Crushes and my Strangeness of Mind as a CSA Victim


Along my journey of recovery from the incestuous abuse of my childhood, I discovered I had a particular strangeness that had been a part of my functioning for decades.  Crushes, hopeless longing for men who were in some way wrong for me, dominated my thinking… especially during those years that I repressed the effects of the abuse.  I wrote this piece while I was examining the reasons for my crushes and the effect that they have had on my life.

I had a crush.  Actually, I have had many, but one was particularly consuming.  In my mind, he was idealized and perfect, handsome in his way of dreaming and thinking, of finding threads of a lovely intellect and spinning them into treasures of his mind.  He was a strange longing… a wanting that I couldn’t corrupt, couldn’t lose and couldn’t embrace.  I could not have reality wipe its ugly stain on this perfection. He was flesh and bone, a real person, and in the light of most days I kept out of my dreamy head and worked alongside him.  But, I would catch myself slipping into admiration and on those nights away from the clutter of our working world, my dreams of him in a half-woken mind were perfect, sensual and divine.

There was always a barrier in the cold light of day.  Whether he lacked the same desire for me or shared it was irrelevant.  I fooled myself with all matter of possibilities and impossibilities.  Perhaps I frightened him, perhaps my life was too cluttered and full of burdens that he couldn’t share.  Perhaps I wasn’t attractive enough or submissive enough or bold enough or…something?  I tortured myself with it.  I felt shame at the possession of these feelings.  I was shamed at the loss of those dreaming energies on someone who would never be a part of my life.  I just could not understand what it meant, why my head stirred my heart and crippled me into dreaming of men I would never have.  Understanding was repressed for me for several years, waiting or growing or perhaps unfolding somewhere deep in my subconscious.

When my mind broke, the torture of losing my hold on sanity gave way to the long process of fighting to come back to myself.  I found myself once again fighting a crush.  I wondered about these old feelings and their role in my mental health. Introspection gave way to a shocking revelation — a lesson learned from a different man, another person who consumed my affections for a time.  The revelation came one morning when I awoke with the start of an answer.  It was simple, but profound in its power to release me from a double-sided pain.  My crushes were the remnant of an attachment that had done so much damage to my mind and heart, a legacy of my wretched childhood.  They were a reflection of my childish love for an idealized version of my father.

My mind sought a pure and safe way of loving and my heart sought out the characteristics of my own father that were both good and bad.  When I found them in other men, I was often hopelessly smitten and paralyzed at the same time.

I had never consciously associated my crushes with my father before, but it was as clear as the sun rising that morning. Leaving emotion aside, I started research on this phenomenon and found numerous references to Stockholm Syndrome as the condition closest to what I had gone through, but did not find much about the lasting effects once the abuse has ended.

Extending my personal evaluation of Stockholm Syndrome-like behaviors in myself involved a cold review of my relationships as well as my crushes.  There is a clear pattern of seeking men who are manipulative, dominant and somewhat hyper-sexual.  I could see the pattern I was recreating time and time again. The attachment dysfunction stemming from an environment of abuse and neglect, combined with Stockholm Syndrome I attribute to the incestuous abuse, created a deeply-embedded dysfunction.

Knowing all of this –or at least thinking that I understand it — does help.  I don’t really know what it will take to resolve this for myself in terms of future relationships, but at least the issue of losing myself in unhealthy romantic fantasies is resolved.  It doesn’t happen anymore.  I have conquered one part of this and for that I am exceptionally grateful.

There will be more work in unraveling some of the deeper issues in my perception of intimacy and control, but I can take some confidence in this process.  The slow, careful work of healing is so worthwhile.  It is challenging to allow yourself to critically observe your own thoughts and behaviors.  It is exceptionally confronting to address the strangeness in your own mind and very hard to change it.  It takes a great deal of self-caring, openness to truths that are difficult to face, and a steadfast commitment to the change you seek within yourself.

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Crushes and my Strangeness of Mind as a CSA Victim

  1. What an insight, Kimberly! Coming to such an insight takes so much work, and the work is absolutely essential to recovery from C-PTSD. Thank you for letting your readers know about your own struggle with this huge issue.

    1. It was hard to look at this part of myself at first. The realization was important, but hard to integrate with my everyday life for a while. I had to stop dating and put any thoughts of relationships to some point in the future… when I’ve got this fully resolved.

  2. Again, the similarities are knocking me off my feet! I’ve arrived at similar insights after the divorce from my wife in 2003. This divorce marked the end of a series of half a dozen committed relationships, all of which began and ended in pretty much the same way and where I would get left instead of vice versa. In the end and after having tried to make our marriage work and eventually giving in to the realization that our concepts of a life together were no longer compatible, my (ex-) wife and I ultimately broke up and separated for good. It was then, when I made a conscious decision not to fall in love ever again or at the very least not allowing myself such an opportunity until I had identified and ideally removed the unhealthy aspects of previous relationships. Much like you’re describing here, I had subconsciously “looked” for women, who had many attributes of my mother’s personality, whose abuse in emotional, verbal and mild physical ways I had been suffering from as a child. I _think_ I had looked for women similar to her minus the hurtful, abusive aspects. I ended up running into women who could be generally described as overly caring, nurturing to the point where you might almost speak of an Oedipus complex on my part that these women would willingly cater to. I first identified that I would get notoriously left on account of that burden becoming too heavy to bear on them, which in turn led me to conclude that my ex partners of such nature as described above were probably dealing with issues of their own by overcompensating. Long story short: I understood that next to the attraction there has to be an understanding of being at each other’s eye’s level, mutual respect and consideration for and of each other’s needs and meeting those needs in a mutually healthy way.

    “… the torture of losing my hold on sanity gave way to the long process of fighting to come back to myself.” Yes and yes and yes! That’s my strongest wish/longing: To come to my authentic self and recover and heal as much of it as possible. And “It is exceptionally confronting to address the strangeness in your own mind and very hard to change it. It takes a great deal of self-caring, openness to truths that are difficult to face, and a steadfast commitment to the change you seek within yourself.” – TELL me about it! With patience not exactly being one of my strongest traits in personality, I find this process to be extremely challenging, exhausting and often frustrating. It is then when the worst of rage would often consume me, but which I don’t allow into my heart any more as it is a (self-) destructive energy that extends the perpetrators’ power over me into my present. As such, I have identified rage to be counterproductive in the long run. It might be o.k. to feel it in order to shackle the initial numbness and emotional paralysis. But it’s probably a good idea to let go of this rage asap and focus on the self instead (which some will easily confuse with being all egotistical… the latter gets tricky, which is one more reason that can drive the need for isolation, at least temporarily).

  3. P.S. “… an understanding of being at each other’s eye’s level, mutual respect and consideration for and of each other’s needs and meeting those needs in a mutually healthy way.” That sounds a little mundane the way I put it. I mean to say that the relationship absolutely CAN’T be burdened with unexpressed expectations of one being the healer and the other one (me) being the benefactor. It creates an imbalance that is unhealthy per se, but as I had to experienced will wear out the self-declared healing party sooner or later. “One always loves stronger than the other one”? I have dismiss this as most likely being a sentimental way of sugar-coating abusive, unhealthy relationships to begin with, the likes of which were almost the norm our my parents’ generation. I acknowledge this to be a bold statement and I lack proof or data beyond empirical ones.

Leave a Reply to renovatio06 Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s