Picking up with the idea from my last post –
Not only do all these definitions of words I’ve known for basically all my life not have to change based on one outlier. I also don’t have to change all my behavior based on him either.
I think I may have talked about this in some previous posts… But there are totally innocuous things that scare me more than they used to.
For instance, I am sometimes weirdly afraid of being nice. One of the (multiple) reasons for that is because I didn’t realize I was in like a death match for power or something. I thought I could just be nice to someone in my life I cared about.
But if I dared say something nice, or do something nice, it’s like we were in a broken video game. Instead of everyone’s power supply getting bigger (because I feel good for… e.g. getting a sick person snacks, and then he feels good for being thought of) and everybody wins, his green bar of power gets stronger and stronger and for some reason, mine depletes.
He would use those as “examples” or “evidence” when he’d start telling me how “I chased him, because I’ve never chased a woman in my life. I’ve never had to. It was yooooooou who wanted me. [muaaaaaahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha]” He would always be trying to exert power over me.
And it wasn’t just that. Sometimes he’d make me feel bad for thing I shouldn’t feel bad about. If I’d be a little polite or nice, he’d get on me… “why would you say thanks for breakfast? Your croissant was $3.” And he’d roll his eyes and get almost annoyed that I was grateful.
And it wouldn’t just be a statement. He’d want me to explain why I’d dare say thanks for a “cheap” thing or whatever.
What? I said “thanks for breakfast,” and now it feels like I’m testifying in a court of law because it wasn’t a “nice” enough breakfast to say thanks for? It. was. exhausting.
And/or I’d be made fun of for being nice. At first, it was seemingly fun teasing, but like everything else with him, it eventually turned into just teeeeearing me down. I could not do anything right – and that included being “too nice” to people in the world around us.
AND niceness is sort of what got me in trouble in the first place. I ignored so many red flags. I wanted to “see the good.” If he did something mean to me, I’d try to figure out what I could do to be even nicer… “If I’m just nicer he’ll be nicer to me.” (And I know that’s the scared behavior of someone who’s been abused more so than it is just “niceness.”) But still. Niceness has almost seemed scary.
And it has been AMAZING to get back into the real normal world where I don’t have to write a dissertation if I’d like to just say “thanks” when someone buys me a drink or something small. It’s SO nice to be able to just be nice again and not be on edge about it.
I have a friend who jokes that someday I’m gonna die by becoming someone’s lamp… I’m gonna trust some stranger, and I’m gonna be murdered, and the murderer will stretch out my skin and I’ll be someone’s lamp. [Kind of a dark joke, huh? haha!]
Anyway, my stance on it has always been sort of, “Well, I’d rather be a lamp than a grumpalicious sad person.”
And, I will admit (obviously), I’m not a lamp. I’m a human being typing to you right now. But it feels like sexual assault guy might as well have stretched my brain over a lamp! It felt so tortuous to be around him. And after going through that, I think there was definitely a part of me that just cried in my room and was like, “This feels teeeeeerrible. I don’t want to be a lamp! I don’t want to be a lamp!” (I guess I always imagined I wouldn’t have to feel the torture of being the lamp.) But. I like living out loud. And I like meeting people. And I like being nice. And I think I’m finally working back to the idea that I’d rather be a lamp than a grumpalicious sad person.
I mean, I’d rather just be a nice person who has a good life and doesn’t become a lamp!
But, while niceness, and sincerity, and empathy seemed to hurt me (a LOT – a lot, a lot) with him, they have also enriched my life. And while I’m going out more in the world now and interacting with people, it’s definitely this weird thing of [be nice, like I’m used to, have a shooting pain of “Wait, be careful!” and then have a calming thought of “you’re okay, you’re okay.”]
He is the outlier. He was the one who treated me unlike anything that’s ever been even close to acceptable. He’s the story that’s off. He’s not the norm. So, I don’t have to change myself to fit his world. I’ve lived in the world for many years before him (and hopefully many after as well). The world is not his. There was no winning with him. It did not matter what you did. I couldn’t find a way to be perfect enough. Maybe someone else could. I couldn’t. But I don’t have to relive “how could I act now to make that unhappen?!” It can’t unhappen. There is no special way that I can act now to make it unhappen. So, I might as well go back to joy and rainbows and butterflies. My world, my personality, my heart doesn’t have to change because of him. Nothing of mine has to change because of him.