Okay, so picking up from last time – not long after the party, he wrote me a very long text apology.
Then he asked if he could take me out to dinner to make it up for me.
Let us not forget the mantra! Anyone who cares about me (even a little!) would never ever speak to me the way he did.
I should’ve just said no. Or I should’ve said yes and at dinner talked about how innappropriate it was and that I was sorry but this was the end for us sleeping together. I’d still be willing to be friendly when I was at things where he was too, but that this whole thing was over and I just wanted to make sure we talked it all out and understood what happened before we went out separate ways – those were the correct options.
I was like “people get angry. They lose their tempers.”
And I do know this. People have gotten angry with me before. And let’s get real, as embarrassing as it is, I’ve totally raised my voice to others before. I know people get angry – but not like this. Not a full-out blow-up over a little passive agressive text. Not an a complete attack on who I am as a person and everything about me and all of my intentions because I was a little passive aggressive that he’d been acting weird for a couple of weeks.
It’s hard to explain the way he talked to me, but it was different than anyone who’d ever “lost their temper.” It was troubling.
And yet I went out to dinner with him.
And now, the difference between this story and the one I told at the beginning of part 1 – I think the nice guy in part one knew when he said something sexist that it was an off comment. He knew he messed up and he knew why. And he didn’t need me laying anything out for him.
I wasn’t so sure about sexual assault guy, since things had gotten so incredibly out-of-control so quickly.
So, I started talking to him about the specifics of the fight we’d had. And he kept interrupting to be like “yes, I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. I overreacted. I am so sorry.”
And so I stopped.
I had other things I thought I should probably say – specific things I remembered at the time that had been hurtful, that I wanted to point out. But when I’m hearing a very steady stream of the words “I know” over and over, I just thought, “okay. He’s obviously embarrassed. He obviously knows what he did was wrong. What kind of person would I be if I couldn’t forgive one fight – one mistake?”
And we moved forward.
And this whole specific story seems so important to me for two reasons:
1) I *knew*… I knew that no one who cared about me would talk to me that way. I knew it in my bones. It shouldn’t matter how complimentary he was otherwise, or if he said the right things, or whatever. I knew ultimately that there was no possible way he actually cared about or respected me.
2) It truly felt like that night of him taking me to dinner and me so easily accepting his apology and being silenced when we needed to have a longer talk about the way he’d treated me – it felt like that was when I lost aaaaany footing I’d ever had – any “power,” any whatever you wanna call it… Basically any safety.
For the most part, I felt safe and fine telling him I wasn’t gonna go to that party. Yes, I ultimately folded and went, but didn’t stay too terribly long, and didn’t talk to him much. I still felt independent and safe.
And I don’t know if he was purposefully testing my boundaries and what I would take. I don’t understand the mind of a man who exhibits many traits of a true sociopath. I don’t know how much was calculated and how much wasn’t.
But I do know the way he started treating me after the apology dinner was worse than he’d ever treated me before. The way he’d talk to me would be appalling. He would make me feel so exceptionally uncomfortable and afraid that I no longer had space to argue or stand up for what I deserved – it became about preservation and merely trying to minimize damage. I was always on the defensive, again, just trying to make whatever choices would minimize any damage – just keep myself safe.
And it was at the end of the week that – it’s hard to think that it wasn’t at least partially due to that dynamic shift – that I was assaulted by him.
It felt like I was out of options. I barely wanted to go there in the first place. But maybe if I just go and I’m better – if I’m the “perfect good little girl,” things will be better. And when I was there, I didn’t want to stay. But it felt like I’d be in “trouble” if I’d left. And when he climbed on top of me, I most certainly did not want to feel him touching me, but it didn’t feel safe to do anything but lay there and cry. In the moment it felt like the wrath that I would be introduced to if I dared do *anything* else was scarier than what was happening to me (even if I hated what was happening so much).
I know it’s a little crazy and potentially slightly convoluted in some ways, but it feels like that one fight was kind of the – I don’t know… the inciting incident maybe? Something that flipped a switch that led to being assaulted…
Which brings me back to the beginning of all this. I let a man walk all over me and now I have weirdly gotten SO defensive that it’s like if someone tells a sexist joke, I jump down his throat. (Obviously not all the time. But I did in that example.)
People need to be able to have some air! Let’s remember how I felt having someone go from 0 – 4,000 after I made a slightly passive aggressive comment, and wouldn’t take a breath when I tried to deescalate the situation. I certainly don’t wanna become sexual assault guy!
Of course, it is different. I don’t go off like he does… But my whole internal calibration has been offset.
I used to be able to tell, if someone hurt my feelings or did something offensive – when they got it vs when they didn’t. For the most part, I knew when it was worth it to bring it up and when it just wasn’t. But feeling like there is a nearly direct link to being assaulted from not standing up enough to someone being disrespectful – it’s making me like a no-tolerance cop policing every comment from people I care about who I reasonably know care about me in return.
So, anyway, I have lost all chill. And I hate it.