The river catches me in the throat
Rip tide swallows me whole
Spitting, spurting, coughing the yawn
How to digest this wayward boat
The sinking fish that lick my soul
Reach for the rain that keeps me calm
And where the siren has sung her song
I will be there
With what’s dragged me down
To the bottom of the bed
Where the fluid is gone
Fluid. Body fluid, sexual fluidity. The physical and conceptual stigmas that are attached have dragged me down, and I am still attempting to free myself.
I have no idea where to begin. My history is such a part of my fluidity that I can’t even imagine reflecting on it for fear of unearthing memories that were meant to be forgotten.
Only recently, a family member and I were together and she asked me if I remembered being molested by a babysitter when we were fairly young. I thought about it for a while and recalled it as though it had been a nightmare, a figment of my imagination. Together, we confronted another family member to ask if she remembered this babysitter, and despite how vivid that basement memory was to the two of us, she didn’t even recall knowing anyone who met the babysitter’s description. So it still remains unreal, dream-like.
I had a similar emotional upheaval last year when I spent a month at CAMH after a disastrous attempt to quit drugs cold turkey. While I was there, my therapist continuously poked and prodded me about the physical and sexual abuse I experienced as a child and teenager. My past became “Exhibit A”. He was obsessed with his theory that I am queer because of how men have treated me consistently throughout my life. He labelled an experience I had as “rape” and sent me to group therapy where we had to confront our assailants as victims. I left because I am not a victim.
It’s so very odd, talking about my past. Conventionally speaking, yes I have been raped, molested, beaten, and oppressed. But in my mind, these were things that just happened to me, things I couldn’t control and that I will never be able to change. They were moments where, in a sense, my mind completely abandoned my body and I was was simply an object being acted upon, not a person being permanently damaged.
This dissociation with my body is deeply rooted in my childhood, and it has taken me a long time to be comfortable in my own skin. I grew up being told I couldn’t wear certain things, I had to cover up my body because it was something to be ashamed of. I had to protect myself in order to cater to the time bomb that is male sexuality. That is to say, I was raised with the idea that rapists were the victims of women traipsing around in short skirts and that female sexuality existed to be acted upon.
Female sexuality was the pandora’s box of my childhood. I never received “the talk” from my parents and the only times sexuality was acknowledged was when it was being judged or put down for being wrong. I think I’ve talked to my mother about sex once, when she told me about a nightmare she had about me kissing someone and in this dream she was overcome with rage. So coming out to my parents was the most difficult thing I’ve had to do. I knew I was gay since I was a child, and apparently my parents did as well. Furthermore, I knew that they knew because my ex decided to out me after we broke up. It was the elephant in the room and once it was acknowledged, a priest was invited over to tell me that I am objectively disordered.
I honestly wouldn’t consider connecting my past with my sexual fluidity until now. The reason to this is I would hate to taint the freedom of my orientation with the stigma of “damaged goods”. I didn’t want people to say, “Oh, no wonder you’re gay.” However, who I am now has everything to do with who I was and what has happened to me in the past. When I first came out, I cut off all my hair, only slept with women, and was a total misandrist in an attempt to reject while simultaneously healing from and owning my past. A massive paradigm shift occurred when my girlfriend at the time came out as transgendered and I was forced to consider the confusion that was my sexuality. I discovered the beauty and freedom that is my sexual fluidity. I finally connected my mind with my body.
Because I have had such disregard for my body in the past, with my addiction, my disconnectedness, and low self-esteem, my sexuality is the most healing and freeing thing I have at the moment. I am free from my own stigma in that I can look past a person’s physicality and see the real beauty of who they are and love that person. And in turn, I can love myself.
I am Eryka. My name means “lone female warrior.” I was raised to believe my body and desires to be dirty. I was beaten to believe in judgement and learned to expect abuse. But I am a woman and I love women. I grow strong from the power of six inch heels and my lover’s lipstick on my collar. With every drop of “Fluid” from my mouth, I am reducing the hate and stigma attached to my freedom and strength into vomit. Vomit that is washed away by the rain.