Trigger warning for sexual abuse and assault survivors.
A few weeks ago, I started back to online dating. It was the third “date” with one man and I was still feeling ambivalent about where I saw things with him. So prior to said date I messaged him that I was “not ready for more than kissing and cuddling.” He said he understood. I believed him.
On said date, there was so much more that occurred. In some ways my body responded and in other ways I shutdown. My mind screamed from within to get out. To leave to run. No, I don’t want this and not with him. Yet parts of me also enjoyed the attention. This seems counterintuitive to many, yes, I understand. It did to me at first as well.
In my state of cognitive dissonance, I was internally frozen. I chose to stay and play along rather than run and risk being completely overwhelmed by him. At least in going along I was able to feel at least a little bit in control. To run I risked being overwhelmed, which I knew from experience would lead me to being frozen and unable to move.
Yes, in the beginning things were enjoyable and I allowed things to go too far. One boundary after another fell and before I knew it I was in my own living hell.
You’d think at my age I’d have this down. You’d think at my level in life I’d not be so naive and trusting. Or maybe these are the things I think. In the end, another layer of my childhood came up this week to be healed. I used this heart meditation to see and love the little girl who was harmed when she tried to fight back, when she tried to run.
The next day, he wrote and wished me a good day. Several hours later I was able to respond and this is what I said:
My day had a rough start, but ended better. I had a tough time with last night… I had hoped we would talk about sex before trying to have it. There was a lot of conflict for me as part of me wanted to stay and part of me didn’t. I wasn’t ready to go as far as we did. I realize this may be hard to understand but sometimes sexual abuse survivors can respond in contradictory ways. For me, it means that I go along with some things I don’t necessarily want to because I’m more afraid of fighting and being hurt than if I just went along. So while part of me was aroused, part of me was also afraid.
He apologized for putting me in that situation. I saw where he might also be suffering on that day, for at least from what he had said beforehand, he saw women in his life suffer at the hands of other men.
Metta to those who have suffered and also to those who caused that suffering. Until survivors and perpetrators of harm can heal their inner conflicts, these things will continue to happen.
See also obligatory sex.