Since posting my survivor story, I've gotten multiple private messages asking me questions. Most of the come from concerned parents who are raising children who have survived sexual abuse & are trying to figure out how to best help them. Apparently, my discussion of compulsive behaviors caused light bulb moments for some, making them able to connect behaviors that they had not previously realized were related. For others, the fact that I seem to be a relatively well adjusted human being, gave them a flicker of hope that their own situation may turn out okay.
The most commonly held concern seems to be: how will this effect their future relationships? Of course, I can't answer that. The answer is as different & as complicated as the individual human being. Still, some want to know how my experiences affect my relationships.
So, I'll do my best to give an honest assessment, without too many gory details...
Let's start with my marriage. I didn't think I would ever get married or have children, mostly because I didn't feel like I had anything of value to give & assumed that I would be a terrible parent. However, when I met a person that seemed to value who I am & wanted to build a life with me, I started to reevaluate.
Bear in mind, this didn't look like the typical "I'm in love, I want to marry him" routine that most teenage girls go through. Actually, even though I was only 16, I took a very pragmatic approach. We discussed everything. And by that, I mean everything. We talked about education, children, even how we would discipline any of these hypothetical children. I wasn't willing to commit to a person that wasn't on the page with me on the important things because I wanted to make sure that we wouldn't fall apart because of different goals or perspectives. Yes, I admit, that possibly sound a little bit overboard (though, I think there is definite merit in being practical). It's also another result of my past. I have a tendency to find solace in being overly rational & have an overly developed ability to compartmentalize. This makes me able to handle crisis situations, but also can make me appear very cold to some people.
As I have stated before, my wasband & were very happy for the duration of our marriage. I can take responsibility for the part I played in the end. We had had a few bumps in the last couple years, mostly because he had been trying to make a career change & was struggling with insecurities that came along with his not being the sole provider in the house, as I had returned to work to allow him to go back to school. However, we had weathered those issues and planned to renew our vows, or at least that's what we thought.
When I went to an 8 week, out of state pre-law program, however, it became apparent how deep the issues actually were. His insecurities didn't just come out...they busted down the damn door. For example, one night I went to a friend's apartment to study with a couple of female students. Even though I had let him know where I was going & that I would be back very late, he flipped out when he wasn't able to reach me for a few hours (my cell phone died). When I say he flipped out, I don't mean that he got mad & pouted. When I returned to my room, at the extended stay hotel, I had approximately 25 messages on my cell, multiple missed calls & a maxed out message box on the hotel phone. He had inquired about me at the hotel desk so many times that they were also calling me. He had even attempted to call the New Mexico State Police, but they wouldn't do a welfare check because he didn't have an address.
Perhaps this is normal in some people's relationships, but it was not in mine. I had never had to check in with him. So, this was so far out of the ordinary. Plus...and this is where my issues came in...this triggered me terribly. It felt so much like being stalked. I tried to explain it to him, that I needed him to just calm down because my issues were being triggered & making it difficult for me to be reasonable & focus on the real issues. Well, needless to say, he couldn't manage that & we were separated in a matter of weeks. The problem continued, even after we separated & directly led to my asking for a divorce. Perhaps, if I didn't have the issues that do, I could've just kept going & given the storm a chance to pass. I couldn't ignore his disregard for my boundaries, though. It made me feel completely violated & I couldn't take that from the one person that had made me feel safe for all those years. So, while my issues weren't the cause of my divorce, they definitely complicated the matter.
Since then...relationship have been pretty much non-existent. There have been times of compulsive sexual behavior, though I was more mindful of safety than I had been as a teen. But, for the most part, I have chosen to keep myself emotionally unattached. I sort of developed a pattern of being "the rebounder". I would generally end up hooking up with a guy and being friends first, and friends-with-benefits, second. So, the way this usually works is, we're great friends & can talk about just about anything (because that's just who I am). However, since I've been so busy with kids & law school, I haven't been available to fully give myself to a relationship. So, when another woman would become available that could give them a relationship, I would encourage him to pursue her. I've given relationship advice & helped them create these relationships, even though I know how it will end. Inevitably, when the relationship turns serious, the girlfriend (who, in at least one case, is now the wife) will not be comfortable with his continued relationship with me (even though the sexual part of the relationship is over) and he has to distance himself from me. Some speak to me on occasion...& I'm very glad when I get to see that they are happy in their lives. So, basically, the pattern had been that I am a placeholder...someone that is great to be with & supportive, until they find someone else that can give them what they really want.
See...I stay friends with past lovers, not for future hook-ups, but because they caught my attention by being awesome people. I see no reason to eliminate amazing people from my life simply because they no longer share my bed.
Anyhow, keeping focus on how my issues effect my relationships. I've been rather resistant to entering actual committed relationships. Part of that is my trust issues, the other part is just being gun shy from the divorce--although, some of it has been the fact that I haven't had much left to give to another person, after all the energy expended with law school, kids, etc. There was one person that I dated, actually thinking there was a possibility for a future. However, there was a distance problem & we ended up just being friends. I didn't realize, until I saw him a few months ago, that I still have feelings for him. It's a moot point, though, because he no longer seems to be speaking to me, for some reason.
I've also had people ask about my current relationship status, probably just out of sheer curiosity. I suppose the answer is...I'm currently undefined. I'm not just being flippant because of my reluctance to place labels on things. I had something going for the last lil while that was working well for me. However, at the moment, I don't know the status of that. So...your guess is as good as mine on that right now.
Let's see...other ways that my issues, both from the past trauma & that of the divorce, effect my relationships...
I tolerated treatment that I never should have from the baby's dad, both because I needed help supporting him & because I didn't want yet another child growing up without their father. That is not something I'd recommend because, if they continue a behavior, even after knowing it hurts you, it's not something that will change. So, it's really just a matter of whether or not you can tolerate it. If you can't, don't. It's an exercise in frustration to try, like I did, & hang on for too long, hoping that it will change. It won't.
My paranoia leads me to keep my social life as separate from my kids as possible. No one comes into my house, with my kids, without me checking them out. I'm sure I have friends who are reading this, wondering if it applies to them. The answer is, YES. If I let you in my house, while my kids were there, I, at the very least, ran your name through the public court records database. If I had found any reason to believe you a threat to me or my children, you never would have been allowed in.
I don't tell people about what has happened to me. If it ever gets to the point of having sex, I generally have to have a conversation about triggers. If they ever spend the night, though, is when the real conversation has to take place because there's no way to hide the nightmares. I don't always have to tell them exactly what happened. I didn't used to give any info at all. In fact, I gave no warning to one person, but he handled the situation very well. He told me that I didn't have to explain, and just held me & told me I was safe. In many ways, he gave me hope that there may actually be someone in this world that can deal with my issues. Perhaps that's why I still have feelings for him, even though I know he gave up on it ever going anywhere a long time ago.
As for the future...
I do often get tired of being lonely & wonder if I'll wind up alone. Honestly, I don't see that I can have a typical relationship any time soon. That doesn't have much to do with my issues, really, though. It has more to do with the fact that my pool of possibilities is relatively small. Statistically, my educational level reduces my chances of finding a mate. I'm an independent woman. I don't need a man. This was an issue in my marriage. He said that not needing him was a problem. I will never understand why wanting them isn't enough but, for some men, it is not. Also, and it's not generally considered kosher to talk about but, let's deal with reality...I have 5 kids. How many men are willing to take that on at all, let alone with the added complications that I have (transracial foster/adoption, multiple baby daddies, etc.)?