This has been on my mind a lot over the last few weeks. It came up in my therapy session a few weeks ago and frankly, it left me feeling confused.
I think choice is the wrong word, but I am lacking in an alternative right now. It cannot have been choice, not true choice, not when the only options were rape or rape, but my abuser was so clever and cunning, he made it seem as if it really were my choice.
Yet I knew if there had been a third option, one without any catches or danger, if that had been a choice that gave me a true and safe way out of that truly awful situation, I would have taken it, no question.
You see I knew I wanted neither, but because I still chose, in my young and naive mind, I assumed I must have some control. And that is exactly what he wanted. He wanted me to believe I had an option. It was those difficult choices that I had to make every day that left me feeling so deeply ashamed, I couldn’t possibly tell anyone what I felt I had done.
For so very long, I believed I had been complicit in my own abuse.
That is a horrible place to be. Such a deep self loathing that I carried all these years because I believed it had been my choice and therefore, my fault.
Things have changed, I am working damn hard at undoing all that grooming, changing all those poisonous thoughts he planted in me. Now I am at the stage where I mostly know that anything I agreed to was not by choice. There was no choice, he forced me, it was not (at the start at least) as is depicted in movies or in general by society, but sill force.
Grooming, training, pressure, indirect threats and eventually direct threats.
I did as I was told, when I was told. I was brainwashed. I was afraid. I was naive. I was ashamed, and I was utterly alone. Where on earth was the freedom to choose in all of that? I was not free in any way at all.
I have really been struggling with how much I thought I preferred it when I didn’t have choice. I thought the guilt was less, the shame too and there was no added fear of making the wrong decision leading to a painful and violent consequence.
It was a very difficult and even shameful thing for me to admit to my T. I told my T, it was better to be held down and have all choice taken from me, than to be presented with impossible choices I often could not and did not want to make.
Sitting with my T in that awful, uncomfortable moment-which seemed to last forever-I faced the reality of what I had said. It struck me, more like blind sided me in fact, how deeply sad and even twisted I felt. It was better to be held down, really?
Really? How can that be? How could I have ever felt that?
Oh, I can’t tell you how conflicted I have felt, how sick it has made me feel. What kind of person must I be to think that way, to prefer that? And at the same time, what on earth did he do to an innocent child, that she could ever feel that way?
I have been battling with that for some weeks now. It is has been particularly bothersome the last few days. I think because of a memory that isn’t far from my mind right now. A memory that still seemed to be eating away at me despite two separate disclosures. Not trauma anymore at least, but a whole heap of pain and shame intertwined.
With this specific memory (and there are more examples if I allow myself to delve deeper) there was no choice, not of any kind. It was an incident where I was physically incapacitated. There was nothing even remotely close to choice. It was a particularly nasty incident, one that was extremely traumatic.
I guess what has been getting to me, is that it sort of contradicts what I have thought and felt for so long and what left me feeling so sad and twisted after my session with my T a few weeks ago.
What my abuser did that night was not preferable to the times he gave me options. It was not better in any way at all. It was not less shameful- in fact it was one of the worst incidents in every way. There was no choice at all, but that did not make it easier and it did not make me feel any better about myself either.
After that night was over, I felt just as complicit in what he had done, as I did when I thought I had choice. I went home that day feeling shocked from the horror of what he done, but with the knowledge and acceptance that it has been my fault. I knew he had been wrong that day, but I was sure I had participated just by being there. After all, as he often reminded me, I was in his flat and in his bed, what the hell did I expect?
You see, the lack of choice that day (and so many others) did not stop any of those thoughts and feelings I experienced when I was offered choices. So, did I really prefer it? Or did I just tell myself that? And why would I tell myself that?
I have been going around in circles with this, wondering how the heck I could have preferred to be held down or threatened or whatever than to have a choice. I was mistaken, I am not entirely sure why, perhaps due to dissociation..I am sure my T will have suggestions, but I do not think I could have ever really preferred either.
I no longer have to choose from two impossible options. Instead I can choose the option I should have always had: neither.
Neither situations were preferable. It was not better to choose how I was raped and nor was it better to have the decision made for me.
I am free now, free to say neither, free to loathe both situations. I am free to acknowledge that both hurt me..all of it hurt me and none of it was OK.
Why don’t I feel relief?
Instead, I feel burdened this morning, or maybe just sort of heavy from the reality and truth I now face.