Friday, October 10, 2014

Love and Disability

I manage to fall in love, or at least develop a strong infatuation with many of my therapists or medical practitioners. Male or female, it really makes no difference. During an especially heavy period of snowfall, some years ago, I was stuck inside the apartment with my thoughts. My feelings and her feelings were not mutual, but for several days consecutively I was convinced otherwise. The mind is subservient sometimes to fanciful wishes and desires, no matter how incorrect they may be.

In my case, the abuse rewired my brain. I could be upset about it, but I have to live with the products of the way that it is now. The best analogy I can reach for is that of an elaborate machine, namely the human body, wherein certain wires are connected incorrectly. The device may function, but it will not work the way it was intended. Point A does not lead to Point B. At times in my life, uncomprehending people have perceived of me in ways never intended or desired. I'm not angry at others, merely frustrated at the amount of extra work I have to do that others do not.

Terrible though it is, children can become sexualized at too young an age. What I experienced happened before puberty. Had it waited until I was a more-or-less normal sexual being, the damage would have been less intense. I speculate that my frequent confusion between platonic affection and sexual desire is a result of what I experienced. It's a false association, one that I went through trauma therapy seeking to reverse. It was effective to an extent, but it didn't take everything away. I equate love with sex, and almost every human relationship I experience is viewed through a sexual lens first.

Though I limit my contact with men because the sensation of male desire is usually uncomfortable, it does happen periodically. My first boyfriend makes sure to keep me close at hand, even when I'm exasperated with him for being so passive. He is a wise soul, twenty years older than me, but he remains in an unhealthy relationship that I once tried to correct. Now I know that he will never leave his partner. We tried to be lovers for a while, but found that we were much too similar and promptly resumed our friendship.

I'm much too practical to chase rainbows and my doctors are much too professional and ethical to take liberties. This time around, I chose the oldest, wisest psychologist I could find. I was sure that I was choosing something between a surrogate mother and grandmother, not an object of desire. And yet desire happened in spite of my careful preparation to ward against it. Today's session this afternoon will address that very issue. I'm curious to know what conclusions will be formed. I never wanted this and I am frustrated at myself for letting my fantasies run away with me.

Many of those who have provided me care have inevitably become objects of desire. Years ago, as I found out later, one of my doctors privately told her co-workers that she thought I was cute. They never let up with the teasing, even telling me personally what had been said. This led me to believe that there were far more to these feelings than simply an off-handed remark. I wrote a lengthy e-mail to her, seeking to word my response carefully, took a deep breath, and sent it along.

It expressed concern for her professional reputation, while conceding that I had romantic feelings for her. Within an hour, following strict office protocol, I received a phone call from a compliance officer at the office informing me that my sentiments were taken as inappropriate.

I felt severely embarrassed and apologized profusely on the spot. The compliance officer was surprised at my responses, amazed that I was merely a man with a crush, not a schizophrenic having delusions. I informed the legal side of affairs that this had been merely a huge misunderstanding and that I regretted what I had done. I tell this anecdote to illustrate how easy it is for workplace gossip to be confused with the truth and how easy it is for me to want to accept love and affection on any terms. A better set of leaders would have never let things develop as they did. I requested a transfer from the center, which was granted me with great politeness and efficiency.

At times, I confess I feel broken beyond all fixing. Anyone who shows me compassion and care ends up idealized and sometimes the product of infatuation. One of my doctors, in an unguarded moment, told me that I was one of her favorite patients. I confessed that she was my favorite doctor. There was an unstated affection in my response that I did not emphasize, nor verbalize in her company, nor will I ever. I am not out of touch with reality, but that doesn't stop me from having fantasies regarding those who patch me up and stick me together with glue.

When I was in grad school, I tutored disabled students for extra money. One of them was a paraplegic who was entirely wheelchair-bound. He'd been sent to a boot camp for troubled teens, whereupon during rough play three or four men jumped onto his back, the weight of their body crushing his spine. He desired me, first as a sort of respect, but later in a very romantic sense. I pitied him, but knew I needed to discourage his affections. He dropped out of school a semester later, believing the task was too arduous. He could not be persuaded to finish his degree, though I felt perhaps he might be prompted to do it if I was involved.

I have a love/hate relationship with my physical ailments. Part of me enjoys the care and compassion performed on my behalf, but the other half resents the need for additional treatment. These days, I take no less than thirteen medications and live inside the pharmacy. I visit six separate specialists. None of this can be avoided. I have been hesitant to embrace the term, but I am indeed disabled. This is simply a matter of fact, not a statement of weakness, though I resent the extra work that goes into daily life. Disabled means many things, especially the ones like mine that appear to be invisible.

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