Telling

From the New York Times’ recent article on sexual abuse at New York’s prestigious Horace Mann school (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/magazine/the-horace-mann-schools-secret-history-of-sexual-abuse.html?_r=1)

 

What I read makes me want to scream and weep. It makes me furious, and sad, and proud of the man who wrote the article, and of the boys who survived:

 

“The whole goal of the grooming process is to wrap the child close… The affection and trust is to make the kid complicit in the act. Make them feel like it was their fault, so it won’t even occur to them to talk.”

 

“I spent decades feeling unlovable… I drank and drugged for many years, because I just couldn’t face all the anger it brought up.”

 

“You spend a lot of your life feeling like an outsider — it shatters you. These people who were supposed to be the good guys were actually the bad guys, and nobody would talk about it.”

 

“It’s counterintuitive, but sexual abuse emotionally binds the child closer to the person who has harmed him, setting him up for a life plagued by suspicion and confusion, because he will never be sure who he can really trust. And in my experience, this is by far the worst consequence of sexual abuse.” That’s one reason, he said, why those few victims who ever speak out at all tend to do so only after the abuser is dead or dying: telling the truth while the other person is still strong enough to deny it, or to blame the accuser, is just too terrifying.”

 

The author goes on to point out that the boys who carry the least scars are the ones who spoke up early: the ones for whom the ‘grooming’ wasn’t successful. Maybe the kid was more secure, less isolated. Maybe they had a strong relationship to their parents which enabled them to talk freely. Maybe they never felt the implicit threat of the abuser’s power. Whatever the reason, the boys who talked were able to retain their sense of self, of trust and worth, and move on.

 

For others of us the act of speaking up was as real an option as was the option of changing our skin to scales and simply scaring the nasty buggerer away. Telling anyone at all is too dangerous. Not just for us, but for those around us. What would the fallout be for our families? For our abuser and his family? For our school? Our friends? No – better to keep calm and carry on. Man up. Shoulder the burden. Buggery was one of those unpleasant facts of my existence that I simply never questioned. It was What Was Expected. And doing What Was Expected was something I was very good at.

 

Every camel’s back, however, can only carry so much weight. El Pedo put the last straw on this particular dromedary when he attempted to fellate me while I was recovering from hernia surgery, with my mother chatting away to us from the very next room. I was twenty. When I picture his face today, I see it in that moment. He was flashing what I am sure he thought was a mischievous grin, trying to be cute and maybe even sexy, but he had gone too far – the risk of us being exposed was so great, my panic so complete, that I yearned with every cell in my body to just push deep into that face with my fists, over and over again until it oozed and foamed crimson like a sponge heavy with paint. From that moment on, my hatred of what he was dong to me slowly began to overwhelm my fear.

 

Six months later I was down south in Dunedin on a rescue mission, trying to stop my mate B. from drinking himself to death. And I can remember in infinite detail the back steps to his flat, the grey skies, the brown homespun wool jumper he was wearing, the angles of exhalation of cigarette smoke when he confessed that the cause of his depression and anxiety was his terror of telling his friends he was gay and I blurted Oh, god man! We all have secret shit like that. I mean – I was sexually abused all my life…

 

And I swear there was a GONG… Everything stopped. My stomach floor dropped past my knees and then attempted to climb out my throat. My hands went instantly numb.

 

B. was looking at me with this huh?!? expression that was rather comical…

 

And I said yeah man we’re friends and we love you and I don’t give a fuck who you shag, and neither does anyone else… and we walked inside and had a great fucking night on cigarettes and cask wine and I did my best to be all flippant and cool about what I had just revealed. BUT inside me was a whole new roiling stew of crazy like I had never experienced, because for the first time ever I had Named It. It may be hard to believe, but I had never in my life thought about what was happening to me in those terms. Sexual abuse was real, but it happened in 60 Minutes documentaries. I knew what it was. I had just never linked “Sexual Abuse” to “Me”. Ever. And here I was, just blurting it out over a crate of Speights Ale and a pack of Dunhills.

 

I was sexually abused (in my mind’s eye I see that flash of smile on his face)

 

I was sexually abused (a fist slams into the face)

 

I was sexually abused (the face is a crimson spongy mess)

 

For the next few days I was crippled. The sudden, vast storm of emotion felt like having a second person who had just woken, trapped inside my chest cavity and I had to walk around carrying them, fighting a vicious territorial battle in the closest quarters, as if my body was the Stalingrad tractor factory.  After a week or so struggling, I was dragging myself past the student health center at University when I turned, limped to the front desk, and said do you have mental health counsellors because I think I would like to see one. When the receptionist said sure let’s make an appointment and started leafing through her book I tried to wrestle the invader down inside my ribcage. I was ready to collapse or vomit but instead a voice blurted out I think I need someone now because I was sexually abused and I think I need to see someone right now…

 

And some guy in his sixties with white hair who looked like he’d been working on the docks all his life just locked one arm around me, like a lifeguard grabs someone as they’re going under for the last time, and towed me into his room where I spoke, awkwardly, embarrassed, chuckling, about what had happened to me. I Named it, I shone light on all the darkest and nastiest corners of my life, from my very earliest memories of waking up with my dick in El Pedo’s mouth – right through to that grin with my mother in the next room and the fantasy of blood that was the beginning of the end.

 

The guy, Geoff Skar, just sat there and listened. He was the most unlikely therapist I have ever met – as I said, more like a truck driver or a bricklayer than a measured and reserved ‘shrink’. He was a bloke. And I was talking to him about buggery. He didn’t explode, or hide his face in shock, or shame, he didn’t call me a faggot or a sicko, or call my parents or girlfriend and tell them I was disgusting. He didn’t pity me and say I was the victim of a horrible crime and I should cry and was I okay and I’m a brave little boy and haven’t I done well. He didn’t nod sagely and go ‘u-huh… u-huh…’ It was all quite a surprise, really. It was a surprise to realise that my life of secret pain was just another case of a sick fuck screwing little kids. And if you look at it in those terms, it becomes something that can be dealt with.

 

The moment I spoke up changed my life forever. Best thing I ever did.

Hot man-on-man lovefest vol II

DJ Hi-Tek tells it like it is.

I rest my case.

hot man-on-man lovefest

A few weeks ago, I guess, Newsweek declared we have our first Gay President, who is incidentally about as gay as President Clinton, our first declared Black president, was black. However – being pro-gay marriage, cosmopolitan, tall and slender does not a Homosexual make. In fact, there are fairly specific criteria for being gay – most importantly, an amorous connection or attraction to members of the same sex (Michelle’s arms may be cut but she is all Lady). Gay is not an act. It isn’t who you shag or how. Gay is about who you are attracted to. Right?

But – there is so often more to the story. Gay is misunderstood. Gay is envisioned by some (stand up, Mr Santorum) as strictly a sexual act: Santorum’s arguments against gays in the military didn’t seem to allow the possibility of legitimate amorous partnerships, of ‘love’ and ‘companionship’, but instead were focused entirely on gayness as being defined by the act of sex. (That logic would also say that a little boy ain’t straight until he has achieved his first dry teenage hump with some bedraggled girl at the back of a party somewhere).

But if sexuality is defined by who you shag as much as who you desire, where does that leave me and my band of (un)happy buggerees? For me to say – “I was sexually abused countless times over a span of fifteen years” means I had countless sexual experiences with a guy. I carry around the secret shame that even though we all understand that I didn’t choose to be buggered, the fact that I was leaves me tinged with pink. To admit that it happened is to somehow call into question my own straightness… much as the weaker inmate after his first fun time in the prison shower MUST return to his cell feeling a little less of a man. He has been a party, unwilling or otherwise, to guy-on-guy sex.

Now – there is nothing wrong with being gay. There is nothing wrong with being 5’7”. But just as it would bug me if people thought I was 5’7” and wore lifts, there is always this nagging, irrational voice inside my head when I talk about my child-buggery that wants to give a disclaimer; that senses that other people (especially other straight, manly men, blissfully living in the traditional straight-man’s world where sodomy is something only clumsily, vaguely understood) see that tinge of pink, and feel that my Knowledge of another man makes me less… manly.

And I don’t know what to make of that. It is what it is. I have no answer. I like the Ladies a LOT. I like all their soft, curvy smoothness and gentleness the more, because I have known the opposite. I understand my gay friends (and women!) that like angles, and hard, and muscle. That is lovely for them. For me it is nothing. And maybe it makes me even straighter to have experienced and rejected the opposite. But the mere fact that I know that angles and straightness and stubble exist sexually – leaves me back where I began. Separated by this sentence of life-long knowledge. And shamed. And misunderstood.

I’m 6’, dammit!

n.b.

A little clarification: in this blog, the fact that I am discussing pederasty does not mean I have any desire to go all specific and bring out a dolly to show you where the nasty man touched me.  When I discuss buggery it is always in a GENERAL child-fiddling sense, not the specific bums&willies sense, nor in the two-happily-consenting-adult-Sodomites sense. I also hope all who read this can share a baseline understanding that a homosexual man is no more likely to chase after little boys than a heterosexual man is likely to chase after little girls.

The Beast… and the importance of mates.

I have just paused a South African rugby match I’m watching to post something astonishing that happened: here, The Beast, Tendai Mtawarira, lifts a 250lb team-mate (Anton Bresler) to make a kick-off catch. Bresler over-extends and is suddenly at risk of a serious injury – pay attention to the screams from the crowd in the background. And somehow the mighty Beast holds him up. (keep watching – the whole thing replays in slower-mo about 1 minute in…) This just took my breath away.

I dunno – I started this blog to reach out, help and support others, and already I have had a bunch of people reach out and support me. I forget, being a wannabe brooding loner, that I have a whole team of mates who will lift me to the sky, but who will also stop me from breaking my neck if I over-reach. And although sometimes we have to be almost super-human to support our mates, surprisingly, we’re usually plenty strong enough.

Of course, we don’t tend to have thousands of people screaming “BEEEEAST!” at us while it happens.

Horror of horrors

This will seem as though I’m being side-tracked at only my second post, and I do promise that I have a lovely long list of things to write about, BUT…

If we’re talking about surviving horrors, I can proudly announce that I have just managed to survive another.

I woke up during surgery.

Yesterday I had the second round of scalpel-testing and ‘osteogenesis’, or bone-growing, to fix a top jaw that has been shattered twice. (see – ‘survivors of abuse and risk-taking behavior‘, soon to be seen somewhere on this blog)

The exciting thing is that I woke up for a bit, and duly experienced a pain of such deity-fucking intensity I had never though to imagine it before. But you can try: picture the sensation of someone scraping a bone graft from the back of your lower jaw, or doing something equally joyous like pulling out a wisdom tooth so that they can get at that bone. Charmingly enough, they had the temerity to keep yelping at me to keep my hands down as they – with a fairly inappropriate insouciance – boosted the anaesthetic dose. Mind you – this happened several times…

I thought I may feel better after sobbing in the car as The Wife drove me home. Sobbing, that is. Like I have only done a handful of times in my life. Real life sobs – as opposed to the happy, gutwrenching cathartic skrike I’ll offer up after a film like Ararat or Jack & Jill.

But last night – the nightmares! I kept reliving the bloody thing in nightmares! I now have to replay surgical procedures in my sleep? I thought I had enough pain medication in my system to stop Rush Limbaugh, but it looks like I’m in for a minor dose of the old PTSD.

I mean… COME ON! I spend years getting myself over the attentions of my Overly Affectionate Godfather (a.k.a. El Pedo); I start a brand shiny new blog to talk about what it feels like to finally be almost past all the shit… now I have to have another Scarring Experience?

We’ll see. I may just call my superstar former shrink: the wine-lover, gardener, and literal life-saver Dr. Richard Golden, and find out how to avoid those dreams again. Simple.

Or I may keep this one. Because SCARS ARE SEXY. Sure, mental scars aren’t as sexy, at least not to others, but I do like the idea of being tormented by something that doesn’t involve unwanted access to my willy and that won’t make me cold-sweat when The Wife surprises me with a hug. I mean, I do have a DEEP LOVE AFFAIR with any and all kinds of emotional pain.

Okay – maybe dental pain (oral surgery is just fancy-guy dentistry, really, isn’t it?) isn’t quite as glamorous and brooding-loner-worthy as being buggered, but I tell you one thing – if El Pedo had ever hurt me like that I can assure you it wouldn’t have happened twice. Even as an eight-year-old I swear I would have ripped out his oesophagus, Swayze-style…

20120531-102707.jpg

Great lovers

“I’m a great lover.

Trust me. I’ve been practicing since I was a little boy”

I know – it’s horrible. It’s a slogan I was kinda wanting to put on a greeting card. I ran it past my wife and she said no, absolutely not, it’s not funny and it makes her skin crawl. This from the woman who once teased me with the phrase that has become the title of this blog, uttered one day a decade ago in her old apartment in Cambridge, Mass: I was pouting about something and she said “Oh don’t be a pussy. You’re just all sensitive because you were buggered as a boy.”

For a moment I couldn’t breathe. She had actually knocked the wind out of me. She was making fun of my deepest truth, the Thing That Is Discussed In Hushed Tones, my Holy Pain, which made me the deep brooding loner I always aspired to be.

But that shit was FUNNY. The phrase was funny. The word was funny, coming out of her American mouth:

Buggered. 

Buggered as a boy.

And her usage was correct, if technically – despite my dear godfather’s repeated attempts – inaccurate. And for the first time ever, I laughed about it. Well, maybe not about  it, but certainly around it. The balloon of sacred pain was suddenly and surprisingly popped.

But here she was, this Mocker of the Unmockable, telling me I can’t discuss in greeting-card form the incontrovertible fact that victims of abuse are great in the sack. Thus, a blog was born. Because she is, of course, right. Sexual abuse is a subject that is both openly, obsessively discussed, but also one which is taboo; it is analysed endlessly, yet entirely misunderstood; it is ridiculously, horribly common, and yet the bearer of the affliction is encouraged to believe s/he is unique and alone. Sexual abuse and assault happens a lot. I could trot out numbers, but I’m not interested in them. I just know that I know lots of people who had bad experiences where someone in a position of power who should have behaved differently, behaved terribly.

And that many of them are really good shags.

Why is this, you ask? Well – I have a penny theory: When the kid is being buggered, they hate themselves. They grow up still harboring that hate, sometimes mis-labeled as ‘Shame’ or ‘Guilt’. One of the only things that can temporarily smother this shame is the love or affection of another person – the “you like me?! You really like me?!” moment. How do we get others to like us? Well – we could sing a really good song, or tell a really funny story, or cure cancer, or… or… or fall back on one of the oldest things we know, which is sex. Because in that Holy Fuck moment when you blow someones [ahem] mind in the sack, they give you a look that is all good, all love, all wow. And for that moment, we feel good about ourselves, we forget the nasty, sick little shit we secretly believe we are.

Just for that moment. But damn, that look is like a drug…