Navigating On My Own Terms

I haven’t written anything for a while because END OF THE YEAR THINGS.  And I wanted to ignore this for a while, I suppose.  There has been SO MUCH in the twitterverse and Internet generally about rape and sexual assault.  Like a trigger party.  Trigger here, trigger there.  Don’t read that.  Can’t stop reading.  Emotional overload.

Lately I am exhausted by my own anger and frustration.  And then I feel guilty and a wave of  utter self loathing.  How can I feel these feelings when others have had it so much worse than me?  I feel unjustified in being affected by what has happened, what was/is being done to me – not by the perpetrator as such – but the other participant, the enablers, the excusers.  The management at every level in this sector which has demeaned and diminished my experience when every time I brought these things to light, I really believed that it was for a purpose.  That I would be assisted as a victim of crimes.  But I wasn’t.  I’m still not.  And they all hope I will stop trying.  But I won’t.  I’m in fact MORE determined, MORE angry at each level’s negligent inaction.  So here I am.

Even on my own blog, I feel like I must justify why it hurts.  Typing that, I feel pathetic.  And so the cycle goes on.  I’m doing something in my head now that Jim Stynes did at Reach.  I just realised.  That makes me smile, underneath.  That cheeky Irish bugger.  Still there.  (Oh my god, thank GOD)

I may have described before that he had us all (teachers) sit in a circle and one by one, stand in the middle and he’d ask questions.  Such as, 

Jim “How do you feel standing in the middle of us now?”

Participant “Embarrassed”

J “How do you feel saying that you’re embarrassed?”

P “I feel like an idiot”

J “And how do you feel about admitting that feeling?”

P “I feel nervous because I really hate to feel that people think I’m stupid”

J “How do you feel admitting that?”

P (looks around, starts to cry) “You all probably don’t actually think I am stupid.  It’s what I tell myself

…launches discussions into self belief…

Those questions were asked in rapid succession, the focus being, ‘And how does that feel’ not ‘why’.  It’s a different approach.  Jim kept looking at me and I was getting really angry.  I said, “I know what you’re trying to do!” (ie get me up in the middle of the circle) and I was overtly grumpy about it.  [On a sidenote, reliving this memory is making me smile.  Then cry because he’s gone.  But smile again because he once was.  And I was lucky enough to be in his sights.]

I did get up into the circle.  And blew the group out of the water as my facade crumbled.  How do you feel now?  How does that feel to say that?  What are you feeling as you say that?  Not reasons or excuses.  I was coming publicly undone.  I’d kept the assaults and the stalking and the lies and the desperation inside until that moment.  I know Jim didn’t know what he was unlocking.  I know he knew there was something big.  And he was liberating me.  Letting me let it out.  

I am having an awkward conversation in my own head now, not saying the truth.  But it’s the only way forward, isn’t it?  So this is it.  

A contributing factor to this current murky Guilt Festival I’m holding is a brief conversation with someone close to me.  Some ideas were spoken of.  Things were inferred. One was that I am ‘taking too long’ to ‘move on’.  Another, that I was not raped ‘as bad as another’ victim of crime.  That ‘people’ found my current ‘status’ regarding not being employed ‘difficult to explain’ to people they talk to.  When I bristled at these comments, the idea was put forward that I ‘have to be able to hear people’s comments about me/the issue’.  If this person ever reads this, my eyes were telling you to please stop talking.  I didn’t want to be hurt and I didn’t want to react with hurt so as to be uncomfortable or fight with you.  But on that day, you didn’t stop.  You reacted with disdain.  Said I should be able to handle comments.  Then, “Oh, you’re pissed off with me now”.  And I tried really hard to apologise for myself and avoid being honest.  Which would have elicited a negative reaction and made me uncomfortable.  Because despite learning so much about myself, even on this topic, I still get scared of upsetting people close to me.  Why?  Because I want connection.  I don’t want to feel I am fighting isolated from support.  It is not a healthy way to live, trying to keep the peace outside of me at the expense of feeling peace inside of me.  

It hurt to think about anyone talks about my ‘situation’ like it’s a lifestyle choice.  It hurt to think that I have to put myself on a Rape Scale and compare myself to other victims.  And that I ‘should be getting on with life’ if someone who was raped ‘worse’ than me has.  In less time.  With less fuss.  And no, I don’t have to hear what anyone thinks about me, my truth and my feelings about sexual assault.  I don’t.  And the select few close to me should not ask that of me.

I’m not interested in laying blame.  I am interested in feeling peace inside.

At my core, I believe these things.  I am proud that I ‘still’ talk about these things out loud.  On the internet, to professionals and to lawyers.  I am proud that rape and stalking make me upset.  I am proud that I feel a sense of empathy and solidarity with a section of our community which remains quiet for the most part.  I am comfortable with the fact that reading about other acts of horrific assault troubles me, hurts my heart.  I want to be someone who feels.  I want to be someone who cares.  I want to be someone who contributes to the public discourse and possibly helps facilitate change.  I am not happy to ‘still’ be dominated by this experience, enveloped by it to such an extent due to the fact that it happened during the course of my employment, by a boss, and that they have ensured I couldn’t apply for a job in the same area even if I felt able.  Because I tried.  I tried very hard.  I’m proud that I tried.  I’m proud that I pushed myself until I had to stop.  I didn’t want to give up.  I don’t want to now.  My experience if different from anyone else’s and cannot follow the same course after.  I give myself a hard enough time about it.  

But I am in the middle of this drawn-out storm because I am fighting.  I am fighting for my own dignity and I am fighting because I can.  Because others can’t, by virtue of their country of origin or their safety or need.  I don’t think I am doing anyone a favour, I’m just fighting because I deserve better.  If that immerses me in this muck for longer, that is the price I pay.  I didn’t get here by choice but I’m sure as hell going to fight to exit this experience on my own terms.  


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