Picking up from yesterday –
So, anyway, we have a sense of who he is. But I also have a sense of who he was when I met him. I know the “nice guy” – the one who goes above and beyond.
He will go out of his way to do errands/favors for people when they need it. He runs a friend’s storage unit while she’s out of the country. He’ll totally pick people up from the airport! (JFK – a big airport, and one that’s so accessible, it’d be so easy to tell someone, “just take the train, buddy. But he will pick you up!)
He told me about going to see tiny improv shows of his friends’. A lot of people don’t like to go to improv shows – especially not ones in the tiny lesser-known theaters. But he’ll go.
He’ll buy drinks for the table. He’ll host waffle parties.
He’s starting to sound like a good guy, right? Don’t you like him already? It’s so easy to see why one would.
Heck, he was one of the first people to reach out to me in New York, and be like, “Wow, a big cross-country move. I bet you could use a friend. Would you like to go to dinner sometime?”
That sounds like a good guy, right?
But he told me later that he only did that because he was literally going down a list he got of all the people new to BMI that year, and trying to make a connection with each one.
Now, that’s very smart. (Very smart!)
[And, side note: To some extent, it is similar to what I did on America’s Got Talent. I had a goal to go out with one new person every week, when I was a PA, so I could learn more about people’s jobs and how they got to where they were. The difference I see is that I straight-up told people that’s what I was doing. I said that was my goal and that I wanted to learn more and if they wanted to tell me their story, I’d buy them a coffee or something. There was no false pretenses, no fake or forced friendships. Personally, I think that’s an important distinction, you might disagree. I don’t know.]
I don’t necessarily thing there’s anything “wrong” with what he did. It is a smart move. And sometimes you truly do just want to get to know new people, and like anything in life, it might become more manageable if you put actual goals on it. So, I don’t fault him for doing that. But I do have to remember that when I thought he was being a “nice guy” who “paid attention” and noticed I was new in town, he really was looking for an in to help me become a checkmark on his literal list.
Anyway, I’m finding the long way around to my point – which is that, when I was having this conversation about how one of the things that seems hardest for me to get over is that how could this guy who seems sooooo good – who does all these things I mentioned at the top of this post, and more… how could he do something so bad?
It’s part of what makes self-blame so easy. It must’ve been me, right? If someone is so good and fun and beloved, and he does one bad thing (sexual assault)… how could I not have caused that somehow – if he did something so out of character?
And what this confidant told me is, “Why do you assume he is the ‘good guy,’ and that this is what’s out of character for him? Because everything I know him – the narcissistic tendencies, the exceptionally manipulative behaviors, the intense gaslighting – to me, that all sounds in line with someone who commits sexual assault. I don’t think it’s out of line with his behavior at all. I think it is directly and totally in line with who he is.”
And she had me think about it in a different way… Don’t I think it’s at least possible that the good stuff is just another version of those narcissistic or sociopathic tendencies? That it’s part of the act, or that it’s what he does to basically lure people, or to be “popular,” or to protect his image, or to use people – to get what he wants?
After all, who are the people he’s doing these things for? Is it not mainly for people who might be able to help in some way?
We can’t know for sure. But it was helpful to me, that there might be another lens to look at this.
[Side note: She also brought up the great point that even if we want to assume he’s a “good person” who made a mistake and did a bad thing… If a “good person” soooooomehow “accidentally” committed sexual assault (they literally didn’t hear somehow, or just didn’t understand), which is really hard to believe, but let’s go with it for a second…
If someone who did that had their victim say, “Look, you did this, and I’ve been crying every night since… You ignored me completely and plowed forward anyway, and it was really not okay,” is their reaction to focus on different excuses and consistently blame you? Is it to get riled up in semantics of whether you “asked” can we please go somewhere else vs. whether you “commanded” it? Or does that person apologize with the fire of 1,000 suns and ask what they can do to make it better? [And, additionally, does this actually seems like a mistake – a thing out of character, and not something they’ve done not only multiple times to you, but also to another person? These are all various things to think on…]]
[Final side note: With the amount of turmoil I’ve experienced from dealing with this ugly (criminal) side of someone merely was popular at school… From all the questions that have seemed impossible to answer of what things can/should I go to? What people from the group can still be my friend? Should I tell anyone? How do you tell someone that someone they know and like unapologetically assaults women? How can I keep going in the direction of my dreams and career while also just being able to live happily and calmly? And just alllll these questions and issues…It has seemed (I hate to use the word again, but seriously, nearly impossible to deal with all this – when it’s just someone from school…)
I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be assaulted by an incredibly popular man throughout America. What I’ve experienced is just a teensy tiny microcosm of what the women who were raped, by for instance, Bill Cosby, had to deal with…
I know everyone struggles afterward if they’re raped by someone involved in their life in some way, “Do I keep my job [if they work with him]? “Do I stay in this town even (etc)…?”
It has felt nearly impossible to get away from someone just at freaking school, and kind of around the general musical theater community. I cannot begin to fathom what it would be like to have to try to wrestle with all of these issues on a much, much larger scale of someone famous, or someone with a lot more power and influence than my sexual assault guy. Oof. My heart is with all the people who have to deal with these impossible questions.]