This weekend is the art show, Finding Our Voices. It’s in honor of April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I’m going to be speaking tomorrow (part of the art show is authors reading poetry and other things).
Because of that, I’ve been thinking a lot about sexual assault and abuse, and how it’s affected my life this week. See, I’m a procrastinator. I seem to do my best work right at the deadline. So, I’m speaking tomorrow, and I’ve yet to write something specifically for this show (although I do have a back up plan should I not come up with anything). I’m not worried. Yet.
But I digress. I’ve been thinking about the effects of the abuse in general and sexual abuse in specific in trying to get a feel for what I want to say tomorrow. In talking with my heart sister about it (okay, while I was having a panic attack Tuesday night saying there was no way I could do this, there was no way I could actually, you know, talk about this in front of a crowd), something came up that has had me thinking even harder all week long.
It was a butterfly effect. My heart sister, in trying to help me past the initial terror that I was going to break the “don’t tell” taboo, beat her wings in my life.
She only echoed something my therapist had said earlier that day, when I was talking to him about my frustration of being stuck where I was. About how, after 19 years of therapy (give or take) I should be a lot farther along than I am. That I was feeling as if all this time in therapy wasn’t worth it because, while I could see where I’d been, and I could see where I wanted to be, I had no idea to get from where I was (somewhere in the middle) to where I want to be.
In trying to help me to see that this frustration is normal, just part of the process, he used my journey of becoming sexually healthy to help me understand. And I got what he said, but I didn’t get the bigger picture of what he said. I even mirrored back to him what he was saying, “So this is like when I was a teenager and cold and wasn’t interested in anybody because I was too afraid all sex was going to be abusive like what I’d already experienced, and how I went from that to where I’m in a healthy, warm, and loving relationship with appropriate physical displays of affection, but when I was going through it all, I didn’t know how I was going to get from the former to the latter?” (Yes, in therapy, I actually do talk like that. I have a lot of years in therapy and have read a lot of self-help and psych books trying to understand myself better, always trying to heal.)
It wasn’t until later that night, when I was in a panic about breaking the “don’t tell” taboo, and my heart sister said almost the same thing (that I could talk about my path to being healed from the sexual abuse) that I realized what was being said.
Other people recognize health in my life, where I’ve not seen it, I’ve not recognized it.
For the past 19 years (longer really) I’ve been so focused on what is wrong with me that still needs to be fixed that I’ve not recognized where I’ve achieved the healing I’ve so long sought after. The fact that I can be in a loving, warm, emotionally and physically intimate relationship with somebody shows the healing that has taken place, the health I have.
The butterfly effect.
Every time since then that I’ve looked at Conall, it’s been with a different understanding of myself. Conall’s noticed something has changed, but he hasn’t been sure what it is. He says that I’m more confident now, and that (in his eyes) makes me more attractive.
But this realizing that I’ve achieved health in one area I thought I was never going to heal in has helped me to have patience with myself in the areas I am still working on. I don’t know where the gentle breeze of the butterfly wings flapping are going to blow me, but for now, I’m enjoying the ride.
Tomorrow I’m going to read something I wrote to an audience filled with strangers (and one familiar face). I’m not terrified anymore. I’m not panicking that I’m breaking the “don’t tell” taboo. I’m very excited that I’m going to be able to do this. Another outcome of my heart sister’s words to me.
Now all I have to do is write something worthy of the venue. 🙂