Picking up from last time –
In the weeks between the two assaults, I felt like I was on eggshells all the time. (Yep. This is a common theme of my time around him.)
And yet, I reacted to the first one in the same way I did to the second assault. “Well, let’s just have sex again very soon,” I thought… “If we can just pile more good memories on this, it’ll be fine.”
Heck, I even invited him back to my apartment some days later. After all, my pristine bed – which I had not been ready to have a new guy in – had already been broken in or whatever. So, we should just normalize it, maybe?
I don’t know that I will ever be able to explain why – when I felt unsafe or uncomfortable or angry – instead of running away, my reaction was to double and triple down. I know it doesn’t make any sense. But that was what made sense to me… [Edited to add: I sort of tried to explain this later that as someone who experienced abuse nearly my whole life, my brain grew differently than people who haven’t. And the cycle of abuse gets you and all that jazz… But still. It’s still kinda hard to explain sometimes. It’s not wildly easily explainable behavior…]
Btw, just a side note: The reason why it seems it’s very possible that this was more about power than it was about sex is because after pressuring and pressuring to have sex at my place… Once he’d had sex there, and I started offering up my apartment to normalize it, he was like, “Eh, to walk to 10th Ave, or take the express train to my place is all kind of the same.” All of a sudden, this thing that had been ridiculously important to him (and “sooooooo much more convenient” as far as he’d been concerned) no longer mattered.
And I just wanted to scream, “If it’s all the same, then why did you act like it was the most important thing in the universe to come to my place? Aaaaaaaaagh!”
And I’d said in an earlier post that I could’ve gotten past that assault… I’m like, “I could’ve forgiven! I was trying to move on…” And I guess it’s true I maybe could have. But if I really think about it… Every single thing that happened between us after that night – I viewed through the lens of that night.
He cancelled plans we had multiple times – at least 3 that I can remember off the top of my head – within 2 weeks after that happened. And under normal circumstances, that would’ve been mildly annoying, sure. But it would’ve been like, “yeah, okay, I get it. Stuff comes up.”
But under these circumstances, every time he cancelled plans, I would scream in my head, “One of the reasons you said it was sooooo important to have sex at my place was because you wanted us to see each other soooooooo much that we just had to introduce my apartment to the mix!”
And I would think, “I don’t need to hang out 24/7. Heck, I wouldn’t even want to hang out that much. But by god, why oh why did you set up this expectation that we’d be hanging out multiple times a week? If we’re gonna go slowly and not see each other a ton, great! But then do not use frequency as a basis of an argument of why you had to force sex in my apartment.”
And I wanted to be flooded with new okay memories with him, thinking that would make things better. I wanted “normalcy” as fast as I could get it. So, every time he cancelled, I was feeling it – faaaaaaaar more than I would’ve been feeling it with just some dude who’s “confusing” or “moving at a weird inconsistent pace.” It’s like, “I can’t sleep ’cause I need things to be okay.” So, things that wouldn’t be big deals felt like big deals. As I said, I could only see things through the lens of what he had done, and I don’t know that that would’ve fallen away, or if it had, how quickly it would have.
It would’ve never been okay that he ignored me and forced himself on me in my bed – never ever ever would that have been okay. (It’s not okay that he did that.) But something about him going against the reasons he’d laid out made it feel even more not okay for me. There was a part of me that felt like maybe somehow it would’ve been an okay “sacrifice*” for me if we ended up following through on the things he’d laid out that he needed But I know that’s faulty reasoning.
*I don’t believe “sacrifice” is actually the truly correct word there… I think that word implies that I am *willing* to give up something (such as having sex in my bed) instead of having it taken from me, and that wasn’t the case…
Even though, technically one of the definitions of sacrifice is “to suffer loss – especially for an ideal, belief, or end.” And I would say I kind of suffered a loss – a piece of me, if nothing else – and then he did not take his idea/belief… He took something from me, and while no reason would’ve been okay, he didn’t even follow through on the reason he gave – which made it all the more confusing of “why did you take that away from me?”
[Edited to add: Power is the answer. He wanted power and control. And so that’s why. It’s not because my place was in midtown. It’s not because we had to hang all the time. It’s because I had a boundary he didn’t like. And he needed to exert his power. That’s the answer, just in case we all didn’t know…]
So, when I say sacrifice here, I think I mean it the way anyone tries to find meaning in traumatic or hard events… An example from my life is the idea of “Yeah, that year in and out of the hospital was very hard. Open-heart surgery wasn’t super pleasant. But, look at all it inspired me to do afterward! It led to me 52 in 52 projects, which I’ve cherished. Life got even greater, and surgery was part of that…
And so, I think I just wanted to see something come out of this – some positive, or at least something logical-ish… Like, if I had to go through this, at least I’d see him follow-through on the thing he so desperately seemed to need – as though seeing what he laid out come true somehow would make it better that he took something from me – if that makes sense (even though it’s very likely it wouldn’t have – especially since I was always so uncomfortable around him anyway, how was even more of that gonna help?).
The assault became such a defining moment of my time with him – especially because he didn’t apologize, or treat it as a “big deal” or “serious manner” (no matter how many times I tried to “nicely” bring it up… So I just got angrier and angrier… And it was such a weird feeling.
It felt almost petty-ish (even though it’s not petty at all to be upset about this, it’s very justified). But it felt petty-ish ’cause in relationships, I know it’s generally best to try to let things go, and move on and move forward… But how do you easily move forward from this – especially with someone who’s not sorry?
I viewed every moment after it through the lens of this horrific night.
It’s bad enough you had sex with me in my bed – so super bad enough… Telling me “it’s time” and entering me (after I’ve made it so clear I’m not okay) is horrifying… But it wasn’t enough to force sex in my bed… Then you stayed in it? You could’ve left. I wanted you to leave. I brought up you leaving. You fought to stay. You should have left.
I just – I don’t need to keep going on and on. The point is, I had these traumatic-night goggles on… And every thing was viewed through them (as you can see, in me even getting upset now, and weirdly repeating myself, and not knowing what I’m saying) – which I know is a little unfair to see everything through goggles of one specific night… And it might’ve stopped…I might’ve been able to truly let it go at some point…
Had things been really great in the weeks that followed, there may have come a time I could’ve taken those goggles off… Had he just said he was sorry and changed his threatening behavior, that probably would’ve helped immensely… But instead, by generally starting to treat me much worse and laughing off what he did, etc… it felt like he just kept pulling the strap on those goggles tighter and tighter ’til they were basically just a part of my face…
Now, back to the story I interrupted to tell you this story. (Sorry. We’re getting there!)