Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Recognising the damage: Intimacy

Write about the ways you are still affected by the abuse. 
Write about the strengths you've developed because of the abuse. Think of what it's taken for you to survive. 

I am going to use the sub-headings mentioned in the book. I hope they will cover everything. 


Answering specific questions:

Do you find it difficult to trust anyone? Do you have close friends?

I can't answer the question of trust. The best I can do is say that I start a relationship with trust. Somewhere, a sort of objectivity has taken root in me. That when I start a relationship, the person I am with hasn't given me a reason to mistrust them yet. So it wouldn't be right to judge them. There is always that feeling that I will invariably hurt them eventually or do something to push them away. 

Over the years, I have tried to trust in my mother over and and over again; and I have been let down. Every time I feel like that is the final straw and that I cannot trust her again. But I find myself craving her approval and for a while say and do things to please her, even if I genuinely don't believe in them. And then the same thing happens. So that now, I know no matter how hard I try or what I do, things are never going to be right between us. 

I do have close friends. I am constantly aware that I don't want to become dependent on their company and love because when the day does come where I let them down, my sense of loss however selfish, will be something I can handle. I can turn my feelings off like a switch, if I choose to. Indifference is a comfortable feeling for me. I don't think I can ever surrender myself to someone 100%. Not even to Veer. I will be there for the people who matter to me whenever they need me, but don't necessarily expect them to be there for me. They have their own lives to lead without me adding to their demands. 

Can you imagine a healthy relationship?

I couldn't till I met Darren. For a while, all my insecurities of ever finding someone who loved me for me seemed to be taken care of. I knew I had met a good man. A really good man who doesn't expect much in return. He hasn't changed in the last 6 years. Unfortunately, neither have I. I still possess qualities that infuriate people and I still can't find a way to give myself to him completely. I don't feel comfortable when he tries to be affectionate. I force myself to accept his advances because I don't want to be unfair to him. It has nothing to do with him. I know the problem lies with me. I am unable to love with 100% abandon, no matter how good he is to me. Physical proximity makes me uncomfortable and it is an essential in a 'healthy' relationship. 

Is it difficult for you to give and receive nurturing? To be affectionate?

Yes. I like to nurture others and find different ways of doing it. I like to feed people, make things for them, look after their needs. It makes me feel useful. I can't be affectionate. I don't go 'aww' and everything my son does or when my husband does something special for me. I'm better with my son because I can't get over the wonder of having created something so special. I don't think he is perfect. He has his moments. But I do think he is, by some fluke of nature, the best thing I ever created. He evokes an affectionate side of me that exists only for him. I don't think it can flow into my other relationships. 

I've felt the need recently to let people I love know that I love them. More so to reassure them that I am here for them whatever they need and have had to use language that they understand and would believe. It hasn't been a natural instinct; just a need to reach out and let them know I'm there. 

Are you afraid of people? Do you feel alienated or lonely?

In the midst of people I don't know very well, I feel awkward. I don't feel like I could contribute anything to a conversation without sounding stupid of ignorant. 

In the company of my parents, I feel secluded in myself because there is such a culture of keeping up appearances. The constant expectation of saying and doing the right thing makes the whole exchange contrived and measured. I don't think I'm afraid of anyone other than my parents. I used to feel lonely but have taught myself not to depend on anyone but myself to keep me company and so I don't feel lonely any more. 

Do you tend to get involved with people who are inappropriate or unavailable?

Always have. Every single relationship has been with someone I knew there was no chance of a future with. My most serious relationship - based on levels of desire and obsession - was with a man 8 years my senior and was only held together by sex. I feel that I invested the most in that one. He was emotionally unavailable. 

My relationship with Darren started on the premise of unatainability. I was comfortable because I was certain it wasn't going to last, him being White and me Indian. And then, blow me, he crosses the seven seas to come and marry me. I've never felt more out of my depth. I have no memory of the day we got married, except from photographs. Even those look new every time I look at them. I escaped. My memory flushes things out regularly and I haven't been able to recover much. I remember having to break my bangles to take them off. They wouldn't come off. I vaguely remember having sex with Darren on that night because we had to 'consummate' the marriage. We'd had sex before so I don't know why we felt we had to do it that night. I don't remember much else. 

Have you ever been with anyone who reminds you of your abuser?

Every person I have ever been with has, at some point, reminded me of him. Except maybe Sherry. The sexual tension and sporadic nature of that relationship was too overwhelming to leave room for much else. 

Otherwise there was always a smell, a way of touching, sounds; things they said; I can't escape it even now. It is always there. every smell. the feel of his lips on mine.. the feel of a dick against my hand, my vagina, the sight of one covered in semen. everything that should be part of a regular married sexual experience. reminds me of him. 

i can't look at a bald man without having the urge to vomit. i can't think of bald men without it.

Do you often feel taken advantage of?

I rarely feel taken advantage of. Never would be more accurate really. Anything anyone wants from me, I feel like I owe it to them. No matter what it is. They deserve it and I should do it without question. It is their right and my duty. I don't feel like they're taking advantage of me. 

Do you find that your relationships just don't work out?

They haven't worked in the past and the only reason my marriage is working is because of Darren. He's much more than I am worthy of and definitely gives more to it. I don't want it to end. I don't know that it will last. I'm bound to take a step too far at some point. It's inevitable. 

Do you have trouble making a commitment? Do you panic when people get too close?

I've always craved security. I've gone into a relationship committed and expecting it to end because of me. Which has made me overly anxious to ensure I did everything to hold it together. I don't worry about people getting too close because I know they'll never get past a certain wall. No one goes past it. 

Do you find you are able to get close to friends but can't seem to make things work with lovers?

I've only recently acknowledged that when there is sex involved, I'm not a 100% there. So any lovers I've had in the past, I've quite unconsciously done what was expected. I've already said I attract the wrong sort anyway. They've cheated on me. Sometimes I've been someone who wasn't quite a boyfriend; so boundaries of the relationship were always fuzzy. When we broke up, it wasn't really a break-up because it hadn't really been anything special in the first place. I don't think I've fully acknowledged my problems with lovers before now. 

I always assumed things ended because of how I was with them - possessive, needy, clingy, naggy and generally unpleasant. Not exactly 'show off to your friends' material to look at either. Been told on a few occassions that I wasn't girlfriend material but more of a wife. Strange that none of them seemed to want me for their wife. 

Do you find yourself clinging to people you care about?

I was always a possessive and jealous girlfriend. When Darren and I first got married, I was a jealous wife. But, so many times, I've been hurt by it that I started training myself not to be. That if they were happy with me, they'd stay otherwise they'd leave. It became simple after that. Same goes for my other relationships. I'm no more important that anything else in the lives of family and friends. They'll get around to calling me when they're ready. So not clingy any more. 

Do you repeatedly test people?

I don't believe in playing games in relationships. Never have done. I am as honest as I can be in a relationship and assume that the opposite person is doing the same. I don't feel the necessity to test anyone. They'll express how they feel when they feel it and if they don't, they don't. 

Do you expect people to leave you?


Can you say no?

Is this a trick question? No. I can't. 

(note to tanisha: the temptation to say 'yeh kaisa behuda sawaal hai' was too much on that last one.)

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