Love, Fear and PTSD

 Pambula Beach, NSW, Australia - Photograph: Alexander Hayes

Pambula Beach, NSW, Australia - Photograph: Alexander Hayes

Last night after a flurry of messages backwards and forwards on the mobile phone it became apparent to me that my own responses to my partners plea for rational discussion had ceased.

Not only wasn't I making any sense but I was also (and obviously) distressed so we transferred to a direct phone call. Again, the conversation descended into a desperate bid for me to seperate my fears regarding our relationship. The crux of the conversation and the solution is as follows.

From the moment of birth (even that was a struggle) I was taught to fear everything - fear God, fear death, fear everyone....fear even my own ability to make meaning of the world as a 'stupid fucking git'. By the age of 11 I feared any middle aged man given the sexual abuse I suffered till I was 15 years old at the hands of a number of them.

The consequence of sexual abuse is that apart from the scrambled kid code, a deep and resonating fear of intimacy carries forward long after the abject and protracted horror of being violated repeatedly has ceased. Let me explain how that happens and how it comes to be embodied as PTSD in me.

When teenagers start showing an interest in each other by passing notes and going out, fumbling a kiss and finally managing to have sex they are generally in their mid to late teen years at secondary school. In my case  due to the abuse I couldn't understand why ANYONE would want to have sex let alone kiss and hug anyone.

I was attractive by all accounts but a smoulderingly angry young man and certainly not a nice catch for anyone. I hurt many many people in my smug and rejectionist 'me'.

I feared everything about girls and was constantly in fights with boys. I feared my home space and spent a long time avoiding its religious confines. To put it frankly my first relationships with girls were all about protection and I never ever explored with boys or younger men sexually.  When I should have been free and experimenting with others and discovering my sexuality I was imprisoned by a confused and tragic mind.

Effectively the abuse at the hands of a few had killed my passion and compassion, my empathy for much other than self abuse in which I excelled,

Sadly that continued through my twenties and thirties with "failed" relationship after fling after relationship. Marriage I was promised solved all of that as it bound two people as one in a monogamous twist and tlll death do you part. So I tested that theory three times and each time I found myself attacking my partner feeling trapped, confined, controlled and in some cases catatonically sad. That was only exacerbated by children who brought the very best in me out and the very worst in their Mothers around me.

Each time I kept looking for a soulmate loaded with affection only to find myself arguing with a lactating psychopath. Then there was the women I married or partnered with who knew my intimacy weakness and attacked me with it, either restraining it or twisting it so I'd beg to be spooned or beaten for supposed pleasure.

PTSD has strange and wide range of symptoms which manifest themselves over the years and given what I've gone through in my life "it's any wonder you haven't suicided yet" as stated famously by my own birth Mother. For me that societally and familial indoctrination of fear though is the most insidious, most viperous mechanism by which to generate guilt, fear and self loathing. In fact as I've stated somewhere myself, I am the single most effective person at hurting myself, both in the mind and the body.

My self destruction has remarkably left me alive but most of my peers dead. Suicide was always the soft option as live a life a of hell here on earth the hardest path of all.

My fears manifest themselves mainly as others will attest as self destruction. I blame my early experiences of abuse as the single most destructive factors that generated that self hate and subsequent behaviours in my relationships have been about testing that persons trust, about whipping them to the point of rejection to see whether they will leave or not. I fugure if things got tricky I'd just tell them to fuck off and move on. They did and my life has been a living hell as a result.

My principal fear that manifests itself takes shape in a few forms. The fear of abandonment is resolved quickly by whether my partner gets jacked off enough and leaves me. The fear of intimacy leads me to bury my affections in those who are most likely to harm me with it. The fear of loss and grief manifests it and I find myself burying my best friends and watching thousands of others do their best to kill themselves with drugs and alcohol.

I have learned from one single person direct and a multitude of conversations with others that all of it is a lie. My partner Magali McDuffie has taught me that despite my attractions and multiple sexual connections with others, the core to a relationship is built on trust and communication.

Magali has taught me that a soulmate travels the journey through the hard times, but there are limits to that too as self destruction must be resolved by that person and that person alone. The continued self destruction conversation goes nowhere, is destructive and wilfully self indulgent.

If fear is replaced with love then a way forward appears, fear dissolves and new happiness begins.

One facet of that communication is in knowing when fear is permeating my discourse and damaging those around me. I'm very adept at digging rabbit holes in relatedness and making mountains out of molehills especially in areas that are now for me or threaten my current life experience, especially if it involves exploring beyond the confines of a traditional relationship.

So after much discussion and responding well (it will take years of practice to get perfection) to the 'STOP, express the fear, resolve it and exit' prompt I decided to hang up the phone and write an email that explained my fear to Magali indirect first then returned to a spoken conversation.

I wrote a tragic email firstly riddled with insecurities and nasty trite which I then promptly deleted. Truth be told I re-read it and cried deeply, quiet sobs of letting go. I then returned to the keyboard and typed another.

"...Magali,

I fear nothing as I am a courageous person and willing to face each fear myself, alone until it no longer exits. Thank you for encouraging me to be courageous and to trust."

I feel that I can ride on that simplicity for a while until another easier avenue emerges to deal with my fears that surface in bouts and episodes of PTSD. I know I'll never fully rid myself of the trauma and pain of life prior but I'll sure have a stronger way to live an open and honest life and relationships will need to also be the same in order for me to grow well.

No more fear. Love my way forward.

Embrace everything as an opportunity to express love. Get intimate, vulnerable and most importantly love myself as that courageous man who has inspired so many others to love themselves despite their own fears.

Lead the way with love.