For anyone who doesn’t know, I had a really serious congenital heart problem that kept me in the hospital a lot when I was younger. And I feel like there are many parallels to (for me at least), between going through that and being in an abusive relationship where I was assaulted… (I suppose that’s for another post though.)
One thing I will say that is very different about them is that my heart problem eventually went away.
(It felt like it was gonna take forever. But it did eventually go away.)
And just as I sometimes talk about how it feels like I’m arguing with kind of the ghost of the man who sexually assaulted me, it also did for a little while feel like the ghost of my heart problem was there. If my heart beat just a little faster than usual or felt a little weird, I’d be afraid maybe it was back. But it never was. That became a very freeing feeling when I started to finally really truly understand and retain that “hey, I am really free from this.”
And weirdly enough, I had the same feeling with sexual assault guy. I had kind of hated this fight we’d had, but at least it felt like it was over. I went and did a half marathon in Long Island that felt super freeing! I spent the whole thing thinking about how lucky I was that that was all done.
And then in the weeks that followed, it all started to unravel…. Because I realized it wasn’t actually quite all done.
For one thing, I ended up talking to him again after that, but forget that part. A big part of why it wasn’t done is because he feels like he’s just around – he’s just part of the world around me.
I ran into him once when he came to a show literally right next to my old workplace. Granted, that was earlier in the timeline than what I’m currently talking about. But it was after I’d been assaulted by him. It was in the weird 30 days of silence from him. Do you think it was fun in any way to run into him on the street after he assaulted me, and while he was giving me the silent treatment? It was not.
Did you also know that the day – the. day. that he assaulted me the second time, I went to a thing with a friend of his I’d met at his party. And of course since he’s the thing we have in common, she mentioned how great he was, or whatever, I smiled and was like “uh huh.” ‘Cause obviously that was soooo much easier than trying to get into it with the person I barely know about something I hadn’t even processed yet.
Someone I was friends with well before I met sexual assault guy was in a show he was incolved in! Like, what? How small is this world? How am I seemingly often having to deal with the world of this man? Like, if the world really is this small, how come this power isn’t used for cool stuff? Like, why aren’t I running into Amy Poehler all the time and becoming best friends with her?
And let’s even put those examples aside, as those were things in the generally immediate aftermath. Fast forward even after that… to when I really thought, I am rid of this man. *deep cleaning yay(!) breath* and then it kept feeling like I wasn’t…
We’ve covered how I postponed my dream school a whole ‘nother year, because he was going to be there in some capacity. That was giant. And certainly a gigantic way in which I thought I’d never be rid of him.
No matter how tightly you set your social media settings, unless you continuously de-friend, de-follow, mute, block, whatever people you share in common, you’re gonna potentially, every once in a while, run across something someone has shared that involves him in a group pic or something.
And here was the huge, giant kicker. I did just start unfollowing, muting, whatever people who’d done nothing wrong, whom I’m sure in most other contexts, I’d be friends with.
I did quit school.
I want to make the argument that you shouldn’t have to change everything about your life to move on, or to hopefully avoid the person who assaulted you… But I. Did.
And even still, it wasn’t enough.
As I tried to find a new life in New York, I tried meeting some new people and such, and I met someone through instagram who was just a fan of The Nightly Show. Simple enough. Okay, yeah. That’s is a beautiful part of my life. Let’s lean into that and meet this nice-seeming person in real life.
And of course – of course – I’m sure you can see a mile away that he ended up working in theater and the conversation ended up wandering to my assaulter. I mean, I led it somewhere else as reasonably quickly as I could. But strangers who are fans of the TV show I worked on knew the man who assaulted me.
I. Cannot. Escape. Him. (Or some form of the ghost of him or something.) …or at least it feels that way sometimes!
When you have a heart problem, it goes away. You don’t have to deal with what to do when you’re out to dinner and someone tries to talk about how great that extra thing on your heart was.
You don’t have to worry about walking out the door of your office and seeing that bundle of heart stuff walking toward you (and realizing that even though they’re just going to a show next door, it doesn’t feel amazing).
It’s not around. You don’t have to face it or hear about it or especially hear people espousing all the reasons it’s so great.
And it sort of hurts me to talk like this because what? Am I wishing no one on earth liked him? Somebody’s always gonna be liked by somebody. And I think it would be pretty incredibly sad to live a life with no support system. And wouldn’t that probably make angry people angrier anyway? Or maybe if he really is a sociopath, then it doesn’t matter how many people he has around him.
I don’t know. I don’t know much of anything when it comes to all this.
I just know when you have an illness, everyone hate that illness – to the point that I’ve heard “f**k cancer” so many times on different programs that I wonder, “okay, but do we have to be so mean to cancer?”
(And like, yes, I guess… because… it’s cancer.)
But people will hate your illness. Nobody’s like “but maybe, did you like make your heart think you wanted this?” or whatever, because it was so cut and dry that I was born with it, end of story.
But people seem to love your rapist (or at least to make excuses for him). “He’s such a good guy.” “Maybe he didn’t mean it.” Or maybe they don’t know, and again it’s another one of those collateral damage things – people don’t even know what they’re making you feel, but it hurts!
And it’s just such a weird/odd/bad/crappy thing. And I’m not 100% sure how to deal with it. There’s the “easy” (ish) answer of just moving back to California… But, that has all of its own issues (which is for another blog post).
I dunno. I dunno what else to say except this component of it just pretty much sucks. (A lot of components about all this sucks. But today I’m just talking about how this one does. Blegh! (which autocorrected to “Blenheim!,” and I don’t know what that is, but I feel like it’s potentially another useful sound-word 💁🏻