Picking up from yesterday –
I remember feeling so wildly uncomfortable around him. I remember literally vomiting thinking about him… Not being able to even eat when we’d go to brunch after it happened. I’d have nightmares every time the night before meeting him and the night after.
I had such intensely strong and terrible reactions toward being around him, seeing him, being reminded of him… And yet, I’d try to make it work. Flirty, and even downright sexual texts and such after the incident (both(!) incidents) exist…
I had to block him on Facebook because it would make me physically ill to see his face, and yet… I apologized to him for doing that, and kept going forward with plan “be a good girl.”
I know that I was fighting to get things back to status quo… Yet, actually, actually thinking about what it would really be like to have sex with him made me feel awful. The real thought of the act felt gross.. But the idea of the resolution – of the end to the nightmares and everything… well, that felt grand.
It was a huge amount of cognitive dissonance that was hard to grasp then, is hard to grasp now, and again, is nearly impossible to explain.
So, I just kept trying to push forward – push through the pain, push through the sickness, get back to normalcy, and things will be better.
One of the things my therapist tries to help me understand is that even though it “doesn’t make sense,” it all does… in that I have a long history of being abused in my life. As I’ve said, when I was growing up, I endured a whole lot of physical abuse. And that really blurs the lines of acceptability, and love, and what you can (or should) endure.
And in all that time, practically the only way out (or at least, so it seemed, as a child), was to “good girl” your way out of it – be good enough, appease your abuser enough that you feel safe (even if only for a while… any time at all you get to be safe feels so good).
And when you’re a kid, and it’s life threatening (and/or at least seems very life threatening to you, a small child), every time you try to “good girl” yourself out of a situation, you are literally trying to save your own life. Your life is on the line all the time
And so, when you get into an abusive relationship when you’re older, you use all of the tools that you’ve been using for practically your whole entire life – and the ones that ether did (and/or very much felt like they did) keep you alive when you were younger.
It didn’t even occur to me to look at things from a different angle. It literally didn’t even occur to me to say, “I’m a strong independent woman who’s a grown-up adult now, in her 20s, who doesn’t need to appease and good-girl her way out of this. I have other options.”
I guess maybe it’s sort of like I kept jumping in monster-infested waters to try to get to the “safe” island (where, I guess, sexual assault guy is?), not even realizing – I might already be in paradise! I might already have reached safety! What’s wrong with this island? What if instead of furiously swimming in high tide with flesh-eating creatures just beneath the water to try to get “back to” that terrible island that sucks anyway (because it’s full of landmines and such) … what if instead, I just enjoyed this island, maybe walk around, explore, maybe get a therapist, and try to keep him away…. Maybe I don’t have to always try to close the circle of abuse.. (I know, I know, “therapy talk.” But like, maybe I can just walk away?)
Whereas, I kind of just felt like I swam like crazy back to “semi-sort of calm island,” not even feeling those ocean monsters along the way. Only once I stopped drowning did I realize, oh no. My legs are gone. I went in the wrong water (or something)?
(Again, not a fantastic analogy. As you know, I hardly know how to explain all this…)
I just could only see resolution and didn’t realize I was cutting off some other options by pursuing resolution, if that makes sense…
But anyway, I didn’t look around at my island, or any other options. I got complete and total tunnel vision. It didn’t matter what friends said or logic said, or my whole entire body and brain said… I used the same coping/survival techniques that had saved me life my whole entire life. My brain has been way too trained (as I have said before, my neurons are literally wired differently than someone who didn’t grow up being abused). And my brain, doing what it knows how to do – was trying to appease like crazy.
I thought (on this base emotional level in which I did not think through or understand it all (even though it was going against all my physiological signs)…) I thought I was saving my life, not making it markedly worse at all times…
It was the only thing that made sense to me. And I wish I knew anything better to say than that.
If you have a desire to learn more about all this, there is SO much info on google (and elsewhere) about the cycle of abuse and the lasting effects of childhood abuse, There are a number of good books out there. (One I’m liking is “Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft. (That more seems to be written for a victim to understand her abuser more, but it might help those just curious.) There are books and articles galore on all of this.
So, if you still don’t totally get what I’m saying and want to know more, maybe someone else can explain it better or make it click more. But for this specific topic, I think I have reached the end of what I can add to it.
So, just as I closed out the topic of “he is abusive” the other day. I’m also gonna close out the topic of “why didn’t your behavior afterward make sense? (and anything in the same vein of that).” I’ve answered that question as best as I can, and made sense of a kinda senseless time in my life as best I can. So, this part of the sexual assault issue is also done. (Woo! I love closing out topics like this!)
I hope any of that was helpful. Have a great night!