I’d like to preface this ramble by saying that for once, I’m not having a mood swing due to the weather. There ARE weather shifts right now, and my spine feels a bit like a soft pretzel left under the heat lamp all day. But this post is not coming from my usual dark and melancholy mindset. Which is why this may be the best time to explain my issues and why I get all bent out of shape when people say, “You’re a good person, Zoe.”
You would think paying an easy compliment was a good thing, and not something to trigger a person into rage. Well that’s because you didn’t spend ten years with therapists and counselors talking over you with compliments to deny what you were saying. The first step to getting help may be reaching out to others, but nothing is accomplished in this endeavor if the other person denies everything you say, and then tells you how to think about your own life. In fact, after having this happen ten or twenty times with so-called trained professionals, dealing with the same kind of behavior in armchair therapists would very likely send you into a rage too.
I’ve already explained many times that I was abused at 7, and that I for years could not see this as abuse because it didn’t seem so bad compared to being stomped into the ground by older boys. It’s hard to see being cuddled and fondled as a bad thing when the day before, you got beaten bloody for forgetting yourself and skipping because you thought you were alone. Good times. (That was sarcasm. It was sheer hell.)
The result of these months long affairs is that I became conditioned to want a physical connection with people. With all people. Inside me is this scared little kid who needs a reassurance that everything is all right, and the only thing that works is physical contact. It doesn’t have to be sexual. I just need to cuddle to feel right.
And wouldn’t you know it? I live in a world of people who HATE being touched or having their personal space invaded for any reason. I live in a world where people are terribly afraid of intimacy, but love physical violence. Don’t deny this and act like I’m making shit up. I’ve been beaten too many times to believe in your utopian visions of your society. I know how you folks can explode for no reason and attack someone else, so I repress myself because I fear you, and I try to avoid touching people. I feel shame for what I want, so I don’t look people in the eye. I can’t look at other people without enforcing a five second rule. Count to five and look away, because that person doesn’t want a freak like me in their life.
Some of you don’t get my low-self esteem, or you think I’m being too careful. This is because you can’t grasp what happens in this warped head of mine when I look at other people. I can find just about anyone attractive. Gather a group of my past lovers, and you’ll find model-thin skinny chicks and you’ll find just as many large-framed women. You’ll only find two guys, because after being beaten senseless by guys, and being blackmailed and sexually assaulted by my first boyfriend, I have severe trust issues with dudes. But you look at hubby, and he’s no bodybuilder. He’s not taller than me, nor does he have movie star looks. But the first time I saw his picture, I still felt attracted to him. My definition of ugly is so slim, I can be attracted to almost everyone.
And, that’s a major problem. I go out for a walk, and in two blocks, I can be physically attracted to 20 people. If I don’t respect the five second rule, I’ll begin fantasizing about those people right then and there. This thing inside me is so, so very persuasive. What I want isn’t so bad. I just want to touch people, to make a momentary connection, and maybe to make them feel good. The fact that they’re complete strangers isn’t important, and the logic that normal people freak the fuck out at being touched doesn’t matter to this inner voice.
Some people who I try to explain this to say “Hey, that’s no big deal. We’re all attracted to others.” Again, you’re failing to understand the scope of my addiction. Because that’s exactly what this is, an addiction to want physical contact with everyone. When I give in to it, the people I do touch are reduced to objects. I take their feelings for granted, and contact becomes about what I need. I’ve hurt a number of lovers because once I had what I wanted, I felt guilt and became colder to them to prevent myself from becoming addicted to touching them. I seek people out and use them, and then I push them away. That’s not healthy or good, is it? No.
And some of you may still think to say, “But you are a good person because you don’t do that.” No, I’m really not. Simply avoiding my problem by way of isolation doesn’t mean I’m better. It just means I’m avoiding temptation. I can’t get over this and have normal contact with other people without my addiction becoming an issue and making me feel like shit. I break my five second rule, and my imagination is making up a sex scene for everyone. Which is not so evil when I’m imagining hot sex with that buff guy in the subway. Everyone can fantasize like that and see it as no big deal. But I can look at your grandmother and think the same thing. And—this is the part that’s going to offend many of you—I can look at someone way too young and end up having the same thoughts. Gender doesn’t matter to my addiction any more than age does. That’s a major, MAJOR problem. If I let go of my tight control on my mind, I can objectify anyone, anytime, anywhere.
When and if I can get people to understand this, there is no sympathy for me. The fact that I’m like this because I was beaten and molested doesn’t matter. Because I’m at risk of being a predator, people put distance between me and themselves, like I’m going to do something evil to them or their family. It’s an emotional catch-22. I have a need for people to understand me, and I feel hurt that once they do, they think I’m evil and want nothing to do with me. I know I need isolation, but that doesn’t mean I’m always happy with it. In fact, this lonely existence is what leads to my deepest depressions, knowing that I will never be mentally fit enough to join y’all in our modern society without feeling like a monster hiding out among you.
Which is agonizing that there’s no middle ground. If you don’t know me, you compliment me as a good person because I seem so restrained despite years of torture and abuse. If I can make you understand the monster I’m keeping reined in, you hate my guts. And not because of anything I’ve done. You hate me because of the potential harm I can cause. And what’s majorly fucked about that is, I don’t have plans to beat anyone, or to rape them and leave them scarred and broken. I’m a smaller, less significant form of evil, an objectifier who wants to snuggle naked with you.
I remember one of my less kind reviewers of Peter the Wolf said she found it unrealistic that anyone could think about sex all the time with anyone. I suppose that’s what makes fiction frustrating, that even when I base a story off of something real, there’s going to be someone to say “But that couldn’t happen in the real world.” It’s not true. What is true is, they can’t think of anyone suffering under this condition, so they refuse to believe it could be real. They don’t want to think that the end result of abuse and torture might lead to a broken person who can’t be healed with simple placating words.
But there you go. This is my problem, and there is no easy cure for me. It’s why I worked in jobs that isolated me from people. It’s why I keep my reins held tight, why I come across as “refined” to strangers meeting me for the first time. Just like a tobacco addict never truly quits smoking, my addiction is always there, leaving the risk that I could become a monster. I have no delusions about society’s response to a monster like me, because without prompting from me, on any given day people just jump up and say things like “If I knew one of these predators, I’d beat them to death.” Or they say, “I’d just like five minutes alone with that…that thing.” I’ve seen nice people drop their humanity and unleash animal rage over sexual predators of all kinds. And the sad thing (to me, anyway) is that they don’t get nearly as outraged at murderers. You can kill people and be feared. But to be truly hated and loathed, you’ve got to touch someone gently. The softer your methods of abuse are, the more you’re loathed in this world. Nobody wishes a murderer gets raped in prison, but everyone hopes a molester is tortured by the bigger, meaner monsters in prison. Isn’t that fucked up, how sex unleashes the unreasoning monster in everyone, but violence is okay?
I digress. No, I’m not a good person just because I stay in my room. Goodness is not the result of living without temptation. That’s in the Bible, people. You know who said it? If you don’t, you don’t know your so-called savior very well. But I took those words to heart, and I realized I am an addict. I cannot live a normal life, so I have to isolate myself. And on the surface, that may seem like a good thing. But people walk away from me when they realize I’m not really good. I’m just a monster who’s tired of being beaten by other people. So I stay in my little cave, and I make up fake people to pose and play with. And even that offends some people, but they can only “hit me” with insults and unfavorable reviews. That still leaves some emotional bruises, but those tend to heal faster than real bruises or broken bones.
I’m the girl you warn your entire family about, the one you gather the whole family and walk away from FAST. I’m the thing that you fear worse than a serial killer. That’s why I lose my shit when someone who doesn’t know about my addiction says, “Zoe, you’re a good person.”
No, I’m not, not by a long-shot, and I just want you to understand this without pushing you over into hating me.