After That Assault, Things Got Messy – Part 7 (Getting Teased & Being Controlled)

November 5, 2016

Picking up from yesterday –

So, I tried to stay on point. I tried to bring up concrete examples. I had bullet points. I was doing my best.

And to his credit, he actually kind of listened to me on this stuff… I mean, I did get pushback. I got a little bit of gaslighting. I did get some of my concrete examples of things explained away like they didn’t exist… But I did get some sincere-seeming apoloigies for some things.

(Granted, part of that may have been because we were trapped in a metal tube. So, it was easier to pacify me than it was to argue… And then to try and flirt like crazy with me, and talk about sex a bunch, and hold me and all of that jazz…)

And because there were a few apologies and finally some of this silly sex-themed playfulness, I thought maybe, maybe we were getting to a good place where things were gonna be fine.

But even at the end of that (looooong) conversation (as we were walking in the airport), I mentioned, “I cried every night of that month of basically the silent treatment. It was really hard for me. I used to wake up and write notes, trying to figure out how to talk to you about all this.”

And then he started making fun of me for that. A lot. He wouldn’t let it die. [*in a condescending and making fun of me tone*] “Aurooooora, Awwww, yeah? You cried? Every night? Every night for a month?”

“Well, I mean… Yeah, I guess… I mean, yeah, almost every night…”

“Almost? ‘Cause you said every night. Every night you cried.” And we just went back and forth with him needling me about that, and relentlessly making of fun of me…

And that happened a lot. I won’t get into every example (as this whole story is long as is, and the specific examples are probably not all that important).

But he would make fun of things I was sensitive about. And that wasn’t funny. It wasn’t funny that I cried from this. It wasn’t funny that I was having a tough time. Just… There were a lot of things he loved to make fun of that really weren’t funny to me. And if I’d ask him to stop (even more than once), he’d just press on, and/or he’d add in making fun of me for wanting him to stop making fun of me or for “being too sensitive.”

When I brought up once how much I didn’t love being made fun of (at least being made fun of so much – even when I was trying to talk about more serious stuff), he told me maybe I just “wasn’t strong enough” to handle teasing. But that’s not true! I worked at a comedy show. There was teasing all day every day.

And it’s really funny when people tease you for having a smile that’s too bright to look directly at, or for being too much of a cartoon character. It’s nice when people tease you about the unique things that you like about yourself and that they like about you…

Or even for small embarrassing things you do like tripping over yourself or whatever. It’s fun to have levity in your life and to be able to poke fun at yourself…

It’s not nice when people hone in on insecurities and never let them drop despite your protests.

(And there seemed to be an incredible double standard, because I’d think, “Oh, this is our dynamic.” So, I might try to lightly tease him back. And anytime I accidentally touched a nerve by teasing him for something I realized he didn’t want me to, I’d stop, apologize, and do my very best to never tease him about that thing again… But it didn’t seem fair that he got to be sensitive about a number of things (nothing wrong with that)…. He just seemed like an exceptionally sensitive person… But I wasn’t allowed to be sensitive about seemingly anything.)

Also, when we got on a tram at the airport after our (very) long (cross-country) talk, the tram was almost empty. By standing and having my bag on my back, I was in absolutely no one’s way. But he was like, “Aurora, sit down. Take your bag off. Relax.” And I said – in a very nice tone, “Oh that’s okay! I’ve been sitting all night. I’d rather stand. Thank you.” And he yelled at me. “God, you are SO stubborn!” From what I gathered, he didn’t like that I didn’t take his “chivalrous” gesture to take a seat and a load off, or whatever.

And I know that’s just a teeny tiny example of control… But that’s the thing, is that all these teeny tiny things would be controlled all the time. (And it would be nearly impossible to give every example, even though I’ve been giving some here and there.)

Chivalry can be fun. But when every single thing is being controlled from what we eat (not even just the restaurant… but what he orders for both of us), to ways I’m supposed to feel (or what I’m supposed to say), to not wanting me to take the stairs if there’s an escalator there (because “I get it, you run marathons, no need to show off” – even if I’m just trying to quietly get a few extra steps in, without even saying anything or showing off in the least)… All the way up to huge stuff, such as when he decides to take my body, etc., it’s too much! (Far too much.)

I still hear his voice every once in a while in my head, telling me what to do, or saying that what I’m doing isn’t good enough.

In fact, I had this visceral reaction at the sleepover at the Museum of Natural History. He wasn’t even there. I hadn’t even seen in him in, I think, almost a month and a half at that point. And still, when I was having a hard time putting my sleeping bag away, I kind of grabbed it away from no one. There was just this part of me that knew that had he been there, he wouldn’t have asked if I needed help. He would’ve just grabbed it away from me, knowing “he could do it better” or “faster” or whatever. I was still tired of being walked all over from this ghost.

(I’m not sure if that makes sense… But hopefully it does.)

I still hear him in my head telling me I’m not wearing the right thing, or eating too much (or too little, or just the wrong things in general), and on and on and on. I hear him a little less now… Time – and spending time with other people – is helping. But yeah… There was just a lot of teasing and judgement and control.

And it sucks because it’s so hard to explain without being there and seeing every interaction… So, hopefully those of you who identify just know what I mean (and if you do identify and have your own thoughts and comments, please totally add them to the comments section xoxoxo).

And I will pick up here tomorrow.

[p.s. Side note: While I stand by the fact that he was exceptionally controlling – in fact, I’d feel confident in calling him the most controlling person I have ever met – he did allow me to pick the place we had our first dinner. He did ask me “are these seats okay?” when we were picking where to sit on the plane.

He would control SO many things. He would steamroll me all the time. (Many examples I’ve given. Many examples I haven’t… (There’s almost not even enough room on this blog…))

But the point is, while he was exceptionally controlling – and while that was very painful – it would be unfair of me to act like he controlled every aspect of every single thing ever, because that’s not true… And I just want to do my best to paint the most complete and pretty fairest picture I can in this big story.]

4 thoughts on “After That Assault, Things Got Messy – Part 7 (Getting Teased & Being Controlled)”

  1. It’s great, and incredibly brave, that you’re documenting this all, and hopefully will provide material for both introspection and education about what can go through a victim’s head..

    That said, I personally find this series difficult to read. It reads like, “And then the week after the dog bit my thumb off, he peed all over the couch.” It’s like, yeah I feel bad about the couch, but ***What the Hell are you still doing with a dog that just bit your thumb off?***

    If there’s a moral here, it’s that when someone sexually assaults you (or, for that matter, conventionally physically assaults you), absolutely nothing good is going to come out of staying involved with that person on any level. In any case, I’m glad that this story has an ending, and that you’ve disentangled yourself!

    1. Hi Kevin! First off, thank you so much for commenting. It means a lot that you find my blog interesting enough to read and comment. Secondly, thank you for saying I’m brave. It’s weird because I’ve felt very weak for much of this year. But, it’s still nice to hear. I’m glad it sounds like these posts have proven helpful… I’m sorry to have, I think, sort of played into a stereotype of like… I’m not really sure… I guess a woman who doesn’t respect herself.

      You’re actually the second person who told me this is difficult to read… And I really appreciate the empathy – as I was afraid of posting these, thinking it would be so easy for people to come to this from a place of judgement.

      I do understand what you’re saying about the dog. But, I guess if we were to use that metaphor – you really care about your dog. And you don’t think your dog would eeeeever want to hurt you. I mean, of course if you actually lost your thumb, it would make sense to want to get rid of your dog. But I could see a scenario in which someone’s dog greets them with huge enthusiasm every time they come home and just dotes on them and thinks they’re wonderful. Then that accident happens, and the person says, “Well, they were just playing! They were just trying to nibble play with me! [Or whatever]. My dog would of course never intentionally hurt me.”

      It’s also harder because in this case, it’s not something as concrete as a thumb. Because (I know I’m kind of getting farther away from the metaphor here), but imagine your dog could talk to you. If you are physically missing your thumb, and you tell your dog, “You bit my thumb off, and that really hurt!” …And then your dog says, “Oooooh, no no no no no. You’re being so sensitive [or crazy, or dramatic, etc.], you can whip out your hand and show him, “You literally bit my thumb off!”

      Of course, this guy was exceptional at arguing and gaslighting and everything. So, he still may have made an argument to that. But I think very concrete physical proof would’ve been helpful…

      Also, I do think that yes, it is most likely a great rule of thumb that if someone assaults you, almost certainly nothing good is going to come from that… But in some of my talks a mental health professional (*especially* back when I was still trying to work things out with this guy – and I was asking if I was an idiot and/or if things ever get worked out with other people to a place where they move on…), I learned that some people do go back. And *soooometimes* it works…

      I don’t think it usually works. I’m sure it’s probably quite often unhealthy. But there are steps – especially if the perpetrator is willing to get help – that make it so that I don’t think that I could truly say that it is an exceptionally hard and fast black-and-white rule… Because all situations are different… Some people have kids together, for instance…

      I think there are cases where someone truly doesn’t know what he or she is doing (whether it was because they were far too intoxicated or because they are just wildly misreading signals or what). And that still does not at all make it okay. I’m not saying that. I’m just saying, if they apologize and truly take responsibility and work to change their behavior… I think there is some scenario out there in which a couple *could* get back together, and it *could* work. (I don’t mean to be a contrarian here… Just hard to wholeheartedly agree completely with a hard and fast rule on such a complicated issue.)

      But… I definitely do think I would’ve been better off not staying involved with this person…

      And while this story does have an “ending” sort of… It never ends in the sense that we will still run in the same circles. I will still see his face. I still have stuff to work through in therapy. I still have nightmares… I mean, I have work to do and things to continue for me… But yes, the main chronological story of me and him is over. (Though I think you give me too much credit for “disentangling myself” as I’m very much partially to blame for continuing to tangle myself all up in the first place haha)

      But I really do appreciate your comment. Thanks, as always, for your smart thoughts on all of this.

  2. Thanks for the long, thoughtful comment! Very fair points about concrete proof, as well as the importance of intent. I was thinking how I’d react if someone I was dating drove over my foot; I’d naturally assume they hadn’t seen me and only later when I figured out it was deliberate would I hit a new level of furious.

    And yeah, life is messy. But what matters is that you’re on a positive trajectory.

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