Saturday, September 9th, 2017

I’ve been doing a lot better (a lot better) over the past 2 months… But even within that, I’ve had some ups and downs.

And yesterday was one of the great days! Therapy went oh so well.

I know that before the big switch (after the June/July hiatus), I had some good days. But now the good days are even better and more frequent.

And it’s so great!

…But I still have a tiny little fear waiting for the other shoe to drop. Recovery has been a long, sometimes pretty arduous road, filled with emotions all over the place….

And now that the good days are getting reeeeally really good again and the whole world is feeling possible… it makes me live in this space forever – which I guess is actually the goal! To live in this awesome nice space forever of reality, of the world being beautiful and full of possibilities, and large and small all at the same time.

I guess I just wanted to say I love feeling this way. (And I really hope it lasts and lasts and lasts…)

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

This video is worth a watch!

I know to some extent we’ve talked about childhood trauma over the past number of months because it has weaved into everything that happened.

Someone shared this talk on twitter, and I found it fascinating… Hearing how the actual shape/structure/mechanics of a brain under such stress as a child is literally different.

Brains are so fascinating!

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

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!

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

One of the reeeeeeally hardest parts about all this for me is the fact that I kept going back…

It confused my friends. It confused me (to some extent). And, even though I’ve tried a number of times on here, it sometimes feels nearly impossible to explain.

Because even though it’s so common for women to go back (on average, it takes 7 attempts to leave an abusive man!), for some reason, it still feels like doing that has lessoned the credibility of my assault(s), or his abusive behavior, or the personal hell I’ve been through over the past year.

It’s part of what makes it feel like people think, “*shrug*, well, another relationship problem. Too complicated to understand. Guess they were both at fault!” … But that’s like telling someone they’re at fault if they kept a cancerous tumor that looked like it would paralyze them if they removed it (because of where it was located). The tumor was cancerous! And the patient is just doing everything they know how to survive.

(But I guess in this analogy, I’m my own doctor and read the scans wrong.) The point is, you blame cancer. It’s cancer’s fault.

Completely switching analogies here, so let your brain go away from that one…

It feels like I’ve left myself without a leg to stand on.

And I don’t know that I have a great analogy for that… It’s like I never even once considered my legs… It’s like I was drowning and some kind of leg-eating creature was gnawing at my legs, but I can’t pay attention to that, because I can’t breathe! One problem at a time, here!

And I just hate that not only does it feel like my story is undercut with the world, or with myself… It feels like it was undercut with sexual assault guy. Trolls are always out there tearing apart women’s stories. But to have the biggest troll be the man himself who did it to you was an extra layer of pain for me.

He acted like if I was trying to make things work, it wasn’t because I was in desperate need of resolution – it was instead because I sooooooo wanted him (oh so so much). After all, “I was just some lovesick puppy. He was a man who did nothing wrong. And this was simply a relationship that didn’t work out” – even though that’s not what was going on…

I don’t remember super specifically most of the lines in my giant apology to him (after he was icing me out after my assault), but the one I do remember was that I “hoped to earn the honor of sleeping in his bed again” (or at least something very similar to that.

And the reason I remember that one line specifically is because I gagged when I said it. I physically felt a little “ugh, gross” thing happening as I typed it… And I remember it because I feel so bad about that, since I typed up and sent him a lie… And if that one sentence is a lie, what else is a lie? I wish everything could fit in the beautiful box of perfectness, where I never told a white lie in an email, and I never tried to make things work. But that’s unfortunately not how it happened…)

I didn’t want the “honor” of sleeping in his bed… I had never actually gotten used to sleeping in his bed. For the most part, I couldn’t sleep when he was in it with me, and only slept pretty soundly if he was working in the other room, and I was sleeping without him…

I don’t think it’s an “honor” to sleep there, and I never really wanted to. (That was a giant point of contention between us(!), even when things were at their most “fine” – whether I would spend the night, as I felt that was going kinda fast.)

What I really wanted was to go back in that spot on that very bed, and not be assaulted, and feel safe – and hope that new safe memories would undo the terrible ones… That’s what I wanted, even though that’s not exactly what I said…

(And of course I’m disappointed in myself, because I pride myself on being this person who says exactly what she means and doesn’t make people guess… But in that moment, that part slipped. And I said something I didn’t mean… And then it went on to be used as evidence as to why “nothing was all that bad after all.” He wasn’t apologetic. The police officer wouldn’t even file my report. Once you say something nice to your rapist, you’re freaking toast.)

And this is where I’ll pick up tomorrow…

Friday, September 8th, 2017

This is something we talked about in therapy today that I found really helpful! I don’t know if you will find it helpful (if you’re going through it yourself), or interesting (if you’re not), but just in case, here’s my thoughts from today:

There are many things that don’t always make 100% sense to me from my time with him.

I feel like when any of us start to get intimately involved with someone, they could ultimately want so many different things: just sex, or a monogamous companionship, or a future family, or an open thing, or a million other options here.

But usually they want something… even if they’re trying to figure out what they want, it still involves wanting sex and/or love and/or friendship and/or something to do with your equal relationship with the other person (no matter what the dynamics of that relationship turn out to be).

And I totally understand that people are confusing sometimes – whether on purpose or accident, or even just because they’ve changed their minds and confused themselves too!

But this – this was so far outside of the realm of just normal relationship bumps… He’d change on a dime… going from being obsessed with me –
[Side note: yes, I see the irony that I blog about him almost every day now… I see the nuanced difference in that if you want to use that word about me, I am “obsessed” with getting better, learning about abuse and assault and my brain and sexism and PTSD, and how to cope and move on, and understand… I’m not actually obsessed with him right now. I don’t even really have any kind of sense at all as to what he’s up to in life. And I don’t know that I super care, or at least in the moment that I’m writing this, I’m feeling calm and centered and definitely don’t care… Anyway, now that that side note’s been taken care of! :-)…]

Anyway from obsessed with me… not just like a cutesy new relationship, but like a scary needing to account for every minute of your day to him kinda thing to all of a sudden giving me the total cold shoulder, from being SO into super sex moves to deciding instead not to do them once he found out I’d be into them (which I thought was the point of telling me about stuff he liked in the first place?… buuuuut no)… From treating me like an object to acting like I was the best thing since sliced bread… Over and over this cycle of confusion…

And as I’ve mentioned before, there was always this moving of goalposts. If he wanted one thing and I gave it to him, he’d then want something else. And on and on and on. He was un-pleasable.

And one of the things we talked about today was that it’s impossible to understand what he wants if you frame it in any of the things people want out of normal, healthy relationships – no matter what those goals might be.

He wasn’t actually ever interested in sex, or intimacy (which he seemed super obsessed with), or companionship, or friendship, or anything along those lines. He was only interested in power.

Full stop. That’s it.

And then everything falls into place. That easily makes sense of why he’d change on a dime and want different things.. He’s un-pleaseable because that is part of keeping power. I can’t ever officially fully please him. If I give him all the sex he wants, he wants different sex. If I’m more than willing to give him that, he wants a break from sex completely – no sex. then if I don’t want sex because I’m uncomfortable or feel unsafe, well in that case, he must have it… Because it is literally not about sex at all.

Same with everything else. If I don’t really wanna hold his hand, it becomes more important to him that we do hold hands. And on and on with every single thing for the rest of time. Whatever I’m giving, he doesn’t want. Whatever I’m not giving, he’s gotta have.

Not to say that some people don’t act like this sometimes. Many people play some games or have some streak of stubbornness.

But his overarching main goal in his relation to me was just to have power. He. wanted. power. That was his main (and maybe only?) goal.

That’s it.

I don’t even know what else to say. I was gonna try to end this blog post with some conclusion or piece of understanding new information, but it’s been said. He wanted power. That’s all there is to it. And when you think about it in that context, everything that seemed not to make sense suddenly falls into place.

(And when you start to blame yourself, you remember there’s nothing you could’ve done (for real), because he had to always be changing expectations to keep you on your toes. Because he. must. have. power. That is what defines him. (And sadly he (or at least this experience) then sooorta kinda defined me for a while… (maybe even still?)

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

Kind of in the same vein of yesterday…

It’s interesting to me that after this whole experience, I’ve started to question what certain words and concepts really mean to me – one of them is what it means to be the bigger person.

I always sort of thought of it as somebody wrongs you, and you decide to kind of rise above it and forgive them anyway.

(There was a good episode in season 2 of How To Get Away With Murder that included a large storyline about the mother of a man who was shot forgiving the man who did it.)

To me, there’s something that can feel really empowering about being the bigger person. You can feel good about yourself. You can leave your anger behind. You move on, and you look and feel great doing it. How amazing does that sound? Sign me up?

But one of the problems I found, if I would gather all the strength inside me, and try oh to hard to be the bigger person, was that sexual assault guy would try to really show me how much I wasn’t be the bigger person because “actually, he did nothing wrong, and I’m just being one of those ridiculous women-folk!” or “actually, I’m upset about [whatever whatever  thing here]. How can I forgive the thing I’m not aaaaactually upset over.” Or he’d goad me so that “actually, you’re still upset.” (In case you can’t tell, my life was a near constant barrage of actuallys when I was around him.)

And sometimes it’d be frustrating, and it would feel like, “Why aren’t you just allowing me to be the bigger person?! Let me be free here!”

…But do you actually need permission to be the bigger person?

If you’re just straight-up Dalai Lama calm, being all, “I forgive you. I forgive you…” And the person is yelling that you can’t because they did nothing wrong, or that you’re crazy… Are you becoming like them? Are you being manipulative and trying to goad them – knowing your aloud forgiveness will make them upset (since they would never do anything wrong to you – and certainly never disrespect a woman (*eye roll,* remembering that being told to me). So, are you becoming them? Or are you just being transcendently calm?

You could always just choose to forgive someone and deal with the fact that they don’t accept and/or believe your forgiveness. You just quietly do it alone for yourself because they don’t care (or maybe they even revel in what they did)…

And that’s the true definition of being the bigger person, isn’t it? I kind of always thought being the bigger person came with a pat on the back from somebody… Somebody involved, or from the person who needs your forgiveness in the first place, or I dunno – just somebody. Some acceptance of “ah yes. You are doing this. I see and acknowledge it. And now all is calm and in a nice little bow. There’s been some kind of resolution. Everyone can breathe again. Go enjoy a vegan cake pop.”

But that’s really not how it works, is it? Because “being the bigger person” inherently means someone is being the “smaller” person – they’re being upsetting. So, even if you decide to “be the bigger person,” what makes you think they’re gonna listen to what you have to say, or accept your forgiveness?

…When I started writing this post, I was basically gonna ask if you even *can* be the bigger person if someone doesn’t accept your apology or listen to you, and you decide in your apartment, alone, “I am letting go of this anger. What you did was horrific. But I’m not longer letting it control me.”

But now, by the end of the post, I feel like I’ve come to realize… that is actually the act of being the bigger person, isn’t it?

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

I don’t mean toward my abuser or anything. This isn’t a post about “just love the people who treat you poorly.”

I do better when I love forward.

Recently, I’ve been doing better in the times I’ve been able to try to figure out what I can do for someone else, rather than spiraling about me/my life. (I won’t say it’s happened a ton in the last yea, but it’s been happening more lately. And when it happens at all, it’s a joy)!

I think this is probably always the case – that we feel better when we are doing things for other people – whatever that means, however we are capable… Whether it be donating, volunteering, maybe even just being a good friend taking a real interest and remembering/asking what people are up to.

And of course, I generally know that – which is why in the short aftermath after all this, one of the first things I did was try to have dinner/coffee/hangouts with people I knew. And I also went to some volunteer activities. And I felt like an empty box. I wasn’t reeeeeeally there.

I felt so many things at kinda the start of all this (and really throughout this journey). And one of the things I felt the most was distracted. I couldn’t concentrate to save my life. I had to re-read things over and over. Same with listening to podcasts. I couldn’t listen and I couldn’t retain.

And sometimes, going out made me feel even worse because it felt like I was actively not being there – like maybe I was hurting someone’s feeling by kind of looking through them as they talked, not having the ability to really focus, no matter how hard I tried.

So, for that (and some other reasons of fear and such), I kind of walled myself off in my room, for the most part. And now that life is becoming more livable, I’m starting to have some desire and excitement for really living with people, out in the world, again.

I don’t wanna get too crazy gung-ho too fast. I feel like I can walk again, but my legs are still pretty wobbly. So, I’m not gonna commit to any long-term things right now. I’m not gonna say I’ll volunteer at some place every week for a year.

But I am interested in dipping my toe into the pool at the very least. The idea is percolating – and I love the fact that I can daydream and get excited about doing things again. I like it! (And I look forward to making it happen, hopefully in bigger and more consistent ways from now forward through a lot of time! :-))