A year ago, I was a scared single mama. Taking the kidlet on a road trip, just the two of us. We made amazing memories during that long weekend. I agonized over whether to contact Leon, and remember how I decided to just do it. Hell, I'd just stood on the edge of a canyon with no railing. I could text a man I cared about to let him know I was thinking about him. I wished him well and he responded.
And I came home a different person. Braver. I remember racing home to see CF, who called me out on stuff, and got me out of my comfort zone. What we decided that night did not end up happening. But not because I wasn't brave enough. Because he wasn't.
And less than five months later, the kidlet and I flew to another state where I navigated a wonderful trip for him. On my own. And I wasn't scared and it was amazing. And a few months after that, I did it again.
I've got this.
I had avoided watching Private Practice for the last three weeks. I didn't think I could handle watching the Charlotte/rape storyline.
But yesterday, I went to therapy. And we talked about the assault. And we talked about how scared I've been. And we talked about how I need to remember not to let my anger at LI get pushed off onto the husband or to Eric. And how I should be responsive, not reactive. It's a little easier said than done. Because I can't control how other people act.
But last night, I decided to go ahead and watch the episodes I had been avoiding.
And, sure, it was awful. And, yeah, I looked away during the brutal scenes.
But what really struck me was how they focused on the reactions of those closest to her. And how they navigated the minefield of emotion around her.
And I found myself realizing that maybe... Just maybe... Eric isn't quite the asshole I think he is.
That maybe he simply did not know how to deal with what happened. And the flipping out I did freaked him out. So, he ran away instead of facing it head-on.
Am I excusing his whole "it's okay for me to cheat on my girlfriend and make you feel insignificant" act? No.
But maybe he was grieving too. Because if he ever did love me (and I really would like to think that he did at one time. I spent a significant period of time with the man) maybe it was really hard for him to deal with what had happened. Then again, maybe he didn't really realize what happened. I did downplay it quite a bit that night.
But last night, watching that show... I sat on this couch, beneath the red blanket, and I shivered. Just like I did that night. With Eric on the other end of the couch. He had to have known that something inside of me had shifted.
But for whatever tough act I'd put up that night, Eric was the one who knew me best. He was the one who pointed out the vulnerability inside of me. And he was the one who had sworn never to hurt me.
And then there's the husband. Maybe the reason why he wouldn't hold my hand the other night after dinner or when we went to coffee is that he's scared. He actually does know what happened. Maybe, just maybe, he deserves a little bit of grace because maybe, just maybe, he's scared to touch me because he's scared of scaring me the way he does know that I was scared that night.
And the girls who know and have not contacted me since? Maybe I can offer them some grace now, too. Because they don't know how much it hurts to share something so awful and then have them disappear. And they don't know that Eric did the same thing to me, so that makes their disappearance hurt that much more.
For whatever reason, people are who they are. And they don't get the answers when they don't ask the questions. And I can learn to be okay with that... Eventually.
Two years ago, TF and CB included me with their family. And I remember checking my phone for some kind of acknowledgement that HRT was thinking of me. (I really need to stop having major breakups in November! (Yes, even the husband and I broke up over Thanksgiving. Three years ago. LOL)
But this morning, I did that silly note about books on fb. And some of those titles were highlighted, thanks to people who are no longer in my world.
So, I sent a little Light and Love their way, and I'm moving on.
I'll get through this day. Even though I know where I'm not wanted. I'm grateful to know that I was wanted in many other places today.
And I'm going to forgive those who didn't want me today. Because they know not what they do. They're not wired that way.
And, hell, I'm even going to forgive the ones who didn't want me today that DO know what they do. Because I want to be THAT girl.
I'm going to be good to ME today.
And I'm so fucking grateful for the Thanksgivings past that brought me to where I am today. I DO have a lot to be thankful for, even if it doesn't look like it from the outside.
Scars heal. And they DO fade. I'm walking proof of that.
I have a wonderful child who loves me and I had an amazing day with him yesterday. And when I do see him again, I'll be so glad.
I have a plan for today.
I have my BGPs. I have technology. I have an awesome job. I have amazing friends. I am loved. Maybe not by one man who wants to love me and be with me, but I am surrounded by love. I do know this.
And I'm finally learning to be alone. And it doesn't totally suck. It's got its perks, too.
Happiest of Thanksgivings to you, the few who bother to read this drivel. Live and Breathe Gratitude.
For being the girl who cuts people out of her world.
And that's, supposedly, scary to those who love me.
Case brought up to me many times in recent months:
Look, Ari and I are fine. I emailed her on her birthday. I'm over it. She's not. This is no longer MY decision.
All I needed was time away from someone who was being deliberately cruel to me. Should I not have that right? Should I not be allowed to decide when someone is being poisonous to me and to eliminate that from my world?
Eric asked me early on if I tended to "break up" with friends.
And, yes. I have. I like closure, what can I say? ::shrug::
I wonder what it says about the person I used to be that I chose people to be a part of my world that would prove unworthy. Why did I have these people around me in the first place?
And I'm not breaking up with everyone who pisses me off lately. I'm just re-drawing boundaries. My inner circle does seem to be shrinking a bit. And I'm okay with that right now. I'm also trying to spread myself around a little bit. Pulling others into my inner circle so I don't completely overwhelm those closest to me with my pain and grief. I don't want to be the girl that nobody wants to talk to because I'm such a pain in the ass these days. I know I'm not my usual barrel of laughs right now.
Eric told me more than once when we argued that he was afraid that he would piss me off and that I would cut him out of my world... Like I had with Ari.
But let's remember that Ari didn't just piss me off. Ari hurt me deeply. And she compounded that hurt by flaunting it in my face. She showed no sensitivity whatsoever to my pain. She allowed me no time to wrap my mind around that new reality before she was throwing it in my face. And Eric was the one who pointed out what she was doing! And I actually defended her!
And then there's Eric.
And I'm, supposedly, the bitch who drove him away and cut him out of my world.
But that's not exactly what happened.
Yes, I diminished contact out of respect for my husband. And I think that most should agree that that was the right decision.
But when it came time to be friends? Eric was the one who had no boundaries. Eric was the one who walked out of Cara's house to talk to me for 45 minutes, and in that conversation he told me he was still attracted to me. I was the one who told him not to say that to me. How could he know if he was still attracted to me? He had not seen me in three months. I was the one who told him he was not being very loyal to his girlfriend.
I was being the good guy. Trying to be respectful of the relationship he had jumped into five minutes after we had broken up.
But then everything else happened. He was the one who said he wanted to kiss me. He was the one who told me he loved me. He was the one who told me that he had missed me.
I didn't say any of those things back to him at that time.
And then when he decided to compound his bad decisions by asking me to be an accomplice?
Why am I the bad guy for saying I did not think I could be his friend if he expected me to be a part of that lie?
And then... The guy who told me that he never wanted to piss me off so that I would cut him out of my world? He's the one who cut me out of his.
I'm tired of taking the blame on this one.
He's the one who cheated. He's the one who lied. And he's the one who cut me out of his world.
And I'm sitting here, feeling like I have to defend myself for not being friends with him anymore.
And then last night... When the husband told me about a phone call he had received. And all of that awful HRT stuff came back to him. And Cinderella's evil little plan to "tell him the truth", but anonymously? Ugh.
But then I started to think again... This really does smack of HRT. Jeez, I make bad decisions when it comes to love.
I thought Eric was different than HRT.
I finally came to realize that HRT was a sick, sick man. And he deliberately hurt me because that made him feel better about everything that was happening in his world.
But HRT felt helpless when his wife had left him. So, he decided to take it out on the next girl. And that turned out to be me.
And, I suppose that's what Eric was all about, too.
I wouldn't have believed it about him, though. So, now I get to just try. To believe that he was as cruel as HRT.
He's cut me out as effectively as HRT did.
But, oh... Eric... Who was so sad when his ex didn't acknowledge his birthday. And even I did.
I can't help hoping he will show me some kind of kindness. Some acknowledgement that I do exist. Some acknowledgement that we were supposed to have been together on that day. Just us. Halfway around the world.
I know that he won't. On some level, I do know that he won't.
But I still can't help hoping.
The way that Eric left things with me? So unfinished. So unfair.
And you're probably reading this, going, "You deserve it, RetroMama. Karma's a bitch. You did it to Ari."
Sometimes it sucks to be so misunderstood.
Until last night, the husband did not even know whether or not I even had somewhere to be tomorrow. It never even occurred to him to invite me to share tomorrow with him and our son.
And he expects a fucking medal because he had fun at dinner the other night? And he took me out for coffee? (No, he asked me and drove to coffee. LOL.)
The husband and I are really good friends. I find myself being able to process out what LI did and the aftermath with him. Which is strange.
I'm grateful for that friendship.
But I know that is all it is. And he'll get there. Eventually.
And in the meantime... Fuck, I could really use some sleep. Eesh.
I had been texting with CJ before leaving for dinner. ("CJ?" you ask as you frantically go back in the blog about a year to figure out who I'm talking about. "Really? CJ?")
It actually makes sense. It's November. He was rather pivotal last November.
Went to dinner with the husband. Had a nice meal, we talked the whole time. I got a little drunk.
And nothing happened.
He actually drove to the front gate and asked if he could drop me off there.
"You're not even going to walk me in?"
He walked me in. Came in, sat down for a few minutes and then left. I think he hugged me goodbye and said he'd talk to me later.
And then I found the texts CJ had sent while I had been out.
And I explained that I was drunk.
And then the texts got pretty flirty. Nothing over-the-top, but flirty, for sure.
The last one I saw was where he said, "I definitely wouldn't turn down the offer to keep warm. :)"
And I stared at it for awhile, turned the phone to silent and tiptoed over to the other side of the room to put it on the charger. Where it stayed for the rest of the night.
I may be lonely, but I am fucking terrified. Even of a guy who has proved on more than one occasion that he wouldn't try to have sex with me.
But somehow, I've found a shred of self-respect throughout all of this. How on earth is that possible? Am I really respecting myself enough to not let myself be used again? And to not use other people for whatever comfort I can glean from them?
Or am I just too scared?
Whatever it is, it resulted in a decent night of sleep. (Thank you, Cadillac margarita and Nyquil!)
And today... I've been playing around and caffeinating... Not really getting done what I should, but I'm enjoying my own company right now.
And something just hit me like a ton of bricks.
Eric's gonna pull an HRT on me.
That apology isn't ever going to come, is it?
I know the answer.
The only difference is that one day, I will run into him. And hopefully it is far enough in the future to where my wounds will have healed into scars that have faded.
And if I could heal from what HRT did?
Eventually, I'll heal from these hurts, too.
Eventually. Even though the ones who did this won't ever be brave enough to try to help me do it.
Wait. That's not true. LI actually apologized. So did CJ.
I did not sleep as well as I had hoped last night. But that's okay.
Because when I finally decided to look at my phone this morning, I found this gem:
"The fact is that until you process all the emotions of (fill in the blank), anger will serve the many cover-up functions that nature designed it to. Even irrational anger makes emotional sense. And no one ever said "emotional sense" makes sense."
I can fill in the blank with what LI did.
And that means that everything that came after makes emotional sense.
And that means the horrible conversations I've been having with Eric in my head are... Dare I say it? Normal??!!??
A friend and I were chatting a few days ago. And I said that Eric will probably get to a point where he wants to apologize. She said I should not give him that satisfaction. Why offer him forgiveness if I've already forgiven him in my head?
And I admitted that I haven't forgiven Eric yet. And if he were to come apologize to me, I would let him because, dammit,I deserve that.
The day will come when I get past that need. But right now, I do feel like I would be better off if he came to me and admitted, "Yeah, I fucked up. I never should have touched you that night because it hurt you. And I'm sorry for hurting you."
I mean, shit. LI apologized for what he did. Told me he regrets it. (Does that mean I'm letting him off the hook? Nope.)
But Eric? Who is running around like he's the injured party? He has not apologized. Not to me, anyway.
I'm sure he apologized to Cara. I'm sure he threw me under the bus again. They're probably off snuggling together drinking hot chocolate, staying in during this storm. Hell, they've probably got all the kids together for a movie marathon. All cozy and happy because Eric told her that the crazy chick is out of their lives. He probably told her I lied about the whole thing.
But deep down, he knows I told the truth. And deep down, he knows that he deserves for me to be angry with him. Rational or not, he pretended to be my friend. He told me he loved me. He lied. And if he ever did love me (which I'm coming to the realization that he probably never did), he will come to regret that. Especially if he told me the truth while we sat here that night. When he thanked me. If he really meant that? He'll come to WANT to apologize to me.
And right now? I would let him. Because I fucking deserve that. I deserve for him to acknowledge that he hurt me.
I acknowledged I hurt him. Because that's the kind of chick I am.
But I'm going to continue to wrap myself in this blanket of anger for awhile. Even thought I can acknowledge that it's growing thinner each day.
And one day, I'll wake up and realize I'm not angry anymore. In the last 36 hours, the hatred has dissipated a bit. I'm more focused on what I can actually control.
I'm focusing on that text from this morning. And the email I got from a former student. These people believe in ME.
Going to bed early. Eating well. (Well, when it occurs to me.) Talking to those who are a comfort. Using my words. Telling my story. Working out.
There are those who tell me I'll just be victimized all over again. And it wouldn't do any good. LI is going to get away with it. Let it go.
And there are those who tell me that even without the physical evidence, I still have a case. I still have a right to be heard. I didn't do anything wrong.
I told my therapist everything. Yes, everything. And we laughed when I swore to him that I'm right-handed.
And then the couples therapy. That was actually pretty productive. The guy did tell us that it doesn't really seem like we should get back together. And then the husband acted like it mattered. And I told him about LI. And he was actually pretty nice about it.
And then I worked out with Pete Jones. And it was awesome. And I realized that he can never break up with his girlfriend. Because he's the only man I trust right now. And he's been so great to me. Helping me work out frustrations. Helping me focus on being healthy. Telling me that LI was a fucking asshole. Telling me that no matter what happened since, that he hoped Eric would step up and testify about how messed up I was when LI left. Because that would be the right thing to do.
And I'm being patient. And not impulsive.
And three days later, I spoke to a lawyer.
And I'm still just so stunned and grateful for the conversation we had tonight. He is the first person I went into detail with. And he let me cry. And he told me over and over again that it's not my fault. He asked me detailed questions. He told me what my options are. He was really, really good to me. I'm incredibly grateful for the kindness this stranger showed me this evening.
This week has been a rather difficult one. But I'm trying really hard to be good to myself. I haven't written much. I need to catch up. I've got a bunch of middle-schoolers counting on me. I need a good night of sleep tonight. I haven't really gotten one since LI walked through my door a month ago.
So, I'm offering myself the gift of sleep.
I'm not going to think about whether or not Eric would step up to tell the authorities about how I sat on this couch that night, huddled under a blanket, shivering uncontrollably. Or if he would continue to pretend I don't exist and just let me continue to suffer without justice.
I'm not going to think about the people with whom I work who are not quite as dedicated as I am to these amazing kids.
I'm not going to think about how I could have been on a transatlantic flight tonight.
I'm not going to think about the fact that my husband actually asked me out on a date for tomorrow evening.
I'm not going to think about any of that.
I'm just going to stretch the muscles that Pete Jones pushed twice this week and think about the book cover that a former student drew for me. And the poem that some girl I don't even know wrote for me because she loves the book I wrote last year and she believes that I've inspired her to "read and do right choices"...
I'm going to think about how snuggly my boy was tonight and how well he's doing in school.
I'm going to think about how I may be getting rid of this couch sooner than I had even thought possible.
I'm going to think about the girls who hugged me and yelled at me and loved me on Sunday.
If you are ever sexually assaulted, do exactly the opposite of what you want to do.
Number One: Do NOT take a shower.
Number Two: Do NOT wash your clothes.
Number Three: Do NOT throw out your clothes.
Number Four: Do NOT take the trash down to the dumpster. You know the trash. The trash with the evidence. Such as that shirt. Or the semen on the paper towel from where it was wiped off of your body.
Number Five: Do NOT turn to your ex-boyfriend to comfort you.
Number Six: Do NOT delete the phone numbers of your attacker.
Sure, you might have avoided the trip to the police station. You might have managed to avoid the horrific things they would put you through in order to make their case. But that means that four weeks later, when you're ready to press charges, you've got nothing. Even when it would have been a federal offense, what with the crossing of state lines with the intent to commit sexual assault and all.
Because, at the end of the day, it all boils down to a "he-said, she-said" kind of a situation.
And now, when I finally get angry at the guy who deserves it? It's too late. He's all back in his own bed, all comfy, with the wife and kids nearby, an upstanding member of the community, and I'm stuck with nothing. Well, not nothing. I've got scars. And he'll do it again to someone else.
But now that I've found my balls, it's too late.
Oh, and for the love of all things holy, do NOT turn to that ex-boyfriend who wants to be "friends".
Because he will just use you, too. But he'll tell you he loves you, so in your head, it makes it okay. Because you feel loved and safe. And you can pretend what happened earlier didn't happen.
Oh, but the ex-boyfriend will fuck you over even worse than the guy who assaulted you. Because he'll tell you days later, "Oh, that was a mistake. You actually DON'T matter."
At least the guy who attacked you never told you you were special. And you remember that maybe it was a little bit your fault because your hackles were up, but you still let him in the door. (And that's what the cops would tell you, too. Ugh.)
But that ex-boyfriend. Who used you and then pretended to be your friend, and then watched you fall apart... And then decided he wanted nothing to do with you as you spun out of control... Which, of course, made you even crazier.
And then you did that incredibly stupid thing. That thing that made you feel better for that night. That thing you never understood. Until it happened to you.
And then you suddenly felt guilty for telling his girlfriend.
Because a few people told you you had no right to do that.
Um, he GAVE me that right when he was with me that night. If he did not want me to tell her, he shouldn't have touched me.
Fuck, he should have picked me up and taken me to the police station, himself, that night.
But, he didn't.
And then he couldn't understand why I was upset. And that upset me further. And that led to all kinds of bad behavior.
And, then... I fucking apologized to him.
WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT ABOUT?!???
Even back when he was saying he wanted to be my friend, he never did apologize for hurting me that way.
Fucking Eric. Out of every human being on the planet, I NEVER would have believed that about him.
But then he decided to absolve himself of all responsibility by dragging TF into it.
And then... Even knowing how incredibly out-of-control I was... He told me to please stop emailing him.
It's a really good thing I'm NOT suicidal.
Kid's got some balls of his own for thinking THAT was an appropriate thing to say to me on that day.
And I know... With every fiber of my being, I KNOW that he will come to regret his part in hurting me. He's not there, yet. But he will be.
And, by then... It will be TOO LATE.
Because I think I found my balls in my hometown.
Everybody's telling me, "Oh, be glad Eric told you that you guys shouldn't talk." "Now, you can be done with that drama and focus on YOU."
Um, fuck that.
I should have been the one to say that to him.
And I would have... Eventually.
But for him to kick my crutch out from under me? And for him to tell himself, "I did nothing wrong. RetroMama should not have talked to Cara."
What drove me to do that, Eric?
And what drove me to do everything that came after that?
Sure, I made the decision to do the stupid shit. But you d0 NOT get to tell yourself you're blameless in this. If you hadn't touched me that night, I would have had nothing to TELL Cara.
So, FUCK YOU.
And while I'm on this note...
FUCK YOU, LI, for what you did. FUCK YOU for coming into my home and touching me the way you did. Even after I told you it wasn't okay. Especially then. And especially for finishing it the way you did. And then for apologizing to me the moment it was over. And saying you'd "make it up to" me.
FUCK YOU. The only way to "make it up to" me is for you to fucking own up to what you did. To your wife, to your kids, and to your entire fucking town. Oh, and to pay for my fucking therapy. I would have rather have watched you get arrested and hauled off to prison, but since that option's out, I'll have to hope for public humiliation instead. I want you to feel as ugly and dirty as you made me feel.
And since I'm slinging blame tonight, I've got a word or two for the husband, too:
None of this would have happened if you had done something. Anything. But the sitting and doing nothing? My letting you do that is what got me to that place on that night.
If you had told me that you wanted to be with me, LI never would have been here that night. If you had given me a fucking HUG once in awhile, LI never would have been here that night. Or if you had told me we were done, I highly doubt LI would have been here that night, either.
Yes, much of this goes back to decisions I made a long time ago.
But I'm still just a girl who wants to love and to be loved.
And I was so fucking desperate for that that I trusted the WRONG person.
And then compounded that by trusting the WRONGER person. (Shut up. I get to make up words.)
So, here's the new plan:
2. Not do the stupid shit anymore. Cold-turkey. Done. Clean for three days.
3. Get out of this fucking "marriage". Officially. For real.
4. Read a book.
5. Write a book.
6. Be with my kid.
7. Take any hugs I can get. As long as I follow my gut on it.
I am a mom. I am an open book. I am a teacher. I am unfinished. I rarely dress weather-appropriately. I am influential. I am tattooed. I am a Reason for some. I am relentless in my passions. I am multi-faceted. I am carving my niche.