Verka remembers sex too. All three of the older parts do, but in different ways. They have different slices of the same experiences. Charlie remembers wonder and an awe at the beauty of it. Annoushka remembers feeling loved in a delicious, happy, tingly way. Verka remembers something that seems murderous.

She can’t really express this or understand it. The closest she gets to is saying it feels like something is burning her alive. Charlie takes a look at it and says Verka wanted to give Natashka her body back.

It has to do with wanting ownership again, ownership of her own body, ownership of her sexuality, ownership for her lover of her lover’s own body and sexuality.

I know this, but I don’t really know what to do with it. It seems to bump up trying to work out what it means to have been a trafficked child in an uncomfortable way that suggests something needs to shift.

I’m sweeping the alter room this morning, and pondering this, when it hits me, I wanted something the rest of you just have. It’s not simple. It’s contested. But other women in Western society have this to one degree or another. There are, of course, problems. There are limits and strictures that shouldn’t be there. But no one tells you who and what and when and where and how and for how long your body is going to be used.

You can be promiscuous or celibate or happily married and, for the most part, you’ll live through the experience. People might say things, but that’s ALL. No one will put you in a fucking freezer for it. If you can live with social disapproval, you can do whatever you want with your own body. You don’t need to be able to tolerate torture or confront your own fear of death to obtain your freedom.

It’s not easy being a woman in our society.

Oh, but it is. It is so easy.

I wanted what most people outside Yuri’s world have. It’s just a given. I wanted it with a fierce determination that I had to shut down to keep from hurting someone.

That’s the feeling Verka remembers from sex. It’s not just the physical experience she wanted—that I wanted—it’s what that experience meant. As a child, I wanted just a negation. I wanted people to stop touching me. I didn’t think about choices. The idea of choice did not make sense. I just wanted them to stop hurting me, stop confusing me, stop making me sensations that were too much for me.

As an older child, I wanted to choose. I could experience sexual desire and a sexual response. I wanted to choose what I did with that. I wanted them to stop stealing my body and what it could feel away from my mind and its ability to make decisions about that body.

I could not quite bring myself to think I wanted MY body back. But I wanted my lover to have HER body back. It’s not just that I wanted them to stop hurting her, but I wanted them to stop stealing her right to choose. She wanted to give me mine back. We were both mad as hell.

There is still something furious about my relationship with my body. Verka still feels it. She says first, when she sees me, that I am fat, but I don’t know if that’s why she won’t eat. (I’m not fat. I’m just not a 13-year-old rail.)

I think she likes being hungry.

When it is cold, and her hands and feet begin to ache from it, she likes that too.

I used to run—I thought about taking it up again, but then someone stole my running shoes. I suspect it was a monk. But that’s another story. But I still enjoy a good burn in my muscles from working hard. So does Verka.

It’s not about the pain. It’s the assertion of it: this is MINE.

I think that is what it meant for me to be a trafficked child. A wide swath of my experience for me is a rage for ownership of myself–not just a casual desire to rebel, or sincere wish to assert myself more, but an absolute, murderous rage for it.

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