I’m a practicing artist located in Australia. About three months ago, I met a woman online who lives in the US. Since then we have both been exchanging emails fairly frequently and I just have to say, that this woman is the most intelligent, courageous, hilarious and gorgeous human being I have ever encountered. We have both admitted to having strong feelings for each other. The issue is that I am a survivor of child abuse and as a result had just assumed that having an intense sexual and emotional relationship would just be too much for me to handle. To add to my dilemma, the woman I’m in love with is a well-known authoress.
I feel a bit overwhelmed when I think of the difference in our respective statuses in society. Sad as it sounds, sometimes I just feel like who am I to be loved by a beautiful person like her. I trust her, and am extremely honest with her about my opinions but have not yet mentioned about the abuse. I would be extremely appreciative of any advice on how to proceed. — Lovestruck Aussie
Anna says: Yours is one of those emails that leaves me with far more questions than answers, Lovestruck. Let’s tackle the most pressing first: your child abuse. You say that having a healthy sexual and emotional relationship would be “too much to handle” because of your prior abuse, and that may be the case, but only if you are trying to weather the storm all by yourself. I don’t know what kinds of approaches to healing you’ve tried already, but I encourage you to seek counseling and to reach out to other survivors if you haven’t done so.
If in-person counseling seems too daunting at first, then look for online support groups or message boards for past survivors. There are many, many people who’ve gone through the seemingly endless crap bucket of abuse, but who have also gone on to thrive and have loving, beautiful, rewarding relationships as well. You can too, of course, and you will. You should, for starters, read this inspiring essay from Heather Corinna at Scarleteen (and consider donating to them if you can because they do amazing work for teens).
Moving on to your next query: being honest with your long-distance authoress. I don’t see why you wouldn’t tell her, Lovestruck, except for the possible reason that you think she would then view you as hopelessly damaged or judge you in some other way for things in your past that were beyond your control. I remember telling a lover once about my parents’ admittedly awful and drawn-out divorce and her telling me essentially that I would never be in a happy marriage myself because of how things turned out for them. As if all of my future happiness rested on this one scenario that had nothing at all to do with me. This lady and I did not end up living happily ever after, as you can imagine.
So yes, some people will judge you, but those that matter will not. You have to trust that your gal will be one of those people. If she isn’t, then, well, you can wave to her from the thousands of miles that separate you in the first place. I’ll even let you choose which finger to wave. But better to find that out sooner than later, yeah?
Lastly, let’s talk about self-confidence. Clearly this intelligent, courageous, hilarious and gorgeous human being sees the same characteristics in you as well, Lovestruck, or she wouldn’t be entangling herself with you. You don’t go into the details of what this relationship entails aside from emails, but it certainly sounds like this is more than a one-way pen pal dealio. I’ve often been daunted by lovers in the past who I deemed more accomplished/hotter/smarter/better at Scrabble than me, until I realized that, duh, they must’ve seen something in me besides being able to pull off horizontal stripes and how great I am at watching Food Network marathons.
You’re awesome. I can tell already and I haven’t even heard you say anything in what I’m sure is your delightful Australian accent. So shore up all those undoubtedly fantastic things about yourself, and shrug off the inflated constructs we succumb to that make us feel less than, like “social statuses” and whatnot. She’s not some untouchable, like the Queen of England or Jillian Michaels. She’s just a gal. And you have to love yourself before you can truly love someone else. Work on that, and work on being as honest as you can.
I will leave you with one of my favorite Rainer Maria Rilke poems, which is, remarkably, not from Kissing Jessica Stein. He says, “Here, in the realm of decline, among momentary days, be the crystal cup that shattered even as it rang. Be — and yet know the great void where all things begin, the infinite source of your own most intense vibration, so that, this once, you may give it your perfect assent.” Here’s to your perfect assent, Lovestruck.