So when I said that I was back in my last post, I might have been a bit premature. Whoops. December was busy for me, with graduating, meeting D*, and going home to visit my parents, so I ended up not being able to return to and commit to a regular schedule of posting. I will be overseas next month, but I will try my best to make the most of January.
I'd like to start writing a new series of posts, not directly about sexual assault or PTSD, but about what it's like to move on, specifically in the context of a relationship. I was originally going to try to keep my blog more academic and less personal, but as I started writing in these last few months, I began to see that too much of my life was still revolving around these issues and unable to let go. Because I have not completely moved on yet, I am perhaps most equipped to write about myself and my own healing process, as opposed to detached academic treatises or abstract philosophical musings.
Sooo... I am currently in a new and blooming long-distance relationship with D*, who is an incredibly wonderful and supportive guy. Predictably, I started to run into mental blocks and triggers as he and I started to become involved. However, this time around I have a true ally in my boyfriend, and he is helping me work through these issues as they arise. I have begun to see and identify the extent of my insecurities, anxieties, and fears. I have started to realize that I can, and should, communicate with him about them. And I have started to address my relationship with sex-- a much more complicated venture than I'd realized.
I have a great many issues with physical intimacy that come from not only the rape but also the various relationships I've been in. For one, I had no concept of boundaries. When I first tried to voice them in my first seriously physical relationship, they were blatantly ignored, like a bulldozer just rolling right over my efforts to resist. I don't remember how much I protested when something unwanted was done to me or I was forced to do something I had said I didn't want to do. All I remember is that at some point my mind detached and it felt like it was no longer me so it was okay, or at least as okay as it could be. And then after it all I simply repressed the memory-- it was like forgetting.
But then it became too easy to detach, and so I dissociated constantly whenever anything related to sex arose, preemptively, before anything unwanted occurred. It simply became habit, and there was no reason for me to fight it. Being detached helped when what I wanted was ignored or never asked about, or when there was pain and tears dripped down my cheeks while I closed my eyes and bit my lip. There was no reason for me to not become detached, because it wasn't like my partner would have focused on my feeling pleasure anyhow.
But then I met D*. I have no idea how to express this without being sappy or cliche or trite, but he is so very different. He is a gentle, patient, and caring partner who has never once made physical intimacy all about him. He has tried to impress upon me that it is perfectly all right for me to say no to something and that it won't make him upset or resentful. He maintains his expression of affection for me both during intimate moments and not, so that it doesn't feel like sexual activity --> affection. All of that makes a difference-- I have been working so hard on keeping myself in the moment and not dissociating. I have tried to identify and communicate the events of my past and the anxieties they created, and he has understood. And most importantly of all for me, for the first time in my life I was able to say no. I cannot find the words to express how incredulous I was when I mustered up the courage to say that I was exhausted and not feeling well and he simply cuddled me and said we could go to sleep. I get kind of choked up still when I think about that. What some people might take for granted actually means so much to me.
Things have the potential to be so special with D*. I so badly want them to be, and I think they can.