We were just talking… like survivors do when we talk. Open, honest, raw and no bullshit. We’ve heard it all before, we don’t need to hear it from each other. Strangers listening in might describe the conversations as brutal attacks, hitting one another with one truth after another, a no holds barred, verbal slug fest. We call it group. Or just life at this point.
So I was describing how I came to the conclusion that women like me, who have had multiple perpetrators in her lifetime came to have the neon sign flickering over our heads that seemed to scream “abuse me”.
I’m not always talking sexual abuse, more often it was a series of very clear abuse early on that I always fought to explain away. Subtle things at first, like never asking ME about MY day or forgetting something I had planned and cancelling at the last minute. Then greater things like not respecting my feelings or minimizing concerns and then lying followed closely by cheating. I think you get the picture.
***And because I have horrible people who would continuously like to misconstrue my words… I am NOT talking about the very clear, very verbal and/or/in addition too physical struggles of rape/incest/sexual assault/molestation/ sex trafficking and any other type of sexual or violent crime (see this is something I don’t have to clarify for those of us who have survived it)
Now I have the pleasure of having to micro manage every single thing I say as a way of life.***
We developed these behaviors that we picked up as coping mechanisms, as a way to keep us out of danger, always trying to out think the coyote. But the coyote has had our number from the beginning. It’s ingrained.
When you don’t know how to set and enforce boundaries, you vacillate. Going back and forth between what you said and what you allow, always in conflict. There’s no peace, no calm in living like that. You’ve heard it or said it yourself before.
The “Okay so this is just you and me right? no one else, I’ll trust you again even though I’ve caught you cheating and if you cheat again, I’m leaving”
And we never do. Rinse. Repeat.
What does that look like in the wild? An animal unsure of where to go,what to do, vacillating, flailing?
Looks a lot like prey doesn’t it?
Are you catching on yet?
We look like prey…insecure. Easy kill.
I’m going to write to you, like I’d talk to you, if you were in my group. I was vain for a period of time. It was brief, trust me when I tell you that, but the truth is I was vain and I got hit on a lot. I had an ego about it. Deep down I was a very insecure woman and I got my feelings of value and self-worth from the men that would pay attention to me. And there never seemed to be a shortage. Until now. Until now and it hit me like a ton of bricks in the most cliche way possible, it hit me.
Dead, square in the chest. I no longer resemble prey.
I am steady in my feeling of self-worth, seeking only validation from within. I am not impressed by the shiny new things I once was. I’m a little wiser. I crave substance over pretense. I prefer the time held and weather worn. Depth. Roots.
I had always wondered why it felt like I had that neon sign, that bulls eye, the poor taste in bad men. That insecure, injured, flailing gazelle was me. I was prey. Easy pickings if you were paying attention. And they were. From land, air and sea.
It wasn’t because I was so attractive in the way I thought I was. I was attractive the way a pride of lions will take down the one injured gazelle in a herd of thousands, sinking their teeth into her flesh no matter how many times she cries out, until she is bled dry or ceases the bleeding herself by succumbing to her own injury. The injury of shame.
It all fell into place. The person I was then to who I am now and all the parts in between became this thing I finally understood. There really was a cause and an effect. I’m telling you, everything fell into place. I understood the animal characteristics that dictate our code. As soon as I began to assert boundaries and control, the moment I began exercising my voice, my power the fewer and fewer predators remained. The weakness was not mine anymore. I gained strength with every assertion. No longer prey and refusing to participate in being what I outgrew, now I just want to pass on what helps get me through.
Predator and prey. Now you know and now you can’t unknow. There is only pro-action or re-action. The choice is yours and so is the power.
God it feels good to write again.