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#446506 - 09/05/13 04:16 PM Exploitation and the accommodation of desire
focusedbody Offline

Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 541
Loc: NY
During my teenage years, when my parents divorced and I went through adolescence, I began to notice their physical and sexual anxieties. Prior to this, I was not consciously aware of them. At the time, I chalked it up to the divorce, their difficulties in their present relationships and maybe a little of the difference between us, in terms of age and generation.

These anxieties were more closely experienced in how they hugged me and touched me. I figured that in time we would all grow out of them. That never happened.

So fast forward to today, as I look at my own difficulties in sustaining a relationship, I begin to wonder how far back these anxieties with my parents went. How did they become a lasting part of who I am? When continuing efforts to speak to them still fail in some ways, the non-verbal part of me begins to let me know how I truly feel.

Even though my parents are divorced, the pattern of me accommodating their anxieties continues. It is as if we are still in the same place I was in growing up. (Hereís a recap, outlining what is probably familiar to anyone who has been sexually abused.) They had an open relationship which meant that their desires were all over the place. Sometimes they were satisfied and if they were not, that was understood as not to be dwelled on. This was interpreted by both of them differently, with my mother probably having less of an outlet and recourse for hers. But, in any case, at some point during my childhood, I became a kind of go-between. This has set up a pattern of confusion for me as to my own true desires.

In the midst of this, I had what I had always thought was the happiest childhood on record. I love my parents but am stuck in this circle of curious fear where it appears that I gradually came to understand that I could accommodate their desires by how they touched me. This is of course a dynamic of exploitation which I learned and experience as natural, giving and loving.

As an adult, it is as if I am constantly trying to see reality through a tunnel where I exist as an autonomous being. Itís helpful to accept that exploitation is felt emotionally. This takes time as there is a lot of numbness between my conscious knowledge of healthy relationships and my lived life. Acknowledging memories is distressing and I take on a little at a time.

Now, Iíve also started to do the unthinkable. Iíve started to tell people I know what actually happened. Iíd like to say itís liberating, but itís mostly terrifying.

One thing I have needed to do is to listen very carefully to the conversation. Most of the time, people want to fit what I am saying into some accepted way of understanding. Most people don't understand that I had separate difficult dynamics with Mom and Dad. They want to sum it up in a kind of typical neglect, with one side of me okay and the other not so much. While that makes things appear clearer and easier to resolve, it wasn't the reality. Unfortunately, the knot in my stomach got tied in both directions at different times. So I take each observation people make very, very slowly and proceed from there.

Another thing I have to do is to sense my own state of panic. I have lived in denial of this because it would have been too difficult to experience it with no support until now. Panic is both physical and mental, but generally results in a kind of frozen existence. When I ask myself to admit it is happening, physically my body calms down a little. Itís like sinking into a bit of cool sand for a moment. Mentally, I may not be sure what is happening. I go to a lot of old dissociative spots. Itís really scary, mostly because I lived that way for so long. Since Iím kind of used to being in that place, having escaped it frequently very well over the years, I know what my usual response is. However, when I get through this, talking to myself in a continuous awareness of what just happened as well as what is happening now, I often end up in a state of amazement and relief.

And yes, there are the many, many feelings that want to be felt. I try not to fear them, as each feels like a little treasure left behind.

Thank you all for your stories of survival and how you have had the courage to speak to others. Iím not sure what Iím saying here. Itís kind of progress and kind of reaching out once again because being this alone with the little boy in me has been just too sad.

Peace and gratitude.

Lose the drama; life is a poem.

#446509 - 09/05/13 05:14 PM Re: Exploitation and the accommodation of desire [Re: focusedbody]
traveler Offline

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4225
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
FB - i read your post above with interest - but it was as though i understand the words - but not the meaning of the whole. i don't know if that is because of some blind spot in me - or because you may be skirting the issues in more acceptable language than the bare facts. maybe it is from an experience that is too similar for me to be able to see it clearly - or something too different from my history to be able to relate to? it is kind of like hearing an echo that i can't quite make out the words.

sorry if i am being dense - but do you mean that both parents literally, physically touched you inappropriately - as in incest? or that the hugs and physical contact that was OK and appropriate - was also so awkward as to induce tension and stress in your relationships? either way, i seem to recognize the feeling.

i want to understand.

How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, ‚ÄúViolence!‚ÄĚ but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?...
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails....
Habakkuk 1:2-3

#446560 - 09/06/13 01:57 PM Re: Exploitation and the accommodation of desire [Re: focusedbody]
focusedbody Offline

Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 541
Loc: NY

A big thank you here for responding the way you did. I am used to familiar voices that deny most of what I am saying.

In retrospect, I realize that the post is still lacking in clarity, so I deeply appreciate and respect any kind of resonance it has with others, simply as a beginning, a thread.

It might have been better to post this in the section on sexuality, but because what Iím mainly concerned with is an experience of exploitation, this is where I am. Because of my shortened career as a young actor, I am used to becoming the subject of an ongoing debate on whether or not I was exploited. There is much more to say about that, but for now I will say that more important than any economic exploitation, what has mattered to me is the feeling of being exploited. The feeling of being exploited is what has stayed with me for so many years and haunted me in moments of relationship and intimacy.

With regard to my upbringing, what has unfortunately become a necessity is to speak of my parents at first without gender. This is because the situation was simply so confusing. Only after first identifying my parents as Parent A and Parent B, can I begin to see how I never firmly established myself as who I was, a boy who never had a chance to learn how to be a man.

So, to answer your question, the interaction with each parent was different. In fact it was so different, that I developed two distinct sexual identities, neither of which was my true self. Each of those identities felt the need to assuage my parentsí desires. I donít know exactly why, but it happened.

Over the years, Parent A has had moments of surprising me with physical affection. Yes, awkward. No, not completely appropriate, but to the outsider with the usual blinders on, acceptable. Parent Bís awkwardness was of a different kind. More of the inducing stress kind that you describe. I could share more details of how these two identities in me have struggled to come together, but I will say that for now, with support here and elsewhere it is happening.

What I need to share, if it is all right with everyone, is that based on my personal perspective and experience, exploitation is not really a power struggle. It is an unconscious act of fulfilling desire. It involves being seen as an object and not a person. Without realizing it, it became my main m.o., my way of relating to people. It feels ingrained in my consciousness as a necessary part of relationship. As I become more intimate with someone, I frantically look for it. Iím trying to let myself know that it doesnít need to be there, but the process is a slow one.

Thanks for any responses from yourself or others and allowing me to do this. Any little bit helps dissipate the mist.

Lose the drama; life is a poem.

#446626 - 09/07/13 05:34 PM Re: Exploitation and the accommodation of desire [Re: traveler]
focusedbody Offline

Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 541
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: traveler
FB - i read your post above with interest - but it was as though i understand the words - but not the meaning of the whole.

Okay, so now I will write more. However, sadly in doing so I have what I believe maybe called structural dissociation. That is, I cannot completely connect what I am saying to what I wrote before. Hence the lack of a "meaning of the whole".

Originally Posted By: traveler
i don't know if that is because of some blind spot in me - or because you may be skirting the issues in more acceptable language than the bare facts.

Parent A was Mom. What I wrote may sound like just one of those things that some Moms can do that makes a teenager uncomfortable. Okay, we all know about that. The weird part of it was that as time went on, I couldnít get through to her from a more centered place. It got to the point where I couldnít be alone with her without feeling panicky. One goodbye happened when I was changing my kids' diapers. She snuck up from behind, kissed me aggressively on the neck, holding my hips in place. I had trouble being in my body for days. I couldn't go to the gym. All I could think was, she's never gotten it and she never will. However, in more recent conversations with her, she finally confessed that as a parent, she might feel that she could do anything with her child physically. Our communication has been improving, and the boy in me has started to feel firm ground in being with her and talking to her.

With regard to my father, I believe what happened was that in order to keep him in the family, I developed an ability to attract him physically, as a boy. While we never actually had any sex, this identity functioned as a way of keeping him close. Over the years, this identity would emerge at different times. In some ways it felt appropriate, as we are both sexual creatures. In other ways, there has been an intense confusion that seems to always be present. Perhaps this is why I feel like I can understand so much of male sexual abuse, although it has never actually physically happened to me.

Itís important for me to recognize exploitation in this way. I can completely understand others understanding it in terms of a power struggle, where some authority is taking over someone else. However, when I try to speak for myself in the familiar language of domination and submission, aggression and passivity, I can get lost. Probably because that was another layer of exploitation for me. I went between the two parents looking for clarity and truth and never found it.

Originally Posted By: traveler
sorry if i am being dense

I don't think you are being dense at all. My attempt at writing this feels like being perched on top of a large mosaic that defies coherence.

Thanks for this space to express myself. It helps to be living and breathing and speaking.

Lose the drama; life is a poem.


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