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About Lissa

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  1. Sad, Can't Concentrate

    I've been feeling so sad lately. I keep having these waves, where I'm miserable for a few days, then I feel okay, then sad again, and so on. I read that you have depression if the symptoms last for more than two weeks, but what happening to me currently doesn't last that long. However, it keeps coming back frequently in short bursts. I don't know if it's really "depression" or "anxiety." I think I'm going to go back to therapy. I'm having a really hard time getting back into dating because of anxiety, being overly picky/avoidant so I can feel protected. And I just have so much on my mind, about my family and experiences and worries, that I want to talk it out with someone. It isn't helping that I haven't really been able to talk to friends about anything I've been thinking about for most of the month. I need to vent. But I feel like maybe I need some structured therapy sessions again too. It's been a few years. I didn't want to go back, but I'm trying not to be such a perfectionist and feel like I have to fix myself like before. I'm trying not to think of going back to therapy as some failure on my part for not being better and staying better. I've been reading more about how common anxiety and depression are, and how they need to be treated like serious problems. They can't just be willed away and I shouldn't feel guilty for episodes coming back after I thought they were gone. I do have some very good news, actually: I got that new job! I love it. Maybe, oddly, that's why I'm feeling sad lately; my mind is no longer consumed by hating my other job and trying to get a new one. I have more space in my head to think of other things, without being distracted by job stuff like before. My mom was in the hospital recently. That was alarming and stressful, but she's much better now. Her recovery is going great. One downside is that my sister came to help out, and wow, she can be so rude and bitchy to me. She's actually starting to remind me a lot of the way our dad was, flying off the handle, yelling at me for imagined insults, making me feel like I can't say anything in front of her. I don't want to be around someone like that again. It's not like we are living together, but even when I visit briefly, she finds some way to be nasty to me during the day, it seems. She wants to move in with my mom. I kind of hope her nastiness goes away on its own once she's not stressed by her job and current living situation. Otherwise, I will not be spending time with her. I don't need to subject myself to emotional abuse again, thanks. I've had enough of that. I've been thinking about volunteering with a child abuse organization. But then I worry that I'm still not ready. I start off reading someone's story online about how they were abused as a child and no one helped, and they had so many problems as an adult later (abusive relationships with partners, which is the thing that scares me most and I worry I will encounter more of those problems myself in the future). And I think, "I understand what you're going through, I won't judge you, I won't blame you, I wish I could have been there for you when you were a kid to help you." And as I read these adults' stories about their childhood, I think about how I could volunteer with kids right now to help them. But then I spend a little more time reading, and I start to get very upset, and thinking about abuse and misery consumes my mind, and I want to stop thinking about it. So I don't know if I could actually commit to volunteering somewhere. I think I still get overwhelmed by the subject, and I want to maintain healthy boundaries for myself. But I still wonder if I would feel better at all to try to mentor someone. But maybe I need to get a mentor/therapist for myself, first. I just find it so hard to concentrate on anything else right now. I'm trying to get out of my head, and away from thinking about abuse and how much society sucks at dealing with it, and concentrate on tasks I'm supposed to be completing, but I'm finding it next to impossible.
  2. Back at Pandys. Life has been stressful and hectic in general. I guess I just need to unwind a little bit. Am possibly on the verge of some big changes in life, and maybe that has got my mind working more, being more introspective, and it's brought some other things to my attention. Where to start? Well, to update from March when I last wrote: I did end up dating that guy I mentioned for about five months. Overall he was good in a lot of ways - particularly in how he seemed to understand alcoholic families, and sexual assault, and admired me. At the same time, he was a little overly critical in general, and he was more extroverted than I was, so we had some clashes. We stopped dating. I handled it better than when I broke up with my first boyfriend. Sometimes I still get pissed off and think about things that bothered me, that I felt were unfair, that went unsaid. At the same time, we have an amicable relationship and have occasionally seen each other and chatted. I feel like I want to be his friend, but not date him, so that's good. But as usual, I didn't like going from in a relationship (even if we weren't official, we had the characteristics of one) to being single. One thing I realized, though, is that I felt less stressed while single. Lonelier, yes, but less stressed. I felt relieved that I didn't have to think about someone else's approval of me, which I thought of a lot with him (maybe partly because he could sometimes be critical, like I said, He valued honesty and self-expression, which could make him very open and affectionate, but could also make me feel self-conscious about getting a negative judgment from him; his extroversion could exacerbate my introversion). At the same time, the relationship helped me practice feeling comfortable setting boundaries. He made it clear he didn't want to do anything physically to upset me, and I was able to believe him, and he was conscientious, and I was more vocal, and that helped me get used to the practice of telling someone what I liked or didn't like. I even felt comfortable initiating some things with him, which was a big deal. I told him about how I didn't feel comfortable with initiating before because I was afraid that my consent to something would be seen as implied consent to other things, or that things would 'progress' (the guy would begin initiating) and since I wasn't good at saying no, I was afraid I would lose control very quickly if I initiated anything. He was very understanding about that and I was able to see that we didn't have that problem. I was very reluctant to start another relationship after we broke up. For one thing, I was enjoying being left alone and not feel like I was in a spotlight, or under scrutiny, or feeling self-conscious about my lack of experience, and when to tell him various complicated dark stories about myself. I was enjoying not having to answer to anyone, not feeling inadequate, not worrying about how he would react to me trying to be open or be myself. Even though he often reacted well, I didn't like worrying so much about it beforehand. And I really did not want to have to start all the fuck over again with a new person, trying to build trust, explaining about my family and my past relationships, and my current hang-ups. It's so much fucking work. And then it just ends after a few months anyway, it seems. It feels like a lot of effort for nothing, even though it's not exactly nothing, like I've been writing. But I learned when I started dating this guy that the fact that I had dated someone beforehand, and told him a lot of things too, didn't make it easier to tell this guy, or to get comfortable more quickly. I was disappointed to learn that, with every new relationship I start, I'm going to have to start from scratch to decide if I trust the guy. The fact that something went well with one guy does not mean the next guy won't end up being terrible. So with every new guy, it's doing all that work to try to feel more comfortable and secure all over again. After we broke up, I tried to read more about alcoholics and alcoholic families. I talked about my family in therapy (2010-2011) along with other things. That helped me with various things, like recognizing my dad's depression/anxiety, and not feeling responsible for how my mom felt or acted. But when I started to read a book about daughters of alcoholics, I found there were a lot of things left to process and digest. It's a part of myself that I haven't explored as much as I should. It's hard when you're in an unhealthy family, it's normal, and you don't even realize what's happening or the effect it's having on you. The book I was reading was very difficult to get through. I still haven't finished it, but most of it (I got busy and had to set it aside). But I would read a few pages and then think about experiences I had had, and especially how it was still affecting how I saw myself and relationships, how I acted and felt almost on a regular basis. It was a little overwhelming. Sometimes it makes me feel broken. I thought about going to an al-anon meeting, but it's on a weekday evening and I'm too tired after work to go to therapy. I do think a group session could potentially be helpful for me, even though my previous experiences with therapy have been individual. But in the meantime, I've found it helpful to read stories and messages from other daughters of alcoholics online. I also thought I was getting too down about it, and I should practice more self-care, so I went through a period where I ate a lot of popcorn and devoted some extra time to watching TV shows and movies I liked. Let's see, other changes. Let me back up a bit, to things that happened while I was still in my relationship. I started taking birth control pills. I only recently discovered they helped with cramps. I've been too ill to go to work/school on the first day of my period for years, since college. I started taking this things and ta-da, problem solved! It's truly amazing. I had no idea it was that easy. And they're so tiny that even I, who has trouble with pills, can take them every day no problem. One thing is that I became depressed for about a month when I started them, which really sucked. My ability to communicate just goes to hell when I'm depressed. It was difficult. But the side effect passed. I also had greater appetite, which I wish would have stuck around longer. I'll talk about that some more...finally, I got a cat! It's been quite an adjustment, raising an outgoing, active cat (she's a young adult) by myself. Previously my family had two cats, and this was more different than I had expected. I learned some things about myself, like how I get very upset when someone (even a cat) doesn't do what I say. I think it's triggering to me. In fact, I thought about giving her up. But then I discovered some things she liked, which made her much easier to take care of. Now, six months later, we get along pretty well. Okay, back to today. So, I've been trying to get a new job for a while. My current job is a major source of stress. The company is dysfunctional and inefficient, and I and others in my position have little power but lots of responsibility. Like usual, my colleagues and I support each other; we even spend a little more time outside of work together than I did with other co-workers (who have all since escaped and gotten lovely new jobs elsewhere). But I wasn't getting anywhere in my job search. Then I applied for a job that I thought I was an excellent fit for. But they didn't even offer me a phone interview. That was the last straw for me; I decided I would apply to grad school instead. It was not a decision I made lightly; I've been planning to, and thinking about it, but wanted the time to be right. I wanted to feel sure of what I wanted to study. Now I know I want to get an MSW. I want my degree and career to be focused on social justice, advocacy, and helping the disadvantaged. I think I will work in a macro perspective (policy, program evaluations, nonprofit management) rather than direct clinical practice, but the MSW still leaves the door open for counseling if I decide to go in that direction after all. I picked out some schools I was interested in. About a week after I had decided, after years, that I was finally ready to pursue grad school, I get invited to a phone interview by another employer, who got a recommendation for me from the place that had just failed to hire/interview me (I had conducted an informational interview with someone there earlier). It's funny because I wouldn't have applied for the job because they said a Master's degree was required, but I was very interested in it. I prepared my resume and cover letter before the phone interview. I submitted a writing sample. They invited me to an in-person interview, a long one, and asked me to prepare a presentation. I was very busy in October preparing; I became very stressed when I tried to get ready for my job interview, and work on grad school research/apps, and work full-time, so I stopped working on grad school except emailing a couple current students or alums of prospective schools. I completed my interview and it seemed to go well. I was asked for references and gave me a task to show my work. I just turned that in. Finally, finally my application is all done, and I think all that's left is for them to decide whether to want to offer me the position. I want it so, so much. I know I might not get it. I also have to think about, what if I do get it, would I still want to leave for grad school next fall? I want to leave my options open, which means I'll have to turn in grad school apps in a month. But I'm not entirely sure whether I'll start Fall 2014, wait till 2015, go part-time first, or what. It's a big question mark. But I'm in this place now where I could potentially be starting a new job soon, and working on grad school apps, and I think it will be a big change to my everyday life. Even if I don't get this new job, I know I will definitely be going to grad school next fall (assuming I get in somewhere...I'm fairly certain I will, once I apply a few places). The fact that I have a real exit strategy from my current job is making me feel better, more in control. I couldn't stand sending out resumes and cover letters, being at the mercy of prospective employers (or their robots/computer screening systems), left waiting for someone else to tell me when I could leave my job. Now I know, I will either start a new job before the new year, or I will leave and go to grad school next fall (possibly moving away in the summer, if I go out of state). Even if my last day might be more than six months off, just knowing that I am working on finding something else to do makes me feel better (and I feel much better about being accepted to a grad school program than I felt earlier about sending applications to employers who didn't know me.) Over the last few days, suddenly, somehow, I started to feel distracted by something as I was working on my last assignment for my prospective employer. I started looking in the disordered eating forum in Pandys again, which I mentioned in my last post in March was something I had started to do for the first time earlier this year, despite having joined this site back in 2007. I read a few more posts. And I suddenly realized that my understanding of EDs was limited. It wasn't just anorexia nervosa and bulimia. There was something called EDNOS too. And it wasn't all about wanting to lose weight. It could be about control issues. It could be emotional. It could be a bad relationship with food, not related to a desire to weigh a certain amount. This really caught my attention. And suddenly I started to think about how I've been upset that I'm underweight again, how hard it was to keep up my attempted regimen of eating 2000 calories a day a few months back (I gave up after about 2 months), how eating enough was just a struggle, felt like such a burden, a chore. How I could snack, but couldn't seem to prepare or get through a whole meal. How I hated eating by myself. How I felt sad and like a loser when I ate by myself. And I thought about past experiences with food, and I discovered that maybe I am subconsciously avoiding eating more, because when I was younger, the times I felt the worst were at meals, when I was at lunch or dinner, with a group of friends or family, being ignored, feeling tense and scared, feeling uncared for, invisible, meaningless. And I realized that remnants of those feelings still exist and still show up when I am eating a meal alone, with no one to talk to me. This is a big breakthrough. Sometimes I am fascinated by how complex my brain and behavior is, even though obviously I wish I didn't have so many issues. But now that I have this new way of seeing my problem (lack of appetite, lack of interest in eating, constant struggle to gain pounds and maintain a healthy weight) maybe things can start to get better. I still haven't worked out how to go about solving this problem, but that is the next step. I know I have a lot more to learn. Alright, this has been a very long post, and I need to wrap it up. Feeling very busy and 'transitional' and confused, but often looking forward to seeing where it all leads...
  3. Body

    After being away for over a year, for some reason I find myself back on Pandys. Maybe it's because my first boyfriend recently broke up with me, who I thought was going to be more understanding about my history of sexual assault than he was. He was pretty good, but then things started to get pretty stressful. I guess I felt like I wanted to come back to a community of people who had experienced and SA and would understand my sensitivity to someone being controlling or intrusive in an attempt to help me or get to know me better. For some reason, I also find myself looking up information on eating disorders lately. Part of it is because my ex would talk a lot about his previous girlfriend, who had been raped and developed an eating disorder. But other than that, I don't know why. I have never had an eating disorder. I think of that as where you are trying to force yourself not to eat, or you force yourself to throw up after you eat, and I've never done either or thought about wanting to. I was just now looking in the DE forum because I had never looked in there before, and hearing a lot about my bf's ex made me want to look at how Pandys approached the subject from an SA survivor standpoint. There is a lot in there not just about DE but about body image in general, and I do think I have issues there. I spend a lot of time thinking about my body. So, since lately I've been feeling sort of lost and confused, checking out pandys again, looking for something (not quite sure what), I've been trying to journal more, and maybe if I just sit and write all about how I feel about my body, that will help, or lead somewhere. The first I remember thinking about my body, when I was very young, was how I couldn't wait until I was old enough for my forehead to crinkle when I raised my eyebrows, because I thought it looked so cool. Am I the only one who was ever focused on this? haha. That was my first problem with my body, lack of forehead creases, but not something that actually bothered me. But what did start to bother me was how skinny I was. I don't know when it started, but I think it was as early as elementary school when everybody started feeling the need to point out how skinny I was. By fifth grade, it was bothering me very much. I was constantly embarrassed by my skinny legs and skinny arms. Comments continued on through high school, and in fact I still hear them from time to time today, even though I am actually not underweight anymore (I was always slightly underweight before). While I can understand why so many people want to lose weight because people who are seen as overweight are certainly insulted too, and all the celebrities, women on magazines, and women on TV etc. are slender, I have still never really been able to grasp why someone would really want to be thin. As a thin person, I can say it is kind of shitty. You have no curves so you feel childish and unattractive, you get cold easily, and, oh yeah, people are often very rude to you. I cannot count how many times growing up people looked at me and said something like, "Ugh! You're a stick! What do you weigh, like five pounds? Are you anorexic or something?" Like they were just disgusted by me. My mom said it was because they were jealous. Like that's any excuse for insulting me. Besides, how they could be jealous of someone who got made of? I hated how I looked. And by the way, kids weren't the only ones who talked to me like this. Adults were just as rude to me. Even now, adults - and never actual friends or people I know well, but either strangers or coworkers - will come up to me and ask me how much I weigh, or what size clothing I wear. And they will be legitimately expecting me to answer them, like it's any of their goddamned business. I always wonder, does that happen to overweight people? I see the scorn toward overweight people, especially sort of behind someone's back or on internet comments or something, but it somehow seems like it's seen as more obviously unacceptable to ask an overweight person to their face for their weight and clothing size than to ask someone who is small. I think it's JUST AS RUDE, no matter a person's appearance. And don't get me started on those "real women have curves" campaigns in the media. Great, be proud of your curves, but why do you have to insult women who are not curvy to do that? You don't. You're still just insulting women for how they look; you are participating in the very same type of cruel commentary you claim to be against. So I've spent most of my life wishing to be heavier and curvier without knowing how to change it. I didn't starve myself. I ate. In fact, I purposefully ate lots of junk food and avoided exercise in an effort to gain weight. I basically adopted unhealthy habits to try to look better. Looking back, I'm thinking that I probably did just not eat enough, but that was because I didn't have a bigger appetite. I'll talk more about that later. Aside from hating my skinny legs, skinny arms, and almost flat chest, I spent a lot of timing hating my face, specifically my nose. I thought it was too big. I felt ugly. Even when I switched from wearing glasses to contact lenses in high schools, I still thought my face was ugly. I thought no one would ever think I was pretty or would want to go out with me. No one at school ever made fun of my nose, just my weight. But no one went out with me, either. I was in this situation where I had such low self-esteem and so much social anxiety that I was very quiet, virtually silent at school, feeling so self-conscious that I just withdrew from everyone as much as possible and wished I could have been homeschooled. A big part of the reason I felt so bad was because I didn't have a boyfriend or even close friends, but probably part of the reason I didn't have a boyfriend or close friends was because I felt bad and was so withdrawn, but I didn't see it that way at the time. Then I started going to college, which was my big escape from high school and from home. (Home was stressful too because my dad was an alcoholic/mentally ill, although I didn't call it that at the time, and everyone walked on eggshells to try to keep him from flying into a rage.) College was a very welcome change at first; I tried to be more outgoing and I found a group of friends of other socially awkward people, mostly guys. But then I actually started to miss high school, because my so-called friends spent a lot of time sexually harassing me, but as a "joke" so I didn't know how to respond; no matter what I said, it seemed to play into their hands. One of them wanted to start seeing me, but as a "secret," and since I hadn't been able to be with anyone before, I went along with it, but I didn't want to do very much since we weren't dating. My self esteem and body image went up a little while we were going out, but not knowing any better, I didn't read the warning signs whent he kept trying to pressure me into things, and was in general very manipulative (lots of backhanded compliments, telling me why the way I felt wasn't correct, etc.) and basically "grooming" me for assault. Afterwards, I didn't tell anybody, stopped seeing him and everyone else from that friend group, and withdrew from everyone again more than ever before. The particular assault wasn't violent, but it left me feeling incredibly vulnerable. I was afraid, and still am, that anybody else could also just convince themselves that the way I felt about something wasn't "right" or "convenient" and therefore feel justfied in ignoring my boundaries and doing whatever they wanted, as in raping me. I felt completely helpless and worthless, like nothing I said or did matter and that I was guaranteed to get assaulted by someone else in the future even worse and I felt like there was no way I could prevent it. I brought body image back into it too: I felt like this had happened because I was ugly, and that the only guys who would ever want me would be other rapists who just wanted to use me because nice guys wouldn't be attracted to me. I tried to talk to a friend about what had happened, but he turned out to only be a fair weather friend and wanted to stop talking to me soon after, leaving me feeling even more rejected and worthless. I finally started to go see a counselor at school, but that only lasted a couple of weeks before the summer break. I normally worked during the summer, but didn't bother because I was too depressed, crying every day, and I had recently found Pandys, so all I did was visit pandys every day, and wishing I could go see a therapist, but I didn't want to tell my family about anything. I was so depressed and anxious that I lost most of my appetite, often just eating one little meal a day. I wasn't trying to avoid food, it just wasn't something I thought about. I have very frequently "forgotten to eat" growing up - probably a big factor in my not having much of an appetite/not eating much/being underweight - but it wasn't anything intentional. That summer I was exceptionally upset, and exceptionally un-hungry, so that by the time the summer ended and I was about to start my program abroad in Spain, I suddenly noticed I had lost a lot of weight, which made me feel even uglier and even more defenseless. I went to Spain, continuing to hate myself and struggle with anxiety, depression, and PTSD, but the plus side was that my host mother fed me so much food that by the time I came back from Spain, I was no longer underweight for maybe the first time since I was a toddler or something. I felt like my depression had subsided (since I was no longer crying every day or even every week), and I felt good about gaining weight. Once back in the U.S. for the following school year, I no longer had to eat everything that was served to me to be polite (or eat dinner immediately before going to bed), so my weight dropped a little bit again, but just to where I was a couple pounds underweight. The other thing about Spain was that there were ads and offices for plastic surgery everywhere. I had of course been aware of plastic surgery before, but had never seen it advertised so frequently. I started to think seriously about getting a nose job after I graduated, telling myself that it would be wrong to do it if someone else told me to, but since no one commented on my nose but I hated it, I would be doing it for myself and that was okay. (I had gone back to counseling and one of the themes was recognizing that I had the right to do or not do whatever I wanted.) I had left my old group of harrasser-"friends" for good and was spending more time with people from a new club I had joined. Things were going okay; I even got a job lined up for after graduation that wouldn't start till July, giving me mid-May till early July to have time to get a nose job and recover from it, presenting a "new face" for my new phase of life in a new place with new people. I also somehow convinced myself that while N had assaulted me (I still had my moments of self-blame, but was getting better), he probaby had probably not meant to hurt me and was sorry. And then: he got expelled because he had raped another girl, and had also been accused of raping many others. This completely changed my perspective; I felt very ashamed that he had gone on to assault so many girls after me, in much worse ways, but I was also felt like, okay, I can't deny it anymore: he is a rapist, he is a sociopath, and it wasn't ME, I didn't cause it, it was him and his decision. However, I still felt worried about getting attacked in the future, because I didn't want guys to target me because of my low self-esteem, passivity, and ugliness. So I finalized my plans to get get a nose job. The way I saw it, it would make me look better, and if I looked better, I would feel better, and consequently I would feel safer because nice non-rapist guys would be drawn to me, while only rapists would be drawn to me if I had low self-esteem. I also felt like it was helping me to be less passive because instead of continuing to put up with something I didn't like (a habit I really, really had to get out of if I didn't want to get caught in another abusive relationship), I was refusing to accept it any longer, and taking charge to make a positive change. I happily paid for my own cosmetic surgery and today I still don't regret doing it - even though sometimes I still look at my nose and think it is too big. I'm NOT saying, okay, everyone, go get plastic surgery. I'm just writing about how I felt about it personally, and how my assault contributed to this decision. I haven't told anyone who didn't know me before that I had a nose job, partly because I still feel like it's a little too big (but don't have any plans for more surgery), and partly because I think they'll judge me for being vain. I was being vain. But aside from body image, that decision was also tied up with my needing to feel in control of something, to take active steps to fix something that had bothered me nearly all my life so I would feel less passive. It made feel happier, stronger, and safer. Fast forward a few years to today. I still feel like I'm too skinny. I still want bigger breasts, I still want wider hips and fuller legs and arms. I don't get quite as many caustic "Ugh, you're so skinny, what do you weigh?? comments as before (although they still come up, and they are still rude), probably partly because I have learned to wear clothes that try not to draw so much attention to my thinness (although it can't be avoided completely - I'm just thin!) My boyfriend was nice because he often said I was pretty and didn't judge me for being skinny; he was a little thin himself. But one thing he did say to me a few times was that my eating was strange. He would get concerned with why I didn't eat more food, or why I would sometimes feel sick after I ate. I know he was looking out for warning signs that he was dating yet another girl with an ED. I tried to assure him that I didn't have anorexia or anything, and he seemed to believe me but also seemed somewhat skeptical, or like he had to "monitor" me. I think this was part of an overarching issue we had where he would treat me like his last girlfriend, which was a problem because her experience with assault and mine, and the way we had reacted to them since, were pretty different. However, yeah, my eating habits are weird. Yeah, I don't eat very much. I don't have much of an appetite. Over the past year I've made some changes in an attempt to increase my weight, which have so far been somewhat successful in that I've gained a few pounds and am back up to being just barely over the border of "healthy weight" instead of "underweight" and am working on gaining more. I've introduced protein drinks into my diet, and most of all, I started counting calories to try to have at least 2000 every day. I finally realized that I simply wasn't getting enough daily calories on a regular basis, even though I felt like I ate enough - which, I also realized, was because I either don't have a big appetite or I don't have a normal "alert system" for my body being hungry. I don't often feel hungry. If I am not doing much of anything or I'm bored - like at school or work - I'll feel hungry more often. If my mind is preoccupied with something, though, I don't notice/think about hunger. I finally started identifying a particularly annoying pattern: I would have a little something to eat during the day, then spend the rest of the day busy and not eating or being hungry. Then I would settle back down, and have a little snack. And then a little while later, suddenly my body would freak out and be like, STOP EVERYTHING you're doing and EAT EAT EAT. My stomach would start hurting so much and I would have to stop whatever I was doing (heh, boyfriend would remember this) and just go to the kitchen and eat, like, a bagel and banana and bowl of cereal and chips and cookies, just eating whatever for like 45 minutes. So it recently occured to me, yeah maybe I do have a small stomach so I don't need to eat as much as other people, but maybe I'm not as un-hungry as I think I am; maybe there's just some weird delay where my body doesn't tell me I'm hungry. I have no idea why not. I've found, though, that if I eat steadily throughout the day so that I get up to 2000 calories, I don't have this issue, so I'll eat even when I'm not hungry (but not so much at one time that I feel too full/overstuffed either). But it's very hard for me to explain to people that I basically have to remind myself to eat. It helps in other ways too; I've noticed that when I eat more, and I eat more healthy foods, I feel better emotionally and am less likely to become anxious or depressed. In turn, I'm less likely to get really down about being so thin. But I still wish I weighed more. I just hope that if I keep eating enough calories, then I will keep gaining a little more weight over time. Until then, I am still not happy with my body, but I'm hoping that maybe if I feed it more, it will eventually look nicer. But I still think I need to work a little more on being happier with it the way it is right now, not just waiting for some time in the future to like it. There is probably a little more to say on the subject, but I think I covered most of it...getting late now. It was interesting to think about all this...
  4. A lot has happened since the year and a half that I last wrote in here. I came back from my trip to England in summer 2011 with plans to move to DC, but instead I had to go back home to live with my parents for a few months to help because my dad was terminally ill. He was an alcoholic and was in a condition that had been a long time coming. I am finding that my mom, sister, and I are still an "alcoholic family" even though the alcoholic has now passed away, and I am still working through somethings. Right now I mostly want to talk about dating/relationships. I did move to the DC area, and I decided that since I was now in a bigger city I should try to date again. I ended up casually going out with a guy I worked with who would be moving away in a few months. I figured it would be a nice no-hassle thing where I could sort of "practice" being with someone other than the one other person I'd been with (the sociopath in college who assaulted me). So we went to dinner a few times, we made out a few times, and I got upset because I realized I still wasn't comfortable with telling someone to stop. We had a long conversation and I told him I'd been assaulted and I was what you'd typically think of as a virgin. He said not to worry and he would just let me take the lead. But I also felt stressed during the whole situation because I was basically trying to lose my virginity so I wouldn't feel embarrassed about being a virgin anymore, and just wanted to have consensual sex with someone so I could have a sexual relationship that wasn't abusive. Then he could move away and I could find someone else to develop a longer-lasting relationship with, without bringing the baggage of being a virgin and only having been with an abusive person. This guy seemed like the person to do this with too because he wanted to have sex but was very casual about his relationship with me, and did not want to actually date since he'd be moving away. Still, I felt anxious and thought it might help to feel more secure if I got birth control beforehand so I wouldn't have to worry about that. But after getting it, and before starting to take it, I realized I was stressing because I didn't actually want to have sex with him. So I made that decision and we were just going to keep messing around a few more times without having sex, but then I was still stressed because since we weren't really dating, and he was very "independent," I would never know when we were next going to meet up or whether he was even still interested, which made me feel confused and unimportant, but less bothered than before now that I wasn't trying to make myself want to have sex with him. Then I went over to his apartment again and we were messing around and doing a little bit of new stuff, including some stuff that I wasn't comfortable with but I didn't say anything. I just got very upset afterwards and got all worried wondering if I could get an STD and just generally freaking out, and I called him all upset. I was so angry at myself for not speaking up about being uncomfortable. I learned some important things from this brief relationship: I realized that it wasn't enough for me to be with someone who wouldn't pressure me, because I still had to stop pressuring myself, so that I would actually speak up and say when I wasn't comfortable with something. And connected to that, I realized that I was very embarrassed about being a virgin and I had to stop judging myself for that, otherwise I would keep pressuring myself and keep hurting myself. At the same time, though, I was upset with him because he broke his rule of never initiating anything new and letting me take the lead, which is why I wasn't prepared to respond to him and say that I wasn't okay with something he started. Another thing I learned was that I was done with "friends with benefits." I needed the security of an actual relationship with an actual boyfriend. I joined an online dating site, which hadn't been an option before when I had been living in a very sparsely populated area. I was surprised that a lot of guys wanted to talk to me, and I actually found myself ignoring/rejecting a lot of people. I went out with a few people, but they didn't go past first dates, not enough of a spark/connection. There was one guy I went out with twice who got drunk and started to feel me up, and when I said to stop, he did, but didn't really properly apologize, so I didn't see him again. But then there was another guy on that site I was talking to for a while. I actually thought he just wanted to be friends because we talked for about two months before he asked me out. But I was happy when he did because as we were talking, it came out that he was planning to volunteer with RAINN because his friend had been raped in college. For a while I'd been thinking how great it would be to be able to date a guy who actually volunteered for some type of sexual violence program because he might be the only one who understood me, so I started to feel a lot more interested in him when he said that (I liked talking to him before, but this made me see him in a new light.) Then we met in person and hit it off right away, and by the second date he was taking me up to a rooftop to kiss me, and we had a conversation about how his "friend" who had been raped was in fact his a girl he had dated for three years, and she had developed an eating disorder from her experience. I told him that part of the reason I was interested in helping rape survivors and talking about the subject was because I had been assaulted, and I was even still a virgin, but I had gone through therapy and I had learned some things from my recent relationship, so I was feeling really proud of everything I had accomplished. We started dating and he became my very first boyfriend. We kissed and hugged and held hands in public; we went in to cafes or movie theaters just to get away from the cold and make out; we visited each other's apartments and slept with each other. He wasn't in a rush to have sex either, since his last girlfriend of 3 years had wanted to wait till marriage, but he was really good in bed with all the "foreplay" stuff. He was very kind and thoughtful and introspective and considerate; we had a lot in common. Unfortunately, we had some bad things in common too. He was also very anxious, and he also became controlling through anxiety. While some people turn their control issues inwards (i.e., eating disorder), some people turn it outwards. It was so very important for him to feel like he was helping people (out of guilt with not being able to help his ex more, and other reasons) that he tended to over-advise people, which began to feel to me like he was being judgmental of me. He started telling me things that he thought I should do, like initiate more in bed. And I had to explain repeatedly that that wouldn't work right now because first I need to feel completey comfortable with saying no and I was still struggling with that, and from my experience, if you initiate something, guys may then want to go further and if you are not always able to say no to stop them, that's a problem. So I believed that you needed to be able to say stop before you could start something, so instead we just did the same things for a while, but I liked that. I felt very close to him. He was the first guy I had been very attracted to. With both guys before (although I am not lumping them together because they were very different types of people and I had different types of relationships with them), I had only sort of liked them, and still felt somewhat indifferent to them or detached from them sometimes. Not with this guy; we talked every single day, saw each other every week, often spending 8 hours together at a time or more, and always said good night and xoxo to each other, every night. I loved that security and felt lucky, and even though I sometimes felt like he was being controlling or condescending, or trying to give me inappropriate advice or not listening enough, and I felt very stressed sometimes because I was dealing with my anxieties about being in bed with someone or I felt like he didn't understand me like I wanted him to, I felt like we could work out any issues we had with time. We spent New Year's together, and for the first time, I had someone to kiss at midnight, and then we had a great time that day and the next day, probably one of my favorite times from our relationship. Then he broke up with me less than a week later, saying that he didn't like me as much as when he first met me, but still thought I was "amazing" and needed to figure out what he wanted. I'm still figuring out what I've learned from that relationship. I felt like, despite how good things were in bed, that he didn't respect my boundaries - emotional boundaries. I also felt like he didn't trust me to do what was best for me, and instead treated me like he had to play the role of teacher or therapist, which was a habit he had developed from his other girlfriend (or that he felt he had to develop, anyway) who hadn't really processed her assault to the extent that I had. I did not want him to be my therapist, and he said he didn't want to either, but still acted like it. So first lesson I learned was, it's not enough for me to be with someone who knows about my past and is compassionate about it; I want them to see me as strong, not as someone they have to save, not as a project. Now I think that's how he really saw me, and it makes me feel used. He wanted to show me what it was like to be in bed with someone who would be really careful and try to encourage me to tell him what I wanted and didn't want and to just feel happy and turned on, not worried or unsafe. I feel like there's a difference between someone helping you and someone seeing you as a project. I still don't know exactly why he broke up with me or why he stopped liking me, unless maybe he had only ever seen me as a project and then got exhausted from taking on the responsibility of trying to help somebody else (to be the way he wanted them to be). It's almost two months later, and I've started to go out with someone else. I like him; he's funny, and we're interested in similar topics and have a lot to talk about, and he's a feminist. But I haven't told him about anything, about my past relationships, about my alcoholic dad, about my therapy, or my anxiety and depression and PTSD that can still crop up sometimes. I don't like not telling people about this. I know some people want to keep that stuff private, but I feel like I just can't be myself if I can't be open about this. I went out with this guy tonight and I felt like times I was definitely talking around some things, and it made me feel uncomfortable. I feel like I'm giving him a false impression of me. I'm not trying to say anything like, you should know that I'm awful before you get too attached to me, I don't mean it like that. But I want him to actually know me if he's going to decide to like me, and I want to see how he reacts to this stuff before I can decide how I feel about him. Otherwise I feel like I'm just being secretive and dishonest. I am a very private person, but I don't like to be deceptive. If I don't want to tell someone something, I'll say I don't want to talk about it. But I don't like leaving something out and pretending like there's nothing even there to say. But I also don't want him to see me as a project like my ex-boyfriend did. I just want him to know. I don't feel like I can be genuine otherwise. But I feel like the way he sees me, and other people who don't know all this stuff about me, leads to a very different or even contradictory impression. I know that I seem all sweet and naive somehow, when I actually have experience with a lot of very serious issues and experiences. But I still am sweet. I'm definitely not naive, although I still think people think that way of me sometimes, even if they don't exactly say so. I don't know what I'm trying to say here. I'm just trying to figure out how to be "myself" which involves showing two "sides" and hoping, hoping, hoping that people can understand how they fit together. Comments appreciated...
  5. Thriving!

    I don't check my hotmail email account much anymore, so I only just now saw that two people on Pandys had sent me birthday wishes. Sorry about that. But I haven't logged on to Pandys since December. That was my last post. My last blog post here was in July, nearly a whole year ago. Wow, so much has changed for me since I was here - in good ways. I was looking over just some of my latest posts and blog entries to get a sense of what things were like then, so I can describe how things are now. Where to begin? I guess I'll write about a few lessons I've learned. 1) My ex, N, was (and probably still is) a sociopath. I hardly think about N anymore, or getting assaulted in the past, or the possibility (or what I used to think was a guarantee) of getting assaulted in the future. Somewhere along the way through my weekly therapy sessions (then semiweekly, now monthly), I came to the realization that my ex had all the signs of the sociopath. Once I learned the definition of one, it was obvious. And it's so much easier not to blame yourself when you're thinking in terms of "He was a sociopath." It's no longer a question of "what did I do to cause this?" It is: "He takes advantage of everyone. That is what he focuses on, how to take advantage of people, how to be selfish, and how to fake being a nice person without actually being genuine about it." He is the one who is messed up, not me. 2) I did have a serious anxiety disorder. When my social worker/counselor first told me I had a generalized and social anxiety disorder in, I believe, February 2010, my private reaction was basically just skepticism. I thought: "No, I do not have a disorder. I'm so worried and unhappy all the time because the world is such a threatening place! I'm just a realist." Certainly, there are plenty of threats around. But I came to terms with the fact that I definitely spent way too much time fixating on them. I obsessed over real and imaginary problems, and not just things that had happened, but things that could potentially happen, or things that someone might possibly be thinking or doing or planning. My social worker gradually helped me to change the way I think - to really question the validity and accuracy of what I was thinking, and why I was spending so much energy on, and reacting to these worries as if they were definite, real, and inevitable. I learned how to chill the hell out! 3) People generally already like and respect me as I am - sometimes even more than they do other people. Once I stopped assuming people didn't like me, and I started taking tentative steps to toward speaking up more, it became easier and easier. I got positive feedback from what I said, and would be encouraged to talk more and feel better about myself. My job helped a lot. I am a college adviser, and over the past two years, working with hundreds of teenagers and dozens of adults, I have come to be seen as trustworthy, reliable, approachable, and all around a good person to have around. I have always been generally well-liked, but it was with a caveat, like "...but you're too quiet." I used to be very passive, trying to blend into the woodwork, pretty much because that's how my parents raised me - don't speak up or disagree, or else risk getting your head bitten off and being disrespected. At my job, I was praised for my contributions. It was my responsibility to put myself out there so students would know how I could help them, and they responded with appreciation, not scorn. I am still amazed at how comfortable I have become in speaking up and sharing my experiences and opinions without waiting for an invitation - it was so very unlike me for pretty much all my life. I used to think people would find my talking to be unwelcome, but I realize that most people just perceive it as being friendly and open, and like me more for it, not less. I also found that the people I found difficult were disliked by many people, so I learned to not take their negativity so personally. So, what's next? My last day of *work* is this Friday, my last work-related event (graduation) is Monday evening, and I will stop getting paychecks at the end of June. I am not interested in continuing college advising, but I would like to focus on policy related to education, youth, or lower-income populations. I'd also like to do social research like I did when I was in college. I got the chance to do a bit of that this year, even--my boss (GREAT guy) offered me an opportunity to make a survey for the seniors at our participating schools. He absolutely loved what I made, and I'm getting paid extra not only for writing it, but for analyzing the results that come in over the summer. I have applied to research assistant positions at various nonprofits in the DC area. I decided that would be my first choice of where to live, because every time I've been there, I've liked the feel of it so much, and I would love to live in a more urban area with proper public transportation, nightlife, and sites to see, plus DC's a great spot for working at nonprofits. I was starting to get very discouraged that I wasn't receiving any responses, even though I'd only sent out 8 applications over a period of about two monthts (as I was quite busy with my current job), and job searching makes even fairly confident people feel insecure, so it was creating some anxiety for me especially. But then I got invited to a phone interview, so things are looking up! I have people helping me prepare, I feel much better about my communication skills, and I'm very interested in the job. Even if I don't end up getting the job, at least I am moving forward in the process. And the other piece of big news: I am going to England next week to stay with my best friend for ten days. Just two posts ago (dated May 2010), I said that I might do that very thing, and now I actually can. The timing and finances work for both of us, the arrangements are made, flights are booked. I'll get to stay with my best friend again (for the third time), and for once, my trip won't be disrupted by my feeling depressed about N. I guess what I want to say to the survivors here is that same message that has been going out to gay teens: It gets better. Did I think I would be this happy someday in the aftermath of my terrible relationship? Did I think I could have this happy outlook, feel successful, safe, cared for, respected, and hopeful for the future? And if things go badly in the future, I have better means of coping with it through my thought process and my support system. I think I've finally gone from surviving to thriving.
  6. Never Good Enough

    I usually feel like there is something deep inside me that is upsetting me, and I can't bring it to the surface to actually release some of those feelings. It's just kind of murmuring under the surface. And then I will hear or watch something that will trigger it, and I will just start crying and sobbing until I can find something else to focus on. I was watching a movie that triggered those feelings. It's called "Virgin" and stars Elisabeth Moss and features Robin Wright Penn. If you haven't seen it, the next two paragraphs have some SPOILERS: >> >> >> Basically, this high school girl goes to a party, gets so inebriated that she passes out, and a guy that she likes has sex with her while she's unconscious. She has no memory of it and becomes convinced that it's an immaculate conception and the second coming of Christ. She tells everybody this. She comes from a conservative Baptist home, but they are very unaffectionate, and having Christ's baby makes her feel loved and special, plus she truly believes she is a virgin. But the people in town get angry at her for blasphemy, and furious when she refuses to repent as a liar. All her classmates spread rumors about the different guys she had sex with and keep calling her a whore. I was about 15 minutes from the end, when she was driving her usual morning paper route. A bunch of people from either her church or school, in disguises, pulled her out of her car and started beating her. I stopped watching the movie. I didn't know if they were going to make her miscarry, or gang-rape her, or what. Maybe somebody saved her. I didn't want to see anything worse happen, so I just stopped watching. >> >> >> (END OF SPOILERS) I started bawling, and I realized something that is always stirring inside me and terrifying me too much for me to bring up most of the time: I am so scared that no matter what I do, I will never be GOOD enough. No matter what I do, someone will think that they are justified in raping me or using me or disrespecting me, and I will never be able to prevent that. If I want to kiss someone, they will think they are entitled to sex. If I want to wear a certain type of clothing or a certain kind of makeup or whatever happens to be over some arbitrary boundary of respectable, there will be someone who thinks he can use me, or who thinks that I deserve it if something happens to me. If I drink, if I get drugged and pass out, if I smile too much, if I make a joke, if I am mean, if I say I love matter what, they will turn it against me. I don't mean to sound paranoid. And maybe I feel this way because my therapist thinks I have an anxiety disorder, especially social anxiety. But I see signs of this all the time, happening to other people. How those people at school talked about PC after she pressed charges against N for raping her. And me and him, how I just wanted to kiss and he would act like he had to do all or nothing, how kissing me was like just a way to distract me from him trying to grope me, and how he felt entitled, and how I eventually starting to feel like he *was* entitled and I should just obey him because I must have been wrong to try to set standards for myself. And yet he didn't do very much with me, as much as he did with other girls, because I was a virgin and he respected that. And he apologized afterward. Maybe he even meant it. But why should I get an apology while the other girls don't? Because I was so "good"? So I only got sexually assaulted and not full out raped? And I still don't know what to call it really!!! I feel so scared that I will not be good enough or respectable enough for someone, even though I have spent so much of my life trying so hard to be obedient and to be what people want me to be. But I never know what they want because everyone has different rules for "decent" behavior and they keep changing them. And there's so much conflicting information, saying that you have to be more sexually liberal, and not a prude, but how do you know a safe way to do that? How do you know when you have gone too far and there will be a backlash? And if you try to set your own standards and just do what's comfortable for you, you still run the risk of triggering someone else's righteous anger and getting hurt and put back in your place. I don't want to keep living like a little girl, I want to have a relationship with someone, but I don't know how I can do that! What if this is just my anxiety disorder talking, that I'm thinking about this? What if I were to start taking medication to calm down my brain (which I don't want to do)? Would this be any less true, just because I'm worrying about it less? Haven't so many other people talked about this same problem? Hasn't there been plenty of evidence that we live in a world that tries to force women into some kind of impossible and unknown standard of propriety? This is real, and I should be upset about it, because it is upsetting. But how can I have a relationship with anybody if I'm afraid of them turning against me at any moment and then blaming me for their violence? Okay, I just wanted to get that out...I'm not going to think about it anymore tonight.
  7. Therapy Update

    I haven't been to Pandys for a while, for a couple of reasons, I guess. 1) I was really busy at work. 2) I started going to therapy and talking about things there, but for a while I was talking about non-N and non-assault things because I was avoiding the issue, and I've only recently started getting into it again. (So yeah, this entry will be pretty long!) After hearing that N was suing the girl who got him charged with rape and expelled from college, my mind went into overdrive worrying about my role should be in this. And it had still been reeling from finding out that N had even raped other girls, and from my inconsistent communication with PC (the girl above) where I thought that she was mad at me because she was struggling with so much (N assaulted me too, about four years ago, for any new readers out there.) So, I signed up for therapy to talk about those things, but as soon as I got there, I didn't want to talk about N. I was just so emotionally exhausted by it all. So for a while, we talked about my family instead. I've been seeing a clinical social worker almost every week since the end of February. She works at a community behavioral health center near my apartment. I was referred to the office when I called the Employee Assitance Program. I told the EAP receptionist over the phone that I wanted to talk to someone about sexual assault, and she had me call the office in my town. Then I told them I wanted to talk to someone about anxiety. She assigned me to a woman I'll just call SW for Social Worker (my last counselor from college, C, had a Counseling degree, so slightly different backgrounds). EAP paid for the first four times I saw her, and then I've been paying $20 co-pay since then, while my health insurance covers the rest. I guess that is not bad, although it is adding up over time, but I have a lot of money saved up, and I really do need to see someone. So, by now, I've seen SW about 12 times. I like her. I summed up the situation with N and PC and me really quickly the first meeting, then we did the intake stuff about my background and whether I'd been in therapy before or been depressed (yes), anxious (yes), suicidal (no), homicidal (no), eating disorders (no), substance abuse problems (no), PTSD (maybe). The second meeting, I made sure to tell her that my dad is an alcoholic, because I never told C that until the end, and her reaction made me think that maybe that was a more significant detail than I'd realized. A few weeks before seeing SW, I'd been reading about children of alcoholics and their different issues and how many matched mine. It's interesting because for so long, I didn't think of my dad as an alcoholic, just that he drank a lot, and then I thought of it as his issue and I didn't think about how it can affect a person to grow up around someone like that. Turns out, that aspect of my childhood/adolescence, along with other traits of his and my mom's, has had a lot to do with the different social problems I have. One big effect that SW has pointed out to me is that I take way too much responsibility for things. I want to improve my parents' relationship with each other. I want to take blame for N raping PC and other girls. I want to think that PC must blame me if she doesn't keep in constant communication with me. So I have been trying to work on not feeling like I can or have to control everyone and everything around me. I never really thought of myself like that before because I'm so passive and keep to myself, but with the way my mind works, I often feel guilty for not fixing things that I am not really a part of. SW was kind of avoiding bringing up the guy from college for a while because I didn't want to talk about it, then I wanted to bring him up and didn't know how to broach the subject, but about two weeks ago we got back into it and I went into more detail about what happened. Not about the incidents of assault themselves, but our whole relationship and how things were pre- and post-assault, which involved me talking about all four years of college in one hour. I brought up PC, because just a few days earlier (so about two weeks ago from today), she had written to me again out of the blue (I hadn't heard from her since January) and she said she'd been trying to work through some things involving N and wondered if she could run some things past me and send me a longer message about it? I said yes, she could and I was glad to hear from her, and then she never replied. I told SW about this and how I always worried that PC was angry at me when she acted like this and she made me feel better by saying, maybe PC wasn't ready to actually talk to me, maybe she just wanted to see if she COULD, and the fact that I replied in a welcoming way maybe was enough for her at the moment to feel a little better. And then maybe she got busy again and it would have been too much work or pain to bring up other things to me right now, but maybe I still helped a bit. When I was telling my story, I again skipped over saying exactly what N did to me. I didn't tell C either, or anyone else, none of my friends who know about N. I always just say that he wanted me to do something further that I didn't want to do when I wasn't his girlfriend and it's not exactly rape. I did say to C that it's confusing because some places say it IS rape. I say that it wasn't full-out sex really. I just cannot bring myself to say what he did because I feel like other people are not going to think it's a big deal, and I'll be embarrassed for being so upset about it. I'm already embarrassed. I guess this means that I don't value myself enough. I do feel like sometimes my body does not even belong to me and I should just ignore if someone invades it. And I always think that since it didn't physically hurt I shouldn't be upset, but what was so awful was that he just didn't care or listen to me when I said I didn't want to do something. And then he said that I shouldn't be upset about it and it wasn't sex, like it didn't matter, and I guess I think that other people are going to feel the same way. I said to SW later that I was worried that she thought that everything with N (from what I'd told her about our overall relationship) wasn't a big deal and she DID think it was a big deal and other people would think so too, hearing about what happened and seeing how upset I was about it. And she said she could say that till she was blue in the face but it wouldn't make a difference if I didn't believe her. So we have to talk more about that. I still feel like I am making too much of it, though. I have always felt like that. SW also said that you shouldn't compare other people's pain to your own, it is still pain. She said there was a good quote from Dr. Phil where he said that if you're in the hospital with a broken foot and someone in the bed next to you has terminal cancer, it doesn't make your foot hurt any less. So, I'm still working on a lot of things. Overall, though, I guess I am making progress, and it does help to talk to someone who knows more about me - with C, we just talked about N pretty much and sexism and things, while SW knows about my family too and so she can kind of tie that in to talk about my whole perspective on relationships and myself. I have been a college graduate for a year and one week now, and I think this year has gone much better for me, socially, than other years in a while. I had better self-esteem and was more talkative and outgoing with my co-workers (at least the ones who were my own age, not the older ones), have been to the other advisers' birthday parties and had fun with them. I wasn't really connecting with my roommate for a while and was sad and isolate myself a lot, but lately things have been getting better as I'm finding more things in common with her. And best of all, I just had my first birthday party with friends in 8 years. After my 15th birthday, things fell apart with my friends at high school and I didn't invite them to my party because they weren't inviting me to any of theirs. Then while at college, I might have invited people but my birthday was after classes ended and no one would want to come all the way to my hometown for a party, and I didn't invite them because I knew from previous experience that I couldn't count on them to make themselves available. Then in later years of college, i wouldn't have wanted to invite anyone anyway because I was depressed. So I spent my birthdays just celebrating with my parents and sometimes my sister, which was always awful because they don't know how to have any fun. I don't even fucking want to get into it now because I get so frustrated trying to describe this to people. They assume that I have had things or experiences that I haven't, and so don't understand what I'm saying I want. But finally this year, I had a fucking NORMAL birthday party, where a few advisers came over to the apartment and we had lots of food and drinks and played games and laughed and talked and sang happy birthday and listened to music and it was just how a party is supposed to be! This is all I was looking for but for so long, I wasn't finding myself friends with people who could provide that. I was friends with people who were too busy to make time for me, or who were actually jerks who made me feel bad. This year was probably my best birthday ever. And other people take this kind of thing for granted, they expect to have friends to spend a day or evening with them for their birthday every year, and I just appreciate it so much because this is really out of the ordinary for me. I still don't feel like I can explain what that is like. Anyway, there are just a few weeks of work left, and I'm so glad for the upcoming summer vacation. I don't know how I'll manage to have a full-time job year-round! I get tired and need a break. And my job is pretty stressful, trying to help first-generation high school students get to college, because their school and families have done almost nothing to prepare them for it, so they have a million questions and don't know about different resources and paperwork. It's like the high school I went to, and sometimes I just want to demolish these places and start everything over from scratch, with administrators and teachers who actually hold their students to high standards and don't treat them like a bunch of idiots or criminals just because they are from poor families. I loved my job for most of the year, but now I am definitely getting tired, and can't wait for nice summer break to recharge. There's really not much left for me to do now, in fact; I'm kind of just coasting through (along with the kids), waiting for the last day of school. I might work at a center for kids who have been abused this summer. I am not sure. I will have a meeting with the woman who runs it in a couple of weeks to find out more. I'm still on the fence about it. I want to help, but given my tendency to feel responsible for everything, maybe it won't be good for me. I'll have to think about it. Maybe I'll get to take a trip to England this summer to see my best friend! I'll have the apartment to myself for a while because my roommate will be working in New England for a few weeks. For summer training, I'll be spending two weeks with the other advisers, including the new ones being hired this year to start their two years of service (I'll be starting my second year). I'm excited to spend more time with them, I already met them a few weeks ago at a lunch we all had with our boss, but I will miss the "retiring" advisers too, who have already done their two years. Most of them were really fun and cool, even if they never hung out with us socially like for birthday parties (only the first-year advisers ever seemed to get together outside of training events.) So maybe the new batch of advisers will be more sociable and our parties will be bigger and better this year! Maybe my birthday next year will be even better than this year's! See, I'm trying to be optimistic. Oh, by the way, I'm 23. It feels the same as 22. I'm just glad it doesn't feel like 16 or 17 or 18 or 19 or 20 or 21. Those years kind of sucked... Well, I'm going to bed now. I'll write later!
  8. Hi, I just wanted you to know that I read the whole thing. The fact that you are thinking about all of this and trying to work out where you are and what you want is really good. I was disappointed by college, too. It is built up as the best years of your life, and for me it was better than other parts of life, but still very disappointing, and relationships were still hard for me because I didn't learn the right or healthy ways to act and express myself from my parents. I haven't read anything else by you at this point so I don't know if you are in therapy? It sounds like you might benefit from that since you are thinking about how you want to change, and may need a guide to help you with the actual process of change. It's really great that you have the motiviation to work on things. I have been in and out of therapy for the past few years and it has helped a lot. I am not borderline, but I relate to your feeling of frustration of not being able to deal well with other people. It is important not to ignore the progress that you have made while in college, even if things were not as good as you wanted them to be. That progress is still a step in the right direction and you can carry on positively over time. Take care! Lissa
  9. I'm so so sorry. The way you are being treated is completely unfair, and you're right, the police here sound like they did an absolutely disgraceful job with not even having the decency to properly communicate with you or do their job in all this time. You are right that all they are doing is making it easy for people to get away with rape. I have heard a lot of stories of police and other law enforcement officials treating rape victims so appallingly so you are not alone. Did you ever have a rape advocate helping you try to contact people? It sounds like you spent a lot of your time and energy in pursuing this. You are really strong for that, and you should be proud of yourself for doing all that you did. There is only so much that can be done if the police are refusing to do their job. You have a right to be angry with them, their behavior is inexcusable. I hope that you can see that you have done an amazing job, though.
  10. Hi Lexie, thanks for replying. It is helpful to hear other people's perspectives and how they've interacted with kids, because otherwise I'm not sure if I'm misinterpreting my own situation. As for my self-image, thanks for the compliment, although I definitely do have my ups and downs with it. I'm usually really bad at accepting compliments in general, as if I don't mind thinking well about myself, but I get really self-conscious when I think someone else might think well of me, like I don't deserve that. There is still a part of me that feels like being unnoticed should be my norm. But I have made a lot of improvements over the past few years, in the way I try to not be so anxious about other people and try to think better of myself. Thanks again for commenting. Take care.
  11. Babysitter

    I've been thinking about it a little bit, and I think I've come up with an explanation for my social problems. I think it could be legit, because I don't feel like I had to think really hard or overanalyze to come to this conclusion, so I don't think I'm inventing memories or something. It started last Spring when I was in a therapy session and I was talking to my counselor how I had always tended to spend a lot of time by myself, and it didn't really bother me usually, but sometimes I felt lonely. To demonstrate how I was used to getting by without company, I told her that when I was young, before I started kindergarten, I would be taken to a baby-sitter and I'd spend most of my time by myself. I said she'd set me by a bunch of plastic toys, and then she'd leave and go in another room to watch soap operas and court TV (I'd watch them too when she would bring me in the living room to nap). I didn't think anything of this when I said it; it was just a memory. I thought the part about me watching soaps as a four-year-old was kind of funny. But my counselor's reaction surprised me. She seemed to be surprised and kind of insulted that my baby-sitter had left me alone to watch TV all the time. So that was the first time it ever occurred to me--was that not normal? Did other baby-sitters actually spend time with their kids? Since then, I've read a couple different articles about child neglect, and they say that it's damaging to a child when you don't give them attention or affection. I found out later, from talking to my mom, that I spent a lot longer in this baby-sitter's care (or lack therof) than I realized. I say I was four years old, but I might have been three and four, maybe even five for some of it too. Plus, my mom said that my baby-sitter's niece was there every day. The impression I'd had, however, was this Sarah was only there occasionally. Maybe she didn't come over when she was sick? Maybe she spent time playing with her aunt while I stayed by myself? But although my memory from this age is fuzzy (I'm 22 now), and I'm not totally sure how often Sarah was there, I do know that my baby-sitter never played with me. I guess I thought that since she gave me toys, I wasn't neglected. But human interaction is important. It also ties in with how I've felt for most of my life. It wasn't just that I was shy and quiet. I was extremely shy and extremely quiet. But moreover, I was constantly worried that nobody liked me. I avoided talking to people because I thought I would be bothering them. I didn't think anyone would find what I had to say interesting or worthwhile. And this was despite the fact that my classmates at school never really picked on me or insulted me. The fact that I was so withdrawn did further alienate people from me as they reacted to me, and that further made me feel rejected. However, I've also been very self-doubting for a really long time, all the way through high school and college, even around people who did talk to me and seemed to like me. I had a speech impediment that I was embarrassed about as well that contributed to my near-silence, but I wasn't only worried about not pronouncing something right. I was worried that the content of what I might say would be unwelcome. Since kindergarten, since before I was even told I had a speech problem, I was afraid to talk to anyone, and I felt much more content and peaceful by myself, less stressed or uncomfortable. As I think about it, it just seems to make a lot of sense that the way I was treated at my baby-sitter's had a big impact on me. I was really young, and I was ignored. Maybe I had originally wanted to spend time with my baby-sitter and she ignored me. And I took away from that a sense of unimportance, that what I wanted didn't matter. This was also promoted by my dad, who doesn't permit any kind of confrontation. I had recognized that as a contributor to my issues with relationships and self-esteem, but I think adding the part about my baby-sitter is really significant too. It just fits. And that's the other thing; when I say issues with my self-esteem, I should explain. I actually think I'm okay. In fact, I think I'm really cool and smart and interesting. I like myself. But I always think that other people don't like me. In other words, I can list my positive attributes to myself, but if I were asked to reveal to someone else that I like myself, I wouldn't want to, because most of the time I would assume that they don't like me, or they don't want me to "brag." Of course, this is still a big problem because when I'm around other people and thinking of how to deal with them, most of my life I've tried to make myself invisible so I'm not bothering them, and then I kind of justify it to myself like, "It's okay, I don't need to tell them this, it's not a big deal," so I dismiss my value to myself as well. It's pretty weird overall; I mean, when N was hooking up with me, obviously (given how he acted with other girls as well) he had targeted me because he could tell I was really passive. However, I think I confused him too, because even though he'd insult me and act like my opinions didn't matter, I was used to other people not thinking I mattered, while still feeling okay about myself, and having the ability to disagree with them, even if I didn't do so in an openly confrontational way. I had to spend a lot of time with him before my own self-esteem started to really crack, and I started to think that he was right and I was wrong about everything. For some reason I'm really tired right now, and my brain just feels kind of foggy and disconnected, so I don't know if this entry is very clear or makes much sense. I was having a lot of trouble finishing sentences when I wrote this. I'm gonna stop writing now because I just feel pretty disengaged right now. I don't know if that's the word I'm looking for, my brain is just mush now.
  12. I still haven't arranged to see a therapist yet. I've made some small steps toward that general direction, but it's been very slow-going. I tried to find information about therapists in the my town or nearby who specialize in sexual abuse, or who have had that kind of training/experience in some way. But whenever I do a search for any kind of abuse, rape, or women-related services, I can't find any advertised around here, in the phone book or online. There's just this one possible place, but it doesn't even say it deals specifically with sexual abuse, just that it has social service groups of some kid that meet. Abuse survivors might be one kind of support group, but it didn't say that in the phone book. But it might offer something like that, because I was asking someone I work with about different places to look into if I wanted to do some kind of internship or volunteer thing with a women's center, or something involving abuse. I was asking partly because I really am thinking about working someplace like that, and partly because I was looking for services as a consumer. She told me about this place. I never called there, though, because I didn't know if it would make sense to go there to get services myself and then try to find some kind of staff position there later. I just feel like I need a place to expose myself as vulnerable and crumbling and not at all put together, and that's not the side of you that you would want to show to a potential employer or supervisor. I think I'm also worried, somehow, that the fact that I was inquiring into therapy would get back to the person I work with, since she was the one who told me about this organization in the first place because she had a contact there. I know that's kind of dumb. I mean, the person I was asking was a guidance counselor, because I work as a college adviser at a high school. Not only would the local org not be allowed to tell anyone that I went there to ask about receiving therapy or some kind of services, but even if the guidance counselor at school did find out, she would not hold it against me because of the nature of her own profession. And yet I have not contacted this organization because I'm not totally sure they even offer the services I'm looking for, and I don't want to risk somehow this information about myself getting to the wrong people. I know that it's not reasonable for me to worry about the staff at this place telling other people about me, but I can't help feeling concerned about my privacy. I guess because I'm living in a small town and working in a guidance office, and I know how people talk to each other about other people, even when they're not supposed to. Anyway, so I was trying to find if there was someone else around here I could talk to. And I'm not looking for a support group, anyway. I need some one-on-one attention, like I had while I was at college. I just want to see a counselor or psychologist or something. I don't just want to talk about sexual assault and the aftermath of all that, but a lot of things: my family, my friends, and what I'm pretty sure is an anxiety disorder. So, I looked up the number for an employee assistance program that my employer offers. But it's confusing, because it says I can get "three free visits to an EAP counselor per life event." What if there are a lot of life events I want to talk about? And reading through the list of topics covered, I didn't see sexual assault on there. Of course there was an "other topics" category, and anxiety and social issues were on the list. I guess I wanted to have someone specific in mind and then call EAP and ask if they would pay for me to see her. That doesn't seem to be working, though. After the 3 sessions, I'd have to get the rest of my sessions paid for by my health insurance, and they wouldn't be free. I'm willing to pay for them, but it's obnoxious that I have to deal with not only finding a person, which is difficult enough, but finding someone who takes my insurance. I'm not concerned about the psychologist saying personal things about me to the insurance agents because I've heard that their reports are purposefully vague and discreet. But I am concerned about calling this EAP line, getting assigned to someone, talking to her, liking her, and then having to change to another person after my 3-session limit and having to start from scratch. Seems like a waste of time. I was trying to find out who I could go to, who might be trained in talking to abuse survivors, or someone trained in women's issues or something, so I went on the RAINN online hotline and asked them, but they could only direct me to the state info hotline. So I called them, but I got a voice message saying if it wasn't a crisis, I had to call another number. When I called that number, I got a voice message redirecting me back to the first number, so I haven't called again. A few weeks ago I wrote to my original counselor from college to update her about my job and life, and then said that I was looking into going back to therapy because there was so much that happened at the end of last school year that I didn't really have time to talk to anyone about. I asked if it was possible if I could see her again. (I doubted it, but I wanted to ask.) Then I explained about how my employer handled it with the EAP and health insurance. She wrote back yesterday, three weeks afterwards, to say she couldn't see me because she's getting her PhD and not working right now, but I should definitely arrange to see someone through my employer. So I guess I've done just about everything now except actually call this EAP number to ask them to direct me to someone. Part of the hesitation, like I said, is not knowing what to say is my issue. I feel like I have a dozen different ones, a bunch of different "life events" that are upsetting me. But what else can I do, right? And starting therapy again can probably give me more clarity and help kind of consolidate everything into a one or a few categories of problems instead of a bunch. It's like how when I was seeing my counselor at college and she made me realize that with my different relationships over the years, I basically felt like I was worthless, and I hadn't been able to articulate it like that before. I think it will also help me a lot to be able to see my friend, whom in here I call Feminist, this weekend. I actually saw her about a week ago when I was back on campus for something related to my job, and she has a short-term job on campus (she graduated last year with me). The first thing she said to me was, "Is he SUING her?!" So I know I can talk to her about N and PC, but mostly I want to talk about the way I've been feeling about him. Just talk out some aspects of our relationship that I've been really fixated on or conflicted about, and get her opinion or reaction. I already got to talk to her about it a little at the end of the school year last year (around April and May) and she was really good to talk to then, so I think that will work. I just wish I'd been able to stay in contact with her since then, but she was really busy with different jobs and medical things and grad school prep, plus she wasn't receiving any of my calls because her phone wasn't working. We had arranged for me to stay with her last weekend, all weekend, Friday night till Sunday, but then there was a freaking blizzard here Friday, so I didn't go of course. But I'm supposed to go stay with her this weekend coming up instead. I'm really looking forward to it. She's so sweet. We have so much in common, it's really incredible! We were both assaulted, and didn't report the guy or tell anyone for a while; we were both from working-class families going to a private college full of rich people; we both have parents with mental illnesses (her mom's was more severe than my dad's I think - and come to think of it, I don't think I actually told her about my dad, really); we both are feminists, we are both working and living in apartments and trying to get ready for grad school (I'm still at an earlier stage in my preparation than she is)...we get along really well. I just saw her for an hour and a half or so last week, and she and I can just talk forever. Last year, I'd go over to her house to have dinner or lunch (just two or three times, since we met late) and we'd just end up talking the whole day, and it's not like where it's really one-sided or I'm feeling like she's just being polite and doesn't really want to be talking to me, I think we genuinely get along really well. I'm so excited to be spending the weekend with her. We didn't actually just meet last Spring, we actually met at the beginning of freshman year, so I could have spent all four years with this awesome person. But I ended up spending more time with these fucking asshole guys who lived in my building, and just choosing my friends very poorly because I had had such a bad friend experience in high school. But it's also kind of neat in a way that we connected again and formed such a strong bond, because it's like that saying how if you let something go, it will come back to you if it's supposed to work and it's meant to be. It's like how B and I are still such good friends after all this time, how our friendship has only gotten stronger over the years even though she lives so far away, and we only ever have spent time in person twice. But we are such a good match, we are able to travel together and spend all day together for weeks without tiring of each other, and that is not easy to do. My other great friend and I also have a lot to talk about and are more comfortable with each other than we are with most people, although we are no longer each other's best friends - it's true from her point of view and mine even though we've never said it. It's okay, we both have other people to talk to who fit us a little better than we fit with each other. We are still great together, but things just don't go as smoothly as they do when I'm with Feminist or B. I already told B about N and PC's case. She is so good because I'll send her an email about it, then we'll chat online and she'll ask how I am and I'll talk about my general day and like things are fine, and she'll say, "But how are you really?" She knows I need to be drawn out a little and I'm always hesitant to confide in her because I don't want to be bothering her. Feminist is so responsive to me as well that I don't feel bad about telling her things that are upsetting me, because she has talked with me about her own problems as well, just like B. I have some really good friends, and I wish I could speak to them more often, but I do need to see a professional, someone I can talk with every day and who has a lot of training in different kinds of problems. And I really should just call the EAP number tomorrow because I remember how I didn't want to go to counseling at college because I was afraid to talk to a stranger or something, but then I had a really good experience with my counselor. I should stop putting off the opportunity to make another positive connection with someone.
  13. legal issues, very nervous

    I'm getting really worried about getting involved with N's case against PC. I told PC that I would be willing to testify that she had never publicly defamed N during the anti-rape activism that was going on at college last year. This would just involve saying that I was present at the anti-rape documentary that was shown, and she never appeared in the documentary, nor did she say anything denouncing anyone specific or any specific event when she made her brief statement to the crowd. I can also swear that when I heard about the anti-rape protest led by students (and participated in it briefly) that I never heard anyone mention the case, nor anything at all about N. I've thought about it more, though, and realized that this could easily get very complimented. I'm imagining sitting on a stand, being questioned by--well, anyone, could be N's lawyer or PC's lawyer--and being asked so simple a question as, "How do you know N?" What the hell would I say? If all I said was "We used to be neighbors in the dorm, we used to be friends, we were in the same club together last year..." That wouldn't be the whole truth, would it? Wouldn't I have to say that we used to hook up? That in my mind, the first thing I identified him as was "the guy who assaulted me?" And then what would happen? And let's say it wasn't even a simple, standard question; what if it was asked by N's lawyer with the awareness that I had hooked up with N, because what if N had found out by then that I was testifying on behalf of PC and had told his lawyer that? And told him, from his point of view, that I was some kind of bitter ex who had held a grudge against him ever since he started seeing another girl (even though that would NOT be the real reason why I didn't like him!) and that my testimony was therefore unrealiable? That no one should take my word that PC hadn't defamed him or lied because maybe I was also part of this grand "conspiracy" of girls to "lie" about N being a rapist? I don't think I'm overthinking this. Considering whom we're dealing with here, with N fighting tooth and nail against PC's accusations of him, against his expulsion, and everything, I can definitely see him doing everything he could to discredit me if I so much as tried to even say that PC never publicly defamed him, and use my own personal history with him to claim that I was biased against him, or plotting against him...and all just because I wanted to say something that should be easily proven just by submitting a videotape of the protest and the documentary showing. I mean, this is a guy who is suing not just PC, but another girl who said that he had raped her, whom I never even heard about or knew existed until just a couple of days ago, when I saw her name on the online claim and asked PC about it. (Is it just me, or is N the one drawing all this negative attention to himself?) Furthermore, the claim also said that N is filing defamation charges against "anonymous" other women who claimed he had raped them. I spoke with PC and neither of us were quite sure what he was referring to - the 16 women who had apparently told the Counseling Center in Fall 2008 that N had assaulted them? Another set of women who reported him to public safety? Who may possibly have talked about him in the documentary (and whose interviews were not even shown on the viewing last spring)? I mean, WHO exactly? He doesn't even know! So how can he sue them for defamation?? The claim online says he is suing "Does 1-100." One hundred? One hundred?? Is he even talking about people who specifically said he raped them, or just people who said he was a rapist in general? Is it everyone who appeared in the documentary? Everyone who was present at the protest? I just don't get it! But he is obviously trying to go all out with this bullshit! And I'm afraid that it will all be for nothing. I've read so many things about courts being biased against rape victims. And with PC as the defendent, doesn't that mean she'll have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that she was raped and so isn't lying? And isn't it easier to convince people that something didn't happen? Plus the college threw out her rape kit that they used in the hearing last Spring. So, what does that mean? Can they still reference it? Does she basically have to do it all over, prove that she was raped to the court jury, to then be found not guilty of past libel and slander? Is it not enough for her to say that the college found N guilty--repeatedly--based on evidence gathered at the time? Does she really need to present the same evidence again, and can she do that if her rape kit is gone? (Although I hear that rape kits don't prove assault, just sex, and although they may prove more violent sex, it doesn't prove that this sex wasn't consensual.) I just...I'm feeling so overwhelmed, and I'm not even the one who's being sued. And who already had to go through this process before. I was telling PC that this was all outrageous, that he was just going to make himself look bad, but after looking at some other things on Pandys, now I'm worried that what is so obvious to me won't seem that way to a jury or judge. That the trend is to look for ways to find the rapist innocent. I can get out of this if I want to, I can not testify or be involved in any way, and maybe that would be best, if I'm going to get roped in by such a basic question as "How do you know N?" Even though I would NOT be lying to say that PC never defamed him!..But I don't want to leave PC either, she has so few supporters as is, so few people who are giving her the time and attention she needs, even if they do believe her. But would I really be helping if all N did was bring up my history with him? I don't think I would! I wish I knew more about the legal system...this is freaking me out, not knowing what to expect. I want to think that the law will be on PC's side; after all, it was on her side when she was at college. There, they have a broader definition of assault, but from what she told me, I'd think that what happened to her would easily be seen as criminal too. But I have heard too many examples of obvious rapists being found innocent. And I worry about N's argument...PC said it was a poor argument for him to claim that the documentary project and PC were all devoted to spreading lies about him, because the project started long before N raped PC. But I think, maybe he could actually try to say that this proved his point, that the project started, and then somewhere down the line PC said to its directors, "Hey, I'm gonna sleep with him and then say he raped me!" He could argue that it was some kind of set-up no matter what the order of events were. All he has to do is completely ignore the fact that the reason so many people are saying he raped them is because THAT'S WHAT HE DID. I just hope that the reason it took so long for him to sue PC was because he couldn't find a lawyer to represent him. Or maybe he was busy suing the school...I wish my Feminist friend had more inside information! (She is talking to me again, by the way, emailed me a few times!) God. I'm just so nervous. It's not fair. He is SO WRONG. Why can't that just be ENOUGH??
  14. here we go again

    Tomorrow I am calling my employer's mental health services number and making an arrangement to see a counselor, because I have got to talk to someone. I have been putting this off, and now something has happened to push me into finding someone, because I'm so upset. I was doing a search for N on google, to see if he might have started attending a new college (after getting kicked out of mine, on charges of raping PC). And in that search, I saw that he had pressed charges against PC, another girl I didn't know, and "et al," some unnamed others. Charges of assault, libel, and slander. He was listed as the plaintiff, and I was confused...I thought the plaintiff pressed charges? Wouldn't it make more sense if PC were the one pressing charges against HIM? But I double-checked the definition and yeah, he's the one pressing charges. I thought something had happened recently. Did someone write an article about him in the school newspaper or something? So I wrote to PC, even though she hasn't answered my messages since October or so, to tell her what I had found and ask if she could tell me what was happening. I worried that I would never know, that she'd never get back to me, as she has a tendency to do, but she actually called me only about a half hour later. She told me that N was suing her and another girl for saying he raped them - the other girl turns out to be another student at the college, who was a freshman at the time of her assault. The "et al" apparently refers to the group of anonymous women who also claimed he raped them, and this is pretty vague and confusing, since we're not sure who he's referring to - girls who pressed charges with public safety? Girls who reported him to the counseling center (of which I would be a part)? Overall, his case is absolutely ridiculous - while there was a lot of anti-rape activisim during the last months of school and several people were privately motivated by their knowledge of this case, there was never any public announcement by PC or anyone else that N specifically was a rapist. He's trying to claim that he defamed him during a speech at a documentary showing about rape at the college, but any look at a taping of the event will show that she didn't. And my friends and I actually got very frustrated at how far the college was going to protect information about the charges from getting out, so how can he be claiming libel and slander? And then there's the small detail of HOW CAN IT BE SLANDER IF IT'S TRUE? How can it be illegal to call someone a rapist when he IS a rapist?? Apparently, though, because he was found guilty by the college's disciplinary system and not by any court, he can make a defamation of character charge. In talking to PC, I pointed out that he was asking for some monumental changes if he actually won, if he got a court to agree that you couldn't say that someone who was found guilty of rape by a college had raped you. He'd be asking for every private college in the country to completely change how they handle rape cases on campus, in fact, almost making it impossible for anyone to file rape charges. (That wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing in and of itself, since I think that actual police should be involved when it comes to felony charges whether they take place on a college campus or not, instead of being handled by the "community standards" office and the same people who deal with academic probation for low grades underage drinking. Sexual violence should be treated more seriously than those things, and handled by different offices.) Despite that he has almost no grounds on which to even be filing this suit - and asking for thousands of dollars from PC and the other girl (and these mysterious 'et al' women who he can't even NAME, so how the hell do THEY get listed as defendents??) - he's going to be taking over PC's life with court crap, and she and this other girl are going to have to testify as to exactly how they got raped. PC said to me that it was becoming like a "public rape" of her and she just wanted a normal life and to be left alone. I feel so bad for her. I realize that the more people know about this case - and apparently N requested a jury - and the more they hear about what he did, the worse things will be for him. His actions were absolutely despicable, and he's got no proof that she slandered him because she DIDN'T. She kept it very quiet. But for some reason, he keeps dragging it up, and PC said that he's trying to control her, to humilliate her, and to profit from his expulsion. She has has to change her number and get an unlisted address for security reasons. It's so unfair that she has to put up with all this, although she is still determined to counter-claim and has already started looking into how to file criminal charges against him. It makes me so miserable. She asked me to testify to the fact that she never made any public announcements about N assaulting her, and I agreed to. But she said I didn't need to say anything about having been assaulted by him myself, and that she'd never given my name to anyone. Isn't it just awful? She has to deal with all of this, be targeted so viciously by N and his friend and lawyers, and I get to just sit back and watch and not be bothered by any of it, because I kept my mouth shut. She did the right thing by reporting, while I said nothing to anyone and just let him go on and assault other girls, getting worse and worse, and I don't have to suffer any consequences from it, financially, legally, reputation-wise. All I have to deal with is this embarrassment in myself and a sense of what I suppose is a form of survivor's guilt, because it could be me in PC's place. It could have been me pressing charges, getting threatening phone calls from fraternity brothes, getting served papers during my Christmas vacation, getting practically disowned by my parents, having to hide my address and phone number from everyone - all on top of having been raped. And she was hurt much worse than I was, he went much further with her, was more sadistic. It's such an uneven distribution of suffering, and my hiding away and leaving her to fend for herself is contributing to all that injustice. But I know that if I report anything, it will be pointless. It was so long ago, and there was no rape kit. There was no physical injury. And I was too nice to him afterwards. I went into denial and took way too long to start acting like a victim. If PC can barely handle all this with everything that happened to her so severely, I have no chance. I told her that I kept thinking about the first two years of college, how much time I spent with him, and wishing so much that I had been meaner to him. I think about it all the time. I still have these fake conversations with him to myself. And yet at the same time, I think - maybe I did handle it as best as could be handled. Maybe he didn't hurt me as bad as he did PC because of something to do with my personality, how I genuinely cared for him and worried on his behalf, and he felt some sort of compassion toward me, so that even as he was bullying me, when he got me to stop trying to fight with him, he was gentle with me, and he even apologized after. Or maybe I am romanticizing it, and it's still too hard for me to accept that that none of that relationship could have had any genuine affection. Or that his kinder behavior toward me was based more on circumstance than my own decisions or actions, like he was nicer because of whom I was friends with, or whom he wasn't friends with since he wasn't in the fraternity yet; or because I was a virgin, so he held me in higher esteem or something in his rankings of women as worthwhile or worthless; or because of the timing, where he hadn't yet worked out how to justify being as cruel as he was to PC when he was with her three years later. Then there's the behavior of N's mother. Apparently she is funding his lawyer's fees, encouraging him to go after PC. This doesn't surprise me. Many mothers are obstinately blind to their children's behavior. PC also told me that his father wasn't in the picture, that he had abused his mother. Not surprising either. A cycle of violence has been passed down. Plus, N had previously told me and our other friends some vague information about his father that would indicate some kind of problem, like how he used to call his son a "faggot," or how his parents had a very messy divorce and tried to put him in the middle of it, and then his dad impregnated some 18-year-old girl and made her get an abortion, and his dad had all these pornographic magazines in his room that N found when he was around 10 years old, and so on...N told me this while he was drunk (the same night he said he loved me, so I didn't know how much to really believe. So, PC saying that N's dad had abused his mom was not surprising to me, but I had also never heard it phrased quite like that. His mother must be in so much pain. To have been abused by her husband, and then to hear that her son is also abusive. Her son, treating other women as badly as she herself may have been treated. Her son, who may have been kind to her, who may have made her feel secure and loved. How much betrayal, or self-blame, might she have to endure (even if undeserved) if she believed that he was a rapist? She must be so deep in denial that her defense of N is probably very fierce. Luckily PC has her advocates too, like her new boyfriend, and friends from college, and me, whatever small use I am. Although I am one of only two girls whom N raped who talked to PC about it. She seemed happy to know that I understood how she felt. That is something, I guess...but I need to talk to a counselor about everything else. And maybe I should actually say what specifically happened. I didn't tell my other counselor. Maybe if I said it, I would stop feeling like I was upset over nothing, or making too big a deal out of it, because someone would be sympathetic to me. I wrote about it on here, and people were sympathetic. I will never forget that when I wrote about my story (in summer 2007, about a year after it happened), someone replied that this guy was dangerous, had probably assaulted other girls before, and I was lucky he hadn't been more violent. At the time, I just took that as simple validation of my experience, that yes, I should be upset. I didn't pay as much attention to the part about how he sounded like he had the potential to be very violent, because he hadn't been that way with me. But the poster was talking about how that attitude that he showed toward me, that carelessness, could easily manifest itself in more physical harm, and he was right. I tried so hard to believe that N had gotten better, and I was wrong. But now that I know he was wrong, what am I going to do about it? Besides testify that PC never defamed N? Is that enough? But I can't do anything else and expect anything to improve. I can't make public statements, but I need to work on relieving some of my guilt in a private setting, with a professional. So I'm going to make arrangements to meet with a counselor, even though I'd just like to see my old counselor again. (I suppose I can't, right? She's getting her doctorate degree at a college not too far from where I live...maybe it couldn't hurt to email her? If I could just see her - and get either my employer or my own self to pay for sessions instead of getting them free from college - that might be ideal.) I'm glad that at least PC doesn't seem to blame herself for what happened. At least, she's never said so. She said she used to, but maybe that all faded through the reporting process, when she had all those people at school helping her, supporting her, telling her that nothing was her fault. I don't know if she actually doesn't feel any self-blame or if it's just a cover, but I would like to feel that way. So that will be one of my new year's resolutions - go back to therapy. (Plus, wash the dishes more frequently.) To think, for the past week I've just been focused on watching the Lord of the Rings movies and reading the books and being so moved by all of that. But this whole mess with N and how I feel about it will just keep cropping up again and again until I deal with it more directly. I can't just expect it to never return whenever I happen to be feeling okay. I need to handle this differently.
  15. Lonely again

    I'm afraid that I'll visit my college campus tomorrow and no one will bother to meet with me. I have emailed my old adviser, my old internship program director, and Feminist about me stopping there on my way to training in another city, and no one has bothered to reply. I am not surprised that Feminist didn't reply, because she hasn't replied to me in months, but I thought the others would. They are not exactly friends, but adults I worked with or studied with who I have kept in occasional touch since graduating, but it is nice to be around people who like you and think you are smart and successful. I really don't understand Feminist. She is always writing to other people on facebook. I don't understand why she will never reply to me. She is treating me just like she is angry at me. But I spoke with Feminist's friend, who I met briefly at the end of the school year and we hit it off well, and she told me that Feminist has been very busy and has had a rough time and she is not mad at me. I have a hard time believing it, though, when she is ignoring me so much. And of course PC hasn't replied to any of my messages for a month, but I am used to that. I can kind of understand it, too, even if I dislike it - talking to me maybe brings everything with N too close to the surface. Maybe she feels really anxious or like she has to act a certain way when she's around me. I don't know. But with Feminist, I really just don't get it. What have I done to make her stop talking to me? This past weekend, I finally got to have some socializing; when I'm here at home with my roommate, we don't talk much or do anything together other than sometimes watch TV and occasionally chat about our day. She never wants to do anything, and I end up hanging out in my room alone watching movies and TV shows from Netflix with the door closed, and I remind myself of my dad, who always shut himself up in his study to watch TV or listen to music all day. (I work during the day on weekdays, but on some weekends, I'm in my room all the time.) I don't want to be anti-social, but I don't feel any connection to her, and she doesn't hang out with me, either. And if I think that we won't be talking or doing anything together when I am out in the open in the living room or kitchen, then I will just hide away in my room because if I am not going to get to talk to someone, I would much rather be alone than to be near them and not talk. I have always felt this way. Anyway, this past weekend, we went to a party the other new advisers were having in another town and stayed overnight. It was okay, but disappointing. We had a lot to drink but didn't get rowdy. I miss college rowdiness. Nothing dangerous or sexual, just general happy and hyper and loud rowdiness. And I felt like just as I was starting to wake up and get more into a party spirit, after being tired for so long, everyone else was winding down and wanted to get ready for bed, and it was only midnight. We started around 7, but I wasn't ready to get into it into closer to midnight, and by then it was too late. I also wasn't too thrilled about the two couples who were there, both of whom were being hostile to each other - one especially so, and I think they were joking, but it was still kind of uncomfortable to hear the guy calling the girl a bitch all the time and the girl calling the guy an idiot or a girl, etc. And meanwhile they were ranting about people they knew from college who were total skanks. I don't much like slut-shaming, I think it is immature and unfair. The other couple wasn't as bad, but they just seemed testy or passive aggressive with each other. It was still nice to be drinking and out of the house, though, even if I would have preferred different company, but these are really the only people I have now and they are better than some of the other people I've been friends with, so it's still an improvement. Then I had a horrible night sleeping: I went to bed at 1, but it was really cold and I was on this air mattress that apparently doesn't absorb body heat and so won't warm up. I didn't realize that at the time and thought there was something wrong with me. I finally wrapped myself all around with my comforter and fell asleep around fucking six o'clock, and then everyone else woke up around 9 and started hanging out in the kitchen next door to where I was sleeping to have breakfast. What made it bad, though, was that I couldn't help telling the host that I hadn't slept well because I was cold, and then he felt bad and said that I should have said something to him. (When someone straight out asks me how I feel about something, I usually have a hard time being dishonest, but I can avoid saying anything negative if I'm not asked directly.) So then I felt like a fucking wimp or pushover or something for not doing something about my coldness, but it was because I didn't know what anyone could do about it - I had a comforter on and was still freezing, so I had thought there was something wrong with my body, and why would I wake up someone over that? But now he thought that I was not assertive enough and it was back to this problem I've had for so long - I cannot stand up for myself, I cannot advocate for myself. Sometimes I can, I do better than I used to, but when I can't, I get so disappointed in myself and feel like the biggest fucking loser. The combination of being very tired, having had a disappointing party, and my conversation with the host made me feel just awful, and when I was riding back home with my roommate and she asked me how I had slept, I just started crying for about 15 minutes. And I thought, why exactly am I so upset? And I realized (because thinking about it made me cry even more) that I was upset because I thought, if I can't even figure out how to keep myself from being cold when I sleep, how am I supposed to avoid being raped? And how am I supposed to keep someone from realizing what a pathetic, stupid loser I am and how easy it would be for them to take advantage of me? I try to think of myself as strong, as someone who will argue and resist and be very difficult to handle, but then there are times when I'm not feeling well and I become such an easy target. That makes me feel miserable. I haven't been sleeping well in general. I can't tell if I have a sleep problem or if I'm just tired because lately I have not been able to get to bed on time and end up having to get up only 4 or 5 hours later. I should try to get 8 hours of sleep on a regular basis before I can tell whether I have a sleep problem, whether I am tired because I am not sleeping properly and not just because I have stayed up late working on something instead of being in bed. Basically, I went to a sleep disorder website and typed in how I felt upon waking up and during the day and it said I had sleep apnea. And that might be possible because sometimes I think I do wake up during the night because I'm aware when I roll over on my other side, even if I go right back to sleep. And with sleep apnea, oftentimes you don't realize you are waking up anyway. Still, it is hard to tell if that is what I have because I need to get 8 hours of sleep consistently and see if I still have the symptoms. I got 8 hours the other night, and only 6.5 last night. I'll try for 8 again tonight. And probably feel like a loser (how many times have I said that in this post??) because I'll be getting up tomorrow to go to training and will have no reason to even stop at my college because no one will have bothered to reply to my invitation to meet up because no one cares about seeing me. I'm barely present, I can't connect to people, so they forget me, even when I thought we had become friends.