Picking up from yesterday –
I remember feeling so wildly uncomfortable around him. I remember 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.
I had to block him on Facebook because it would make my 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 for a while).
And when you’re a kid, and it’s actually life threatening (and/or at least feels very life threatening), 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 (or 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 in her 20s, who doesn’t need to appease and good-girl her way out of this. I have other options.”
It’s 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 be at safety! What’s wrong with this island? What if instead of furiously swimming in high tide with flesh-eating creatures just beneath the water… what if instead, I just enjoyed this island, maybe walk around, explore, maybe get a therapist, and try to keep him away….
(Again, not the best analogy. As you know, I hardly know how to explain all this…)
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 my life my whole entire life. My brain has been way too trained with flight or fight or freeze or appease. And I was appeasing like crazy.
I thought – on this base emotional level that I did not think through or understand (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, 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!