So wise and compassionate, Tanya. I’m sorry for all the abuse and violence you faced over the years, and I thank you for distilling your healing process into insights that can empower others and help them to heal in turn.

I’ve had similar self-analysis sessions with myself over the years when anxiety spikes, and it manifests as urges similar to what you describe. Then I look back on my history as a survivor of sexual violence, and all of the sexualization tied up in this single feature throughout the ages, and I realize that the compulsions are probably far from random. I, too, have come to the conclusion that there’s no wrong approach.

In my case, my chosen approach (personally) has been to resolve to ground myself deeper in self-gentleness — which, for me, has meant, rather than cutting away a piece of my physical being, learning to sit through the anxiety and the complex and uncomfortable emotions that survivorship instills. In some ways, it could be hard to sit with those feelings without externalizing them onto something physical and literally casting that off, but it’s also been a way of refusing to let assault/violence “change” me in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise chosen. Of not letting assault/violence “steal” another (very literal) part of myself that I — in calm, healthy, balanced moments — actually do appreciate and like.

But under other circumstances, or at another time, I might have made a different choice.

And for survivors who conceptualize their physical presentation differently, an entirely different choice could be entirely wonderful.

There is no right, wrong, better, or worse. There is only self-love and how we choose to let that manifest.

Wishing you (and your readers) continued healing and a future full of genuine, nurturing love.

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Love, sex, dreams, soul, adventure, healing, feeling. I kinda experience life as magical. Memoir is my jam.

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