"He cries, 'Unbar the doors and let all Thebes
Behold the slayer of his sire, his mother's--'
That shameful word my lips may not repeat.
He vows to fly self-banished from the land,
Nor stay to bring upon his house the curse
Himself had uttered; but he has no strength
Nor one to guide him, and his torture's more
Than man can suffer, as yourselves will see.
For lo, the palace portals are unbarred,
And soon ye shall behold a sight so sad
That he who must abhorred would pity it."
- Sophocles, Oedipus Rex
I honestly feel like this when I disclose my history of sexual abuse. I do, however, like to think that I am less dramatic than a Sophocles tragedy, but I cannot say that I've never considered gouging out my eyes with a brooch.
So to start I might as well disclose, because this post is somewhat about that process and its presence on the internet. I was sexual abused by mother for more than ten years and less than twenty-one. This past summer I attempted suicide, was hospitalized, moved out of my house, and started having flashbacks (all within a month). It was an oddly productive summer. I'm still having flashbacks. I'm still piecing together the concrete events, and embarrassingly I'm still defining what was abuse. In total I think a lot of the abuse stemmed from my mother's lack of boundaries and her fundamental misunderstanding of who exactly I was to her-- anything but her child it seems. As everything is so new and in a lot of ways I am just now becoming "me," it is ever-present for me. My triggers are so varied and intense at some times that it is impossible to go an entire day without breaking down totally. It is at this point that I usually take a deep breath, light a cigarette and avoid eye-contact when disclosing face to face.
Disclosing on the internet is different. The anonymity of it is actually disturbing for me. Sexual abuse breeds a disposition that feeds on anonymity. I crave it-- I want to keep this a secret, because I've been taught to keep most things secret and it is something I feel dirty for-- and the more I am indulged the more secrecy and guilt I feel. There is no real solution to this, I feel, because anonymity is important for those who are not ready to talk about it with the label that accompanies the information, and some people may never be ready. I understand not wanting to connect your name with this issue. I understand writing anonymously about it on the internet for catharsis. For me, though, being anonymous is unhealthy. With sexual abuse being so present in my life it's become almost an identity. I am an incest survivor as much as I am gay, as much as I am a student. They are equal for me right now. That will probably change someday.
I've searched on the interent for blogs centered around sexual abuse. I've found it mentioned on feminist blogs. I've found it mentioned in current events. I've found feeds for anonymous story sharing. I've not found any real blogs by a survivor. If you know of any good ones, please link me. My significant other has a chronic illness. There are a wealth of blogs and websites for him to read. I'm glad that he can find that. I see how helpful it is for him intellectualize this problem, to read serious critique. He can read Illness as Metaphor by Susan Sontag after a particularly traumatizing discussion of Kafka's Metamorphosis in our Humanities 2 class. As the partner of someone with a disability and as someone who knows that he has able bodied privilege, I am ridiculous happy that those resources are out there, but I can't help but be jealous that I can only find self-help books on incest and online resources that are related but only briefly and in a different context. I wept for hours after reading Oedipus Rex for Humanities 2.
I have to ultimately ask why? Why after all the self-help books I've read on incest and sexual abuse and after all the bloggers I've read talk about rape and seem to really understand the havoc it can cause in a person's life, why is there such a glaring lack of legitimate examination of the subject? I want to read Incest as Metaphor and follow a blog of some one's healing process. I think a lot of it is the nature of the abuse. As I said, it breeds secrecy. I think it is also that ultimately it truly is considered something shameful. It's sex. It's rape. It's sex with a family member in my case. It is gross. I've thought this for some time. It is gross, but it is anything but shameful. I am not actually dirty. No survivor is. I still feel that Oedipus is relevant. In the Sophocles I quoted at the beginning they cannont bring themselves to even say it. HE SLEPT WITH HIS MOTHER. This is, in fact, not more horrifying than murder. In my reading of it I always felt as though they were doing him a favor in sparing him the shame of publicly announcing such a thing. I now realize they were doing quite the opposite. I will say it for him. HE SLEPT WITH HIS MOTHER. HE SLEPT WITH HIS MOTHER. He gouged out his own eyes to spare himself seeing the horror of what he did-- seeing himself as such a monster. I know there are mitigating factors in the play, but whether it be abuse or sincere ignorance, it still did not make him a monster. It doesn't make any survivor a monster.
I am going to post a poem of mine as well. I rarely show this and a few others because the few responses I've got have been disgust. It isn't pleasant. That was certainly not my goal. I think posting it publicly may be healthy for me. Here it is:
I woke up to find her legs spread,
wide and moist, and I shut my eyes--
tight to find hers not,
wide and moist.
She told me how it was stuck
inside her, lodged past the opening
I thought I had stretched enough already,
but I envied it, lodged where it no longer
had to see day, where the blood was only hers.
I closed my eyes to answer the phone.
The bed was made and crisp,
and I curled, fetal, which was what
I thought she had asked before she hung up.
It was my duty, sticky, sour,
and shy, but humility, blushing coyness
was illicit to her, or it must have been,
because I was her good fuck, or so she
said when she came rushing through our door,
shopping bags but no groceries in hand.
I obliged, licking when she pushed harder,
stretching when she arched upward, so maybe
I was a good fuck. A good fuck; it was all so
vulgar. She did orgasm finally-- I had read about
orgasm and the clitoris in a book-- and she ran her
fingers through my hair.
Reaching for the dresser, I crawled for the pillow,
a peculiar pulsing between my legs-- that I had not read
about-- and she tried to pound it out of me,
kneading closed knees, shredding composure.
I shut my eyes tight with my legs and woke
to find hers open, wide and moist.
She handed me the tweezers. This was mine
to remove. There was only room enough for
And with that I'm off to drink some more wine and smoke some more cigarettes. This like many things was triggering. I am glad I did it though. I can't think of another way to shake the shame of this sort of thing without disclosing.