Is it alright to mourn the loss of my sexuality through rape? To read a fic about a loving and caring partner and cry because I feel robbed of that? To cry because my body and desires are alien to me now?
A lot of us end up feeling like we can’t be sexual anymore or can’t be in loving relationships. For some of us, that goes away with time and work, but for others, it stays.
For me, I think it’s going to stay. And there are days when I feel so lonely and discarded that I can barely breathe. There are days when I’m certain I will never actually know what it feels like to have someone who truly and deeply loves every part of me. It hurts. It hurts constantly.
But I try to find ways to make that pain less compelling, so that I can still have a life worth living. I committed myself to a career that matters to me. I have a habit of adopting elderly special needs chihuahuas. I eat well. I watch a lot of movies. And I’m deeply devoted to my friends.
Does this make the pain go away? No. But it sure does make it less important.
When we talk about PTSD, one of the things we often forget to address is that there is a period of time after being raped/abused that is really just consistent mourning as if you’ve lost someone you loved. Because that’s what’s happened. We are different after trauma. The person we are….. doesn’t really exist in the same way anymore. And we have to grieve for that person, sexuality included. And just like when your favorite grandparent died or best friend from high school, sometimes remembering them brings all that pain back—even if you’ve already been through the grieving process.
This is sort of downbeat, but I feel like it’s worth saying….. There will always be pain associated with our experiences. Always. And there should be. Our bodies should always be willing to acknowledge the terror, the degradation of our experiences. And that’s all emotions are—physical, body responses. The trouble is when we get stuck in a place where all there is is pain. I’m stuck in that place right now. I’ve been here before. I know that these periods come and go.
I think a big part of recovery is learning how to navigate grief, loss, existential depression, and a deep well of suffering that rape creates. It can be done, but it takes times and patience, and unfortunately and unfairly, a lot of fucking work.
Please take care.