It happened again. I am an idiot. I am disgusting. I am ashamed.
I did not want to write about this. I crawled in bed for a while, trying to avoid it, but I could not sleep. I got up, I went out, and life continued as if nothing had happened. I came home and went to bed; I still did not sleep.
I had an upcoming appointment with my therapist and I was dreading it. I knew I would have to own up to my latest mistake. I collected myself, I went in, I sat down, I looked him in the eyes, and I told my story:
I had been on a couple of dates with this guy. We got along fine, conversation was easy enough, and we laughed a lot – especially because both restaurants messed up his food. For our third date he insisted on picking the restaurant – one that would make his dinner right. He texted me the address and I told him I was on my way. It was not an area I was familiar with so I thought I was lost. Then I realized he had led me to his apartment.
My therapist interrupted me and asked for some specifics – his name, where he lived, where he was from – so I gave a quick bio. His response terrified me, “I’ve heard of him.” He gave me a knowing look; he knew exactly where this story was going. “Please, continue.”
He was standing outside smiling. He welcomed me with a warm hug and led me inside. He had cooked a lovely meal, curried goat on rice with chicken and vegetables; it smelled amazing. He asked if I was alright a few times, told me I was being weird, I felt very stiff. I laughed it off and tried to relax.
He had a small pool table in his apartment so after dinner we started to play. He was very flirty: he’d put his hands on my waist, he’d come up behind me and speak into my ear, his eyes were everywhere. I felt uncomfortable. I tried to keep things light, I cracked jokes, I was silly, I did anything to keep laughing. We played three games and I won them all. My focus was very much glued to the table. By the third game his hands were all over me. He would even grind into my backside whenever I bent over to take a shot. Every time he touched me, I moved, I flinched, but then I laughed it off and continued to take the shot.
After the third game, he spun me around and kissed me. The kiss was fine, we had kissed once before, but his hands started sliding up my shirt. I pushed his hands down and we kept kissing. He tried again, up my shirt and down my pants this time. I took his hands and pushed them away and said no. He asked what was wrong, smiled and said, “Me from Africa, me don’t understand.” I laughed and so he kissed me again, his hands going back under my clothes. I stopped him again and said no, I don’t want to. He smiled at me, “what no, what don’t you want to?” But I couldn’t say it.
He kissed me again and began backing me towards his couch until my knees hit the arm rest and I fell over. He got on top of me. I stopped him a few more times. I even laughed at how dirty my glasses were and tried to start a conversation about how I was getting Lasik soon. He kept pushing. Eventually I ceased my poor attempt to say no and gave in. He pulled me into his bedroom and we had sex. I made sure it went quickly and I was a brilliant faker. Once it was over, I put my clothes back on immediately. He cuddled me a bit, asked if I wanted to stay, but I insisted I had to go, “I have an early morning,” or something like that.
“And how do you feel now?” my therapist asked me. “Like a fucking worthless piece of shit……. this is the part where you start to say things that make everything better.”
Here’s the thing: I urgently need to start listening to myself. When I stop sleeping, I need to listen to my body screaming at me that something is wrong. When I start shoving junk food in my face until I feel like vomiting, I need to turn my attention to whatever I am trying to comfort. When I go silent, I need to ask myself what it is that I am incapable of saying. When I start laughing at nothing, I need to recognize that I am uncomfortable. And especially, when something inside says “I don’t like this” I need to give it a voice, strong and loud.
Not listening to my basic instincts is the fastest way to put myself into a depression. I should not have had to deal with this asshole’s physical aggression and social inaptness, because there was a massive red flag glaring at me from the moment I arrived. He tricked me into going to his house! But instead of saying, “If you want me to come to your house, you will invite me like a gentleman after I have concluded that you are not a complete psycho,” then driving away flipping him the bird, I argued with myself, I made excuses, and I ultimately backed down, compromising my values in order to spare the feelings of someone I barely knew. Well I’m already here and he’s already cooked dinner. I don’t want to be a bitch. Afterwards, I mentally beat the shit out of myself.
My dear friend Angela, who I am convinced was my mother in a previous life, was furious when I told her. (Lord help if she ever finds this prick.) She also suggested that I report him. He has clearly done this before, and will probably do it again. But what would I report? I was not physically forced into anything. Maybe that’s just because I eventually gave in. Who knows what would have happened if I had held my ground. Angela said it best while she comforted me, “As women, sometimes survival means just going along with it until it is safe to get out.” What a sad and frightening truth.
Here is the text conversation that began after Friday morning’s therapy session.
Friday, November 21, 12:25pm
Hey. I don’t want to see you anymore.
Friday, November 21, 12:53pm
Ah! That’s gangsta. No pressure. Why though? Shoot straight.
Friday, November 21, 12:54pm
And sorry if you felt violated.
Friday, November 21, 12:59pm
I haven’t yet acquired the confidence to stand up to sexual aggression. If I keep seeing you, I will keep finding myself in uncomfortable situations where I end up doing something I don’t want to.
Friday, November 21, 2:07pm
I had a feeling I crossed your boundary but I didn’t have a way to know. Your actions spoke volumes so I knew this went south. And nope, I’m not gonna part on a shitty note so just come out for coffee and accept my apologies.
Friday, November 21, 2:08pm
I gravitated to your smarts before your ass so it wasn’t all about the ass.
Friday, November 21, 2:21pm
I accept your apology, but I’m not going to meet with you again.
Friday, November 21, 2:43pm
Thanks. And think about it, it will never be at my place I’m over there everyday so it will always be in your hood. I promise I wouldn’t even look at your ass cheeks. And I do have more respect for your values after understanding what happened. No pressure just need to see the new eyes too at some point. No rush.
Sunday, November 23, 3:54pm
It will go a long way if you came out for my olive branch coffee/dinner tomorrow. Half hour tops. And I’ll be gone like Houdini… forever. You’ll be helping an African child.
Sunday, November 23, 4:10pm
I’ll be at the first place we met at the same table after work. If I don’t see you, then I guess I don’t see you. But sleep on it.
Monday, November 24, 5:12pm
Last coffee/tea… pretty please and thanks. Asking nicely should count for something too… hopefully.
Clearly my text message balls are enormous. Now I just need to work on using my voice and speaking my mind in person. As it stands, “I’m not going to meet with you again” will be the last words he ever gets from me. Given how easily he was able to push me into doing something I didn’t want to when he knew I was uncomfortable, and (interestingly) how he continued to push for another meeting in his messages after I’d said no, plus the terrifying fact that my therapist has heard of him, I have deemed him unsafe. I will not put myself in that situation again.
My therapist finds it interesting that I associate asserting my needs over others’ with being a bitch. He assures me that this belief is incorrect, that I have every right to say no the instant I feel it, it is a courageous habit I’d be smart to learn. But, he concedes, if I insist on making that connection, then I should allow myself the freedom to be a “bitch” when I need to. He took it one step further and told me I should be a “selfish bitch”, and I need to practice saying no frequently and fervently. I need to take care of myself.