Suzanne and the Nature of Abuse

(About a 7 minute read)

I’ve heard models described as vacuous airheads, but that doesn’t describe Suzanne unless someone can be both a vacuous airhead and an intelligent, creative, buoyant, and artistic woman.

I believe she was all of 14 years old when she first modeled lingerie for Victoria’s Secrets, the catalog and store company. She couldn’t have been much older because I met her when she was 16 and she was no longer modeling by then.

Over the years, Suzanne has revealed a persistent talent for getting fired from employments, so I strongly suspect she was no longer modeling by the time we met because Secrets had refused anything more to do with her. She’s not a vacuous airhead, but she is dysfunctional.

The story I’m prepared to tell you today concerns Suzanne, Victoria’s Secrets, and her abusive boyfriend. I’ve already introduced Suzanne and Victoria’s Secrets, so I’ll turn now to the boyfriend.

Meet Jeff*.

He’s one of those males who prey on women much younger than themselves. Jeff is 20 years older than Suzanne, and very few women his own age have ever sustained an interest in him. Jeff can be charming. He can be witty. He can be exciting. He can sweep a naive and inexperienced girl off her feet. Yet, most women see the looser in him. So Jeff has learned to specialize in the young, naive and inexperienced women he has some chance of getting.

Once he gets them, he doesn’t know what to do with them. He turns the affair into a drama, the drama into a tragedy, the tragedy into a nightmare. When you take some fish out of the water, their colors at first fascinate, then fade. Latter, the fish begin to stink. Any girl who lands Jeff sooner or later learns that in a relationship, he’s a fish out of water.

Young people almost invariably overestimate the odds in their favor of significantly changing someone, and especially they overestimate their odds of changing a lover. Maybe that’s because they are always being told by their parents, preachers, and teachers to change themselves, and so they assume it actually works when you tell people to change themselves.

In truth, the only person likely to change someone is the person themselves. And even then, seldom, if ever, is a person capable of a fundamental change: It’s not in the nature of water to become stone, nor of stone to become air.

In the few years Jeff and Suzanne were together, Suzanne wanted two things, both absurd. She wanted to change Jeff against his nature. And she wanted her own nature to bloom. The latter was absurd because Jeff had her under his thumb and was abusing her emotionally, psychologically, and physically. No one blooms under those conditions. At best, they merely endure.

If you yourself have seen a few abusive relationships, you know they are all alike, except for the details. The only detail of the relationship between Jeff and Suzanne that surprised me was that Jeff apparently never tried to keep Suzanne from seeing me.

I’m clueless why he didn’t. It’s a classic pattern of abuse that the abuser tries to prevent his victim from having any friends who are outside of his influence or control. But through much of the time she was with Jeff, Suzanne saw me almost daily. It’s true she seldom associated with me in Jeff’s presence, but we spent hours together while he was at work or off somewhere else. That sort of thing normally doesn’t happen in an abusive relationship.

Suzanne would look me up almost every day. We’d then go to a coffee shop, a movie, the mall, “The Well” — which was her favorite nudist resort — or we’d go hiking, or drive around Colorado for a few hours. Whatever amused us.

Once, we even went to Victoria’s Secrets. That was three or so years into Suzanne’s relationship with Jeff. That day, we’d gone to the mall.

When we were passing the Victoria’s Secrets store, Suzanne wanted to go in. The racks, of course, were full of lingerie, and Suzanne excitedly asked me to choose three sets for her to try on. She then took me back to a dressing room where she stripped and modeled the sets for me.

Christmas was a month off, so I asked her a lot of questions about each of the three sets, including which one felt the most comfortable — if I’m going to give lingerie to a woman, it damn well better be comfortable, especially at Victoria’s prices.

Looking at a young nude woman is at least as fascinating to me as watching a beautiful sunrise. Yet, I’m not usually more than moderately attracted to most young women’s sexuality. Their sexuality is more likely to depress me than to stimulate me, although I’m not quite sure why. At any rate, I certainly do not make a point of telling young women they aren’t all that sexy to me — I have my life to protect! So that day I told Suzanne, “This is a lot of fun for me — watching you model that sexy lingerie. If I’m having so much fun, think of how much fun it would be for Jeff! Why don’t you bring him out here?”

Suzanne didn’t answer immediately. When she did answer, her voice had gone strange. There was a tone in it I’d never heard before. In a way, it was a little girl’s voice. But perhaps it only sounded like a little girl’s voice because she was having difficulty controlling it. She said, “Jeff wouldn’t like it. If I did this with him, he’d call me a slut.”

We fell into silence. Then she began taking off the last set of lingerie in order to get back into her own clothes, but she was trembling.

When you abuse a woman, you prevent her from being true to herself. At it’s core, that’s what abuse really is — it’s unnecessarily preventing someone from being true to themselves.

Sometimes it comes out in ways that are large enough and important enough to easily describe. Like the woman whose husband prevents her from developing her musical genius so that the world looses a classical pianist. But much more often, abuse comes out in ways that are harder to see, such as when a woman trembles in a dressing room because her lover will not, or cannot, accept her sexuality whole and complete, just as it is, without condemning it.

Those harder to see ways are as criminal as the other. You don’t need to beat a woman to abuse her. You can just as well kill a person’s sense of themselves, their self-esteem, their self direction — by a thousand tiny cuts.

By the time I met Suzanne I was too old and had seen too much wickedness to harbor any fantasy that I could reason with her into leaving Jeff. I knew she was confused beyond reason, frightened into uncertainty, blinded by her feelings, and emotionally dependent on him. So, I did the only things I thought I could do, which were never that great nor enough.

For the most part, that amounted to just accepting her for herself.


*The Jeff in this story should not be confused with the Jeff in 50 Shades of Jeff: Profile of a Promiscuous Man.  The two “Jeffs” were very different people in almost every way imaginable, although they knew each other.

Note: This story was last updated on April 20, 2017 for clarity.

Those Sexy Nudists Exposed! (But Safe For Most Work Environments)

If you have never spent much time at nudist resorts, it might seem counter-intuitive to you that people are sexiest when at least partly clothed, but it is true to at least my own experience.

I should have hundreds of memories of naked women from the times I’ve been to resorts.  And, there is both a way in which I do — and a way in which I don’t.

To illustrate: A young friend of mine is a former Victoria’s Secret’s model.  Over the years, she and I have been to nudist resorts somewhere between 20 and 40 times.  Out of all the times seeing her nude, I can only recall one image of her I associate with sexy, even despite her physical beauty.

That image comes from a late afternoon when I began wondering why I had so often been nude with Suzanne, but didn’t lump the memories I had of her nude in with my fondest memories of sexy women.  So I made a conscious effort to thing of her as sexy.  And it worked.  Even today, years later, if I reminiscence for awhile on the sexy looking women I’ve known, the image of her that afternoon is likely to pop up sooner or later.

I have at least three or four other images like that of women I’ve been to nudist resorts with.  Images I easily recall when I’m thinking of sexy women I’ve seen.  But in contrast to those images — perhaps less than half a dozen in all — I have seemingly endless memories of women walking down the street in tight shorts, short skirts, or flouncy dresses.

I imagine like most folks, I could spend a good hour or two — and probably have — just pulling up memories of sexy people I’ve seen in different venues — some from decades ago.  But so few are from nudist resorts.  I cannot be absolutely certain — memory is difficult to assess — but my guess is I have for the most part stored my nudist memories separately from my, “Wow! Look at her!” memories.

Now why is that?

Near as I can figure both from my own experience, and from talking with others about it,  nudists do not regard nudity as primarily a sexual experience, except perhaps when they are still novices at nudism.  Instead, nudity seems to be more an experience of openness, tolerance, and acceptance, than of sexuality.

That doesn’t mean the sexual feelings are entirely absent.  But those feelings are far from dominant. They are typically secondary — or perhaps even further down the ladder than secondary.  That is, in both my own experience, and — so far as I can tell — in the experience of many other nudists, you’re not oblivious to sex, but you usually become strangely insensitive to it.

I do not wish to give the impression I am against mixing sex with nudism.  For all I know, it would be mind-blowing to have sex at a nudist resort.  Nudity is a very emotionally intimate experience.  I can imagine adding to that physical intimacy.  And I know couples who do; I have yet to hear any of them complain.

Yet, so far as I can see, sex is not intrinsic to nudism.  I can see making it sexy.  But I don’t see it as necessarily sexy.  Indeed, it seems seeing someone on the street in tight pants is most often sexier than seeing them nude at a resort.

If that’s the case, why do you suppose that is?

Instincts We Never Knew Before Were So Powerful

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

~Henry David Thoreau, 1854

It’s a minor mystery why we sometimes wake up with something on our mind that we haven’t thought about in a long while. This morning, I woke up to an especially vivid recollection of a small herd of mule deer that Suzanne and I spotted on a midnight hike along a wilderness trail some years ago.   The deer moved soundlessly, like ghosts, in the bright moonlight.

It is moments like that one during which I feel most alive.

There are people whose religion is nature.  Thoreau was most likely one of those people.  So, too, are quite a few of the folks I’ve met here in the Springs.

Colorado Springs is, in some ways, an undesirable place to live.   Local politics is dominated by ideologues whose knee-jerk opposition to taxes recently translated into the City cutting back on police and fire fighters, and even shutting off every other street light, in order to save money.  Yet, the Springs is superbly located.  The Colorado wilderness begins less than a 30 minute drive from the City’s downtown.  If you are among those people who can find a ground or center for themselves in nature, the Springs is a good place to live.

I don’t know why it is, but churches have never affected me like a wilderness hike, an afternoon spent soaking in a warm mountain spring, the play of sunlight on lake waves, or the call of coyotes to the red sun.

It’s up in the mountains the risk of hypothermia is a more serious demand on our attention than all the world’s talk of salvation; it’s there the wind blowing through the ponderosa can roar like a river that carries our thoughts away; and it’s there when a lion looks at us, we feel the rise of primeval instincts we never knew before were so powerful.

It seems to me the “essential facts of life” are neither ideological, nor intellectual, but are instead existential.  And, perhaps, we are most often closest to those essential facts when we are “in the woods” or “up in the mountains”, so to speak.