I was in romantic relationships from 13 years old. Or so I thought, until I came to terms last year with the reality that I was a survivor of incest from when I was an infant.
People don’t love to hear that. It makes them uncomfortable. They break eye contact with you like they’re going to see your fractured infant soul. But when I share the abuse, there is always someone who has kept that secret inside and wants to share it with me, ask me how I deal with it, and what I do. They think it is a taboo, so they have locked their incredible, beautiful, whole, true selves up inside.
I can look them right in the eyes and we can be warriors. We are survivors but if we hold it inside, like the AA Big Book says, “We are as sick as our secrets.”
Always a serial monogamist, I had not been aware from so early on I had been given conflicting messages about trust, pleasure, and love with men. I knew I had a lot of rage, and that relationships would last, sometimes 10 years, sometimes 12, but they eventually ended.
About seven months ago when I was broken up with on the week of Valentine’s Day by email by a guy I thought I had behaved well with, I thought to myself, “Now could be a good time to fly solo from romantic entanglements for while.”
I had been soaking in the supportive talks and words of wisdom from so many courageous women online – how fortunate we are as women to have access to so much support on the web now, unlike our mothers! I knew this could be a very fertile time in my life to produce my new self. A self I had never met before. A self who could find herself on a Sunday afternoon sitting in her living room and being aware of that fact that I really feel self-loathing for myself, or sobbing and calling a friend who coached me through hugging myself and putting Post-Its on the wall that say “I am enough.”
Then I found out something about myself. I was happy, almost 75 percent of the time. I don’t think I could ever say that before. I found myself smiling at people, playing guitar, making mistakes, deeply embracing my children, and living in the space that I commandeered with an inner peace.
I may not have had a man, but I was not by myself. I had myself, and I had friends, and 12-step programs and of course God. I was free to be completely with myself and that meant all the moods and fears and dreams and capacity to make my life what it was on the vision board.
I couldn’t blame or use a man for anything anymore for the first time in my whole life. I felt free. And I also felt for the first time a new kind of adult hope that one day I had the chance to find a real soul mate and have a relationship on completely different terms. On terms of love and appreciation and kindness and generosity.
That felt good. Now I let it go. Because I don’t know when. And isn’t that half the fun?