The Sexual Healing Journey – Part 1
With Liz being off for the month, I’d intended to shut everything down. I was still good at compartmentalizing and thought I’d take her vacation and just shut everything off and continue on my way. That wasn’t meant to happen.
I was instant messaging with a friend of mine, Endellion, online. She lives a few states away but she is one of my very best friends. We IM multiple times a day, video chat every few days, and talk on the phone about once a week. She knew what I was going through and I talked to her about the sexual abuse.
That day, while chatting, she encouraged me to buy a vibrator. I was very afraid of buying a vibrator as Bubba had used a vibrator against me. I didn’t want to go back down that road. Endellion told me that not all vibrators were like the one Bubba used on me. So, we started looking on Amazon. I never imagined that there was such a wide variety of sex toys out there. I may have been married for the better part of twenty years, but I was still very sheltered and naive.
I came across a relatively inexpensive water-proof bullet vibrator. Since you need $25 for free shipping on Amazon and that alone wasn’t expensive enough, I needed to find something else to buy.
I started looking for books about sexual abuse and I found The Sexual Healing Journey by Wendy Maltz. I was intrigued by a book that clams to take the reader through this journey step-by-step. I purchased both that evening and waited for them to arrive. My plan was to simply read the book and have the vibrator there in case I ever felt healed enough to try it out. I honestly, at that point, thought I’d never use it.
My items arrived a few days later and I immediately covered the book with newspaper as I didn’t want the children to see what I was reading.
I read the book from cover to cover. I was still heavily in research mode. I was simply not ready to deal with the emotional aspect of the rapes yet. In the book there are different checklists. As I’d thumbed through the book when I first got it, I saw the check lists and promised myself that I would be brutally honest with myself – I wouldn’t sugar coat anything. As I read the book through that first time, I was answering the questions honestly, I was writing notes in the margins, and I was highlighting things that pertained to me. Then something happened that I had never considered before….I was answering questions that didn’t pertain to Bubba.
I started answering questions about a family friend. When I was a pre-teen, my mom and dad’s best friends, neighbors of ours, were a married couple. The man drank beer….a lot of beer. We all knew that he didn’t treat his wife nicely and my parents had offered to give her money to divorce him. She always refused. Back then, domestic violence was hidden even more than it is now. This friend was married to an alcoholic who liked to beat on her. What nobody knew was that he also had a fondness for pre-teen girls.
My childhood best friend, Anna, and I were inseparable. She was my neighbor, so we were together all the time. We would often go watch t.v. at my parents’ friends’ house because we were always welcomed there and my mom’s friend always baked the most delicious treats for us.
However, as we would sit there and watch t.v. the man would take his penis out of his pants and play with it. We had to watch what was happening. Occasionally, he would stand up and walk around with his pants around his ankles, all the while stroking his penis and knowing that we were watching. After the day that he tried to get Anna to touch his penis, we finally told our parents what had been happening.
I don’t know what happened after that. Anna and her family promptly packed up and left town within a week or two. I’ve never heard from her again.
My parents made me go into detail about what had happened. Telling my dad about it had to have been the single most embarrassing moment of all of my 12 years. Sex was already a topic that was taboo in my family. We didn’t discuss our bodies or growing up or anything. I’d never been taught what to expect, even though I was in puberty. I didn’t know what was supposed to happen to my body and my first period freaked me out. Everything was so secretive and shameful and here I had to tell my father, in great detail, what had happened to me.
The man moved out and a few months later, my mom’s friend moved in with him wherever he’d gone. Here is where it gets bizarre. My parents remained very close friends with the woman. She was a close part of our lives, even though we all know she was still with the man who’d just molested two young girls. No one ever mentioned his name again. It was just like he ceased to exist, yet I knew he was still in town. I knew he was still out there and I lived in constant terror of running into him again someday.
This book that I was supposed to be using to heal from what Bubba had done to me brought up painful memories of sexual abuse in my childhood that I’d barely acknowledged, let alone worked through. I’d gotten the message from my parents that this was never to be spoken of again. I was not given counseling. I was not even told that it wasn’t my fault and that he’d taken something natural (masturbation) and perverted it. I grew up believing that my body, my vulva, was gross and disgusting and that touching it was something that was forbidden.
It was so deeply rooted in me that I even had trouble washing myself. I got that part of my shower over with as quickly as possible. Here I was, 40 years old, and I couldn’t even touch my vulva to WASH it without becoming revolted. As I began writing this post, I had a memory of Serenity’s birth. She had started to crown and I remember the doctor telling me to reach down and feel the full head of hair she had. I absolutely couldn’t do it. I couldn’t feel any of my babies entering the world because they came out of that part of me that so disgusted me.
In Part Three of The Sexual Healing Journey, she gives exercises to relearn touch. I read and reread that section multiple times. One day I just decided that I would work through my issues because to not work through them would mean that man and Bubba won. I would not concede defeat to either of those men.
My body was my own to enjoy and celebrate as I saw fit. Once I’d decided that, the really hard work began.