TRYING TO COME CLEAN, BUT THIS DIRTY FEELING JUST WON’T WASH AWAY.
this is me with my ex-husband. this is what love looks like, or so I’ve been told. I seem to remember a rather different story.
let me tell you something about my ex-husband: he was one of the ‘nice guys’ once. I suppose he still is now, but not when I’m around. he hates my guts, and I don’t exactly blame him. you see, I was molested as a child. he was an old friend of my mother’s, and he had apparently taken a liking to me. you know all the risque jokes about girls that become strippers because ‘daddy had boundary issues’? I would actually say that’s pretty accurate. see, as a child, you’re taught a little bit about these things - never get in a van with strangers, don’t walk alone at night, etc. but when it actually happens, as a child, it’s a very confusing thing. it certainly doesn’t feel appropriate, but there’s still a part of you that thinks that what he’s doing isn’t putting you in any real danger, so it must not be as serious as they say. unfortunately, I’ve learned too little, too late that the experiences of your formative years make a rather large impression on who you are as an adult, and this year-and-a-half-long ‘tryst’ this man and I had left me with a rather warped sense of the concept of love. in my mind, it had become about control. so, when I wanted something, I would feign submissiveness. I would lie, cheat, steal and beg to make certain I got my way in the relationship. the rest of the time, I would fight to assert my dominance. my own husband had become little more than a plaything to satisfy my neurotic impulse to be the ‘head bitch in charge’.
but then he would do these things. these quiet, simple, romantic things, and I would be taken aback. I would find myself reminiscing on why I married this man to begin with, and how I actually snagged one of the good ones. he was my dreamboat. he would shower me with these wonderful gestures, and then I would go to touch him. nothing rough, just a touch - the softest, gentlest touch my fingertips could manage. and then, my heart would sink: in an instant, I was a monster in my own mind. he was this sweet, innocent, pure little thing, and I was taking advantage of him - defiling him, violating his boundaries. suddenly, he was no longer a man. he was a helpless little fly, caught in the web of the big, bad spider-lady.
and so I would withdraw further, and the downward spiral would continue. the irony of this entire situation, of course, was that I only felt like the bad guy when I actually knew he wanted me near him. it was only when he showed that vulnerability that I would truly recoil at the horror of this situation. the rest of the time, I was so obsessed with controlling him that I never really stopped to think about what I was doing until he found solace in the arms of another. and by the time I found out what was going on, I was too goddamn angry to think straight. I shouted and screamed and tossed every solid object I could get my hands on, but in the back of my mind, I was screaming at myself.
"look what you did to him, you bitch.”
"you better get down on your knees and beg before it’s too fucking late."
"you know, he’s really gonna’ leave this time. it’s no wonder he found someone else."
I was always so confident, so strong and self-assured. but this was another beast entirely. this wasn’t high school anymore. it wasn’t making out at the movie theater and making eyes on the bedroom floor while Rihanna played in the background anymore. it wasn’t dating three weeks and a quick breakup because ‘things just didn’t work out’. no, this was real. this was three years of love and devotion, warped into something truly twisted. I know I should never have married at eighteen anyway, but that’s hardly the issue here. twisted as it became, it started out with love. real love, true love. and that’s what I lost the day we separated. now he comes around talking about still being ‘friends’, and parading his beauty pageant girlfriend around to make me jealous. that’s what this man has become: shallow, jealous and cruel. he reflects all of my worst qualities, and sometimes I think I hate him for that.
but I don’t hate him - not really. in fact, I still adore him a great deal. at the end of all of this, he’s still just an innocent little boy who got hurt. and I want to hold him so badly - to sweep him off of his feet and kiss him like he’s never been kissed before, right in front of his prissy little Kansas-bred beauty queen. but then I remember: that’s how this whole mess got started, and if I do that, I’ll just destroy whatever hope you may have left for a normal love. so take your pretty little white-trash bombshell and get as far as you can away from me. I’ll miss you, but I think I deserve a little heartache right now. and you deserve to be truly happy.
and the moral of the story? sexual assault is real. its’ effects are widespread and far-reaching. it occurs, on average, every two minutes to a human being. the man who hurt me did so in the belief that what he was doing was a victimless offense. but even if it seems harmless at the start, people will get hurt.
please, please, PLEASE: educate yourself, stay sharp, and pay close attention to who might be in the company of your children. they only get one childhood - don’t let somebody destroy it.
*for more information, visit www.rainn.org*