This is from a chapter authored by someone who experience childhood sexual abuse, and although that has never been my experience, the paragraphs at the end of the chapter deeply resonated with me. This was specific to the author’s timeline of arriving at college, this narrative could just as easily have been superimposed on my life once I arrived at graduate school.
Once you arrive, there is no premade goal about where you’re going next. You do not know how to function without a goal. You are forced to confront the uncomfortable truth: you do not know much about who you really are. Without this authentic self-knowledge, it’s hard to create life goals. There is only trial and error.
Pleasure emerges in the form of enjoyable and consensual sex with a boyfriend you are madly in love with. Heartbreak follows, a year or so later. It is in the post-heartbreak period that you can access authentic information about who you are and what you like. This truth will prevail for decades to come, You learn to cherish emotional intimacy with your friends…
It will take years, two decades, for you to become sober, to learn to meditate, to be able to just be. Alone. With yourself. To cross the threshold from loneliness to solitude. To learn that love is abundant but compatibility is rare.
-Amita Swadhin, from “Pleasure After Childhood Sexual Abuse,” in Pleasure Activism (pp. 304 -305)