“What are you thinking about?” he said looking longingly into her eyes, brushing the hair back from her face, causing it to spill onto the pillow.
She hesitated. Her eyes darted toward the ceiling. “How much I love you,” she said.
She lied. She does love him, but that wasn’t what she was thinking about. What she was really thinking was: Did I put the wash in the dryer? Crap! I forgot to let Fido out to pee. Bet he’s going to pee on the rug again. What on earth am I going to put in the kids’ lunches tomorrow morning? Should have gone grocery shopping instead of meeting Chris for lunch. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Yeah, that should work. I really should throw out that rug. Do we have bananas?
I’ve read that guys’ brains are like waffles. They compartmentalize. They can think in only one box at a time. I’ve also read that women’s brains are like spaghetti. They multitask. They can be thinking about laundry, pee, peanut butter, rugs, and bananas all at once. This has been my life experience and so I agree, as does my husband. We understand and accept that we are different. I don’t have to lie. He knows if he asks, “What are you thinking,” and my answer is, “Bananas, laundry, and pee,” it’s no reflection on him or his abilities as a lover. It’s our “normal.”
Last week I posed a question that my survivor friends and I discussed recently: Could some of the struggles, expectations, longings, and frustrations survivors feel in the bedroom be “normal?” I can’t answer that question. The answer would be as individual and as varied as each survivor and their story. I can only tell you what I know to be “normal” for me and what I’ve learned about men and woman. And I can pray that from what I’ve shared, that maybe, just maybe, a survivor who reads my words won’t chastise herself or wonder if she’s “normal” the next time her mind strays during love making. It may be her “normal.”
Living with the secret of sexual abuse is a lonely road. Healing from sexual abuse is a long journey, but it doesn’t need to be lonely.