A topic I'd like to discuss to gain some insight.

Lavender Tea

Registrant
Hello lovely people that have decided to take a look at this. I have an issue that’s been nagging at me for a while that I’m not sure what to do with. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure it’s an issue at all, but the people around me can’t seem to let it go. So perhaps you could help me make sense of this all with an outside perspective.

As some of you may or may not know I was in an unhealthy relationship for many years, just over 20 years actually. And now that I’m on the outside looking in, I’ve found myself with many thoughts, opinions, and beliefs that I’m starting to see are all distorted in one way or another. One in particular that tends to often become a topic of discussion.

Before I start, I would like to clarify something first. My relationship with the man I’m going to talk about was complicated, and I’m not sure how I want to define it. Technically speaking, he was my husband. Now he has passed away and I’m not sure how I ought to refer to him. He’s not my husband anymore, but I also don’t want to refer to him as my ex-husband or ex, something about it still doesn’t feel right. Therefore, I will simply call him by his name, Michael, for the time being.

Let me explain.
Michael set many rules for me, some that to this day I don’t understand. One of these rules was that anyone that referred to me was to refer to me as Ma’am, Miss, Mrs, Madam, a woman, or as his wife. He himself referred to me as his wife and a woman as well. However, he still used he / him pronouns and had others use he / him pronouns for me as well. And if anyone asked, he would say I was male, he never denied that. I think it goes without question that it’s left me confused. Not about my gender, but just in general. I know I’m male and I am 100% comfortable with that identity, however, the thought referring to myself as a man is odd. It just doesn’t sound right. Does this make any sense at all? I suppose it may just be what I’m used to. Is this bad, is this something I need to change?

I feel like this all sounds stupid, but its been on my mind for some time now. My parents insist I use masculine words when talking about myself. My partner says he doesn’t want to tell me what to call myself and he will respect whatever I choose, however he doesn’t think it's right. And those are the only people I have in my life, so the input is limited. I feel like at this rate we have this discussion daily. Anytime the topic is brought up by anyone referring to me as anything it turns into a full-fledged argument, and I’m tired of it.

Thank you for your time, I appreciate you for reading this.
-Florence
 
You may feel comfortable with the fact you're a man, but the journey you describe is so fraught with trauma I would be surprised if there wasn't confusion about who you are. Your father rejected you because you were gay... you left home in your mid-teens and the woman who offered to protect you essentially pimped you out to men who did whatever to/with you. When she was tired of her role she passed you along/sold you to Michael who took control of your life, and told you and everyone around you how you must describe yourself. What to call Michael is really the least important thing here because despite the fact you found comfort with him for many years, he was simply a perpetrator controlling your life for his benefit. You had no free agency with him.

I know in your introduction you said you were telling only part of the story. What you did share sounded horrific to me. Honestly, I'm not certain you see the horror in it. But that is what trauma does to us... we believe we're the problem, not the situation. And so we try hard to do it right, to have the answer. You ended your introduction with this statement...

...Maybe someday I’ll recognize the truth of the things I’ve omitted here. Maybe someday I’ll be able to face those memories as a part of my past.
But that day isn’t today.
I respect that. There are memories here you will eventually feel ready to explore. Until then I believe every man here will support you in defining who you are exactly as YOU wish. You no longer need to comply with anyone else's definition of who you are. To us you're a male survivor of trauma, here with your brothers in healing.
 

manipulated

Moderator
Staff member
To us you're a male survivor of trauma, here with your brothers in healing.
Lavender Tea zvisitor has said it well. I understand your confusion which is now compounded by the shock of his desth and every death is a shock.what matters is you and what and how you see yourself which for everyone evolves over time. In any event always helps to write these thoughts out and share with others who will support us. Welcome brother. Here I hope you find the support I have.
 

Eph320NY

Registrant
Coming from a genderfluid background, what you shared makes perfect sense to me.

But that is what trauma does to us... we believe we're the problem, not the situation.
This definitely was the case in my SA.

I’ve found myself with many thoughts, opinions, and beliefs that I’m starting to see are all distorted in one way or another.
This is another thing trauma does. It does have a distorting effect on how we view things, especially our own story.
 

Lavender Tea

Registrant
despite the fact you found comfort with him for many years, he was simply a perpetrator controlling your life for his benefit.
This is the part that may just be what gets to me the most. The fact that because of him my mind got so twisted and warped that I believed punishment was love. I mean you could've left the front door wide open with proof of safety and happiness on the other side, but I would've stayed. I know had anyone taken me from him I would've run back. My mind wasn't mine anymore.


What you did share sounded horrific to me. Honestly, I'm not certain you see the horror in it. But that is what trauma does to us... we believe we're the problem, not the situation.
And you're probably right in that. I've noticed that as time has progressed, more and more things are starting to look darker and more twisted. I've been writing almost everyday lately, just trying to get my thoughts in order and make some sense of them, as well as to keep track of the thoughts. I've gone back and read things I wrote several weeks ago, and I'm starting to notice how messed up those thoughts are. It hurts because I feel like I can't trust my own thoughts. He got into my head so bad that even months after he's died the things he got me to think are still in there. And after all this time the worst I am able to say of him is that he wasn't healthy for me. I know that's putting things kindly, and there are slowly more words that are coming to mind, but I'm still not able to say them or write them down. Not only that but I still get angry at my parents when they speak badly of him, even though I know there is truth in the words they say. In the past I would immediately jump to his defense and deny any wrongdoings they accused him of. I would defend him by establishing myself as the problem, saying it was me that caused these things. And I said those things because at the time I believed it. I believed he could do no wring and that any punishment I received was well deserved. And speaking badly of him even in the slightest was always punishable. And I've been realizing that I'm likely still scared of that punishment, and that that is why I speak of him the way I do. Regardless of the fact that he has died.
So I think I'm starting to see it, but I don't like what I'm starting to see. And quite honestly, part of me is scared of seeing more.
 

don64

Registrant
Hi Lavender Tea, I have read ‘when in doubt, do nothing, right action is obvious.’ It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. It only matters what you think. It sounds like you have confused what others think and believe with how you feel. My experience is it can take up to very long periods of time to clarify my thoughts. The thoughts underpinning beliefs can be influenced by decades of experience, sometimes going back to infancy. I have found it doesn’t pay to rush things. I didn’t remember the abuse from my father until age 53 and my mother’s abuse until age 63. I needed tools to deal with those traumas, tools that took decades to acquire.

You may find the tools you need accumulating a little at a time. And, you may find your ability to understand yourself improving a little bit at the time. It may be like muscle training, finding yourself strengthening little bit by little bit. I have found that that I am led according to where I am developmentally. Think of the tortoise and the hare fable, and decide for yourself whether faster is better. I have found a slow plodding pace improves stamina. Stamina increases my ability to foster change in my life without scaring me, and helps foster a sense of peacefulness in my life.

Sending you love and support, Don
 

Eph320NY

Registrant
So I think I'm starting to see it, but I don't like what I'm starting to see. And quite honestly, part of me is scared of seeing more.
It can be scary.. It does take courage to face these things. Take your time, when you are ready to face it, you will have the courage then.
 
Deep respect for all the hard work you're doing Florence. Trauma is very destabilizing and our brains don't make it any easier to find a clear picture of exactly what happened and exactly how we felt about it all. You're perhaps heard of the Stockholm Syndrome that tells of how captives begin to identify with their captors. It is safer to join with the person in control of your life than to continue to struggle against the bad things that are happening to you. Clearly, that is what happened for you with Michael. We often read about how perpetrators groom us before they take what they want. Michael didn't have to groom you but he was certainly adept in training you... and not in a healthy way.

It is good that you're writing about this and even going back to read what you've written in the past. This is an unfolding process as Don suggests and we can only see what we can see. The important thing is you are sharing what is coming up for you with men capable of listening without judgment. Writing the words and reading comments will surely help you find clarity... if not immediately, then with time. You're not alone with this material, which is the most important thing. Stay with us my friend and use this website as a place to explore what for so long was buried. It is possible to heal, but it takes time.
 

Trapped765

Registrant
Hello lovely people that have decided to take a look at this. I have an issue that’s been nagging at me for a while that I’m not sure what to do with. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure it’s an issue at all, but the people around me can’t seem to let it go. So perhaps you could help me make sense of this all with an outside perspective.

As some of you may or may not know I was in an unhealthy relationship for many years, just over 20 years actually. And now that I’m on the outside looking in, I’ve found myself with many thoughts, opinions, and beliefs that I’m starting to see are all distorted in one way or another. One in particular that tends to often become a topic of discussion.

Before I start, I would like to clarify something first. My relationship with the man I’m going to talk about was complicated, and I’m not sure how I want to define it. Technically speaking, he was my husband. Now he has passed away and I’m not sure how I ought to refer to him. He’s not my husband anymore, but I also don’t want to refer to him as my ex-husband or ex, something about it still doesn’t feel right. Therefore, I will simply call him by his name, Michael, for the time being.

Let me explain.
Michael set many rules for me, some that to this day I don’t understand. One of these rules was that anyone that referred to me was to refer to me as Ma’am, Miss, Mrs, Madam, a woman, or as his wife. He himself referred to me as his wife and a woman as well. However, he still used he / him pronouns and had others use he / him pronouns for me as well. And if anyone asked, he would say I was male, he never denied that. I think it goes without question that it’s left me confused. Not about my gender, but just in general. I know I’m male and I am 100% comfortable with that identity, however, the thought referring to myself as a man is odd. It just doesn’t sound right. Does this make any sense at all? I suppose it may just be what I’m used to. Is this bad, is this something I need to change?

I feel like this all sounds stupid, but its been on my mind for some time now. My parents insist I use masculine words when talking about myself. My partner says he doesn’t want to tell me what to call myself and he will respect whatever I choose, however he doesn’t think it's right. And those are the only people I have in my life, so the input is limited. I feel like at this rate we have this discussion daily. Anytime the topic is brought up by anyone referring to me as anything it turns into a full-fledged argument, and I’m tired of it.

Thank you for your time, I appreciate you for reading this.
-Florence
I am sorry you need to be here Lavender Tea, but very glad you are.
I have run across the situation before. The husband referred to his male partner as wife or female when in a social or family situation to emphasize that this person was his property. It let everyone including the wife know that!
The husband would use male terms when he was using or abusing "the wife" especially in bdsm scenes or just passing him around to other "husbands" in wife swapping scenes.
I don't know if that is what happened to you or not, only you could answer that. I wondered at the time if it wasn't the husband's way of dealing with treating someone he supposedly cared about abusively. Making them two separate people in his mind so he wouldn't feel guilty about it.
Blessed be peace unto you and good ripples brother.
 

Lavender Tea

Registrant
I am sorry you need to be here Lavender Tea, but very glad you are.
I have run across the situation before. The husband referred to his male partner as wife or female when in a social or family situation to emphasize that this person was his property. It let everyone including the wife know that!
The husband would use male terms when he was using or abusing "the wife" especially in bdsm scenes or just passing him around to other "husbands" in wife swapping scenes.
I don't know if that is what happened to you or not, only you could answer that. I wondered at the time if it wasn't the husband's way of dealing with treating someone he supposedly cared about abusively. Making them two separate people in his mind so he wouldn't feel guilty about it.
Blessed be peace unto you and good ripples brother.
That is.... eerily similar to my life.. With the exception that Michael never switched to using male terms at any time.
The property concept makes sense, Michael made it very clear early on that that is what I was. So in his case I don't think it was a matter making me two different people or to avoid guilt. I don't think he felt guilty at all.


It is safer to join with the person in control of your life than to continue to struggle against the bad things that are happening to you. Clearly, that is what happened for you with Michael. We often read about how perpetrators groom us before they take what they want. Michael didn't have to groom you but he was certainly adept in training you... and not in a healthy way.
I don't like how all this makes so much sense... part of my still tries to believe Michael was a good person, or at the very least that he was trying his best to be a good person...but everything you've said here is so fitting... I hate that I see myself in what you've written, I don't want it to be true... but I can't change reality..
 
It is a fine line we walk Florence. I know what my mother did when I was an infant pretty much destroyed my life, but when I describe her in my bio saying "Though not a monster she was a very troubled person and the terror she inflicted on me, beginning in infancy, was profound." I don't know Michael and to humanize him could very easily diminish the pain he caused you, which I believe would be a mistake. But Michael came to that meeting with you with a lifetime of his own. We don't become fixated on sex with young boys because we ate Wheaties, the "Breakfast of Champions" as kids. Sadly, sexual trauma is passed on from generation to generation simply because there are fucked up families all over the place, our own included.

The key to healing Florence does not come through focusing on Michael's better qualities, but rather in telling the truth of how what you experienced in that and earlier environments so diminished your capacity to live a full life. Trauma tends to make us small because that seems to be safer. It is not even a conscious decision to get small... we just do it... out body knows how. You are reclaiming your aliveness, and to do that you have to tell the whole truth, not a whitewashed version of what happened. And, you are doing that simply be having this conversation with all of us. This is not easy to do, but you can do it... as we are all doing it. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Stay at it my friend. We're here to support you along the way.
 
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