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A Change is Gonna Come

It’s weirdly liberating and disappointing to find out I’m just like everyone else. I thought all my problems were some quirky, interesting character attribute. But, in reality they are a product of my abuse. I thought I was different.

 

I didn’t think there was a reason I kept dating abusive men. I thought I was just dating whoever asked. But, even if that were true, why were these abusers attracted to me?

 

Maybe they could somehow see that I was underwater too. Did they recognize it in me? I don’t know. But I do know that I am getting dry. I know because people are interacting differently with me. I am having conversations and experiences that are so surprising and positive.

 

I’m seeing people that aren’t underwater. I’m creating positive neural pathways with these experiences. I’m recognizing the attributes I want in a future partner. These are all good things.

 

Also:

 

I AM A POTENTIALLY NORMAL PERSON!!

 

Meaning, I have hope of being happy and well-adjusted if there is nothing inherently wrong with me.  I am capable of having successful, positive relationships. Just knowing that I am not a broken toy feels awesome. I might be slightly used and damaged from my past. But I am still capable of working perfectly. That’s good.

 

I am going to continue to get better. I am going to continue to do better. I am going to continue to have positive, healthy experiences with people, men in particular. They are going to respond with positivity and acceptance more and more until some wonderful thing happens:


I start trusting and connecting with people.

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Friendships

It’s not that I don’t care about this blog. I do. This blog has healed me in a way that nothing else has. But I haven’t had much to say on this front. So I haven’t been saying anything. I don’t believe in blogging for the sake of blogging.

 

But something happened and I just want to get it out of me. Potential Trigger Warning:

 

A few weeks ago, at work, a “friend” sexually assaulted me. I only use friend in quotes because up until that moment I had thought he was my friend. We have known each other for almost two years.

 

We were close enough that he knew some things about my past that I talk about on this blog. He knows, for example, about one of the times that I was raped. He knows about my abusive childhood and some of my abusive previous relationships.

 

For a short time he and I had a physical relationship. Which he ended. And I was more than fine with that. He is seeing someone now.

 

So he came by to hang out with me at my at work. I was alone with him in my office building. I did not feel unsafe. He comes to visit me regularly. We’re friends.

 

Until he made a joke about being allowed to touch me wherever he wanted to due to our previous ‘relationship.’ To which I very adamantly told him, NO.

 

He does not have permission to touch me anywhere. Not even as friends. I particularly did not feel like being touched that day. It happens.

 

I asked him to please not touch me. And he laughed a little. And that was the end of  it. Or so I thought.

 

We went to the break room to get sodas. As we were leaving he reached out and grabbed my ass. This is sexual assault. I did not want to be touched. I specifically TOLD him to not touch me. And he grabbed my ass anyway.

 

In the past I might have pretended to laugh it off and then gone home and cried about it. But I have come too far to let someone off that easily.

 

I yelled at him as I never have before. I told him he had no right to touch me. I told him that I had specifically asked him to not touch me.

 

He told me he had only been joking.

 

I got angry. Access to my body is not a joke. I have a right to not be touched. And I know he knew I hadn’t been joking when I had asked him to respect that right.

 

He did not apologize. I tried to compare my body to his young daughter’s body. How would he feel to have a man touch her after she said no? But to him, it was different, after all she was a child.

 

Apparently children have more right to body autonomy than an adult woman.

 

Besides, he told me, we’d had a relationship in the past. Again, I compared my body to his daughter’s. Would all of her ex boyfriends have a right to her body throughout the rest of her life? Even after they broke up? Even after she asked them not to? Would he be fine with them still touching her wherever and whenever they wanted?

 

Again, he told me it was different with us. See, he can’t be told no. He has to test boundaries.

 

I fail to see the difference.

 

He then asked me if I was still seeing my therapist. Because my reaction proved that I needed to be. I told him his inability to hear my ‘no’ told me that he still needed to be seeing his.

 

And then he told me he could tell how unhappy I was and he hoped I would find happiness someday. And I told him I was unhappy because one of my alleged friends had just sexually assaulted me.

 

He left. I did not report him. I still have not reported him. He never apologized in any way.

 

But none of that is the worst part.

 

Last week, another “friend” asked me how things were between me and the man that assaulted me. I gave him a very brief rundown of what happened.

 

This second alleged friend told me it was my own fault for still being friends with him. That I should know better by now that he would do that to me (though I am not sure how). That he hoped I would stop being his friend and had finally learned my lesson.

 

I don’t know if I have. The only lesson I am learning is that I still have terrible taste in relationships and friendships.  And I truly don’t know if I still see a value in either one anymore.

I hate to end on that note. But I feel it is a logical conclusion. A very small percentage of men are rapists or abusive or sexual predators. And yet, despite no longer being in relationships, I continue to find myself in friendships with them.

Ex Memories

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I know I have been away for a while. I have been writing a lot. Just not for this blog. I am beginning to feel like this blog is going to be less and less a part of my life. Which is good. So much of what I talked about on here was negative. Now that I am doing better, I feel I am needing it less and less.

But I did want to write about something today. I started thinking yesterday about all the men I have dated. And how important they used to be in my life. And how I don’t even talk to any of them anymore (for good reason).

I knew them very well once. Better than most people did, I think. I knew their preferences.

I remember the way this one liked his coffee. I remember a favorite song. I remember childhood stories. And childhood enemies.

You see, they aren’t just in my mind as the memories I have of them. They aren’t just the time we watched fireworks in the rain. Or once when the car broke down during rush hour traffic and we were so hungry!

They are memories of their memories too.

I wonder if I will always be carrying those memories with me. I don’t mind remembering them. I just want to stop remembering their personal tastes, their memories, their life experiences.

I want to make room in my head for other things that have more relevance in my life now. I don’t want to know. I don’t want to remember.

But I also don’t know how to stop.

And I feel like all those memories I have of them, that seemed so important at one time, are completely insignificant in my life now. Was it all a waste of time?

I don’t know the answer to any of that. I know I will eventually meet someone new. And I will start a new catalogue in my brain for them. It will have folders with their food preferences, music taste, the way they hold a fork, the way they walk.

And eventually, when it ends, I’ll be haunted by those same things for a while. Until I can think of them without pain. Or regret. Which is usually what I feel when I think of exes. Not regret that it’s over, regret that I ever gave them a chance to begin with.

And when I eventually start forgetting someone, where do those memories go? Does my brain clear them out to make room for new? Or do they fade into the background of all those memories that are more important, more relevant to who I am now?

I really don’t know. In a way, I wish I could get rid of all those memories. But in another way, it is nice to look back and remember that not everything with those bad men was bad. We laughed and had fun sometimes too.

No matter how bad someone was, there was always some good in them too.

The Whys of Love

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I have been thinking about relationships and being single a lot lately. I have been single for over a year. I haven’t had a date in almost a year.

It’s the longest I’ve ever gone without a date. I’ve been asked a few times, but I either wasn’t ready or wasn’t interested. I’m tired of wasting my time on people that want to play games with me.

At this point in my life, I need someone to offer me something better than what I am offering myself alone at home. Or, if not better, at least worth the trouble. And thus far, that hasn’t been happening.

I’ve stopped feeling a need to date someone. I’ve stopped wanting to feel wanted by someone. I’m not bitter or angry or sad about it. I have just been spending a lot of time thinking about relationships.

I know a lot of people that are in various stages of relationships. Just meeting, just getting serious, just moved in, just married, married for years and years. I only know one couple out of all of them that is happy. Just one. And they are a new couple.

I’ve never known a couple that had a relationship I envy. I’ve never seen a couple that made me wish I was in a relationship. I’ve certainly never been in a relationship that has given me something worth missing.

I do believe good relationships exist. I know happy and healthy is a possibility. It just doesn’t appear to be the norm. And I’m no longer willing to settle for less than that.

When I look at all these relationships I know, and I look at my own past relationships, I wonder what it is that makes me even want to be in one. In my own personal experience, they involve nothing but control, manipulation, games and abuse.

So why do I want one?

I don’t need to be with someone. I am happy being alone. I take good care of myself. I treat myself right. I buy me nice things. I take me out to dinner. I love me. I show myself care and concern and respect. I cheer myself up after a bad day. I make myself dinner. I run myself baths. I make me feel safe and calm myself down when I feel overwhelmed.

So why do I want one?

Society tells me that I need to be in a relationship. It tells me that I need to get married and have children. It tells me that I need someone to take care of me when I am sick and old. It tells me another person will make me feel complete and fulfilled.

But I am not having children already. I don’t need to be married (though some part of me would still like to be). I take care of me when I am sick. And I already do feel complete and fulfilled.

So why do I want one?

I am running out of reasons. I’ve stopped understanding why people get into relationships. My own reasons in the past were the wrong reasons and I have no right reasons to replace them with.

I will admit that I sometimes feel lonely. But that loneliness is much less now than it ever has been. There is no lonelier feeling than being with someone that won’t connect with you. Or being with someone that wants to abuse you instead of love you. I would rather feel the occasional loneliness of being alone than the constant loneliness of sharing a life with someone that doesn’t want to share.

And at the end of the day, I will be alone, no matter who I am with. I am alone with my thoughts before I go to sleep at night. And when I die, I will be alone. We all die alone. We all face death alone. And I am not afraid of that.

So why do I want one?

I am honestly starting to wonder if I do. I have spent so much of my life taking it for granted. That I am supposed to meet a man and fall in love. I have never fallen in love. I have never met a man worth loving.

I have taken it for granted that I am supposed to want a relationship. That I am supposed to want love. That I am supposed to be good at emotions by virtue of being a woman. But I’m not. And I’m not sure if I do want those things now.

I have spent so much time and energy in my life thinking about someone else. Thinking about a boyfriend. Thinking about a crush. Thinking about meeting someone. And I don’t know for what purpose. I have nothing to show for all that time and energy and effort.

I think I am afraid if I stop wanting a relationship that it will be like giving up. But in a bad way. Like the universe will never send someone worthwhile to me.

And I would love to have just one good relationship. Just to prove to myself that they can be good. And maybe also to help make up for all the bad ones I’ve been in (even though nothing ever really can). It might be nice to experience, just once. Even if it’s only for a short while.

And, I guess, that’s why I want one. To prove that I can have one. Maybe just to prove to myself that someone not abusive would want to be with me. And that I can have one relationship in my life that is good and worthy of my time and effort.

I guess that is also why I don’t want to give up. I want to know what it feels like to fall in love. Just one time in my life.

It’s sort of like a life experience I want to put in my collection that I haven’t had yet. Once again, in writing this, I figure myself out. Now I know how I feel and why I feel that way. It actually gives me a bit of hope.

Feel Angry

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I have been thinking about my anger lately. I once compared it to a giant knotted ball of string. It’s all twisted up inside of me. The beginning is hidden, the ending is hidden. At first it seemed impossible to unravel.

At first it was impossible to unravel. I was impatiently pulling and only making things worse. The best way to unknot a ball of string is to be patient, deliberate, slow. You have to loosen things up and work from different angles until it starts to make sense.

Is my analogy getting too thin? I’ll stop.

I’ve been working on and thinking about my anger for a long time. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to lose it. I’m still not really sure.

But I can’t keep hanging on to it. I have to at least lessen it. I’ll probably never be truly free from it. But I can try.

I always had this idea that my life would be fair. I know that sounds childish. Life isn’t fair. We all know that.

But I thought it would be balanced. Or at least have a point.

I thought, if I had this terrible childhood, I would at least have good friends. But I don’t have good friends.

I thought, if I had bad friends, I would at least have good boyfriends. But I didn’t have good boyfriends. In fact, my relationships have been worse than my childhood.

I thought, if I had abusive boyfriends, I would at least have mental and emotional health. But I don’t have emotional health. And who can blame me with my childhood and my relationships?

And I thought, if I had a terrible childhood, bad friends, abusive boyfriends, and poor mental and emotional health, I would at least have physical health. But I don’t have that either.

I’m not saying I am ungrateful for the things I do have. Because I am not. I know I have some great things in my life. And I do appreciate them.

But it isn’t fucking fair!

I guess, I thought… I don’t know… that the universe owed me… something. Which is stupid and immature and entitled. And it makes me feel angry.

I mean, who am I to expect anything from the universe. I am insignificant to the universe. It doesn’t even know I exist. My co-workers and family hardly know I exist.

And the thing is, if I believed there was a point to it all, it might make me feel better. If I thought there was some meaning or purpose to what I have gone through. But I don’t. And it makes me feel angry.

And the more I go through therapy and work through these issues. The more I can see my parents in a sympathetic light. The more I can see what impelled me to date the men I dated. The more I understand myself and my life. And it makes me feel angry.

But none of that makes me feel better. And it also doesn’t help with this feeling I have that I deserve something good in my life. That I deserve good things and people.

And I just realized that the longer I go without good things happening, the more unsure I am that I do deserve it. And the more afraid I am that my life is always going to be like this. And it makes me feel angry.

And I am so tired of my life being what it was. I am so scared to keep making the same mistakes. I am so afraid I’m never going to learn my lesson. And it makes me feel angry.

I have cried harder than I think I have ever cried in my life while writing this. This is what I am afraid to talk about. I am afraid that this makes me a whiny, selfish entitled jerk. And maybe I am.

But it feels so good to say. So good to get it out. I just re-read this piece, immediately after typing it, for typos, and actually am now laughing. It sounds so silly and immature. But I guess admitting it will help me to get over it.

Victim vs Survivor

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I keep hearing people talk about being a victim vs being a survivor. In fact, I hear the survivor thing about all kinds of things. Cancer, domestic violence, heart attack.

I have never liked either one of those words. Especially now with that TV show, Survivor, which I would not personally want to be associated with. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be called a victim. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be called a statistic.

But none of those titles feel like they apply to me. Even the positive, powerful label of survivor. I don’t want to be called a survivor.

Because that title still defines me by the things that happened to me. And the things that were done to me. The outside influences of the world may have shaped who I am. But they are not who I am.

I am me. And that encompasses a lot of things. I, like most people, contain multitudes. I’m complicated. I don’t want to be one word, one thing, one experience.

I want to be everything that I am. And everything that I am can’t be summed up and easily labeled. Nor do I want it to be.

Calling me a survivor doesn’t mean I am always tough. It doesn’t mean my suffering is over. It doesn’t mean I handled my challenges well, or even at all. I bristle at the word.

I have been through so much in my life. So many hard things. I don’t want it to be bottled up and sanitized and distilled into one, quite frankly, bland word.

I haven’t come up with something better. But I know something better is out there. Something that is more than an easy label. More than a blanket statement that isn’t one size fits all, at least not for me.

I want a word or phrase that isn’t just about surviving, subsisting, getting by. I don’t want my life to be something I overcome. I want it to be something I experienced. And lived. And thrived. And mostly enjoyed.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Confrontation

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Something happened the other day that I am so proud of. I wanted to share it with you guys.

I’m not sure if anyone remembers but I have struggled with an eating disorder for almost 20 years. I have been trying really hard since my illness to stop being so uptight about what I eat.

As a result, I have gained a lot of weight. A lot. I actually am happier with my body than I have ever been. I would love to be thinner, but I am afraid to try to diet. I do exercise, but not obsessively.

Anyway, none of that is the point. The point is that since my illness and weight gain, my mother has made non-stop comments about my weight and size. It is incredibly hurtful to me and rude.

The final straw was when I called her for mother’s day. I mentioned going to a lunch meeting that I was super excited about. And meeting with the hospital where I had my surgeries. And then I mentioned that I was working out more and was even thinking of running again for a benefit.

And that’s when she proceeded to tell me that it would be great for me to run again as I really needed to lose weight. She has told me in the past that I get fatter and fatter every time she sees me (which is true). And that I would be happier if I weighed 150lbs (which is not true, I was miserable when I weighed 150).

In high school, when I was 100lbs thinner, my pediatrician told my mother and I that I needed to gain 20-50lbs because I was unhealthily underweight. My mother told him no, that I looked good. And the pediatrician told her that we were discussing my health, not my appearance.

The other issue is that I am one size larger than my brother, but every time she sees him she acts like he is one meal away from starving to death.

So, I called her the other day and told her I needed to talk with her. Then I told her off.

I told her that I didn’t appreciate her constantly putting me down. I told her that her rude comments were not helpful. I told her that my doctor, cardiologist, sex partners, and myself did not think I needed to lose weight. So why did she?

I also told her that she was my mother. If she loved me, then she needed to love me at any weight. And that if she didn’t love me, then I didn’t need her in my life.

She claimed that she had no idea she was hurting my feelings. She claimed that she was only trying to help me. She claimed that she thought I was trying to lose weight and she was trying to be encouraging.

But I know she and I have had this conversation in the past.

So I made it extra clear. I told her that I never wanted to hear a word about my weight again. Not if I lost weight. Not if I gained weight. I told her that if I ordered a salad, it would be because I wanted a salad (which I love) and not to lose weight. If I started running it would be because I love running (which I do and always have). If she buys me something that doesn’t fit, it’s because the clothes are not my size, not because I am too big.

It felt amazing. I felt so powerful. And I have decided to cut her out of my life if she doesn’t comply with my request. And I am trying to get my brother to confront her too as he hates her comments on his thinness.