~ Written January 2008
Oh, la la…
Interesting, isn’t it? Unravelling the stories we create around ourselves, in order to sustain this idea of Self?
I… just this morning I pounced on a new thought, about my shit. About how people in general, deal with their shit.
Us humans, we like to keep things compartmentalised. We assume that sorting out the mysteries and mythologies we like to hold true, can be done piecemeal, each in isolation.
Take something you know to be really true. For me (and I’m not suggesting this is true for anyone else), this is a truth I live by:
Buddhist and Hindu teachings tell us that we all create our own suffering. We maintain a certain set of ideas/ideals around something we think occurred. We do this to stabilise who we think we are. That contributes to forming an idea of ‘self’, which is in fact, a separation from Self.
This is a statement that – when I apply it to myself – contributes towards my spiritual and philosophical development. It’s a good thing.
Except that apparently I haven’t been applying this universally/equally, to all parts of my life. I’ve just realised I was conveniently applying this to parts of my life that it was easy/simple to relate to. Things I wanted to break down, could easily break down.
And that was great. Except… I’ve been haunted of late, by a rather esteemed astrologer’s words – that in order for me to meet my “Mr Right, I need to sort myself out – that I’m “still afflicted”.
Still afflicted… I’ve thought about this quite a lot. And done plenty of contemplation. Plenty of processing. I’d thought it was simply about bringing up issues surrounding my assault. So I’ve been working that stuff. I even had a convenient and recent ‘man issue’ which brought a lot of that crap to the surface again for examination.
Also in recent times, I started a piece of writing about some of the travails of my youth. Which – by the way – was fraught with early sexual activity, mental and physical abuse, date rape etc. Not a pretty tale. As someone who’s recently started writing again, I’d decided to respond to a topical blog requesting submissions. And I noticed, whilst writing, a latent yet still powerful anger in my words. In both the feeling and the memories of that time in my life.
A lusty anger, related to men. How I felt/feel about them in general (although not all men ofcourse!). How I perceive myself in relation to men in general (I think most don’t find me attractive). Quite a lot of anger. Feeling vulnerable. Feeling put down. Feeling abused. Feeling… for all the world, a little helpless in the face of men who I perceive to be manipulative, deceitful and/or malicious.
And then I remembered this universal truth I subscribe to in so many other areas of my life (see the fourth paragraph above). So. If I am responsible for, and create my own suffering, then how can any of this be true? How can someone hurt me, make me feel vulnerable, put down or abused?
This uncovered another layer of the onion to be delicately peeled away. Good lord.
I… have been holding on to a vestige of a story that I’ve used for such a long time to define who I am.
That story is… that from a very young age, I’ve been abused by men in one form or another. Whilst the actions may have happened, it is not those situations or those men that have held me in this place. It’s me.
I created this idea of the ‘victim’ me. The persecuted me. And, it’s where I retreat to, even up til this day. As a young girl, without doubt I went through some horrendous experiences. That they happened is not in doubt, nor does it make what happened okay. But actually, there were not as many horrendous experiences as my memories of those times as I would have myself believe. It’s easy to exaggerate. In my memory, overwhelmingly, my early experiences of men and sex were all bad. But this is not really true.
My first ‘bad male’ experience was my brother, from the time I hit puberty til the time I left home. Yes, he hit me. Hard and frequently. Yes, he verbally abused me and put me down every single day for many years (mental/emotional abuse). He is the main reason I moved interstate at the age of 21. But its how I chose to relate to that experience (abused, ugly and pathetic, victim) that has defined me. And I didn’t have to relate that way.
My second ‘bad male’ experience was my first boyfriend. Okay, bonus points for being the first boyfriend and all. And yes, he stripped me of my virginity whilst I was drunk, and it was emotional and romantic devastation coupled with abandonment. But it’s how I chose to relate to that experience (underage rape, emotional abuse, victim) that has defined me.
And… despite being generally unpopular and not having boys at school being interested in me, I still had boyfriends. But I had no boy problems for a few years. I even had a couple of really nice boyfriends – ones that I threw away, possibly for being too nice to me and not meeting my idea of how men treat me. Even at that time, I’d already allowed those two experiences to define me, to suggest I didn’t deserve a really nice boyfriend. So I dumped them both.
My third ‘bad male’ experience was around the age of 16/17, throwing myself at the brother of a boy I’d had a crush on since I was 12. And things were good for a while, until he dumped me for an ex of his. And, it’s how I chose to relate to that experience (sorry, unattractive, loser, rejected) that has defined me.
The fourth ‘bad male’ experience was date rape – of sorts. Well, it was and it wasn’t. I think I was 19 or 20. I had a huge crush on this hot guy, and I couldn’t believe he wanted to go out with me! But he did, and he handed me a ‘pill’ of some kind to take at the beginning of the night. I was so infatuated, I took it without question. I had no idea what it was although I now suspect it was Rohypnol. The fact that I then ended up drugged off my face, that I had no way to resist the unprotected sex that came next… well, I conveniently sidelined the fact that I’d colluded in my own helplessness. He could have done anything to me, and that I ended up in hospital with an STD and blood poisoning was probably a blessing compared to other potential fates. And, it’s how I chose to relate to that experience (as a victim of date rape, forever scarred) that has defined me.
I could go on with ‘bad male’ experiences, but I won’t. They would fill several more pages, and would only serve to prove my lifelong pattern of self-neglect and self-abuse and placing blame on ‘bad men’. And of allowing others to be abusive in one form or another towards me and making that mean something about me and about my relationship to men.
The point here is – I’ve identified with the idea that I only deserve ‘bad males’ in my life as boyfriends. And, that men who treat me badly are in fact ‘bad men’. Men who may seem normal, responsible, nice even – on the surface… but underneath they’re looking to control, to coerce, to hurt. They are not looking to be friends, and treat women they date as friends, with honour. But they are not necessarily bad men.
In truth, I’ve created and allowed this pattern. All men, all people, behave how they wish – and that has nothing to do with anyone else. Yet, I’ve allowed this pattern to flourish. And that has created a certain reality when it comes to men, in which I’ve lived my life. Huh.
It’s going to take some time I think, but I plan to re-write my history. To look upon all of these incidents in my life, and re-script the prose I’ve used to describe these experiences, how I felt/feel, and what things look like now.
Because it really doesn’t have to be like that. And whilst it seems I had to be punched in the face before I came to this conclusion… I no longer want to relate to men like this any more.