Maybe what makes me the most connected to the rest of humankind is the feeling I constantly have that I’m so different and disconnected. I’m aware enough of the world around me to know most, if not all, of us feel this way at some point. Still, I feel more different. Or different in ways that are less acceptable. Or maybe it’s just that I’m more honest than most people. I don’t feel the need to hide much and as a rule I don’t shrink away from facing hard things head on. When you’ve experienced the things I have, you kind of lose that deep need to be socially appropriate and you learn to live with the knowledge that running is futile. My first memory of life involves being lured into the room as my father was nude, drying off after his shower. He casually stole my 3 year old innocence as he talked me in to touching his manhood. There were multiple deaths and births in that moment. Shame sprung forth fresh and new, and continued to grow in me well into adulthood. In fact it contributed significantly to many of the choices I made, which I’ll explain more a little later. My father continued to molest me as I grew, becoming progressively more invasive but always gentle. Sickeningly gentle. The gentleness haunts me still, as I try to develop a healthy intimate relationship. The gentleness harasses me more now than the terror that came from the other abuse I suffered, by a group of men my father gave me to at age 6. I hesitate to call this group a cult, as I have no real evidence of such and it makes me feel crazy and like no one will believe me. They did ritualistic types of things though, and wore the cliché black robes and lit candles in the shape of a pentagram, so I don’t know. What I do know is they were the opposite of gentle. Even now, at 35, I don’t think I have really delved very far into the events that took place in this group and I’m not sure when, if ever, I’ll be ready to go there. I mean I’ve jumped in and out of it in therapy, but I’ve never been able to sit in the feelings for long. My dad stopped molesting me (I guess it was rape by this time) when I was 14 and my parents finally divorced. That’s when I guess he passed the baton, and I began abusing myself. I became promiscuous, with boys my own age and one older man. I was a really “good” girl in most ways though. I was the valedictorian of my high school class. I drank occasionally, smoked weed a time or two, but that was the extent of my partying in high school. It was all about sex for me. I had a boyfriend but that wasn’t really enough for me. I wanted everyone to want me. However, I had terrible self-esteem so that held me back from all I really wanted to do. I didn’t think boys liked me. In college, I discovered my attraction for women and basically wrote men off for those for years. I had a lot of fun but there was also a lot of drama and heart breaking emotions involved. Through it all, shame prevailed and called the shots. After college I went to ministry school, where I was constantly being reprimanded for same sex relationships. I turned back to men then because it seemed the lesser of the two evils. I ended up marrying a man I met there. I wasn’t exactly in love but, he was nice and a good Christian boy and he wanted me so that was enough, temporarily. As the honeymoon period ended and our incompatibility became obvious, I started flirting with other men. Lo and behold, I realized boys did indeed like me! I went crazy with this knowledge. I cheated on my husband several times, once with his own brother. I also lost a lot of weight during this time and my confidence in my appearance sky rocketed. I was acting like the slutty teenager I had always wanted to be. Shortly after I divorced my husband, I really went nuts. I was doing all kinds of crazy, totally risky things sexually. I had threesomes and gang bangs and met random men in random seedy hotels. I hooked up with people from Craigslist (I still shudder to admit that one for some reason). One of these men drew me in. He was a bit of a thug and I knew it, and I liked it. As I got in deeper with him, he became my everything. I didn’t flinch when he introduced the idea of escorting. Why not make money doing what I loved and was apparently great at? I think he was blown away at how easily he persuaded and educated, a non drug addict, seemingly together girl to go for such a thing. But as I said earlier, shame had always called the shots for me. I wasn’t scared of the prospect of sleeping with men for money, I didn’t think it would make me a bad person. Honestly, how could I get any worse? I worked as an escort for close to 2 years. I had some scary, amazing, pitiful, fun crazy experiences during that time. My boyfriend/pimp became abusive quickly. I was never hurt by a client, but my boyfriend hit me, choked me, spit in my face, left me places, forced me to do things I never would have done otherwise. I borrowed thousands of dollars from my mom, shut out my friends and family, punched a girl in the face (this was so out of character for me that I went in my room and cried for hours afterwards). I shoplifted, stole, scammed. I lied a lot. Everything was a lie. I talked other girls into the business. I crossed state lines. I became someone I never thought I could be. Yet… There was a sick satisfaction in it all. I felt powerful. I used my sexuality as a tool, sometimes a weapon. I OWNED it. If a client did anything I didn’t like, I kicked them out. And kept their money. My confidence was at an all time high. I could do anything. I could handle any situation. I was a goddamn superthug escorting queen. And the beatings, well I deserved them. I had always know I was a bad girl, from the moment I put my hand on my daddy’s junk. It was cleansing fire to be dragged by the hair and humiliated. It was so hard to leave. Until he burnt my house down. Now that I’m removed from the situation, and thoroughly therapised, I of course see how turned around my thinking was. How there was a direct undeniable link between my childhood abuse and my adult mistakes. I’m back to being me now. I’m healing, little by little, one tiny step at a time. But I do sometimes miss being a badass.