I’m having a really hard time dealing with what happened. I noticed on the bus ride home today that I’m having a really negative reaction to all romantic relationships. I’m not sure what to do.
A woman sat next to me on the bus today. She was with her boyfriend. He stood over her, and they held hands and were talking about how things were progressing. They’d recently met a few close friends/family of each other and were talking about how that went, as well as talking about who would be around next to meet, tips on subjects that the new family member/friend like talking about, things like that.
Normally, this is the kind of conversation that sounds incredibly sweet and exciting and nostalgic to me. Much as I adore having years now together with Jon and all the shared history we’ve built up, I still love remembering those exciting first days when we were getting to know each others friends and family. Being reminded of that is usually lovely.
Today is was nauseating.
I don’t know why that would be; something to bring up to my therapist this week. But listening to this couple have this excited, shy, fun, loving conversation made me feel sick to my stomach. I didn’t want to hear it. I felt sick at their excitement. I flinched away from their happiness. Feelings of anger, if I’d felt angry at them, that feels like something I can handle, I can process. But feeling disgusted, nauseated, almost afraid…that’s much harder. Those feelings elicit a feeling of freezing up inside of me. And that causes me to feel panicked.
I don’t understand why I feel this level of revulsion at the consent-filled happiness of strangers.
I’m also feeling extremely repelled by the idea of any kind of sex: masturbation, sex with Jon, sexual fantasies. And to think, just a few short weeks ago, I was so excited to feel my sex driving coming back more. Now I wish I had no sexual energy at all and feel enormously stressed by the idea of anything sexual. I want to forget that sex exists. I want sex to forget that I exist.
I want the world to forget that I exist and just leave me alone.
This assault is stirring up a lot of really bad feelings in me, and bad memories that I thought I’d laid to rest. Oddly enough, it resonates with some posts that I wrote nearly a year ago, when things were really falling apart with Lora. To set the stage, in an attempt to reach out and try to get her another chance, I wrote her an extremely personal email about my “dark night of the soul”.
To give some context, Lora had picked a fight with Jon because he and I spent five minutes in the bathroom talking on a night that she was sleeping with him. Us talking for five minutes was unfair to her. I wrote her an email about my feelings about overhearing her take Jon to task over a five minute conversation. Though her emailed response was theoretically positive, what she focused on was that she and Jon needed couples therapy so that she could gain confidence in their relationship. In a response email, I pointed out that no, that’s not what therapy does, and not what she needs therapy for. She needs therapy for herself.
Hoping to foster empathy, I wrote in my email about a time in my life (that “dark night of the soul”) when I decided to start trying and start getting better for me. Because…why not? That was how I came about my decision to get intensive therapy and start working on me for myself. Why not? The only person I’m stuck with for life is me. I might as well make sure that the me I have to work with is the best one possible.
What caused that dark night of the soul, what created a years-long situation in which I hated myself and was angry at myself and hurt myself was a sexual assault by a high school teacher. But that situation was preceded by another sexual situation that – combined with the egregious lack knowledge about consent – created a very vulnerable and ignorant mindset inside me.
Around this time, I was also working on my More Than Two series, which I stopped when all Lora-based chaos erupted in my life. I was partway through writing about my feelings on Chapter Four: Tending Your Self and about to get into that memory, the memory of what caused that dark night of the soul for me.
If you read that last entry on More Than Two, then you’ve been more than patient with me, waiting for me to finish. Now feels like a really appropriate time to talk about what caused my dark night of the soul. Many of those feelings and churning upward again, in ways I didn’t anticipate, ways that scare me. In order to give proper context to my therapist about it all, I’m going to have to talk it all though. And a good exercise for talking it all through will be writing it all through.
Bear with me and this time, finally, we will get there.