Please be aware this post could trigger child abuse / sexual abuse issues or memories. Let this be a trigger warning, please, before reading further.
I have one memory from childhood that qualifies as sexual misconduct. I am unable to discern if I was “asked” to witness this behavior several times when I was 6 or whether I was “asked” to engage in this behavior when I was 6 or both.
In any case, the behavior in question was/is pole dancing – a visual together with an audio track. I do not recall if I was exposed to such behavior on the television or a home movie screen or when visiting a neighbor. I do not recall whether I witnessed the behavior or was asked to provide the behavior. All I have as memories are a dark room with the figure of a woman or a girl pole dancing and making lewd sounds.
I honestly don’t know where to go from here. I don’t know if I have just “confronted” the abusive behavior and am now freed from its hold on me. I don’t know if I need to further explore the behavior in order to “make sense” of it. I don’t know if there is a slew of stigma now to overcome.
I have googled pole dancing and apparently now for some people it is a form of exercise. This sounds completely insane to me as my experience with pole dancing was extremely harmful and confusing and damaging. I am sorry to share details if these details disturb you. I am just trying to process something that happened over fifty years ago, to make whatever sense of it I can and move on.
I have shared this memory with my therapist several months back and her response was to acknowledge and move on but not to dwell.
Thank you for listening to my story. I hope it does not trigger your issues in any way.
Names and places have been changed in order to maintain privacy in these discussions.
During the fall of 1984 I was working on my thesis with a professor named Professor Dean Flannigan. My thesis topic was somewhat controversial as I was using Modern Fiction in my research and drawing conclusions from authors of the times like Alice Walker and Flannery O’Connor. I was looking at the way family is portrayed in Modern Fiction as an indicator of the socio-political developments and historical dynamics of the time. It felt like the English Department was not altogether in favor of such a modern approach to a thesis, yet approval for my thesis topic was provided by the relevant committee. This was a couple of years after my approval of a major in American Studies.
Professor Dean Flannigan is a story in and of itself and one which I will not detail right now except to say I now feel that Professor Flannigan was someone who needed to be revered and admired by his students yet also considered a peer. This situation was associated with risky behavior including serving cocaine to students in his home and invitations to Chicago which may have triggered my illness.
For me at the time, this was a “me too movement” moment. While I was not physically abused by Professor Flannigan, I believe I was psychologically abused. Professor Flannigan without any training tried to psychoanalyze me through the thesis advisement process and perhaps even tried to make me feel unstable. This unwarranted psychoanalysis triggered the response of a six-year-old child within me that likely experienced child abuse. Professor Flannigan’s attempts to psychoanalyze me I call psycho-social or psycho-sexual abuse. They left me with exposure of this six-year-old child with no way to regain security.
Today, I continue have high disregard for this professor and for Ivy College given the behavior of Professor Flannigan. I also readily agree now that I was not mature enough to distance myself from his later “come-ons” and “innuendos.” While an excellent scholar, I was not mature enough to tell Professor Flannigan to go to hell when he started to make advances toward me. I was confused with feelings of respect I held for him intellectually vying with feelings of confusion and paranoia at being asked to travel with him unaccompanied to Chicago.
Immediately after my first breakdown, Professor Flannigan began to distance himself from me in an effort to secure tenure. This effort to secure tenure was after he and I had several thesis review meetings, after he invited me to join him on a trip to Chicago, after he tried to analyze my childhood on several occasions and after he tried to seduce me into coming solo with him to Chicago and after making zodiac references to me like “Scorpio riseth…” I had no idea what that saying was supposed to mean. I also had no idea how to establish a boundary with Professor Flannigan. On the one-hand, I thought he was brilliant and a brilliant scholastic role model. On the other hand, I felt his actions to seduce me (as I understood them) were highly inappropriate. But I did not have the strength to articulate this to myself much less to him. If I had perhaps been more mature myself, I could have indicated to this Professor Flannigan that while I revered his intellect, I found great fault with his personal behavior. Bottom line I was emotionally too immature to know how to say no to a trip to Chicago or to an invitation toward some sort of sexual interlude. I was academically brilliant as a scholar but not so much so as a student to a professor who consistently pushed the boundaries of appropriate behavior.
Since that time, Professor Flannigan has enjoyed getting tenure at Ivy College and has secured virtually unprecedented popularity on campus. I, on the other hand, have not enjoyed similar successes particularly in my professional life which has been hampered over the years on numerous occasions by my illness.
There is a fine line between telling your story and giving advice and I feel I have crossed that line in the past week or so.
If you follow the rules of AA, the idea is that you tell your own story and support others for telling their stories as well. What you don’t do in AA is give advice to people who are sharing. They may not want advice. The advice may be the wrong fit for that person. They may not be at a place where that advice is helpful. There are a million and one reasons NOT to provide advice whereas there are virtually no reasons for not being supportive.
I feel in the last week, I fell into an old habit of giving advice rather than giving support, and this is NOT ok. I would like to apologize here for that. Giving advice is / may be a way of compensating for lack of empathy and that too is not OK. It is some sort of distancing mechanism.
I am relatively new in the blogging community (March). What I have observed is that most people comment on posts that resonate with them and generally provide supportive commentary not advice commentary for a particular post.
At this time, I wish to call myself out for getting in the advice-giving mode in my comments instead of getting in the empathy mode. My apologies to all for this behavior.
So with that apology said, what type of blogosphere comments work for you? Should blogs follow the guidelines of AA where the focus is on telling your own story? Are there blogging rules somewhere that I should know about? Particularly about providing support versus advice?
Today is my wedding anniversary and my husband and I are celebrating 18 years of marriage!
I have posted in a prior post on what I think are some of the essentials to a successful marriage. I am posting again on those criteria with a few additions. These are just my perceptions about my marriage and they do not necessarily translate for all parties. But I thought I’d share in case they are helpful.
- Argue well. Don’t go over the same territory over and over. Have an argument. Learn from it and go on – no dredging up issues from two hours ago, two days ago, two weeks ago, two months ago, two years ago.
- Share a common faith. This one is hard to do if you have already fallen for someone who does not share your faith. But still, where possible allow faith to help guide you and nurture you as something bigger than the demands of husband and wife (or husband and husband or wife and wife). It is helpful to have a unifier that is bigger than each person in the relationship.
- Keep a sense of humor going at all times. Be able to laugh at yourself and with your mate.
- Be willing to say I’m sorry readily when you may have made a mistake. There is no monopoly on admitting mistakes even when you did not think you were completely in the wrong.
- Be willing to forgive your partner’s weaknesses at the same time as potentially calling out his/her problematic behavior. This forgiveness assumes the behavior in question is not abusive or destructive to you.
What do you think are essential characteristics of a good marriage or a good relationship?
I am reposting my Comments to a prior posting below:
I think people’s patterns of consumerism and consumption around the States or around the world are fascinating during these crazy times. What are the things that the people themselves feel are essential? Spending on food has gone up in part because of all the food shopping and in part because food prices are getting higher. But what is essential for one group – like being able to go to a bar or get a haircut – is not necessarily essential for another group of people. In fact, I am not sure if our modern day definitions of consumer behavior even have the capability of parsing our behavior into more specific subgroups.
These subgroups could be defined via age or could be defined via level of risk they are willing to take on or by their need to protect and continue their livelihoods. So far as I understand things, economic models talk about consumer behavior as one thing or one entity. But within that definition of consumerism and consumption are huge variations surrounding consumer beliefs about what is essential to their households or not.
I am wondering if our economic models will have to evolve to cover subsectors of consumers and consumerism. Or maybe I am just uneducated? Just a question for today’s times?