A Dialogue About Sex

My throat is dry, my voice is shaking. It feels alien to me, as if it isn't my own. It doesn't sound like me. It sounds childlike. Fearful. I am uncomfortable. My solar plexus feels as if it will implode and somehow take me with it. How can I still feel so afraid? I feel fourteen again. I want to cry.

No, this isn't a flashback to when I was attacked. I guess you could call it a memory of a flashback. I was lost in this particular memory as recently as last Wednesday.

Last Wednesday marked 21 years, 7 months and 4 weeks since a masked intruder walked into my family home, held my mother and me captive for three hours and committed a multitude of crimes against us; rape, attempted rape, serious sexual assault and theft.

Last Wednesday also marked a point in time in excess of 15 years since I have spoken about it with anyone face to face, unless to a close friend or family member, although as some of you know, I have written about it on my blog. I have also tweeted about it.

Last Wednesday, I set off from my apartment and drove to the train station. I was to meet a man called Karl. Karl was travelling all the way from England just to talk to me. You can read about his journey too. In fact, his journey is a crucial part of this story. This wasn't to be a "standard" interview. Karl isn't a journalist or a reporter. He is interested only in dialogue. And what took place last Wednesday was unlike any other dialogue I have ever had.

Karl is the founder of an organisation called The Dialogue Project. His current project is based on conversations he is having with people about sex.  And that was precisely what Karl was coming to Switzerland to talk to me about.

I did not "prepare" for this conversation. Karl had been kind enough to send me several recordings of conversations he had already had with other people, so that I could get more understanding of what The Dialogue Project was about and what to expect. I didn't listen to them. My gut feeling was that it would be less nerve-wracking if I knew as little as possible. I also wanted the conversation to be raw and unrehearsed. I wanted listeners to get the real me. But also, I wanted to get to know the real me too. That might not make sense to many. I am a great believer in reassessing and consolidating. This dialogue would be a chance for me to do just that with this particular aspect of my life. What would I say? How would I react?

All of these questions were answered for me, as they will be for you too if you decide to listen to the conversation when it is ready. (Karl is currently editing it. I think he might be having a spot of bother. I did warn him I like to talk. A lot. There may be a short AND long version.)

The conversation was powerful, graphic, emotional, funny, intense, upsetting, horrific and hysterical. It was real.

Of course it helped that, when I met Karl at the station, I instantly knew who he was, despite never having seen a photo. It helped that we hugged immediately and nattered all the way to the lakeside restaurant, where we sat together on the jetty when the Swiss were cosying up inside and got blown to bits because of our shared love of fresh air and being outside. It helped that we were both gasping for a beer. It helped that we were "carnivore kin" and quickly decided that we would both have the steak and chips with Café de Paris sauce and a mountain of chips on the side. It helped that I could look into his eyes and recognise a kindred spirit; a lover of people, a conversationalist, a creator, an artist, a Dad, a funny man, a man not afraid of his emotions. It helped that, almost instantly, I felt that I might just have found another friend for life.

It was to be a day of revelations and powerful emotions. Many revelations I will save for those who want to listen to the interview. Emotions? I can only say that I would put last Wednesday up there with several of my most memorable times in life. The births of my kids, the day the perpetrator of the attack went to prison, the day I met Jason, the day I walked out of a week-long life-coaching course and finally believed what other people were telling me; that I was OK (that was the same day I decided I had wasted enough of my life not liking myself).  Another one of those days when you feel as if you are seeing colour for the first time in a long time.

But it was an important day in more ways than one.

After the conversation, Switzerland went on to win their match in the World Cup. The street outside came alive with car horns, music, flag-waving, Vuvuzelas and people literally dancing in the street. It was magical.

I celebrated too. I danced in the garden with the kids, waving a Swiss flag and drinking wine. But I guess you could say that I was not only celebrating the Swiss win. I was celebrating I had survived. I was celebrating life.

This blog post is dedicated to Karl, founder of The Dialogue Project and a friend. Karl, you keep thanking me for "letting you in" to my life and for our conversation. But truthfully, you have done more for me than you will ever know. I didn't have to "let you in". The subject matter might have been traumatic, but talking to you about it was easy, because you allowed me to feel safe. You are one in a million. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Jane xx



10 thoughts on “A Dialogue About Sex

  1. You are truly an inspiration, Jane. Very few people open themselves up to others, or approach life head-on, as you do. I admire how you set about finding out all you can about yourself, while so many others are paralysed by fear that what they find out might not be to their liking. Whatever you discover about yourself, whether positive or negative, you always look at how you can turn that into a positive, and I love you for being brave and bold enough to do that.

    To open yourself up in this way takes courage, and I’m so happy that you could celebrate having done so, as well as so much else besides, last Wednesday. What’s perhaps most remarkable to me, though, is how you write so lucidly and beautifully about events in your life, which are often anything but either of those.

    I’m glad you like who you are now. I like that very special person, too.

  2. Well Jane – I find your words extremely moving. And yes, I am grateful to you. And that you consider me now a friend makes your words even more special to me. Your writing is so full of you. I like who you are now too. And you helped me a week ago to like who I am a bit too. For that and for plenty else… I do indeed thank you. Now – about that edit…. !

  3. Since the recent day on Twitter when you opened up I have been in spectacular awe of you. If I achieve nothing else in life I hope I can attain even a quarter of your incredible bravery. Superb post – but what else would we expect.

  4. Jane,Kath is spot on you truly are an inspiration.I wish I had the words to not only praise your amazing writing but your frankness,charm,wit and strength too.From your beautiful poems to your harrowing real life prose you give your all and the end result is sheer brilliance.
    The one thing I ask is that as you go from strength to strength in your life you never stop writing,it is a talent that should never be wasted.

  5. very tender, very touching, as a woman it resonates through my body and shudders my bones, your recovery from such violence is a poetic justice, your soft and powerful voice needs to be bellowed x

  6. As i read this i hear Ewan McGreggors voice resonating in my head saying “Choose Life” and it seems to me that not only have you chosen life and seen the light at the end of the tunnel, but you are out of the tunnel, sunbathing in the light with a margarita made out of life’s lemons handed to you. Happy days. And the greatest thing is through your writing/tweeting/blogging you share the light with others. Proud to know you mate as always.

  7. Been following u on twitter Jane & now delved in2 your blog (sounding very stalker-esque now!) I too am guilty of wasting time hating myself & those who judge me may never understand the depth to a person and what has shaped them that way. I am relieved to read that I am not alone in feeling that I am often misinterpreted. And only now at almost 32 years old I am coming to accept that the things I have hated about myself for so long are the traits that make me lovable 2 others.. The same applies2 you. 🙂

  8. Dear Jane
    As an occasional collaborator at The Dialogue Project, I’m one of the people who’s been privileged to listen to your conversation with Karl. It’s hard to know what to say about it without sounding trite. The main thing is I’m so glad you’re talking about an experience that too many women are told somehow ruins their lives. And that you’re living your life with joy. Which seems to me to be the best revenge, the best healing, the best possible way of refusing to be defined by someone else. All power to you. And thanks.

  9. I am a firm believer that the past shapes our present and future, and that our experiences are the essence of the people that we become – this is a constant ‘self-evolution’.

    Where people are vulnerable is that the anger and emotions with those events that have hurt us, will often never dissipate and eventually spiral out of control. Anger is a raw emotion and it consistently prevents us from being at peace either with ourselves or others.

    Bravery, however, is the ability to constructively deal with our past, and use it to make ourselves stronger. Your ordeal is one that is worse than anyone should ever have to experience, and it breaks my heart that someone whom I consider a true friend, and I do not use that term lightly, has had to go through this.

    The concept however is the same. You have gone through anger at others, and notably at yourself. The realisation comes that you have no need to ever reproach yourself.

    As you know, God plays a huge part in my life. Whilst I cannot imagine why God would ever put anyone through what you have endured, he chose you for a reason, and that is because he knew that you would have the eventual strength to overcome, to inspire, and to be the most positive of friends and influences to so many.

    Your past and every painful moment, is what has made you into the strong, creative, brave, wonderful friend, partner and parent that you are today.

    Enjoy every moment that life affords you from here on in. You have fought hard enough to deserve every last one.


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