Tuesday, January 6, 2009


My newfound passion and "activism" (inasmuch as arguing on teh internets and being a Humorless Feminist in real life can be called activism) are wearing me the fuck out.

I think I'm just not "recovered enough." I know that my experiences as a survivor could add another dimension to my efforts to change my little corner of the world, and every now and then I think I've reached a point where I can recall those experiences without being completely overwhelmed by them. But then some days, trying to make a point or hearing someone else's story brings mine back in force.

A discussion about reproductive rights takes me back to the man who threw out all my birth control pills, refused to wear condoms, and repeatedly raped me. Not the kind of rape that comes with kicking and screaming and fighting, but the kind of rape that happens when you're at the absolute bottom, almost ready to kill yourself, and honestly believe that the relationship that deepens your despair every day is your only chance for a decent life. He wanted me pregnant-he wanted me to have even fewer options. And I "let" him do those things to me because I wasn't in a position to believe that my body was my own. Someone who is blissfully unaware of their own privilege saying that women "make their 'choice' when they choose to have sex" puts me right back in that bed, staring at the ceiling and halfheartedly moaning with feigned pleasure, waiting for him to finish and trying to convince myself that "he's doing this to show that he loves me."

An essay about sexual abuse has the power to make me fight to stay conscious. My head spins and my stomach tries to claw its way out any opening it can find when I read about someone who sounds so much like me, something about a little girl lying in bed with the covers over her head, hoping HE won't come in again tonight...trying to just "go away," leave her body, go off somewhere with her imaginary friend because his cologne is too strong and his fingers are THERE again and it burns and why isn't anyone coming to STOP this, and what did she do to make him hurt her like this?

A post about domestic violence on a blog I follow can send me into a full-on panic attack, flashing back to any number of horrible memories. I might be 9 years old, cleaning up the milk and blood and glass after my mother smashed a cup on the back of my head. I might be in my teens, begging any one of a string of boyfriends to forgive me for some minor transgression, while he holds me against a wall (or down on the floor, or backed into a corner...) screaming in my face that I'm a stupid whore and can't do anything right. I might be 20-ish, professing my love of kinky sex to explain away the bloody gashes on my back and rope burn on my wrists, because I spilled my boyfriend's coffee the night before and was "disciplined" for it. (Note: I don't have a problem with legit, consensual BDSM practices. They're completely cool by me. What is not cool is when your partner expresses an interest in "some light bondage or something" and you use that as a tool to enable abuse.)

Even discussions related to recovery itself are minefields for me. The mention of someone's supportive partner being patient during their recovery takes me back to the night my ex punched holes in my walls, threatened me, had to be removed by the police, and came back after the cops left to beat the shit out of the friend that I had called to come over for moral support. What was his problem? Well, the small matter of my recovery from self-harm had interfered with our lives a little. Trying not to kill myself left me with no energy to fuck him. We'd been in a month-long dry spell, and in his words, "at least I haven't just raped you yet. I hear that's better than what you've had before." How nice of him.

Of course, life is great for me now. Like I said, some days are great, and my past doesn't threaten to drown me at every turn. But then there are days like today, when reading one article (it was one about child sexual abuse today) makes me feel like it will never be any better. I just needed to get this out.

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