I was going to write about this new relationship I’m in, but we broke up. He told one “white” lie which revealed one off-white lie and that was that. I don’t do dishonesty. I don’t even understand it.
He’s been pursuing me to see if there’s a chance to reconcile and I’ve been taking some time to reflect. To shine some light on our relations to see for myself the next best step to take.
Here’s something that came into focus when the light hit it.
Two nights before we broke up we were getting intimate and I froze up. I had been waiting all day for his touch, but when it came I just could not receive it. Two decades after my abuse, it can still take me a minute to realize what’s going on. I become paralyzed completely, but then slowly start to get movement back in some part of my senses – maybe it’s just noticing that this curtain is not the one from that bedroom or the year is 2018 or this is So-and-So, not him. Once I realize I’ve become frozen it actually takes a minute to thaw.
I hate the in between. As far as my physical experience goes, in that moment between trigger and awareness, it is all happening all over again.
Then it’s like a faint echo from a deep cave. Wait, wait. Hold on. I hear myself whisper. And then as I come back to life and realize who I am and where I am it’s loud and firm. STOP! And I push him off and get to a place where no part of his body is touching my body.
Once I have distance from the experience, I can intellectualize what has happened. I’ve read enough to know that my brain goes into freeze mode, thinking it’s in danger just as if we were nine years old again. And it takes a minute of getting my body and brain back on the same page to convince them both that we are far away in space and time and we are safe.
I’ve experienced this several times over the years with different partners.
This particular night, because we had been getting closer emotionally in our relationship, I thought it might be a good time to share why I stop so abruptly from time to time. I mean, I always assume guys will just know. But they don’t.
(I dated a guy for three years who had no idea until years later when we reconnected and I opened up to him about my past. He was shocked. And I was shocked that he was shocked.)
So knowing that he couldn’t fully know, I thought this might be an opportunity to take our relationship to a deeper level. Maybe it was time to start filling in the gaps as wide as the Atlantic in my answers to his question, “what was your childhood like?”
But I didn’t. Something stopped me.
I just smiled and reassured him and said goodnight.
Years ago I was in a job interview to be a rape counselor. I was fresh out of college and it was going really well, but I didn’t know how to answer this question: How would you advise a client if she told you she wasn’t sure whether to tell her current partner about her abuse?
I didn’t know the answer because I didn’t have an answer for myself. At the time, my longest term boyfriend had been the quintessential man-that-a-sexual-abuse-survivor-ends-up-in-a-relationship-with. He may as well have been a carbon copy of my abuser. He wasn’t a full blown tick just yet, but he had definitely dug his head into my skin and begun to suck the lifeblood from me.
Since we met when I was 13, when I had already moved from the green drugs to the white ones, he had a pretty good idea that things weren’t so solid at home.
At any rate, when faced with this question I was perplexed. I’m sure I stumbled through and ultimately said something along the lines of, it’s her choice, but I’ve wondered at this question throughout my life.
At what point in a relationship do you tell your partner? And where and how? Certainly not in the bathtub or during a movie or out at a fine dining establishment, right? And how do the words come out? Yeah, so, we mostly just heard a lot of yelling and breaking until everything was quiet, then I was violated from the time I can recall until I was 11 and strangers came and took me to live with other strangers for a while. So, yeah, good luck with getting close to me. Ought to be as fun and safe as hugging a porcupine. Pass the pepper, honey!
It just never seems like the right time. But maybe it just hasn’t been for me. And as of today, I’m okay with that.
Something told me that night not to tell. Two days later I learned I had been lied to. I was right to not trust him with my vulnerability.
That something is intuition and it’s never wrong.
It doesn’t mean I can never share my story.
I’m obviously sharing parts of my story with anyone who will read it by writing this blog about it. This blog was born of intuition, thinking maybe somebody out there needed to hear something we had to say. There have been blogs we’ve posted that left me feeling like: WHY DID WE SHARE THAT? I want to crawl in a hole until next spring. But then just as I’m about to scrub us off the internet for good, someone sends a private message: Thank you for sharing that. It was the first time I didn’t feel alone.
And our intuition is affirmed.
I had shared some things with him over the course of our relationship. Things that were necessary to protect and care for myself, like I can’t fall asleep if you’re touching me. Or that I might take a minute to process emotions, so I’ll get back to you on that. I had shared enough. And that was enough.
We don’t owe it to anyone to share our stories.
We owe it to ourselves to be intuitive, to listen to what is right and when.
I appreciate this practice. It leaves me with no regrets about what I shared with him or what I’m sharing with you.
And if I really listen, I’ll know whether I should reconcile with him, too.