I had, what for me, was a disturbing revelation a few days ago.
I recently strained my rotator cuff in my right shoulder. I did it in my sleep, which is another story entirely. I was prescribed physical therapy and off I went.
My therapist is a woman but one-time last week, she had a male student therapist assist me.
This is hard for me to write about. I had a problem with him touching me, even just on the arm and hands. He was consummately professional and there was nothing untoward in the slightest. I just couldn’t wait for the session to be over.
I don’t have this issue with being touched by a woman therapist. Or doctor (almost all of them have been women my adult life). Or seeing a female therapist (all but two of the 33 in my life have been women).
Believe me when I tell you it has nothing to do with homophobia. I have been a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community all my adult life and have had many gay friends (when I used to have friends). In fact, they are the men (and women) I feel most comfortable being around.
I gave it some thought and the answer came to me although it should have been obvious from the start. Like so many issues with my fucked up mental health, it wasn’t so obvious until I decided to deduce the reason.
My father. As I have written in previous blog entries, he was both physically, sexually and psychologically abusive to me growing up. The sexual abuse was only a few years around the ages of 5-8. The other abuse started shortly after that and continued until he died when I was 20.
There’s the whole ‘good touch/bad touch’ methodology that therapists have used with people who were abused, most often with children. Sadly, it seems the need for this kind of therapy and training is growing as more abuse that was either hidden or not talked about comes out into the light.
A bad touch is a bad touch, there is no denying it. I’m feeling nauseated even writing about this now as my memory runs back to those days. I ask myself – what was the ‘worse’ of the bad touching: fondling or getting smacked in the face? I guess it’s a tossup for me.
What I am gradually coming to realize is how much this has affected the trajectory of my life. And the more I realize this, the more I hate it. It’s not that I didn’t have male friends – I did and still have them on Facebook. But men don’t talk to men about these things and, by extension, they don’t discuss feelings of inadequacy or unease in marriages, child rearing and relationships in general that go back to childhood abuse. There was no reason to talk about these things to my high school friends since I didn’t even realize what happened to me was not normal until many years later.
High school memory – we had this kind of a deacon, the ‘Reverend Mister’ and I’ll leave his last name out of this (typical Catholic school sex pervert). He was later busted for molesting underage girls, many of whom had their school photo pinned to the wall behind his desk (there were like 150 photos). Anyway, I’m 18 and he keeps asking me every time he sees me, when I’m going to come into his office and ‘talk’ about my future or some such nonsense.
I wanted to tell him ‘NEVER, BECAUSE YOU FREAK ME OUT YOU FUCKING PERV.’ To say I got the creepy vibe from him was a gross understatement. I count him as the first guy I backed away from. Considering I had a bad experience with my first therapist, a man my mom forced me to see when I was 14, a trend was even then starting to develop.
(deep, heavy, sad, sigh)
I keep coming back to this essay and so it gets longer. Sorry.
Or when I was 15, when my mother decided the whole family needed group therapy so she dragged us in to a small room with a male therapist who tried to figure out what our problem was.
My problem was the man sitting right next to me. But what was I going to do – tell this stranger about the hitting, the threats, the put-downs and how my dad made me feel like a worm? Was this therapist going to come home with us with a couple of cops to make sure I didn’t get the shit beat out of me for revealing that information? Of course not. We sat there like a hostage on a phone call telling our loved ones were being well treated and would be just fine as the ransom was paid.
Strangely enough (or not), it was my mother who much later would deny that my father ever hit me. It was also my mother, when I scalded myself with boiling tea and ran frantically into the living room trying to tell her what had happened, slapped me full across the face. And my father drove me to the ER and I thought HE was going to slap me on the way there for breaking a glass pitcher and inconveniencing him.
(OK, I’m DONE FOR NOW. But great gracious fuck, all this stuff happened 40 years ago and YOU NEVER EVER FORGET IT. In my mind and my nervous system, it was still like yesterday.
I created this blog and the Facebook page so I could keep this stuff off my regular Facebook page. I still would rather my male friends from high school not read it.
So, look at the people who like this page. And look at my friends list on my main Facebook page. What do you notice? 154 out of my 192 Facebook friends (not counting 1 cat) are female. Draw your own conclusions.
No great revelations here – abuse fucks up a person’s life. The only new nugget of wisdom to me is just how much it does and how in many cases, the realization of the degree only comes gradually throughout the years.
But I’m not sure of some things even now. Like, how much of my self-hatred is rooted in this abuse? Did I somehow cause a feedback mechanism in my behavior as an adult to reinforce these negative feelings about myself, meaning, did my actions cause people to react negatively to me in ways that reinforced self-hatred?
I suspect the answer is yes, but over the span of a lifetime, it’s hard to be completely sure.
I don’t have completely healthy relationships and never have. I know why but it’s too late now to do much about it except try to recognize my motivations and reactions and mitigate them.
I am really nauseated and getting a headache as I write this essay. But for some reason I had to write it. But now I have to stop.