I know it’s a little (maybe a lot) silly to go back over and over and over certain details in my head. It doesn’t help, really… But for some reason, sometimes I’m trying to find the “key” – the “if only I wouldn’t have done this one thing, I’d be set!” (Like I have a time machine or something? [I don’t.])
Nonetheless, in all this searching for “the key,” there is one part I go back to over and over and over and over – the one that often feels like “the” moment – that if only this has been different, everything would be different. (Granted, a lot of moments sometimes feel like “the” moment… But this one seems to more than most.)
The very first weekend I spent with sexual assault guy (just 4 days before the first time he assaulted me), we were making out for the first time. And he was like, “wait a second.” So, of course, I immediately stopped. And he told me before anything else happened, he wanted to let me know, he had no idea what he wanted (as far as what our relationship dynamic would be). And I said, “okay!”
And he resumed making out with me. And then blah blah blah, lots of sex from there…
And multiple times that night, he alluded to that tiny little non-conversation. He’d be like, “Man! I am sooo glad we had that talk. I talked to my friends before this, about how weird it would be sleeping with someone from BMI, and I told them I’d really have to make sure to have a talk with her.”
And it was weird. He brought it up more than once. And he’d phrase it in ways that would kind of be demeaning – like he’d really, “neeeeeeed to have a talk with that girl” – as though he was being some big man to get “that girl” under control or something… I dunno. It’s very hard to explain, because it feels crazy writing it here, but you could feel it in the weird way he was talking to me that night.
And so when he mentioned it like the 3rd or so time, I almost said something like, “Hey, are you mentioning this again because you’re wanting to clarify something? Or you’re wanting to expand on this conversation?”
I almost tried to open up the conversation more to talk about the dynamic he was looking for/wanted to have… because why is he bringing this up over and over in weird cryptic belittling ways?
But then I thought, well, he’s a grown man in his mid-thirties. If he wants to talk about something with me, he can just do it. I shouldn’t be making assumptions about what he’s trying to say. (I mean, maybe I should if I’m trying to be empathetic/aware/caring? But also, I don’t want to put stuff on him that’s not there or be over-analytical or something?) Maybe this is just like a nervous verbal tic he’s having tonight or something because it’s weird for him to be with someone in BMI. (It’s weird for me too. I get it…) He just keeps saying he’s glad. Maybe I just give him his gladness/nervousness/whatever-ness and space to have this. I didn’t know…
Also, I just thought, “this is the first time we’re sleeping together. I mean, do we really need to have this whole like, ‘what are we doooing’ talk right this second? It feels so super early.” I mean, had he actually wanted to actually talk about that stuff, of course I would’ve had a conversation he wanted… But he seemed like all he wanted was to tell me he was very uncertain. (And as I said to him, “okay!”)
..Plus, I figured that I wasn’t planning on going to California for a few weeks anyway. And I didn’t have plans to sleep with anyone else before my trip. So, I just thought, “I’ll re-broach this subject in a few weeks before I leave, so I can check and make sure it won’t hurt his feelings if I sleep with someone else.” There just seemed to be no reason to push the issue right that moment.
In addition, he’d already said, “I have no idea what I want.” It seemed futile to ask follow-up questions to someone who had “no idea what he wanted.” If he had “no idea,” how was pushing him for answers going to help anything? (And fitting with the freaking running theme, was I oh so often so very concerned with making sure he always felt as comfortable as I could make him (even though he seemed to have no regard for this for me.) So, I didn’t want to pressure him to figure out what he wanted, since he’d already made it clear he had “no idea.” (What was the point of doing that right then?)
And I go back to that moment over and over and over and over and over, because a lot of our disagreements came from not being on the same page about “relationship-y” type stuff.
(I will fight to my dying breath that we were not actually in a “relationship”. We weren’t dating. (Come on.) We were friends who slept together for 3 1/2 weeks – in which I was assaulted twice. I got into an abusive situation (that was obviously never defined, re: this post). It wasn’t a dating relationship.)
But still, while I maintain we weren’t “dating,” you know, the surrounding stuff when you start to sleep with someone… we just were never on the same page about any of it (and so it caused plenty of disagreements).
For him: massive cuddling, spending the night(s), insanely intimate showers together (where I never did well – For instance, I had to leave the shower once because I felt like I couldn’t breathe; I was so claustrophobic around him… and of course he didn’t bat an eye that day… I practically couldn’t breathe, and he was asking me make sure I put the towel in the right place… Aye aye aye, I’m digressing… But anyway…), holding hands in public, making me breakfast, and on and on – none of that was a big deal to him. That’s total just normal like suuuuper casual relationship stuff. Tubular, dude.
Whereas for me, that stuff was so fear-inducing, weird-feeling, way-too-intimate way-too-fast (even though I tried my best to keep up).
And then flip-side: Sometimes I’d invite him out as a plus one to some cool thing (esp if it was a theater thing where I thought he might benefit from networking, because I cared about him…), and he’d seem to freak out a little.
I mean, he told me he wanted to go on a trip with me. He’d be into all this intimate “couple-y” stuff, but if I invited him to something he’d get weird about it sometimes. And I’m not 100% certain if he thought I wanted to trot him around like my boyfriend or something [I didn’t, (partially because he very much wasn’t)], or because he wanted to always be the one in power with the connections and he’d be a little upset if that was all of a sudden even slightly me in any circumstance. (That seemed like a big thing to him…) Whereas, I just wanted to bring my friend I cared about out on adventures, or to fun places, or to places that might benefit him.
So, we saw so many things a lot differently.
And you and I, dear reader, could sit here and debate what’s “normal,” what’s “casual,” what’s “couple-y, what’s “acceptable” or whatever on and on and on and on. Maybe y’all have suuuuuper casual relationships that involve planning getaways together and never being able to shower alone, but drawing the line at taking up space together [in a non-romantic, no-PDA way] at an event, if someone has an extra ticket. Maybe I’m the weird one.
I know I’m sounding a little sarcastic there, because that all does seem crazy to me… But legitimately, maybe I am the weird one. Reflecting back, I definitely did so at least some confusing things…
I did do some things that maybe seemed a little overly-sweet. (I sent him a tiny care package when he was sick, and therefore had cancelled us hanging out that night.) I could totally see someone being like, “Oh snap! That feels like a girlfriend zone thing!”
Usually, I was just trying to be a nice caring friend, and/or follow his lead with the insaaaaaaaaane intimacy. I was trying to at least keep up a little, and always trying to make him happy.
[Sometimes it feels like he grabbed my hand and was sprinting through the forest of intimacy, and it was taking every single thing I had to jump over the logs and run through everything with him, and then he’d come to this abrupt stop and fling me 10 feet in front of him. I’d fall all bloody and gross from the branches and then he’d be like, “Why are you all the way over there? Soooooo far ahead of me in the forest of intimacy?” And it was like, “Wait. I’m sorry. What? What?” “Well, yeah. Look at how much farther ahead you are” (said by the man standing above the bleeding girl who can’t get up off the ground). “I just – I just…” It felt like so much was a trap and I couldn’t ever win. And what he wanted was soooo confusing (which I mention again tomorrow).
But here’s the thing, none of that even really matters. That’s something that happens sometimes, in the weird beginning parts of whatever relationship-type things are happening. Sometimes it’s confusing. Sometimes people misread. But these little mishaps we all generally laugh about together – they end in awkward conversations, or a change in the dynamic, or a calling off of things, or in a million ways – none of which should be sexual assault.
(And I get into why this doesn’t matter soon. But anyway -)
So, sometimes I think back to like, “What if I had just stopped sexual assault guy like the 3rd time he was like, ‘Woof! Yeah, really had to go over with my friends what I was gonna say to this girl in BMI if we were gonna start something… Really important to have a real talk.'”
What if I had said, “Do you not realize we haven’t had ‘a talk’? You literally said, “I have no idea what I want.” And I said, “Okay.”? You wanna have that talk? Let’s talk?
But I didn’t… And this is where I’ll pick up next time.