Sunday, September 17th, 2017

At this point, sometimes I don’t even remember what’s an actual posted post vs what’s a post I’ve only drafted. I’m trying to get the blog under control, but obviously it’s been hard for me. ūüėõ

The gist of the post I’m thinking of in my head talks about how I went from operating at like 20% to operating somewhere around 79-ish percent, and even though that’s a great jump, I still¬†really felt that last missing 21%.

But I think I’m basically there. I’d say I’m at like 98%, y’all.

If there’s anything holding me back, it’s the crazy backlog of life that’s happened by being practically non-functional for much of the last year and a half. I have a stack of thank you cards to potentially write (unless I give up on that), I have old emails to return, I have to clean up this blog, I have some pounds to lose. I have things that need to get done.

But. I have the ability to do them now. I don’t wanna over-speak, but I would say I am basically at full functionality now. So, if we’re talking about where my life is and what I feel like I need to do to “catch up” or something, I’m still maybe at 83-ish percent. (I feel like I got a lot to do.) But if we’re talking about how I feel on a day-to-day basis – that I’ll be able to get through those emails and run again and focus and concentrate and re-strengthen the salvageable friendships and start new ones… All of that is hovering somewhere right around 100.

I know I kind of had this moment over the summer where I shot up from 30-something percent to 79-ish, or whatever we wanna call it. (Sometimes it’s hard to gauge.) And of course, I felt that, and it was giant… But even though it’s not as much ground to cover to jump about 20%, as it was to jump about 40… It’s an important 20%! And I really feel it.

This week has been so good – starting with an incredible Tuesday (some of which you know about here, some of which I might talk more about later). But either way, Tuesday was so dope and basically the week just got better from there.

Therapy was the best it’s ever been on Friday. My therapist and I were laughing and joking and having kind of the time of our lives. (Well, I can’t speak for her. But I was having a total ball.)

It was just SO fun.

Also, sometimes when I’m sitting in a chair and talking to people, I like to kind of sit in ways of various leg-folding ¬†– not just feet on the ground, or crossed at the knees, but like maybe a foot underneath my butt that I’m sitting on, or an ankle on the chair right in front of me, with my knee up so I can lean on it. A lot of times, that “fun” kind of comfortable sitting means sort of just that – I’m really comfortable, and I’m having fun.

And I noticed I repositioned a little¬†and sat on my foot. I am getting so comfortable in therapy, that I’m doing my comfortable sit!

I know it’s hard to ever really say I’m “better” completely. I know that PTSD doesn’t just evaporate. I know that there may be some nightmares or bad days to come (or at least I’ve been told this, so I’m trying to be at least semi-prepared for the possibility). But it feels (basically, as of Tuesday night) like I’m “better” as “officially” as someone can be.

In the words of James Brown, I feeeeeeeeeel good!

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

[aaaagh! I am trying to get control of the blog. I keep saying I will, but we’ll see! Anyway, I started drafting¬†this while I was in Philadelphia over the weekend, and I’m posting it now. But pretend I posted it this weekend. Thanks!]

I’ve spent a lot (a lot) of time being sad about BMI over the last two years. I’ve spent some time lamenting it. It just felt like how could something so wonderful become something so terrible?

It has been both one of the very best and one of the very worst experiences of my life. (One of the best in the world when my high school theater teacher came to New York to my audition! And obviously one of the worst when I was sexually assaulted and felt pretty pushed out of my dream school.)

But as I reflect on things before I go back on Monday, the one thing I go back to is how it felt on the first day before I even made it to class. Favorite dress. Favorite smoothie. Favorite city. Huge accomplishment. Taking it all in. I pulled it from my blog archive to read again:

I take the train in to midtown, and once I get to Penn Station, I grab a Planet Smoothie (one of my favorite things in this world).

As I walk down the street, I leave my dad a voicemail telling him how happy I am in the moment. I talk about how I’m in my favorite pink dress, drinking my absolute favorite treat, walking to the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop (that I’ve been trying to get into for 6 years!).

This moment is like a fairy tale.

And no matter what happens from here ‚Äď with the competition and stress and hard-ness of the program‚Ķ in this moment, it‚Äôs the dream. And as sort of lame as it sounds, I just want to soak it all in as I walk down the street in the greatest city in the world.

And that’s what I did on the whole beautiful trip down to BMI.

– – – – – – – –¬†– – – – – – – –¬†– – – – – – – –¬†– – – – – – – –¬†– – – – – – – –¬†– – – – – – – –¬†– – – – – – – –¬†– – – – – – – –¬†– – – – – – – –

Anyway, so, that was the joy from two years ago. And I just thought I’d live in that for a moment, before I go back.

Friday, September 15th, 2017

GGGGGGGAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Okay, so as you heard, I went to her book signing (because, of course). While I was there, I gave her a letter. It is basically¬†kind of the gist of the back post y’all just got – of being faced with all these decisions and wondering “What would Hillary Rodham Clinton do?”¬†I thanked her for being such an incredible role model. Aaaaand, yeah.

That was Tuesday. On Tuesday, during an incredibly large and busy press tour, I gave her a letter, and by Friday, I had a letter in my mailbox from her. (What?! :-))

(a letter from Hillary Rodham Clinton to Aurora De Lucia)

Do you see that?! HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON is “in awe of my strength and resilience”

HILLARY!

HIL.LA.RY.

Anyway, this is the best.

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

I went to Hillary Clinton’s book signing this morning, which was lovely for a number of reasons.

(We’ll probably get into them tomorrow.)¬†I am so unbelievably tired. (Oh goodness gracious have I been up for a lot of hours.) But I was so happy about this I wanted to share it…

I potentially could be wrong about this. But this felt like the first thing since the assault that both I truly went to for no other reason than I reeeeeally wanted to – I wasn’t trying to prove something this time around, or trying to go outside just to stop from crying or to seem normal or whatever. I went because I so wanted to… And, it didn’t become this incredibly hard situation where I got triggered or felt I wasn’t ready or was second-guessing every moment of it.

[I’ve had moments of goodness – maybe a great therapy session, or a really good day at work –¬†normal times where I wanted to be there and it felt good within the totally normal things I do on a normal schedule), but as far as one long special event… I think this was the first.]

I remember doing some things I really wanted to do before – where I wasn’t trying to “prove” something. I just wanted to go. One example is when I went to the DNC afterparty after Hillary got her nomination. I wanted to go to that so badly. So, I did. And while I had a lot of fun, I also remember pushing through tears as Snoop rapped about sex… So many things having to do with sex were really triggering at the time. And I just cried.

There I was, living life, being spontaneous, having the best time… And boom. In what should’ve been one of the happiest and memorable nights, I found myself having to push SO hard to have a “normal” or “good” time.

And there were many things like that – that seemed fun and exciting, that I legit wanted to do, but that were painful for any number of reasons when I got there.

There were also some things I didn’t reeeeally super wanna do, but because they felt like “things Aurora would do,” or because I was trying to prove to myself I was better, I’d force myself out of the house when I was in a terrible place just to do it. And to some extent, I know it’s good to get out when you’re struggling. But there are some instances when i wish I would’ve just let myself struggle and have another sick day or something.

And to some extent I feel like I’ve gotten a little used to forcing myself to go to things. And it was nice to go to something that I wanted to go to. And it was so lovely when I was there to not freak out, or need to be so alone, or cry for no reason.

I had a bunch of conversations with a bunch of people. I only cried over the devastating “Making History” chapter in her book (something that made complete sense for where I was). I just was living and enjoying it.

(I mean, I didn’t dress up how I wanted. I’m still not totally back to normal, because I had a kind of overwhelmed (sooooorta trigger-y)¬†day leading into all this when I was supposed to be getting all dolled up. So, I wasn’t dolled up and that part was a bummer. But if we can just forget, for now, how I look, then everything was pretty perfect.)

I don’t want to judge every interaction I have/thing I do for the rest of my life, like, “but is this how ‘Aurora’ is supposed to do this?” I mean, I’m Aurora. I’m not a mythical creature. I do things how i do them. So, this isn’t a mindset I wanna keep of “How ‘Aurora’ is this.”

But, for now… while we’re in the mindset (just for now)… I will say it felt so good to feel “like Aurora” – the first time I really did an “Aurora”-type thing – something everyone would expect me to do. And I really loved it with my full heart, basically without issue (wishing I’d been a little more functional the day before so I could look¬†cuter, being the only one… but since we said forget that for now…)

It was so nice to be Aurora, to connect, to hear, to enjoy.

So, I guess this is what really getting better feels like!

Monday, September 11th, 2017

Recently, now that I feel like I’m “better” (or at least better-ish), I’ve been trying to go about my “normal” life. But when going¬†about my “normal” life again after a pretty long period of it being not normal at all is proving hard to me.

What even is my “normal” life anymore?

I’ve talked kind of a lot¬†on here on about the toll this has taken on my relationships of all kind… Friendships have been hurt, whether it was just by pure vicinity to what happened, or by me seeming so confusing and annoying and distracted and whatever else, or just by general crummy life timing, or even by me almost purposefully pushing people away, because for a while I wanted to be alone.

And I imagine it is hard to just unconditionally love someone who is suffering so intensely – to know the right mixture of giving tough love of like, “You gotta leave the house” [or whatever] vs. pure understanding at the toughness of the situation and like, “Okay, let’s talk through whatever you need to again.”

It’s hard to keep in touch with someone (me) if they’re barely functional, and maybe not responding to all of your texts, or doing it all that quickly. I mean, we’re taught social cues. And if someone isn’t being super responsive, yeah, it could in my case mean that I just sometimes don’t know how to talk to anyone or function. But it could also mean, “Eh, maybe that person’s not so interested in continuing whatever this relationship is… Maybe we’re growing apart. I’m gonna let them be.” Or even if they’re not trying to guess my feelings, maybe their feelings are, “If someone isn’t gonna put in effort to be my friend, I’m not doing it either. This isn’t worth it to me.” And that’s valid.

So, various friendships have fallen by the wayside.

And recently, I’ve been sort of on a bit of a mini “apology tour,” almost… Now that I’m feeling healthy-ish again (I think), I’m becoming more open to the idea of trying to rebuild my relationships. So, I’m writing some of the people for whom I’ve sort of fallen off the planet to say I’m sorry for that. I’ve apologized to people for¬†specific instances that I remember of going out with them, but just feeling like a ghost because I was so distant. (Unfortunately, that also happened once kind of recently, so maybe I’m not quite as ready as I once believed. But, I’m just gonna try my best!)

But ultimately, some relationships have just suffered too much damage and look like they might not be repairable. And some aren’t necessarily irreparable, but somebody else has taken your place in that person’s life. They’ve kind of closed the gap of the friend or acquaintance or even possible girlfriend or whatever it was that you were maybe gonna be for them. The room in their life is no longer there. It’s not that they hate you. It’s just that you’ve been holed up in your room for a long time while other people’s lives have gone on, and now there’s just not the same amount of room for you anymore…

And seeing that is a little harder than I expected. I think part of me maybe sort of kind of believed that everything would go back to the exact way it once was (even though I’m pretty sure I’ve literally stated in this very blog that it won’t). And yet, I think part of me thought that maybe this relationships piece would go back to the way it was. And that that would be some sort of magic metric that maybe “officially” says I’m better.

But that might not happen.

It sort of reminds me of this story this person shared with me while I was going through my tough time… He talked about this gorgeous beloved vase being knocked over. And of course it was sad that the vase was in a bunch of tiny¬†pieces on the ground. And it didn’t quite fit together the same way anymore. But, someone came along and picked up the pieces, and made it a plate.

It was still beautiful, and still very useful. (I mean, don’t most of us use plates more often than we use vases anyway?)

And at the time, I thought of it as a beautiful story of how life goes on and can become something else, but something still great.

And now I’m just kind of taking it all in that even though the plate is still lovely and still served a purpose… it’s no longer a vase.

And I know I’ve said I have to give up on the idea of certain things, or that there was just some collateral damage – but living it… Coming out of the wreckage, and realizing all the things that have truly changed around me…. It’s hard. It’s different for me to “know” and maaaaybe think I “accept” it, and then feeling like it just crashes into me. I dunno. ‘Tis what it is, I guess…

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

One maybe weird(?) thing that happened with all this sexual assault stuff is that not only have I of course not wanted to ever be with someone like him again, I also¬†had this weird fear of “what if I am him?!”

He is hurting people so deeply, and just does not seem to care in the least. I told him over and over how what he did was not okay, and how much it hurt me. And I was always met with a million excuses… And also, I was told to think about how he felt. He “so scared I’m only gonna see him as someone mean now” and on and on and on. Either what he did wasn’t a big deal, or if it was a big deal, he has feelings too and they’re hurt that he’d be perceived as a bad guy, or it was all a misunderstanding, or, or, or, or, whatever the millions of possibilities, none of them were that he just did something exceptionally painful and took responsibility for it.

He literally seems not to have any sort of understanding that he has ruined my life (or at least a big part of it). It’s not even just a problem in that he doesn’t care. It’s that so often he seems so oblivious – just completely oblivious to the fact that he’s exceptionally controlling and abusive, and that he is a serial sexual assaulter.

He’s either an incredible manipulator (maybe!), or he’s truly just oblivious to it all. And that is exceptionally hard to wrap my mind around. I know we’ll never truly see ourselves the way other people – and sometimes that means we see ourselves better than others perceive (so as maybe to protect our egos or ourselves a little), and sometimes we may see ourself worse (over-feeling guilt, or low self-esteem or something). Also, even the way other people see us is certainly not universal. The way our boss thinks of us vs. our significant other vs. our parents etc. might be different – because they know us in different capacities and have known us of different various lengths of time and such.

So, there is no complete universal way to see us, I know.

But, I feel like generally there’s a general sense of who we are – where for the most part, even if some of the things change from person’s view to other person’s view, we all kiiiinda know the gist, the essence of the person (sort of, I guess… Maybe that view is what gets me in trouble, as it’s been hard to see an abusive man as just that – even when I saw it up close. But I’m digressing…)

Anyway.

I don’t know if this happens to a lot of victims of abuse, but I started to have this (mostly irrational) fear that, “What if I’m him?!”

“What if I am steamrolling people and not realizing it? After all, haven’t I said the words, ‘Aw, come on!’ if I want someone to come out with a group of us, or do something I think is fun? What if I’m over-pressuring in a way I don’t see?…
What if I don’t really listen to people? For the most part, I try to take it in when someone says I hurt their feelings. But he thinks that too! He’s always like, ‘I don’t know why women¬†can’t get over things when I apologize. And it’s like, ‘well, because you’re not actually apologizing, and it’s weird that you think you are… Do you not know what an apology is?’
But it seems like the thinks he is apologizing! What if I think that too? And no one’s ever felt they’ve gotten a real apology from me? How terrible would that be?”

I went through a phase during all this where at one point, I tried to contact any people I could with whom I’d felt there was any even sort of unresolved thing. Had I thought that maybe I made them mildly uncomfortable one day 6 years ago? They’re getting a call! Had I thought maybe I seemed distant during one conversation 3 years ago? They’re also getting one! You get a call. You get a call. Everybody gets a call!

I couldn’t find contact info for some people. From others I never heard back. From anyone I did get get to talk to, it was easy talks of, “I don’t even remember that happening,” or “oh, that was so no big deal at all. Thanks for the apology and everything, but seriously. You’re so fine.”

There’s still the possibility that something I don’t remember affected someone in a way I’m unaware of. There’s also the possibility that some of the people I do remember but couldn’t reach hold a deep grudge against me.

Do I think I’ve ever done anything as awful as sexual assault guy? Of course not. (Then again, he also probably doesn’t think of anything he’s done as all that awful.)¬†(I mean, objectively (as objective as one can be about oneself), I haven’t done anything as bad as him. But I am internalizing any feelings of guilt harder than I ever did before. I’ve never wanted to hurt anyone, but now that I’ve felt the giant depths of hurt I’ve experienced (and his seeming obliviousness to it), it’s like, I reeeeeeally never wanna hurt anyone…)

So, anyway,¬†this was just another weird way in which my confidence eroded. On top of everything else, it’s like, “Not only am I so afraid of being perfect to be safe from him,¬†I also don’t wanna be him.”

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

I wrote a post in this same vein not all that long ago – how when so much of society questions survivors and if what they went through was all “that bad,” and all of that… how in some ways (to me, at least) it almost feels weirdly sort of, kind of, counterproductive to be okay.

It feels productive to my life, of course. And I’m stoked about being more functional and okay. But for me, there has been this weird… I don’t know if it’s guilt, or what it is. But it just feels almost sort of like “what if it’s the wrong ‘message’, like, ‘eh, she’s okay. It obviously wasn’t that big of a deal.”

But you know what? I really wasn’t okay. At all. I was barely functional. I’m freaking lucky I was even able to keep my job. I felt almost afraid of New York City itself – which you can tell by the sharp increase of uber rides after it happened, and also the pounds I gained from never walking around anywhere. Some friendships were ruined because I couldn’t handle acting like a freaking normal human being and having normal human interactions. My life was completely and utterly turned upside down in every single way. And I was reeeeeeeeeeally not okay.

But… what? I’m gonna be not okay forever? To what? Teach some random people somewhere in the world (who quite honestly won’t ever give a second thought to me after they judge my twitter, or blog, or whatever they’re reading) some kind of “lesson” they’re not even learning anyway?

I used to not have the choice to be okay. I could not say that “I’m choosing to be okay now,” because it wasn’t an actual choice I could make. I had a true mental illness (PTSD) that kept me up with nightmares all the time, that sometimes made me jump if I was touched even a little, that made it so I could not concentrate on anything at all, and on and on.

I had to learn about my brain and the effects of what happened, and coping tools. (I did a lot of therapy! And read some books and all of that.)

And now, for the most part, I am in a place where I can finally choose to be okay most of the time. it doesn’t mean I’ll never get triggered, or I’ll have never have nightmares… But for the most part, I am in a healthy place, and for the most part, I have tools to deal with the days that I’m not.

And that’s such an amazing, wonderful, fantastic thing! I should be celebrating that 100% of the time, instead of ever wondering what that “looks” like.

And recently, I’ve been way more worried, than I have been this whole year, about running in to sexual assault guy again. That sorta makes sense. I’m getting ready to re-start school at the place where I met him. But to my knowledge, I don’t expect him to be there. He could be! I don’t really know. I don’t have all of the information. But I don’t think he is supposed to be. So, I should be fine.

And I would say, “Oh, I’m sure he doesn’t care about me or what I’m up to anyway.” But I don’t know that that is fully true… He used to love to revel in it when something not great would happen to a woman he’d hurt in the past – his ex, the other woman he assaulted, etc… He loved to see them not happy. To my knowledge, he never really sought them out. He’s very big into cutting those people out. But if he heard about them from someone else, or ran across someone who said something about them that wasn’t great, he seemed to like hearing that. So, it’s not crazy to think he’d care at least a little of what I’m up to.

Of course, knowing that about him, that should maybe make me wanna be doing so well that I don’t play into that hand – the one that’s stoked about my stress and failures and sadness. Maybe I should want to be doing fantastically around him.

But then there’s also a weird part of me that thinks that if he sees that I’m okay, he’ll think what he did wasn’t wrong, and/or didn’t affect me deeply. “Oh, she’s fine. It was just a weird breaking things off, but things are fine now.” I don’t want him to think things are “fine” ever, as far as what he did because there was nothing about it that was normal. And it’s really not fine.

But if I was still not okay, and still being sullen and lonely and sitting in the back of the room, and trying to hide from the world, I also don’t think that would make him think for a second about his actions, or that maybe he affected my life in a negative way.

As with everything with him, there is no winning. If you’re happy, he’s not a bad guy. If you’re not happy, it has nothing to do with him. Or at least these seem like giant possibilities since the one thing I remember most about half being with him was if you just exist, no matter how you do it, you’re doing it wrong.

The great, wonderful part of not even like sorta half being with him anymore, is that I don’t have to be controlled by him anymore. I can live however I want.

And he’ll think whatever he wants or comment whatever he wants on it. But I have to somehow find a way to stop worrying about him. It is so incredible and amazing that I don’t have to worry about making him angry anymore! Sooooo… I should stop worrying about it.

If I do see him, I don’t actually know that I will be “okay” in his presence. The last time I accidentally saw a picture of him (because a mutual friend posted a group shot he was in and I ran across it), I cried and cried and felt like vomiting. (I thought of it as a win that I didn’t actually vomit that time, though!) So, if I do run into him, no matter what my “plan” is of how I want to “seem,” it might just be whatever happens…

I think ultimately though, I have fought so hard (so very very very very hard to be okay) that I want to embrace every single moment of okay-ness that I can ever have – no matter what anyone (sexual assault guy or anyone else) thinks about it.