I’ve just had an astonishing experience of healing that I wanted to share with you.
Last week something came up that caused me to take a deep look at myself. I felt I had to explain to myself some of my behavior with porn. Briefly, every so often when I’m really sad or anxious I look at gay porn. This makes me feel very strange and almost exactly like the feelings I remember from being molested, that exact complicated pleasure anxiety combination I’m sure many of you know, too. My internal fantasy life (without porn) also has none of me in it, just repetitions of stories that make the whole thing go quicker but also make me feel vaguely bad.
So last week I had to think about this, and I felt like I had to explain it (in fact I talked about it very openly with a friend, who was very understanding). I’m sure you can imagine how hard it was to let all of this out.
Here’s what I saw: I saw that I had been literally stuck without a sexuality of my own in the long time of being molested. That I had created a shell around myself of images and words that always kept me abused and vulnerable and ashamed. I was afraid of hidden things inside myself because of the experiences which I couldn’t explain. They made me terribly unsure of my sexuality. When I was asked if I was gay or straight, there was always this difficult response, something like “I think I’m straight,” which always gets a “how is it possible you don’t know?” And then me with an uncomfortable shame of not being willing to explain my way of being.
The real answer to this question is that I never had a sexuality of my own. I have lived my whole sexual life in the shadow of the abuse, essentially recreating it each time I needed to have sexual release. And so I reiterate over and over the feeling of being molested. I have now done this so often that I am jaded to it, and so I can relieve the pressure with only a minor tremor of “going back there,” and then on the rare times that I use the porn, there is a small recovery period because I have really gone back to the darkest times in my life.
Because this has happened for so long, I have learned to see in the dark, and so I no longer really know the darkness is there, except again in those brief moments of looking at porn. Also my life in general is very “happy”. And I only put the quotes there because I know there is an even better kind of happiness free of all of this that is waiting for me.
So in many parts of my life I have recovered from the pain of abuse. But sexuality is so present in life, whether we want it to be or not, that this recent experience has shown me how far there is yet to go. My sexual reticence has to be general human reticence, too, since human beings are sexual animals and respond to one other’s offerings both of coldness and warmth. I need to learn to be available in whatever way my unmolested self would be available, to friends and lovers both, unafraid.
I will learn to be healthy in that part of my life as in all other parts.
I can’t tell you how terrifying this realization was at first. But I will face whatever fears I have and I will come through the experience whole. I will never allow this aspect of my abuse to control me in any way again.
I will get some counseling probably (if I can find someone good in my area), and mostly I will use mindfulness meditation on a daily basis to eliminate the habits of mind. The mindfulness exercise will be something like: whenever I feel any of these old habits returning, I will simply look them straight in the eye and say: “warped thinking” and let it go. If the thoughts come back I will continue to face them and say nothing more than “warped thinking” and let it go. If I have to put banners all over my house to remind me of my mission, I will. I will get this done. I will no longer have those warped thoughts shaping me.
It will take some time, I know, but I also know this technique works. I have faced these demons, and I feel much stronger than ever before. The only power they ever had over me was power I gave them. I can give it: I can also take it away.
This may be one of the most exciting weeks in my life. I’m a little scared, like a kid looking out the door at a new neighborhood and wondering who he’ll meet. I have no guideposts on dating, virtually no experience whatsoever of sex or love. I’m scared, but I’m facing the fears. The weirdest part in some ways is that my abuse started before puberty, so I have no experience to go on, even of masturbation, from before the abuse. I’ll have to discover an entirely new way of life. Basically I’ve just hit puberty for real at 42!
I am walking out from the house of my abuse, and I will never live there again.
I wish you could see the smile on my face. The sky of my being is the brightest blue it’s ever been.