I feel weird about this...

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I feel weird about this...

Post by MerryRose »

Ok, so I wouldn't say I ever really forgot this aspect of my childhood, but I didn't call it to mind or attach any significance to it. Thinking about it now makes me feel very uneasy. Please be gentle if commenting.

I don't know when it started, but I think it was when we did a study on "the pioneers" when I was in grade school.- I would have been 8 or 9. We were reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books in school (she was an American from a settler family in Wisconson, who wrote about her late-1800's childhood.)

Anyway, she alludes to corporal punishment in a few of her books, and our teachers talked about how it was used in school (strapping, caning) and at home (spanking, whipping, etc.)

We had a class trip to a site that was set up as a late-1800's village. We passed the day in the schoolhouse. During that day, several students were called to the front to be "caned" with the teacher's pointer-stick The teacher had the student face the class and then bend over. The teacher stood behind the student and swung the pointer, but slowed her arc so that the impact was just a tap on the butt. Thinking back now, I feel like she must have needed parental permission even for that, but it was the 90's, so maybe not.

After this, I began directing some of my little friends that we would play "pioneer school" or "pioneer house" and part of the play was corporal punishment for the "kids" Whomever was playing the parent or teacher would make the "kid" bend over, or lay across the "parent's" lap, and would spank or whip them lightly. (Similar force to how you would swat a fly or mosquito on your own arm)

I don't know about my friends, but I liked being the teacher/parent, but secretly loved being the kid, and receiving a light spanking. As an adult, I now realize I was turned on by this, and part of the "excitement" was anticipating that the other person might get carried away and spank me harder than a tap. Occasionally that happened. Once, the younger sibling whipped the older with a belt, and did it so hard that the older sibling cried.

The fact that I directed this kind of play alarms me, because it matches an adult sexual proclivity of mine, which is asking partners to spank me. Thinking about that, recently, and in light of what I've been talking about in therapy, I realize it's the combination of pain, anticipation and arousal that attracts me to that.

In terms of my own abuse, and my (sometimes self-harmful) efforts to resolve the trauma, I recently told my therapist that a recurring theme for me is the combination of sexual pleasure, physical pain (in and around my private areas) and a deep visceral sense that however I am being touched should not be happening. I find this combination of sensations weirdly comforting, even though it's alarming, and I seek it out. Thinking about it now, it feels to me like repeating what I might have experienced with my abuse.

The other children who used to play with me in this way were a friend who would have been six or seven, and her brother who would have been three or four, when I was eight or nine.

Thinking back now...I feel like- not a predator, but I feel like I did something wrong. I was the oldest, and I was directing us to play in what I now realize is a very sexualized way, to suit my own purposes. I was innocent and didn't know what I was doing, but I still feel like I need to apologize. I'm still in contact with the older of the two siblings, and I'm tossing it back and forth in my mind as to whether I should apologize to her. I feel this way especially for the older sibling as j am pretty sure she also had sexual trauma at a young age- before I knew her.

I don't know what to do. I suppose I should ask my therapist.
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Re: I feel weird about this...

Post by greendreamdays »

Hi MerryRose,

I don't think you did anything wrong. Even without a history of CSA, kids still explore their sexuality. They play doctor and play pretend and explore their body and sensations. There is nothing wrong with being aroused by pain or physical discomfort. As an adult it is important if/when you engage in this kind of play that you are emotionally and physically safe and have a way to communicate when you want it stop or when it has gone to far. Most people with fetishes or kinks, even involving pain, have not suffered any kind of sexual abuse.
the combination of sexual pleasure, physical pain (in and around my private areas) and a deep visceral sense that however I am being touched should not be happening. I find this combination of sensations weirdly comforting, even though it's alarming, and I seek it out.
I have often felt this way too. Not so much about pain, but when I see someone who I may be attracted to who also makes me feel deeply uncomfortable to be around, it's like a weirdly powerful magnetic attraction. I don't act on these feelings anymore as they have gotten me into abusive relationships.

There is something that happens to many sexual abuse survivors called "arousal nonconcordance" which is when people feel aroused but do not want to be, often being aroused by the things their abusers have done to them in the past. It sounds like there may be some of that happening as well. It can be a very confusing thing because it is natural to want to seek pleasure in the presence of intense arousal. This is nothing to shame yourself for, it is a physiological reaction that is happening in your body, but it is not the same as consent. Something I have realized is that when I feel aroused by feelings that it shouldn't be happening or that I am in danger or unsafe, is to disengage every time particularly when it involves others.

There are many ways to find arousal. Your safety is paramount and there are many ways to engage in sex and pleasure that may involve excitement, anticipation, pain, discomfort, and surprise but where your safety is never truly compromised, and if it is that the you or the other person(s) will take immediate action in correcting the situation. I feel aftercare is also important especially after any kind of pain play. Nurturance, taking care of any wounds or sores, snacks, hydration, cuddling, whatever you need to re-establish a sense of comfort and reinforce safety and emotional connection.
I was innocent and didn't know what I was doing, but I still feel like I need to apologize.
I don't think you need to apologize. I suspect what you're feeling is shame. But that doesn't mean you did anything wrong.
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Re: I feel weird about this...

Post by Scars »

dear MerryRose,

because you question whether to apologize or not tells me that a part of you feels a need to.

what could it hurt?

This too shall pass. it may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.
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