Because apparently November is Get All Your Shit Out There Month, here's a another post that goes a bit darker than usual. It's a bit jarring, I know, to go from happy Parks and Rec supplementals into trigger warning territory, and I promise I'm going to post some lighter material as the month progresses, but these past few months have been very Saturn-comes-back-around for me, which actually happened back in 2013, but I digress.
Anyway, before I go dark, here's a picture of some puppies.
A little over a week ago, I was driving my boyfriend to work, and I saw him. He was just standing there, casually leaning against a parking meter and checking his phone, probably waiting to meet someone for brunch. It was a Sunday, after all, which can mean church and a pancake breakfast to some, or one last, desperate breath before the work week begins again for others; but to him, Sundays meant brunch. I'd met him several times on a late Sunday morning at some bar-by-night-brunch-on-Sunday spot where he knew at least two of the servers or fellow patrons, and I felt like I was interloping in some weird parallel universe where I was dating someone famous.
It frustrates me that I know so much about him. I know he is a cat person, loves the color red, has traveled the world and yearns to get back into it, was devastated by his young son's death, drinks Skinny Bitches almost exclusively, believes we are all spiritually connected, and has raped at least two women, one of them being me.
I stopped talking immediately when I saw him, a panic growing in my chest. I once told a friend that I hoped I never ran into him because I would start a very violent scene by first punching him in the face, followed by a flurry of loud accusations in front of all the people he knew, but based on my reaction of just driving past him, I sincerely doubted that I would actually do that. I resumed chattering, trying to simply push the emotion out into the ether. Why should I give him the time of day? Why should his specter have the right to commandeer my life? But I'd forgotten what I was saying; I sputtered and then just let the boyfriend take over. He had noticed and asked me if I needed him to do anything, but all I could think was, "Just distract me please."
The last time I spoke with my rapist was over text. I still have the conversation saved on my phone for some reason, although I haven't read it since I closed the chapter in my life where he was in it. I'd confronted him in person a few weeks (months? I honestly can't remember) before, but it seemed he hadn't gotten the fucking hint. He had apparently posted something on Facebook that alluded to people unfriending him, which I had just done after seeing so many posts about him being a positive, influential person or about his son or about his search for a soulmate, and my friend told me about it, certain that it was about me, at least indirectly. I had just gotten the courage to click that unfriend button, after just unfollowing him; after their epic breakup, his ex had revealed a lot of things about him to many of their mutual friends, leading many of them to leave his maxed-out friend list, and he literally launched a goddamn investigation*, emailing and calling all the people who had deleted him on Facebook and basically demanding an explanation. Naturally, I did not want that shit, so I waited until that last post that just had me over it. I don't even remember what it was, although it was probably faux-intellectual and full of superfluous adjectives that just upped the word count. But then I went and read the post he'd written, and sure enough, it was just vague enough to be about anyone but specific enough to be about me.
"Do you not think Friend and I talk?" I texted.
Well, that opened up a whole conversation. At first, it was about the post: it wasn't about me, he'd had a lot of people unfriend him for some reason, he would have come to me directly, he doesn't have that app anymore. Almost immediately, though, it turned both into an excuse and an accusation: we'd had sex several times in the mornings after having a date night, he would never have sex with someone who wasn't awake or fully aware of what was going on, his ex-girlfriend spread lies about him when she'd said he'd done this to her, too, he was falling in love with me but was rebounding from his ex, he'd stopped in the middle of sex with girls who were too drunk to consent.
And then he stated, "Please think about it rationally," before bringing up his deceased son, a tactic I'd seen him use on me so many times before when I was calling him out on something.
I. Lost. My. Shit.
After I'd left my husband and moved to Louisville, I was lonely, depressed, anxious, lost ... if it was a negative emotion, I felt it. I also made exceptionally bad decisions, one of them being dating only three or four months once I'd arrived in town. I missed being in a relationship but hadn't fully grasped the fact that I'd been in one with a narcissistic abuser, so I sought after something familiar; this guy showed up. He seemed so different: just out of an abusive relationship, an artist, an actor, a father, well-known, energetic and extroverted. God, I wish I'd seen the red flags, the constant referrals to how many women he'd bedded, the obsession with his personal image, his allergy to responsibility, his constant placing of blame on others. But I didn't. Instead I dove headfirst into tragedy.
I got mean in this text war. I won't even try to deny it. I used all caps. I typed "LOLOLOL okay." I went extremely low, and I didn't - and still don't - care. He fucking deserved it. I was emboldened by rage and disbelief; was he really trying to make him raping me a discussion on his pain??? I would get one sentence in and receive literally five extended texts about how bad it made him feel to know I thought this about him and how he loved me like a sister and how he would never lie to me and how he told me things he'd never told anyone else and how he just wanted to protect me. I softened as my exhaustion hit, and I just wanted to stop getting texts from him. I could have blocked him, yes, but I was still worried that he'd try and track me down; he knew where I lived, several of my friends, and it wasn't beyond a possibility that he'd just show up where I worked. So I ended the conversation by saying that, "It's been my experience tonight that, while I don't believe you meant to anger me, you still said [things] without any understanding of how they would affect me."
That was back in April. I look back and see nothing but a narcissist who's been caught and just wants to manipulate the other person into empathizing with them. And fuck. that.
We started seeing each other in July, a mere two months after I'd left Three. I just wanted to care about someone again, have them engulf my entire life; that's how I'd lived for five years, and despite the abuse, it's what I knew. He'd drag me along, feign interest and passion (or maybe it was real for the moment and just forgotten when something else more interesting came along), and I'd get hurt. I understood hurt; I still did not understand manipulation. Then I woke up with him finishing inside me and I froze. I didn't know what to do except lay there, motionless and emotionless. When I left, I said barely two words and scurried out to my car, where I sat for about ten minutes, trying to process what happened.
He texted me so many times after my last sentence, so I just turned off my phone. I was done with his excuses, just wanted to continue my life without a constant reminder that my rapist was still around. It seemed like such a small request, but it was as if he was everywhere. The guy I was dating at the time was (and still is, as far as I know) a drinking buddy of his, and he is still very active in the local theater scene, probably preying after vulnerable women half his age. As I retreated from his circle, I felt safer; I met wonderful people and started to rebuild once again. I fought the urge to go stalk his FB profile to see what long-winded bullshit he'd posted and found myself, oddly enough, getting back to happy. Or at least a semblance of it.
I'd alluded about my rape and rapist to the boyfriend a few times before, but I'd always been calm and collected about it, almost clinical, like it hadn't happened to me. I brushed it off as just history, a story that had no impact on me any longer because I'd moved past it, rose above, became a better person. It was all in abstract, a theory that I'd never tested before, but I was certain that I was okay. I was proud of myself when I didn't cry as I talked about it, when I didn't shy away from mentioning the details of my rape, even how I used to not believe his ex despite being a feminist**. I'd forgotten the anger I felt as I read his copious texts, the shame as I left his apartment, the numbness as I entered into a passionless romance for no other reason than for companionship. Time had healed me.
And then I saw him and everything came rushing back.
* He had an app that let him know who unfriended him and when.
** Believe women. BELIEVE US.