Saturday, July 09, 2016

Aunt Luba drops a conversational cluster bomb

Two nights ago my Aunt Luba called to let me know she was sending me a sizeable check. Not because she thinks I need it, but because she loves me and wants me to have something before she dies. So the government won't get it, I guess.

We talked about my estrangement from my mother because she still lives with and adores the degenerate pervert. "I can't go to family events and see her," I said.

"You know, I was abused as a child, too," said Luba. "And had to see that person at family events."

WOW. During the ensuing shocked silence, I struggled to think of what I couldn't ask her. Who it was, of course; when and what happened; and if it happened to my mother too.

I bet it happened to my mother too. That's what the Prominent Sex Addiction Expert thought. Incest happens not only because fathers/father figures commit it, but because mothers/mother figures don't stop it, don't see it as wrong, or don't "see" it. They don't consciously ignore it--they're too emotionally distant to acknowledge it.

This verges into psychoanalytical territory, an area that is somewhat foreign to me, but it must be true. Because that's what happened. My mother knew the degenerage pervert tried to have sex discussions with me. He even tried in front of her. She told him to stop, but I don't think he stopped. She knew what was going on and she ignored it. Maybe not consciously. I'd like to think not consciously.

But if she was molested, or incested, then I can see why she doesn't think what happened to me was abuse. My Aunt Katya agrees with her.

Katya called me, and I spoke with her. We've always had a good relationship; she's always supported me. So I thought I could tell her what the degenerate pervert did, and name it as incest.

She said, "Oh, c'mon!"

That's a punch in the throat.

I tried to explain the terrible developmental consequences that kind of pornography exposure has on a teenage girl. She said, "Well, it might have felt like abuse, but it doesn't sound like abuse."

I feel very alone right now. I participate in a Tuesday twitter chat (#sexabusechat) which helps, but I desperately want a support group of women survivors of incest.

I went to a meeting of Survivors of Incest Anonymous, and the rigid 12-step format felt uncomfortable. As did the mandatory praying and chanting. (Well, you don't have to join in, but the chanting is all around you.) You can't talk about each other's experiences--you just listen as everyone speaks. I tried to say, "Like many of you, I have family issues" but was cut off: "We don't discuss what other people share!" But that's what I wanted.

Although listening to the others, I was relieved to learn I'm not the only person in the world who doesn't talk to her mother and sister. And none of them judged me. Which had to be validation enough, at least for then.

PSAE suggested I go to a survivors' weekend, which might be a good idea. It's a shame that there are survivors in my own family but I can't talk to them about it. I wasn't even sure I could blog about this. Some people would probably say that's a violation of Luba's privacy. But even though it's her story to tell, this kind of secrecy is what allows the abuse to continue. What allowed abuse to become part of my story and damage my life.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, July 07, 2016

I feel like an elephant: another poem

It's hot, and I feel like an elephant,
massive and lumbering.
Elephants are emotional
creatures, loving touch and contact
with their own and other species. Elephants
are loyal, weeping when bereaved. Elephants enraged 
can charge and stomp, but never unprovoked. 
At least I hope it's never unprovoked. When I stomp
I'm usually not as destructive externally.

I feel like a hippopotamus, 
clumsy on land, barreling along
on stumpy legs. But hippopotamuses 
are elegantly graceful in their element, which is water.
Mine is supposed to be air, but somehow
I'm rarely graceful in it. So I wish
I were more like a hippopotamus.

I feel like a whale. Or I wish I did.
Whales are incredibly powerful, with
an amazing sense of smell, sense of self.
Whales can swim with their eyes open in the ocean.
I can't do that, it stings me.
Whales travel in pods, whereas I seem to run through friends
too quickly, either discarding those
that ultimately annoy more than companion, or 
detaching, sadly,
from all those who join new pods.
Facing the constant hunt and chase and acquisition
of new whales who can resonate at my
own frequency, just like the whales who drifted away
to love and cradles, backyards and the suburbs.

Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Amputate: a poem

I wrote a poem, and I hope that doesn't mean I'm manic. It's about nobody in particular.

Amputate

I should amputate
the traitorous parts of me: the arms
that reach for you, the
fingers that want to trace
your jaw and cheek and
all your beautiful bones, the
heart that wants to beat in unison
with yours.
The tongue that seeks your shoulder, chest, your neck and
every inch of skin; the hips
that sway in your direction when
the traitorous eyes enrobe you in their gaze.
I should amputate the thighs
that wrap yours cozily, the fragile cheek
that presses on your beard.
My lying mouth
betrayed me when I said
I didn't need you, didn't love,
and since I cannot amputate
you from my treacherous heart,
my heart should be the first
to feel the blade.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, June 18, 2016

How I paid for my date

A few nights ago I went on a date. It was my first week back at work, I've been tired all the time, but I've also been bored and lonely. The three weeks of recovery from surgery were spent primarily lying in bed watching "Mad Men." Which was an excellent choice, since it has relatively few laughs and laughing hurt the first two weeks. But I was by myself, mulling over my choice to discard yet another friend I was sick of and my recent diagnosis as a sex addict.

It's an accurate diagnosis. The process I went through to hook up with a cub--posting a clever ad on craigslist, weeding through the responses, meeting up and banging, then feeling ashamed--is very similar to the stages of copping and using drugs. It's a huge distraction from loneliness and frustration, because it takes up so much time. (This article explains the cycle very well.) So phone sex and other addictive unhealthy non-relationship-building sexual activity was out.

Going back to work was good, albeit exhausting. Going to volunteer meetings (even during my medical leave) was also good. But trying to date is necessary. If I want to have a healthy relationship, I need to practice appropriate dating behavior.

So I went out with a guy. He wasn't very attractive in his photos. I thought that would be an excellent way to keep my expectations and hopes low, and force me get to know him as a person.

Except he wasn't interested in getting to know me. Maybe I'm still too swollen after abdominal surgery, but the second he saw me, his face settled into lines of resentment and disappointment. He was too polite to just walk away, but it was clear he wanted to.

I thought if I could get him talking, he'd relax and enjoy the date more. He might have, but I didn't. I asked him as many appropriate questions I could think of--about his job, his children, his car, his family, his politics--and he was animated and eager to discuss them. But when he was finished, he was finished. His face resettled into resentment. I had to come up with another topic.

He didn't ask me a single question about myself.

He also didn't ask me to suggest a restaurant until we were in the car and had driven past the places I usually like to go. Why not ask me before picking me up, or actually make plans ahead of time, like a gentleman? Yes, we're in my neighborhood, but I don't know what you're willing to spend or what kind of food you like. And I really don't think well when I'm put on the spot. I'm the least spontaneous person you'll ever meet.

But mainly, the date was painful because the responsibility for conversation rested solely on me. A few times I thought, "I'll wait a few seconds and he'll say something." He's apparently a champion at conversational chicken, because if I didn't speak, he didn't speak. This happened to me before when I had coffee with a guy I suspect has Asperger's--he could speak at length on a topic he was interested in, but he couldn't start a topic; it had to be suggested. That was another exhausting date.

It's a shame he was so disappointed in me, but I was annoyed that he expressed zero curiosity. Why even go out at all? I would have rather he stood me up. Mediocre chicken teriyaki--and being expected to try his sake and sushi, even though I hate both--was so not worth it. Even the green tea ice cream was a chore.

Maybe I should forget about spending time with people outside work and volunteer activities. (At this point I volunteer with three organizations and could potentially add a few more.) I'm no good at keeping friends, I'm obviously shit at romance. Maybe I should just be a hermit, and come out of my cave just to work and volunteer. Because I'm no good at organizing fun outings, and I don't know how to make new friends.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Myomectomy and betrayal

I met with my surgeon, and with another surgeon for a second opinion. Even though a hysterectomy would heal more quickly and painlessly, I'm having a myomectomy: the surgeon will dissect out the fibroids and sew together what's left. Because what's left is enough to keep, and I am not ready to lose my uterus. I know, rationally, that I will probably never have a child, but that seems hugely different from saying I will definitely never have a child.

I emailed an aunt about my mother. Actually, she emailed me first, to say she missed me over Passover. At first I didn't know what to say. Then I decided to tell her the truth. After all, I was the victim, not the sex offender. It's not my fault.

I'm sorry, [aunt], but after speaking with a leading expert in abuse and trauma, I have confirmed that my mother's boyfriend committed incest with me when I was a teenager. This was a significant trauma that led to tremendous problems for me in forming intimate relationships. I will never have a baby and I might be alone for the rest of my life. She refuses to get rid of him. So I can't be around her right now.

She wrote back,

I am so sorry to hear this.  I understand how u feel. 

To me that was inadequate. More evidence that my family thinks I'm making a mountain out of a pile of Penthouse magazines.  And a coffee-table photo book about people masturbating (I Am My Lover.) And all the other atrocious trash I was fed.

I don't think you do. I don't think you know how it feels to have 
your family embrace someone who abused you.

I don't know what I was hoping for her to say.

You are correct, I do not know how it fees to have your family embrace someone who abused you. I"m sorry if you thought that was what I meant. I meant I understand how u felt about not coming to pesach at Jerusha's house because of it.

I didn't respond. It's dawning on me that my family will never hold my mother accountable for what happened to me. Or feel at all upset that I was molested.

Not all abuse victims have to prove their victimhood to family and friends. I'm not saying I would have preferred to have been abused more violently. But everyone needs to stop telling me to forgive my mother, reconnect with my family. I can't do that. It would be lying to myself. Pretending that I'm something that I'm not.

You wouldn't tell someone who is gay to pretend not to be gay around homophobic relatives, or to spend time with them and not be bothered by the vitriol they spew. You wouldn't isolate someone who married a person of another race or faith because some family members disapprove. But my family is never going to confront my mother with the heinousness of what she allowed to happen in her house.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"