As we continue with my sort of conclusion/reflection posts, now that I’m wrapping this all up (or at least trying to)…
One maybe weird(?) thing that happened with all this sexual assault stuff is that not only have I, of course, not wanted to ever be with someone like him again, I also had this weird fear of “what if I (ever) am him?!”
He is hurting people so deeply, and just does not seem to care in the least. (And sometimes plays it off as though he doesn’t even know (no matter how many different ways and numerous times you tell him).)
I told him over and over how what he did was not okay, and how much it hurt me. And I was always met with a million excuses (or the occasional straight-up just laughter in my face)… And also, I was told (by him) so often to think about how he felt – I should feel bad for him that anyone (including me) got mad at him ever (especially if it had anything to do with disrespecting women (or any specific woman)). How could we do that when he’s such a “good guy”?
Either what he did wasn’t a big deal; or if it was a big deal, he has feelings too, and I’m the one hurting them because how dare he be perceived as a bad guy;, or it was all a misunderstanding, or, or, or, or – whatever the millions of possibilities, none of them were that he just did something exceptionally painful, and took responsibility for it, and figured out ways to be better.
He seems not to have any sort of understanding that he has ruined my life (or at least a part of it). It’s not even just a problem in that he doesn’t care. It’s that so often he seems so oblivious – just completely oblivious to the fact that he’s quite controlling and abusive, and that he is a serial sexual assaulter.
He’s either an incredible manipulator (maybe!…(probably!)), or he’s truly just actually oblivious to it all. And that is exceptionally hard to wrap my mind around.
I know we’ll never truly see ourselves the way other people do – and sometimes that means we see ourselves better than others perceive (so as maybe to protect our egos or ourselves a little), and sometimes we may see ourselves worse (over-feeling guilt, or low self-esteem or something(…? I dunno. I’m not a brain doctor.))… Also, even the way other people see us is certainly not universal. The way our boss thinks of us vs. our significant other vs. our parents etc. might be different – because they know us in different capacities, and have known us of different various lengths of time and such.
So, there is no complete universal way to see each of us, I know.
But, I feel like generally there’s a general sense of who we are – in which for the most part, even if some of the things change from person’s view to other person’s view, we all kiiiinda know the gist, the essence of the person. (Sort of, I guess… Then again, maybe that view is what gets me in trouble, as it’s been hard to see an abusive man as just that – even when I saw it up close… But I’m tangenting, as per often….)
I don’t know if this happens to a lot of victims of abuse, but I started to have this (mostly irrational (I hope!) fear of, “What if I’m him?!”
“What if I am steamrolling people and not realizing it? After all, haven’t I said the words, ‘Aw, come on!’ if I want someone to come out with a group of us, or do something I think is fun? What if I’m over-pressuring in a way I don’t see?…
What if I don’t really listen to people? For the most part, I try to take it in when someone says I hurt their feelings. But he thinks he does that too! He’s always like, “I don’t know why women can’t get over things when I apologize.” And it’s like, “well, because you’re not actually apologizing, and it’s weird that you think you are… Do you not know what an apology is?”
But it kinda seems like he thinks he is apologizing! What if I think that too? And no one’s ever felt they’ve gotten a real apology from me? How terrible would that be?
What if when both me and someone else have done something wrong or hurt each other, and I ask to find some common ground or see my point of view, I think I’m doing something healthy and having a real back and forth, but it’s actually shutting that person down (like he’d do to me)?
What if, what if, what if… So many of his behaviors seems so adjacent to normal behaviors (but different in very important ways)… But because they seem adjacent if, what if any of us are teetering on the edge of being able to do these abusive awful things? What if we think we’re having healthy conversations, but we’re gaslighting? (I mean, I don’t think that’s how it words. But I’ve had a lot of time in my brain, and I’ve gotten a little afraid!)
I went through a phase during all this where at one point, I tried to contact any people I could with whom I’d felt there was any even sort of unresolved thing… Had I thought that maybe I made someone mildly uncomfortable one day 6 years ago? They’re getting a call! Had I thought maybe I seemed distant during one conversation 3 years ago? They’re also getting one! You get a call. You get a call. Everybody gets a call!
I couldn’t find contact info for some people. From others, I did, but I never heard back. From anyone I did get get to talk to, it was easy talks of, “I don’t even remember that happening,” or “oh, that was so no big deal at all. Thanks for the apology and everything, but seriously. Nothing was wrong.”
There’s still the possibility that something I don’t remember affected someone in a way I’m unaware of. There’s also the possibility that some of the people I do remember but couldn’t reach hold a deep grudge against me. (Maybe that’s part of why I couldn’t reach ’em! Who knows!)
That’s not to say I think I’ve done anything as awful as he has. (I don’t.) (Then again, he also probably doesn’t think of anything he’s done as all that awful… So who knows anything, right?)
Anyway, this was just another weird way in which my confidence eroded. On top of everything else, it’s like, “Not only am I afraid of him, needing to be safe from him, I also don’t wanna be him.”