Still Surviving-ish. AKA I Survived You, Part 2

Well, it's been a long while since I've revisited this, and rather a lot has happened...

When last we met, dear readers, your hero was making it work, and getting by. So much change ...so much upheaval. 

When I left off, I mentioned that I was married, but we need to go back to the beginning of that relationship, as the background is important. I hope you'll all bear with me again; getting these stories out is much like excising vital organs for me. It's a painful process, and I'm very protective of them, and by extension, of myself.

My divorce from the wife in the first story was final in 2006. Around that time, I became reacquainted with an old friend, Becca. We caught up over the course of a couple of days, and later had dinner. At the end of the evening, she kissed me. This was confusing, as she had always been fairly ..."butch," for lack of a better term. We had a conversation about it, and she told me that her sexuality was uncertain; she was still figuring it out.

We continued to see one another for a few months, and anytime things would become more intense, she'd slow it down. This was fine with me, as I was still pretty vulnerable from my marriage. We had a good time, and I always had a sort of unspoken understanding that we were going to end up together.

Things changed.

Eventually, it came to the point that she was just using me for "stuff," and I distanced myself from her. All well and good, but it was still hurtful. 

In 2007, I met a woman who changed everything. Long distance again. (Yes, I know.) She was intelligent and well-educated and fun. We would visit one another around every other weekend. Lots of activities, and the intimacy was there, too.

Then, she started shopping for a home in my hometown. It meant so much to me that she was willing to uproot herself so that I could be near my family. We found a wonderful fixer-upper for a good price, and started working toward buying it. 

Those of you who have bought a home know that it is a very stressful process, and the stress took its toll on her immensely. She wasn't the fun-loving Jen I had gotten to know, anymore. Still, I stuck it out, but eventually, I wanted the "old Jen" back badly enough that I told her to let the house go. She did, and I hoped for things to go back to normal. 

Shortly after that, her father became seriously ill, and she was heavily stressed over that. Still no good old Jen. I was right beside her through his surgery and recovery, still hoping for a return of what we used to have.

She bought a house in her hometown, which stressed her out even more.

I proposed to her in 2009, and she said yes. Surprise, surprise, planning a wedding is very stressful as well. I was at wits end by this point, but I was committed to giving this relationship the best possible chance.  

We married in 2010, and my daughter and I moved into the house she had bought. Stress. I was in a new city, in a job I hated, with no friends, and nobody to talk to but the woman who was increasingly frustrated with me. She had never lived with anyone before, and had all her ducks firmly in a row, and suddenly she had a husband and a stepchild, in her space, all the time.

We enrolled my daughter in the private school that Jen had gone to as a child. The people there were horrible and elitist, and my daughter acted out. The intimacy Jen and I had went away. First, Jen started sleeping on a mattress on the floor in the bedroom, because she said it was better for her back. Later, she started sleeping in the guest bedroom, because she couldn't stand the sight of me. She worked nights, and I worked days, so we managed to barely see one another. I would come home from work and do my best to drink myself into a stupor, and she would constantly berate me about the things she needed help with. 

I am not a smart man. If you want me to dust the dining room, just say, "medic77, dust the dining room for me," and I will do it. If you want me to clean the guest bathroom, just say so, and it will be done. Jen, however, believed that I should be able to see what needed done and take the initiative. It wasn't an easy concept for me, but I won't make excuses.

She would catch me in the middle of a project she had given me, and ask me to, for instance, mow the lawn. Ten minutes later, once I had gotten to a stopping place in project one, I would go outside to find her mowing the lawn herself, and mad about it. It made me crazy. She was a therapist, so she KNEW it made me crazy. I turned into a "yeller." I'm not proud, but we would have epic screaming matches while my daughter cowered in her bedroom and wished for it to be over. Jen threatened to have me committed.

In February of 2011, after living under the same roof for less than nine months, we separated, and I came back to Ohio. Jen later told me she was mad about that, too. She thought I should have gotten an apartment where she was. It just wasn't possible. I didn't have any savings, and I had only worked my current job or a few months. It just wasn't possible. 

Back in Ohio, I went back to work, and got a second job with state benefits, which eventually became my only job. Jen and I weren't interested in communication at that point, so I was very low.

We went through cycles of talking and silence. I had friends, but Jen always suspected me of being in secret relationships with the female ones. It was just another lack of faith. A couple of years ago, after we had been separated almost longer then we were together, I met a girl at work, Lorrie, and we started a relationship. I was happy.

One night, Lorrie and I were laying in bed talking, and I heard a noise. Suddenly, Jen was standing in the bedroom. It was as bad as it sounds, but it could have been worse. At least we were clothed and only talking. Still, not long after that, our divorce moved forward and was final.

I am still with Lorrie, but our intimacy is gone. We haven't had sex in months. She says she loves me, but she just isn't interested in sex. I feel as though I did something to cause it. She doesn't touch me. She doesn't kiss me unless I initiate it. She SAYS that if I want sex, I should just say so and do it, but it doesn't feel right to me. I feel like sex should be a union; a collaboration. Not just, "Hey, hold still a minute."

I know I've got depression and anxiety, but I can't help wondering just what it is that makes me so forgettable. Why I can't seem to find anyone who just WANTS me.

So, yeah. I'm surviving, but just.

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I Still Can't Even Call It What It Is

A few nights ago, my husband forced me to have sex with him. I said no so many times, and told him I didn't want to. He asked me if I wanted him to stop, and I said yes. He started to stop, but then he continued anyway.

He's been pushy before, over the course of our marriage, but has never gone that far.

I am devastated. He is so apologetic, but still has tried to have sex with me again (consensual). He makes crude, sexual statements about me that make me so incredibly uncomfortable.

I've talked to rape crisis hotlines. They have advised me to leave, but aside from love and loyalty, I also have five children, three biological and two step-children with him. I'm a stay at home mom with no relevant work experience.

Even if I was prepared to throw our marriage away, I would have no resources. I've thought about it. He's admitted that he wouldn't blame me if I did leave, and even went so far as to say he knows he should be in jail.

I just don't know what to do. I love my husband, but at the same time, I don't. I can't trust him, and now I can't even kiss him because it's just too much anxiety. So we don't touch, and I can't imagine being intimate again. I should see a counselor, but with no family or friends to watch my youngest two children, I can't do it.

I keep wondering if since he wasn't violent with me, and I didn't struggle, maybe I'm overreacting. I guess I'm just writing this here to feel like I've said it out loud somewhere. Thanks for reading.

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Water And Strangers

When I was a little boy, only around four or five years old, we lived near a river in Colorado. My brothers and sister would swim in the river, sometimes diving off the bridge that was near our home. In order to keep me away from the river, my mother told me that there were alligators living in the water. Okay ma, there are alligators in the river.

We would take my dad's work clothing into town to the laundromat. Now, I remember this day very clearly. We pulled up in our old blue truck, my Orange Crush clutched in my little hands. The day was warm and clear. Next to our parking spot was another truck with a very old man in the driver's seat. As he got out, I noticed that he was missing an arm. I think I asked my mom why the man's arm was gone. She said, "Well, that's what happens to people who go swimming in the river." I was shocked by this.

A few days, perhaps weeks went by, and mom decided that we would go swimming with my brothers and sister. She'd got a float tube for me. I don't really remember much about the lead up, but as they pushed me out into the river, I remember clearly that I was terrified. I screamed and yelled to be taken back to shore. I remember that they were laughing as they took me back to the bank of the river.

I love the water, but to this day, if I'm in a river or lake, I can only swim for so long before feelings of panic begin to build up.

My mother, to this day, is terrified of strangers. I remember the first trip I went on with my parents to a big city. I was just ten or so. I was excited and curious, peering about at all the people, buildings and busy streets. As we pulled up to an intersection, the car next to us had some Hispanic people inside. My mother noticed that I was looking at them. She said, in all seriousness, "Don't make eye contact with them! They will shoot us if you do!" This theme is recurrent in my childhood. Strangers are bad. Period.

Years ago, I asked my mom why she told me that story about the alligators. I explained that I couldn't swim for more than ten or fifteen minutes at a time without anxiety. She laughed, saying that she was just keeping her little boy safe. I really didn't know what to say about that. I never really asked any more questions about it.

I have been deconstructing my upbringing, trying to find the 'roots,' as it were, to my problems. When describing my childhood to people, I would say that my parents left me to my own devices for the most part, making it sound as if I was afforded some kind of special privilege. Shedding the light of my current knowledge onto the events of my childhood, I was rather shocked to find that I was being neglected. I never really thought about it in quite that way, but it was quite the shock when I realized that.

Not that I blame them too much. They did what we all do - the best we know how. Apparently, the best my mother knew was to saddle her children with neuroses. The litany of fright that my mother used as a catechism to ward off harm, simply made it extraordinarily difficult for me to make any friends. After all, making eye contact could be deadly.

I make a conscious effort to not instill irrational fears into my children. Caution and skepticism about strangers, yes. Strangers as a likely source of murder, no. Caution and respect for water, yes. The lurking places of alligators ...well, not where I live.  

People, please don't make your kids scared of life. The things that kids get from the adults in their lives, stick with them, right or wrong. We are omnipotent and omniscient to them. Guide them with wisdom, not fear!

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Accountability Means Nothing

It's always hard for me to start these sorts of conversations. Although I feel a bit more at ease, considering the audience. I'm a victim of multiple forms of abuse, but most recently I'm having issues dealing with date rape. I was raped once, back when I was in middle school and came to terms with what happened. I never once considered it would happen to me again.

I was naive.

It happened six weeks ago at a really inconvenient time. Yeah, I know, it's NEVER convenient and no one is ever prepared for it. It just further complicated issues with my ex-boyfriend. I was raped by an acquaintance; a friend of a "friend" (I use the term loosely now).

I still blame myself even though I know I shouldn't. I have some pretty textbook reasons:

• I had too much to drink that night

• I allowed myself to feel safe in a clearly risky situation because I believed that the people I was with had some sort of accountability

• I openly admitted to being attracted to my attacker

• He kissed me once and while I made it clear I was uncomfortable, I did not remove myself from the situation.

I get that it's not supposed to be my fault but I have a hard time allowing myself to believe that.

I was invited to a party at a coworkers house who I've worked with for the past six months. He had some friends staying with him from Chile who were there, too. My coworker, his best friend/my attacker, and several of our co-workers were there.

Beer pong and alcohol consumption wasn't the problem. There was marijuana present and that illegal activity was my first deterrent to seeking help - there goes some of my credibility.

I hung out with the girls and was doing fine until I was comfortable with the group. We all work together, we have to see each other at work. I took that as we had accountability for our actions.  

Nope.

I broke my self-imposed rule: don't accept alcoholic drinks at the point you no longer feel the need to drink. I was persuaded by hospitality and the "party vibe."

I drank too much and at the point that rest of the group was leaving, I decided I was not quite yet ready to drive. I asked to stay a few more minutes before leaving.

I thought I was being responsible.

His buddy speaks about as much English as I do Spanish. My Spanish isn't fluent but I can get by. Still, he got me alone while we were talking, which wasn't hard. I know the game, avoid the chick your friend is trying to "impress" and give them space. I spent a good thirty minutes trying to avoid this guy. He kissed me and I pulled away, politely excused myself, and he kept his distance. For a bit.

My coworker and his Chilean guests were very accommodating and offered me their couch to crash on. I politely declined but elected to stay another fifteen minutes. My coworker asked me to dance and I politely declined. Suddenly, he felt tired and went to his room, leaving me alone with his friend.

I felt uneasy, decided I didn't like the scenario so I went to get my bag off the couch. He told me to sit, sleep here, "don't drive, you're drunk," and took my keys. I would do the same for my friends and I appreciated his concern.

The mood didn't change - I was still uneasy. Rightfully so. He pulled me in and made an advance in the living room minutes after my coworker retired to bed. He grabbed my bag and keys and took them from me. I explained I needed to leave and he pretended not to understand me - he reminded me that I was drunk.

It's funny how fear sobers you up.

He pushed me down and got on top of me. What pisses me off more than anything is that I saw it happening and froze. I just fucking froze. The man was on top of me, my arm in between is groin and mine and all I could think was: "make a fist" - and I did. "Bring you arm up. Straight up as hard as you can and run" - I didn't. I froze. I talked myself out of it.

He tried to kiss me and grope me. He had me beat on upper body strength and I knew it. I was terrified. What if I didn't stun him and just pissed him off? Then what? He clearly didn't care about me; would he punch me in the face?

A million questions ran through my mind as I lay there. I looked at him and said "please no, please stop" again and again and again and all he said back "No problem, I understand, no sex"

I mean, what the fuck, man. No English isn't your first language but you plainly made it known you understood me, you jerk!

I tried to pull my panties back up and push him off me - and he just continued. He had to know it wasn't consensual.

There's another reason I can't even look my coworker in the face. I screamed. I stopped being scared and screamed, I begged for help and only got louder. It'd been maybe fifteen minutes after he went to his room. I KNOW, I just KNOW he had to hear something. Someone had to hear something. And no one did anything to help.

After he finished, I laid there and cried. He'd shocked the hell out of me. I didn't even know how to respond. I get now that it was very controlling but I don't understand my reaction. I laid on the couch and didn't - couldn't - move.

He covered me up with a blanket got down by my face and said three things I'll never forget: "What is my name?" He asked over and over until I said it. "Give me a kiss," and he pushed my face to his until I kissed his cheek, and then "Good girl."

I wanted to spit in his face. I want to kick him in the throat and run screaming for the neighbors to hear. Instead, I listened and I laid there and cried until I was sure he was asleep in the other room. It was two hours before I moved. Then I got dressed, fixed my face, and left.

The guy was a jerk. My co-worker is an enabling scumbag who told me it was my fault

The first person I called, a longtime friend, threatened to tell my mom (who I still haven't told) if I didn't go to the police because, "It would be my fault for letting him get away with it and do it again."

The rape is affecting the relationship I'm in now. The date rape happened while my boyfriend of three years and I were broken up. We weren't dating but both hoped things between us could be worked out. I had no intention of dating anyone else. Then this happened and I reacted in such stupid crazy ways that even I can't explain my behavior.

I didn't want to tell him and I regret telling him because he did exactly what I thought he would - he basically blamed me.

I figured making him want to leave me would be better than dealing with it, so I sent provocative pictures of myself to some random person online hoping he'd just leave me. It seemed like a better alternative. Yes, I know how dumb that sounds. In the end when he questioned why I wanted to hurt him, I felt like utter shit.

I don't know how I thought hurting him and making him leave me would be better than explaining what happened.

So I explained it. I wish I hadn't. The first things he said to me were: "how do I know you didn't cheat on me and just regret it? Did you like it? Did you kiss him at all? You didn't lead him on at all? How do you know he used a condom and if he did how's come you waited for him to put it on? If he had time for a condom you had time to do something..." 

We're back together now, but he couldn't understand why I didn't want to say anything.

My boyfriend said it's not my fault sure but he didn't act like it. He blames me for protecting my co-worker because I won't tell him where the guy lives so he can kick his ass. And I'm mad at him.

I'm frustrated, tired of trying to explain feelings he can't understand. I'm sorry for intentionally hurting him, but making him feel better about what happened to me isn't my job and it's pissing me off. I want to say:

I'm not here to make you feel better, kicking his ass doesn't change what happened to me it just opens you up to an assault charge.

By now, it's too late to press charges. I didn't go to the doctors or police. He and his friend were only staying in the United States for a few weeks and I'm pretty sure he's already back in Chile. I'm happy I'll never have to see his face again.

I see it sometimes when I go to sleep. I wake up and hear myself saying his name. I wish I'd have spat in his face but instead I said his name. I'm not sure why he even cared if I knew who he was - it's not like he'd ever see me again.

I'm confused, upset, pissed off, and tired of trying to sort it out for other people. I haven't even done that for myself yet.

I will never again assume people are to be held accountable for their actions.

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The House PTSD Built

This morning, once again, I woke up with my pillow soaked with tears, the sobs still fresh in my throat. I wiped my face off with my sleeve, as I sat up, trying to remember what dream I’d had, what had made me so bitterly sad that I’d wept in my sleep loudly enough to wake myself. Nothing. My memory banks came up with nothing.

I sighed as I changed my pillow case. Normally I dream about new and exciting ways to mock John C. Mayer, and although John C. Mayer could have been the reasons for my sobs (Hey, “Your Body is a Wonderland” is a terrible song), I don’t think it was.

This is the fifth time in as many days I’ve woken up with a wet pillow case. On the rare times I can fall asleep (a hearty fuck you goes out to insomnia), this is what I’m repaid with: night terrors.

Amelia’s appointment yesterday with the EI evaluators went as expected. She’s ahead in some areas, behind in others. It’s the medical equivalent of a push and it’s certainly not something that keeps me up at night, her inability to perform quadratic equations and properly discuss string theory aside.

I’ve managed to buy her a birthday present and pink cupcake mix for her birthday on Friday (still haven’t done anything for a big blowout bash), both of which should delight her. I’m thrilled that she’s going to be thrilled by this. Everyone should be so lucky as to have pink sparkles on their birthday cuppity-cakes.

And yet I’ve spent the last couple weeks talking through clenched teeth, the most minor of infractions setting me off, sending me into a blind panic. A dead weight has settled onto my chest there’s an omnipotent feeling of cosmic not-rightness. Everything feels wrong. Nothing is wrong, yet everything feels wrong.

My feelings make no sense to me.

I know what this is. It’s PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder. I hate to even write those words out because I see them and I know some assjacket is going to be all, “YER NOT A VET, YEW WHOR,” and then I’m going to feel worse because I’m already feeling guilty about feeling the way I do. I have the Girl That Lived and still I have PTSD? Certainly, I do not have a right to those feelings.

And yet I do. I’m as entitled to my feelings as the next assjacket.

Really, I liked it better when I pretended I had no feelings. I think sociopaths have that part down. Feelings are kinda bullshit. Unless we’re talking about my love of Bob Ross and Richard Simmons. Or any white guy with an Afro. White guys with Afros are most certainly NOT bullshit.

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