[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?
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?
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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.