Sunday, November 23, 2014

The spell Christmas would cast

     Pat Conroy wrote an article for Southern living about his Christmas memories, and about his father The great Santini. It really struck me how similar a view we have looking back on Christmas's past. Like Conroy, in my childhood home it was as if time stopped just for Christmas. It was like the rules of reality changed just for a moment. For the most part is was like nothing bad could enter this time capsule, like it was sacred ground and all fighting ceased because everyone shared this feeling of sacredness.

      The times this sacredness came into question and things were a little rocky was because we all put so much emphasis on its importance. We had differing views of what elements had to be there for this picture perfect Christmas, and if anyone deviated it was like invoking a curse and there was this incredible superstitious feeling that the Christmas spell would then be broken. Sometimes one of us would occasionally want to do something different and re-define what Christmas looked like, but it usually created chaos and animosity. Sometimes the dynamics of the abusive family would creep in, but for my part I would just try harder to cling to the sacredness of Christmas and block out everything else. It was a hyper focus, like I was clutching to it for deal life and survival. Often it really was about survival, the magic of the Holiday's was something to keep you going through the rest of the year, something good to look forward to and focus on so you could wear blinders to everything else.

     The way in which Conroy describes his father, The Great Santini and his ritual at Christmas actually reminds me of one of my parents who did things almost in a similar way "Dad would take his chair of honor and say "I won't even wake up until I have had my first cup of coffee" (...) Dad would moan and stretch and take his time as he sipped his coffee with infuriating slowness (...) finally, he would grab a present. He would study the tag as though it were written in the language of Cherokees and say on his one terrific day of the year, "To Tom, from Satan Claus," and a shout of joy would go up from the children of The Great Santini."
 I always favored sitting on the arm ends of the couch, while Other Parent took a center place by our Christmas tree. A tree which we had all gone to get together, another sacred family ritual. We would get it in the truck and on the way home, as they did every year; Other Parent declared "This is the best tree we have ever had". There was also the sneaky ritual Other Parent, Other child and I would do together; trying to get the largest tallest tree we could without Vaarsuvius realizing it. This actually worked because a tree doesn't always look that big surrounded by other trees and with no ceiling to measure its height by. Other Parent would stand by our tree on Christmas eve and hand out presents that we were only allowed to pile at our feet until everyone had all of their gifts. They always threatened that we would have to wait to open them Christmas day or that we could only open one. Everyone could pick one gift from their pile and we would all open it at the same time. At the end, like every year Other Parent would fuss and systematically clean up all the wrapping paper like a garbage collector cleaning up holiday chaos. It was a funny compulsion they had.

     I was thinking about how it seems so strange that in an abusive family you could have anything good, warm and hopeful like Christmas. For instance how is it that someone like Pat Conroy could have had an intimidating, dominating father figure, The great Santini, and still look back on any part of his life with fondness? It's because life is complicated, and people are complicated. You will often find some bespattering of good things in a bad situation or individual. Sometimes I think people are tempted to think that maybe situations like Conroy's or my own were not that bad at all because of those occasional good things, but that's not true. Especially when you begin to look at cycles of abuse, those good elements are often part of the cycle, sometimes referred to as the honeymoon phase. If it was all bad all the time an abuser(s) might have a hard time keeping those close to them in the fold. So the cycle starts out all warm and fuzzy, then slowly like a frog in a pot of water, the temperature is ever so slowly raised so that the frog doesn't realize it is being boiled. If there comes a point of awareness that one is in an abusive cycle, the abuser will switch back to the warm and fuzzy honeymoon phase and the cycle goes on like this on repeat. Now in some cases people will stay in situations that are all bad, all the time because of threats on their life and things like Stockholm syndrome. But the classic cycle of abuse is as I have said.

     Those good elements are made to be confusing, you are not supposed to be able to tell up from down or how bad it really is, and you are made to think it is all in your head. Citing all the good times as reasons for  the situation not being so bad is an abuser favorite. I have had this lobbed at me more times than I care to mention. They try to argue that the sacredness of those good things outweighs anything bad, and is a sign that there is nothing really wrong in the relationship. It is hard to argue when they ply you with all the warm and fuzzy things, and you can feel defenseless because they are arguing from a point of truth. I have had to come back every time with the counter argument that is the most solid; yes there were good times, beautiful times, fun times. There were also bad times. And no matter how many good times the behaviors that create the bad times have not been addressed and have not been changed. Good things don't change the fact that there needs to be responsibility for the abusive behaviors in the relationship. Good times are not a substitute for a real healthy relationship dynamic where abusive behavior is not excused, or better yet does not occur at all.

      Christmas being perfect so you could survive the rest of the year is a lot of pressure to put into one day. It's why almost every year I would end up so tied up in knots that I felt unwell. In addition to Christmas being a cease fire time in the family dynamic, it was also one of the few times a year where I could feel love in a way that reflected my own primary love language; gift giving. I also felt a lot of trepidation and anxiety in giving gifts because I wanted to receive love and attention from my family members. I thought if I could give the perfect gift with all my personal feelings of love that I would get love back. Nowhere was this more hopelessly directed then at Vaarsuvius. Even after being crushed numerous times by their rejection or dissatisfaction with gifts I gave them I continued to hope for many years, and each year would tell myself that this year would be the year that I got them the perfect thing, and on an unconscious level I hoped it would equate to their expressing love for me. It's never happened, never will. I did slowly start to feel more and more numb about giving them anything. But this anxiety created in trying to give them things manifested in how I felt about giving gifts to anyone.

     This year I am desperately trying to shift away from Christmas having to be perfect, or having the perfect gift. I am trying to change how I perceive the whole holiday. While I do love those few warm and fuzzy Christmas memories, and that our world seemed to stop just for Christmas I no longer need to clutch to it in order to survive. The last few years I have still been clutching tightly,  not to survive the same abuse but survive Christmas without family. It was still a hyper focus on the Holiday to survive pain and distract myself, and I hoped that if re-created all the warm and fuzzy feelings everything would be okay. But everything is not okay. I don't have my family with me for the holidays anymore and that is a huge loss. But I also acknowledge that if I were to be with them I would be sacrificing huge parts of myself and my health. This year I am trying to be kind to myself while not ignoring the pain. I also don't want to feel like I am in survival mode anymore and that if I give someone the wrong gift they will not love me anymore.

"His quavering voice was weak, but its memory ran past thirty Christmases to hat irretrievable time when our father seemed prince-like and generous with his love of us. The Great Santini at Christmas-the best of times, the best of times, our best days as a family on earth." Pat Conroy

You can read Pat Conroy's essay in the Southern Living Magazine, December issue 2014.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Growing bones; The List

Because of conversations I have had with family and friends about this topic, and recently I read a blog comment discussing it; I thought I would write about it. It is a good item to add to the list.

     The topic is methods of healing from childhood abuse. I have found that abusers, those that defend them and sometimes even the victims themselves operate from this perspective: It happened in the past- move on. Sometimes childhood abuse experiences also get diminished "Others had it worse, mine wasn't that bad". When the abuser themselves use this argument of "get over it already" or " I didn't hurt you that bad" the general motivation is to diminish, shame and squash the victims impulses to make the abuser accountable, it can keep the victim in their place and help the abuser stay out of trouble. Now coming from interested parties and those that might defend the abuser, it comes from a place not wanting to deal with the harsh reality of the abuse, and that a person they care for might be the abuser. Victims turn to this mode of thinking for a few reasons, because it can help them survive bad situations, keep them from getting in trouble with the abuser for telling, and also keep their family/friends comfortable, not rocking the boat so to speak. The last reason a victim might choose to think this way is to protect themselves inwardly. 

     Healing from abuse is a process and it can often times be painful to acknowledge what happened, and all the feelings that go with it. It can require some deep and painful digging into oneself, and be the epitome of a long dark scary hallway. We are afraid of what we might find down there, and rightfully so. Abuse creates lot's of complexities we have to sort through. Sometimes we can't handle any of this, or we are not in a safe enough place to begin our healing. Sometimes a victim is not even conscious of the abuse, it has been stowed away for safe keeping in an effort to survive. This survival mechanism can protect us from memories we cannot handle. It can be a combination of unconscious things and conscious things and the victim/survivor very flatly decides that the things in the past are done and over with and they want to move on. It ranges from a sort of denial to flat out denial (this excludes survivors who have blacked out everything).

     So denial is never good. Long term affects of denial do manifest in our health and well being, so it is not optimal to stay permanently in a state of avoidance. However the healing process can look very different for each person. One may have a stop and start flow, dealing with some aspects now and then picking it up again after a few years. Another might have their "aha" moment and start and take a more slow steady road. The Courage To Heal addresses this subject, and has similar remarks about timing and how we go about our healing. What matters is what works for you, and being conscious of how the abuse has affected your life.  Deciding to heal from abuse is a choice, look at your life and ask yourself the Dr. Phil question "How's that working out for you?". If you feel that you are fine in the current moment, okay. As long as you are going in the direction you want to go in, and are happy then continue with what you are doing. If that question sparks more questions then maybe it is time to re-evaluate. Even then you might only change a few things.

     I think it is our natural knee jerk reaction at times to avoid the healing process, which is often just as much a growth process. I was reminded the other day about a quote I had heard while in college, it was something to do with growing bones. What a painful thing that would be! I think though it really encompasses healing from abuse very well. 

Our healing is like growing bones, sometimes very painful, awkward and bizarre. Why would anyone decide to go through something like that?

Because the alternative is not having any bones.

The leather sole; identity

Love love love!
 I was raised in the thick of farmland, had animals could ride horses and once rode a cow. I was by all definition a country girl, I owned the boots to prove it. 

    A love and appreciation for animals and agriculture was instilled in me from an early age. But I also had a love of fashion ( Haute couture), and  I was a miniature Martha Stewart following in the steps of Other Parents Sibling (who I am going to dub for the sake of this blog; the Black Butler). Aside from my taking after the Black Butler, Vaarsuvius was dumbfounded as to where I came from. They had a hard time connecting with me on many things outside of agriculture based activities. Other Parent was actually the one who often tried a little harder to get involved with my interests. The country lifestyle was really Vaarsuvius dream, and Other Child was the one who most followed in their footsteps. 

     Being raised on a farm, in a agriculture community I could say in truth I was a country girl. But I think environment aside Vaarsuvius passion for agriculture, animals and a country lifestyle did dictate on some level that it also be my passion and part of my identity. When this is the main way in which one is able to communicate and be in a relationship with their parent you try and fit in as best as possible. We all have different facets of ourselves that we use to navigate our worlds. Some examples would be; Parent, Teacher, Professional/Career, Family, Social etc. So it makes sense to develop a facet to engage with ones family and their primary interests. Another dimension to this is if you are not just engaging with the family, but surviving it. Both of these things were true in my case, and the Country girl facet that developed was one of several that I would use to navigate my family and life. I wanted to do things with them because I wanted to be loved and accepted, but at the same time I didn't always have a choice about it and was pushed, shoved and drug along for the ride. I needed ways to survive those experiences, and so this facet or split piece of self developed and became good at navigating the game of being a country girl and good family girl. 

     What may have begun as a learned appreciate for agriculture and animals developed into a survival mechanism. It is a disassociation mechanism. I do not black out and become someone else, for me its just like putting on a pair of cowboy boots and going into a country girl "mode of being". It is not much different from someone putting on their career face when they step into an office. The difference is this is not naturally developed trait.  To make things confusing for me I had all these other interests, all the fashion and cooking seemed to have an air of "girly girl" to it. This was deemed to not fit with being a country girl. Also to be divided and not have a focused identity was not understood at all. I didn't understand it! Also it gave Vaarsuvius and Other Child an excuse to belittle me, and exclude me.  I felt like Alice in wonderland trying to get to her true size because nothing seemed to fit, and I could not fit in.

      Underneath what I call my Cowgirl and Princess personality modes, were other split pieces of self. These broke off when their seemed to be a task that needed to be done in order to survive. Some were focused on surviving family relationships, others enduring the abuse. I think I have narrowed it down to about ten pieces or "modes" that I operate from. If you met me you would likely not be able to tell that this is a daily experience for me, in fact those that do know me well cannot tell.

      Despite being raised to be a good little Christian, Republican country girl I turned out to be a  feminist (ha ha parents the joke is on you!) a political progressive, and spiritually undecided woman. I still listen to my very nostalgic collection of country music, love rolling hills, animals and have a unique appreciation for farm equipment. I love, love the smell of alfalfa hay and when they do first cuttings in the local fields where I live. I don't think the country girl in me has died, the one who started out loving those things not the one who was pushed, forced, and drug along. However I have had to make room for massive personal growth. I have had to allow for more than one way to identify and find self value. I was a country girl and that will always be a piece of me, even though I am far from home now and have left behind all of my family and relations. I came forward with my experiences and memories of childhood sexual abuse and they did not believe me. So I left them behind to take care of myself, go forward with my healing, and to show them just what little country girls are made of.

Winter Solstice & Yule; banishing holiday anxiety

     In an effort to disarm the normal program that runs in my head around this time of year I am thinking outside the box for how to deal with it as well as trying to maintain a present connection to myself. I am becoming more aware of the things that are triggers for grief, anxiety, fear and staying a little more grounded or present helps me to not be swept away but see the program the normal runs on an unconscious level. And I call it a program, you could also call it a pattern or unconscious habit.

       I am giving myself permission to celebrate the holidays however I need to, and pay attention to how I feel. I normally over compensate and throw myself into full on Martha Stewart mode and try to stuff the pain and anxiety by baking cookies and shipping out mass amounts of presents and home made foods to friends and family. This year I am reigning it in, I don't want to stuff how I feel and I don't want to exhaust myself. Oddly enough trying to outrun the anxiety and bad feelings gave me more anxiety and problems than if I had just decided to be sad and feel the feelings when they surfaced. Just to clarify in case you have not read prior posts; I am essentially without family due to drawing difficult boundaries, their lack  of acceptance and support. I came forward about childhood sexual abuse and no one could handle what I had to say, or the idea that the accused family member could do such a thing. Something our culture seems to have an issue with- a person who seems like a shining member of the community get accused and they cannot reconcile how the person has two sides. Either their heads explode or they quickly shift to denial in a desperate attempt at self preservation. The Woody Allen and Bill Cosby abuse scandals are perfect evidence of this type of reaction.

     I was really not feeling excited about Christmas this year at all, in fact I didn't feel like putting up a tree and going through all the ornaments, even though I pretty much purged all Christmas decorations associated with family and memories last year. I feel a lot of grief since family is actually very important to me, it is unfortunate that I cannot have what I really want: respect, healthy relationships and support against my abuser.

  The Winter solstice/ Yule idea came to me as a way to break up some of the holiday stress, and change the rhythm  of things. When you are seeking to dismantle psychological triggers or patterns changing up something in the normal progression of things can often be enough to snap you out of the place where you get stuck.  I love that the holiday celebrates the change of the season and is all about nature. You don't have to be pagan to appreciate the seasonal changes and celebrate. Who doesn't like the idea of a bonfire, good company and some liquor infused concoction on the longest day of the year!? Solstice/Yule falls on December 21'st give or take (sometimes it's the 22nd). So that is a few days before Christmas, and my idea was to shift some of the festivities to that day and do something more simple on Christmas. I am hoping that it would be a psychological trick to take some of the pressure off celebrating Christmas, when my mind typically tends to build up Christmas as this huge thing. Also if you are looking for another good reason to do this for yourself breaking up the flow of Christmas festivities might be a relief, or a perfect excuse to plan some more social events!

     I don't think I am going to buy a traditional Christmas tree this year. I want to do a natural/winter theme and focus on decorating all around the house. I bought two small fake flocked tree's, and will focus more on a winter decor. I also might do a traditional solstice/yule tree and decorate a live tree outside with dried oranges and bird seed ornaments.

Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments and things that have worked for you in coping with the difficulties during the holidays.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My family thinks I don't love them

My family thinks I don't love them.

The rumor mill has turned out quite a few theories that make them feel more comfortable about my absence. The current favorite is steeped in a mythology Vaarsuvius has created. It started when I was very young when they decided who I was, how I was, and they told everyone else this decided judgement. It had just enough truth in it to become an all encompassing definition, and no matter what I did or said no one would change their mind because "the truth" seemed to be so obvious. I thrashed against this for years, but it only made it stick more.

     They think I have isolated myself. They are mistaking isolation for good solid healthy boundaries. They have also mistaken this for as my trying to cause them pain, be hurtful. That is a mythology adhered to by those who don't know what healthy boundaries actually mean. Townsend and Cloud discuss this in their book Boundaries. So part of this feeling hurt on their part means they don't think I love them. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I love them, have loved them and in fact have spent years trying to chase after their love, affection, respect.  It didn't go well. While Vaarsuvius would swear on their life that they loved me and were affectionate with me, this was coupled with abandonment.

So this is a letter to them, those that think I feel no love at all.

     For you whom I have loved for so long. I've never not loved you, but at some point I figured out that I was chasing after ghosts. Vaarsuvius and Other child, you have only ever wanted me when I was able to give you something in some way or another, it was always about your "needing me", but you didn't respect me, value you me. I was a resource you liked to have, your comfort when you had bad days, your therapist, but as soon as you were done you dropped me like I was nothing. I waited till you would want me again, greedily snapping up any attention you would throw my way, chasing after you like a puppy dog, waiting and hoping for approval and validation. You didn't respect me as a person, you thought I was weak, over emotional. You didn't value my natural talents and accomplishments.
Dear Family everything in our relationship has always been about you. When we have problems you don't see how you in any way contribute them, you take the defense, you feel "emotionally devastated". You only ever want a relationship with me when I am willing to agree with you on everything, be happy, cheerful and not rock the boat.  When you say to me you just want me to be happy, you don't mean it. You want me to happy in the way you define it. You don't want to be mutually responsible for the relationship, you don't want me to have any feelings, you don't want me to tell you when I've felt you hurt them.  You can't handle accepting responsibility for any of your behaviors, you deflect, defend and I walk on eggshells.  Your lack of understanding regarding a healthy dynamic in which boundaries are normal was shown by the smallest boundary requests being rejected and resulting in  temper tantrums. You were unwilling to compromise, you took it as a personal assault, my needs didn't matter at all, it was all about you, how hurt you were by the situation. You have not cared about what was really good for me, only how you felt and were affected. Requesting something from you is an imposition, my being dramatic, "why can't I just do this one thing for you".
I have tried everything I can think of, even though you won't believe me. I finally figured out that you were not going to change, so I had to. I distanced myself from the relationships in the family The dynamics have been unhealthy to say the least, and the energy I expended trying to fight that dynamic resulted in me being sucked in and it took its toll on my life.

Quite honestly it's not that I don't love you, but that you don't really love me.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Normal Childhood exploration; The List

 Lena Dunham's memoir release and the subsequent scandal makes this the perfect time to address the next thing on the list: Normal Childhood exploration.

     I was recently reminded by a well meaning individual that all kids go through a phase of being curious about their bodies. While they meant it to mean I had misinterpreted
this simply life fact and using it to support my case of childhood sexual abuse was using air to hold up my case; they are not wrong. Kids do go through their normal stages of development being curious of their bodies and their peers/family members. When we think of babies or even toddlers stumbling about their homes, dropping to the floor and putting their face into the carpet because the are curious about the texture and how the view of everything from the floor is different, so it follows that they would look at themselves and what must seem like odd and fascinating features to them and be filled with the same curiosity.

      Kid's health says "By preschool, most kids have developed a strong sense of being a boy or girl, and continue to explore their bodies even more purposefully. It's not a good idea to scold them when they touch themselves — this will only prompt a sense of guilt and shame.Parents may, however, want to explain that even though it feels good, touching should be done in private — preschoolers are old enough to understand that some things are not meant to be public. They're also old enough to understand that no one — not even family members or other people they trust — should ever touch them in a way that feels uncomfortable.
Your preschooler will continue to learn important sexual attitudes from you — from how you react to people of the opposite sex to how you feel about nudity.

Parents may, however, want to explain that even though it feels good, touching should be done in private — preschoolers are old enough to understand that some things are not meant to be public. They're also old enough to understand that no one — not even family members or other people they trust — should ever touch them in a way that feels uncomfortable.
Your preschooler will continue to learn important sexual attitudes from you — from how you react to people of the opposite sex to how you feel about nudity.

     Parents may, however, want to explain that even though it feels good, touching should be done in private — preschoolers are old enough to understand that some things are not meant to be public. They're also old enough to understand that no one — not even family members or other people they trust — should ever touch them in a way that feels uncomfortable.
Your preschooler will continue to learn important sexual attitudes from you — from how you react to people of the opposite sex to how you feel about nudity.
     Due to the belief that organizations like CPS are anti family, anti Christian Home School I have often heard this idea that parents are afraid of being victims of the system because their child engaged in normative sexual development behavior, and it being seen as a sign of them molesting the child. In fact the well meaning individual went on to tell me that they knew of examples of where this horrifying tale became reality and that parents where falsely accused. It comes with this presumption and fear about the system and there is always some incident that seems to confirm the fear, even if the actual incidents of false accusation are a very small percentage.  I am also fairly certain, but I will have to do a little more research into the process, that CPS would not base a whole case of childhood sexual abuse based on normative incidents of sexual development.
So if that being the case, aside from a belief perspective why the fear? Is it that hard to differentiate between normal and abnormal sexual behavior in children? Yes and no "(...) when a child engages in sexual behaviors, it can be difficult to decide when the behavior is natural and healthy, and when it may reflect a problem or disturbance. The normative behaviors of childhood and adolescence are of concern when they are extensive or suggest preoccupation, or involve others in ways that are not consensual. Sexual behaviors in children present a special concern when they appear as prominent features in a child’s life, or when sexual play or behaviors are not welcomed by other children involved in the play. This is the point at which sexually harmful and aggressive behaviors most closely and clearly hinges.

When a child's sexual behavior seems to spill out all over their life, that is when to put up the red flag. Also in my personal opinion certain types of self exploration paired with other factors can also be indications of abuse, and a good time for parents, teachers to tune into what is going on in the child's world.  I believe that is what organizations like CPS begin to take into account when their is concerns about child sexual abuse. In working with parts of the educational system I have observed that things like sexual play, or self exploration will be usually noted and general observation of whether or not in other factors seem to present will be made. If there is nothing else it stays in the child's file as a simple behavior note.

     As a survivor when you are looking over your history and trying to piece together what happened those are the things to keep in mind. You can begin to discern between what was normal and what really caused by abuse. And while you will be told by abusers and their defenders that "it was all normal" you can stay strong in what you know, re-visit the facts and look at all the puzzle pieces that come together forming the truth.
     Now we come to Lena Dunham and her now infamous memoir passages discussing sexual behaviors during childhood. In light of knowing that sex exploration is normal, why is Lena's account troubling? They way she describes what occurred shows a level of preoccupation about sex that seems to have existed in childhood and persisted in adulthood. It is possible that she chose to write about normal sexual development incidents in a provocative manner to incite drama and get excess amounts of press coverage. But personally I think it is more than that, taking into account what she describes, what we know about her parents, her upbringing, it all comes together as a portrait of someone who was abused.  Books like the courage to heal will back me up when I say that the possible types of sexual exposure Dunham experienced was childhood sexual abuse. 

     Her mothers lack of concern when she found Dunham and her sister engaged in sexual play shows that she was not necessarily a parent who was in tune with her children. I don't think she was simply unconcerned because she found the behavior to be normal. In fact her reaction mimics a pattern of disconnection by one parent when the other is being inappropriate or creating an inappropriate environment. This could be because their is spousal abuse in play, or they are coping with the situation through disconnection and denial.

     Dunhams age at the time of the incidents means that she was not yet in a developmental stage where she would have come into her own sexually. Her actions seem to indicate premature sexual behavior due to external influences. Age 7 is not old enough to be thinking about masturbating next to someone without other influences in play.

     The Courage to Heal says " Sometimes children who are sexually abused molest other children. When children mimic and repeat what was done to them, this is called abuse-reactive behavior. Sometimes these victims are too young to understand that what they're doing is wrong and can harm the other child. Most children who act out sexually with children feel an enormous guilt and shame."

     I don't think Lena wants to cause shock and awe in the sense that we might assume. I think there is that inner child in her that is still trying to sort out what happened in her environment,  I think she is trying to find ownership over her sexuality and find ownership instead of shame about her interactions with her sister. If she comes off as sexually independent and edgy then she doesn't have to feel the shame. Much of this probably occurring on an unconscious level.
I think that is why she included those things in her memoir, she is still acting out and that the little girl in her still trying to make sense of what she was exposed to. Again from an unconscious place she might be trying to pass it off as provocative, or normal to make herself feel better. 
Do I think her memoir was appropriate? No, and I do not think she should be defended as someone who is just sexually empowered, I think the opposite is true.

     Dunham has acted out in a very public manner, trying to express herself even if on an unconscious level. She is trying to get someone to hear her, to acknowledge her experience. Perhaps she is trying to acknowledge it to herself. She also might be projecting it outward because it is too much to hold on to internally.  There is a lot of discussion going on about boundaries, consent and raising children who are healthy in their sexual development. I think this is a great opportunity to engage on those subjects. However as a survivor I feel that childhood sexual abuse is not yet an important enough part of the general discussion. 

     I think what she is expressing is an uncomfortable subject for our culture. We don't like to deal with sexual abuse, especially not graphically. That's why Dunhams memoir has for the most part formed three groups of thought, that she is either a sexual revolutionary (a feminist), she is a predator, or was simply not taught good boundaries. It would make our culture happier to couch her behavior in terms of bad boundaries, by doing that it excuses us from having to take a deeper look. It's almost like comparing it to a child growing up without ever learning to clean up after themselves.
The truth is her behavior during childhood was likely more complicated than a lack of boundaries, or being a predator. And in no way is it simply about Dunham writing about childhood sexual development in a feminist fashion. In fact their was nothing feminist about her choice to write about her experience in the manner she did nor in her descriptions. 

     While Dunahm may be unconsciously acting out, she is still engaging in unhealthy, dare I say inappropriate behavior. I am concerned about her lack of understanding about consent and am somewhat horrified for her sister.  I do not yet know if her sister gave her permission to write about their childhood interactions, but even if she did Dunham's descriptions are in my opinion disrespectful and do not paint a portrait of child's play or consent, but of objectification. It was not thoughtful or reflective, her dialogue was highly sexual and erotic in tone.

      I had looked up to Dunham as an empowered feminist of my generation, I was excited that fashion magazines chose to put her on the cover, a normal curvy woman. Now I feel sadness, and concern. I hope, even though I disagree with her behavior, is that as a culture we are able to open a broader discussion up about childhood sexual abuse. I hope we don't just shuffle aside Dunham's blatant way of engaging in a difficult subject ( even if poorly done) for what makes us comfortable.