Here We Go Again

Recently, I've been revisiting a topic that I have spent, literally, thousands of hours and thousands of dollars dealing with -- my history of abuse.

I spent the better part of a decade dealing with nothing else. Over the course of the last 18 years, I somehow managed to transform myself from a blithering mess to a fairly functional being -- and there is nothing I would love more than to swish my palms together in that famous "dusting off" gesture and say: "Well, that's done!"

But it doesn't seem to work that way -- so far, at least.

For me, at least.

In the past few months, external circumstances and internal cues have signaled to me that it's time to take another look -- at ghosts I thought I'd vanquished, and scars I thought I'd healed.

When I started really working on my abuse shit, way back when, my greatest fear was that I was utterly and irrevocably "broken" -- that I would never and could never recover.

I didn't want to be the woman with the awful, dramatic history -- the terrible tale to tell. I didn't want to be a victim.

And I'm not.

I'm a survivor.

Still, each time I discover that there is another layer of this onion to peel, I go through some large or small ritual of resistance. Most recently, this arose when I, my Beloved, and a dear friend chose to do personal work together. We each chose an area of our lives that we knew we wanted to work on, and we did weekly check-ins and intention setting.

I chose the state of my relationship with my FOO (Family of Origin) -- especially with my parents. They are now in their mid-80's, and I in my mid-50's, and I know that they will not be around forever. I love them, and I know that they love me, but there are places in my relating with them that I know are not as deep as I would like them to be.

That's where the resistance came in. As my two compatriots checked in with verve and gusto on their chosen areas of focus, I found myself dragging my feet, making excuses, and bringing my energy to the assignments I'd given myself in a half-hearted, half-assed way.

That's when I began to suspect that that pesky onion was stinking up my psyche again.

Seriously, I've peeled more skins off that fucker than you can believe.

It's kinda funny though -- the closer I get to the core, the less traumatic each peeling seems to me. That's a hopeful thing.

And I think that's a big part of what's kept me from blogging. Part of what marks me as the "New Improved Portly Dyke -- Now More Functional!!" (in my mind, at least), is that my abuse history is no longer the central issue of my life every single day -- and I think that when peeling time comes around again, I get scared that it will subsume my life as it did 18 years ago.

But truth is, this is a huge part of what I've been thinking and feeling about internally.

I've been carrying on with my routine and doing what I do. From outside, you probably wouldn't notice much difference, but inside, I'm having tectonic plate shifts and long talks with myself, and it all feels intensely personal and important -- but there's also a lot of self-talk that says that no. one. on. earth. would. be. interested. in. hearing. about. this.

And I talk back to that voice and hint that maybe, just maybe, it might be very important to communicate my experience to the world. For me. For someone else.

So, when I said that I was going to just let you in on what's been going on in Cranium-Portly, this is what I'll be letting you in on.

I have no idea whether it will be worth reading. I have great hope that, at the very least, it will be worth writing.

It all kind of came to a head a couple of weeks ago, when I was talking to my Beloved about how much the whole torture thing was bothering me.

Regular readers here will know that I don't blog that much purely political stuff -- the reasons for this are complex and more than I want to go into in this post -- suffice it to say that I was really surprised at how politically-activated I felt when I regarded the torture issue.

I talked about this with my Beloved, because I have strong feelings about being pro-active and working towards things rather than against things, and I wanted to find a way to take action without going into "fighting against" mode. I wanted her advice about approaches and actions, and I wanted to understand why I was so activated about it.

She said: "Well, I'm not surprised that it would be intense for you, given your history."

And I was stunned. Stunned because I had not even considered that angle. It felt a little scary to me that I hadn't seen it, and at the same time, it seemed a mark of healing.

I am a survivor of abuse that would be described -- with no hyperbole involved -- as torture.

It seems impossible that I could fail to see how that connected for me with the issue of state-sponsored torture authorized and perpetrated by my government, but I did fail to see it until she said it out loud.

Therein lies the onion-skin I'm peeling now.

Is it a sign of dissociation that I didn't see it, or is it a sign of healthy objectivity that I didn't see it?

It doesn't matter what the answer is -- I only know that I am compelled to get to that answer.

I have to peel this onion.

Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:21 PM  


Anonymous said... June 4, 2009 at 2:08 AM  

IMO, your writing will surely be worth reading.
I thank you for your revelations as it has opened my mind to recognize that the abuse, violence and danger I was steeped in, in my late teens and early twenties was torture. I had tucked it neatly away as "oh, that is just how life was. I brought it on myself by choosing to engage with this being."
Onion peeling, here I come,

Anita said... June 4, 2009 at 3:16 AM  

Peeling the onion (tears and all) is how I have always described the work on myself that I have been able to do. I want to say, "been lucky enough to do," because that is how I feel. Every layer gives me more of myself.

It seemed I couldn't do the next layer until it was ready to be dealt with. After a while I just accepted the timetable and felt relieved that I'd had the insight that my inner self was taking care of the schedule. I feel strongly that we can trust ourselves for that.

I would say that I now feel this is just my journey and my innerness is simply part of the world I keep on discovering and appreciating as I go along.

I salute you and thank you for writing about this.

I also want to thank you again for the excellent letters you wrote and allowed us to copy and send to our legislators.

Steve said... June 4, 2009 at 6:52 PM  

I have no idea whether it will be worth reading
It will be worth reading and worth writing.

NameChanged said... June 7, 2009 at 10:04 PM  

I am ready to peel with you. Thank you for sharing.

wondering said... June 8, 2009 at 6:47 AM  

You are one strong, brave, impressive woman. And what you write is always worth reading.

Tina said... June 8, 2009 at 1:28 PM  

Consider yourself hugged.

~Tina H (from Shakesville)

Wench said... June 10, 2009 at 9:51 PM  

And those voices that are telling you that this won't be worth writing and won't be worth reading are just continuing to try to shut you up.

You have a right to your voice, and a right to use it. I'm glad that you did :)

And just from reading this, oh my goodness yes is it important that you wrote this.

Anonymous said... June 11, 2009 at 11:41 PM  

It will assuredly be worth reading.

I have an onion myself and it's amazing that there's anything left of it, never mind more skin. Yet, this has come up recently for me as well. I can tell you that I spent most of my 30s and part of my 40s with a blasted onion peeler.

I was surprised in to speechlessness when I read this entry. And then spent a great deal of time navel-gazing about it. And I'll say again, I know what you write will be worth reading.

Oh, and you have a very smart Beloved.

Tabitha said... December 8, 2009 at 12:45 AM  

I just started reading your blog today, and I identified with this post almost immediately. I quoted you in my own blog and linked it back to your post, but if you're not okay with that just let me know and I will take it down. My post can be found here ( ). Sorry, I'm still learning how to backlink and notify and whatnot.

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