It was a perfectly normal guy who didn't want to let go of me when I was in my late teens. We'd been hanging out, kissed a little bit, but I was done. He wasn't. It took making it very clear that one of us was going to be injured to get him to realize I meant it and let go.
If I had been more intimidated (he was a big Navy boy) or less sober or less willing to risk hurting him or being hurt, there's a very good chance it would have ended in rape. The fact that he was horrified when he figured out I really did mean it wouldn't have changed that at all.
Unlike the events in Part I and Part II of this series, this wasn't a traumatic experience. Quite the opposite. Oh, it was scary enough while it was happening, but the fact that fighting back solved the problem was...cathartic. Educational.
Then, nearly two decades later, I decided to mention it. That was also educational. Not terribly cathartic.
I've had a friend decide to "walk away" over everything that happened in the last week and a half. I discovered that the person whose behavior I asked my friend to look at, thus dragging him into the whole mess, was using me and everyone else to generate controversy and pull attention to a cause he'd adopted. (Why do I believe Jason? This, mostly. It's all too familiar: the big idea, the disregard for whether anyone else has consented to participate or is being hurt, the "regret" that changes no behavior.)
I've learned a few things about myself. I've learned just how stubbornly determined I am to see some things through and to get something worthwhile even out of awful situations. I've learned much more about the limits of how far I can push myself into the territory of using myself up.
I've learned how sane and self-sufficient I sound even when I'm on the verge of cracking. Funny, even. I can't drop all that, apparently. I can take someone apart and lay the pieces out for everyone to see, but I can't lash out (even when it's the kinder option). I can tell someone what I need, but I can't make them feel it. The more that's at stake, the less I'm able to make myself manipulate the situation.
I've learned how far I'll go to protect my voice, including removing it entirely from play. There's only one person who knows how close I came to deleting this blog and walking away from the internet. I found the support I needed and wrote these instead, amping up instead of shutting down, but the outcome was very much in doubt for a while.
I've learned how it feels to be on the receiving end of that off-topic kindness and silliness in the midst of a tough slog. I owe D.C., Ambivalent Academic, Will, Becca, DuWayne and Jason for that in ways I can't quite express. Toaster, too, even if he wasn't specifically trying to lighten the mood. I grin every time I see that cartoon.
But that's enough about me and what I'm taking away from (hoo, boy) the first half of this month. This series of posts was originally intended to say something about the fact that we can't know who we're talking to when we're talking about tough topics like this. I don't know whether it's done that, but either way, it's time to shift the focus away from me. Back to the broader topic tomorrow.
For now, go find something fun to read at the blogs that are supporting Silence Is the Enemy with their page-view revenue. As always, Bioephemera has much that is weird and wonderful. Go read and marvel.