I broke the standard pattern for victims of sexual abuse by being attracted to a man whose personality and values were very different from my family’s. Harvey was not the promising young man from a socially prominent family my mother and I had hoped for. Nor was he given to alcoholism like my male relatives.
I met Harvey on my first day at university. He lived over an accordion academy in the Little Italy area of Toronto with his mother and siblings. His dream was to be a physician. To make enough money to stay in school, he worked at Canada Packers, carrying butchered bull fronts on his strong back. Harvey talked about doing good in the world. I was in awe of his determination and his view of the world. By comparison, I was a spoiled rich kid looking for a husband.
We married while I was in my last year of a four-year honours course and Harvey had just completed two years of medical school. I expected to live happily ever after with the man I loved and who loved me.
The wounds from my childhood trauma ruined that dream. I had no idea why I found it impossible to carry out ordinary acts, why love-making often seemed repugnant, why I agreed to do a task and then put if off indefinitely, or why I shut down and let nobody near me, replacing any openness with tight shoulders and a bright smile.
Life was closing in on my struggle to shelter myself from a scary world. There was always the deadening, heavy weight in my stomach and the need to build a wall against whatever I was so afraid of. What was I so afraid of? I didn’t know.