"Sigh." – Me
Did you ever read the book The Good Mother by Sue Miller?
I did. Years ago. The book disturbed me on many levels.
The books protagonist, Anna Dunlap, is newly divorced, and rebuilding her life around her three-year-old daughter. She meets a man, Leo Cutter, who ignites a sexual responsiveness that is new to Anna. Anna is the product of a circumspect New England family. She was frigid during her marriage to a man of similar temperament.
Her daughter and boyfriend, Leo, like each other. Anna sees them as a loving family until her ex-husband sues for custody, citing sexual activities that put his child at risk.
Reading this book brought back horrid personal memories for me. There were, for me, strong parallels to my life and experience of loving a man, being sexually involved and then being punished for the sexual activity. My punishment, much like Annas, was that my child was taken from me.
I am still battling this demon. Since the time my now fiance and I started dating, he has stayed over, in my bed, many times. However, he was never "allowed" by me to do so when my children were with me.
Early in our relationship, before things were very serious, it was for me a moral ground I stood on. I did not think it was appropriate for my sons to be aware that I was being sexual with a man, a man that was not their father. I discussed this with my now fiance some time ago at length and he completely supported my position.
Now we are engaged and while my moral ground has softened my past trauma ground has not. Fiance is still amazingly supportive.
Yet I wonder if I am being fair?
Is fair even something that should enter the equation?
Why do I even have to worry about this stuff?
Why? Because in my experience society still frowns on mothers being sexual beings.
I am professional, respectable, good mother.
Yet deep inside me, rests the knowledge that if I have sex my child(ren) can be taken from me. This is not some fear. This is reality. My past experience is imprinted in brain. I am incredibly anxious about all of this.
Fiance and I intend to purchase a home before we are formerly married. Do I make him sleep in a spare room on the nights my sons are with us? Go ahead, get a chuckle out of that. I do. But I still think such things!
My ex-husband filed for divorce "because he was mad at me that day". What might he do if he is REALLY mad at me?
Again, my fiance has been so understanding of all this. In an email I wrote to him months ago regarding this topic, I stated "I already lost one child. I cannot lose two more. I would surely die this time around"
Where is the boundary? When is it appropriate for me to have my fiance, future husband, sleep in my bed?
I am sure other single mothers have battled this but have they battled it with the very real trauma of losing a child because you had sex?
I did not lose my child to adoption because I was unfit. That had never been proven. No one knew what kind of mother I would have been because no one gave me a chance. I was guilty of having sex outside of marriage and that was considered both wrong and surely the act of a feeble deranged mind. Feeble minds cannot raise children. Feeble minds must have their children taken from them.
For today, my anxiety and stress over this matter has reached such epic proportions that I have made an appointment to discuss with my therapist. I need to find a away to pull out the trauma threads from the mixture so that I can make fair, appropriate, healthy decisions for all concerned. For as of today, I am too freaked out by the trauma of the past.
This has to stop.