I am discovering only now at 40, the very troubled relationship I have with boundaries, physical touch and being able to say NO!
It is no surprise that all of this is difficult for me having been sexually abused by the man who was given the job of protecting and nurturing me. To compound the issue, any misgivings I had about what HE was doing to me were silenced and shamed by my mother’s absolute denial of my reality and her inability to validate my feelings and give me any comfort and protection.
I am thinking about this today because I went for a full body massage yesterday. It was a Thai woman who did the massage and she did a breast massage too. At the time, it didn’t feel creepy at all and she asked me beforehand. But now I am feeling bad about it, like I did something wrong or shameful. When I told my friend about the massage, I left that bit out thinking that she would think I was strange. I started thinking about whether I really was ok with it, or just went along with because that is what I do as a default. Was I really okay with it. How could someone not know what their body wants and doesn’t want? How could someone not be in touch with their body enough to know whether something felt okay or not? Well I’ll tell you that it IS possible to be so far from your own body and instincts because of childhood sexual abuse.
I know that when I was 15 I went to the doctor by myself and he took advantage of my vulnerability. A very upstanding doctor who had daughters my age and who ran church trips for teenagers. He told me to remove my bra so that he could listen to my heartbeat properly ( because of course there is no other way you can do it!!!). I remember removing my bra without protest and sitting there frozen in time while he breathed heavily over me with his stethoscope. I didn’t tell my parents, why would I, when I was already full of so many other shameful secrets. I told my ex-husband about it many years later and he made me feel bad about it. How could I just agree to take off my bra? What was wrong with me?
Of course I know now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. My innocence was robbed and my boundaries were violated in the worst possible way during those crucial formative years. It affected me profoundly and I don’t need to feel bad about myself anymore. I only need to hold myself close and say it’s okay, it’s okay that I had a breast massage it’s okay that I am like this because how else would I be, given what happened. It is recognition of what happened and how it affected me and it is validation of me finally.