Trigger warning: rape, sexual abuse, and general adult themes
This is the first thing I have ever produced where I feel as though a trigger warning is warranted. Here we go. I don’t think I would consider myself a hedonist by any stretch of the imagination. I like pleasure, yeah, but on the surface, my debauchery seems to be pretty mild compared to what other people are into. Then I ask myself who is doing the thinking there. Am I thinking or is someone else’s opinion thinking by proxy. This heightened nugget of consciousness only came to me after my conversation, my dedication to being skeptical and a humanist. I’m not here to talk about atheism, though. I’m here to say more things that most people would never bring up in mixed company.
I think about being raped and sexually assaulted.
Yeah, so there is that, and do know that the entirety of this post will be examining this topic. While I have never been raped (and even that is arguable), my previous relationship left me undeniably admitting that I was sexually abused. My dear, faithful readers won’t be too shocked to here that. I’ve said that before, but I had never really processed the fact that there is a part of me that wants to be treated inhuman. It’s not even something inherently sexual, which is a weird twist to put on all of this as well. It’s a matter of identity to me now after realizing that my thought’s are just the communicable distillates of my emotions.
That being said, there was a piece of me that was taught to feel bloated, unworthy, and full of sin.
When I truly observe my thoughts and my feelings, I find more commonalities as opposed to differences between myself and the people around me. We all are debaucherous. Even the most conservative ones among us, have this “dark” corner of our psyches that wants to indulge in a near carnivorous way. It might not necessarily just be in a sexual sense obviously, but to be human is to want. To want is to suffer. I am no different in this sense, and the only instances in my life where I saw that as a bad thing was when I was denying that those predilections even existed. It was in those moments that those urges not only ran free but also ran me. Rhyming. Cool.
As a teen, I fantasied about getting drunk, living large, and hooking up with anyone I could get my hands on, but since my religion denied those things, I denied even having those thoughts. The only times when I did acknowledge them was to apologize for them. Eventually I was full to the brim with angst, shame, and sexual frustration.
We are full of sin, all of us, and you are better because of it. The minute that we let the illusion of polite society trick us into believing that we are higher than our baser desires is the same moment in when those base desires put their hands on the wheel. They take your mind, your happiness, your cognition as a hostage. As a young teen, I remember feeling so guilty for even masturbating that I brought myself to tears. I felt constantly under scrutiny, and eventually I normalized the idea that sex and guilt were the same sensation.
I know it may seem like I’ve been rambling, but I say all of that so that you can follow my train of thought. I know what got me here. I know how feeling guilty about sex made me susceptible to tolerating and perpetuating my own sexual abuse. It’s a crazy thought. It’s an uncomfortable thought. It is a thought that will probably turn off most of you, but if you could just stay with me for a moment, I want to ask you a question. One little question: What if your sin was your soul?
What if the part of you that felt truly unapproachable was the part of you that actually manifests your identity? The more and more I explore this thought, the more I begin to realize that the things we try to quiet and label “taboo” are the things that form the bulwark of both out healthy and unhealthy psychological processes. There is a reason why we call a person who is undeniably in the moment “shameless,” and that is the pulse of what I am wanting to say.
Shame is the antithesis of being present, original, genuine.
I felt so empowered when I finally could start putting vocabulary to my feelings and my situation. Being able to utilize language kept my head above the water because it not only let me communicate my experience to other people but it also gave me the tools to render huge complexes into smaller, digestible pieces. I hit the boundaries of that though. I got to a place where language actually was getting in the way.
I could say, “Yeah, I’ve been sexually abused and forced upon by a narcissist and a diagnosed sociopath from years of ruthless gaslighting, lying, and emotional manipulation.” But in the moments where I was with someone new and things were going well, I found my brain wandering to a inky well of despair. Seriously, I would find myself in the middle of a romantic engagement (sorry, I’m trying to be tactful here) thinking about some of the most damaging encounters with my abuser. For months, I couldn’t even finish; not even on my own. I just chalked it up to adjusting to new people/situations, and I suppose a piece of that is true. A piece of that is very deceptive though, because the deepest truth in that is the fact that many of my casual hookups were engineered by me to wind up confirming the wildest accusations of my damaged ego. That is: I am only here to be an end to someone’s means.
It explains a lot. It explains why even in ecstatic, erotic moments when I should be completely enthralled in another human’s beautiful form, I was regressing into the dregs of my mind. I was flagellating myself, because it was the only way that the trauma knew how to get out. Thankfully, I recognized that early on, and I began to give myself permission to explore those feelings without judgement. I would sit alone with my thoughts allow my mind to wander to the places that kept me up at night.
I can still feel her breath as she uttered some of those soul crushing remarks. I can remember the physical anguish of learning the truth behind her countless deceptions.
I have found that the things that define me pay no attention to whether they are positive or negative. They measure themselves on a scale of impact. not morality. In that way our sin becomes our soul. The pieces of us that yearn to be explored and understood define what drive us, and I frame all of this in a sexual sense, because frankly that is a context that is still relevant to me presently.
No, I don’t want to be raped for real. I don’t want to be actually abused. Honestly, I don’t necessarily find the appeal in the kinky side of any of that either. That’s personal taste though, and I’m not here to kink shame anyone. What I’m saying is, the piece of me that was a sexual being only truly held on to the most impactful moments in my sexual career. Yes, I remember a lot of the amazing sexual experiences I have had, most of them being after the divorce, but I also remember the bad. I remember the pain, and that pain is inseparable from my soul unless it decides to leave on its own accord. I can’t get rid of it, even if I tried. The only thing I can do is look at it with patience and kindness and say, “You have every right to feel like intimacy means pain, but you also have every right to feel differently when you are ready.”
I’ve been exploring that. I have been expressing those ideas to previous sexual partners, and time and time again, once the words leave my mouth I can feel my grip on reality. I can feel my soul being welcomed back into my body, invited to be satisfied and present. We have been duped into believing that desire degrades the soul, and obviously, some desires shouldn’t be acted upon. I may want to injure someone when they make me mad, but I know I that is not acceptable. I will however acknowledge that rage.
When the uncomfortable feelings crop up now, I shake their hand. I don’t lie there and take it. I don’t bottle it up. I don’t ignore it. I become best friends with it, and we learn from each other.
I still think about my sexual abuse, but it is framed differently now. I even respect it, because it tells me that I am strong enough to notice when I am being treated less than what I deserve. It no longer scares me. It is something I can play with now, even in the bedroom, and damn is that empowering! When I plop my head on the pillow exhausted and panting, and I notice my own self-deprecation just beneath my skin, I feel liberated in sharing a piece of my soul with another. Sometimes, that means flat out telling them, “Hey, here are pieces of my trauma that may make me seem as though I am distant right now,” but most of the time is just means giving a wordless hug. Soul brushes up against soul, and the discomfort inside them no longer feels so corrosive.
When we realize that our sin is our soul, it becomes something we seek to sooth not destroy.