I Haven’t Forgotten

A couple nights ago I had a dream, one I can’t quite shake. I don’t often think about V; I dream about him even more rarely. I don’t remember the beginning of the dream, but I remember him in bed with H and I. We were all naked, but V was separate from H & I. H was touching me and kissing me, but I wasn’t into it. I kept looking at V and wanting him; I didn’t understand why he wasn’t involved, why he wasn’t touching me. I dissociated from what H was doing and was completely focused on V. After a few minutes H stopped and I went to V. He had gotten up from the bed, so I followed. 

 

This is where the dream became so vivid it takes my breath away just thinking about it as I type. V looked at me, and I saw everything his eyes held back when I was sixteen and he was twenty four. I could see the affection he had for me, I could see his desire, and so much more in his eyes as he looked at me. I saw a future that I desperately want, filled with love, family, children. After an instant and an eternity of V looking down at me like that, he opened his arms and I wrapped myself in his embrace. I could feel his body against me, I felt the way we fit together. Its been over six years since last I touched him, and yet I had him in my arms once again in that damn dream. 

 

As soon as I looked into V’s eyes, it was as if H didn’t exist. V kissed me, and his lips were air to my drowning soul. I felt so strong, beautiful, safe and loved. All of my self-doubt, self-hatred, all of my complicated feelings and worries were just gone. In V’s arms I felt worshiped. More than that even, I felt understood completely. It’s difficult to convey adequately what his touch inspired in me, but it was everything I’ve ever wanted to feel. There was no rush; we took our time, we connected. The entire time H was nowhere to be seen. I trusted V with all that I am. Much as I’m not a fan of the phrase, we made love. After, H reappeared in my dream, but he was the 3rd wheel rather than my partner and my husband. V held me and whispered, “I love you.” 

 

Don’t get me wrong, I know it was only a dream. I understand this isn’t how it was in real life. I truly don’t believe V ever loved me. But I did love him, I wanted to marry him, I wanted to have his children. I’ve never felt that way about any other man. It’s funny, I didn’t actually realize that until just now, reflecting on this dream and my feelings. I love H, and I am so grateful to have him. I would never leave him. But, he isn’t someone I’d want to have children with. We are too different. Trying to raise children with H would be a never ending battle. That’s not what I want. So, when I tell H I don’t want children, it isn’t a lie. It’s true that I don’t want to raise children with him. But once upon a time, I desperately wanted children. For me, it comes down to trust. I trust H with my life, but I don’t trust him to be there forever, through thick and thin, no matter what. That’s what I’d need to be willing to have children. When V swore to me we’d be together, I believed him. He’s the only man that ever had my complete trust. I gave him all of me, and I’m not sure I ever got it all back.

 

If there’s one thing that’s become very clear to me since I’ve begun this blog, it’s that my submissiveness is not something I can hide or deny any longer. It’s ironic that I’d have such a dream about V now, when I’m so much more clear about what I want in a relationship, things that V could never have given me. H and I have been having a rough time. It’s nobody’s fault, we are just very different. We think differently, we communicate differently, we assume differently, we understand differently. It’s a constant battle for us to be on the same page. We are fighting, and we are fighting hard for our marriage. But, it’s a lot of work. It’s tiring. It leaves me feeling hollow, empty, lacking. Not all the time, but often enough. Things have been getting better, slowly but surely. H still makes me happy, we still love one another, we still want to be together. But I’m tired. I wouldn’t mind things being easy for a while.

 

I imagine that’s where this dream came from. Now that I’ve given it more thought, it does sound like just the break I want: being with the only man who ever had my trust without reservation, the man I wanted to raise children with. I get that the dream was just a fantasy, an idealized version of what was. It’s still hard to know what I felt in that dream is forever out of reach. V was the second man I ever went to bed with. I had a boyfriend before him, Z. We were both 16, and we only dated for one summer. I loved Z, still do in fact. Z is pretty messed up, his home life was a mess too. We both had anger issues and other emotional problems. The thing that gets me about Z is that I begged him not to promise he’d always love me. I begged him, because I knew we wouldn’t last. I knew I wouldn’t be the girl that gets the storybook happily ever after ending with her first love. I know that I have a hard time letting go. I also knew that if Z promised he’d always love me, I’d never be able to completely let him go. Because hearing him say it validated my always loving him. I don’t want to love him, but a part of me always will. He doesn’t feel the same. 

 

After being betrayed by so many men, at some point it’s tough to not see myself as the only common factor, as the root of the problem. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming to be a saint. I’ve made a lifetime’s worth of mistakes, and I’m sure I’ll make many more. But I wasn’t wholly responsible either. I was a vulnerable, confused, hurting kid. I just wanted to feel loved. I wasn’t the adults who chose to use and abuse me. I can’t get the bitter taste out of my mouth because that damn dream forced me to relive so much of how I felt, of how innocent I was. Even when I’ve dreamed about being raped, or about E’s abuse, I rarely am this shaken up for this long. I had so much taken from me because nobody protected me, and I didn’t know how to protect myself. I want to let go of the past, I want to let go of the baggage. I just don’t know how. I want to be more connected with H, I want to help him understand me. I just don’t know how. I’m trying, I really am. I want to be happy, I want my marriage to be stronger. I want H to truly know who I am, I want us to trust one another with everything we are. I just have to find the right way; we have to find our path…

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The Dirtiest Word of All: Normal

In my post Accept Me As I Am (http://wp.me/p4jKhN-dS) I touched briefly on the concept of being normal. For most of my life, I’ve equated being normal with being healthy. I’m slowly beginning to untangle the Gordian Knot that is the connection between these two concepts in my mind. It’s rather a complex task, but one to which I’m committed. All I ever wanted was to be normal. wish that was an exaggeration; it’s not. In school I was always a mile ahead without even trying. As an adult I discovered I have a previously undiagnosed hearing disability which has been deteriorating over time. I’ve always found relating to other people tiring; I became depressed and cynical at a young age. The dysfunction which permeated my home life as I grew up was something I blamed on myself. I learned early on that it was imperative to my survival that I construct an iron facade . I did it perhaps too well…

 

My defense mechanism of choice was over-achieving. As I got older, that alone wasn’t enough for me to survive. I discovered other methods of feeling in control such as not eating, cutting and exercise. Then along came V, discussed in Playing With Fire (http://wp.me/p4jKhN-bN). By the time I met E, I was very skilled at concealment & compartmentalization. It also helped that batterers typically target areas that can be covered by clothing. I was able to hide everything behind the “perfect child” persona I constructed for others. I’m not proud of the high level of skill I obtained as a manipulator, but it sure came in handy as a salesman! Anyway, it was as I matured in this state of mind that I learned to interchange normal with healthy. I looked around and saw normal people, living their normal lives. I didn’t detect any hint of the effort on their part that I put into every interaction, no matter how insignificant, just to appear normal. It was hardly a big leap to acknowledge that I was the common factor, that I must somehow deserve the pain. I’m not normal, I can’t fix it, it must be my fault.

 

Clearly this line of thinking isn’t rational, but how many rational teenagers do you know? I was different in so many ways, some of which I wasn’t even yet aware of. I had to compensate every day, in so many ways. Being normal was everything I wanted. I didn’t want to be brighter than average, I didn’t want to be interesting. All I wished for was a simple, shallow, average life. Even now, having gained some distance and perspective, I still yearn for that seductive vision of normal I’d constructed at times. Life is hard, marriage is hard, being healthy and making sound decisions is hard. However, I am healthy. I don’t mean to imply that I’m perfect, but I respect myself now. I don’t carry around the self-directed hatred and blame any longer. I don’t believe I deserve traumatic experiences. I try to avoid punishing myself for perceived failures. Now I just need a Dom to do that for me 😉

 

In all seriousness though, I think unravelling the connection between normal and healthy is an important step in accepting my need to submit. I also think this will help me understand how to responsibly indulge my masochistic side by setting safe limits, to protect myself both physically and psychologically. I’m not there yet, but I’m journeying in the direction of the life I want to live. My past no longer holds the power to determine my future.

 

P.S.

If you’re wondering why the word normal was italicized throughout, this was done in an attempt to reflect the vicious tone the word carries in my mind. To me, normal truly is one of the worst words in my vocabulary. It has caused me so much pain over the years; the word itself is one I’ve made a conscious decision to avoid using whenever possible. 

Playing With Fire

Below are two companion essays I wrote (and submitted!) in high school about my relationship with V (http://wp.me/s4jKhN-consent). These were both written in the fall of 2007, so I do hope ya’ll will forgive any immaturity in the writing. The assignment for the initial essay was to write a “descriptive essay”; the assignment for the second was to write a “narrative essay”.

 

Lost Love

 

I’ve never felt anything in the world like this before. When I am with this amazing man, I can’t see anything around me; the entire world fades away and all I see is him. I don’t know how I survived without him for so long or how I could ever do so again. The mere thought of him gets my heart racing and a nervous excitement nearly overwhelms me. Standing here with me, suddenly he is no longer an obsessive thought but a tangible presence for me to embrace and adore. But as I look into his soft, loving eyes, I know that this is truly the last time – it is time to say goodbye. My enchantment in finally seeing him is overshadowed by a sense of impending doom. Although this man whom I long for and dream about is here beside me, I am already beginning to feel the pain of our separation looming over us.

When I look into his deep brown eyes, I see the world before me. Everything I am, all that I could ever want or need is here, in him. He gently takes hold of my hand. Looking down, I see our fingers intertwined and feel that he is reaching out and embracing not just my hand, but my very being, my soul even. He has become such a part of me, and I of him, that I could no sooner separate from him than I would detach an arm or a leg. I cannot imagine me without him ever again; experiencing the absence of his touch, his smell, his presence; it would be no less than torture! This horrible, wretched day must be no more than a nightmare, a reflection of the deepest fears of my unconscious mind. We are a part of each other, for I have given my heart to him freely and knowingly, aware of the consequences and gladly accepting them in return for his love. I have never experienced a love of this magnitude before; I had hardly even imagined it possible! Surely we must be meant to be together for all of time. This perfect man of mine, this perfect love, how can we just end it, just say goodbye?

While my attention is still focused on our hands, I feel him take a step closer to me. I want to look up at him again, to take comfort in the way he looks at me, but find that I can’t. I’m plagued by despair, lacking the strength to look again into his bright, familiar eyes which I must soon leave behind and try to forget. Our bodies are so close now, almost touching. My breath catches in my chest. His presence has such a grip on me I feel I can hardly think or move, as though I no longer have control over myself. While I still firmly grasp his left hand – almost as though it was a lifeline, an unwavering connection to him – he lifts his right to my face, brushing it lightly against my cheek. This intimate gesture nearly makes my heart burst as I feel his soft touch against my skin. As though I have gained strength simply from this slight contact, I look once again into his beautiful face. He smiles down at me and I want nothing more than to freeze us in this perfect moment for the rest of time, to be with him forever. He moves his hand up and brushes the hair out of my face, gently placing it behind my ear. The tenderness in his eyes is breathtaking, and I can see that he cares every bit as much as I do. He lifts his hands and puts them lightly in my hair. While still gazing at me as though he can see into my very soul, he moves closer, finally kissing me. My eyes close as I feel his soft lips on mine. I snake my arms around him, holding him tight. Time begins to slip away and I could spend eternity in this single perfect moment.

We separate, and as I look at him I realize that he is more beautiful to me in this moment than ever before. He is looking at me as though I am everything he has ever sought in his life, as though he has found the world in my eyes as I have in his. Looking at him, I can see that he loves me, and I realize that no other man will ever look at me the way he is at this very moment. He breaks this placid silence and I hear his low, confident voice quietly tell me, “You are beautiful.” My heart melts at his gentle words. My knees lose the last of their strength, and I feel such an incredible need for him. Just when I feel that surely I am about to fall, he wraps his arms around me, pulling me in tight and holding me in his strong arms.

He begins to gently stroke my back while still holding me close. I feel him breathing, slowly and softly, his chest rising and falling against me. As he continues to hold me tight, I gradually become aware of his heartbeat. Quiet but strong, I am lulled by its gentle rhythm. I could almost fall asleep in his arms, all the tension and anxiety have faded completely. At last I feel at peace, comfortable and relaxed, and above all, happy. The pain of losing him is momentarily pushed from my mind, and I am at ease in his gentle embrace.

Holding hands, we turn our backs on the beauty that has surrounded us and depart. I momentarily allow him to fall into the back of my mind while I admire this perfect day. As the sun shines warmly on us and a soft breeze whispers in our ears, we walk across a carpet of green. The birds serenade us from their perches and the squirrels play in the trees. This place is flawless, surreal almost. It personifies our feelings and perfectly expresses the splendor and intensity of our affection.

This beautiful scenery is not enough to distract me from him for long, and my mind begins to stumble down the winding road that holds the memories of our relationship. Perfectly imperfect, together against all odds; star-crossed lovers, as Shakespeare would say. Every moment we had together was cherished. We reveled in the sheer wonder of each other and our love. Perhaps we weren’t meant to be together; unquestionably the world was against us. But we stole away together every chance we got, and are now closer than anyone could ever know. We shared a secret world, and wouldn’t have wished it any other way.

He promises me that one day we will be together again, even if we have to run away from the world. But for now, it’s goodbye. We walk silently away, hand in hand. I had so hoped not to cry, but the hot tears well up and, one by one, begin to trickle down my cheeks. The cruel world has finally won, and our time together is over. What the future holds, neither of us can know. But we can hope, and think of each other with all the love and tenderness that has marked our time together. Just because we are separated does not mean that we will ever stop caring. I take some comfort in this thought as we depart.

While watching him drive away, my heart finally breaks. I cry harder than I can ever remember crying, standing rooted to the spot for what feels like an eternity. I can no longer hold myself up, finally collapsing on the ground, crying alone. My love, the man of my dreams, is to be mine no more.

 

Playing With Fire

 

Everyone knows that if you play with fire, eventually you get burned. No matter how hard you may try to evade it, it is inevitable. And the longer you hazard the chance, the more severe the burn. I have spent the majority of this year playing with fire, all because I fell in love with the wrong guy. When all of your instincts tell you that something is wrong, and everyone around you knows that you are in way over your head, how can you just say, “Well, shit, I guess this is over”? Love sucks you in and once it has you in its clutches, there is no escape. When I look into his eyes there is nothing else in the world that matters, and all my doubts and guilt dissolve. I can never seem to walk away, no matter how hard I try. So I keep dancing his delicate dance with the fire that can so easily destroy my life.

It all started innocently enough, just one person adding another to her friend’s list on the notorious MySpace. Now I understand why it has such a bad reputation. What began as an innocent flirtation, a small flame teasing its way into existence, quickly swelled into a consuming wildfire spreading out of control and dominating every aspect of both our lives. Seventeen-year-old girls don’t get to fall in love with twenty-four-year-old men who are husbands and fathers. And even more importantly, adult men who are married and have a child don’t fall in love with seventeen-year-old girls.

There is a reason passion is described as a flame. It burns and grows inside people haphazardly and swiftly becomes beyond control. It is unpredictable like the flame, and once it begins it develops a life of its own. Unfortunately we cannot choose whom we fall in love with or how hard we fall; I never had any chance of turning away from my feelings for him. I knew that I was doomed when I got the e-mail saying simply, “I like you too.”

I made him tell me three more times before I believe that he was saying what I was hearing. I was terrified that he would say it was a mistake and he only meant that he liked me as a friend, but at the same time part of me was praying that he would do so, quickly, so that I could forget about what this meant lie ahead.

People often assume that teenagers are sneaky and can get away with a lot, but that certainly isn’t the case in my life. My parents know exactly where I am and what I’m doing at all times. No doubt you can imagine the difficulties I encountered in trying to have a relationship my parents know nothing about. Not to mention one that was illegal.

We were intoxicated by each other. And what you learn in health class about your judgment being the first thing to go, well it’s true. We were both fully aware of how wrong it was, we just didn’t care. All that mattered was that we got to see each other, got to feel that high one more time. When we were together we lost our minds, went completely crazy. When I looked into his eyes, I could see the fire. I never saw that look except for during our secret rendezvous.

The problem with this type of relationship is how to end it. We were not only lovers, we were close friends who depended on each other for support. I believe we have ended our relationship three times to date, and at the moment are still close friends. But that keeps leading us back to that burning desire to be together, and our will wears thin over time. We fall so easily back into our old habits, weak and fallible as we are. Are we in love, or are we just intoxicated? I try to answer that question every day. And if we are in love, does it matter? I don’t know.

But for now, we are friends. He is one of the most important people in the world to me, and his friendship is my anchor during the worst of times. We depend on each other for so much that drawing the line is nearly impossible. It is only made more difficult by the fact that neither of us wants to draw the line. So we continue to talk and be the most intimate of friends as our relationship lurches from one extreme to the other – or, at least, it feels extreme to us.

Consent

24 is just a number. To anyone else, there’s no reason for me to have been emotionally debilitated by that particular birthday. What most people don’t know is that I was once in love with a 24 year old man. I was 16. It gets better. V was married and had an eight year old daughter. Yeah, that was a great plan. I never thought it mattered, back then. Whatever (whoever) I wanted, I just took. V was my best (only) friend. He listened to me pour all my 16 year old angst and heartbreak out. He was only the second guy I ever slept with. He told me he loved me. I believed him, back then.

Here’s the thing, once I was 24, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The shoe’s finally on the other foot. Now, I’m horrified by the idea of even being attracted to, let alone sleeping with, a 16 year old! I feel used, and dirty, and worthless. I still do, when I think about it. Now I finally get why minors can’t consent. At 16, I was still so young. I was out of control. I needed guidance, protection. I (cliche warning!) truly didn’t have the emotional maturity to make the choices I was making, or handle the consequences of those decisions.   I feel so foolish looking back, V promised he was going to marry me. I believed that too. We were together for about a year and a half. The last time I saw him was shortly after my 18th birthday (yeah, I started dating E 5 days after the last time I saw V). The plan, according to V, was to back off our affair. To give him time to get a divorce (at the time, he’d been separated from his wife). Give V time to find a permanent place of his own. Give me time to grow up a little more. V swore when I turned 21, we’d be together again. Get married. Happily Ever After. Right.

So, I got involved with E. Emotionally vulnerable much? Yeah, I just wanted a rebound. Wish that’s all I’d gotten. Anyway, a few weeks later I find out V’s wife is pregnant. So, apparently not only did he move back in with her, he was fucking both of us. Awesome. Glad to know everything you ever told me was a lie. Hope the sex was worth it. Now the stage is set for everything E did to me. Everything I let him do. Everything I never said “no” to. Great memories. So, least favorite number? Gunna have to go with 24.

Hopefully one day things will get easier. I know I can’t forget, but maybe I can figure out how to let go, move on…