When you can't move on until...
TW: Sexual Abuse
I’ve been trying to move forward in my creative work for the last six months but I’ve been stalled by my inability to accept that I have to share my stories of sexual invasion.
I HAVE to – because I can’t do anything else until these are out of me and into the world. I haven’t been able to create anything else or move forward because I kept coming back to these stories.
No one needs another story of assault or invasion or harassment or however you’d characterize the things that have happened to me… but I don’t do this for you – you hold this space for me.
I can’t move forward into a world of creative truth telling until I tell you the truth.
This is my warning for what comes over the next month.
And my heartfelt thanks for holding the space.
~ <3 Lezley
At 33, on my therapist’s table, I re-connected to the emotions of my childhood sexual invasion. That moment is the line between the before and the after I became a witness to my own life. Up to then I had lived with odd and unexplained instances of depression, guilt, and shame that would leave me lying in bed with soul-weary heaviness and a deep desire to unzip myself from my flesh.
I still feel that way after sex sometimes.
Even now, with therapy and with my good and sweet Keith, I will lie on the bed and feel like my flesh doesn’t fit me right, doesn’t belong to me and I wish I could take it off and be clean and free.
It’s a relief at least to understand the feelings instead of just trying to get through them.
Why when I had chicken pox did I fight my mom and scream and cry and not want her to open my legs to spray medicine on my genitals? Why was I so afraid and sad and ashamed of her doing that?
Why did I wet the bed so often?
What 12 year old most of all fears being raped? What 12 year old cries at night and prays and begs god to kill her before he lets her be raped?
“Please, please, kill me before you let me get raped.”
Do you know how fucked up that is?! I had no idea how fucked up that was until I got help. That’s NOT fucking normal. But I never told anyone, so I didn’t know.
Why did I feel so confused and conflicted by 2 particular stuffed animals in my room as a child? The white nappy duck on my book shelf, the green frog with the black octagon patterns that hung from the hook by my closet – why in quiet moments would I feel a sad and lost when I looked at them?
Why did I so love and cherish the stuffed Teddy my parents gave me for Christmas? The stuffed toy given to a child in love with no strings attached.
I still have that Teddy.
Why as I grew up did so many men act inappropriately around me?
At age 8 I smiled and allowed a neighbour to untie the bow at the front of my dress because he “liked it better when it was open”.
Why at age 9 did a man call our house and tell me that I could win a prize if I guessed what he was holding in his hand.
“Do I get any hints?” I asked.
“Sure. It’s long and firm and you put it in your mouth.” He replied.
“Oh! I know that,” I answered “it’s a hot dog!!”
“No, it’s not a hot dog…”
“When I touch it, it gets bigger… and harder.”
I hung up.
I didn’t know exactly what he was getting at – but I knew it was about private parts and I wasn’t going to be winning anything.
Dirty phone calls, flashed by penis-wielding strangers – though, I doubt now that they were strangers – it’s far more likely it was someone I knew.
When I was twelve I had two different older boys on two different occasions want to “show me something” if I went with them to the backyard shed or behind the school.
I said no.
Today I’m grateful for my ability at the time to follow my gut which was yelling “NO” instead of going along and being agreeable. Those who have been invaded tend to be re-victimized later. It’s like sexual invasion has a frequency that attracts more predators.
I was grabbed and groped at 14 by a friend’s grampa at their cottage.
Like a lot of women, I’ve been pinched, grabbed, squeezed and rubbed up on in the TTC, at clubs and concerts. I once had a boss at an ice rink I worked at refuse to Zamboni the ice until he could watch me bend over in front of him to pick up the ramps.
I did it.
He was my boss and I was 17. Even still, I’m absurdly grateful that I didn’t get raped as a teenager or adult. I’m relieved at least that my prayers worked for that.
Shame and Blame
The greatness gift and relief from therapy was the knowing that I didn’t do this.
That it wasn’t me.
Little kid brains are narcissistic as hell and everything is caused by them – both good and ill. For 29 years I’d blamed myself and held the ownership of my own invasion and it’s aftermath. Knowing that it wasn’t me, that I didn’t do this, was a momentary joy which made way for the grief of all the years I spent blaming myself and believing in my core that I was ‘bad’.
I’m still working this out.
This is the first time I’ve ever told anyone outside of my therapist and my very closest friends.
I’m still not sure if this is the right thing to do, but I can’t seem to move on to anything else until I share this… so I’m following my gut – it’s been trustworthy in the past.