I’m having a mild trauma response. Actually, this is cause for celebration.
Part of my coursework this semester has me reading about the history and theology of sexuality. Some of those accounts can be rather specific, especially when dealing with testimony giving in hearings. This weeks readings involved an investigation into same sex encounters during the 1920’s. For about 12 hours, I’ve been distracted and haven’t been able to sleep. I really don’t know if this is a response as a result of past trauma or if this is how people at the top of the curve respond when they read something disturbing. Either way I’m grateful to be dealing with these issues.
Not so very long ago, the issues would have been quite different. I would be experiencing a full on anxiety attack. My senses would have been so over alert that every sound, touch, and flashing light would have been alarming. Not only would I not be able to sleep, I would have lost my appetite as well. This could have lasted for hours or days. Fear from the distorted thoughts in my mind triggered by what I had read would overwhelm my life. My ex-wife learned to deal with it by keeping any and every trigger away from me. That approach became just another controlling fetter trying to manipulate my life into a sense of manageability.
So this is a cause for celebration in that my heart is calm and my senses are intact – I’m just having some challenges sleeping. I think the biggest shift from then to know is that my fear is not for me. I am genuinely safe and secure and fully aware of that fact. My fear is for those who are still where I was then – and for the family and faith cultures that keep them there.
My fear is in the knowledge that in the minds of many, the patriarchal attitude toward sex that says even though I was forced into a submissive, receiving role – in essence having my masculine role traded for a feminine role – I was therefore more guilty of sexual sin than my assailant. It’s the keen awareness that there are still people, young and old, forced to live in the same silence that I did in the 10 years between being attacked and telling anyone about it without the benefit of seeking any form of emotional or spiritual healing; living instead with a religious oppression that in-prisons them in their own minds. My fear comes from knowing that there are those without a community they can openly share their thoughts, and – having put them out there – be much more likely to return to bed and actually sleep.
Perhaps this is the shift I’ve been yearning for: from where the traumas of my past haunt me to where they motivate me to be more active toward boldly loving myself, loving others and not tolerating a religious system that stands in the way of that.