What's in my head to say is, "I wish I understood why, when I'm in certain moods, what I want to do is watch or read things in which the character I identify with is a victim of violence." It's been true for as long as I can remember - truly as long as I can remember. When I was younger - maybe age 5-16 or 18? - I had a very active fantasy life, filled with impossible self-directed violence.
It's important to me to say 'impossible.' In my situation of not having clear memories of abuse, there's a perpetual question-mark over everything. If I think of myself as imagining something, am I perhaps recreating it from memory? When I draw pictures, are they symbolic, or are they the deep recollections I don't let myself know? Maybe...it's hard for me to claim, but if I can anywhere, it seems like it should be here, or else why am I here?...maybe some of each. I've drawn people tied to beds. I think that may have happened. I've drawn people cut in half. I know that didn't.
But there's always that question mark, and I'm afraid of seeing it in other people's eyes - afraid of saying, "These really were fantasies," and seeing the question, Really? Or are you denying what you don't want to let yourself know? And I know that can happen. That's why the 'impossible' is so important to me, why I feel like I have to make anyone reading this understand that much. There may have been threads of half-memory woven in, but the fabric was unreal. A lot of them ended in my death. I know that didn't happen. A lot of the things would have scarred me for life in ways I know I'm not. I want to also say, "A lot of them were simply wildly implausible, to the point of being ludicrous to consider as anything but fantasy," but...a lot of people think like that about things I know do happen, so I think I won't use that argument. The others are enough.
I learned early on not to talk about these fantasies, not to admit to them, to be ashamed of them. They were erotic and soothing, and wrong. Of course, there's some fairly bitter irony in the fact that I learned this by trying to hint at them to the person I told the most about myself: my mother. I don't even know how to think about that, and mostly I don't try.
Another thing--god, I can't talk, for all the caveats that fill up my mouth, my hands, when I try, but at least I try--another thing I need to make clear is that I don't make judgments about what my ex-partner used to refer to as 'acronymic relationships.' B&D, S&M, etc.. But the fantasies aren't any kind of reality for me. I can calm myself at times by imagining these things, but at those times if someone I love very much and like to have touching me puts a hand somewhere near my wrist, I'm gone. I'm away. I do not want these things, even lovingly enacted let alone anything else. I do not have these fantasies because I am a masochist. I don't think being a masochist would be such a bad thing; I know a lot of my friends find their sexual lives enriched by the occasional or regular dance with such things. But if I think, "I don't understand why I want to see this or imagine it," the answer isn't, "Because that's the way my predilections lie."
And the stupid thing is, I think - after all that caviling and explaining - I think I know why, in one part of my mind. It's a pretty well-known phenomenon: the fantasy - whether created by watching something in a movie or reading it in a book, or imagine wholesale - evokes just a touch of the sensations that overwhelmed me at one time, but in a way which I can master, process, accept, even control. Come to think of it, I think a lot of acronymic stuff has the same function, even if I can't at the moment conceive of using it that way. But it's there. When I watch a character being beaten in a movie - the character I identify with, so that a shock goes through me with each blow - it brings up tiny, tiny shards of feeling, and lets me be in control of them.
I think that's true. It's a well-known theory, and I think that for me it holds a lot of truth.
And yet, I continue to feel baffled, confused, disturbed by myself.
So maybe the question I keep coming back to isn't, "I don't understand why I want to watch these things," it's "I don't understand why I keep not understanding it." I have an answer. I think it's a true answer. And yet I still keep coming back to that feeling of being an unhappy mystery to myself. It makes me feel...embarrassed. Uncomfortable. Ashamed.