Just When I Thought It Was Safe…

As I’ve previously shared, I haven’t tried dating in quite some time. At first, it was because I had a lot of anger I had to process. Understandable, given what I’ve been through.

A year ago, though, the anger went away (had a bit of a religious experience, where I literally felt the anger lift off of me), but the anger was replaced by fear – crippling, paralyzing fear. Of men. (Again, understandable, given my past.)

It took me more than a few months to identify the specific emotion, and another few to process it through, with my therapist’s help. (I’m not actually afraid of all men. Just ones who have power over me, because that’s how you get hurt. It’s scary being vulnerable!)

Finally, I got to a place where I thought maybe it was safe to dip my toes back in the water. So this weekend I gave it a try. Turns out I was incorrect.

shark in water

I’m gonna need a bigger boat….

Back at the end of January I’d met this guy who was a friend of a friend. We kind of hit it off in conversation, and he seemed interested. (I mean, he even bought me drinks!)  We saw each other a few times in casual, group settings, and he still seemed nice. And cute. And we had a few things in common. We texted a bit here and there – nothing big, but nothing to make me think he wasn’t interested in taking this to a dating-level.

For my part, I’d kept it professional-slash-friendly. No, I don’t work with him, but I don’t know how else to describe the at-a-distance place at which I keep people until I know them better. Which, in the case of most guys, is never. But I was beginning to feel like I was getting over my fear, and maybe it was time to see if I could try dating again. So this weekend I decided that if he showed up at the group event I was going to on Friday night, I might test the waters and try actually flirting with him.

He did show up, and I flirted with him. He flirted back. Score! Things were getting comfortable and a kind of “touchy,” but in a good way.

Damn, it feels good to be a bitch[Speaking of touchy: Ass-Grab Guy from my last post showed up randomly, too. He knows some of the same people I know, but I didn’t know he’d be there. So, still being mad at him, and not wanting to be a victim, I walked up to him. He started to introduce himself, but I interrupted him and said, “We’ve met.” I refreshed his memory on when and where, and he said, “Oh, yeah–.” Whereupon I interrupted him again and said, “You grabbed my ass that night, and it completely ruined my evening.” He said, “Oh, I’m sorry,” but he looked past me when he said it, and he said it like he was confused, like maybe I got my story wrong and didn’t know what I was talking about. I got the distinct impression that he was not actually sorry. But I was very clear on what he’d done and how it made me feel. “Just steer clear of me tonight,” I said firmly. Then I turned on my heel and walked away. And that felt really good. (Dang, I need to drink tequila more often….)]

Anyway, back to the other guy: So we’re talking and flirting, and he’s paying for all the drinks. Things are going well, and I’m thinking maybe this could go somewhere. Maybe I could try going out with this guy. Then he let me know that he’s looking for “more than fuck-buddies, but not ‘in a relationship.'” (Direct quote.)

My heart sank and my insides went to chill-frost. On the one hand, he was a nice guy, and he insisted on paying for the drinks (I even tried, for real; he wouldn’t let me), and he was honest about saying what he wanted. And I never felt compromised or pressured by his behavior. On the other hand… holy cow.

I gently informed him that, first-off,  “more than fuck buddies” is kind of a definition of “in a relationship,” so probably he should revisit his goals-language. Second, I said I’m in a place where I’m looking to not have sex right now. Not until I’m actually “in a relationship” – with a best friend, whom I’m in love with. (Or will be in love with, whenever I find and develop said best-friendship with whomever.)

What I didn’t point out to him is that what he was wanting from me made me feel cheap and less-than-human, like an object to be used and put back on a shelf. And, if I hadn’t gone through the long, anger-fear healing process that I’ve been through, I would’ve stopped there and wallowed in the misery of “why does he think that’s all I’m worth?”

zen - or not

I’m sooooo Zen…. NOT!

Fortunately, however, I can see past that. I mean, from what he’s shared of his personal life, he’s been through a lot the past year, and I think he’s just depersonalizing relationships so that it doesn’t hurt so much. I get that. Further, even if that’s not it, he has a right to want what he wants and to express those wants verbally, without violating anyone else’s boundaries – all of which he did. So I don’t feel any anger toward him, just a bit of frustration and sadness: for him that he’s in a place which I suspect might be a result of his grief, and for me because when I finally think it’s okay to open the door a crack, I get it slammed in my face.

At least I have my own back enough at this point to just walk away. Even if there doesn’t seem to be a lot of other fish in the sea.

Saturday night is still date-night, so the next night was back to date-night-with-myself. I really want to find someone I can snuggle up and watch a movie with, but the level of trust it’s going to take to get to that place seems insurmountable. Because trust comes with time, but it starts with respect. And right now I’m on an island, surrounded by shark-infested waters. Good thing I’m also a pirate. 😉

happy hour drinking GIF-downsized_large

We’ll be okay, as long as there’s rum

 

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.

In the Land of Losers: Vol 1

t-shirt - inappropriate

I’ve been told (by a young, gay man, whom I absolutely adore) that I need to spice up my life. Oh, sugar – if you only knew. Here’s just one example of what I’ve been dealing with, in the interim since my last blog post, months ago….

So I muddle my way through Christmas, and it’s January. I’m stir-crazy. I go to a club to party with a Meetup group I’ve been to before. The theme is “Inappropriate T-shirts,” and — oh, boy — they are. Everything from “I heard what you did for a Klondike bar. (Call me!)” to “Are you tighter than a 5th grader?” Yeah, some of the t-shirts went there, and then some. That was the point, though, right? Inappropriate. (My own shirt, “CAKE,” was mild by comparison, I thought, but when I told the guys what it stood for they shifted uncomfortably and moved away. Conversely, when I told the women, they threw their arms around me, told me they loved me, and said they wanted a shirt like that of their own. Hmm…. )

cake t-shirt

So the night moves forward. There’s a t-shirt winner (who literally brought my gf to tears, that’s how offended she was by the shirt), and there’s dancing. The DJ was great. Of course I hit the floor.

So I’m dancing with a bunch of other people from the Meetup group, including this one guy, whom I’d met that night. Actually, I think I vaguely remembered him from a previous Meetup, but whatever. I wasn’t into him, I just wanted to dance. If he did, too, great.

So we’re all dancing, and I’m feeling the pulse, dancing with everyone around me. The song shifts, and I’m facing this guy, shimmying along with the beat. All of a sudden, out of the blue, he reaches his arms around me…

and double-fist grabs my ass

Huh….??? Um, wait a minute, did that guy just…?

In the space of a sharp intake I mentally reassessed: yeah, he’d just full-on taken a swift, two-palmed, very large squeeze.

Double-huh…!!!???!!!

I immediately jerked backward, away from him — stunned, but in a confused way. My brain was still trying to keep the happy-vibe from a second earlier. Whoa! This guy doesn’t even know me, and we’re in public! He just did that in front of all these people! WTF?! Does he think that’s okay? He wasn’t American (he had an accent), so I tried to rationalize that maybe that behavior was copacetic in his world. Did I send some sort of “wrong” signal? No, I totally wasn’t into him, so I’d been careful not to “put that out there.” I’d just been dancing. WTF?!!? In the moment, though, I was so baffled, I wasn’t even allowing myself to get angry. There had to be some logical explanation; I just hadn’t figured it out.

I tried to keep dancing. Didn’t work. My night was ruined. I stopped dancing shortly thereafter and left. But — me being me, and the slow-emotional-processor that I am — it took me until the next day for me to realize I was downright pissed at this guy for treating me like an object, like a piece of meat. I wished I’d have realized it then, when it happened, and caused a scene. I wish I’d screamed and yelled and called him out on his demoralizing, disrespectful behavior. I wished I’d punched him, that’s how angry I was in retrospect.

But I didn’t.

I never manage to figure these things out “in the moment.” *sigh!* And since then I haven’t even had the nerve to tell the leader of the Meetup group, whom I know fairly well, that this happened. What would be the point? I’m afraid of coming across as a whiny, overly-sensitive female. And what would he do about it, anyway? Say he was sorry it happened? (He probably would. He’s a nice guy. But he uses the group partly as a way to market his business, and I don’t want to make waves for him.) So I just chalk another line on the “Genuine Losers I’ve Met” side of the board. Oh, this side of the board has so many stories to tell…!

I saw Ass-Grab Loser at another Meetup event about a month later, and he seemed to actually not realize that he’d done anything wrong. In fact, he seemed to not even recognize me at first, but then came over and apologized for not recognizing me. Whatever. I told him it was fine and then blew him off. But that night, any time I had to pass near him, I made sure to circle around far out of reach. Ugh!