My friend is still kicking cancer's ass in Round 2 it seems. She made it onto a drug trial and is back at work because she is a fucking champion. We all have everything crossed with breath held that it stays this good.
Speaking of good, my relationship seems to go from strength to strength, which frankly just seems bizarre at times. But I like it, and have very much absorbed him into my life, to the point where I miss him, and can't imagine not having him around, which is kind of scary for someone from my background. This, in combination with the fact that the kids thing continues to come up has brought something else up: Disclosure.
Alas, I am not referring the electronica duo, but the big D word that everyone who has a shitty trauma background knows. Those of you fortunate enough to not instantly know what I am talking about, grant me some leeway to explain.
There are many shitty things about trauma. There's the actual trauma itself, obviously, but one of the things less discussed is the aftermath, particularly long term. When you pick up the pieces of yourself and attempt to reassemble your life you are faced with this fault line through the entire thing that delineates the Before and After. And the After can be pretty fucking brutal, in some ways just as much as the During.
Do not misunderstand, I am one of the lucky ones who has an After, some of those who have endured what I have do not survive intact. But I did, and I was proud of that and wanted to be like a phoenix, rising from the fire unscathed. That is fantasy in more ways than one and the sad truth was that I worked very hard over many years to try and push the fault line closed, but it still remains.
As a result a few years ago my focus shifted, rather than pretending it never happened or existed, I would acknowledge that it was something that happened, but I refused to allow it to define me. I left the fault line there, rather than futilely trying to close it, but did not allow it power within my life. This has been working for me for the most part, with a few exceptions.
Because of course, the fact is it did all happen. And when you meet new people, or more aptly try to connect with new people you are faced with the dilemma of whether to tell them, and when, and how much. The act of telling is called disclosure, and I fucking hate it.
For obvious reasons I very rarely disclosed to people I was dating e.g they were douchebags who rarely made it past the second date. I told Poly Guy, because I trusted him with the information, and because he had put his cards on the table. That disclosure was a bizarre experience, almost clinical...or perhaps transactional is a better description, and he barely reacted, partially because to him it did not actually affect him in any way.
It went the best with Melbourne Guy, who is possibly the only one where I have disclosed and been met with open minded kindness and acceptance. It genuinely did not affect his impression/thought of me and he saw me the same way afterwards.
That, alas, is generally not how disclosure of the dark and spiky things tends to go. Abject horror is the common theme. In the case of my friends, sometimes anger or rage. They accept me and my history, do not get me wrong, but it is still something that sets me apart. I guess what I am getting at is that there's definitely a Before and After disclosure too.
Currently my relationship sits in the blissful Before and I am loathe to shift that. My psychologist and I fundamentally disagree on this point, as she feels that I should disclose to him, essentially because that is what you do in these situations.
My argument has been a combination of the following points:
1) This will make him really really upset and hurt him. I don't think he's going to deal very well with the notion of what was done to me. That will be traumatic for him.
I have discussed it with my good friends who all know, and they have for the most part agreed with me that I don't have to tell him if I don't want to. My concern is that we have been together now for 7 months and counting, at what point does a lack of disclosure constitute a lie? Is it going to be worse if he finds out later and (perhaps legitimately) thinks I should have told him earlier?
Truthfully #1 has been my main motivator thus far for keeping it to myself, but now it's becoming something that feels like it is looming over me and shadowing my future. The fault line as I said is primarily dormant, but if I have a daughter, I don't know what I will be like. Am I going to have a problem with him being in a bathroom with her- not because of him, but because of what happened to me in the bathroom so many years ago?
My stress and concern over disclosing is ironically causing the fault line to shift again. Which makes me double down on the idea of doing it, because now I am afraid. I know that it will change things- not that he won't love me, but that he won't be able to handle what happened to me precisely because he loves me.
He's very protective- not controlling at all, but protective. He gets emotional and tears up if I get upset and cry. He absolutely hates to see me in emotional or physical pain and reacts very strongly in those situations- even if I stub my toe he is by my side in an instant with cuddles and kisses and mewling noises of sympathy. How the actual fuck is he going to deal when he hears about what happened across 4 fucking years, and the part my mother played by enabling it because she couldn't possibly not be married? How's he going to handle knowing what happened to me later at that party when I was 19, and the many many other instances where shit got out of hand and I felt unsafe? Not well, I can tell you that.
He's one of the good ones, and he is a big believer in consent, but not really in a conscious sense, it's more it would never occur to him to think the other way. And because he genuinely likes and respects women he struggles to recognise that the world does not think that way. I can say with absolute certainty that if he was on twitter a few months ago with the avalanche of #metoo he would have been crying reading it all, and those women aren't even me.
And so I have been educating him and bringing him out of the male privilege bubble (I hope), but this has all been abstract so far- discussions of TV shows and characters and politics and other people we know. And he reflects on what I tell him, and files it away, along with my reactions and the things that bother me.
He hasn't asked me yet. Yet. He did ask me questions about the Boy the other night. Side bar- the Boy's mum died and I wasn't sure whether or not to contact him. The BF listened to what happened and was surprisingly cutthroat "He hasn't treated you with respect, you don't owe him anything." And then later he asked me worriedly "But he didn't do anything else to you did he?" With this look of panic with a hint of contained rage. Yeah, so that was just about a dude that strung me along, mostly because his own life was a mess, so how's the dark and spiky stuff going to go?!
Part of me hopes he won't ask any more- I made him listen to a particular Savagelove episode (#514 for everyone at home if you want to use it, it's great, covers off a range of issues including consent, and the 'what are you into'? convo) where he discusses that people have the right to privacy in a relationship, particularly when it comes to trauma. I feel this has bought me time, but I am not sure how much.
And I am also not sure if it is unfair of me to sit on this, and then run the risk of if there are children involved suddenly having it all blow up in our faces. Does he have a right to know? Or maybe he doesn't because it's my life and my history?
The irony is, we can and do talk about literally everything else, but this, this I am continuing to keep under wraps for now. Hopefully that doesn't make me a horrible person.