You Are Not Broken By Your Past…
Not many people like talking about the past with someone they’ve just started dating. For me it’s extremely uncomfortable and annoying. Why do they want to know anyway? I mean, it’s the past and it’s done and over with, right? Unfortunately, the past does play a large factor into how we view relationships, depending on how we choose to deal with it.
Meet me, Ms. Emotional. I can’t talk about my past without sometimes getting a little teary eyed, which makes talking about certain things awkward at times. Especially when talking about my history with sexual abuse.
It’s not necessarily a dinner topic and not something you just bring up casually like, “So, yeah I was sexually abused, just so you know. No big deal.”
Point is, sexual abuse is a serious thing that has affected millions of men and women. We can either choose to hide that part of our past or be open with our partner. Sometimes it’s just easier to not say anything at all because who wants to deal with that? It’s messy, at times painful, and not most people are equipped to deal with some of the issues that come along with their lover having been sexually abused.
But, you also don’t want to be with someone who can’t deal with your past, especially a part of your past that you had no control over and wasn’t your fault in any way. There was an incident when I told someone I was dating that I had been sexually abused.
Two days later he broke it off with me saying, “You just have too much baggage and I can’t deal with that.”
After that event, it became increasingly difficult for me to be open. I didn’t want to scare away guys because of events that took place years before. I also was afraid of being seen as someone with “baggage” or “issues”. So, I stopped talking.
I’ve written in a previous article that just because you’ve been sexually abused it doesn’t mean your life is suddenly over. While I may have realized that my life wasn’t over, in certain cases it felt like my dating life was.
‘How could anyone ever want me’, I would ask myself.
‘Who wants someone with all that baggage’?
I increasingly made it difficult for myself to open up to anyone because I immediately jumped to the conclusion that no one wants someone whose past hasn’t been picture perfect. There are so many people with fairy tale lives, right?
Truth was, I wasn’t completely comfortable with what had happened to me. If I wasn’t comfortable with my past, how could I begin talking about it with others?
One doesn’t suddenly just become ‘okay’ with being abused. It’s not a feeling where you think, “Wow, this is just dandy.”
But, it becomes easier to deal with once you’ve accepted it’s happened. That’s what I did. I accepted it. I owned it and I made my past a part of me, so to speak.
Whoever was with me would have to accept my carryon luggage.
Yet, when the moment does come to tell someone, how do you say it? I decided the less dramatic it was, the better. I didn’t want to drag it out. I didn’t want to go into detail about what happened.
The dialogue in my head played out like this:
“I think it’s important for you to know that I was sexually abused a few years ago. Sometimes, it doesn’t enter my mind at all, other days it does. What happened doesn’t dictate my life, but it has certainly made an impact on how I expect to be treated, and that is with respect at all times.”
That’s it. I didn’t have to go into specifics. If he wanted to know more, fine. If he didn’t want to go deeper into it, that was fine, too. And, for me, the sooner I tell someone, the better it is. I want to get it out of the way because it is so important. If someone wants to be with me, they need strength to stand beside me if I ever have a bad day and be able to understand why.
The only way I could bring myself to telling someone is by having the strength, myself, to accept it as part of my life. Yes, the past may have helped shape who I am, but, in spite of all my trials, life hasn’t turned out so bad and I think I’m a pretty cool person even with my carryon luggage.
If you have any questions about sexual abuse or need information on resources, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org