Anatomy of an Ass-Grab

This is what it feels like:

Late December 2017. So I’d decided it was dive-bar night and met up with my gf (the pool shark) at the local hole-in-the-wall place. She, as usual, had traveled with an entourage — tonight it was 4 other women and 2 guys — all people I hadn’t met before. I got there a bit late, and they already had a game going. I got a drink at the bar and joined in for the next game. Me, my gf, one of the other women, and the two guys were all trading-out, playing rounds. One of the guys sort of looked like Channing Tatum, except a bit older (my age) :). The other guy resembled Cheech Marin. I started testing the flirt-waters with “Channing”; he flirted right back. It was light and fun. I started feeling good about myself.

Eventually, Channing and I were paired on one team, with Cheech and my gf against us. This was fun, even though Channing was on his umpteenth drink. (HIM: “You’re sooo hot!” ME: “You’re really drunk.” HIM: “I know!”) But it was the kind of friendly atmosphere where everyone acknowledged each other when someone sank a good shot. Cheech, I noticed, would pat Channing’s butt when he walked past. In fact, three of the women, and the two guys seemed to be rather “touchy” with each other. Whatever – they all seemed to know each other, and that’s how they rolled. It was all cool until I finally had a decent run, after which I circled around the pool table to wait for my next turn.

As I passed by Cheech, who was sitting on a bar stool, he said, “Good job!” and patted my butt. Only he didn’t just pat my butt – he squeezed it. I was wearing jeans and a baggy, past-my-butt black sweater, so in order to reach my butt, he’d had to reach under the back of my sweater. And he’d done it quickly, in the half-second it took me to walk past him.

My good mood instantly evaporated in a cloud of confusion. I had just been treated like an object — had been deliberately touched without my permission — but I didn’t understand why. Why did he think it was okay for him to treat me like that? But Cheech was behaving like nothing was wrong, and that confused me, too. He was acting the same way he’d acted right after he’d patted Channing’s butt, only it hadn’t been the same thing. He hadn’t squeezed Channing, like he’d done to me. Also, he and Channing were friends, from before that night, and he’d only just met me an hour ago. Why did he think it was okay to grab me like that, when he didn’t even know me? Why did he even have his hand anywhere near my butt?

I’d been having such a good time, and I didn’t want to let this one jerk ruin my night, so I froze and said, “No, no, no,” softly, but loud enough that only Cheech could hear. “No-no-no, what?” Cheech asked. I didn’t respond, except to shake my head and move away from him. I knew my having-fun facial expression had hardened, and I knew he could see that, even though I didn’t look at him. He didn’t grab my ass the remainder of the night, but he proceeded to try to touch me through my sweater’s cutaway shoulder holes, saying in a voice that sounded fake-playful, “Your sweater has holes in it!” My shoulders were the only skin I had exposed that night, aside from my neck, head, and hands. Not that it should’ve mattered, though, if I’d had a low-cut sweater with cleavage falling out, or shorts and an exposed belly-button. This guy didn’t have permission to touch, and he kept trying to do it, anyway. It made my bad feeling even worse, and I was still bewildered as to why he was doing this to me. He wasn’t doing it to my gf, or to the other woman who was playing with us. (Albeit, he seemed to be pretty handsy with the other three women at our table, but they were with him, as well, and they all knew each other.) I tried to squash my anger that began to rise up, afraid that if I punched him, like I wanted to, I’d be the one guilty of ruining everyone else’s night. Not to mention that I knew I’d be the one with assault charges brought against me, and he’d be “the victim.”

All I could do was to keep well out of arm’s reach of him the rest of the night. I tried to recapture the fun feeling, but it was gone. Instead, I felt a lot of anger and humiliation, and it took me a few weeks to fully process it. All because of some asshole’s feelings of entitlement and superiority, thinking he had a right to a half-second of gratification at my expense. Because I didn’t matter as a human being.

The Rules #12 - keep your hands to yourself

Side note:

That night, about a half hour later, Cheech, Channing, and the other women left. I then told my gf that Cheech had grabbed my ass.

“Seriously?!?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I replied.

“Wow – I wonder what his wife would think of that.”

“He’s married?!?!” I asked.

“Yeah, to the half-drunk woman who was sitting next to him.”

Sometimes I really don’t understand people.

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“Oh, no – I read your blog! I’ve got this!” (and other quick updates)

Quick updates:

1) Well, color me Wrong! about my election predictions from my last post – wow!

2) It’s now been more-than two months since the judge (from my Catholic annulment process) has had my case. Even my spiritual adviser is like what the heck? I give up.

3) Multiple guy “friends” (who also seem to want to be more-than) continue to text, but at a lesser-rate. This is a good thing: means my point is getting across that I don’t want to date.

Nothing more fun than realizing you’re training passive-aggressive puppets.

4) My blog-readership is up. I’m not sure this is a good thing. I had a number of guys over the past few months (as I was edging my way out of dating) who insisted on doing a few things, like buying me a drink (when I didn’t even want one) or paying the bill, because, “Oh, no – I read your blog! I’ve got this!” Ugh. Nothing more fun than realizing you’re training passive-aggressive puppets, eh? (No, this is not all of the men in my life. Just a few, who’ve literally said those words to me. Maybe that was a good thing, though: helps me separate out my true friends from the ones who just see me as a challenge they want to overcome.)

5) I’m almost through D-day week (4 years, now) and I’ve only had minor “echoes” – just some overall panicky feelings, and general “down-ness.” But it’s way better than last year, which was better than the year before (and obviously light-years better than the year before that!).

6) My PTSD has calmed down a lot, too. This is probably largely due to the fact that I’m working really hard at avoiding drama in my life, which basically means I don’t have a life. But still: the positives. 🙂 However, PTSD is something I will always have, and once in a while it lets me know it. Several weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night: the wind was blowing, hard. It was making that awful whooooooh! sound in the eaves of my building – and I’d left my windows open. In addition to the wind, my vertical blinds clattered, and my bedroom door shook. The noise had reached my subconscious, and I’d woken terrified and shaking. (My kids were even home with me that night.) I managed to reach a level of cognizance that I realized what was going on – that I was having a PTSD reaction to the sound – but I was too scared to get out of bed and shut the darned windows. Eventually, somehow, maybe a combination of sleepy-logic and the wind calming down, I managed to fall back asleep. Good thing we’re getting into winter and I have to keep the windows shut. 😉

7) I still haven’t found my soul directive. Still searching for that one. I feel like I’m in limbo with so many other things in my life – my annulment, my financial situation (still have so much divorce-debt, and still can’t support myself without the alimony from my ex – hate that!), my apartment (will I stay here or move when my lease comes up again in March? Can I even afford to move?) – and nothing clear is coming to the surface. Oh, sure, in my head I want to be a writer, full-time. I know I’d love that. But my heart isn’t speaking to me about any of the storylines that I’ve either (a) got in the hopper, or (b) that are WIPs. I don’t know what my heart wants anymore.

The only good-looking, single guys at Mass… are seminarians.

8) And finally: I’ve accepted the fact that I will not meet a hot guy at church. This is because, first of all, guys only go to Mass because either their mom makes them or their wife makes them, depending on their age. Beyond that, the only good-looking, single guys at Mass… are seminarians. Yeah: the guy-pool at church is a lose-lose situation. Whatever. (I’m not dating. I’m not dating. I’m not dating.) Doesn’t even matter.

The Trouble With the Stars

sagittarius-constellation

Several months ago I told my therapist that a guy I’d liked and seen from OkCupid “wouldn’t have worked out anyway,” because he was a Scorpio — which is completely wrong for a Sag. (Duh! I’d married a Scorpio. Didn’t need to make that mistake again!)

I haven’t always believed in astrology. But during the course of my life I’ve come to think that maybe there’s something to be said for the gravitational pulls of the planets and our geographic location(s) during gestation, combined with our unique DNA, that affect us throughout our lives. I don’t think these things predict our future — we get to decide, individually, how we act and process things. (Our own actions are on us. My actions are on me.) But maybe these gravitational pulls of the stars, planets, etc. affect our moods and our capacities to respond to overarching, general stimuli that we are likely to encounter in a given month. Or year. (Based on other people’s reaction to their own gravitational pulls and DNA, etc.) And maybe there are certain people who are naturally, biologically, going to be more compatible with us — people who are going to be “better” for us — based on the alignment of the stars on the day they were born.

So I totally didn’t need to have a(nother) Scorpio in my life.

My therapist suggested that maybe I was using astrology as an excuse to help me put up walls, to keep people out. He cautioned that I could wind up keeping the “right” person out, too.

Since then, I’ve pondered my therapist’s words, and I think he was on to something. I don’t think I’ve kept “the right person” out — I don’t think I’ve met anyone who could remotely be “the right person.” But I do think I’ve been putting up a lot of walls (my Rules, my RFQ, etc.), including using astrology as a way to keep people “out.” Thing is, I’ve been deeply hurt (hence, why I see a therapist), and I think I’ve been grasping at anything that hints at being able to protect me from being hurt like that again. I mean, what if it were neosporinpossible to predict a way to pick someone who not only wouldn’t completely devastate me, but would actually be The One? Wouldn’t anyone want to be able to find a way to predict that? Or at least predict a way to avoid pain?

So I don’t even let myself get to know many people, other than on a friend-level. It’s just too dangerous. I tried, for a while, but I’ve finally, recently, admitted that I haven’t put in active effort on trying-to-date for some time now. Almost a year. I’ve been divorced for two years. I really did try at first, in the early days. What I’ve actually been doing lately is fooling myself by putting in active effort on proving-to-myself-who-and-why-I-shouldn’t-date. At least now I realize what I’d been doing.

But maybe that’s okay for now. Maybe, as my therapist said today, it’s okay to be in a sort of stagnant, holding-pattern, because I’m “conserving energy” right now. It’s like I’m hypermiling, just trying to make it through to the next gas station, until I can figure out who I really am and what I want. Whenever that is…?

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I’ve figured out why the wind scares me

1-29-13-Storm Over Farm - Decatur, Texas

I was going to post this another time, or maybe not at all, but I had this epiphany about a month ago after some deep introspection, and… well… it’s eight o’clock at night, and it’s raining now….

Over the past few months I became aware that I would cringe from the wind — the more powerful, the worse it felt, especially at night, when I was alone in my apartment. This was not a behavior I’d always had. In fact, I’d typically always been a bit of a weather-junkie. But now, the sound of wind whistling too-fast through the trees, or howling into the eves and between the nooks and crannies of my old apartment building would produce a curl-in-a-ball response from me. (I could make myself be brave if I had my kids that night, but if I was alone, all bets were off.) I didn’t even realize I was doing this until I’d already written about it in my RFQ.

“…seeking someone who is reasonably geographically nearby, and who keeps similar wake/sleep hours, and who can come over and hold me on rough nights. Like when the wind is scary.”

Since becoming aware of this, however, I knew I had to make myself take a hard, honest look at why I’d become afraid of the wind. I mean, it wasn’t like I had some bad-wind memory that I’d lived through. I’d never been in a tornado or hurricane. I’d never even lost a friend or family member to violent weather. Then, during my ponderings, a random thought hit me and “clicked true” as soon as I’d thought it: This was because of my divorce.

Or, rather, because of how things went down at the end of my marriage.

When I learned my ex was cheating on me, found the love letters, it opened up a chasm inside me that I didn’t know existed. My legs literally gave out, and I collapsed, sobbing on my bedroom floor. My arms gripped tight around my ribs. It felt as though the pain would rip me apart from the inside, and I was trying, somehow, to hold myself together, to contain this impossible, desolate despair inside a small, human, skeletal frame. As I was feeling this worst-imaginable-pain-ever, smaugI was shocked that the human body could contain this magnitude of grief. Surely I would have exploded, had I not held onto my ribs…!

Which brings me back to present-day, and the wind.

It’s been three-and-a-half years. I’ve come a long way since then. But not long enough that the echoes of needing to hold myself together are not able to be threatened by the groans of a 20+ year-old apartment building, as it stands up to powerful gusts — especially common in Colorado, in the spring. It will dismantle my home; it will demolish me. It will rip me apart from the inside….

That’s why, it turns out, I’m afraid of the wind.

Now I know.

And now that I know the root of that fear, I can begin to face it.

harry potter vs dragon

The Rules: #5 – How vs What, in texting

The Rules #5 - How vs What in texting

There are a number of people who have done/do this to me, when texting. I’m sure they don’t mean any harm by it — in fact, I’m pretty sure they all think they’re demonstrating interest in my life. But it always has the same, opposite impact on me. In addition to the curl-in-a-ball response this type of question elicits (fear – Why do I have to answer to you?), I also get angry (Why do I have to answer to you?), and eventually, if they keep it up, I shut down and don’t want anything else to do with the person. Okay, yes, I have PTSD, and these are all PTSD responses. I do much better with people who tell me about themselves, and then let me open up and share what I want, when I want, in my own, good time. But aside from my personal issues, it also strikes me that it’s just bad manners to ask someone what they’re doing – especially if you don’t have an implicit right to know. Does anyone else think so, too?

Cyberbullying for Adults: 101, and the REAL Me

This is a big post for me. I’m revealing more about myself than I ever have, publicly and overtly, thus far:

I have severe, negative self-image issues that are hard-wired to key people in my past. I abhor talking about my looks; I shut down when that happens. If you say I’m pretty, I have enough good manners to say “thank you,” but it’s like I become dead inside. I know you’re just being nice. I know I’m not pretty, no matter what words come out of your mouth. I’m working on getting over this. But I’m telling you this about me up-front because it’s possible that my own views on good netiquette are skewed, due to my “preexisting conditions.”

Maybe, maybe not….

—–

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The original FB profile photo, in question.

Evening, a few weeks ago. I’d been home from work for about an hour, helped the little kids with their homework, cleaned up, and was just about to take my teenage daughter to the store (her, practice-driving!), when a friend, with whom I’d been texting all day, suddenly FB-messaged me that she liked my previous FB profile photo better than the one I currently had up.

What? WTF? Where did that come from? I was shocked, confused, and defensive. Who judges people’s Facebook profile photos?

Instead of letting the raw emotions win, I messaged her back:

"Feisty tonight, aren't we?"

She then proceeded to message me again, saying how she thought my current photo made me look too harsh, and the previous photo “made you look softer. And like you had hair.”

What!?! Then I really did get upset.

in memory of peter owens

The 9/11 tribute.

First of all, the only reason I’d had that photo up is because on 9/11 (a Thursday, this year) I’d put up a tribute-photo to a family member who’d died in the Towers, and then I’d hastily changed it out with a photo of me that was (a) recent and (b) that I hadn’t yet used for my profile. I knew it was obnoxiously close-up (one of my cousins commented that day: “Extreme close-up Friday?”), and I’d intended to take a new selfie and swap it out soon. But by now it was the following Monday evening, and I hadn’t yet had a chance to sit down and do it. So I had that level of defensiveness going on. (Okay, already, I’ll get to it!)

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The hasty, post-9/11 replacement.

Secondly, I didn’t think it looked that bad — certainly not bad enough for someone to go out of their way to comment on it and let me know. Indeed, some of my friends seemed to like it. Regardless, I didn’t hate it. It reminded me of a lazy afternoon at the pool. Which it was.

And thirdly, it was my freaking Facebook profile photo, not a beauty pageant. Not something to be judged-on. And, again, it was my freaking Facebook profile photo. It was my own expression of myself, that I’d chosen to show the world at that moment. I hadn’t asked for anyone else’s opinion, let alone a negative one. Yes, unfortunately, Facebook announces to the world (or at least your entire newsfeed) when you’ve made a change to your profile picture. And, unfortunately, they allow comments. And they can’t stop your friends from messaging you, either. But didn’t we all learn in Kindergarten that if you don’t have something nice to say…?

Seriously, I have never, ever told someone I disliked their FB profile pic (or even insinuated it by saying that I preferred another one). I’ve either “liked” it or said nothing. My friends are my friends because of who they are inside. It’s none of my business to tell anyone else how to present herself among her own circle of friends. Each person has her own vision of who she is in a given moment. Amiright?

I was pissed, and I felt unduly, negatively judged. And ugly. After dealing with my kids, I grabbed another spare moment and inserted a pic of me and my kids from the day before, at the park. But the damage was done. My friend and I stopped talking. (She said she didn’t want to deal with someone around whom she felt like she had to walk on eggshells. Can’t say I blame her. I’m not fun to deal with all of the time.)

Sadly, my ordeal wasn’t over.

—–

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Yesterday’s pic.

Yesterday. I changed out my FB profile picture again. I got a few “likes,” a few nice comments. And then one of my cousins — a wonderful, supportive, gorgeous creature, whom I’ve worshiped since childhood — told me she preferred two previous pics to the one I’d currently chosen. She happily offered to show me which ones.

"No, please don't...!"

I messaged this to her and explained my recent episode with my friend. I also explained about my negative self-image issues (which I’m not sure she’d understood about me, previously), and how being judged for a profile pic on FB triggered all of this in me. I also explained how I considered it rude to comment on peoples’ FB profile pics, when they hadn’t asked for it (i.e. “stuff that is no one else’s business”).

My cousin apologized. I think she felt bad, and I felt bad for making her feel that way. I told her I didn’t think she’d meant to be harmful or rude, but that, seriously, who’d asked? She said she and her sister tell each other stuff like this all the time. (Maybe I should be flattered that she treated me like her sister?) But the whole thing made me really not want to be judged anymore. Especially by my “friends.”

So I deleted my FB profile pic and haven’t replaced it yet. I’m a blank silhouette now.

—–

Fresh start: This morning, I decided that if the world was going to judge me, they were going to have to judge the real me. Usually people see me with all of my makeup on:

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But before I look like that, this is the real me. This morning, fresh out of the shower:

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Ugly? Not pretty? Yeah, I already know. And, yeah, maybe I’m taking a page out of Colbie Caillat’s playbook. But so what? There is no call to judge people who don’t ask to be judged. Not about things that don’t really matter.

Like how a person looks on the outside.