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The Path: Updates, Journey & History

The Writer's Corner - The Breach, Chapters 1-4

Image: Patrick Fore

(Note: You can skip to the Book Content & Chapter Links if you've read the post).

The Writer's Corner is an exciting new writing space I created to share chapters of my books in progress. I decided to post these on my website because of my need to continue my journey with these projects and edit, work, and re-work them for publication.

Including them in my scheduled work reality assures that they will start getting the much-needed attention they deserve and will satisfy my need to move forward with them.

So, why post them here if the reason and goal are personal?

Well, the thing about my writing and what I choose to write about is that it will always be about Love––which is the purpose of my work and how I connect with the world. I write to learn, first and foremost, and to teach. In doing so, I uncover more profound discoveries into what I know to upgrade my growth. Also, I want to explore and share the new things that only come to light once I write about them.

For example, in the book I'm starting with, entitled 'The Breach,' I write about my need to take a close look at––in an attempt to understand––the history of my romantic and love relationships. My experience of that aspect of my life has always been tumultuous, confusing, and deeply unsatisfying. I could barely grasp the meaning or purpose intimate relationships should play in my life.

Yes, I know what they appeared to be and do for other people, but that outcome never happened to me. Nothing sustainable, nothing lasting, just a series of dramatic occurrences that left my heart bruised, battered, and confused. And trust me, in all cases, I gave as little (or bad) as I got.

This book is not me looking at myself through the powerless lens of victimhood; on the contrary, my sole intention for undertaking this walk down the memory lane of my love life is to search and take responsibility for how I showed up and what I did in reaction to my injury to steer, even guide, the relationship to its inevitable demise.

On The Path, in recent months, we have done extensive and intensive work on the relationship reality and how to grow new roots and build healthy, balanced relationships in Love. This written clean-up expedition ensured that I cleared away all the leftover and hidden debris from my past to free myself from anything that would hold me back or keep me tethered to my old relationship injury.

Needless to say, as it is with any creative endeavor that requires self-exploration, I learned a great deal more than I knew about myself, my partners, and the nature of the internal wiring and familial and generational injury that guaranteed and delivered my failure to succeed in my relationships, as if on cue. It was a battle I would never win and a war waged by circumstances over which I had little to no control.

I hope that sharing my experience will lighten up some of the dark corners of your own. I find it always helpful when we can see that we are not alone. There is always someone who can commiserate with empathetic assurance, "Damn, I've been there.I know what you mean!"

What you'll be reading is my first edit of the book. However, I am the only one who has to work here; nothing is expected of you except to read, reflect, and comment if you choose.

Thank you for inspiring me to dive in and get on with my book-writing journey!

With Love,

Melana ~

Book Content & Chapter Links

The Breach

When Love, Relationship & Childhood Sexual Abuse Collide

Melana Plains

© 2023 Melana Plains 

All Rights Reserved


Part One

First: Know Thyself

      “What The Hell Happened To Me?”



'There's something wrong with her.”

I overheard my Boyfriend’s attempt to whisper to his Brother.

Grant it, my Boyfriend, had just received the news that I had slept with said Brother a few nights before. The day after that happened, my Boyfriend surprisingly declared his love for me (of course, without knowing about his Brother and me). His love was all I had hoped for. He even asked if I would marry him––he would do anything I wanted if I promised to let him come back. He had broken up with me recently and was now pleading to return to my heart and my life.

You must understand. I was head over heels in love with this man. He was my prince. When he said we should see other people, I was heartbroken. I would have done anything to hear him say, "I love you!" Now, when he finally said it, I had already slept with his Brother.

Though shocked to have overheard his thoughts about me, I could not argue with his assessment of my behavior.

I mean, I loved this man––but I slept with his Brother!

Who does that?



Who Are You? Do You Know?

For me, that is not a trick question––but a real one.

I know that it's real because it's one that I've asked myself and grappled with repeatedly in my life. First, in my early years of confusion about my place in my family and, thus, the world, I was too young to understand that's what I needed to know. Then, later, when I attempted to be the acceptable and normal me in the world, I kept tripping over that unanswered question as I grew into adulthood.

It was when I got older that I realized that although I knew I was a human being, I knew little else about who I was as a person. Before I could even find the most basic and foundational answer to that question, another more pressing, distressful, and urgent matter drove the narrative of my life:

How did I get like this?

What made me into who I am? Why am I not okay? It was then that I realized that deep down inside, I knew something wasn't quite right with me. Something felt broken inside. I didn't know what that meant or anything about it; I only knew I could feel it.

On a functional level, I was okay; nothing much out of the ordinary. Making my way in life as best I could, out of high school into jobs and attending college part-time. You see, my real story––who I was and what happened to me––had nothing to do with what I was doing. It was about who I was, the person who showed up in all the moments of my life.

If I had known how to stop and take the time to assess my inner situation––because that's where this dark disturbance I felt lived and grew––I may have discovered why I was so wrong inside. A darkness that raged with flames of hurt and pain no one else could feel or see. I smiled a lot in those days. Warm, courteous, and caring of others, how could anyone even have suspected that beneath all the coping charm I exuded, inside, I was screaming, burning up to death, and slowly dying?

Here's the thing. My life continued like that throughout my twenties and into my thirties without relief, cessation, or solutions. It still confounds me how I could live and carry on a life in that state. We human beings are amazing creatures. Even with our insides torn up, our wiring all mismatched, and our hearts consumed by unbearable pain and grief from the loss of a self we never got to know, we still carry on.

Even though I didn't know myself, I still didn't like who I was. But I wanted to; I just didn't know how or why I didn't. I was a good girl, I was. What had I done so wrongly to justify my inability to forgive myself? What was there to forgive? I knew I had done something wrong but didn't know what. It was an untenable and impossible situation to navigate. Inevitably, one day, I decided to stop trying and put an end to the madness and my life.

Many years later, I am still alive and strong, so obviously––and gratefully, things didn't end there. I could say that with age came wisdom, but that's not necessarily true. The truth is that were I built differently, less sensitive, and, thus, less aware or concerned with what was happening in my inner world, I may have remained unaware of what was brewing inside.

We don't automatically know more about everything because we spend more years on this journey. Whether driven almost to madness by the need for answers or blithely living with a benign unawareness of unanswered questions, we all need to know who we are inside. Who is in the driver's seat of our life, and why are we even here? Why do we behave the way we do, and what impact do we have on ourselves, our lives, and other human beings? Are we friendly navigators in this life, staying in our lane and driving safely? What did I discover about myself that kept me from dying and made me want to live?

Well, first, I found out that I wasn't alone and the only one who felt that way that I did. In fact, on one level or another, we all experience things in the early years of our lives that we don't understand and cannot account for. Things happen when we are young that we cannot control, but they can significantly impact us. Because we are so malleable and formative at that time, these events, situations, or encounters blend in with all the other elements of our upbringing and shape our personalities, behaviors, and sense of who we are.

If these things are positive and life-affirming, they will positively influence our perception of ourselves and life. However, if they are harmful and destructive, they will steer us into a darker experience of ourselves and our lives. No one ever gets just one or the other. We will all encounter both, no matter how much dark or light dominates our experiences. There is light and dark in every moment. The balance of the two makes it possible to survive and thrive as a human being.

Physical and emotional abuse dominated the reality of my childhood. There were certain behaviors and responses to my life issues that I could track back to what I endured at the hands of my father when I was growing up. Those encounters with his bullied whippings and emotional lashings always left me feeling unnerved, rattled, and ashamed.

I didn't blame myself for his anger and rage, but I suffered because of it. Without knowing or understanding––as I did in later years––why he behaved that way, I decided he was a mean and miserable person. I never understood then why my mom would always take him back after their numerous separations. He never changed, not even a little bit.

He was a big problem for me growing up, and our relationship misshaped and distorted my future interactions with the boys and men in my life. Though my father's violent abuse contributed to the broken damage festering inside of me, it was only part of the reason why I was so desperately uncomfortable in my skin.

Dealing with these issues in my healing process still didn't erase the icky-sticky feeling of disease and unwellness that stuck inside of me like glue. It was that lingering malaise that would constantly upend all my attempts at finding a solid place within myself to be okay with me.

Years and years of spiritual work could not erase or heal what I later termed 'The Breach' that existed in my being. It felt like something foreign had wormed inside me, but I didn't know how it got there or what it was. That is, until, one day, I remembered.

Oddly enough, I had known all along what happened to me. I didn't think that it was the devastating, deep-rooted cause of all my misery and despair. What I remembered is that I never knew that childhood sexual abuse had almost destroyed both me and my life.

The impact of sexual abuse and sexualization on a child can––if left to its long-term effects––be irreparable and life-destroying when that child becomes an adult. This uninvited invasion of a child's trust and innocence becomes the silent annihilator that destroys the spirit, dismantles the power, and obliterates the sense of self-value and worth of this precious human being. Some families openly acknowledge it as a terrible act and seek legal remedies to punish the offender. That was the response in my situation.

My step-grandfather was removed from his home and sent to prison for a time. And no adult in my immediate or extended family said or did anything more about it. For them, the incident was over. For us children who endured my step-grandfather's egregious acts, our nightmare was only beginning.

Perhaps because no one ever asked me how I felt in its aftermath, I innocently and readily assumed that there weren't any feelings to explore. At the age of 4 years, what else could you think when you were too young even to register what had occurred? When I was a little older, although I had tell-tale signs of something being amiss, my parents never made the connection that the current behavior was a result of the sexual abuse.

Instead of asking me how I felt (which would never happen), my father launched an over-zealous campaign of sexual gatekeeping and hyper-vigilant watchfulness over every aspect of my life. Somehow, in his mind, I was no longer the victim but had now become the perpetrator of engaging in future sexual misdeeds. Now, in his eyes, every boy or man became my step-grandfather, and instead of being the prey, I was now a co-conspirator.

From the age of 5 years until my 18th birthday, my father never took his eyes off of me. For me, it was like being reminded every day of my life of my abuse. My father raged at me for it happening, at every boy who came anywhere near me, and at himself for failing to protect me.

But, because neither he nor my mother could anticipate or foresee the future impact all of this would have on me, I, along with them, ignored then buried any inkling or understanding of what was in store for me and my sexuality. And, if I knew, what was I supposed to do with it after that?



So, Who Would Sleep With Their Boyfriend's Brother?

Well, only someone like me, broken and wrong inside, and with no sense of, or power to uphold, appropriate sexual boundaries to prevent such a thoughtless and hurtful act from happening. Someone like me who never wanted sex alone but wanted to be loved and believed that sex was the ultimate doorway to love.

I believed that if compatible and passionate sex was the pursued outcome of a man that I had spent long hours pining over, it was a clear and specific indication that we were (or at least I was) in love. Love (or the promise of it) and sex were a package deal for me; I could not, in heart or mind, separate the two.

In my Boyfriend's case, mutually smitten would describe the first time we looked at each other. Him, sexually, and me in a heart-spinning swoon. The very sight of him took my breath away. I was invited to a party at his house by my friend, the wife of Brother 2 (a different one from the brother I slept with, Brother 1). Real talk: he had a handful of brothers.

Now, let me set the scene for you.

We arrived at the party early, and my Boyfriend and I were immediately introduced. We spent the next few hours in a flirtatious whirlwind, dancing with and around each other in a blissful trance––until the doorbell rang. He waltzed over to answer it and moments later returned with another woman on his arm. It was his girlfriend. His girlfriend?!? What?!? That moment of panic when you feel your throat drop into your stomach and all your organs are on the move, forgetting their proper places in your anatomy, was happening inside when he calmly introduced her to me, my friend, and Brother 2.

My Boyfriend handily switched gears without a blink, and now he was hers, and we were, basically––not. Imagine thinking for a few miraculous hours that you had finally met 'the one.' Tall (my father was tall, so I didn't do tall men, but he was the exception), handsome, with a full-lipped mouth and a generous smile featuring a slight gap in his two front teeth. A European air and a low-hip swagger made watching him walk across the room in a pair of jeans such a mood. Watching him walk away from me, his arm tucked around her waist was also a mood––a sad and shocked one. Shortly after the girlfriend experience, my friend, Brother 2, and I left the party.

With the help of a glass of wine or two prior, I sobbed uncontrollably the whole way home. I honestly didn't understand the depth of what I was feeling. Mainly because, although I could fall pretty hard for men in the romantic phase of an encounter, somewhere deep inside me, there was an 'off' switch I could use when I was ready for the madness to stop.

No, not in the beginning. In those early throes of love, I was all-in and as neurotic and turned around as the next person on the ride. And, although I couldn't feel it at the time, there were memory cells that I held that knew I would ride the ride, but I would never take that flying leap of faith that most lasting relationships require.

Thanks to my father and step-grandfather, though I needed a man (I believed at that time) for love, they were not my friends––and they could never trust me to be theirs. It wasn't as cold and calculated as it sounds now. When all of it was beginning, I truly believed I was all in. I was unaware (until many years later) of the machinery churning away within that would implement the 'off' switch at just the right time. That time was when I subconsciously suspected I was about to get what I desired.

When I slept with Brother 1, though I was consciously unaware of it, that time for my Boyfriend and me was near at hand; like a drowning man, he was in a fight for his singular, uncommitted life. He would not go quietly, obedient, and well-behaved into a life with me––indeed, not without a fight.

After all, he was a White boy from Minnesota with White boy dreams. Believe me when I say those did not include falling in love with a Black woman. Yes, I was his passion, but not his dream. We were living in Berkeley, California, then, and anything seemed possible. Many who were drawn there came to experience an alternative, more open life reality––him included. And Brother 2's wife, my friend, was a Black Native American woman, so crossing that line was already in the family.

After the girlfriend had unexpectedly gone home early, prompted by my Boyfriend being distracted by the earlier events of the evening, and once the party had ended, I returned to his house. That happened because I got his number from Brother 2 on the way home. He would have done anything to stop my endless flow of tears and to make up for what he considered his brother's insensitive behavior.

When they dropped me off, I ran into my house, woke up my roommate and best friend, and poured out all the sorry (but somehow tingling and delightful, too) details of the evening. I could not sleep; I could barely breathe. I hadn't felt such do-or-die angst since I was a teenager; I was out of my mind with grief and desire.

So, I called him up. I needed to know if I had misread the room and if none of what I thought was happening between us had happened. I could not sleep without pleading my case, and if letting go had to happen, I wanted to rip the band-aid off that night. I could not fathom sleeping and waking up in this plummeting state of despair with no idea of where I was going to land.

Gratefully, he invited me over to talk about it. Unsurprisingly, given the intensity of our attraction, I spent the night with him. We succumbed to the passions that sealed our fate and set us on the uncharted course of a new relationship. I was stone-cold in love with him. No doubt. He had betrayed his girlfriend and knew this was the beginning of the end of their bond. My Boyfriend genuinely liked her; she was more his ideal and aesthetic. And he was sad to let her go. But, he also knew that he was as obsessed as I was with us, and it was pointless to try and deny it––although he kept trying.

We wooed each other in the coming months, me writing poetry highlighting my 'witchy woman ways' and how they would trump all of his efforts to deny his love for me. He would invite me to Japanese brunch and attempt to intimidate and unnerve me with his worldly charm, knowledge, and presence. He was truly arrogant but with good reason. He could sell it, and I didn't hate him for it. It was primarily why I found him so enchanting. Trust me, it wasn't a healthy response.

And, here we go again: my father was tall, charming, and arrogant. In hindsight, seeing how all the red flags kept adding up is such a revelation. At the time when it would have served me well to be aware of what I was doing, I couldn't see any of it.



The Bed You Lie In Is The Bed You Make––Or Is It?

My nightmare relationship with my abusive father and the sexual abuse at the hands of my step-grandfather had become an integral part of not only the man I chose but the dream relationship package that I so readily embraced as my own. My father fought my mother for his freedom. When she sent him away, he always came back. In the same way, my Boyfriend fought me for his freedom, and when I acquiesced and let him go, he returned (not changed) but declared himself more in love than before. And so, the die was cast. Even as he ran from me, he was becoming mine.

Oddly enough, I did not know this at the time. I took my Boyfriend at his word that we were over. After he had announced to his close inner circle that we were on permanent pause, my friend and Brother 2 invited me to another outing. This one was to dinner at Brother 1's house (the one I slept with––this was before I slept with him). They thought it best that I accept the end of my relationship with my Boyfriend, who everyone (including his brothers) thought was being a jerk.

They all concluded I was a find and deserved someone to love me. And, if my Boyfriend couldn't see or do it, I should just let him go. But, I was in love and genuinely bereft of my loss of him. I never once stopped thinking I could watch him walk across a room, low-hip in jeans, for the rest of my life. I could not imagine losing him, and yet, it seemed as if it was so. Reluctantly, I accepted their invitation to dinner at Brother 1's house.

He was a Virgo, just like my Boyfriend. I wished I had known the 'thing' I had for Virgos. With my moon and north node firmly placed in this sign, I was a Virgo magnet. So, right off the bat, he and I were drawn to each other in a low-key, magical way. He was the epitome of low-key. Quiet, unassuming, but with a wise and discerning presence. Broad shoulders, handsome, with eyes that twinkled when he smiled, he brought peace to my troubled heart, and his easy laughter and warmth made me feel safe.

We sat next to each other at dinner at a picnic table with benches. Brother 1's nearness held me in an unspoken embrace, and I felt myself inwardly leaning on him for comfort and support. He was amiable and easygoing, which was such a change and relief from the constant tug-of-war I had been having with my Boyfriend over the state and status of our relationship.

With the help of yet another glass of wine (I was late in learning that wine was not my friend in certain situations), I allowed my Boyfriend's Brother to kiss me in a moment of uninhibited laughter and a sharing of ideas. Wait!?! What was happening!?! The next moment after he did it, I excused myself and hurried to the bathroom to hide and freak out. My friend, who witnessed the event, followed behind me. There I was, crying again (gosh, I cried a lot in those days!).

"He kissed me! I let him kiss me!" I blurted this out in shock and dismay. "Why did I do that?" That's my Boyfriend's Brother, for Christ's sake!"

My friend did not seem bothered at all by what had happened. She thought it was a good thing. In her assessment, Brother 1 was much nicer than my Boyfriend, and we seemed good together. She and her husband (Brother 2) had invited me to dinner, hoping we would like each other. And, although Brother 1 knew something of my involvement with his Brother, my Boyfriend, he wasn't prepared to let it stop him from pursuing me.

Later, when things got heated between them over me, I discovered the competitive, on-edge, sometimes angry nature of the two brothers' relationship. Brother 1 didn't hesitate to take my Boyfriend's word that it was over between us and behaved accordingly.

Out of all the informed parties of my situation with my Boyfriend, I was the most knowledgeable and, therefore, the most irresponsible present. My Boyfriend always carried himself with an air of distant, inaccessible intelligence that always seemed to hover above the heads of those he knew and hung out with. It was tolerated by some and envied by others because he was also self-possessed and sharp-witted. It was, again, a good fit for him, and he wore it well.

He also generally approached the women he encountered in that same distant way. However, if he was interested in you, he made sure you knew it––but not necessarily everyone else. He was a cool player and did not wear his heart on his sleeve. He kept his internal matters to himself, leaving everyone (and sometimes, you) guessing how he felt. So, despite those close in assuring me that my interest in Brother 1 was acceptable and above board, my heart was screaming at me that it wasn't so––not in the least bit.

Once again, my father enters the picture on this score. Sensing that despite how my father mistreated me, his feelings for me were deep and complex in ways I could never comprehend or understand, I intuitively knew that my Boyfriend and I had not finished with each other––or he had not finished with me. Sure, he wanted to be, and if it killed him, he would make a gallant effort to keep his word to himself that he was. On the surface, it looked as if he was winning.

I had recently attended an affair to which my Boyfriend and I were both invited, and he showed up with another Black woman on his arm. Rightfully so, I was not happy about this. But I also knew he knew I would be there and made this coupled entrance exclusively for me. We quietly taunted each other on and off the dance floor all evening. I boldly bumped into my Boyfriend and his temporary lady on purpose and sweetly smiled my apologies for having two left feet. My fake smile was as sincere as his uninspired attempt at making me jealous.

My Boyfriend was not the least interested in being with a Black woman; to him, it was a choice that did not align with his vision of his life story. It was also a complication he didn't feel he had the mettle to deal with. He wasn't a racist; he was a pragmatist. The minute I saw the color of her skin, I knew she was there for my benefit.

They were both tall, leggy creatures, and with her model looks, they looked stunning together. She seemed really into him, and for a moment, I felt terrible for her and angry with him for putting her in the middle of this messy game we were playing. Several times during the evening, I caught her eyeing me with curious suspicion. She knew something was amiss, and she wasn't pleased or amused. Although I was loathe to admit it because I didn't know how to face it or what to do with it, my Boyfriend could be cruel. That evening, staring back at her, I was uneasily reminded yet unwilling to accept this painful truth.

As I stood in Brother 1's bathroom, crying my eyes out and already filled with regret for what I knew I was about to do, I allowed my heart and actions to be swayed by the group's opinion. My Boyfriend and I had broken up, and I needed to move on with my life and love. Even if that meant sleeping with his Brother, which I did that night after the rest of the dinner guests had left. Knowing what I knew about my Boyfriend's hidden heart and the feelings he held at bay, was I acting out of my hidden cruel streak?

Even while weeping in sadness, did I also savor the cold, hard slap in the face and blow this brutal act would deliver to his ego? His showing up at the party with someone he was not serious about was child's play compared to the hand I was about to reveal. And, he would never see it coming––how could he?

The one thing I knew he was sure of and grappling with how to deal with was the power of the love I held for him. He was drawn to it, mesmerized like a moth to a flame. I watched him struggle so hard to have it and fight it simultaneously. And, yet, I would not help him break free of me; I couldn't. I was deeply in love. So, how could I choose to sleep with his brother in the face of that kind of love?

'There's something wrong with her," my Boyfriend later whispered to Brother 1 after I told him I had slept with him. He was devastated, heartbroken, and absolutely correct. My Boyfriend saw the bright red flag of my sexual abuse and sought to name it. He knew he wasn't mistaken about my love for him; he had experienced it profoundly and intimately. He was also sure that although he believed himself to be a master of disguise, I knew that he felt the same, no matter what he said or how he behaved to the contrary.

In the end, he never planned to end us or give me up. He was testing us––himself, me, and the relationship––to see if what he wanted in his heart would work. This breakup was only a time-out between the end of one phase and the beginning of another. My Boyfriend was secretly planning to make our relationship a more permanent one.

One of the many things I later discovered about my childhood sexual abuse was that it created a disconnect in the authentic connection between my heart and my sexuality––and replaced it with a false and distorted one. That disconnection and violation of both human and spiritual law is what I began to call 'the breach.' It was the time when my step-grandfather's egregious behavior broke the law and me with it.

Stimulated solely by my emotions, this wounded place within me of sexual actions and reactions had no relationship to or guidance from my heart. I believe that the reality of a woman as a 'whore' is a state of being and a behavior whose roots grew out of being sexually abused and sexualized as a child. Such a violent act disempowers a child's ability to learn, when growing up, how to make sound, self-loving sexual choices.

A child's first response to its sexuality––because of the abuse––is stimulated from outside of the self instead of from within. The inner wiring and timer for when one's sexuality is ready to unfold have been interfered with and essentially broken. It thus becomes a wild card living inside of you, waiting for someone or something outside of you to trigger its' inception.

You have no idea or control, not only over what, when, or how it will happen but also over whether or not or how to respond. The mechanism that governs choice is damaged, and you lack the intuitive ability to sense when you should say "No." So, "Yes." becomes the silent, unspoken response to a question you never learned how to answer or feel the truth of its meaning in your heart.

The other misguided component to this 'breach' redesign of my sexuality was my mistaken belief that sex was always an act of love. From a child's point of view, if the person delivering the sexual abuse is someone of authority who hides their actions behind a veil of kindness and caring without outwardly frightening the child, they have no immediate way of comprehending the danger or wrongness of the act.

I remember feeling 'off,' in some way, but I was too young to connect what had happened to what I felt. As I got older, I became more aware of my prickly discomfort with anything of a sexual nature. It felt like a forbidden, dark hole I longed to escape. But then puberty's arrival pushed my sexual feelings to the forefront of my body, mind, and life.


With my stalwart conviction to remain a virgin until I married, I have the Catholic church and an all-girl Catholic high school I attended to thank for that. Coupled with my father's relentless stalking of my comings and goings, they protected me from the after-effects of 'the breach'––and my broken nature.

That is, until my 17th year when, out of the church's and my father's reach and peering eyes, I dropped acid and lost my virginity to a 19-year-old wandering troubadour-revolutionary poet of mixed heritage, whose cold blue eyes and creamy brown skin took my breath away––and stole both my heart and my virginity without ever asking. He rightly assumed that he could.

Without my father or the church's diligent presence to speak on my behalf, all alone, I didn't know how to say no. It wasn't like the fresh boys in my neighborhood who tried to run their hands up your dress on the playground. That was just bad form, and in my indignant response to their unwanted familiarity with me, I had no problem dismissing them. But you see when it was a grown-up boy who had won my heart, giving the rest of myself seemed like the only right thing to do because he wanted to, and that was all it took. Suffering the after-effects of a bad acid trip, I don't remember wanting to, but like when I was a child, the choice did not seem like it was mine to make.

And, so, he took my virginity and left me pregnant in return. That was the first time I paid dearly for having been sexually abused and lacking the ability to protect myself with my right and voice to have a say in what happened to my sexuality and my life. The second payment came in the form of an illegal abortion that went very wrong and nearly took my life. Those events were only the primary fallout.

The secondary upheavals came in the form of my father's absolute hatred and disgust for what I had done. The coldness he showered on me after learning of my profound betrayal of him and his trust was unbearable. He treated me like I was no longer someone he wanted anything to do with. Everything I suffered to try and fix my mistake only served to make him colder while reminding me I deserved everything I got for what I had done.

When it became apparent, by my high fever and near loss of consciousness, that the illegal abortion he set up for me had gone afoul of its intended design, my father stared blankly and immovable at the world series on the television screen while ignoring my mother's desperate pleas for him to drive me to the hospital.

With his newest Cadillac sitting out in front of our apartment building, he was well-equipped to handle this situation. But his palpable rage was so out of control that instead of helping me, he struck my mother until she fell to the floor. He then proceeded to sit back down and stare at the television screen.



Are Broken Princesses Doomed To Break The Hearts Of The Princes They Love?

Spending the night with my Boyfriend's Brother was emotional and life-altering for us both. He was ending a months-long celibacy journey following the breakup of a marriage. I was treading on dangerous ground with him amid the breakup of my relationship with his Brother, which threatened to upend my entire life. There were shared tears of the release of pent-up emotion and mutual gratitude for being safely held and comforted in another's arms.

Were it not for my unsettled mind and anxious heart, I would have completely surrendered myself to this different feeling of acceptance in love. He wasn't fighting himself to be with me; he wanted to be there. I remember staring at the blissful look and the remnants of a smile on his face as he fell asleep, noticing that even closed and resting, his eyes still twinkled.

Before I left his house the following day, Brother 1 invited me to a potluck he and his housemates had planned for later that afternoon. From the caring way he approached me, I could sense that he felt ours was a budding relationship he wanted to feed, nurture, and explore. As I walked through the motions with him, trying to respond in kind and showing up as best I could, I felt that all of this was happening to someone else––someone connected to me but not the real, original me. It was like an offshoot, a splitting off of the person I was supposed to be who decided to take an entirely different approach to dealing with the breakup with my Boyfriend.

Before sleeping with Brother 1, the last thing on my mind or in my intentions was to start a new relationship with another man––and most certainly not the Brother of the man I loved. The whole idea, unconnected to the event that had just occurred, sounded ludicrous and unrealistic, something you would see in a wacky rom-com movie. What person, without the intention of causing severe distress and even harm to another, would choose to sleep with that person's sibling? How could such an act ever be considered even remotely innocent?

Yet, something else about my interactions with people (aside from this recent infraction) could also have been considered 'wrong.' I say 'could have been' because I'm unsure where this other behavior originated. It was a genuine and unfettered innocence I applied to any situation almost as a matter of routine. It was as if something within me would rise above the darkness, the madness, and the chaos of people and life, allowing me to traverse any circumstance, regardless of its uncertainty or perceived danger, as if it were, perhaps, meant to occur because I could handle it by adjusting my perception of reality to accommodate and navigate any unfolding situation.

I do not know if this was an innate ability I was born with or a learned way of numbing myself to the impact of hurt and pain that emerged from the debris of my childhood and sexual abuse. When I would calmly show up for my friends in whatever tense or difficult life situations they were in––soothing them and lighting the way for the possibility of their recovery––it felt like the magical version of me.

When, after facing my doubts and regrets, I calmly chose to sleep with my Boyfriend's Brother, it felt like disassociation and an inability to set boundaries for myself in my behavior towards others. Or maybe it was just when I applied my 'magical' ability to calm any self-induced storm on my horizon––by enduring and riding the wave of the ensuing chaos it would bring––it felt more like being able to overcome any obstacle life put in my way––even if I put it there.

In either case, still operating from a fractured and unreliable 'No.' filter or response, I agreed to come to my Boyfriend's Brother's potluck and bring my two-year-old son. And, yes, since having my son involved me being with a man, there is a story about my relationship with his father. I realize now I have so many strange and unusual encounters and life stories about men. I didn't understand until later in life that because of the inner branding of a sexual violation and fatherly abuse, there would never be a happy-ever-after scenario for me. My stories would have no princess and knight in shining armor outcome.

The immediate and first assessment from that statement is that I was tarnished goods, and because of that, I had forfeited my chance to be chosen and loved. That was undoubtedly an operating factor in my life design: having the unholy misfortune of being sexually abused as a child. My Boyfriend told his Brother, "There's something wrong with her." And there it was: the damage report. She's a bad apple; do not choose her.

But check this out. Some of the princes did show up. My Boyfriend was one of them. He was a White male, one of the golden boys of our world. With strong family roots and a sure-footed sense of himself and his place in life, he could do and become anything he desired. The world was his oyster, and he knew it. Which, again, was why setting his sights on a Black woman to share his life with was so problematic. He did not believe himself to be built or prepared for the complications it would bring to his life. But, as I stated earlier, he was fast losing this battle. And, with one last stronghold of resistance, he was preparing himself to surrender to the inevitable longing of his heart. That was until he discovered what I had done and the truth of who and what I was.

Here's another thing. When the princes showed up offering me the potential of the dream-come-true relationship-life, I inevitably found a way to sabotage and destroy––not only the union––but, for good measure, the heart of the man who dared to believe he could love me and that I was worth loving. One could say that it was obviously because of the earlier tainting of my future womanhood which left me believing––with no room for doubt––that I was undeserving of the happiness and fulfillment that the truly good girls could have.

They were the unblemished ones who may have experienced other types of childhood distress and mayhem growing up, but they did not bear the scarlet letter of the breach. Or, if they suffered sexual abuse, they grew up in a supportive, loving family that sought to shelter and protect them from its adverse effects by raising them with a constantly reinforced belief that they were as worthy as any other girl of dreaming big and having them come true.

Growing up in a household such as mine compounded the damage already done to my broken spirit. There was no attention to my recovery or the impact my experience would have on my sense of self as I grew up into womanhood. My parents left my heart and my sexuality for dead––and my father almost succeeded in allowing my body to die, too. When someone who is supposed to love you throws you, body and soul. to the wolves the way my father did to me, you neither forget nor forgive.

We once went as a family to therapy to address my mother's deteriorating mental health. This crisis was brought on by her undergoing a total hysterectomy and neglecting to take the necessary hormonal therapy to offset its aftereffects. It was that, but my father also rejected her after the surgery, accusing her of being less of a woman because her womanly organs were removed. My father was the gift of darkness that relentlessly kept giving even after his death.

In front of the therapist, my mother, sister, and brother, I blurted out a burning question directly to my father, one I had been holding in until I couldn't anymore, "Why were you going to let me die, instead of taking me to the hospital?" Why did you do that?" My father sat and glared at me, stunned. No one in their right mind in my family would ever confront my father openly to his face and within striking distance.

Everyone was silent, watching, including the therapist. I stared back at my father, shaking, tears running down my cheeks. Suddenly, my father stood up and bolted for the door. The tearful words I shouted after him landed precisely on his fast-disappearing back as he hurriedly strode out of the room, "Why did you do that? Why were you going to let me die?"

Many years had passed before I saw or heard from my father again. Perhaps, if he had even bothered to attempt to answer my distraught plea with even a semblance of remorse, my heart may have fluttered open enough to accept whatever he offered. And maybe, then, I could have believed that I didn't have to hate him so much after all. And maybe, then, even with all the other abuses he heaped on me over the years, I may have held the tiniest belief that one day I could and would learn how not to hold every man I met accountable for what he did.

You see, this is what my Boyfriend was up against. The legacy of my father and my abuser turned me into an accuser––and punisher––of every man who came into my sphere. Mind you, I did not, at the time, know any of this I am sharing now. I was clueless about the haze of shame, grief, and retribution that darkly stirred within the depths of my womanly being.

On the surface, when hanging with my girlfriends, I would quickly announce that I would never marry a man. I never spoke kindly about them or felt any desire to get to know them as people. But, I never thought of my disdain for them being punitive but more realistic. I would remind my friends that getting married would hold me back and keep me from doing what I wanted with my life. Besides, I never met one smart enough to keep up with me.

Ironically, though, I could still fall deeply in love with them, and once I did and they fell for me, the relationship had to end. I had nothing more to give or get from them other than that. I could never envision or imagine living a life with a man beyond the first throes of romance. I loved the chase. But I never wanted to keep the catch or to be caught myself. Prince charming or not, the same rule applied.

So, I can honestly say that my inability to secure and sustain any relationship was never about lack of opportunity. I had many chances to do it. With marriage proposals, princes sincerely tried to end my declared state of singularity. And each one, in the end, sustained as much or more heartbreak and hurt as the one before. And I never belonged to anyone, not even myself.



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