It Happens To Little Boys Too

Not All of the Monsters are Men

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Trigger warning: Sexual trauma, hate speech, child molestation and abuse are discussed

Note for reposted article: I originally wrote this article in July 2018, and it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever written. I had significant personal fallout as a result of it, and subsequently took it offline for a while. I’m sharing it again, to be a voice for those that can’t say what I did here. If this article speaks to you, you are not alone. Many thousands of people read this article, and the positive support was overwhelming. This happened, and it continues to happen. Be strong, and know you are loved, and still a man.

“The child I was is just one breath away from me.” — Sheniz Janmohamed

I heard him say “I thought so,” and the words cut right through me like a knife. He knew, he had suspected, and of course he had done nothing about it. I always knew my father never loved me, but I believed he should know. I needed to tell someone. I was crying into the phone, my hand aching with how tightly I clenched the receiver in my hand. My world was crashing down on me with the weight of knowing, and I had needed to say the words, actually speak them out loud.

“My mother molested me.”

Families often have traditions and mine was no different. There was an insidious pattern of sexual abuse going back a long way in mine. My grandfather experienced it and my mother did as well. When my mother had a son, she continued that ugly tradition.

My father’s idea of love was making a paycheck and tolerating his two children. He believed that sparing the rod only spoiled the child, and I was in no way ever spoiled. Nearly anything could set him off, described by one therapist as a non-alcoholic alcoholic, but his savage beatings left little to no mark on me emotionally. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized I had been physically abused at all, completely deluded. Still, I don’t see him as anything other than a weak man devoid of love, who never wanted the children that trapped him with my mother.

My mother was a controlling, manipulative, narcissistic woman who doted on her daughter like a princess, but seemed conflicted about her son, a mere toad. As a child I strongly resembled her father, her own abuser, and that seemed to cause her distress. I was the other child, the quiet one, the annoyance. I existed to financially support her when I was to grow into an adult, and she actively did what she could to dissuade me from ever having a girlfriend, actually hoping I would be gay and never marry. She would always comment about how disgusting other women were, and was constantly belittling, insulting and emotionally abusing me. I could never do anything right, and she made sure I knew that. Every success I had, she would knock down — a habit she’d learned from her father.

I wasn’t a happy child growing up, but usually was very withdrawn. For much of my young life I showed little to no emotion at all. I was also very obese, with my first concept of body image born out of being called “fatso” by other school children, when I was only six years old. I was painfully awkward, and picked on a great deal, and when I started noticing girls at a much too young age, I didn’t know how to feel or talk to them. My first date didn’t occur until I was 16, and while it seemed nice at the time, it went nowhere. I simply didn’t know how to talk to girls, and they scared the hell of of me.

As a young adult, I would become smitten with girls I knew and would suffer it alone in silence, knowing that they didn’t like me in return. My family would actively sabotage, while seeming to be helpful, any interaction I had with the few girls that showed any interest in me at all. I remember going to dance clubs, dancing with friends, and all I wanted was to dance with someone on the last slow dance of the night. Many female friends would concede, but I was always alone. I had a couple first dates that never had seconds, and every last one of them made me feel more alone.

When I was 23, my father asked me if I’d lost my virginity yet. On a hunch I lied and said I had. His was response was disturbing as he retorted, “good, I was starting to think you were a faggot!” Out of a need to not bring down his religious ire and my regret for having lied to him, I promptly found a prostitute in a local sex paper and paid to no longer be a virgin. When I got home that night, I took a scalding hot shower trying to wash the disgust and shame away, sobbing uncontrollably on the shower floor. I was no longer a virgin, but I had still not ever kissed a woman.

Despite contemplating suicide much of my young life, I managed to find a woman was willing to marry me, my first ever girlfriend at 25 with whom I had a deeply unhealthy relationship with, and I still struggled in so many ways to relate to her. My mother’s attempt to scare her away by me pushing me to propose to her backfired and we married very quickly. My mother still had so much control over my life, and soon knowing my wife was pregnant with our child, I needed to sort myself out and attempt to be a good father. I went to a therapist, and after a short time, the memories of what had happened when I was a little boy starting to flood back. My own mother had sexually abused me in numerous ways, and I could barely hold myself together.

I broke off family ties, to protect my child, and I never saw my mother again. My first marriage deteriorated not long after.

Sexual trauma is not something you can just get over. As an adult, one instance can have significant impact on the rest of your life. When it happens as a young child, it’s imprinted into your very being. I remember some psychologist writing that being sexual molested as a young child creates a second gender identity — for me the healthy male was never an option, but the survivor male is who I became. All the times I held a blade to my wrist, a gun to my temple or stood atop a high railing looking down at my potential death, I stepped back. I’m still here and I’m still alive. But the shadow of what happened to me is felt in my every interaction with a woman, once I pass the friendship threshold. On a certain deep level, I will probably never completely extricate the fact that a woman was the monster that hurt me as a little defenseless boy, and to make it worse, it was the one person that was supposed to protect me from all the monsters out there.

What happened wasn’t pleasurable in any way. It was a violation, painful and ugly. Sex is still confusing to me, but with a lot of work, reading and mistakes, I’ve become good at being an attentive lover. It can take a while for me to actually enjoy sex, so my focus has led to interests beyond traditional coitus to allow for that time. I don’t feel a deep longing in my Southern regions often until I build a connection with a woman, one that is usually only found on the other side of trust being built. Some woman are unable or unwilling to reach that place with me. As a result I don’t rush to have sex, and when I do get there it means a lot to me. Yet still to this day, the thing that has more emotional impact on me, that makes me feel whole, is when a woman just holds me, loves me, and let’s me know that she won’t hurt me. Some men have elaborate fantasies, but that has always been mine.

But what further complicates matters is many don’t want to believe me when I’ve shared this part of me. I’ve had people in my life, partners included, who told me to suck it up and get over it, that it didn’t happen, and to just be a man about it. Some think it’s funny to say “nice” and that it’s something to joke about. Others have reacted with frightened revulsion, calling me sick and disgusting to ever think a mother can do something like that. I’ve even had a therapist respond “now why do you want to believe that happened to you?” as if it’s some delusion I make up to feel special? I didn’t want this. I don’t want to tremble when a woman I’m with touches me for the first few times. I don’t want to afraid of a woman I’m attracted to. I don’t want that deep down feeling that I’m sullied and not worth being loved by anyone. I’ve come to terms with this, and healed myself, but it doesn’t ever completely go away. Tears are falling now as I write this.

To be very clear, I am very much a committed feminist and ally — my mother was a victim too. I’ve had supposed feminists tell me that to talk about this is to somehow hurting women, and that I should not say anything that could make women look like the predators they have to deal with. One told me “now you know how we feel, good!” It’s as if my experiences could tarnish all the hard work they’ve done to protect woman and girls from sexual abuse. It’s as if I deserved it, to pay for the sins of other men. I don’t hate women, I’m the father of a woman now. I am writing this because I’m not the only man that lives with this. I’m not alone, and other men you know may have survived child molestation, some by female caretakers and family. It happens to us too.

I broke the chain of abuse, and I didn’t pass this horrid family tradition on to my children. I am here, living my life and trying my best to be a good and loving man and father. I carried this secret within me, and I’m here to say it happened and to be seen. I was hurt, but I healed. I was violated, but I’m standing proud. I wasn’t loved, but I will love openly, fiercely and freely!


Demisexual Disconnection

How To Break Or Mend When The Emotional Signal Is Lost

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Photo by Paul Garaizar on Unsplash

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness. If it doesn’t feel vulnerable, the sharing is probably not constructive.” — Brene Brown

It was six months to the day, of that wonderful evening I’d spent with her. She’d approached me that evening with a comment about my clothing, and over a couple hours our conversation transitioned into dancing, cuddling together, kissing and sharing. She’d shown such beautiful vulnerability and I couldn’t help but be smitten, to form an emotional connection faster than I’d ever had before. She was kind, affectionate, playful and free. When she kissed me my knees went weak, and she was so beautiful in my eyes. This dancing enchantress had me completely under her spell.

Life can be cruel sometimes, and our attempts to see one another kept failing. It was as if the universe was stepping in to prevent us from having a relationship. After a few weeks, her interest in trying to see me had clearly subsided. While the door was never closed, be both agreed that seeing each other wasn’t in the cards then. We kept in contact via social media, but even in time that lessened.

I tried to move on, and after a couple months I went on a few dates with others. I realized much later that my heart just wasn’t in it. I would get the occasional like or comment from her, and my heart would leap. A single message could make my entire day, as well as confuse me greatly. I ached for something that wasn’t meant to be, and my thoughts drifted to her often. It was at this point that I reached out to a friend, to try to reconcile my feelings, to process and understand them. I came to realize that I was still emotionally bonded to her, deeply attracted to the woman she was. I couldn’t move on until I took steps to break this connection that now only existed for me. I needed to disconnect.

Sexual attraction comes in many flavors and varieties among people. People can be attracted to others of the same gender, opposite gender or some combination of all of the spectrum in between. Some can have and pursue more than romantic relationship ethically, whiles others can only handle loving one person. But there’s also the nature of sexual attraction as a capacity. Some people are asexual, experiencing no sexual attraction. Others are allosexual, experiencing primary sexual attraction based on the physical aspects of a person. Simply put, they see someone as hot and therefore are sexually attracted to them.

Others fall somewhere in between, grey asexuality, not always experiencing sexual attraction, but sometimes to a lesser degree. Whether or not they act upon this is another matter, but they are able to experience physical attraction without knowing a person deep down.

But there is another kind of grey asexual, known as demisexual. Demisexuals do not experience lasting sexual attraction based on physical aspects, but rather on a deep emotional connection. Our attraction is secondary, once we know a person in an emotionally intimate way. We are more inclined to become attracted to a person who is a close friend, rather than via conventional dating, because a sexy outfit doesn’t ensnare our desire, but a vulnerable heart does. Many will claim that this is normal, but we simply don’t find people beautiful on the outside, in a sexually attractive manner, until we see them as beautiful on the inside. I’ve written on this concept in the past, so for the sake of brevity will not go into more details now

The foundation of attraction, both initially and continuing, is through deep emotional connection. We as demisexuals can bond in many ways, sometimes over a long time and, while less common, sometimes rather quickly through a powerful shared experience. I’ve experienced connection a number of times in my life, and they formed in very different ways. Yet, when I saw who a person really was inside and realized they saw me for who I am, it was as if a veil was lifted from my eyes, and their attractiveness became quite overwhelming. The experience of how incredibly beautiful and sexy someone can become, when before you maybe didn’t even seen them as all that aesthetically attractive, is often a very powerful revelation.

But the nature of any connection is that it needs to be maintained. This is the one difficulty that many allosexuals will often have in a relationship with a demisexual person, we are not zero maintenance partners. You looking hot is not what keeps us desiring you. You being genuine and vulnerable is. A single cruel action can be devastating to our connection, and emotional wounds can be harder to heal that physical ones.

Still, when we have an unrequited connection, releasing it can be difficult. For some of us, it can be months, years, or even decades between these connections, and even an untenable or unhealthy connection can feel like a precious thing we can’t let go of easily. While many people will pine for lost love, for a demisexual a connection can makes us feel very human. We live in a highly sexualized world, and a connection can make us feel normal, or more accurately allonormative. When we don’t have a connection, we often feel like strangers in a strange land, with people going on about how hot celebrities and models are, and us just scratching our heads.

Disconnecting from a non viable relationship can be done, but as a demisexual you need to employ some emotional tools to break that connection. It can be painful, but freeing yourself can open up new possibilities. The friend I reached out to in regards to my earlier shared connection, a fellow demisexual, became my partner in time. Had I personally not disconnected, I would not have been able to be completely emotionally available with her. Here are some methods of breaking a hopeless connection:

  1. Identify the reasons you connected. Demisexual connection is not based on logical constructs, but emotional experience. We need to understand what were the feelings that allowed us to grow attracted to this person. Was it a shared conversation about a past trauma or a deeply personal wish? Was it time together, laughing and understanding one another? For my example, the way this past woman danced with me struck a chord, and she partner danced with me, which felt intimate. It was also the way she giggled, blushed and shared her vulnerability with me. For someone who is allosexual, it’s often something about them physically that attracted them initially. What is the thing that started you to see them as attractive. There’s always a tipping point and knowing that will help you understand the why. Once you know the why, you can start deconstructing it in your mind, chocking it up to something no longer relatable, to help diminish that connection.
  2. Determine what your new red flags are. In order to help sever an emotional connection, you need to identify things that now serve as red flags. Arguably, this is easier if the relationship has abusive or neglectful aspects to it, but even if no one did anything wrong, functional red flags can be identified to establish the closure your heart needs. In my case, the complete lack of her being interested anymore as anything other than a platonic friend was one. Another, was the realization that we were too different on fundamental levels. As a demisexual, we often can overlook things that could be deal breakers, because our emotional connection is our driving focus. In the way that an allosexual may lose attraction for a partner over a weight loss or gain, an overlooked habit or political view can become very powerful ally to break your connection with them. This isn’t assuming your person of attraction did anything wrong, but this serves as a tool to help separate your feelings and give reasons that the relationship isn’t viable emotionally.
  3. Establish distance. If this person is still in your life, on a regular basis, try to minimize interaction, as proximity can often complicate matters. Being around a person can easily reinforce your connection. If you work together, or live together, this can be exceedingly more difficult, but explain that you need a little personal distance to sort your feelings out. Physical distance can do much to aid you to building emotional distance.
  4. Give it time. There will be times you can disconnect quickly, almost instantly, but if you are struggling to release an unwanted connection, time and introspection will help. Refocus your attention on hobbies or work. Cultivate a new interest, or even binge watch a show that has nothing to do with relationships. In even a week’s time, that intense connection can and will begin to ease.
  5. There is strength in numbers. Spend time with friends and loved ones. For me, reaching out to a friend for perspective led to a closer friendship with her. In time I was thinking about my friend quite often and started to see how truly beautiful she was on the inside, and how breathtaking she was on the outside. We connected, fell for each other and she is was my partner for a while.

So, those are tools for ending a connection, but what about when your connection with someone weakens due to life and it’s bad habit of screwing with you? Stress in other areas of your life can filter into your relationships, and your partner or you having a bad day can sometimes result in damaging words said in the heat of the moment. If your relationship is abusive, I’d recommend in earnest counseling. However, if you just hit a bump, it will be of benefit to use the above five tools in a definitely different direction.

  1. Identify the reasons you connected. As above, understanding why and how you connected could lead you to recreate those same feelings again with a willing partner. Revisit the place where you had that intense conversation. Maybe recreate an emotionally charged date you had together. Spend an evening re-sharing stories you experienced to help rebuild your connection.
  2. Reinforce your original green flags. Remember the amazing things about your partner. Remember how easy it was to overlook those same habits that may have become annoying in time. See the person as a whole being, flawed and imperfect, and thus just as they should be. Remember the person you were originally attracted to, and find them again through the mire that weakened this view for you.
  3. Establish closeness. Distance will not help a weakened connection, and even if physical closeness isn’t an option, find ways to spend more time together. If you can, get away for a weekend at say a bed and breakfast. Or, take a couple days off and have a staycation, where you stay in bed too long and spend time just holding one another. Rebuild your emotional intimacy, even if it’s through video chat or long phone calls. Be with this person completely, and leave technological distractions on silent.
  4. Give it time. You may need some time to rebuild a waning connection, but with time and the perseverance of a willing partner, it can be done. If you took time to fall for them, you can do it again.
  5. There is strength in unity. Focus on making the time spent with your partner be quality time. Leave discussion of world events and finances to a minimum, instead address the value of each other. Avoid outside influences that may wish to lead you astray. Often times friends won’t be able to see what you saw in your partner, and what you wish to see again.

As demisexuals, we are wired so differently, and to many we are a type of unicorn partner for our capacity to be highly empathetic and attentive. But, we are not always easy partners to have if we are not valued. Reciprocity is very important for maintaining a connection, as one of the things we want the most for our partners is their happiness. We also can have a very hard time letting go. I hope these tools serve to aid you. I learned them the hard way. I wish for you to lead an easier path in your lives and connections.

Life is complicated, and stuff happens, but we’d give the sun, moon and stars to our partners, if they only share with, and value, our hearts.