Friday, August 4th, 2017

…That’s, I guess, sort of a weird-ish thing to say, right? 

But the world had been so very small, just enveloping me. 

I was always a little distracted, a little out of it. (“A little” is a giant kindness to myself. Probably more like “a lot, a lot, a lot” out of it.)

And whenever people would ask if I saw the animal we passed, or a beautiful scenery, or a baby do a cute thing, I would look up almost confused that I was still in the world.

“What? Uh, um, oh, yeah, other humans and living creatures. Scenery. Right.”

But now, I see again. 

And it is so weird. The most ridiculously glaringly obvious example of this is at therapy, in the waiting room, there is this freaking *giant* mural of a plant emerging from concrete.

It’s beautiful (and explains why I always see a leaf on their website or logo or something).

I figured it must be new. And I asked at the desk.

Nope. It has been there literally the whole time.

How long have I been going to therapy?

And every. time., it’s just been head down, cry cry cry… never looking around enough to see the mural.

Now sometimes I’m the one who gets to ask someone with me, “oh did you see that _____” Or “look at the color of that [dress, building, and such]”

I notice things. I see the world.

Not always. Not perfectly. But I no longer feel suffocated by the imaginary… or not imaginary…but the past, and no-longer-part-of-my actual-world, world enveloping me.

And it feels really good to see.

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

[This is a back post from last month, when I went to a taping of a podcast that Cory Booker was a guest on.]

And when I say tiny, I mean tiny. There are a million examples of why he is great. (He saved a person from a burning building. Like, you don’t need this example, per se.) But, it stuck with me, so I’m writing it here.

Obviously, I have become very sensitive to being pressured.

There’s always a bit of pressure in our lives – friends telling you to “come on and try this!” at a restaurant or “do this thing with us!” or whatever. People trying to court you or get you in bed can sometimes feel a little pressure-y. And I’ve never really noticed it all that much, because nobody’s really super crossed a line before. There’ve been just a tiny handful of instances where a couple of people have been a little more pressure-y than I would like – where I felt maybe a little uncomfortable or annoyed, or even slightly angry. But never legitimately unsafe and/or furious, before sexual assault guy.

But now, when I see it happening to other people, or I feel it myself, I notice it more than ever. I have definitely caught myself saying, “No thanks,” hearing “oh, come on,” And going straight to raising my voice, “What did I just say?! Stop asking!” And rightfully so, people get weird if you do that, because societally, we often have a couple of back-and-forths of mild pressure before somebody either finally gives in or somebody else backs down. And sometimes I just stop it straight at round one now. (I think I can find a happy medium to this, ’cause that is a weird societal thing we do, so I do have a right to stop at round one if I want, but also, I can be a little more polite and live through some mild pressure in a low stakes situation without freaking out. Not everything is high stakes.)

Aaaanyway, the point is, when I was in line to talk to Cory, this woman in front of me got her turn. And I try not to listen too closely to what people are saying, because it’s their time with the Senator and everything, but they were close to me, and I was able to hear him ask if she wanted a picture and she was like, “Oh, oh no, thank you. I don’t really like the way I look right now and I prefer not to be in pictures.”

Now, I feel like a general response that people often give to that is, “What? No! You’re beautiful, come on.” Or “who cares what societal beauty standards say?” or whatever. And they pressure for a photo to be taken. But no. Not Cory Booker.

He gave her a very sweet face that implied that she looked fine. And he thanked her for her time. But he very kindly just let her go without pressuring for a picture.

I know it is such a tiny thing.

And I do understand that if someone is our friend and we have an issue, that person who knows us well and wants to help, may broach the subject of “Would you like to talk about your aversion to pictures, because I think someday it’s possible you’ll wish you had more and you can always delete ones you don’t like,” or whatever. There is a way to have a conversation with a friend to show a different point of view and show you care (without forcing them into anything). But that wasn’t this. They’re not friends out having a big conversation. This is in the moment, she said she didn’t want something, and he said okay.

And I just thought that was really, really nice to see – someone so respectful from the jump.

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

This is a random, quick little post, that I don’t think matters all that much, and maybe doesn’t even need an explanation, really.

But, I just wanted to clear something up, because I keep kind of dancing around the idea of sort of dating (because there were things about our interaction that were kind of relationship-y, and it’s all part of the abusive relationship element), but I try to never actually use the word “dating” about him. And it’s sort of pedantic, and it’s sort of dumb. But because I’ve been kind of a stickler about it, I thought I’d talk about why here.

For one thing, I don’t usually use the word dating at all, period, full stop. Even when I describe my two different kinda real, grown-up (basically anything after high school) long-term-ish relationships, I practically never say, “I dated him [or other him].” I usually say something like, “when I was with him,” “my time with him,” “I loved him,” “this man I was with” – blah blah blah, something like that. I rely on the word “with,” usually.

But, I wouldn’t think it was weird at all to use that term about either of those guys. If I heard them they said they dated me, I wouldn’t even bat an eyelash. And if that word happened to fly out of my mouth about them, I also wouldn’t think it was weird.

Anyway, outside of them, I don’t usually use the word to talk about anything super casual. If I’ve been on one or two dates with somebody, I don’t personally say I’m “dating” them. That, to me, feels off. To me, if I say I’m dating someone, it means, I’m dating them – I am actively with them in a way in which we’ve done more than just test the waters with a date or two, or a couple of weeks of sleeping together. We’ve started settling in. We’re actively on the road to being together – or, really, by the time I’d personally say dating, we probably are like “officially” together.

And I know people are different about this. Some people go on one Tinder date and will say they’re dating the person. That’s fine. You be you.

I have one friend in California that I went on two dates with, and once when we were talking, I was like, “How’d you know that about me?” And he was all, “Don’t forget I dated you.” And I didn’t push glasses up my nose and say, “Ahem, sir. Actually, by the standards of the Aurora De Lucia dictionary [blah blah blah]…” I get it. He was using short hand for the fact that we’d been on two dates, and it was all fine. I really don’t care, because these tiny things don’t usually grate on me. Like, who on earth cares about something so dumb like a tiny word like this of if you “dated” or didn’t. We’re not in court. We don’t get to become the semantics police up in here.

Except when it comes to sexual assault guy.

In my mind, it’s pretty clear we didn’t “date.” We were “friends” [I guess – even that is iffy, looking back on it, but I’d say friends is correct] who happened to sleep together for literally just a few weeks, kind of trying it out, seeing if it stuck. We went on one actual “date,” and it was an apology dinner that he took me on because he’d [shocker] been exceptionally awful to me. After the way he’d treated me, an apology dinner was the least he could do. I’d almost expect a nicer dinner in that circumstance from just a run-of-the-mill, not-sleeping-together friend. So, to me, personally, that doesn’t add up to “we dated.” We didn’t. I do not look at it that way.

And I couldn’t always get a handle on how he saw things. Sometimes things would sound one way and then a different way. There were a lot of confusing things about things he would say at various points.

So, we had this [like, one of a trillion] “end” or “closure” talks or whatever. And I asked him, because his phrasing was always kind of confusing me, if he would consider me as someone he “dated,” and he said yes. And then when the conversation turned to if I agreed [and you gotta read this in like super kind, nice Aurora voice], “Well, I mean, I wouldn’t…” And he was like, “Well, we each get our own narrative!” And as per usual, he got a little upset with me (because when was he not?).

And he was big into this idea that we each got our own narrative – and to him, it didn’t matter if they were wildly different from each other – almost as if he didn’t have any care in the world as to what the truth is. And, I understand that all relationships (of any kind) have some degree of disagreements. Sometimes each party will think it was the other party’s fault, etc. But I feel like usually there is at least a general kind of base truth that everybody agrees on.

But because he just became so intense about like, “We dated! We did,” I became just extra adverse to it. He dug his heels in, in a way, like it was almost as though he enjoyed watching it kind of hurt my feelings as he had total disregard for my point of view of anything.

So, for anyone who happened to wonder why I don’t use that word about him, there you have it. I barely every use it anyway. I usually don’t care much one way or another (as I know people use it differently), but with him, it felt like just another one of 50 billion ways to try to take away my power and be some kind of main Official of Truth – even if he was almost never telling what the truth actually was.

Monday, July 24th, 2017

[As I continue to get better, it becomes harder to post these because the experience seems farther away and it’s like “ph, this was terrible.” But I wrote as it was happening for a reason… for those who don’t understand it at all to get a glimpse, for those who are going through it to know they’re not alone and even for me to look back and remember how I’m doing. So, I’m gonna try so hard to get us through these already by the end end of the month!!! I’m sorry we’re still doing this 😬😬😬]

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

[oh my goodness. I still have a feeeew NY posts in the backlog, and now it’s including 2 new things from my trip. So I gotta get on it, but I thought I’d do this old one first.]

Ah, my confusing love affair with New York.

If you asked me right now about differences between NY and LA and if New Yorkers are rude, I’d be like “heck yes! They are meanies! Oh my gosh. They are so weird and suspicious and everything about New York is weird!”

And while generally I haaaaaaate(!) to talk about dating, I realize I’ve been talking about it a lot since sexual assault guy – both in private and on this blog. And so if we happened to be in a place where were were talking about dating, I would be like, “UGH. Dating is SO different in NY and LA. It suuuuuck in New York. It’s so weird and stressful. In California, it’s so fun and easy and there are men everywhere and you just wanna have this great time. In New York there are all these secret rules and it feels so much more serious, like I’m a contestant on the Bachelorette or something, like even chill things are so “real.” Like, the kind of dates I’d expect to be going on like maybe 5 months in, in California is a second date in New York. And spending the night seems to be a much bigger thing here for some reason. And it’s just like “oh good lord, can we all settle down for five seconds here? Holy goodness.”

I talk about how hard it is to meet people (not even for dating, but just like any human), ’cause it feels like nobody wants to talk to you.

And on and on and on, my complaints.

So, I have this just like awful, awful taste in my mouth about New York now. But the question is – how much of that is real?

If you look through my blog (or had talked to me in real life) before I did the “big” move – if you hear me talking about living here for bits and pieces at a time for shorter jobs, or visiting here, I was like “New York is the greatest city in the world! It’s so friendly! You can meet people everywhere!”

Did it change? Did I change? Am I just throwing expectations at it so hard that I’m willing them to come true?

My first few months here, it was literally – spend all my time every moment of every weekday either working, doing school stuff, or dealing with stuff from moving across the country last minute. And every weekend it was fly home to Los Angeles to wrap things up there (what’s happening with my apartment, getting my stuff, just generally tying up any loose ends with work or school or friends, etc.). And then as soon as weekends freed up, I spent them working as an elf at Macy’s for the fun of it. And then, boom. We were into January and sexual assault guy happened.

It felt like the blink of an eye from getting to move out here to that happening. I can’t begin to explain how busy I was trying to juggle everything. I had not settled in. I had not explored. I had not had a chance to make any true opinions on the city as all I could do was focus on the thing in front of me and keep trying to get through to a point where my job was mamangeable and I had a bed and just all that stuff…

So, to some extent, I realize my opinion sort of formed a bit around sexual assault guy.

Part of the reason I talk with such anger about dating in New York (instead of it being like an exceptionally mildly funny comedy bit (probably not even really worth doing at an open mic night, but still that should be the gist of it – pointing out the silly, not having a panic attack)), is because that guy just kept trying to explain to me that dating is different here, and basically I need to get on board – for all these things I’m really not ready for.

Have any of the other guys out here made me feel SO pressured or like I must spend the night? No. (To some extent, I’ve been the culprit, because for a small time I didn’t even have an apartment here and stayed with a dude for like a week! It is not all the fault of NY men. I have rushed things sometimes whether it be being between apartments, or quite honestly just trying so so hard to get the proverbial taste out of my mouth of sexual assault guy that I go in too hard with someone else.

Is it generally true that there’s a difference in dating between NY and LA? Yeah. I have enough friends who’ve switched coasts, we relate. But can I maybe get used to some of the differences without it being the worst thing in the whole world? Can I accept that some dates will be different/have different expectations and not cling SO hard to what I know? I probably should be able to. Can I also still set boundaries of things I am not comfortable doing (such as having a man to my apartment until I’m good and well ready, if ever)? Yeah, of course I can. Dating might be different, but I don’t think all New Yorkers are rapists. I know I struggle with things and have PTSD, but I’m still not Donald Trump over here calling a whole group of people rapists based on where their from…
I should be able to potentially understand that whole dating is “different,” it’s not automatically abusive… It’s different in some of the ways sexual assault guy made it different but also many of the things that felt different were just the difference of the level of abuse he was giving. That has nothing to do with New York. That has to deal with being in an abusive relationship.

I suppose – maybe sort of like pretend for a second that dating in Los Angeles is like nachos.

Of course even within the nacho family, there’s all different types of nachos (so many options – from vegan to covered in meat, different types of cheeses, whatever – just as dating in LA covers a looot of different experiences. But ultimately, it’s all in the nachos family still. If you and a pal are out for nachos, you generally know what you’re getting. You’re all on the same page, even if not everybody likes the exact same toppings, so ultimately some people don’t wanna eat nachos together, you’re coming with the same kind of base understanding…

Whereas you get to New York, but now everybody is having chicken wings. They’re still eating an appetizer. You’re kind of familiar. It can still be delicious (especially the vegan ones at Native Foods) – even though, they don’t have Native Foods in New York, but that’s beside the point.

And it can be kind of confusing, when you first get here. You’re so used to eating nachos, but people don’t really do that here. They eat chicken wings, full stop. No nachos.

And THEN…

The first plate of chicken wings you get in New York makes you VIOLENTLY ill. I’m talking violently. Like, spend 11 days on your bathroom floor, maybe even have to go get an IV because you are so dehydrated you can’t keep anything down. They have made you SO sick.

It would be easy to be like “What on earth?! Why does everybody eat chicken wings here? They are AWFUL. They are so awful! Holy goodness. I do not ever EVER ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever [lots of evers said fast repeatedly] EVER want to eat chicken wings, again, my goodness. BLEGH.

And like, you don’t have to. You probably don’t die without them. There are other things to do with your life (so, I guess other things to eat, in this scenario).

But you like eating appetizers. It’s fun to dress up and flirt and be liked and like in return and be taken out and to have sex and fun conversations and share things. Having nachos was a really cool fun beautiful brilliant experience (overall). And the New York version is chicken wings. And it might be ultimately just as fun (taste just as good?), just in a different way.

Chicken wings and nachos will indeed always be different. I can’t expect New York to give me nachos if the appetizer they have here is chicken wings. The texture is different. It feels different, it’s different. But even though chicken wings will always be different than nachos, they will not always make you so ill. They won’t always be poison chicken wings.

You’re comparing the difference between non-poison and poison food. It just to happened the second one was chicken wings. You won’t be poisoned every time.

I don’t know if that made any sense. But that’s what I’ve got for now. 

And tomorrow I’ll be doing part 2 of this. 

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

Okay, so I’m not doing the SF full marathon. But I am writing you from the plane on my way to do one of their events. (I’m doing the half.)

The SF Marathon is one of my favorite running events in the world. It is so fantastic. I adore it, and I have a mini-goal to do it as many years in a row as I can.

I had signed up to do it this year. I signed up last year – I’m pretty sure before I’d even decided on Project 882. It’s the SF Marathon. Of course I’m gonna sign up.

Originally, I had had a goal to do the 2nd half, then the following year do the 1st half (those went fine), then the following year do the full (that was last year), and then do the ultra.

Seemed simple enough. I saw a ton of improvement from the year I did the 2nd half to the one I did the 1st. I figured I’d keep improving to when I did the full.

So, last year, I did the full. And as you well know, my life had totally fallen apart. I was depressed. I was struggling. I was certainly not getting out and running and working out. I was pretty darn undertrained. And I *struggled* and it was a *mess*.

And I remember talking in therapy that week (something I’ve talked about here on this blog too) that it just feels like I’m not present, I’m not here, I’m not around.

I talked about how it wasn’t even until I was about halfway through when I heard someone say thank you to a volunteer that I even kind of realized “oh, I’m in the middle of a race. Wow, I have really not been paying attention to a lot of what’s going on around me.” 

And I talked about how painful it was to go through the motions of things I knew at one point to be my *favorite* things.

And then I thought, “I need to get back on the horse. I have to just do it again. I love the SF Marathon. I can’t let it become this thing that I’m too afraid to do, because I’m afraid it will never be the same.”

I wanted to sign up for the ultra (as that was in my original 4-year plan), but I knew for me that I didn’t think that kind of training was gonna be able to happen for me this year. I knew that no matter what kind of training year I could conceivably have, that having had *such* an iffy no-good marathon that I wasn’t going to feel confident upgrading. (How can I upgrade to the ultra if I can’t even get the full right, amIrite?)

So, I signed up for the full. Let’s do this again.

And then I started Project882.

And I think it’s good and important and to some degree at least somewhat helpful. But I also think I took on a *lot* on a body that wasn’t necessarily ready for so much (not just physically, but mentally too). And I’m surviving, but I’m not getting faster. I don’t have enough time to recover, *and* I am only *just* getting my personal life together enough to actually properly workout and eat and everything during the week. So, I’m just not ready to tackle the San Francisco full.

And I argued with myself. “That just can’t be true. I can do it, can’t I? Can’t I do it? The SF Marathon is my happy race! The best finish picture I have that I always use is from the SF 1st half. How can I be sliding so far backward?” 

But I am/was/hopefully will stop.

[Side note: I also don’t want to be *too* precious with myself, but I only *just* felt freed/healed from everything. I don’t want to have an awful race and feel like nothing is changing – when I *do* feel like things are changing, but they can’t overnight. So, back to what we were talking about…]

I embarrassingly wrote with my head down and metaphorical tail between my legs and asked if I could change to the second half.

And I was told I was past the change deadline. I could go to the expo and ask, and *maybe* they could help me if spots had opened up for the half. But it wasn’t guaranteed, and was a long shot.

Okay, well, I love adventure and I love San Francisco… But I don’t think I can fly out just for a chance – and a small chance at that. I’m already traveling so much for Project882. Something’s gotta give somewhere, or I have to learn how to print money. [I’m sure you know I’m joking, but juuuust in case – I’m not ever actually going to try to print money, friends.] Anyway…

I didn’t want to miss the cancellation deadline. I didn’t want my name ending up the results with an empty time or something. (I didn’t know what they did with people who just never showed… Maybe they don’t list them, but just to be on the same side….) About a month ago – just before the canceling deadline, I sent my email in to cancel my entry.

…But 

I never got a confirmation that my entry had been cancelled. I didn’t worry about it all that much. “Maybe they don’t confirm that, they just take you out.” “If I get in the results somehow with a blank time, I’ll just worry about it then.”

And then this weekend started and of course I saw everyone talking about The SF Marathon.

“Uuuuuugh, I can’t believe I’m gonna miss it. I know I have to do what I’m capable of and stuff, but this hurts. I’m gonna have to start over going toward my 5-year swag when I’m already 3 years in. That’ll be gone. (And this would be year 5 if I hadn’t taken 2013 off when I also was afraid I wasn’t fit enough, etc. (which seems kind of silly in hindsight). Also, the 40th anniversary! I’m gonna miss the 40th anniversary and the special medals and all that jazz. Guuuuuuuuuuh”

And then I looked just to see – “I know I tried to cancel my bib out, but do they still have me in there?” [Types in the confirmation page on the website.] Huh. Right now I am listed as a participant… My email must’ve slipped through the cracks, or not gone through or something. 

And then I posted to a running group asking if anyone at the expo could check if there was indeed a bib there for me, and if I could change to the half after all.

Thankfully, someone there *was* able to check for me, and they WERE INDEED able to get permission for me to run the 2nd half (what I think is the easier half and definitely the one with the longer time limit).

So, I immediately bought a flight, scurried to JFK, and got on this plane. Of course I wish I were doing the full, but I’m happy to be there at all. And while in a perfect world, I’d be doing the ultra this year; and in this world, I’m doing the half; hopefully I’ll be doing the ultra before you know it – in a year or two or even three, and hopefully then we can forget that all this ugh blugh guh not-goodness in my life happened (maybe not completely forget, but at least be so far away from it that it won’t seem to have mattered so much).

So, there you have it. I’m off to SF! 

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

How low is the bar, dude?

One of my least favorite things about being raped (hahaha, what a weird start to a sentence, right? Like there are favorite things about it or something?)… Anyway, one of many things I dislike about it, is that even really really well-meaning, “good” people who are my friends and “on my side,” have been like “But like, how much did you not wanna have sex? Like did you really really really reeeeeeally really really not wanna have sex, or did you just like not want to?”

I’ve gotten stuff like, “Quite honestly, it kind of sounds to me like in that first one, you kind of sounded like the wife that has a headache or doesn’t feel well, like you’re not really in the mood, but the husband does it anyway”… And that’s been used as an argument of why it’s not so bad, but um… that’s bad!

I understand the ol’ trope of “women never wanna have sex.” But actually plenty of women wanna have sex all the time.

Do we have such a problem in our media, or how we talk about sex or something, that people really honestly think that women never, or rarely, fully wanna have sex, so every time you’re having sex, it’s with kind of a “half-way ho-hum, hmmmm, I guess, uh, maybe” type of attitude, and all we can gauge crossing the line on his how much they didn’t want to? Like there’s some magical percentage in there of “well, if they only 15% didn’t want to, then that’s within the margin of error or something”? Like… no.

And I do kind of understand the idea, I guess, if you’re in a long-term relationship of either partner feeling like, “eeeeh, I am like a little bloated-feeling, or kind of distracted tonight, I’m not like thinking of sex as the first thing on my mind… But also, of course I’m still pretty horny for you, so like, yeah, I’m into it. Let’s do it.”

And so then, if I think that’s acceptable, what does that mean? Am I undercutting my own argument?

I just think there’s some nuance in the world. And maybe it’s too much nuance(?), and that’s why we have so many problems revolving around assault. But to me, that person’s still at 100%. They’re at like a soft hundred. they don’t have a neon sign glaring. But they’ve made the decision on their own. And they’re down.

I don’t know that this is necessarily like a perfect analogy, but it’s maybe sort of like if you love working out. There are gonna be some days here and there where you feel more tired than usual. And you think for a second, “I’m not sure I wanna work out today.” But then you see the gym and you’re like, “Oh, but I love it. I can get the energy up. I know I’ll feel better if I do.” And you workout.

To me, that’s different from someone being like, “we’re supposed to work out today!” And you go, “I know, I know. I still love you. I’m sorry. I’m just not feeling it.” And they’re like, “we’re supposed to work out everyday! Come on!” And they pull you by your arm and it’s like “ow, this hurts.” I dunno. I just – I see a difference, I think.

But obviously the best thing is when both people are not just like, “Yeah, okay,” but “Oh, hell, yeah. Get on me.”

And I don’t know what happened in America, I don’t know if you’ve felt this too (feel free to weigh in), but most definitely since being assaulted I have felt like I have had so many people come with the mindset that just like, “women don’t like sex that much to begin with, so you’re always gonna get a tepid response. It’s not about if she ‘wants’ to, she never ‘wants’ to, it’s just based on how much she doesn’t want to. If she’s even above 40%, you’re good… So, like the question is were you at 40?” (Whereas, I feel like the question should be are you at 100.)

So, I don’t know if we change the media that’s being thrown at us about women being boring non-sexual nags, or… I don’t know what we do! I just know that this was a giant blind spot, I suppose – a huge part of what people think about women/sex that I did not realize until only after being assaulted.