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

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My symptoms are all kicking. I’m reminded too much of My Actual Stalkers, like the one who woke me up in the middle of the night in my room, standing over my bed, stroking my face.

And The Good Doctor was so, so gentle. So delicate. He reached out and held my face like he was touching an orchid. His face, soft and drooping with age, was full of tenderness and the wide-eyed, trembling adoration of a teenager making his first ever move. The way he clung desperately to my hand. The way he said, “You are so sweet.” It sounds predatory but it felt pitiful (famous last words of Simon—always, every f*cking time. You’d think if I can read music I could maybe read tenor, but I guess not.). Who knows how many times he’s pulled this. I don’t. But I know his practiced lips were strikingly soft, careful, not as if he were self-conscious of spooking me so much as it actually felt incredibly sincere.

But then, I’ve always been a real sucker for the touch of a doctor, the way they grasp you firmly and gently at the same time, so knowing, so practiced, and so nonthreatening.

These undeservedly complimentary, sickeningly sanguine thoughts bob up like a buoy, flashing at me just long enough to shame me, before they sink beneath the rich silt of my blazing outrage and persistent anxiety.

I want to tear him to shreds. I catch myself wondering creatively how I might sink my fingers into him and rip out his insides, making him feel just as torn open as he’s made me feel. I bet I could. And the cortisol, the adrenaline, it’s all pumping on triple overdrive (it was already bad before). I start losing control over my thoughts. I can’t concentrate, and now my whole head is tossed, and my body is begging me to run, jump, kick something in the teeth, and I’m rocking, trying to quiet it all, trying to ground.

So then I’m doing bumps of Xanax, which is very hard to come by, but I don’t have enough of my prescribed clonopin to be dealing with this, and as much as I want to save the Xanax, I want the stillness, the dragging-me-to-earth sedation, the inner silence, the I Give No f*cks, the oblivion so much more. I try to be cautious and conservative, but goddamn it feels good when I take enough to actually make everything stop.

That motherf*cker.
IDK Simon. Maybe a punching bag would work instead of the Xanax? Or in addition to it? (An ex-boyfriend had one. I used it more than he did and wish i had one of my very own.) From what I've read about the whole "somatic" theories of PTSD, things like beating the crap out of inanimate objects can help resolve the unresolved. No idea if it's true, but it felt great to be able to haul off and hit something like I really wanted to kill it.

I'd actually kind of like a chance to try tearing him limb from limb myself. LOL Not your fault, and no shame to you. Your only error was mistaking him for a decent human being. He's probably had a lot of opportunity to practice passing as one of those.
@scout86 I actually highly recommend putting cold grapes in a bowl and squeezing the hell out out of them. It’s extremely satisfying.

I have actually been coping by playing tug with my giant dog, but it’s been so cold it’s been difficult to drag myself out of bed to suit up for longer than I need to just to exercise him. There’s nothing quite like going toe to toe with my beloved bully mongrel to get out frustration.

And don’t worry: there isn’t enough Xanax to worry about, and it’s not like I bought it to stare at. It’s almost impossible to find. But my clonopin is due today, so I didn’t have any PRN doses left, and anyway I really mentioned the Xanax to underscore my anger. I bought it for fun, and I never anticipated using it because I was getting burnt up by PTSD. All these emotions keep surfacing that I haven’t dealt with in sooo long... all these memories, reminders. How I loved my brother more than myself. How people envied what we had, a connection surpassing twins. How we made art together, composed music, wrote stories, inspired each other, shared friends. We had our own world between us, and it was expansive and full of endless wonder.

And then my memories came back. The abuse. The years of abuse. And then everything went up in flames.

I’ve been in a kind of depression coma since the wedding. Until a couple of weeks ago, and stretching back to early August, it’s seriously been one thing after another. Putting together a wedding alone didn’t help. Snapping at my engagement party and leveling with my father for choosing to protect my brother instead of me didn’t help. My car got stripped of parts and broken into. I rebuilt it, which was expensive, in three weeks, and two weeks later it spontaneously burst into flames. My favorite client almost hospitalized me the next day. I mean... seriously—it just kept going.

The day I found out The Good Doctor was Israeli, I hadn’t slept or eaten in almost two days. J and I were celebrating my birthday, and I didn’t mean to party all night, knowing I had to work long shifts for the three days following. I should have felt like tissue paper under a boot, but when I showed him pictures of the base I stayed at for Gadna (a sort of elective I did in Israel, mandatory for Israelis—a week of basic training shortly before they go for real) and we shit talked the local “Israeli” food, I might as well have been high. I was bouncing off the walls when I got home.

I felt a little self-conscious about my giddiness, a little silly. But being a Zionist is typically received very well by Israelis in the diaspora. It’s not like being a Francophile and getting laughed at by the French because you’re an outsider. Sure, I’ve had one Israeli call me out for not really loving Israel because I didn’t go into the IDF, but in his age group? They’re usually gracious at the very least, if a little amused by my zeal.

But the feeling of self-consciousness was easily dismissed, because he was so clearly just as giddy as I. Then the days passed, and he continued to stop and talk to me whenever possible, waved at me persistently as he passed in his cars (he has a super sweet classic American muscle car in pristine condition that he occasionally trots out besides his typical fancy commuter). And I thought, He’s just as if not more excited than I am. He too must feel the isolation. He too must be ecstatic just to get a taste of that which is native to him. I’m not being silly. He feels it, too—the intoxication of recognition, of the familiar, of shared values and phonemes.

This is to say that when I think back on my childhood with my brother, all the light innocence is transformed. I am no longer looking at a majestic tree but seeing its shadow cast on the dark wall, its branches bent and sinister, reaching for me, the claws of some nighttime phantom.

So too these happy glimpses of sunny conversation I shared with The a Good Doctor are suddenly shrouded in a foreboding filter. The wolf asking where am I going? Who am I meeting? Where’s that, again, dear?

My symptoms first emerged in earnest when I was 12. It was my second summer in the program that would eventually lead me to Israel, and it’s specifically designed to make soldiers out of children. I’m not sure how many of the parents actually realized this. Later, in my teens, my best friend Sam and I, who met there, would joke about the efficacy of their brainwashing constantly. Even today we laugh about it. Even today we trade articles from Haaretz with the seriousness of two peers who dreamed of serving together. Our awareness that we were being heavy-handedly manipulated to want that life didn’t make it any less effective.

My symptoms grew. Every summer, I would catch the counselors talking about how I had transformed from the most happy-go-lucky child into the most depressive one. But no matter how bad my symptoms got, that place cured my insomnia. I fell asleep to the soft sotto chatter of Hebrew or sometimes English, for the benefit of the American counselors, but it was laden with that most soothing of accents—the Rs softened, the Ls further back in the throat, the Hs turned glottal. It was my respite from home. I wasn’t cooking breakfast for my abuser every morning, tending to his tantrums, keeping his secrets. I would lie in the dark and try to catch the Hebrew words I knew or could learn by inference like catching fireflies in a jar, my bright little treasures that chased away the dark. Everyone always asked me how I picked up so much Hebrew every summer, how I got so good at it. I listened.

When I went to Israel, I didn’t sleep for a week. I didn’t know it then, but that year would prove to be the most symptomatic of all. I was way deep into my anorexia and literally everything else. Pop out the DSM. Every single symptom was off the charts. I didn’t sleep, eat, or do anything else at home but self harm and dissociate in my bed. I locked myself in my room 24/7 so I wouldn’t have to see my brother. It was the beginning of my going no contact, even though it wasn’t intentional. I just couldn’t do it anymore.

The medic, our IDF detail assigned to guard us, refused to even give me Benadryl. Happens all the time in basic, he said, You’ll sleep when you’re tired. The first two weeks we hiked every day in the desert until the heat curfew, then we were allowed a shower before we spent the rest of the day working on politics—debating, studying history, whatever. So let me just say I was f*cking tired. But I digress.

After the PTSD Boosted Jetlag Insomnia Bullsh*t finally ended, I could sleep on demand—anywhere, anytime, any place, even just for a few minutes if I felt like it. And I was light as a feather. All of my symptoms—poof. Gone. The only thing I can recall being leftover was what I would later understand as my weird attachment shit, object permanence stuff, I think. I wasn’t scared or paranoid or even hypervigilant, at least not in a pathological way (I had a healthy situational awareness given that I was 16 in a foreign country, but nothing more than that). I definitely wasn’t suicidal, didn’t want to hurt myself. And I was eating. Boy was I eating (which is good, because when my longtime peers saw me at the airport 50lbs lighter than the previous year, I heard the word “anorexia,” but then they saw me scarfing down my weight in Israeli gelato and that was that).

When I went to Gadna, I kept thinking, Please, just leave me here. I kept thinking, The US doesn’t feel like it exists anymore. The people there are a faded photograph in my mind. This is where I want to stay—every single second managed for me, full, busy. You don’t need to pick me up. Just let me stay. I don’t want to go back. Don’t make me leave.

I’m not 15 or 16 anymore but 30, so this feels really dumb to say, but this was the second time I was awarded Best Soldier. The first time was the year before, in the US, when they put you through a mock basic training program (I’m telling you, the whole program is designed to make you join the IDF—the whooole curriculum, starting at 6 years old and not ending until you’re in the IDF proper, a dual citizen, everything). The next time was in Gadna. My friend Sam trailed one year behind me, and he’s the one who secured the title in my wake both times as well. We were serious. I was serious. I didn’t want to leave. I loved it. Spending every day at the rock climbing gym either teaching or training had me in peak physical condition in spite of the 2-400 calorie intake. Doing regular pushups was like breathing. The would-be punishing nature of Gadna was easy, homey. Cozy.

THE POINT of this insane ramble IS

I think in not small at all ways, Israel has my heart because it symbolizes asylum from my actual life, my actual self, my problems, my trauma, my relationships here, my complicated family. It is the only place I can go on this earth that is an entire world away from my family where I would be applauded for being. The only reason my parents didn’t move there is because when they tried, it was the middle of the First Intifada. They went to check into their hotel to look for a life there, and when my mother saw that the entire lobby was renovated to be open-air by a missile, she noped out of the idea of raising her children there. Being adopted, of course I wouldn’t have been born there anyway, but my point is that any direction I run from them, they will try their level best to get in the way, unless I moved to Israel. Then it would be their honor to see me off. My father still sends me emails at least a few times a year about this and that opportunity to go back (I don’t because dogs, but I sure would love to).

So what I’m trying to say is what I’ve been reiterating throughout this entire thread but in full technicolor vivid detail, for my own benefit (I genuinely feel sorry for anyone reading this mess).

He represented Absolute Safety. And then he smashed it. And now there’s this filthy little stain in my head. And I’m trying so hard to scrub it out... or make it beautiful. I go back and forth. Again, I want to pave over this. I want to go back and change it. I want to fix it, put it back together. But mostly I sweat over it, blotting, scraping, buffing.

In my head I’m looking up at the masterpiece stained glass dome in Hadassah Hospital’s place of worship (I don’t want to call it a chapel but it’s nondenominational so anyway). Supposedly the greatest artisan of stained glass alive (at least he was in 2007) made it. It is brilliant. Once, a rocket crashed through it—shattered the whole thing. The master came back, picked up all the pieces, and reconstructed it. Now (or, again, in 2007) the entire hospital can convert to a bomb shelter in 14 minutes, I think it was. There’s this crazy metal armor that closes over the stained glass dome so no rocket will smash it again.

I would like to replicate this. And then my outrage is back, and I’m vicious again.

It’s like swinging on a languid pendulum, like the giant one they have in one of the museums I was always visiting back in the northeast. The kind that never stops but forever swings slowly, slowly.

We could still be friends. I want

to trick him. I will offer the olive branch, and then I will learn how to puppeteer his emotions, how to destroy him slowly, how to make sure he feels powerless, how

do I put the pieces back? Can’t we still just work on my Hebrew? Please just be the person I wanted

to hit you. You deserve it, at least once. I am fully within my right to slap you right across your pretentious face, and you can explain THAT to your not wife. I don’t owe you

anything would be better than this bizarre purgatory you put me in, right? So why don’t we just pretend nothing happened, go back to what I thought we were building? Please

spare me your dumbass monologues about my soul and goddamn IQ and assured future success and how very beautiful I am.

You’re making me sick.

You are making me sick.

And I keep trying to scrub.
I think in not small at all ways, Israel has my heart because it symbolizes asylum from my actual life, m
That totally makes sense. I suspect (but don't know for sure) that ALL humans, even "normal" ones want some of what Israel means to you. A place where you actually feel like you belong? A tribe that actually accepts you as a member? And, yeah, asylum from a life that doesn't contain any of that.
He represented Absolute Safety. And then he smashed it.
Also makes sense that that would be a huge blow. Consider that "he" is not actually "Israel". It was a trick. And tricks are possible. But that doesn't mean your tribe doesn't exist or isn't important. It might even exist in places you haven't found yet.
(I genuinely feel sorry for anyone reading this mess).
Yeah? Well don't. It was well worth the read. (I think I'm going to give the grape idea a try!.)
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.
I don’t see any fluff here, but you haven’t seen me write. I completely know your experience as the same thing happened to me - too many times to count. But it was with a dentist, and his advances didn’t seem out of the ordinary because I was trained from a young age. This affair went on for years. One day a guy asked me who my dentist was - when I told him he started laughing and said, “Oh, the Lady’s Man Dentist.” So it was known throughout the city really.

There were a lot of professionals. Too bad I wasn’t. I could have made some money.
Hey @Simply Simon - I've read through the entire thread. Your writing isn't guff so don't feel sorry for me at least.

I do feel that you're missing the whole point of what happened though or at least in part will not permit yourself to completely acknowledge it and that is whatever you did regardless was embedded in the desire to be a friend. And everything he did was deliberate behaviour and was stalking. And I agree that he accosted you.

You were his prey and he went about this entire episode, long game or short, to allay your natural defences, to appeal to your perhaps naïve desire to make friends, to establish common ground and lead to you a place - emotionally and geographically where it was almost impossible for you to say no. The implied threat of that place and the discussion about secrets and keeping them - it's all about cajoling and deceiving you - grooming.

Then he revealed himself to you, pushing himself onto you when you had no way to defend yourself really. The only relief I feel is that nothing more serious happened in that dark place. Perhaps he had made the plans and was not able to carry through but he definitely groomed and stalked you.

but still a sneak attack, predatory. Accost has the right blend of caught off guard but the nuance of nonviolence,

^Agreed. It was an attack by stealth. Perhaps he over-played his hand or played it too fast. But he definitely knew what he was doing as far as I'm concerned. I guess he might be worried that you'll be mightily offended and potentially report him? Maybe that's why he orchestrated the place and the moment? His excuse being that you met him at this place and why else would you? We'll never know but he's relying on his upstanding reputation to smooth over this. He is a predator with a great disguise for sure. That's not your fault and you're not responsible for his actions.

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.

^Your instincts are correct. Of course he planned this. But that doesn't mean any part of it is your fault. Predators make it their business to appeal to their victims, to stop you sniffing the air for the smoke and he's good at it isn't he?

“Why? Why can’t you be my friend?”

^Because he is nobody's friend. If he's willing to risk a lot to stalk you like he has then he's probably done this before. He's probably empty inside. Just because he speaks Hebrew and shares talk of Israel doesn't mean he's a good person, doesn't mean he's capable of being a friend to you or to anyone. It's disappointing I know and crushing that he should turn on you like he did. But he cannot be your friend and eventually you may see most of his behaviour as planned deceptive behaviour because he never wanted to be your friend. It hurts I know... I'm so sorry.

Your only error was mistaking him for a decent human being. He's probably had a lot of opportunity to practice passing as one of those.
^Absolutely agree. He's had a lot of opportunities via his profession and he's had practice.

You cannot be 'on guard' for all of the predators that are out there all of the time. He appealed to you as what he portrayed himself to be but he was telling you untruths about himself. All the time he was inserting himself into your life randomly as if the universe was throwing you both together but it wasn't that at all. He was orchestrating it. How can you find fault with yourself for believing a beautiful lie?

But the feeling of self-consciousness was easily dismissed, because he was so clearly just as giddy as I. Then the days passed, and he continued to stop and talk to me whenever possible, waved at me persistently as he passed in his cars (he has a super sweet classic American muscle car in pristine condition that he occasionally trots out besides his typical fancy commuter). And I thought, He’s just as if not more excited than I am. He too must feel the isolation. He too must be ecstatic just to get a taste of that which is native to him. I’m not being silly. He feels it, too—the intoxication of recognition, of the familiar, of shared values and phonemes.
^Again, strong evidence of his abilities to light up that part of you that yearns for another time and place. But only for the purpose that serves him. In lots of ways - it wasn't even that personal to him I'm sure.

It is the only place I can go on this earth that is an entire world away from my family where I would be applauded for being.
^And that is perhaps the only thing that you can learn from this experience. That there is a place that it is dear to you and though it is full of happiness and love and where you were strong, it is also your Achilles.

do I put the pieces back? Can’t we still just work on my Hebrew? Please just be the person I wanted
^No sadly no. Grieve the loss and move on because he's not capable of being the person you wanted or thought he was.

Consider that "he" is not actually "Israel". It was a trick. And tricks are possible. But that doesn't mean your tribe doesn't exist or isn't important. It might even exist in places you haven't found yet.
^Agreed. It was a trick and he doesn't represent that beautiful part of your life that you need to revisit and remember. But that also is a learning for you. You'll get to go back one day and see the way this place is now and share it with your husband. He doesn't represent anything but a man who deception became evident the moment you said no.

And by the way, telling a man that you are married, therefore unavailable for whatever he proposed isn't cowardly or a sign that but for... I would. It is a fact, it is the reason you chose to do many things and decline a lot of others. Your marriage is far more than an excuse to decline his or anyone else's advances. It is a promise and much more. So honouring it by telling this man that you don't want his advances means that you are in fact a decent, upstanding person. He was the coward for dismissing your marriage.

And lastly, I've been in situations where anger was likely to have got me killed and actually almost did. We can never really know what is the right way to act when we're confronted with what you were. Sometimes anger is the right way to extract yourself from the situation or times it's going to make things much worse. You handled this perfectly - you led yourself out of that remote dark place, avoided the escalation of behaviour that was surely in his mind and got yourself back to the safety of your vehicle whilst not letting him know that you were exiting. So well done :)
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