Something happened the other day that triggered an eruption of emotion.
It’s totally unnecessary to go into details, they’re not important. What is important is my reaction.
You see, once again I am having to sift through yet another layer of understanding of my past and where it bumps up against my present whether I want it to or not.
And that past bit – I don’t even know how far back it goes, but what I do know is that something happened with my ex husband, when he was only my future husband, that I never quite got over, no matter how hard I tried.
And in trying to figure out why I never got over it I relaized it’s becuase he did something to me that was not okay and trying to forget about it is impossible because it was wrong and it shouldn’t have happened and therein lies the problem, and the reason that I can’t just move on.
To simply put it on the shelf would be to deny my experience, which is what I spent my entire marriage doing.
I pretended that all was good when it clearly wasn’t.
I allowed myself to be convinced that whatever was bothering me was either petty, insignificant, or simply my own fault.
I accepted that problems were about my reactions, not about his actions.
When he crossed lines physically, sexually, and I spoke up, his anger caused me to immediately start backpeddling, to take back my words, to deny my feelings, so that he wouldn’t be upset.
I would end up apologizing and trying to win back his favor after he did things to me that made me feel like shit.
Once, I even used the word “rape” and was punished for weeks until I caved, blamed myself, convinced myself that I had overreacted, apologized, and then, practically begged him to do it again.
To feed his ego? To keep the peace? To avoid punishment?
This one scenario with him has played over and over in my head for years. He would bring it up, “Remember when I…that was so sexy.”
When I still believed in him, I convinced muyself that yes, it was sexy and that yes, I did enjoy it.
Then why has it kept me up at night for all of these years?
Because I didn’t like it, didn’t want it, didn’t give permission, and was told that it was great.
It wasn’t sexy, it was invasive.
And that was the story of my marriage. What he deemed sexy or flirting didn’t ring my bell. When he violated my space, it was because it was his right as my husband and I should have welcomed his advances.
I told him how I liked to be touched (or how I didn’t like to be touched) and if he wanted to do things differently and I complained, I wasn’t accepting his love.
I stuffed my feelings in order to protect his.
How did someone like me, someone who made a living supporting rape victims end up in a marriage where I was being sexually assaulted regularly?
Why has it taken me 25 years to admit to myself that I did not find that incident sexually gratifying – in fact, it was quite the opposite?
Why oh why did I marry the man who stomped all over my boundaries?
And isn’t it amazing that one small thing can trigger such a landslide of heartbreak, grief, and ultimately, healing.