I Was... Accosted? Or: Trust Me, I’m a Doctor

Simply Simon

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Because this shit always seems to happen to me, I’m stuck trying to decide whether it’s my fault, as usual.

The last time I was seriously assaulted, I didn’t even think anything of it. The only reason it glares in my memory is because my best friend was also assaulted. He got us both. Her husband and kid were occupied far enough away... this shitbag planned it, of course. Anyway when we got in the car, she tells him about it. Now, he’s a live wire and carries a gun. For some reason I can always talk him down more effectively than his wife, so after he broke his windshield punching it and talked a lot about going back to kill him, he calmed down and made us promise to report it immediately. My best friend isn’t used to this happening, and she’s just completely fallen apart. Me? I’m super confused by it. That guy doesn’t even register on my radar for sexual assault. It wasn’t that bad. Except months later, the case is being tried, and the judge seems to think it was pretty bad—felony sexual battery (X2) bad. That was in 2016.

That guy was a class A scum bag. I knew it before I even heard about the statement his wife gave about him abusing little girls in his family. It didn’t take a PI to notice he was a piece of shit when we got to his house, but that town is so full of filth, I wasn’t fazed by it, even after he pushed me up against the wall and said, “I want to eat your pussy.” I just wasn’t that affected. I wasn’t even scared. I was annoyed and exasperated. I don’t even remember feeling any anger, just inconvenience that kept growing and fully blossomed when I was subpoenaed.

I mean I guess it matters what you consider sexual violence. There were a few bad actors over the past year who would corner me and whisper sweet nothings of depraved vulgarities in my ear, follow my work schedule and come in when they knew I was alone, told me graphically what they thought about me. One guy even brought his kid with him one time. But they didn’t touch me.

So in short succession over the past couple of months, I got married and turned 30 (f*ck, I know, right?). I think somewhere in my core, I believed that one or maybe the synergistic confluence of these events meant it would stop. I didn’t really think this, not lucidly, but after this weekend, I realized that somewhere, I believed it.

I have recently been called out for padding my posts with “fluff,” but I would call my elaborate preamble one part context and one part I’ve Been a Trained to Write Narratively at a Very F*cking High Level for Over Half of My Life. Call it what you want.

So we’re here, now, in the present. I am working with this client who lives in a notoriously bougie neighborhood. Almost all of the neighbors are chronically friendly and own dogs. I’m thinking: they see me working as a healthcare worker, so this would be the perfect place to advertise my services in pet services, especially dog training, which is what I’m after. I was all set to launch my business a week before lockdown. Turns out healthcare workers are in far higher demand.

I spend most of my time on the front porch, weather be damned. So I get chatty with the neighbors. I’m building rapport.

There’s this man who takes his dog on long walks, even in the blistering cold. We’re chatting about his dog one day, bonding over the similarities between my girl Annie and his dog, talking about anxiety rehabilitation—whatever. There was also the time we chatted about my car. He tells me about how his first car was a mini, and I’m looking at him thinking, must’ve been the actual original, the Morris Minor. He’s got to be at least 60. He has an accent that I at first interpret as French, but I know it’s not. It’s familiar and faraway. I finally ask him where he’s from. “Israel,” he says.

Now for those who don’t know me, if there’s one thing I incontrovertibly love with my whole self, it is Israel. I can’t tell you how difficult it was for me to experience the whole country over almost two months and yet eventually decide to go to college early instead of going back for a year. Even when I joined here at 20, getting ready to graduate, I wrestled endlessly with the question of whether or not to go back and join the IDF. PTSD is why I didn’t, chiefly. I knew it would be selfish to put myself in a position where other people were counting on me, knowing I might completely fall apart.

So of course I flip out. “No way,” I say, and then in Hebrew, “How are you?”

Then he flips out. I have lived in the south for over 12 years. I have met three Jewish people since I graduated ten years ago (I think there were like 7 of us at school). I’m not sure about him, but I haven’t met anyone who has set foot in the land of milk and honey since I was in Florida at 19 in a falafel place.

We bond. I explain my Hebrew has gone to hell. He offers to help me with it. I happened to be in the midst of seriously tuning up my Spanish and ASL, and I immediately dropped the studying and focused on shutting out every nonnative language I know except Hebrew. He leaves me a gift in my car the next day—sweets from near where he grew up, next to the Galilee. I am so excited I even text my mother about it after not returning her attempts to contact me for a month. This is how excited I am.

At some point during these two days he says we should take a walk so he can work on my Hebrew with me. Of course, yes, but I can’t while I’m working. I mentioned to my client’s mother how nice he was, by his first name, which she doesn’t recognize, but she knows the house and says he’s a heart surgeon. Turns out he is a pretty big deal doctor, but not exactly a surgeon. A cardiologist, it turned out, who specializes in laser operations.

So Saturday night I’m leaving work and I see a lone man walking down the street. As I get closer, he turns and waves. It’s the doctor. I stop my car, get out. We exchange pleasantries in Hebrew, and as he says hello, he hugs me, kisses my cheek. I find this ritual both off putting and deeply familiar. Unless you’re shomer nagia, this is the culturally correct way for a man to greet a woman.

He asks me if I’d like to spend some time chatting. f*cking hell... I’m glad I’m writing this in detail, because I actually forgot about this (how’s that for fluff?). That motherf*cker. I say no, actually, I need to get home to my husband. Tomorrow? Tomorrow, he agrees, and I am thrilled.

The next day while I’m working, he comes by as usual with his dog and confirms when I get off work. Then he says he’ll meet me at the parking lot that’s about 500ft from me, past the thick trees. I find this strange, but I’m not at all preoccupied by it. My keepers, the parents of my client, are gossipy and judgemental, and I don’t want to be near their house, either, because according to them, I switched to a vape instead of smoking (yes, I’m back to that... graduate school really kicked my ass), and I know I’ll want a cigarette after my shift.

So I see him pull his car out of his driveway while I’m finishing my notes, and that seems weird, too. Instinctively, I think, I’m not armed. What if...

But the thought evaporates almost immediately. Even before my symptoms started kicking in around 8 years old, I was a characteristically paranoid child, because my mother, who it would later turn out suffered some serious sexual trauma too, constantly put fears of men into my head. They still whisper to me. But a Jewish Israeli doctor? That’s one man I’ve been trained my whole life to trust.

I get out late thanks to my abiding perfectionistic streak, dimmed though it may be these days, and when I get to the end of the road, there’s his car, about to come back, and he flips a bitch and drives right back to the parking lot, where I am now following him. My sense of vague bewilderment pulses for a moment, but I get out of my car laughing, asking if he thought I forgot, already frustrated that I can’t remember how to say I don’t remember in Hebrew. Ken, he says. He’s still in the driver’s seat, having popped open the passenger door, and he’s waving me inside. I’m figuring the old man is either actually cold for once or he thinks I am, having watched me shiver the night before, when I wasn’t dressed for standing beside my car for an impromptu chit chat. But I’m suited up, and I want a damn cigarette, so I climb in with one foot dangling outside, asking if he’s up for that walk.

“You want to walk?”

“Yeah, please. Look, you’ve been in my car,” I say, referencing the gift he left on my front seat. “You know I smoke, but I’d appreciate it if you didn’t mention that to [My Keepers].”

We’re both climbing out of his (super fancy) car now. No, no, he won’t say anything, he says, let’s walk. I’ll keep your secret, he says, and you can keep one for me. At some point in this exchange, I’m lamenting the small hole I recently managed to punch into the bumper of my pristine new car, and he’s showing me a huge dent he just put in his own, and I surmise that this is the secret I’m keeping.

We begin to walk, and he curls his arm and solicits mine. Again, I’m thinking that 1) he’s old school and 2) this is culturally appropriate behavior. I string my arm through his, and with his other hand, he grasps mine. This part struck me as odd. There were no alarm bells, just little snags in my mind, like listening to a song and having your ears involuntarily pricked by the competing sound of distant sirens chasing a faraway fire.

We’re walking at a clip I haven’t felt since I was in my native land. I learned directly after walking how to walk in Manhattan. I’ve conscientiously slowed myself since then. No one walks like that here. My husband is a foot taller than I and still forever lags behind me, even now. It’s refreshing—all of it. The accent, the customs, the deeply rooted familiarities, like catching a whiff of what smells like your childhood.

He asks me if I’ve been on this trail as we cross the street into the pitch black, carefully landscaped trail head next to the bougie subdivision. I know there are a ton of trails nearby, but I don’t get off that porch, and I tell him as much. He’s clinging to me, watching my feet, and I’m laughing at him, asking if he’s ever walked the trails at my alma mater. He has, once. I tell him that’s where I went, how I’ve stumbled blind drunk in the dead of night through those far less maintained trails, if I even kept to one. I tell him I live on a mountaintop, that I traverse far more dangerous terrain than this wide, expensively mulched path.

I smoke a cigarette, and the conversational climate is unusually loose. He answers every question I ask about his life in comprehensive detail. I’ve forever been a sucker for anyone with unfiltered authenticity and open communication, and I am totally drawn in by this quality, but in the back of my mind, I’m thinking about how deep we’ve already gone into these unlit woods in a place I don’t know. Again, like a persistent gnat, I’m swatting this thought away absently.

We come to the outlet of a creek bed, and he stops. He tells me he’s going to ask me a question in Hebrew. The distant sirens grow near. I smell smoke. The faraway fire is suddenly close enough to wonder about. I am Little Red Riding Hood remarking on granny’s toothy grin. But it’s granny, right? Right?

He asks. I don’t recognize almost any of the words, but my insides translate it anyway, and now my heart is pounding. Again, I ask, hoping it will change. I think maybe if he realizes I don’t know what it means, he will mask it, transform it. He repeats, then repeats piece by piece, translating to English in between:

Would you

Mind if

I kissed you?

I’m pulling away, stepping back, and in my core I’m already hard at work blaming myself for this. I’m shaking my head, but I’m actually shaking it at myself. How could you let this happen? What have you done?

Like, on the cheek? I say, and I’m totally embarrassed—no, ashamed—of my mock naïveté. No, he says... duh.

Lo, I say, I just got married, and I thought this was new information to him until I wrote this post and remembered my words from exactly 24 hours ago: I need to get home to my husband.

I don’t remember exactly what he said next except that he said sure, a kiss on the cheek, then. My, Grandma, what big teeth you have. I’m frozen. He steps to me, leans in, puts his arms around me, and he kisses my cheek, then passionately down my neck. In retrospect, I’m totally dissociative now. My brain has turned off. I don’t feel scared so much as I am super pissed at myself for not seeing this coming. I usually see this coming. So it must be my fault for being so blind. Either that or I DID see this coming, and I am therefore so much more to blame for it.

I gently dislodge him and I’m stumbling mentally, talking, talking, talking... my MO—keep up a constant, lighthearted, detached patter so you don’t have to look at the thing. Summarily, my words add up to what the actual f*ck, dude? Your wife? She’s not my wife. What exactly did you think was going to happen here? What? You bring a young woman into the woods and what? She’s your side piece? What were you thinking?

Motherf*cker spills his guts to me. Now I’m entering familiar territory, and my panic falls to a whisper. The sirens are passing me by. I know this situation. He’s entangled in an unhappy situation. He thinks I’m beautiful and brilliant. He would leave her to know me. There is some (even more profoundly) eye-roll-inducing talk about the radiance of my soul. And then he’s enumerating his obsession. He has been spying on me far more and for far longer than I could have ever known or surmised. The idea of me has consumed him. I’m feeling very comfortable now in a way, at home. This is just as familiar to me as his beautiful Israeli accent. I’m feeling brash and confident even though I’m probably still dissociative or maybe because of it, as I am wont to be when I dissociate. Cool. Cocky. Untethered from bothersome emotions, plugged into only those feelings that serve me effectively in dangerous situations.

The walk “back,” if you want to call it that... a circuitous route during which I decidedly lost all sense of direction or place, was a blur. Every now and then, mid conversation, he pulls me to him again, kissing down my face and neck as I freeze, then unfreeze enough to either delicately push or, breathlessly, say s t o p.

By the time we get back to the parking lot, I’m coming back to myself, back to grounded reality, and the touchdown is positively dizzying. I’m spinning. It’s like waking up way more drunk than you ever recall being and being seized by the urgent instinct to hold onto the floor because everything is rocking like a ship overtaken by the sea. You have to shut your eyes again before you capsize or hurl.

I am well aware that this is bad. I’m still trying to figure out what I did to make this happen, still trying to make sure I have control of the situation even if that implicitly indicts me for causing it. I get in my car and go home.

There’s more, but that’s the nuts, bolts, and fully stocked aisle of surrounding “fluff.”

I don’t know how to categorize this. The loudest voice in my head is like, Damnnn, Simon, you got straight up Little Red Riding Hooded. How the f*ck did you manage that?

I don’t know that this was an act of sexual violence. I mean, right? But it’s bothering me... badly. Chewing me up and hollowing me out increasingly, like termites working through load bearing wood—barely perceptible, insidious, yet definite.

But at least now I’m wayyy more mad at him than I am with myself. The shiny new rage feels amazing—way better than the constant chatter I’ve had of suicidal ideation.

But seriously... what the f*ck.
 

Simply Simon

Sponsor
Why is this eating me up. Was it because, for a moment, I was genuinely tempted? I was licked by the seductive flames of danger and went unburnt, the way it always begins, and the adrenaline was such a sweet reminder of what it feels like to live in the deafening din of chaos? That the stress of the situation felt so much more like home than my current life of matrimonial bliss, wherein the unyielding comfort I experience is foreign and feels both perfectly right and deeply amiss?

And who could have devised a better bait? It feels like divine testing or some kind of cosmic taunting. Oh yeah, he works at the VA. He also suffered tremendous childhood trauma, has PTSD, but he didn’t say more. Don’t ask me how we got on the subject. Yesterday was such a clusterf*ck. I’m not ready to put the pieces into some kind of order to tell about it. They’re scattered in fragments across my memory, difficult to isolate more than a couple glimpses of what transpired because of the blinding, eye watering combination of fury and deep, nauseating waves of shame.

It’s not because I didn’t tell J. I’ve withheld things from him before that I know would have been sodium splashed in water if those stories reached his ears.

It turns out that The Good Doctor is actually 69. I’m not sure J is above striking an old man. I can’t decide. But there’s no point telling him, anyway. I’d have to switch clients, and I don’t know if I want to yet. I’m playing a long game with this case that is sure to secure a significant promotion if I can hang in there (my two clients are impossible to staff with anyone else—seriously).

But yes, who could have devised better Simon bait? It was, in a very true sense, what I had always wanted before J. Of course I wasn’t holding my breath on the details that made this very moment so much more tempting than I could have ever anticipated.

Extensively published at least somewhat famous (from what I can tell reading his first book) wealthy maddeningly interesting exceptionally charming Israeli doctors do not tend to be a thing within at least 1000 miles of me. His desperation for me was palpable. I know real obsession when I see it, having had too many startlingly dedicated and industrious stalkers throughout my life. He has it.

I haven’t actually grown up that much in this sense. It’s the existence of having true love, the kind you think is fictional until it actually happens to you, that stopped me. At any point in my life prior to dating J, I would have observed this obsession burning up this man and seized it. I would have snaked my way further into him, not just under his skin but wrapping like a constrictor through his ribs, around his heart, into his head, scattering wicked temptations and expertly sowing seeds that I knew would take root and flower into the nuanced seduction for which I am infamous. The kind you can’t point at me for. The kind where I have constant deniability, but I know damn well what it will do, what I am doing, how I am reinforcing and crystallizing that obsessive infatuation until my target will shudder just to think about the possibilities I am weaving into their already wild imagination.

And don’t think it didn’t occur to me. Don’t think I didn’t consider this old parlor trick of mine. The way that I manage to feel powerful when I know deep down I am teetering, tightrope walking, on the edge of being victimized. It’s how I have coped with all of the abuse. I see the fires of danger and convince myself that I can harness and contain it, control it, get the upper hand, get them eating out of my palm, get them to beg.

But it nearly always winds up the same. I lose control. And then I am stuck in a prison of my own design. Those beautiful flames of danger that I feed and make dance for my amusement always get away from me—every time. One unforeseen gust of the winds of circumstance, and I am caught in a wildfire that won’t just stop because I ask it to. It spirals. That’s how I wind up scared to leave the house, scared of windows, scared of pulling a shirt over my head because for a moment I am blind. It’s how I get phone calls from a voice that is far more desperate than I think possible, telling me I bought a car; I bought a gun; I’m coming for you.

And honestly, if it had been before J, I wouldn’t have heeded any of this experience. My desire to be at the very edge of total destruction of myself and my life is itself a temptation, a full, clean syringe calling to a heroin addict who just got clean. The smell of it liquidating in a burnt spoon.

I think this is why. The answer to my pointless question. Why is this eating at me so badly? Because the real me is still there. My practiced methods tug at me like muscle memory. Part of me—too big a piece for comfort—was ready to get to work.
 

Simply Simon

Sponsor
yeah it absolutely is sexual assault. He took you somewhere secluded and dark asked to kiss you when you said no he did it anyway.
But I let him. I used what I consider the most cowardly, repulsive line you can feed someone coming onto you. It wasn’t no for the sake of no. I said no, I’m taken. I’ve always considered that a cowardly way of putting someone down. It’s like saying, I would, but you know, I can’t because of my partner.

I had every right to freak the f*ck out right then, to berate him, to shut him down so hard he would have been shaken by it.

But I didn’t. I again grasped his arm on the way back and talked to him like nothing had really happened. I laughed the whole time, like we were old buddies. I didn’t act like I was violated.

But then again, I didn’t feel truly violated until I was back in my car. So I don’t know. Maybe I just REALLY want to blame myself. It’s so much cleaner than admitting I just walked right into a steaming pile of shit I never saw coming.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
I think you are super harsh on yourself for something you did not even do. I also think you mentioned your partner as sort of protection - like I have someone in my life ---sounded like safety signaling to yourself not that you did not mean NO! but that you meant nooooooooooooooooooooooo gosh where is my husband to protect me sort of crying for help.

I also had an experience similar to this where I let my guard down cause the person was from same country (at a country where both were expats) and interestingly enough, I feel the familiarity of connecting with similar folks is what lingers afterward. You did nothing wrong. You had every right to be anywhere with anyone without being assaulted or molested. I overcame beating myself over my letting go of guard cause of the familiarity with that guy but I can still feel the annoyance that I thought we were closer cause we shared a land and a language!
 
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NoWhereKnowWhere

MyPTSD Pro
But I let him.
Letting someone because your dissociative isn’t consent.
. It wasn’t no for the sake of no. I said no, I’m taken.
Men often respect the fact that you’re taken over women’s own wants. The reason this line is used so much is because there’s generally nothing to argue with or convince. They respect another mans “ownership” of you more than they respect your own wishes.
I had every right to freak the f*ck out right then, to berate him, to shut him down so hard he would have been shaken by it.
Safety is always in the back of my mind. Probably yours too. Dark alone does anyone know I’m here what happens if he freaks tf out? Will I be capable of running will I freeze.
I again grasped his arm on the way back and talked to him like nothing had really happened. I laughed the whole time, like we were old buddies. I didn’t act like I was violated.
Fawn
But then again, I didn’t feel truly violated until I was back in my car.
How many treads have you seen here not until years later a woman’s like hey hold on was I raped?

it depends what the distinction means for you. Why the label of what the f*ck was that? Is important. I’d personally want to forgive myself, remind myself that I’m only human and my have missed some flags but that doesn’t excuse his shitty behaviour. He is responsible for his behaviour not me. I’d also want to put him in my cannot be trusted filling cabinet in my mind.

what is the reason for you?
 

Simply Simon

Sponsor
I also think you mentioned your partner as sort of protection - like I have someone in my life ---sounded like safety signaling to yourself not that you did not mean NO! but that you meant nooooooooooooooooooooooo gosh where is my husband to protect me sort of crying for help.

Men often respect the fact that you’re taken over women’s own wants. The reason this line is used so much is because there’s generally nothing to argue with or convince. They respect another mans “ownership” of you more than they respect your own wishes.

These are both extremely validating. Thank you. It helps that these words echo my own to so many others who went through similar circumstances, especially the part where men tend to honor the wishes of other men far more than they care about the woman in question, because she is no longer a stray woman but property that will be looked after.


I keep thinking this myself, then struggling with wondering if that’s a cop out. So it really helps to see someone else put their finger on it definitively. I really appreciate this singular word being said by someone besides me.


You had every right to be anywhere with anyone without being assaulted or molested. I overcame beating myself over my letting go of guard cause of the familiarity with that guy but I can still feel the annoyance that I thought we were closer cause we shared a land and a language!
Thank you very much for sharing this. It makes me feel especially heard and understood. The familiarity was absolutely intoxicating. I was high on it, on the shared understandings, the shared ideologies, the comfort in it. I didn’t want it to be shattered by this. I want to glue all the pieces together, even now. I want the friendship I thought I was to gain. I find myself trying to reconstruct it in spite of knowing it’s not possible anymore. But I still want it. I’m enraged that he obliterated what could have been such a rich relationship between friends. I just want to make it work anyway, but it won’t. I can’t put it back together. But my mind keeps spinning, trying to pave over what happened. Rebuild. Create the beautiful thing I saw before.


what is the reason for you?
The reason I didn’t feel violated until I was alone and safe and thinking straight? All the PTSD alarm bells started mercilessly ringing like air raid sirens. But I have trouble feeling victimized because I was tempted by it. I wanted to lean into the danger, the thrill, the adrenaline, the stress, the chaos. If I weren’t in love, I totally would have.
 

Friday

Moderator
I wouldn’t personally class that as sexual assault, so much as failed seduction, & the loss of a friend. Which hurts like f*ck, and makes me feel sick -that unholy blend of grief & anger & regret swirling together into nausea- at the same time.

I also wasn’t there. So I could be completely wrong.

But for me? The pieces that would hurt: freezing, being caught unaware, being misread, giving the person an out...

((I GET the whole fortune favors the bold thing, of deciding to risk a friendship for “more”. Life is short. But if I’ve already thrown them a rope to save face? So they’ve already gotten my answer and decide to invest in “hope” 😝 Che cazzo vafunculo fai. Goddamn motherf*cker, WHY did you have to press your luck??? I LIKED what we had, I gave you an out, and you threw us away)

...and that chance being thrown away, angry at my control-freak-self for not handling the situation in a way that would have a different outcome, the sorrow the steals over the kindness of my leaving them gently, the difficult position I’ve now been put in with choosing between honesty & hurting someone I love / potentially damaging my most important relationship...

((No problem keeping things I DON’T care about from my beloved. Yep, random dude pinched my ass at the bar, or tried to kiss me at a concert, or asked me out at work? Pfft. Whatever. But the heartbreak of a friend coming on to me? That’s a wildly different thing. Especially as it not only will zing all their protective instincts, as I date territorial men by preference, but I reeeeeeeally dislike my decisions being taken away from me. By tellin them? I’m giving them a say in my decisions. Which is what partnership is about. I’m okay with that, I even love that. Except for when I don’t. Because trust issues. In spades. And because someone has to thread the goddamn needle to react/respond in a way that sits-bliss with me, instead of the 99.9bar ways that will infuriate &/or hurt me deeply. I’ve only ever loved one man in my whole life who DID thread that needle, because he trusted me... not only then in that moment, but in future encounters // he didn’t want me to see the other bloke, but understood I might, and trusted my judgement. Super-Alpha, super confident, I could be absolutely and always honest with him. I also trusted HIM. He may very well go round to purr at the bloke, or knock him flat, and I had come to learn that whatever HIS decisions were? I could trust his judgment. He’s not alive, and I’ve never known another man like him. So whilst I know the needle CAN be threaded? All my instincts scream at me not to risk it))

...and that nauseating mixture of grief/anger/regret I mentioned at the beginning.

At least half a dozen of those things tie into my trauma history, so there’s also THAT. Which mostly means I’m going to be a bit fragile -which I hate- as I don’t entirely trust my judgment -which I hate even more- and on top of everything else? Am goin to have to be elbowing out the past/present, whilst feeling weak/fragile & pissed off about both of those things. Aaaaaargh. I don’t need this on top of everything else swirling about, I don’t want it, but it is what it is. I’ve now got to do a shitton of work for something I didn’t choose, for an outcome I don’t want. Like a late term miscarriage.

So that’s me. In similar circumstance. But very possibly, very different circumstance. So take it with a margarita’s worth of salt, hey?

***

ETA... FWIW... I do think accosted is the perfect term. If we comma’d, or used it synonymously, with betrayed. I wouldn’t class it as an assault, but very much as a treacherous accost. The stars in his eyes -you- are clear enough, as is your hurt, betrayal, & loss. As is your kindness to him. I don’t think that was in any way unfounded. You took the compliment, as you lost a friend, as graciously as a good Queen might. As you held all the power in that encounter. He wanted your assent, you denied him, and were kind to him after. There’s a helluva lot of strength -and poise- in that.
 
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scout86

Moderator
Not your fault.

I'm kind of torn here. I had a similar "encounter', in college. with a professor who (up until then) I liked and respected. And I THOUGHT he liked and respected ME, which is probably what made it hurt the most. In my case, he flipped a switch I didn't even realize existed. He made the mistake of posing his proposition as "what would you do if I kissed you?" That switch in my brain flipped, I looked him right in the eye and said, "I'd knock you into the middle of next week." He studied me for a second and said, "You really mean that, don't you?" I did. In fact, he was old & had a bad heart. I might actually have hurt him. What I didn't realize, until later, was how much anger was living inside me. It served me reasonably well, at the time, but it might be better to find ways of handling these situations that don't involve acting like a crazy person.

Honestly, I think you did an ok job of trying to defuse the situation without going nuts. He, on the other hand is a jerk. I'd venture to guess he's also a lying son of a bitch. (Can I use that expression here?) I question most of his life story, as told by him. Some of it a person can fact check, I guess, but I'd bet he's a person with a puffed up view of his own value, and I'd bet he's lied to inflate the puffery.

BTW, I LIKE your preambles. I generally like your writing style. I find you to be quite readable. (Although this time, I did a bunch of skimming because it was stirring up too much righteous indignation on your behalf.) Far as I can see, not your fault, and you handled it as best you could. That's good enough. Fortunately all guys aren't like that, but it can be darn hard to sort them out. Sorry your crossed paths with such a specimen.
 

Simply Simon

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Oh @Friday, you’re always so... nail, head, etc.

And you know me. I have, well, a vocabulary. Accost feels right to me, too. Attempted/failed seduction occurred to me, too, but it was sooo creepy in retrospect—the isolation of the dark woods, the sudden fear, the absence of an escape route, physically and otherwise—makes it feel like something more, not an assault on my person but still a sneak attack, predatory. Accost has the right blend of caught off guard but the nuance of nonviolence, like a stranger reaching out to a pregnant belly caught by surprise.

Except strangers with no sense of boundaries touching pregnant bellies tend to not mean anything by it, I think. There is no ominous subterfuge.

But he planned this. He designed a trap and dropped bait. That’s what I think. I once had a German shepherd who caught a cat in the yard, but once he was on top of it, he didn’t know what to do next. I feel like I was ensnared in a trap that had no follow up plan. Somehow this lack of what next is what stokes my anger the most.


& the loss of a friend. Which hurts like f*ck, and makes me feel sick -that unholy blend of grief & anger & regret swirling together into nausea- at the same time.
Yes, yes, yes. Grief is the X factor I feel deeply but failed to name myself. That’s the twist, the secret sauce, the extra oomph, the stank, the thing threading through the rest of the emotions.

The pieces that would hurt: freezing, being caught unaware, being misread, giving the person an out...
You’re right on the money, per usual, and I see far more clearly now that this encounter is pushing all of my personal trauma buttons with all the delicacy of bop-a-mole.

Goddamn motherf*cker, WHY did you have to press your luck??? I LIKED what we had, I gave you an out, and you threw us away)
The words keep ringing in my head: you took everything away.

angry at my control-freak-self for not handling the situation in a way that would have a different outcome, the sorrow the steals over the kindness of my leaving them gently, the difficult position I’ve now been put in
Yes, and I’m here struggling futilely, trying to plug in different variables, trying to figure out where I went wrong, how I could have averted this, how I could have walked into the present and future with the friend I desperately wanted to have.

No problem keeping things I DON’T care about from my beloved. Yep, random dude pinched my ass at the bar, or tried to kiss me at a concert, or asked me out at work? Pfft. Whatever. But the heartbreak of a friend coming on to me? That’s a wildly different thing.
This is right on, too. It’s different when a degenerate does a degenerate thing and I’m like, Yeah, this is life—whatever.

It bothered me that I didn’t tie up a portion of my narrative. I was going to write about him trying to watch out for me, grasping me, watching MY step, while there were at least three stumbles he took that made me worry far more about him. But actually I think my subconscious was speaking here:

He asks me if I’ve been on this trail as we cross the street into the pitch black, carefully landscaped trail head next to the bougie subdivision. I know there are a ton of trails nearby, but I don’t get off that porch, and I tell him as much. He’s clinging to me, watching my feet, and I’m laughing at him, asking if he’s ever walked the trails at my alma mater. He has, once. I tell him that’s where I went, how I’ve stumbled blind drunk in the dead of night through those far less maintained trails, if I even kept to one. I tell him I live on a mountaintop, that I traverse far more dangerous terrain than this wide, expensively mulched path.

This was not me deciding that symbolic foreshadowing was necessary. It didn’t stand out to me until I read your response and reread my post. Apparently my subconscious has narrative flair, though, because when I read it now, all of the parallels jump out at me with embarrassing transparency.Have you walked this trail before? No, and then I brag about my experience dealing with far rougher paths, scoffing at the pretty, well-manicured, level walkway. I am categorically unbothered by the complete darkness, the woods, the unlikelihood of tripping on anything dangerous in this well-kept and famously reputable trail. I am trusting in the most deeply embedded sense, trusting this atmosphere of wealth and status, knowing all the dirty, dangerous places I’ve stumbled through unscathed before.

Your response makes me think of being out in the wilderness with one of my very best friends. Within the first week we knew each other, I told him: Don’t fall in love with me. If you think you might, run—now.

That didn’t stick, but I constantly told him no, stop, don’t, never ever going to happen.

We’re standing at around 5,000ft looking at the mountains in the middle of the night, getting way stoned as usual. I am falling apart over school, as usual—gotta get those As, gotta be the unequivocal best. He’s walking towards me and I open my arms for a hug, and he tries to kiss me, and I push him. My eyes are suddenly hot with tears. “Why? Why can’t you be my friend?”

zing all their protective instincts, as I date territorial men by preference
I’ve told you, and in camaraderie, I’ll remind you: my entire dating life could be summarized as I’m always looking for a bigger, badder guard dog. Yes. I relate.

At least half a dozen of those things tie into my trauma history, so there’s also THAT. Which mostly means I’m going to be a bit fragile -which I hate- as I don’t entirely trust my judgment -which I hate even more- and on top of everything else? Am goin to have to be elbowing out the past/present, whilst feeling weak/fragile & pissed off about both of those things. Aaaaaargh. I don’t need this on top of everything else swirling about, I don’t want it, but it is what it is. I’ve now got to do a shitton of work for something I didn’t choose, for an outcome I don’t want.
This—ALLLLLL of this—is what’s killing me. The anger, the fragility, the lack of control, the symptomatic kickback, the dealing with shit I did not ask for or want. The only silver lining is that shiny, shiny rage, which breathes the will to strike back into me and so intrinsically gives me a reason to grasp for life instead of wrestling with the desire to end it.

treacherous
That’s the word.

The stars in his eyes -you- are clear enough, as is your hurt, betrayal, & loss. As is your kindness to him. I don’t think that was in any way unfounded. You took the compliment, as you lost a friend, as graciously as a good Queen might. As you held all the power in that encounter. He wanted your assent, you denied him, and were kind to him after. There’s a helluva lot of strength -and poise- in that.

It’s difficult for me to digest this, and I’m still chewing it, but I thank you for writing it.
 

Simply Simon

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He, on the other hand is a jerk. I'd venture to guess he's also a lying son of a bitch. (Can I use that expression here?)
Oh, my dear Scout, please—go for it. You should hear me. I have switched from the constant repetition of “I don’t want to kill myself. I don’t want to kill myself. Stop it. Simon, calm down. No. You don’t want to kill yourself” to “That motherf*cker. You’re a f*cking asshole, you know that? Pretentious patronizing piece of shit. You jerk. Motherf*cker. I hate you, you f*cking bastard.”

It’s a good change, for me. I prefer it. But sometimes it still summons the white hot knife of shame that brings me back to telling myself “You want to die.” And round I go.


I question most of his life story, as told by him. Some of it a person can fact check, I guess, but I'd bet he's a person with a puffed up view of his own value, and I'd bet he's lied to inflate the puffery.
Actually, everything he’s said to me about his life is positively drenched in abiding humility. He only talked about his career either when I asked about it, to which he responded with the kind of “It’s really nothing special” nonchalance I also employ when grilled about my own education, or when he was relating to my own story of barely scraping by because I didn’t have a family that was a viable resource. The only information he volunteered to me aside from his infatuation with me was about his apparently toxic relationships with his ex wife and current not wife of over a decade.

I researched the shit out of him. If there’s something I really know how to do that was borne from academia but serves me “in the real world,” it’s find the facts I’m looking for. I’m the one who dug up his impressive CV, the accolades he’s earned, the endless patient reviews singing the praises of his bedside manner, his peer reviewed articles, the groundbreaking books he’s writt

I'm kind of torn here. I had a similar "encounter', in college. with a professor
This fragment, cherry picked from its larger context, speaks to me loudly.

Somehow the weirdest thing about this would be torrid affair (in his mind, I’m saying), this miniature scandal, is that I WAS prepared for something like this. I wanted it, or maybe I was just young and thought it was an inevitability, so I was a child eating her greens, pretending to like it because it’s what’s for dinner so why not enjoy? But I remember thinking I wanted it.

I assumed it would be a professor—inappropriately my senior but not by as much as The Good Doctor. An adjunct, probably, brilliant yet not having found his feet or maybe passing by on his way to Yaddo or some other incredible fellowship. Maybe it’s the beat he took after his dissertation.

I anticipated this. I would come by during office hours and it would turn into coffee and then weeks later I’m habitually tangled in his sheets, trying to find my socks, planning our separate arrivals to his class, knowing that night I would be back in his bed with our secret tucked conspiratorially between us while he lectured that morning, conducting electricity through the air that we feel sure everyone can smell every time our eyes meet.

But that didn’t happen. I still waited in graduate school. It didn’t help that my professor/chair/boss was very probably related to my first love. They could have been brothers. He even moved the same way, spoke in the same cadence. I harbored a brief crush that fizzled out slowly but surely.

There was one professor in graduate school who was very taken with me, but he was after me as His Pupil, and that’s all all of them ever amounted to—all the professors who spoke to me with the intimacy reserved for peers, telling me I’m so good at what I do, never went for finding out what else they might suppose I’m very good at.

So for all my anticipation, that never did manifest. Throughout my 20s I was still fairly certain that I was fated for the same route my dearest friend from college, who held the same anticipation of the torrid professor scandal, did in fact land on; some accomplished older man would scoop me up, catch me off balance, weasel his way into my heart, and keep me as a pet or mistress or, like my other half (my friend, not my husband), possibly the Real Deal. Rings and vows. A kept life. The shimmering accessory at dinner parties who could keep up with the conversation. Again, essentially a pet, regardless of the pomp and circumstance that might accompany this role.

I was ready for this eventuality for the longest time.

So when this happened after the expectation had been long buried, I thought, Shit, this is it? This is how it happens?

But I’m in love, and amor vincit omnia or whatever. I remembered myself. I have a real life now. I’m no longer an accessory waiting to be put on. So yeah, I rebuffed this advance (and the next and the next and the next).

And probably because I’m not as young anymore, my erstwhile romanticized lens of what this bullshit situation actually looks like was shattered almost instantly.

BTW, I LIKE your preambles. I generally like your writing style. I find you to be quite readable. (Although this time, I did a bunch of skimming because it was stirring up too much righteous indignation on your behalf.)
Same here for reading you, old friend. Righteous indignation skimming and all.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
I think what may appear as righteous indignation is actually a normal anger of having your boundary crossed. It may come off as righteous because most adults do not articulate it when these sort of indiscretions happens and process it internally especially if they sort of passed through the experience.

but considering this is ptsd site, It almost feels and I could be wrong, that you are in fact in triumph in all this by recognizing boundary crossing and rather than the usual of way of (most traumatized people) of being nice or casual, nonchalant, or trying not to overreact as if making big fuss about situation, or completely losing it when triggered and being called crazy!

You reacted appropriately and this feeling of reacting appropriately to a emotionally charged situation is new to you and you are in sort of celebratory phase as if you achieved a new level of being you in a healthy state of mind buy yet there is a little gnawing at you as if you are right. I feel you are right to all you felt and you have honestly acted as appropriately as mature as a healthy person would.
 
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