The other day Lo came home from her therapy session and said, “My therapist asked me to think about what gets me up in the morning. I’ve been thinking about it and I can’t put my finger on it. I don’t know what gets me up in the morning.”
“Lo, putting your finger on it is what gets you up in the morning.”
“Ha ha, very funny,” she said bitterly. “I’m serious.”
“So am I. You live for sex; it’s your work, your hobby, and what drives your relationship.”
“And that worries me.”
“Worries you? Why?”
“I don’t know if you know this, but sex and masturbation can both be used as a creative coping mechanisms.”
“Like drinking or drugs to deal with problems?”
“Yeah, like that.”
“So, what if that’s what I’m doing?”
“I’m sorry, I don’t follow.”
“I mean, in my childhood, amid all the chaos that my crazy parents would create at night, I remember just going to my room, closing the door, shutting off the lights, getting under the covers and stroking myself to sleep. Then later, when I was older and they would be fighting, I would go to the basement and get on the internet and download porn to get off to. It was all just coping.”
“Well, that sure sounds a hell of a lot better than getting drunk, doing drugs, self-cutting, anorexia, bulimia, or the dozens of other alternatives that kids turn to these days.”
“But, that’s just my point! All of those forms of ‘coping’ are unhealthy ways of dealing with something fundamentally unhealthy, disturbing, and difficult — something that might better be dealt with directly.”
“Sweetie, sometimes we cope because we just aren’t ready to deal with shit directly. You know?”
She paused for a moment to take it in. She thought. And I could see what she was thinking. After a silence she spoke slowly. “Yeah, I know. I mean, I never really understood repressed memories until I realized that I, myself, had them. The whole period of my life when I was being abused by Amanda, my babysitter — it was there in my mind, present, but unacknowledged. Until one day, like finally connecting all the dots and seeing the picture for what it was, I realized what had happened. It’s amazing how the mind doesn’t let you know what it knows you can’t handle until you’re ready to handle it.”
“And how does it know that?” I asked, indulging my philosophical penchant for paradox.
Ignoring my question, she went on, almost to herself, “That’s why I finally had to break it off with Sylvia. I realized that her pathetic emotional and physical dependence upon me was. . . was. . .” she searched for the right word, “empowering me in ways I didn’t like. I realized that her looking to me to be her sexual guide allowed me to reenact what I went through with Amanda. The first time around I wasn’t able to give consent. I mean, I thought I was, but I was underage. This time around I was in control. Sylvia certainly was of age and not only consenting, but willing and eager, but though I thought I was helping her, I was really just working through my own psychological hang-ups. I was mastering my own victimhood.”
“Are you sure you’re not victimizing your own mastery?” I asked, interrupting her monologue.
She seemed to snap out of it and refocused on me and my face. “What?”
“I mean, Lo, of all the ‘victims’ of sexual assault and rape, you really seem to have a handle on it. You’re not ‘broken’ or ‘damaged’ or ‘scarred,’ or any of the other words people like to use for trauma survivors. Even your being self-aware and self-conscious enough to break off the sex you were having with another consenting adult because of your concerns shows that you’ve not only survived, but thrived and mastered your victimhood in a way different than you just said it. The way you said it, you made it sound like your mastery was a symptom of your victimization.”
She thought about this for a while and then added, “But what about the sex, the nymphomaniacal tendencies, the chronic masturbation, the constant need for your love and everyone’s attention, the unending craving to fuck and be fucked?”
“Lo,” I said, “if you were a guy, would anyone call any of that into question? I mean, you hold down a job, you’re a straight A student, you are in a committed (if not monogamous) relationship, you are a great step-mother to two kids, you are the glue — the only glue — that holds your tatters of a family together, you’re young, beautiful, smart, funny, personable, compassionate, sociable, and in every outward way well-balanced and healthy.”
“Oh, go on,” she said, flipping her head so her hair whipped back in a movie-star prima donna affectation.
“I’m serious. Most people couldn’t do have of what you do and no one could pull it off so well. The fact that you’re a down-and-dirty, cum-crazed, whoring, sexually-charged, little nympho feline in the bedroom doesn’t mean that you’re unbalanced. It just means that you’re lucky to have found a guy who caters to your very many needs.”
“Oh Daddy!” she said, “When you put it that way. . . !” She grabbed my hand and led me to the bedroom.
[Excerpt from the story, “Cope, Grope, Gripe, and Putting a Finger On It,” from the blog: mysexlifewithlola.com]