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I didn’t think I was going to post in this week’s Erotic Journal challenge. The questions Brigit posed this week were …
Have you ever been hurt sexually (physically, emotionally, mentally)? How do you think this impacts your sexual likes/dislikes, what you gravitate toward or what you shy away from when it comes to sex?
I think this will be a really tough subject matter and I applaud anyone who takes the time to share accounts of what could well be very traumatic experiences. I do not overlook how lucky I am that I don’t have experiences that would answer the above questions. Don’t get me wrong, not all my sexual experiences have been amazing, and some have left me feeling uncomfortable and a little icky, but honestly they barely even register on my radar and I know that is not how it works when your consent and your body has been violated. To those of you who do write about those experiences I am sending you love and respect.
What I did decide I could and probably should write about though is what it is like to hurt another person. I immediately want to clarify that I mean emotionally, and not with intent. I have never intentionally caused physical or emotional harm to another, but sometimes our actions have consequences and that consequence is another person’s turmoil.
The reason I want to write about this isn’t to assuage my guilt or shame but to let others know that if they have similar experiences they are not alone. I think it can sometimes be assumed that being the person to instigate decisions that cause another person to be hurt is somehow the easier side of things, and while perhaps in some ways this is true, maybe more so for some people than others, I can guarantee you that for me there was nothing easy about seeing the hurt I caused in another person.
I decided to end our marriage. A decision that we made together took only one of us to undo. By the time I’d made that decision, I was 100% checked out of the relationship. My ex-husband wanted to work through it, desperately. We tried one session of Relate counselling and the counsellor we saw told him it was clear I was done, I’m not sure If I am grateful to her for that or not.
After 10 years together, 7 of them married I was walking away from the life we built together. This included saying goodbye to the relationships I’d built with his family and friends, and actually, in some cases, it has severed relationships with my own family members too. It was hard. Despite the fact I felt it was the right decision I mourned what I was losing and that did include my marriage too. I desperately wanted to feel differently, I wanted the spark of romance, passion and intimacy to reignite but sadly it has just left me.
Nothing was harder though than seeing the pain I was causing my best friend and the father of my child, because despite having lost my romantic love for him I still loved him, which was one of the reasons I wanted to end things sooner rather than later, I told myself he was too young and too much of a catch to be stuck with someone who didn’t fully want him. In those immediate days and weeks that followed my decision, he both loved me and hated me and both were clear to see.
The physical effects of his emotional pain were palpable. He didn’t eat, he couldn’t sleep, he cried, he was vacant and to my absolute horror, he mentioned suicide. I don’t think he ever intended to do that, and some would say he was using it as an emotional weapon, but knowing him I think it just highlighted the depths of his despair and to this day I can never forget that it was me that caused him the most pain he has ever suffered.
In the months following our separation I was incredibly selfish, yes I was battling my own demons at the time, but I completely abandoned him and while I no longer saw him as my romantic or life partner, I did seem to forget for a time what it meant to be a friend. I did him a huge disservice during those months and I exacerbated his hurt in ways I didn’t need to.
This all happened in July – September 2014, by May 2015 he had met his current girlfriend and I was beginning my adventure with Bakji. Our time of readjustment fromm parting ways to beginning lives with others was less than a year, but the effects of that upset will last a lifetime.
I am beyond thankful that he found his way back to being a friend to me because I cannot imagine my life without him in it. He drives me nuts and I often breathe a sigh of relief that his foibles are now someone else’s issue and not mine, but he holds such a special place in my heart that not knowing him is unimaginable. I was 19 when we got together and we married at 22, I wouldn’t get married again, but I do not for one minute regret making that commitment to him, even if it didn’t work out as we’d hoped.
I’ve explained this story to people in real life, and I’ve had more than one person ask in response ‘it sounds like you are still in love with him. Are you sure you don’t want him back?’ and it sometimes makes me a bit sad that we live in a world where love either exists romantically or it doesn’t. I think that is why I embraced non-monogamy, not that it solves everything, but it certainly gave me a lot more language to explain the nuance of my feelings and it found me people who understood the depth of feelings I still have for a man despite the fact our connection has changed.
Some people are cruel and manipulative and that is why they hurt others and I suspect they have very little concern for the damage they cause in the people they harm. More often than not though good people hurt other good people, and no one is the bad guy, but naturally someone will be cast in that role, in my case that was me. I tried my hardest to minimise the pain I caused, I relented in ways others wouldn’t have and allowed myself to be painted as the villain by people who were hurt on my ex-husband’s behalf and I don’t suppose they’ve ever considered the consequences of their actions.
It’s easy throughout all of this, whether you hear the story in person or you’re reading this blog post to try and see what I did right and justify why I did what I did and yes, there are reasons, and yes there are ways to justify my decision but none of that changes anything. I still caused a level of hurt in someone I love and I can never take that back. It’s hard to accept, it’s hard to forgive and I suspect it is something I will never forget.