I have been thinking about this question about boundaries. I think it makes sense if you think about it as two different kinds of boundaries, sexual boundaries and interpersonal boundaries. If viewed separately, it is apparent that each of them can have their own set of rules because the reasons for them existing may be different and may have been formed by different needs.
I definitely relate to sexual boundaries because I am mostly celibate and have been for most of my life, excepting the CSA years (all before age 10) and a brief drug and alcohol fueled period later in life that brought out quite a different side of me. I don’t really like sex and haven’t had sex in years. And I am happy that way. My partner and I have worked around my issues with sex. So, I guess I have a hard-stop boundary with sex, and that definitely was created by the CSA.
However, with the interpersonal boundaries, they are a bit more vague and more open. I often “catch” the eye of other guys. I get sexual attention from other men, based on absolutely no effort on my end, at least as I see it. In my mind, I am completely innocent and naďve about these things. My partner tells a different story. He says I am shy, but borderline coy in how I come across. A weird mix of quiet, but “batting my eyes” in a way that guys see as encouraging their attention. During my above mentioned phase of alcohol and drugs, this more innocent behavior turned into more obvious and overtly sexual behavior. I could “hook” men easily with this behavior. But, it turned really unhealthy, really fast, mimicking and re-enacting the worst parts of my CSA. So, I ended up shutting down that side of myself and I quit all substances many, many years ago.
I think this, too, links back to the CSA. I was used by a variety of perps in front of a camera for child pornography. And I learned really easily, even at the age of 7 or 8 to learn how to keep men happy and sexually interested in me. If not, the scenarios for the camera involved more pain, and more degrading things that they would do. Sometimes I could get the coach, who was the mastermind of the whole pornography thing, distracted enough that he would not want to do the movies. That is very hard for me to even say, because I have always felt like a little prostitute. But it is true. I think I just have this need to please other men branded into my behavior because of these situations. When you learn something like that at such a young age, something that is effective at minimizing the pain and severity of a truly insane, surreal, and fucked up situation, it just stays with you.
The interesting thing is, I think both of these boundaries, the sexual and the interpersonal, relate to maintaining a sense of safety, even if they don’t seem at all complementary. I cannot tease the coach and the perps who abused me out of my sexual behavior. They rise up like ghosts every time I am aroused. Putting a hard stop boundary around my own sexual behavior limits the amount of times I have to have their ghosts in my life. So, by decreasing sex, I am cutting off exposure to them and making myself feel safer.
With the interpersonal boundaries, I think I am more open and inviting to men because in a way I think it insures a better outcome to be a bit more forward and flirty in very “quiet, and not so obvious” ways because it is part of a long-standing survival mechanism that in the past worked to minimize exposure to cruel behavior. So, I learned to do that and do that very well. It is just something I do that is unconscious to me.
How does this play out for me and how does this work? That is a tough one. But, I think I would have to say that I have mirrored in my adult life what for me was the most perfect kind of relationship that I have experienced in all my years. When I was involved with the coach and the perps during the pornography years, I had a really good friend that was not involved at all with what was going on in gymnastics. Being the over-sexualized kid that I was, our relationship took a very innocently sexual tone. We were young boys, so we didn’t have sex or anything. But, we did kiss and during sleepovers would sleep together with our arms around each other and such. It was all very innocent stuff. But, to me, it was a stark contrast to what I was experiencing with the harsh and cruel stuff that went on in front of the cameras. It was an antidote in a way to what I was experiencing with adult men who wanted to use me sexually. It became my ideal.
So, I guess I would say that I have created in my adult life, that type of ideal relationship that I cherished as a boy. I have a loving partner, who I cuddle with, get lots of affection from, and who I feel is my soul mate. We understand each other on a very deep level. But, it is not explicitly sexual at all. Sex does not enter into our equation. And we are both okay with that, and have worked around it. In many ways, it has deepened our commitment and our love for each other. And it has worked for the 12 years we have been together. It may not fit anyone else’s idea of a perfect relationship, but it is mine.
I guess as always, all roads lead back to the CSA. These boundaries have shaped almost everything in me in one way or another. Some of it, not so great. Some of it, like what I have with my partner, I would not change for the world.
"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."