they look like boys on the outside, and they feel like boys on the inside. Some boys are born boys, and they look like boys on the outside and they feel like girls on the inside. That’s Daddy. He looks like a boy on the outside, but feels like a girl on the inside. So now Daddy will begin looking like a girl on the outside to match what he feels like on the inside.”
He said “Am I a girl?”
Despite our trying to raise him with genderlessness, he’s all boy. When he has wanted Barbie dolls, we got them for him. But for the most part, he naturally seemed to gravitate to shit I was never interested in when I was a little girl. Trucks. Monsters. Superheroes. Legos. Wrestling. Et cetera.
So I answered him “No sweetie.”
So that’s him, and that’s my ex. And for me, I don’t know. Sometimes I think about my future, and I wonder if there will be another boyfriend or husband or whatever. Boy would he be in for a world of shit, huh?? I thought I had trust issues before this marriage, but holy shit have they tripled since then!! But I honestly think that is to be expected when you have a happy marriage and your male spouse turns into your female spouse. So, there’s that.
Sometimes though, I think about my life in a different way. This year needs to be about empowerment. I want to be empowered to be my best self. My best self would be someone who thinks a man is a ‘nice to have’, not a ‘have to have’. Does that make any sense? What I mean is that I hope that this is the year where I learn to live a more empowered life.
So that’s what I have been working on. It comes slowly.
To my readers: Thank you for being with me for these last four years. I will continue writing reasons when I have courage to do so. Thank you for taking the journey with me so far.
Filed under: babysitter, brother, father, fear, night, survivor, Uncategorized | Tags: brother-sister incest, evil, father-daughter incest, just world theory, survivor of child sexual abuse
My mom called today, and she said “You know, I was thinking about your situation with the babysitter, and it’s such a case of good coming from evil.”
I said “How do you mean?”
She said, “Well look how much she hurt you. Look how that has fueled your passion about child sexual abuse. You’re doing so much good on behalf of survivors, and I think that never would have happened were it not for that babysitter.”
I think that when bad things happen to good people, we all want to make meaning of it. I think that making meaning of tragedy or evil is a human way of processing terrible things. But I really do think that good can come from bad, and maybe that is me trying to make meaning of the babysitter, my brother, and my father all using my body against my will.
I think I am passionate about survivors’ voices being heard because of my own painful experiences. At the same time – all of this comes at quite a fucking cost. It’s true that trauma survivors are much more empathetic to pain because we know what that pain feels like, but the problem is that no one is home with us at night to see what is really happening, so the whole thing seems so seamless.
Can good come from bad? Yes. But generally it means ‘good for society’ but still ‘bad for me’.
I write a blog in secret that details every new time my child abuse history interferes with my adult life. It’s good for society because it breaks the secret, continually. Generally speaking, I am very empathetic to anyone else’s pain, which is also probably good for society. However, I am still afraid to leave my house, and my nights are punctuated from beginning to end with fear. Even though good has come from bad, I’m still fucked up. That’s why you shouldn’t fuck kids.