let’s talk about sex part 2: being a selfish bitch

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.

-EC

try again

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I love to bake. Whether I’m working off of a recipe or experimenting with a creation of my own, I love the feeling of making something delicious out of a pile of ingredients. That being said, my favourite thing about baking is that if I make a mistake, I can just throw it away and start over.

In my life I have this horrible habit of making a complete ass of myself. Whether I am awkwardly saying the wrong thing, clumsily stumbling over my own feet, or just being a total dummy, I never cease to amaze myself with the consistency of my ineptitude. What’s worse is that I have hurt people that I cared about for reasons that I can’t even remember.

Just like in baking, I often wish I could start over. To create a new identity and find a new place with new people. To forever leave behind the shambles of my previous life. In especially bad circumstances, I’ve gone as far as daydreaming a new name and backstory. When all else fails, I usually just opt to hide under a rock and avoid all witnesses to my blunders. More than once I’ve been accused of falling off the face of the planet after I’ve gone into hiding.

Guilty as charged, I moved from Canada to Australia in 2011. I felt like I needed a fresh start and it was nice knowing that I could be whoever I wanted to be; although, I decided that a fake name or backstory would be overkill. Oddly enough it didn’t matter that I was on the other side of the world, my problems were patiently waiting for me. When I was confronted with the same issues, I did what I always do – I hid. And after only a year abroad, I ended up right back home. All of this might explain why, at 28, I have the coping abilities of a 6 year old.

What’s interesting is that this protective instinct to hide from the world is clearly only postponing the inevitable. I literally ran as far as one can run without leaving Earth and I still couldn’t escape my problems. So how hard could it be to confront something or someone that arouses a negative reaction? What is the worst that could happen? There is no doubt that feelings of shame, regret, humiliation, and even guilt are extremely unpleasant. Then again, to experience these feelings also means that we are human beings with a healthy conscience. Couldn’t it be said that this is merely an opportunity for me to experience all aspects of the human condition? If the world was always sunsets and flowers, would we ever truly appreciate their beauty?

Obviously getting a fresh start does not exist in the terms that I was hoping – you know, where it’s all easy and no work whatsoever. But maybe, with a little courage and a whole lot of grin and bear it, it is possible to face the people I duck behind counters to avoid. Perhaps if I make it through enough uncomfortable three-minute confrontations, I will have finally learned from my mistakes and will therefore be starting fresh. One thing is for sure, what I’ve been doing hasn’t been working.

So here I am, immersing myself in both the good and bad that my life has to offer. Despite my gaffes and foibles and numerous idiotic antics, I won’t abandon this life. Maybe it’s a messy cake but that doesn’t mean has to be any less delicious! 🙂

brain power

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I was waiting my turn behind a few cars at a stop sign when I witnessed a black Mustang, driven by a young man and his friend, spin their tires and fly around the corner making the tail end swerve momentarily before reclaiming control. When they sped by me, I could see that they were very pleased with themselves. “What a dick” was my initial reaction, soon followed by a very condescending, “Oh the reckless stupidity of youth”. Then finally I found myself laughing as I imagined the driver’s thought process during this spectacle. Man, wouldn’t it be super cool if I showed these other cars how fast I can go, oh yea that was so awesome, and now all these people think I am dangerous and sexy and they want to be just like me. And while his buddy was cheering him on he was thinking, I am so glad that I am in the passenger seat because everyone will see that I am really fun but if we crash I will not be held responsible for any of this. Atleast that’s what I imagine was going through their heads.

The things we spend time thinking about can be really incredible. I, for example, I spend a lot of time thinking about superpowers. I have been obsessively reading Kelley Armstrong’s The Women of the Otherworld series so that could be part of the reason. But yes, I have spent more time than I would like to admit considering all the possibilities of having a superpower. Of the countless options – super strength or intelligence, mind reading, flying, telekinesis, persuasion, time travel, clairvoyance, and so on – I would choose invisibility. I wouldn’t want to perform a ritual or lug around a cloak in order to do it. I’d want a simple thought to be the trigger. Then of course I have to consider what I am wearing, holding, or touching. What good is being invisible if my clothes are still floating around or I can’t bring anything with me. Plus I imagine it could be entertaining to move or carry things that are still visible. So I’ve concluded that my invisibility (including clothing) would be controlled by my mind, along with the ability to choose whether or not I want to touch/carry/move something and make it invisible as well. No size/weight/time limitations or side effects can be placed on my superpowers and I reserve the right to decide how and when I will use them. Copyright protected by Idontwantthistobackfire Incorporated.

An important question remains: would I use this power for the good of humanity by becoming “Lady Invisible” and living as a full superhero, or would I keep it to myself and use it for my own needs and advancement. As selfish as the latter may seem, an argument can be made that I would be avoiding the inevitable isolation and loneliness that’s shown in most retro comics and pop-fiction. Plus it’s not as though I would never use my powers to help others, I just wouldn’t put a label on myself that may restrict me from living a happy and free life. Alright it would appear that I already know my answer to this question and I just needed to justify it. Rather than feeling guilty about my selfishness though, I prefer to think that I’d be protecting those around me from any backlash or invasion of privacy. Yes, an acceptable rationalization indeed.

This world lives on in my mind and I continue to provide detailed elaborations that make it more wonderful with each visit. But as the time I spend in reality lessens, I reluctantly wonder what I could be accomplishing if I ignored my imaginary inclination. There is no doubting that it’s unhealthy to spend this much time in my head; then again, having an imagination is considered very healthy. The black mustang incident, for example, could have left me feeling annoyed and irritable. Instead my imagination took me somewhere that had me laughing. Driving and laughing by myself may look ridiculous but I prefer it over driving angry. I suppose it’s all about balance.

And so I find myself once again in a balancing act, standing on a stack of chairs perched on the edge of a cliff. I carefully look down without moving my head. While I can only faintly see the bottom, I notice that the fall would be safely broken by a large white cushion. There also seems to be a team of people waiting for me dressed in white. My eyes travel up and register that the wall of the cliff is also padded in white….. Oh. Looking over my shoulder I see a world of muted shades of grey and brown. People shuffle around politely, going about their day neither happy nor sad. The chairs beneath me barely wobble but I can feel that I will not last very long. I must choose. I close my eyes to concentrate and when they open I smile. In front of me are three oranges. I grab them and begin to juggle. Maybe I’ll choose later 🙂

grow up

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When we’re little we’re encouraged to take lessons, join teams, and make friends. We get to school and are thrust into a foreign environment of learning and social interaction. And through this carefree exploration we begin to discover what we enjoy, what we’re good at, how we interact with others, and what kind of people we want to be. Then one day, almost without even noticing, we are indifferent to our surroundings. We stop enjoying the experience and we begin to look forward to something else. We want freedom and independence. We want a life of our own choosing and not that of our parents or our teachers. But what happened to that blissful period of endless possibility? Where did it go? It should have warned us, or at least said goodbye.

Perhaps if we were never forced to focus our attention, we would forever bounce from one idea to the next and never accomplish anything. There are piles of books about dinosaurs, trains, and the solar system still stored at my parents’ house that would certainly support that theory. I sometimes worry that my overexposure to social media has turned my brain into a malleable piece of clay and I’ve become gullible and impressionable. After every movie that I see, I experience a blissful 24-hour period where I am convinced that I have found my destiny. In my years, I’ve thought about being a Musician, a Sketch Artist, a Geologist, a Paramedic, an Accountant, a Flight Attendant, an Actress, a Historian, a Food Critic, a Chef…. but I am none of those things. I am the restless child that wants to play and learn and discover; I am the student who aches for independence and freedom; I am the adult looking back and wishing for more time to figure out my life.

The first time I remember being asked what I want to be when I grow up was in the third grade, at age seven. We were assigned to decide on a profession and present it to the class. What am I going to be? Do I really have to decide right now? Not being able to handle the pressure, I resolved never to return to school. When tears and stubbornness failed, I eventually had to explain about the project to my parents. They helped me to throw together a last minute video presentation on a profession that they took less than a minute to choose for me. But I don’t want to be a Secretary! I was reassured that I would not be expected to follow through with this hasty decision, then I was sent back to school armed with a video and a note to hide my confusion and shame. Whew, thank goodness that’s over with.

Having never really discovered what I would like to do with my life, I chose a logical path with a high success rate in employment; a Secretary – ahem, Administrative Assistant. In the defense of Administrative Assistants everywhere, this is not an easy job. It is stressful, low paying, and often completely thankless. And so by casually deciding to take this route as if it were an easy and temporary one, I inadvertently disrespected Administrative professionals everywhere. For me, working in an office was a lot like being in a play. Going into work was not appealing to me, but it was necessary, and so I played the character. I befriended my coworkers, I went out of my way to make the boss happy, and I was wonderful over the phone and in person. I smiled and carried on as if I was exactly where I wanted to be in the world. That was my biggest mistake. There are a lot of people who are unhappy with their jobs. They go to work because they must and they continue on with their lives. I’d been fake. I’d pretended. I was exhausted.

One day I was daydreaming about what I would do if I could press the rewind button, put myself at any point in my life, and start again from there – where would I go, what would I do differently? While that’s a fun game to play, the lengthy and detailed answer to that question is not important. What’s important is that I started to realize that I am still capable of doing a lot of the things I was listing. So what’s stopping me from doing them right now. I’m not young and the possibilities are not endless anymore, but I’m certainly not dead. Time may be something that I have wasted in the past, but isn’t looking back and scolding myself for having wasted time just as bad? Wouldn’t it be more productive if I were to allow myself the courtesy of another round of carefree exploration? Yes, yes it would 🙂