I don’t want to write this post, and I don’t want it to be my first real content coming back to blogging.
But, #MeToo is a social media trend, and we all know those are quick-moving. Already, I’m coming in on the tail end of the hype. So, if I want to be a part of it, I might as well do it now.
When I was 2, my parents divorced.
When I was 4, my dad introduced my brothers and I to his new girlfriend. She bought us candy and toys and clothes. She seemed nice, I liked her.
But she had two kids of her own, a boy and a girl. We never got along.
My brothers and I were raised strictly, we did what we were told or we were punished. We were spanked and hit with belts and we had hot sauce on our tongues when we lied. We understood discipline well.
But these kids, they did not. They were not like us. They acted worse, but they were not punished.
My brothers looked out for me, since I was the youngest. They didn’t leave me alone with these other kids, they didn’t let them touch me or say anything bad to me.
Of course, it should have been my dad who protected all of us. But he didn’t.
When I was 7, my brothers became distracted. They had their own lives to worry about, they wanted to get away and there was only so much they could do for me.
One of the kids, the girl, began to take advantage of their distraction. She got me alone. She touched me, and then told me that I had to touch her back.
That she had done me a favor.
That I owed it to her to do it back.
I didn’t understand, I was 7.
I did what she told me to do.
On one occasion, the door happened to be open. My brother walked by, he saw and he understood.
As more of the protector than my dad had ever been, my brother took it into his own hands to step in. To save me.
To be honest with you, I don’t remember much. As I’ve gotten older and thought about it more, I’ve remembered some.
But, as human minds do, much of it was shoved deep down to keep me safe. To let me grow up and be okay.
I know that my brother told my dad what he had seen, I know that I was punished for what happened, I know that she was not.
I know that my dad still did not protect us. In fact, several years later, he married that woman and my abuser became my step-sister. I lived with her, saw her in my house every day, acted like it was fine.
I know that none of us talked about it.
When I was 16, I had my first serious relationship. I knew that what had happened to me had damaged me and made me hesitant to be physical with another person. I told him, and he was understanding.
When I was 17, I lost my virginity to him. I cried and shook and became so tense that it was impossibly painful. He stopped.
I felt like this was a weakness, I internalized it and blamed myself. I couldn’t even have sex, a most basic human function.
Nobody would want someone who couldn’t have sex.
I broke up with him a short time later.
When I was 17, I finally spoke up about what had happened to me to the person I felt had let me down the most. My dad acted shocked. He told me to my face, which was streaming with silent tears as I tried not to shake too much, that he had no idea what I was talking about it.
He let me down again
When I was 18, I fell down a dangerous rabbit hole. I felt invalidated by my dad and I viewed my inability to have sex as a weakness. I saw it as allowing my abuser to hold power over me. If I could get over my trauma, it would prove that she wasn’t the powerful one. I was. It would prove that it didn’t matter if my dad hadn’t protected me, I could fix myself.
I became fixated on this idea.
But at the same time, I struggled with a fear of intimacy and an inability to feel emotions.
As a result, I became drawn to the idea of casual hookups.
I started meeting other people who made it clear they were only interested in sex. I didn’t feel the need to tell them about my trauma, that was too personal and they didn’t care.
But it worked.
And I became addicted.
I’m still addicted.
To a degree, I remain in denial of the fact that what I’m doing is not fixing myself, that it’s simply creating new issues on top of old scars.
I know that I’ve stepped beyond striving to prove myself stronger than my trauma, that I became caught up in a trap that is all too easy to fall into.
But I also know that I am not the only one who has become ensnared.
Trauma doesn’t end when the abuse ends, and the pursuit of recovery is not a simple journey.
Perceived weakness is a blinding force that drives us to extremes we would not otherwise reach, and it’s all too easy to make a wrong turn.
However, getting lost in the pursuit of strength does not doom you to a cyclical life of new issues on old scars.
It’s simply a matter of stepping back, looking at what’s happened to you and what you’ve done, and understanding that you are not alone.