This is a long one !
I write masses of stuff as part of my recovery, seeing the words in front of me makes it real.
But I re-read this piece tonight for the first time in over a year and I think it's the one of the most powerful pieces I've done, it is to me anyway, you might think something different.
What struck me was I wrote it just 6 months into therapy, and I'm staggered by how much I had got sorted out at that very early stage. I wasn't anywhere near the recovered state I feel I'm in now but I was well on the way by the looks of it.
I hope it gives you as much encouregment as it does me.
4 / 4 / 2000
IN MY OWN MIND.
Itís just over six months since I stepped into a small darkened room and started to lay waste my secrets and unravel the tangle in my mind. The legacy of childhood sex abuse I suffered between the age of eleven and fifteen had left a deep and disturbing scar on my life and after thirty odd years I found the reasons, the courage and the impetus to get it sorted, Iíve moved along some way since then.
The choice of starting therapy was hard, but staying away would have been even harder. I was on a downward dive and this was the only chance to stop it I had.
I knew that getting help or treatment meant facing things I could barely admit to myself and dealing with them head on, but nothing more than that. I though that maybe I might get loads of advice and learn some techniques to help me forget my troubled past and tormented present, but really I knew nothing of therapy, therapists and what I could expect. All I had was the image from watching TV and movies. And that image is usually nothing more than a caricature on which to string a plot of some kind. Woody Allen lying on a couch making wisecracks isnít what itís like.
The reality turned out to be a lot different, there wasnít someone sat in front of me handing out worthy advice or miracle cures to help me forget, because there is no fixed advice and unfortunately the memories will always be there.
Anything I learned I figured out for myself, yes I was coaxed, helped and guided, but the answers to my problems were only coming from one place, my own mind.
If that sounds harsh towards those who helped me its not meant to be, I donít doubt that the guidance was expert. Itís just that it was so sublime it disappeared into the background.
What I got was reassurance of my thoughts and guidance through the jumble of ideas that poured forth, and if my thoughts and ideas needed more work, then thatís what was encouraged.
It didnít matter if it was in any sort of logical sequence, and often it seemed unrelated and inconsequential, some times it definitely was. But these tangents provided a bit of background, a piece of framework that supported the big picture.
Nobody has ever said to me that recovery from my sex abuse was going to be easy and I donít think I expected it to be. It wasnít easy, it still isnít, but it was a revelation. Learning so much about myself was frightening and strangely fascinating.
The realisation of a cause to my behaviour and thinking would usually raise a smile as I marvelled at the simplicity of the chain of events, but this simplicity was also very scary. How come I hadnít recognized these seemingly simple links through my past?
Well they only became simple as I looked back, broke it all down and sorted it, laid it all out and looked at it, talked about it, thought about it, and eventually pieced it back together as one big picture.
I couldnít do all that before because it was happening all around me, actually it was happening to me. I was part of it and it was as confusing as I was confused.
I always knew that my recent behaviour was somehow governed by my past but that was where my confusion lay, each time I tried to sort myself out I missed the point, I didnít have a bloody clue where to start. I was inside it, and I needed to be outside.
So somehow I made up my mind that something had to be done, the state I was in was not only hard on my mind, it was threatening my life, my marriage and everything I loved and had worked for. The guilt trips I endured, and the way I beat myself up emotionally were overpowering and debilitating emotions. Something definitely had to be done, however painful or drastic.
I had to admit to myself, and those close to me that I needed help, and an odd chain of events led me to finding it.
Firstly there was the realization that Iíd had enough, luckily I had saner moments when this became obvious to me.
Then, gradually I figured out that something could be done. I watched with interest the very public exposure of George Michael and Ron Davies and learned a lot. Being famous people they fell from grace in big style and the press followed every move they made until they told their stories. Eventually both of them admitted they had problems of one kind or another and, crucially for me, said they were getting help. I didnít even know there was help for this kind of problem so I sat up and took notice.
Soon after I saw a small advert in the local paper for a Counselling service. They offered help to adults who were sexually abused as children.
ďMaybe thatís meĒ, I thought, so I cut out the advert and kept it in my wallet until I plucked up the courage to phone them. Then I told my wife what had happened and what I wanted to do.
Thatís how I ended up in a small dark room discussing my sexual behaviours and fantasies with another man!
TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED.
It was so hard to put into words, trying to tell someone that your particular talent when you were twelve years old was giving oral sex is hard enough, trying to describe my emotions and feelings was just short of impossible, but somehow I did it.
Likewise it was hard to get into order and shape, the whole picture was bits of my life that seemed to have taken off in different and unwanted directions, just as this narrative is. I re-read it and see that Iíve leaped about from one thing to another and repeat things over and over again.
But that was just a reflection of my problem, very confused. And sometimes itís easier to get back to the start by starting at the middle or the end. Which is what Iím doing. To understand the cause first I had to understand the problem.
Over many years my fantasy evolved from masturbating while re-living some aspects of my sex abuse to, more recently, cruising around public toilets in the hope of meeting someone willing to act out my fantasy. The fantasy had evolved into a compulsion.
The cruising was initially a very half-hearted affair, I would wind myself up with the fantasy and then occasionally go to a toilet and imagine what could happen. But mid afternoon in small rural towns the chances of meeting someone were very remote, and I knew it. It was a fantasy I was dealing with and that was just enough to fuel it a little bit more.
This compulsion grew slowly over many years, possibly twenty years its hard to recall, but grow it did. And it was as unstoppable as it was inevitable, what started out as a slightly weird sexual fantasy, which after all is what fantasy is all about Ė imagining what you will probably never have or experience, grew into something that overpowered every moment of my life when I was alone, which unfortunately I often was.
The fantasy sprang from my childhood abuse at boarding school, a school where children werenít generally taught by praise and encouragement for the things they did well, or at least tried to do well, but were much more likely to be berated and humiliated for failure. Being a slow learner and having great difficulty with maths, Iím sure I have a kind of dyslexia with numbers, my school days were a constant stream of humiliation and put Ėdowns from the teachers.
We spent our days strictly regulated by timetables that included cleaning and washing up rotas.
Leisure was restricted to sport or some kind of educational pastime like woodwork. Even the simple pleasure of reading a book was hard because the whole place was usually like a madhouse with no place just to sit quietly.
Only on the weekend afternoons did we have some freedom, although we did have to Ďsign outí so the staff knew exactly where we were. This was precious time to us, just three hours each day, and mine was usually booked up in advance as was the hour we had between dinner and prepí during the week. My abusers always seemed to turn up at these moments.
Corporal punishment that Iím sure crossed the boundary from harsh punishment into violence and sadism happened often. I saw it happen to others and experienced it myself. Teachers would Ďlose ití and not stop at six of the best, where did that phrase come from?
Slaps, thumps and kicks from some of the more aggressive staff were common; the saner ones just hurled board rubbers at inattentive boys.
Sometimes great imagination was used; twice I was forced to smoke my way through a pile of stale confiscated cigarettes until I was sick as a punishment for smoking. But then I was a serial offender and numerous canings had failed to stop me.
Our classroom windows looked out onto a cobbled courtyard and I remember a boy being forced to lie face down in the middle of it for the period of a lesson, probably an hour. What he had done I donít know. It was raining as well.
With role models like this bullying was rife, the bigger boys thrashed the smaller ones with impunity.
But this was the culture, to complain was to be soft, if you cried then you were a big girl and beyond redemption. All this culture created was a cycle of young men restrained into a macho stereotype. One that I, and probably most the unfortunates who went there, were unable to shrug off when we left.
There was nobody at the school to confide in, even the matron had a hard edge to her, so our concerns and worries remained with us, unresolved and festering.
Our letters home were always read and checked by a teacher, for spelling mistakes of course, and the payphone was on the staff- room wall. So there was no chance of maintaining any sort of normal contact with your family.
I remember getting a message from a teacher one evening during dinner telling me to phone home which I did from the payphone, much to the discomfort of the staff who were filling their room with smoke and laughter.
My tearful mother told me that she and my father had been involved in a serious car accident and my dad was in hospital badly injured and she was going to ring the headmaster to see if I could go and visit him in hospital the following weekend. Then my money ran out and I burst into tears. The consensus of the staff was that I should go and see matron; she was better at these sorts of things. At least she let me use her phone.
But once again the whole aspect of this episode came down to the macho stereotype of dealing with an emotional problem. The sympathetic advice ran out at the level of ďDonít worry, heíll be alright. Keep your chin upĒ
My father was in hospital for over twelve months and during term time I got to visit him once.
The more I remember about that place the worse it gets, in the first essay I wrote I remember trying to recall some good times I had there and I couldnít, I still canít.
I guess that style of education was quite normal in those un-enlightened times and was something most people of my generation endured. Teachers were that way because they didnít know any different, and ours certainly had no special training for boarding schools. The few good teachers, out of the classroom, we ever had were nice, decent people but they never stayed for long. Most of those that did stay were after the easy life, free meals and accommodation or, I suspect now with hindsight, the sadists and perverts. If I was really generous some of them might just have been misfits.
This was about as alien an environment as you could possibly find to grow up in, and that atmosphere along with many other factors such as my previous upbringing and personality marked me out as a target for the abusers.
Eventually I did do something that gained me praise from some of Ďmy elders and bettersí, and in the midst of a strange environment and the usual put-downs some praise for doing something well was nice. Unfortunately it was sex.
Being told that I was good at sex, especially oral sex, was obviously a major influence on my adult behaviour, what started as recalling these childhood acts as a fantasy while masturbating evolved into the nightmare that at the age of 46 I decided Iíd had enough of.
By this time I was spending hours winding myself up with the final evolution of my fantasy and if I was working alone then it was all day.
Now the fantasy had evolved to the simple act of performing oral sex with another man. ĎWhoí didnít matter, I had no vision of age or any other feature of the mystery man, the colour of skin or any other detail didnít matter a bit as I never saw the whole man in my fantasy.
My fantasy contained very little of the initial meeting with this other man and only some rudimentary details of the situation and place, I had a smallish repertoire that I would use over and over again. As for the formalities of establishing that sex would take place, this was something that as yet hadnít happened to me for real, so I had no idea of the protocols involved and making them up was hardly worth the trouble. Generally the fantasy went straight to the action. Any words exchanged between us were something simple and graphic, like ďI want to suck you offĒ That was as verbose as the fantasy got!
So basically the fantasy was that I would give oral sex to some man somewhere, itís that simple.
And on reflection I find it unbelievable that I could spend so much time dwelling on this simple act, after all, how many variations are there?
Itís something that as a boy I did more times than I care to recall, but maybe I was just curios to know what it was like as an adult and, much more importantly, to be in control and do it on my terms.
But who is actually in control, is it the giver or the receiver, or is the person who makes the first move and instigates the act in charge?
The perception of gaining control was an important factor in the fantasy, although I didnít realise it at the time, it was just a sex fantasy to me when I used it.
But now I can see that I wanted to be the instigator and the giver. I related the act of giving pleasure to a stranger with having control of that person for a brief period. My fantasy never included the stranger returning the favour- that would have meant relinquishing the power. I had to be the one in charge.
The question of having some control, or ultimately the controlling role, in this imagined situation was the important part and not the actual sex, I didnít realise this major point then but I do now.
As a boy I had no choice, my abusers were scheming and remarkably sophisticated, whether by intellectual ability or animal cunning I donít know but I suspect the latter, and they dressed up my role in the abuse to make the sex look like my choice. But the reality was that I performed or got a hiding, something I learned very early on, so I obviously took the only route available.
Part of that role was learning the Ďactí of appearing willing or even eager to become what they told me was an equal partner in the sex, and itís a very thin line that actually keeps Ďactingí and Ďbelievingí apart.
I, and my abusers, all acted in different roles for different reasons. They acted to appear kind and benign, I acted because I knew no different. In the end I believed. They told me I believed.
By understanding these simple truths my abuse becomes so much clearer and easier to deal with.
Now I also understand that as a small child my isolated childhood before I went to that school was a major influence on the sequence of events that became my life. A factor that before I embarked on my recovery I would have dismissed as irrelevant and probably untrue.
As a child brought up in the countryside, living away from friends at primary school and entertaining myself I learned, or didnít learn, different things to most other kids.
I didnít learn a lot of the social skills my friends did. Although I met my friends at the weekends whenever I could I would generally only see them at school in an environment controlled by adults. Getting up to mischief was something I had to do without an audience. What I did learn however was independence and getting along by myself.
Part of Ďgetting along by myselfí was learning to play by myself and in the absence of playmates I created stories and enacted the other roles in great detail in my mind. A talent I still have and used to create the fantasies of adulthood.
So being thrust into a school where privacy was virtually impossible was a shock and itís very likely that I, and others like me, stood out a mile to the sexual predators. My lack of confidence with other people marked me as a soft target for their lies and hollow praise.
But the independent and resilient nature formed in my early years became the backbone of my survival through my early adult years. I found a defence inside myself by telling myself it was my problem, it was in my past and I can deal with it.
I retreated into the macho man I was taught to be and with the aid of my insular nature hid all my problems deep down inside myself. Unfortunately I put a lot of other stuff there by mistake, or maybe things like trust and love were so tangled up with my problems that they just got sucked in as well, they probably did.
And it was a convenient and easy way of dealing with unwanted Ďstuffí. At the first sign of any emotional crisis or any situation that required responsibility, trust or anything a little bit difficult, I would use the same defence tactic and bury it, hoping it would go away or someone else would take over. I canít begin to imagine what I have avoided over the years.
It was a simple approach and it worked to a great extent, but only because my wife and friends put up with my Ďlaid backí style.
And although I can now see that it did cause problems, I had a list of excuses ready any politician would be proud of.
But in the end the deep hole filled up and the contents started to fester and bubble. I had no room left to bury anything and I was getting more and more problems that I hadnít got any other place for. I needed help.
But this is being written with the benefit of hindsight, something that makes the crazy seem obvious.
Why didnít I get help sooner? I couldnít, I didnít know how.
The only thing I knew was to keep quiet and deal with it.
I Ďknewí that no-body would believe me, Things like that Ďdidnít happen to boys for heavens sakeí I didnít know anyone ĎI could trustí
My trust had been shattered by the fact that the headmaster on discovering the details of my rape by a gang of older boys did nothing. Not a bloody thing. So the sex abuse continued and got worse until eventually a teacher became an abuser.
How was I expected to trust anyone after that? Itís only now, a few months before my 47th birthday and after 25 years of marriage that I can trust my wife enough to relate some of this stuff to. There was no way I could have gone to my parents or anyone else at the time it was happening, if the most powerful man in my world couldnít make it stop then how could anyone else? If he didnít stop it happening then perhaps it was because it was a normal part of growing up, thatís what the older boys kept telling me so it must have been right.
Itís no wonder I donít trust authority and have railed against it all my adult life. Now I see why my climb up the career ladder stalled at the first step!
I do trust some people now though, I have learned to realise that not everyone abuses power or friendship. I have friends now who know that I have had problems and have dealt with that knowledge in a way I wouldnít have dreamt possible.
The trust my wife and I now share is total, and something tells me I always did trust her for the most part, and Iím sure I recognized that sheís always trusted me. I just didnít know how to deal with trusting another person completely. So I dealt with my dark and troubling past with silent stoicism, I didnít think she needed to know. Or perhaps I didnít trust anyone with my secret?
Then, years later when it had evolved into a massive problem, it seemed too late to come clean. By that stage time had compounded the secret and it proved to be one of the most frightening few moments of my life as I tearfully broached my problem with her. I was convinced it was an all or nothing gamble and such was my misconception of her trust and love for me I hadnít a clue where I would end up. As usual I misjudged the situation by a mile and her support was total.
At that point I still believed what my abusers had told me, I was still convinced that I had been as willing as they had said I was, even after thirty five years I still believed that I enjoyed what happened and that I was just the same as they were. If I still believed this, even as an adult, then how could she be persuaded otherwise?
And wasnít this knowledge of my sordid past enough for her to want to throw me out? I didnít know. Add to that the massive shock of discovering the person you love has kept a hideous secret to themselves for all their adult lives and my doubts were doubled.
So in amongst my massive confusion I had no idea what her reaction would be, itís not something I should be saying after twenty five years of marriage I know, but in my defence I can only say that I didnít know what I was thinking with any sort of clarity so second guessing someone else was a long shot.
But she instantly took the decision to help me, and I gladly accepted the offer.
No ifís Ė no buts just the offer of help.
My decision to tell my wife was obviously part of my decision to get proper help from therapy and counselling, it was a monumental leap of faith admitting to myself that I was no longer in control of my actions and thoughts and needed to accept the help of others, my independent streak was still very strong and remains so to this day, so being helped and guided by others was a frightening prospect.
But the process of painfully relating my past and present was the course I chose and in doing so I put my life in some sort of order and recognised the cause and affects that were shaping my life.
To sit facing a comparative stranger in a small room and relate in detail what had happened in my past and, even worse for me, what was happening now was as difficult as it was cleansing. Each session I would have more to tell, more painful history of my childhood and more confusing details of my present behaviours and thoughts.
But nobody ever told me I was as bad or as sick as I thought I was when I began. Nobody has judged me, and people donít point in the street.
My vision of myself as a person was rock bottom; I had a terrible secret that had evolved into the worst behaviour I could imagine.
I had eventually made my fantasy come true.
I gained a very intensive lesson in the balance of power that I was unwittingly playing with. I discovered very painfully that neither of us was in charge of the situation and there was no feeling of power over the stranger or my past. The sex, such as it was, lurks in my memory like a bad dream. The only feeling I came away with was self-loathing, and I already had a boatload of that.
The guilt and horror of what happened was unimaginable and still remains so, but now that I can stand back and see the path that led me there itís easier to come to terms with.
Now, once again with the clearer vision of hindsight, I can recognise that the inevitability of making the fantasy a reality was out of my control. I was locked into an automatic and recurring pattern of behaviour that I didnít understand and was therefore powerless to control.
The only redeeming aspect what happened was the fact that it eventually shook me rigid. The seed was planted in my mind that something had to be done; I couldnít go on like this.
But surprisingly, to me at the time anyway, the shock wasnít enough on its own to actually stop my addictive compulsion right then, it took months of agonising, and the slow realisation that I was finding it impossible to stop this monstrous urge by my own efforts, to realise I needed help.
The urge to continue with this behaviour continued, and indeed in some aspects became stronger, Iíd done it, so ďletís do it better next time!Ē
I still had the illusion that sex was the driving force of this compulsion; I hadnít figured out that the sex was actually a very small and unimportant aspect.
Somehow, with reserves of willpower I didnít know I had, I just about managed to crush the final stages of actually entering the toilets. But the fight within myself was unimaginable; I would end up parked close by in my vehicle shaking as I wrestled with the pandemonium of my emotions. I would reach for the door handle, stop and thump the roof of the car and stamp on the floor. Then I would reach out once more toward the door handle and once more withdraw my hand. Eventually, sometimes after five minutes or so I would win the battle and crying with anger, rage and shame I would eventually drive off, berating myself out loud, shouting at myself and smashing my fist into anything within reach as I drove away. If there was one grain of pride in having overcome the compulsion then it was a very small one.
How I managed to drive away the few times this happened before I sought help is a mystery, both from the view of the strength of the compulsion and the physical and mental wreck the resistance made me.
And how I managed to calm down and present a normal face to my wife and friends afterwards is beyond me. The shaking and confusion would last for hours as I beat myself up.
The thoughts I had in ďsanerĒ moments were obviously that I couldnít possibly let it happen again, I didnít want it to happen again and I didnít derive any pleasure from the memory what Iíd done. The sex, such as it was, was fleeting and distasteful and was only memorable for it actually having taken place.
The memory I have of it now was the anticipation beforehand, which is something I had finely crafted over the years followed by the overwhelming sense of fear as it took place. A crushing and ghastly fear.
The sense of fear has many sides to it; the first is the simple adrenaline rush that comes from being scared witless at the prospect of being found out. An adrenaline rush is hard to beat but is best left to more conventional methods of scaring myself such as motor-sport. My love of off-roading in a highly modified jeep now goes a long way to satisfying my thirst for adrenaline rushes.
This fear of being caught however was also confused with the wish to be caught.
As confusing as this sounds it appears, again with hindsight, that because I had no way of telling anyone I had a problem, my sub-conscious was telling me that if I got caught behaving Ďoddlyí in a sexual way then someone would be bound to ask why. Then I could pour my heart out and tell it all. Simple.
But this was above behaving oddly, not that I realised that at the time. And it certainly wasnít the simple way out, there isnít one anyway!
Also there was a behaviour that goes right back to my early childhood, way before any sex abuse started, and is rooted in loneliness.
And this was the element of keeping my secrets to myself, another odd statement, but what I mean is that having a secret was special. I had been raised in a lonely place with nobody to share things with and had developed an insular character that later, as the abuse was happening and into adult life, revelled in the knowledge that ďIíve done things they havenítĒ Just wanting to tell someone a secret is a thrill, and weíre all guilty of heightening the thrill by actually telling someone a small and hopefully inconsequential secret. But the thrill is gone then, lost forever.
Thereís fear there as well, the fear of repercussions at disclosing the secret. My secret however remained my own, possibly with some escalating thrill as the years passed. Always with the fear of it being discovered.
All these fears would give me an strang feeling inside, a rush of adrenaline that left a taste in my mouth and make my heart race. Itís the same feeling as I get when driving up a steep, rocky climb in my off-roader where I know failure will have me on the roof.
And thereís nothing to choose between them, the thrill of fear is wonderful and addictive. But in the same way I now drive places that when I started competing off-road 7 or 8 years ago I would have pulled out of earlier, the fantasy situations also grew.
What I drove back then doesnít give me a kick any more so the severity of the terrain I drive has escalated. My vehicle has been modified hugely to make it go further and remain safe when things go wrong. So has my skill in driving it. The risk is under control and escalates slowly, safe in the knowledge that the risk is actually very small in this seemingly wild sport. And my natural defences still register fear, and give me an adrenaline rush.
But the escalation of the fantasy into cruising for sex had no such safety net; the risk was total humiliation and total loss. Imagine the kick from pushing that to the limit?
The fantasy in my mind evolved my secret into ďI want to do things they donítĒ into ďI do things they donít !Ē A bigger secret with possibly a bigger thrill. And the fear this level of secret could instil was enormous.
Iíve worked hard on my recovery and sought guidance and information from anywhere I could, obviously my wife, friends and therapist have been the mainstays, but I have gained information, ideas and support from Mike Lewís book ĎVictims No Longerí and various sites on the internet. Mike Lewís book was a revelation from cover to cover and a constant source of inspiration. The pages of my copy are underlined, covered with scribbled notes and stained with tears. Some times it became so hard to continue reading I would close the book for a while. But I would always go back.
The Internet also provided some very useful ideas but there was a lot of other stuff to sort through as well, but well worth the effort.
One thing that did become clear through reading about sexual abuse in both of these mediums was the addictive nature of the problems that victims were prone to experiencing. On many of the Internet site victims have posted their own stories and the regularity of reading how they ended up addicted to alcohol, drugs or dysfunctional behaviour stood out starkly.
It might just be that this kind of person felt more need to share their experiences, I donít know. But I can relate to it.
My behaviour and thoughts were initially driven by my memories but ended up driving me, unstoppable and uncontrollable. I guess I was addicted to the fantasy and the danger.
The fantasy was also fuelled by the lack of control that I had when the abuse took place, somehow I thought that by being the instigator now and having control over this kind of sexual activity I could redeem all the lost control I suffered back then. Baldly stated like that it might appear trite and simplistic, but itís only when this and the other aspects are run parallel that the big picture emerges.
Control of my own behaviour is slowly becoming easier, I still have days when I have a fight on my hands as the old behaviours try to make a comeback but theyíre getting fewer and the fight is getting shorter and easier to win.
Thereís still a certain amount of confusion in my mind as to what I can allow to continue, itís hard to determine what I can, or will allow as a Ďnormalí fantasy and is it alright to masturbate sometimes? If itís all right, which I suppose it is as long as itís not at the expense of making love with my wife, where do I draw the line with the fantasy or memory I use?
In the past I could masturbate up to twice a day to ever more lurid fantasies of having sex with another man because the fantasies were ever present and that was the behaviour I had evolved into.
Should I, or can I, suppress this fantasy? I realise now that a fantasy is just that- a fantasy. Itís imagining something that you arenít ever likely to do.
But is remembering something I have done in the past counted as a fantasy? I donít know. Is fantasizing about having sex with someone of the same sex bad? Possibly not if itís something youíve never done and never likely to do, thatís a genuine fantasy. And whoís to judge whatís bad and what isnít?
I have done all of these things though, and because I didnít want it to happen as a boy, and a confusing chain of events led me to believe I did want it to happen as an adult, means I have a dilemma on my hands. Where does fantasy end and revelling in my past begin?
I suppose one way to look at it is to ask the simple question ďdoes it work?Ē
If it does then it might just be classed as fantasy. As time and my recovery progress the fact is that my old fantasies are beginning to lose their effect.
The realization that as my fantasies became real and they turned out to be so awful, and so disappointing, gives me a stick to beat it with, any time the fantasy surfaces I just have to recall the reality of bolting from some stinking toilet cubicle and any perceived pleasure dies instantly.
But I do know that the simple recollection of sex as a boy I used as a fantasy grew into a nightmare, and the prospect of that happening once more is frightening.
I donít fear that particular story line developing as it did before, as this no longer holds the attraction that it once had, but I do fear a variation.
Common sense tells me it probably canít happen because I would recognize in the early stages the evolution of any new fantasy developing, even though the story might be different.
I suppose the answer is to put all this energy into a normal sex life with my wife, if I can overcome the problems I had then surely I can overcome any remaining inhibitions I have when making love and re-learn the pleasure of sex. If I can do that then the need for fantasy will disappear, and if the need goes then I wont have a problem.
But my inhibitions run deep; sex was something I learnt at a far too young an age and in the worst possible circumstances. The fact that I became so willing and co-operative to the abusers wishes is deeply ingrained, of course I now realise that any willingness on my part wasnít actually willingness but compliance with their demands, but they had four years to tell me their version over and over again and I then believed it for thirty years after. That takes a lot of shifting.
I enjoy making love with my wife; sheís a very sexy woman with far fewer hang-ups than me! But even having taken my giant leap and getting this far in my recovery there are still strong threads that keep a link between enjoying sex and feeling guilty.
I find it hard to instigate sex, I think I still feel that the instigation of sex is, or could be construed as, a form of abuse. To me the link is still there, born from the confusing role I ended up playing. I was encouraged to play the part of the instigator when the reality was the opposite. They would feed me loaded questions and the answers were guaranteed to make it appear that I was asking them for sexual favours. Even though I knew that the ďcoincidenceĒ of one or both of them just happening to bump into me when there was some free time meant that sex was going to happen, questions such as ďwhat would you like to do this afternoon?Ē only had one possible answer from me. The wrong answer would only lead to more close, persuasive questions until I gave them the answer they wanted. ďLetís have a fuckĒ
I remember this ritual quite clearly, and although I didnít understand it at the time I must have accepted it or maybe I just didnít realise it was happening.
It was the way secrecy was established. By making me believe it was my wish I also believed that I would get all the blame if we were discovered.
This is still a powerful influence on me even though I now understand why they did it and how it worked, like I said earlier they had four years to teach me and I had thirty years to learn.
I fear rejection, not out of my own sexual frustration, but for the fear that my advances could be unwanted. I know exactly how unwanted sexual advances feel and I wouldnít wish that on anyone.
The reality with my wife would be a lot different, I know this. But the little voice in the back of my mind tells me that itís easier to avoid this problem by not making the advance in the first place. Iím back to burying what I donít want to deal with.
Small doubts and fears can seem easy to overcome when viewed from a distance but the reality of doing something about them as they occur is much harder.
Therapy has taken me to a position where I can sit back at a proper distance and view the picture properly, itís not a pleasant view and the edges are a bit ragged but just like a childís Ďjoin the dotsí picture, it makes sense in the end. It wasnít an obvious picture to start with, but like a small child joining the dots on a page they struggle with the first few dots until they realise that the drawing is actually something they recognise like a nursery rhyme character, then itís a whole lot easier. They might not like the character, and therefore the picture, but itís the one theyíve drawn and they only have to turn the page to another one to forget it.
I donít like my picture either, and I certainly donít like the characters, but itís the only picture I have of my past. Unfortunately I canít just turn the page to the next picture, I have to tear out the one of my past, fold it up and carry it in my back pocket. Only then I can start joining the dots on the new and exciting picture.
Iím starting a new part of my life as a survivor from a much stronger position, knowing that the love and trust of my family and friends is there for support, therapy is always there as well. I doubt that I will give up going for many years, although it might be only occasionally just to get a boost and a reminder of how to use that most precious of tools, my own mind.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau