I can’t write. So many people in my sacred space at the moment. So many others to consider. Feelings that prickle my skin. It’s delicious and I’m privileged to be this way; to be able to connect so deeply with others, if I choose to. But sometimes it’s a heavy weight to carry.
And it wasn’t always a choice.
As a child, and a young woman, it was emotional rape. People reaching into me, putting their feelings and desires in me. Controlling me with what they wanted me to be for them. I was fuel for their unrealized hopes and dreams. By the time I understood and knew what the situation was, it was too late to protect myself. My inner being was in tatters. I bled emotions, if I could even feel them in the first place. Most stuff to do with feelings had been dissociated and pushed outside my body as much as possible. Except for the stuff in my guts. That’s where it always got lodged; literally stuff that I couldn’t digest. IBS that became so bad when I was a student at university that I spent weeks in bed in constant pain, unable to eat.
When you realize you’ve been psychologically or emotionally abused all your life you don’t have any solid sense of self to ground yourself upon. It wasn’t like I had any happy memories to grasp. Childhood was just raw. Painful. I don’t know, I became quite skilled at forgetting things. I only ‘knew’ those milestone events and the dates they occurred. I held on to them like a mnemonic that proved I was alive. I must be real, because in 1983 I started at this school and I was in this class. And so on. But all of those things like birthday parties and christmases were tainted by the feelings they were drenched with. The suffocation of being holed up in the house with all that negative emotion swirling round. Christmas was the worst, and usually included conflict that centred around my Mother. I considered myself lucky if I was allowed to retreat to my room and shut the door with a few good books. But usually I would be dragged out to be ‘sociable’ whether I wanted it or not. I learned to accept being told what to do. Later on in life, I couldn’t figure out how to make choices for myself. I never connected the two parts of my life. I have an IQ of 148 so why can’t I make my own choices? Because I never had the chance. I was a puppet.
Two years ago, I did the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I extricated myself from an abusive partner. You see, when you grow up with abuse, you just keep repeating the patterns. It’s ‘home’ to you. Everything in your head and heart is FUCKED UP. Your instincts lie because they’ve been programmed to accept abuse. Trying to find the answers to myself nearly drove me insane. I was seeking for the key that would unlock me and hoping, really fucking hoping hard, that there was still going to be something left inside when I found out how to unlock myself.
At 29 I met and fell in love with a man who treated me like a rare and precious thing and wanted to give me everything good in life. Until an unplanned pregnancy occurred. It took three days for him to do an about face and DEMAND that I have a termination, without any discussion between us on the matter. I was given an ultimatum. Get the abortion or leave our home. He put me out on the streets that night. He packed my bags and took them to the street. I’m not kidding. I gave a good fight first. I lost. That was the first time I realized I needed to learn to fight better.
A year later, as a single parent with very little support, I began to unravel. My natural instinct was to draw into myself, curl up and protect myself from the blows. And so I began to withdraw from life. Mentally the decline was really rapid. Paranoia set in as well, which made keeping up friendships pretty tough. And there was just no one I could talk to who got it. No one I felt I had anything in common with. My mum-friends from ante-natal classes were all enjoying the early years of marriage and realizing their dreams of starting a family. My old friends, pre-motherhood mates, didn’t have kids and were still living the single life. They tried and they showed interest with my son but he was like a novelty toy they could turn up and coo at and cuddle for a while, and then they’d leave and I was fucking shaking again. Literally terrified. My nerves were shot to pieces because here was this little creature that relied entirely on me that cried and cried in the middle of the night, and lots of the day. I stopped sleeping. I’ve never been one who could catch up with the odd hour here or there. And frankly, once it got to 3am the whole pursuit of sleep was pointless. I called that the dark hour. Somewhere between 3 and 4 am was when the voices started in my head. I was shit scared. I’ve never practised so much magick as I did in those years. Every protection spell I could find. Every charm I could make. If nothing else, they kept me distracted. Eventually I had a powerful wand made for me and I could cast a circle with it that would hold pretty well.
As my son grew older, some things got easier. Not the constant battles with his father, who couldn’t decide if he wanted in or out of his son’s life. The only thing that was constant was his hatred of me. Clearly I’d tried to trap him or done some sort of spell on him, he was sure (I absolutely declare that I did not… the consequences are too severe when you play with that sort of stuff). He was just a malevolent force in our lives that kept showing up, and disappearing. It seemed that I was now stuck with him forever, in one way or another. He’s just popped up again, after 4 years away, so yeah, maybe I manifested that. Now I have to deal with his shit all.over.again. Now he wants to see his son, who at 11 is under no illusion that this man will ever be someone he wants to call ‘Dad’. He’s just going to hang around and give me grief for a while, as punishment for the fact that Child Support has been taking money from him for the last eleven years and he thinks that’s a bitch. I mean, he earns like £100k as a Consultant Psychiatrist with the NHS, and I figure his £500 a month is something he can spare that makes a big difference to us. But he begrudges it nonetheless.
It’s just my path. What I have to deal with, in exchange for that little share of genetic material that he deposited in me 12 years ago. But it’s not OK… And I’m scared. I wish I’d been strong enough to run far and hide in 2005, where he couldn’t find us. But I don’t protect myself. Childhood conditioning again.
However, it’s not him that I had to fight so hard to get away from. It’s the one who came after. I spent most of my thirties with that one. That’s just lost, miserable time that I don’t want to relive. He never gave us a thing except misery, confusion and fear. He drained my savings and lodged himself firmly in my home so that when it came down to it I had to make him intentionally homeless to get him out of our lives. It was the hardest thing to do, because it was so cruel. I tried everything else to end that relationship. And for 6 years it did nothing but make me ill, and make my son frightened. I can barely even say that because that is the worst part. That I brought a man into his life that he was scared of. A man that hit him. A man that destroyed his self-worth before it had even had a chance to grow. So once I’d pieced enough of the pieces together to understand what was going on (because gaslighting is really fucking tricky to get your head around) and realized what I needed to do, I had to come up with a plan. And that plan centred around me. More than once I thought about the big burly male friends I wished that I had. Guys that might come round and threaten him, throw him out on the street for me. But all I had were my now-elderly parents, who would cause more trouble than help if they got involved, and my 9-year-old son. I was responsible, I believed, for protecting all of these people. So I came up with the necessary plan of action and began.
It took one week, and bigger cojones than I realized I had. On the day when I physically came back to my home to remove him and his things, I was shaking violently, heaving and sobbing. Luckily he was a broken wreck of a man too at this point, and really put up no physical resistance. His preferred methods of control had always been mental and emotional, and that’s where I needed to arm myself. But, making a broken person homeless and removing your care and attention from them completely…. really fucking cold, you know? And the parallel to how my previous partner had evicted me was impossible to ignore. I just wondered how people could be happy. I mean, were people happy? Because it felt like I would never touch happy. So I focused on just the one thing that needed to be done there and then because if I let my mind wonder, or my empathy and compassion begin to stir, I knew I’d be lost again, and potentially condemned to another 6, or 8, or 10 years of living with this man. Losing my forties as well. My goal was to get myself back for my forties. Who was I kidding? To find myself for my forties because I knew then that I’d never had myself. I’d always belonged to someone else. Been someone’s puppet on a string. Jerked around for their own needs and wants.
Well I did the hardest thing. And woke up the next day and knew that I was free. And the journey of awakening myself began. I didn’t have any expectations. I didn’t actually want much. I wanted to turn 40 and do what the fuck I felt like doing, not what someone else said I should do. I wanted my home space to feel like mine. Dirty, tidy, noisy or quiet. It wouldn’t matter. No one would criticize because it had nothing to do with anyone else. I wanted to sleep in the whole of the bed by myself.
Honestly, I had no interest in sex. I was so switched off from that part of myself that I really didn’t care. I didn’t feel attractive to anyone and didn’t want to go out meeting men or women for fucks. And I definitely didn’t want to do anything that could lead me into starting a relationship. I spent quite a bit of time on the phone to the Crisis team at the psychiatric hospital where I was an outpatient that summer. Panic attacks would just come out of nowhere, usually at home in the evenings. They weren’t the most awful attacks I’ve ever had but it was a new approach for me, to actually make the call and ask for help when things were getting tough. I overcame my natural inclination to withdraw and hide. I’d promised my Psychiatrist that I would do this, and I stuck to it. Sometimes the person on call that night was a dick but more often than not, they were kind-hearted souls that tried to listen and guide me back to a place of calm. And after a couple of months, I just didn’t need it any more. The crisis had abated.
And now. Here I am. Still so new to this world. Feeling empowered, liberated. Feeling attractive. Reconnected to my own powerful sexuality… something that I hold most sacred. Exploring the possibilities. Giving myself permission to bust out of the confines within which I was raised, the strict religious lifestyle that my folks still adhere to. The years of hearing words like slut and whore in my head, and denying myself, my arousal, out of shame. I won’t do shame any more. I won’t accept fear without a challenge either. Maybe you can see why I do what I do? I hope that you can. Controlled experiences of masochism and utter sluttishness = healing. = awakening myself and empowering myself. = finding out what makes me feel alive and beautiful. THIS. This makes me feel alive and beautiful. Connecting with other people and expressing ourselves together, exploring our power. That’s beautiful and honest and real. I find integrity and authenticity here. I find levels of communication that just blow the bloody doors off every time. And so I open to it more and more. I have faith in it.
And in the middle of all this, the playing and the orgasms, the delight and the pain… you appeared. You saw me first. We recognized each other almost straight away but tiptoed carefully around each other because of “It’s complicated” and because you’re really careful like that. You’re not really of this day and age, and I loved you for that. And I joked in our chats, “Seriously, why aren’t you here?”… though you weren’t all that far. You said you’d done International Rescue before but I didn’t want to play the damsel in distress card like that. I was strong, I knew that now. I wouldn’t play the vulnerable princess to ensnare you. If this was anything at all, there would have to be 100% honesty between us and total authenticity.
We smashed through the training wheels phase, like we’d done this before somewhere. I checked in with my data bank of shit about Narcissistic Abuse, just to be sure. Were you love bombing me? Were you projecting your ideal, putting me up on a pedestal? I have my own tests to apply these days and you’ve passed them all. Proven to me that you are worthy. You’re real, and brave and true. You know how to make me laugh and how to make me melt. All the feels, baby. You bring them too.
And so while I’m discovering myself, creating myself, there is this, and you. We’re both so new to this and we don’t know how it’s done. You’re hurting, and therefore I’m hurting. You’re conflicted and I’m feeling guilty. Why am I choosing the things that I choose? Why has this thing called Polyamory lodged itself here for us to figure out? You flex and extend, resisting the urge to make demands about what you will or will not accept because you know that would spell the end for us. Just as I know that NOT doing what I need to do to be Me would finish us too. For the first time in my life, I have to define my own status against all of the odds. I’ve never done this before. I have to do it, even though it feels like such a risk.
You tell me you want these things too. That it just takes time. I have plenty of time, my love. I’m a patient woman. I’ve waited this long to become my real self. You take as long as you need. Just come back to me, please. And don’t forget that I’m hurting too. All the old conditioning, to please an other and to open my chest cavity for the full emotional rape is here. The old tricks spinning round in my mind that I just won’t play because, you know, authenticity. Because why would I be standing here, speaking about the need for integrity if I didn’t mean this; if I didn’t genuinely think that this is the right path to take?
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths; the blue and the dim and the dark cloths, of night and light and half light, I would spread them under your feet. But I don’t and that’s just a poem (albeit a fave). And so I spread myself under your feet, naked and unadorned. Tread carefully, my love, for you tread on our dreams. And if not, I don’t want to be here: smash me to smithereens.