Friday, March 17th, 2017

I’ve spent the last 3 days trying to make sense of/explain this one moment that seemed to be the moment that set the ticking time bomb to eventually go off…

[For anyone who didn’t read aaaall that (I don’t blame you), it was when he told me the very first time we slept together, “I have no idea what I want” (re: a relationship dynamic). And I’m positing that maybe had we talked more about what we wanted that very first time, we would’ve been clearer and I would never have been assaulted… Here’s why it doesn’t actually matter….]

***a million stars around this first reason here – circle, stars, stickers, etc. Importante!***
1) It doesn’t matter what he wanted, or what he thought I wanted as far as our relationship dynamic was concerned… It doesn’t matter if he thought I wanted nothing but sex, or if he thought I was hoping to get married to him – or anywhere in between. And it doesn’t really matter where he fell on that spectrum either. It. Doesn’t. Matter.

If I were his one-night stand, or I were his wife, no matter what I am to him, it doesn’t make trampling over my wishes, and what makes me feel safe, okay. The conversation could’ve gone a trillion ways that night. I don’t care if it would’ve gone, “Hey, I’m not ready for anything serious. Let’s keep this really casual,” or “I like you so very much. I know it’s so early, but do you wanna try being my girlfriend.”
[Granted, I shivered a little reading that because it seems a lil’ scary very fast, so when I say, “I don’t care,” I’m sure I would’ve had some reaction (probably fear, it seems). So, I don’t mean complete apathy like it doesn’t matter at all in any context… but I don’t care at all in the context of assault, because in the context of assault, IT DOESN’T MATTER.

I don’t care if we’ve had sex 500,000 times before, and if we’ve had it in insane places (we didn’t, but I’m just saying…) If I don’t want to have sex in my bed, that’s my prerogative!

When we get to the second assault – even if he’d never ever made me uncomfortable before (which he had a lot, but let’s pretend he didn’t), once he was making me uncomfortable enough to cry uncontrollably in his bed and when I said out loud that he was making me uncomfortable (and that’s why I was crying), the correct response is to STOP TOUCHING ME. It’s not to climb on top of me and continue like my wishes and bodily autonomy means nothing.

Our relationship dynamic DOESN’T MATTER.

It doesn’t matter how that conversation would’ve gone. It doesn’t matter what our dynamic was, “should’ve” been, “could’ve” been, etc. It doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter who I am in relation to him. He doesn’t get to assault me. It’s never right.

While, I think that’s the most important thing and that reason gets all the stars and such…

there are also a couple of other things.

2) HE KNEW.

He knew I felt very weird about intimacy. He knew I felt weird about sex in my bed. I mentioned that a bunch of times. Do I imagine the fantasy scenario sometimes where we clearly laid out our dynamic that very first night and never had misunderstandings/bumps in the road/etc. again? Yeah. Sure.

But even if he wasn’t clear on what our overall dynamic was, he knew I was uncomfortable having sex in my bed. I’d told him before he talked about coming over. I told him after he came over. And I told him while he was in my apartment, and in my bed, and touching me. I was physically shaking with fear, and I said out loud that that’s why I was shaking. And he was ignoring me at every turn.

He knew for long periods of times that I felt weird about having sex and sleeping together in my bed. He may not have known exactly what our dynamic was (I don’t think either of us did, obviously), but whatever it was, it was people who didn’t have sex (and especially then sleep together) in my bed. He knew that. And he chose not to care.

3) Lastly, what makes me think that that moment would’ve gone any differently than any future moment we ever had?

In this fantasy scenario, I imagine him as some guy who would’ve really talked and listened and had a normal conversation with me – without intimidation or condescension, and aaaaall that. And to some extent, I kind of see why I might maybe think that for a moment. He’d been reaaaaally nice to me as my friend – before we started sleeping together.

He’d put my on a pedestal. He’d hung on my every word. He gave me genuine compliments (not negging me, or giving me backhanded compliments – he gave me real ones!). Of course I thought my friend would hear me… But alas, the beginning of us sleeping together was the end of that awesome respectful, kindness, and sweetness, and generally positive adjectives and adverbs. Of course he wouldn’t have actually heard me. I have like a trillion (barely hyperbole) examples of him not listening to me once we started sleeping together…

For instance, when things were just moving TOO fast in the intimacy department and I begged him that we take it down a notch, I was like, “I can’t have breakfast with you anymore. I can’t do it. Please.” And he asked me to explain why. And there’s nothing wrong with that. If he wants to understand, okay! So, I explained it.

And I was interrupted and spoken down to. And asked again. And I explained again, trying to pick different words and be clearer…

And I was interrupted and spoken down to again.

So, I used an example. “It’s kinda like running. I always love sex, don’t get me wrong. And I always love running! But if I’m going out for a training run, I’m throwing on whatever I’ve got lying around the house, and I’m just going out… If I’m going out for the San Francisco or LA Marathon, I am wearing my favorite running outfit. I’m going to bed early. I’m setting three alarms. I’m making conscious decisions about dinner the night before. My favorite marathons are very special to me, and I treat them with the care and compassion of something really unique and extra special to me.
And I feel that way about breakfast with someone I’m having sex with. I am aware some people don’t feel that way, and that’s totally fine! But I do. I can’t handle breakfast in a casual sense. I’m not asking you to be my marathon. I merely want to take a step back. I’m happy to still have sex. I’ll still work on spending the night. I’m working very hard to keep pushing myself to do that, since I know you want that. And that, I think I can do… But that’s already pushing myself way out of my comfort zone. And that’s all I can handle right now. So, can we please, pretty please skip breakfasts?

But no.

It was basically like I had to give a freaking dissertation on why I didn’t want to have breakfast, in an argument that lasted an impossibly long time. And I had to hear about why that was so stupid and how breakfast actually meant nothing, and how he has breakfast even with his one-night stands. “Aurora. We’re civilized adults, aren’t we? I feel like if you’re gonna have sex with someone, you should at least be able to have a meal with them in the morning.” And I don’t mind seeing his point of view. Maybe it is silly that I can’t handle breakfasts. But I didn’t enjoy, instead of having my clear boundaries be respected, being put down for not being “adult” enough to handle it, or for being too “ridiculous.” “After all, it’s just waffles. What’s the big deal? Why are you making such a big deal about breakfast?”

And then, of course I felt kind of like an idiot…
I mean, yeah…
I guess it is just breakfast…

[But why doesn’t that logic work the other way too? If it’s incredibly important to me to not have breakfast, then why can’t he think, “Oh, this means a lot to her. It is just breakfast. What do I care?” It feels like it’s waaaay too often me who has to make the compromise. Because if it’s something “dumb” I care about, it’s stupid. If it’s something he cares about then it’s like, “I know this might not be the majority opinion, but I feel this way, so this is how it’s gonna be.”]

And his big grand compromise was like, “Well, what if I don’t make something. Like, if we don’t have waffles, can we have bagels or something?”

Oh my dear lord. We’ve been talking about breakfast for over an hour. Please for the love of all that is holy, just say you understand and that you’ll just let me leave your apartment without you. I like to leave alone in the morning. I like to just go. It is hard enough to stay and cuddle. Every time I push myself to try and stay in your bed with you, I’m not sleeping through a single night. I know that’s important to you. You’ve made that clear. This is me already trying to compromise and push myself for you. Can we please take it one step at a time? I am not even at the very edge of my comfort zone – I’ve stepped outside of it to make you happy.

When I’m already pushing myself so hard, why is that not enough? Please. Please. Just let me wake up and maybe have a little sex and then leave without you, and without breakfast (and maybe in my dream scenario without one of those claustrophobic showers even). Please. [Spoiler alert: Nope. That never gets to happen.]

Anyway, the point is, it seemed like anytime I needed anything that wasn’t precisely what he wanted, or wasn’t in his seemingly extremely narrowly defined view of what any type of “relationship” that came along with sex was – that I couldn’t have it. I could have a very very long argument begging for what I needed. I could learn why I was an idiot to want that. But I couldn’t actually have anything I actually needed to make me feel comfortable (even though I felt like I asked for things that really weren’t that hard to give… is it actually hard to not make someone breakfast?).

So, all of that being the case, what on this earth makes me think that if only we’d had some magical conversation that very night instead of a short time later, that things would have been different?

I dunno. Blind hope? Idiocy? I don’t know what it is, but I’m preeeeeeeeetty sure it’s not logic, because based on every single other interaction we had after that night, it seems like all evidence points to the idea that we wouldn’t have had a helpful conversation that actually cleared up anything or set good ground work for a good dynamic (whatever that dynamic was).

4) Bonus reason: I’ve had sex a bunch of times without setting the exact dynamic the very first time I have sex with someone. And sometimes it leads to confusion. But generally, it’s just led to kinda figuring things out as they go along… And while sometimes it’s led to awkward conversations, it had never led to assault (until this time). In the decade-ish sex I’ve been having (since I was in high school), not figuring out the exact dynamic from moment one had never led to assault. Why would I think – based on my experiences – that this would be any different? Why would I have seen that coming?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

So, that’s why no matter how many times I go back to that moment or think things could’ve been different, that one moment truly does not matter for all the reasons listed above. Now if only I could get myself to really really really take that in, and know it, and believe it in my bones instead of constantly yelling at myself about “what if! You could’ve changed this!”…
You can never be “good enough” in an abusive relationship. It is not possible.

It is. not. possible. You can walk on eggshells all you want. You can try your best to be good enough. But with constantly shifting goal posts, you cannot just be “good enough” in an abusive relationship. I can go over certain moments all I want, but there actually wasn’t anything I could’ve done – other than stay away from him. But as far as things within the relationship, I don’t think there’s anything I could’ve done that would’ve magically changed everything… And I just need to do my best to accept that.

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

I spent the last two days trying desperately to explain how there was this moment at the very beginning where he said, “I have no idea what I want” and he brought it up a bunch of times in a weird condescending way that very night.

And for a number of various reasons (to take his words at face value that he had no idea what he wanted so why push for more answers he doesn’t have, to not pressure him, to not pressure me, to not have a conversation what felt like so early, and on an on), I didn’t push that issue.

Nope. Instead, I enthusiastically said, “okay!” because I was also potentially open to various dynamics, and I thought we’d figure it out when we’d figure it out.

And the big reason this feels like it led to me being assaulted is because all these little disagreements came up over and over and over again. Just think, the first time I was assaulted, it started with him yelling at me about how ridiculous it was that I wouldn’t want to have sex in my bed, because “Aurora! That’s how this works. When I sleep with a woman, half the time we’re at her place, half the time at mine!”

What if four days prior, we had “defined” our relationship (which again, to me, seems slightly insane on night one…But still). What if we’d really very explicitly laid out our expectations?

Though, I don’t know about you, but even in any talks of “defining” relationships I’ve ever had, I’ve never had it feel like a settlement or something where you lay out all the very specific details of everything you need from moment one.

I’ve had like broad conversations about exclusivity, or definitely safety (birth/STD control, and if you have other partners too like what the situation is to keep everyone safe) – you know, that kind of stuff… Really mainly safety and exclusivity.

That’s really it. That’s all I can think of when it comes to those big talks or whatever… I don’t sit down and put on glasses to make me look all smart and lawyer-y and then say *[clears throat] cough cough*, “So, if you’ll see in paragraph 2 of line item 20, I actually hate this certain kind of soap, and you’re allowed to meet specifically these three friends I have, but you’re not allowed to meet these other three very specific people yet, and we won’t be going to my apartment, and if we share dessert, I don’t want it to be chocolate – unless it’s some cool gimmicky thing where something explodes or whatever. Also, we will only ever be at your apartment, etc. etc. etc.”

[In case you’re wondering about that paragraph, not all of that is real, but some of it is haha #TeamVanillaCinnamonCaramelAnythingButChocolateWhenPossible.]

That stuff is just figured out as you go along… (or at least, so I thought.) I never had to sit down and have a gigantic talk with any guys in California, like, “Look. This is suuuuuper serious. I feel weird about having sex in my bed. Let’s dive into my whole life story to try to figure out why.” It was never that serious. It was just like, “Uh, I actually feel a little weird about having you to my place. Would it be okay if we went to yours instead?” And the answer was always “sure!” Not “What’s wrong with you?! This isn’t how I have sex with women!”

I just – it had never been a big deal before. I didn’t anticipate in my wildest dreams that it would become a big deal this time around. I just truthfully did not think for a second that I’d get this man I knew in my apartment who wouldn’t take no for an answer about having sex and sleeping in my bed… (And I don’t know that some maaagical talk defining “what we’re doing” would’ve changed that anyway.)

(Side note: and then he wouldn’t leave because “what we had was sooooo special, that of course I’d want him to stay” [Ron Howard voice: I didn’t.] So, he made things out like they were soooo serious and then would get mad if I did anything that even remotely resembled seriousness to him [I was always just trying to keep up!]… It was so very confusing and frustrating.)

And that wild confusing-ness led to us continually having all of these mini-arguments and misunderstandings, because we kept thinking the other one wanted more or something… It just was this never-ending fight of being on different pages…

I went over to his apartment that Saturday night that led into me being assaulted because we’d been fighting and I was hoping to resolve things… What if we hadn’t been fighting, though? Maybe I wouldn’t have gone over then… And if we hadn’t been fighting and he hadn’t kept putting me down, maybe I wouldn’t have felt so uncomfortable with him in bed. If I wouldn’t have felt so uncomfortable, maybe I wouldn’t have ended up crying. If I wouldn’t have ended up crying, I wouldn’t have been assaulted…

I know it seems like a long road to get there. But there’s just something that feels like had things just been clearer none of this wouldn’t have happened…

And that’s where I’ll end this long, long (sorry) series of posts tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Picking up from yesterday

[This post has turned into more why I didn’t think to do something in this moment instead of why it didn’t matter. So, read on if you want, and/or skip to why it didn’t matter and/or why it felt like it did.]

So, sometimes I wonder, “What if I had just stopped sexual assault guy like the 3rd time he implied he [incredibly condescending voice] reeeeeeally had to have a talk with the weak little girl….] – which, by the way, not to just let my rage re: his condescension take over. But it was such an insanely ridiculous idea that he’d have to “let me down easy” or whatever to this idea that he had no idea what he wanted – I guess maybe making the assumption that I’d want to be his girlfriend(?) right away?

He knew me. We were friends first. I have been exclusive with a guy two times in my life.  (I guess technically three, if you count a very short time of high school silliness of two people who had no idea what they were doing. But if you’re counting “real” relationships, I’d say two is more the correct number – no offense to that lovely guy from high school, whom I’m totally still friends with.) Either way, whether you want to count two or three (it doesn’t matter to me), the point is in every. single. one., I was the one who had to be asked/convinced to be exclusive. I was the one who took a little extra time to trust somebody and open my heart to this whole super scary [dum dum duuuuum] relationship.

I was the one who had to sleep on the couch sometimes because the whole sleeping in bed together, cuddling, it was just too scary and too much (in both situations).

Not to mention, in this particular case I was still totally in love with the California guy, whom it broke my heart a little to leave.. And while we weren’t “officially” together, so there was no cheating involved for us to try to move on, it didn’t stop the fact that we had a hard time moving on, and were texting and facetiming and all that jazz all the time…

So, it’s like, “Hey, sexual assault guy, I’m the one trying to leave your apartment after sex. You’re the one begging me to stay the weekend. I’m the one who’s only ever had a relationship because I (happily) made a concession for a man I adored who wanted that – not because I was chasing after that…
Hey sexual assault guy, I’m the one who’s been going to California nearly every chance I get in large part because I am head over heels deeply in love with the man who told me that he knew the very day he met me that he wanted to marry me. (And I told him I’m gonna use that in our vows. ;).) And you think that after one time of sleeping with you, I’m dying to being your ‘girlfriend’? Geez to goodness.”

Really quickly, in sexual assault guy’s defense, because we were friends (or at least, so I thought) and he did know about my life, he did also know that California guy and I had had a fight when I was there over the holidays. (Sorry. I feel bad even barely putting anything even remotely negative about California guy on here, as the internet is not the place to air the small bumps in the road with my prince.)
But the point is, we were just having a reeeeally tough time dealing with our new dynamic (California guy and I), and there became this tension when we were together – especially since we weren’t “really” together… We just kind of had some growing pains into this new thing of not being together (but also, barely being able to be apart – especially when I was in the same state again). So, he and I had a hurtful fight.

And sexual assault guy knew about it. So, maybe he thought California guy and I were really, really over, or that I didn’t love California guy anymore – that there was unlimited room for him to sweep in – that maybe I would be open to being his girlfriend.

…..And that’s the thing right there.

I truly thought that because sexual assault guy (supposedly) knew me, and he knew how generally terrified I was of intimacy and commitment (until I find the men who make those things feel safe), that when he said, “I have no idea what I want…” I genuinely thought he was telling me, “I (sexual assault guy) might want something more than merely fun and casual.”

I thought our default was going to be just fun and whatever, and when he said that, at the time, even though it felt very weird and I couldn’t totally put my finger on what was going on (which I see now means I really just should’ve asked), but anyway, in that moment… I more didn’t think he meant, “I might not want a relationship.” I thought he meant, “I might want one.” (After all, why else would he even mention the possibility of something other than the default?)

And that’s why I thought, “Okay, I’ll have to reopen this before my next trip to California, so I don’t accidentally upset him by sleeping with someone before I get the chance to hear if that will hurt his feelings.”

That’s partially why I didn’t ask him to elaborate on it, ’cause I thought, “Well, I guess if this is something he might want, I need a little time to ponder – to try to feel out if I could be down with that whole [dum dum duuuuum] relationship stuff, with this guy. If he were potentially wanting something more, I wanted to think about well, if he does, do I really want to enter an exclusive relationship with someone else so soon? I know California guy and I aren’t officially together anymore, but if I become someone else’s girlfriend, then I’m closing the door on getting to be with California guy, and to sleep with my face safely nestled in the special spot on his chest that’s just for me, while I sleep happily tucked in his arms on my side of the bed whenever I am back home…
And even though I know I can’t be California guy’s girlfriend while I’m a trillion miles away, I love being with him when I can. And if I commit exclusively to someone else, I truly close that door. And I maybe should, at some point, because, come on. What are we doing? I need to settle into my new life and not live with a foot over there… I just… my goodness, it seems so ridiculously hard to do that… So, if sexual assault guy is opening that up as a potential option, I wanna be prepared before that convo to think about what I would or would not be willing to do.”

Also in all my swirling thoughts, I wondered why would he be making a big deal out of having no idea what he wanted if all he wanted was to just have a bunch of fun and sex? If that’s what he wants, then that is wanting something. That’s not “no idea.” And he knows me. He was my friend. He knew I’d be down for that. He knew I’d be more comfortable doing that. If that was what he wanted, and he was trying to somehow secretly get that message across or “let a girl down easy” because he thought she wanted commitment, why beg me to stay in his bed and cuddle so much? Why be so intense with the intimacy? That’s a weird thing to do if you just want sex… (Or at least, I think so.)

I just really thought “I have no idea what I want” meant (in this case), “I might want a relationship,” – not that he definitely did, not that I had to worry about it that much, but that I had to at least prepare myself for the possibility, and that since I also didn’t know what I wanted if that was on the table – that seemed like a lot so soon… Why oh why would I press the issue right now? It just seemed crazy in the moment to do so…

I just thought, “He’s bringing this up a lot. Maybe we should talk about more. But if he has no idea – and I’m certainly fine without pressure of anything else yet – why belabor the point?” (And I know now I kind of belaboring my point in this post – my point which I seem to be having a hard time finding, actually…. I guess the point is, I just thought a bunch of things – including – “Try not to over-analyze the fact that he’s bringing it up over and over. Just let him have his nervousness of something new and not knowing what it is yet. If that’s how he deals with it, I’ll listen… Just give things time. See what happens. You’re certainly not in a rush.”

“And if he wants to ultimately talk more about what exactly he wants – as it becomes clearer to him – whether we talked about what he wanted right then, or in a few weeks before I left for Cali, what difference would a few weeks make?”

Little did I know, it seemingly made all the difference in the world. And this is where I’ll pick up next time.

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

I know it’s a little (maybe a lot) silly to go back over and over and over certain details in my head. It doesn’t help, really… But for some reason, sometimes I’m trying to find the “key” – the “if only I wouldn’t have done this one thing, I’d be set!” (Like I have a time machine or something? [I don’t.])

Nonetheless, in all this searching for “the key,” there is one part I go back to over and over and over and over – the one that often feels like “the” moment – that if only this has been different, everything would be different. (Granted, a lot of moments sometimes feel like “the” moment… But this one seems to more than most.)

The very first weekend I spent with sexual assault guy (just 4 days before the first time he assaulted me), we were making out for the first time. And he was like, “wait a second.” So, of course, I immediately stopped. And he told me before anything else happened, he wanted to let me know, he had no idea what he wanted (as far as what our relationship dynamic would be). And I said, “okay!”

And he resumed making out with me. And then blah blah blah, lots of sex from there…

And multiple times that night, he alluded to that tiny little non-conversation. He’d be like, “Man! I am sooo glad we had that talk. I talked to my friends before this, about how weird it would be sleeping with someone from BMI, and I told them I’d really have to make sure to have a talk with her.”

And it was weird. He brought it up more than once. And he’d phrase it in ways that would kind of be demeaning – like he’d really, “neeeeeeed to have a talk with that girl” – as though he was being some big man to get “that girl” under control or something… I dunno. It’s very hard to explain, because it feels crazy writing it here, but you could feel it in the weird way he was talking to me that night.

And so when he mentioned it like the 3rd or so time, I almost said something like, “Hey, are you mentioning this again because you’re wanting to clarify something? Or you’re wanting to expand on this conversation?”

I almost tried to open up the conversation more to talk about the dynamic he was looking for/wanted to have… because why is he bringing this up over and over in weird cryptic belittling ways?

But then I thought, well, he’s a grown man in his mid-thirties. If he wants to talk about something with me, he can just do it. I shouldn’t be making assumptions about what he’s trying to say. (I mean, maybe I should if I’m trying to be empathetic/aware/caring? But also, I don’t want to put stuff on him that’s not there or be over-analytical or something?) Maybe this is just like a nervous verbal tic he’s having tonight or something because it’s weird for him to be with someone in BMI. (It’s weird for me too. I get it…) He just keeps saying he’s glad. Maybe I just give him his gladness/nervousness/whatever-ness and space to have this. I didn’t know…

Also, I just thought, “this is the first time we’re sleeping together. I mean, do we really need to have this whole like, ‘what are we doooing’ talk right this second? It feels so super early.” I mean, had he actually wanted to actually talk about that stuff, of course I would’ve had a conversation he wanted… But he seemed like all he wanted was to tell me he was very uncertain. (And as I said to him, “okay!”)

..Plus, I figured that I wasn’t planning on going to California for a few weeks anyway. And I didn’t have plans to sleep with anyone else before my trip. So, I just thought, “I’ll re-broach this subject in a few weeks before I leave, so I can check and make sure it won’t hurt his feelings if I sleep with someone else.” There just seemed to be no reason to push the issue right that moment.

In addition, he’d already said, “I have no idea what I want.” It seemed futile to ask follow-up questions to someone who had “no idea what he wanted.” If he had “no idea,” how was pushing him for answers going to help anything? (And fitting with the freaking running theme, was I oh so often so very concerned with making sure he always felt as comfortable as I could make him (even though he seemed to have no regard for this for me.) So, I didn’t want to pressure him to figure out what he wanted, since he’d already made it clear he had “no idea.” (What was the point of doing that right then?)

And I go back to that moment over and over and over and over and over, because a lot of our disagreements came from not being on the same page about “relationship-y” type stuff.

(I will fight to my dying breath that we were not actually in a “relationship”. We weren’t dating. (Come on.) We were friends who slept together for 3 1/2 weeks – in which I was assaulted twice. I got into an abusive situation (that was obviously never defined, re: this post). It wasn’t a dating relationship.)

But still, while I maintain we weren’t “dating,” you know, the surrounding stuff when you start to sleep with someone… we just were never on the same page about any of it (and so it caused plenty of disagreements).

For him: massive cuddling, spending the night(s), insanely intimate showers together (where I never did well – For instance, I had to leave the shower once because I felt like I couldn’t breathe; I was so claustrophobic around him… and of course he didn’t bat an eye that day… I practically couldn’t breathe, and he was asking me make sure I put the towel in the right place… Aye aye aye, I’m digressing… But anyway…), holding hands in public, making me breakfast, and on and on – none of that was a big deal to him. That’s total just normal like suuuuper casual relationship stuff. Tubular, dude.

Whereas for me, that stuff was so fear-inducing, weird-feeling, way-too-intimate way-too-fast (even though I tried my best to keep up).

And then flip-side: Sometimes I’d invite him out as a plus one to some cool thing (esp if it was a theater thing where I thought he might benefit from networking, because I cared about him…), and he’d seem to freak out a little.
I mean, he told me he wanted to go on a trip with me. He’d be into all this intimate “couple-y” stuff, but if I invited him to something he’d get weird about it sometimes. And I’m not 100% certain if he thought I wanted to trot him around like my boyfriend or something [I didn’t, (partially because he very much wasn’t)], or because he wanted to always be the one in power with the connections and he’d be a little upset if that was all of a sudden even slightly me in any circumstance. (That seemed like a big thing to him…) Whereas, I just wanted to bring my friend I cared about out on adventures, or to fun places, or to places that might benefit him.

So, we saw so many things a lot differently.

And you and I, dear reader, could sit here and debate what’s “normal,” what’s “casual,” what’s “couple-y, what’s “acceptable” or whatever on and on and on and on. Maybe y’all have suuuuuper casual relationships that involve planning getaways together and never being able to shower alone, but drawing the line at taking up space together [in a non-romantic, no-PDA way] at an event, if someone has an extra ticket. Maybe I’m the weird one.

I know I’m sounding a little sarcastic there, because that all does seem crazy to me… But legitimately, maybe I am the weird one. Reflecting back, I definitely did so at least some confusing things…

I did do some things that maybe seemed a little overly-sweet. (I sent him a tiny care package when he was sick, and therefore had cancelled us hanging out that night.) I could totally see someone being like, “Oh snap! That feels like a girlfriend zone thing!”

Usually, I was just trying to be a nice caring friend, and/or follow his lead with the insaaaaaaaaane intimacy. I was trying to at least keep up a little, and always trying to make him happy.

[Sometimes it feels like he grabbed my hand and was sprinting through the forest of intimacy, and it was taking every single thing I had to jump over the logs and run through everything with him, and then he’d come to this abrupt stop and fling me 10 feet in front of him. I’d fall all bloody and gross from the branches and then he’d be like, “Why are you all the way over there? Soooooo far ahead of me in the forest of intimacy?” And it was like, “Wait. I’m sorry. What? What?” “Well, yeah. Look at how much farther ahead you are” (said by the man standing above the bleeding girl who can’t get up off the ground). “I just – I just…” It felt like so much was a trap and I couldn’t ever win. And what he wanted was soooo confusing (which I mention again tomorrow).

But here’s the thing, none of that even really matters. That’s something that happens sometimes, in the weird beginning parts of whatever relationship-type things are happening. Sometimes it’s confusing. Sometimes people misread. But these little mishaps we all generally laugh about together – they end in awkward conversations, or a change in the dynamic, or a calling off of things, or in a million ways – none of which should be sexual assault.

(And I get into why this doesn’t matter soon. But anyway -)

So, sometimes I think back to like, “What if I had just stopped sexual assault guy like the 3rd time he was like, ‘Woof! Yeah, really had to go over with my friends what I was gonna say to this girl in BMI if we were gonna start something… Really important to have a real talk.'”

What if I had said, “Do you not realize we haven’t had ‘a talk’? You literally said, “I have no idea what I want.” And I said, “Okay.”? You wanna have that talk? Let’s talk?

But I didn’t… And this is where I’ll pick up next time.

Friday, March 10th, 2017

One thing I find exceptionally hard about this whole thing is that this feels like a roller-coaster.

Not too long ago, I had kind of a “breakthrough” at therapy and I felt great. I walked around with my head held high, taking in the world, I had good phone conversations with some friends I missed (since I’m not always fantastic about talking to everybody anymore). I didn’t cry when I saw the BMI building on my walk to work. Heck, I walked places! Forget wanting ubers to be my sad little cage from the world. (Sometimes uber or lyft is fun and/or necessary,  but I use it as a crutch too often.)

Things were going so great. I saw things on social media (or around me in real life) that used to trigger me, and I’d be okay – maybe every once in a while just needing to take a deep breath, but not losing it. And a very astute person with me might notice that deep breath, but it’s not make a scene or ruin a moment type stuff… Just keeping things pretty well under control, and going out and having a grand time…

And then, as the week wore on, and I got so so close to finally making it past the 7-day mark without crying (which I have not been able to do since it happened, ugh), I just lost it. I dunno. There was something triggering-ish and I. Just. Lost. It.

I cried and cried and cried like I couldn’t breathe. Because when it starts, it feels just overwhelming…

Sometimes it feels like I’m falling into quicksand and it just feels inescapable…

And then sometimes I go see my therapist and it feels like she pulls me up and shows me I’m actually just in a sandbox – that it’s much safer and not nearly as all-encompassing as it all seems… (And that feels safer and nice, but even still, it’s a big sandbox I’m stuck in!)

I am so tired of making progress, then feeling tied to my bed. Then crying enough that I decide to work a later shift at work because it’s just too hard to make it in, in the morning. (Granted, I work a job now where there are many days where this is available to me. Had it been The Nightly Show, I like to think I still would’ve gotten up and gone because I wouldn’t have had the option to go in later. But having the option, I took it…)

Better, better, worse.

There are days where I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I feel like I’m definitely gonna “graduate” therapy. (In my program, it’s not a therapist you keep for the rest of your life… You have therapy until you’ve worked through your assault and then you leave.)

And then there are days when I think my therapist is gonna give up on me before I finish. (I don’t really think that’s gonna happen…. I think even *if* she reached the point where she feels I’m not making enough progress that then she’d refer me to someone else or maybe make a case for trying anti-depressants, etc. I do not feel like I will be kicked to the street with no options or help. But I do get worried that I’m not gonna make the full amazing fantastic turnaround that other people have made.

And that’s scary.

Better, better, worse.

It’s exhausting.

 

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Picking up from last time –

So, things are overall getting better… but they’re still not great.

I still don’t take the subway alone. That doesn’t even necessarily make any logical sense. Nothing happened to me on the subway. I used to take the subway alone just fine when I first moved (when I’d go from The Nightly Show to BMI).

But there’s something about – I don’t know if it’s about feeling overwhelmed, or if it’s about the fact that he and I would often take the subway together in the few weeks I spent sleeping with him, and it always made me pretty antsy just being around him in public (even when things were fine-ish). There was something about it – I’m sure not worth getting into now, but I would be really uncomfortable. And I was going to ask if we could start laying out some guidelines – such as me always leaving first because I do not like to ride the subway together… But I never got that far because the terrible thing happened. And if what I really wanted was to ride the subway alone, fantastic! But I don’t know, there’s something about it that just feels… I never used claustrophobic. I loved tight spaces. I loved the subway. But there’s just something about people and tight spaces and whatever. I can’t (or at least don’t) do it right now…

I often don’t go out and about in Times Square. Like, I had vegetables from, I dunno, maybe like 4 blocks away delivered to me the other day. I could’ve gotten my own vegetables. But I didn’t. Sometimes I feel like I’m living like freaking Howard Hughes or something because it’s like, “Well, I can’t go outside.”

He goes to theater a lot and spends a lot of time in Times Square. Maybe I would see him. Maybe I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t die from seeing him, even if it happened – which hopefully it probably wouldn’t. But I dunno… I get stuff delivered a lot like I’m a little hermit. And while I appreciate the convenience, it still makes me sad.

My health is – I dunno what’s going on with my health, really. I feel grosser than usual, and I’ve definitely gained a little weight (again, there will for SURE be a gigantic post about this). I know my resting heart rate is higher – still only around like 63, and I know that’s not high, but for a girl who had to have the alarm specially set in the hospital because her heart rate was so low, it doesn’t feel good or fun…

I’m not doing a tremendous job of tracking my physical health through this. It’s fluctuating up and down in every way (not just weight). So, it’s hard to say if that’s better or worse.

I haven’t seen a Broadway show since I moved into my new place. This is one of the things that upsets me the most. I’m actually crying as I type this (of course).

I live in Times. Square.

It has been my dream to live there forever. And now I do.

I can walk to any Broadway show within a matter of just a couple of minutes! My younger self would be soooooooooooooo jealous.

When I did summer camp at Juilliard as a teenager, I went to a show every. single. night.

I was like, “I’m here in New York! I live in the Juilliard dorms! I can walk to Times Square!” And I was filling up that whole back of the playbill that asks what you’ve seen. I wanted to spend any available time in New York seeing shows because I loooooved musical theater. (Why do you think I wanted to go to BMI?)

And I haven’t been able to do it.

I don’t know if it’s because he was always trying to tell me about musical theater, or if it’s because that’s how I met him, or if it’s because it is devastating to me that I’m not at BMI, or if it’s because so many musicals have love stories and like I just can’t even watch a courting process (that sounds like such a weird phrase, but I think it makes sense), because I just can’t – that’s now associated with abuse for me, in this moment. I can’t.

So, I don’t know if it’s a piece of that or all of that or something I’m not even thinking of. But I practically ignore the fact that I live smack in the heart of Broadway. And I. don’t. even. go.

Excuse me while I sob about that.

Anyway, even with that, overall, things are better. But there are most definitely things I’m still missing, and things that even if they’re there, I need to improve upon. Like, we have not hit “normal Aurora,” but the trajectory does seem to be going upward… And now, I can get to that post I wanted to do yesterday :)…

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

*Rolls eyes at self*

Oh my goodness gracious. Another (ANOTHER?!) post about sexual assault assault (?!) Geez to goodness. I know it’s what’s going on in my life. And I know it’s a big deal in the world. And I also know that if people are reading my blog, they’ve come here to hear about whatever’s going on in my life, specifically. I’m not like interrupting their normal Facebook feed or something. It’s like, you subscribed, buddy!” So, I know I can talk about it as much as I want.

But like, is this gonna be the only thing we talk about from now until eternity?

I don’t really know… I hope to goodness not, right? Oof.

Anyway, what I do know is that I’m tangenting like crazy, and I haven’t even really started the post.

So…

There’s a post I want to post soon (which I’m sure I will), where I talk about getting “better, better, worse”). But before I do that, I want to do a post about where I am right now.

It is undeniable that I am better than I was at the beginning. Like, you can see it in real and tangible ways.

I haven’t cried during sex probably since… November? I’m pretty sure November was the last time. So, 3 whole months of not crying during sex! I know that in real life that’s just completely and utterly normal – but that’s the goal, is it not? To go back to completely and utterly normal?

So, does 3 months mean things are “officially” normal? For good? Forever? I’ll never ever ever cry during sex ever again? I don’t know. But that is definitely a step in the right direction. I remember the poor poor guy who was sleeping with me in like April and May. I literally do not think we tried to have sex a single time in my apartment in which I did not cry at some point. And he was patient and lovely and it was so nice. But goodness gracious.

So, that’s a step in the right direction for sure.

I cry way less during work. I used to cry probably every day at The Nightly Show. I had the perfect job with the perfect people. It was 100% a dream come true. I looooved that place.

And I cried most days there after being sexually assaulted. I’d have to call a helpline sometimes between working with producers – not because the producers did anything wrong (anything!), or anything even close to wrong. No one at The Nightly Show ever did anything to make me uncomfortable by even a millimeter. Everyone there is perfect and I loved the shoe and everyone there. But there was something about just being around people. I was just nervous. It just – being around people, being relied on – it went from something I loved and cherished and needed to something that was overwhelming and scary and I don’t know.

And in a lot of editing jobs, you could probably go days without seeing another human if you really wanted to. But on this one, it did not work like that.

And on the one hand, I’m so thankful that I was in a position where I couldn’t quit my job or take extended time off. I had to be around people. I had to keep leaving the apartment. But I cried, I think everyday. So, yeah, as I was saying before I interrupted myself – I used to call a helpline multiple times a week just to help me breathe in my office and get through the day…

I don’t believe I’ve ever called a helpline at my new job (that I’ve had since October). In fact, the only time(s) I’ve called it at all that I can remember in the past few months is I called twice around the time of the two anniversaries. I was like, “It’s the anniversary. I try not to ever call anymore because I have a therapist now, and I don’t want to waste resources and I’m so sorry. I just – I can’t breathe, and I just – I don’t know what to do.” I was just feeling so so desperate. And I was helped. And it was nice. But I really try not to call anymore (and I so so so rarely feel that bad that I would even consider maybe needing to). So, that’s gone down from a near-daily experience sometimes to a not even monthly (and hopefully going toward even less than that and/or never)…

So, that’s pretty great.

I have been able to go out with my friends more often more successfully. There was a period where I didn’t really see anybody. (I’m gonna link here later to a post about this – I have some posts in the queue I need to publish still). But I had a hard time seeing people for a while… And I’m still not awesome or perfect at seeing people, but I am 100% getting better. I have a handful of experiences I can point to in the past few months of going out with friends, enjoying myself, not talking about sexual assault, and being present. It does not happen all the time, or even every week… But it has happened. It has happened more than once, even. It is happening.

And since this post is getting long, I’ll finish out here tomorrow.