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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bruce's Flashback

"I entered college immature, frightened and badly prepared academically. For many students, college was a paradisaical new frontier. Many got their education in the local taverns, pool halls, and twin beds of their dorm rooms. I too, found most of this teenage hedonism fun, but the prospect of sex terrified me.

"Instinctively, I was living in reaction to my abuse, which I had yet to consciously remember. The abuse had taught me that if I "gave in" sexually, I would lose control. Without control, I would be vulnerable. Traumatized as I was, vulnerability would take me back to the soul-destroying terror of incest. I needed protection and, for protection, I chose to stuff myself with food. I went on a compulsive binge diet of doughnuts, pizza, cookies, chips, and beer. I put on 30 pounds the first semester. A wall of fat shielded me from sexual advances.

"Virtue" became another compulsion-obsession. Staying "pure" became my creed. I snubbed the "loose" girls and had little empathy when abortions were needed. I was virgin and proud of it. I grew grandiose. I'd watched them fall, one after the other, giving in to instincts of the body... the one thing I was determined to control. I saw myself as strong, and them as weak."

Bruce squirms in his seat.

"My grandiose purity protected me until I fell "in love." As his sexual demands grew more urgent, so did my fears of rejection--if I controlled to hold out. Keeping him became much more vital than my virtue. A storehouse of repressed sexual energy was released. My new creed was that sex equaled love. And that's the way it was in the beginning.

"When we moved in together, the euphoria ceased and the lies began. I started noticing little things, like his coming home later and later, his unavailability on the weekends, and the smell of perfume after his night out with "the boys." Soon my true love was gone, lost to another, and I was left with what I knew best... betrayal. I wanted to die, wanted to scream, wanted to obliterate him. But instead, I implemented the tools I had inherited from my family: I numbed and blocked my pain. Within a month, I had lost 30 pounds, begun drinking, and found a new man. I was entering the full cycle of obsession and addition.

"I followed this destructive, insane path into a loveless marriage with a drug addict. I filed for divorce. Shortly after came the fateful phon call from my sister, revealing the scret life in the basment with our father I just spoke about. With the truth of my incest history stimulated by her memories, I was overwhelmed by emotions I could no process sanely. I became overwhelmed by out-of-control anger.

"Sex became my weapon. I had, in the past, tried shutting down sexually in order to feel in control. I had also tried to find love through sex. Both had proved ineffective. But now I was going to right the wrong. I was going to take back my power. I was going to purge my rage. I was going to undo the perpetrations by becoming the perpetrator.  No longer was sex about love. Sex was about revenge.

"My sexual abuse at the hands of my father had comingled sex with fear, shame, and rage; it charged everything with intensity. The amalgam created in this emotional blast furnace was sexualized anger. It lies deep within us, and, once trapped and released, it obliterates its victims. I became a warrior, a skilled executioner, and my murder weapon was sex.

"Night after night I sought my prey, using sex as a weapon. I would kill before being killed, but each time I did, I died a little more. My conquests would have to pay for the sins of my father.

"Sex became my greatest need. I was in an obsessive trance, out of control, and spiraling toward emotional suicide. I was a junkie looking for my next fix, my next high. I looked for men in grocery stores, in restaurants, in nightclubs, through friends, at clubs. But with every high came the descent, the morning after, the shame, the worthlessness, the self-loating, the betrayal. I had done it to myself. Although my acting-out behaviors were different from his, in the end, I had become my father.

"The vicious cycle continued. I thought of suicide, a way out. I lay in a pool of tears. I rocked as the tumultuous emotions erupted. I rocked in the fetal positon, praying for the redemption of my grief. It is my pain that has driven me to the edge, and now it is the same pain tha can lead me to the truth. I know I must stop the cycle that will enslave me in my family's history.

"I now know I need help, and so I reached for the phone before I lose my courage. Dialing the treatment center's number, I hear a soft-spoken, kindhearted man answer; perhaps he is a lifeline to my salvation. I listen as he explains their program and answers my questions. My quivering hand takes notes. "Sex addiction," I write. The words stare back at me. I read them over and over, and I know that my life will never be the same."

(To be continued.)