Tuesday, 16 January 2018

A Small Catharsis

A warning: Very bad language ahead. Unfunniness, too.

I have a story to tell, a rather small story, that has stayed with me for a long time. I believe I only ever confided this particular story in one trusted person in its entirety, in its detail. After that, I didn't feel like I could or should share it again, for reasons which will become clear below. But now I feel like I want to get it out of my mind and out into the world.**

**My hands shook as I typed the critical moment below. The anger is still so strong. I didn't even realize it myself until now.

Cast your mind back to antiquity, to my teenage years. I had a boyfriend with whom I had a sexual relationship. I drove him back to his after a date. It was a drop-off.

I pulled up outside. I shut the car off. Our goodnight kiss turned into a bit of a make-out session, as it does. He tried to put his hand in my crotch. I pushed it away. He tried again.

I stopped, pulled away and said, "Not that." We continued kissing. He tried again.

I stopped, pulled away and said, "No. Can't we just kiss tonight?" We continued kissing. He tried again.

I stopped, pulled away and said, "I just want to kiss you. I don't want your hands in my underwear." We continued kissing. He tried again.

I stopped, pulled away, and HE said, "You're giving me mixed signals!" He pouted. He put on an angry face. He put on a hurt face. He crossed his arms.

And reader, I lost my fucking mind.

I slammed my hands down on the steering wheel. That made him jump. "What the fuck!" I screamed at the windshield. To him, I yelled, "What the fuck are you talking about? How am I giving you mixed signals? I have been crystal fucking clear about my boundaries in this moment. I want to kiss you. I don't want you to touch my crotch. What is not clear?"

He responded. He RESPONDED, "You keep pushing me away and then coming back in for more." He said that. He didn't say any variation on "sorry".

I felt violence then, a surge of blood pressure. I had a fleeting image of smashing his stupid face into the dashboard and watching his nose bleed. I somehow got control of my voice and said, "I said no explicitly. I said the word no when you did something I didn't like. I wanted this, but not that. If you can't understand that idea, that the person you are with might want something physical but not everything, you are going to get yourself into trouble someday." Then I told him to get out of the car. He did.

I wish I could say that I dumped that motherfucker right then and never saw him again, but I didn't. He was manipulative, possessive, emotionally abusive trash, and even though I kept trying to lose him, he kept somehow worming his way back into my life. It took a long time to get him to finally go away, even after we did actually break up.

Years later, I lived somewhere else. I had another boyfriend. This new boyfriend knew a bit about old boyfriend, though he didn't know this story. I had shared some of old boyfriend's bullshit, had received some support, and I had moved on. But new boyfriend often badgered me about old boyfriend. Why, he would ask, didn't I hate him more? Why didn't I wish ill upon him for being such a shitbag? I tried to explain that I literally wanted to spend none of my energy thinking about old boyfriend in any capacity whatsoever, including hate-energy. New boyfriend would shake his head in puzzlement.

Finally at some point, I explained this episode to new boyfriend. I don't remember the exact reason, but I do remember we were talking about how common we thought sexual assault was among our friends and acquaintances. He asked me if I ever was. I started to tell this story, and of course - OF COURSE - I began with the caveat that this didn't really qualify but it was something akin to it.

I got as far as the mixed messages part, and new boyfriend interrupted me. "But you were sending mixed messages," he said. "No I wasn't," I retorted. "Yes you were!" he said incredulously, like he couldn't believe I didn't agree.

"How was it mixed messages?" I exclaimed, a bit of anxious hysteria creeping into my voice. I was afraid, you see, that I had sent mixed messages. "I was very clear!"

"But you kept going back in for more kissing."

I wish I could say that I dumped that motherfucker right then and never saw him again, but I didn't. He was manipulative, possessive, emotionally abusive trash, and even though I kept trying to lose him, he kept somehow worming his way back into my life. It took a long time to get him to finally go away, even after we did actually break up.

Now you see, don't you? How hard it is.

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