I don’t know many survivors who are able to hold on to a long-term committed relationship. I don’t know what it is – being unable to trust someone else, feeling suffocated when someone gets too close to the “real” us, or just being so miserably unequipped to deal with emotional closeness – that stops a lot of us from being in “normal” healthy relationships.
I don’t actually know anyone (a survivor) who is “normal” i.e. functioning, in relationships. I might of course be wrong, but having spoken with people, their attitude towards these issues range from serial cheater / nymphomaniac to women who are completely unable to even talk to men in a romantic way.
As for me – well, I am happy to say that after years of … issues, I am actually finally in a loving long-term relationship. Not that we don’t have problems, we do, but to avoid my boyfriend (who reads this!) telling me off for discussing our business I’d rather not concentrate on that, but more on the aspect of survivors in relationships.
I was talking about this with my roommate the other day and she asked me why I was depressed (not really anymore, but as I am on citalopram + have a diagnosed major depressive disorder, I guess I could say I’m depressed…at least on paper! I feel much better now) and I said well, think about it this way: you are a little child, and the one person who is meant to look after you, that you can trust and share your secrets with and who protects you from all evil, is also the only one who hurts you, fucks you up mentally and physically, and on top of that you have to hide it all, keep it in your heart, and safeguard the secret with your life.
Now give me one person who after this is able to form functioning human relationships, and I’ll give you ten pounds. No, but really, it is so fucked up and I have to sometimes sit and think how the abuse had all sorts of effects on me but mostly in my ability to relate to people.
I am a people-pleaser, I have a child-like obsession with people liking me, I blame myself if people don’t like me or are upset with me, and I change myself to fit situations so that I could max out on approval. I am a social chameleon who used to allow people to get away with a lot with me (including rape) and I’d just hide all of it in my heart and live with it.
I used to hate men. I used to sexualize men around me; teachers, relatives, and I have had the most fucked up thoughts about men possible. I am ashamed and deeply embarrassed, but talking about it helps. Actually no, I haven’t talked about it, but at least I am putting it down on paper.
I don’t hate men anymore. I tolerate most men, and I only have real love towards my boyfriend. He has gotten through my web of excuses, he knows when I lie (self preservation, I am not a bad person), he sees my emotions, reads my body language, and holds me when I cry.
My boyfriend is a safe male, I am comfortable around him, and despite the issues and arguments, I feel that if I trusted my biggest secrets with him he wouldn’t run away. He has been there when I’ve had flashbacks, and he has comforted me.
I feel that the problems survivors have in relationships are so fucking difficult to overcome it actually makes me really angry. So many people end up dating a survivor without knowing about it, and probably end up thinking the girl is a slut / ho / weird / prude / virgin / and so on, because she is so fucking uncomfortable with the truth, the pain, and the memories. She acts and behaves in strange ways, in ways that only make sense to her, because those are the ways that got her through the abuse.
I hope that I heal and that I learn to relate to people in a more normal way than my screwed up ways, and actually I have come a long way from where I used to be. I feel blessed to have good people in my life that tolerate my weirdness and allow me to heal at my own pace. There of course always are people who will pull you down and try to fuck you up even more, but by God’s grace I am learning to distinguish between those people, and just hope that when I have a child I can be the kind of parent that I myself would have deserved – just, loving, strong, supportive and independent.
With love, LittleGirl