June 16, 2009

How Deep the Bullet Lies, Part III

This story I've already told, at least the first part of it.

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.


Jason Thibeault said...

Glad to be of some small service.

Also: damn, never thought to look through his archives. A lot of the stuff he says echoes what he told me in private, strangely. So, yeah, he's a strange case.

Also also: I sent Dan a bunch of proof to hold for me because he happened to get involved right as I outed the bugger. I might post the remainder of that conversation we had, except that I don't want to violate his privacy any more than I had by allowing his post to remain public (insofar as I don't want to become the "bad guy" by posting private stuff publically).

Also also also: sorry about the picture of the butt when I was making fun of him. I was on a roll.

Jason Thibeault said...

Also also also also: thanks for not walking away. There's a good reason you've quickly become the first thing Firefox Awesomebar tries to direct me to when I hit "a" in the address bar.

Also also also also also: okay I'll stop

Will Shetterly said...

Things I've learned the hard way: Never shut down, but feel very free to take a break. Or a break from the hard stuff to focus on fun for a while. The internet is a dangerous place for people who care passionately.

Dan J said...

I'm also very glad you chose not to simply walk away.

It's so damn hard to try to be rational when discussing such an emotionally charged subject. Then, to top it off, you have someone that tries to make it more emotionally charged for his own reasons.

(Re. You-know-who: Copies of exhibits A and B are being held for further review if necessary.)

Becca said...

Some people should get IRB approval before they blog comment.

anyhow. I is not sure what I did that was useful, but if you ever need me to come to a thread explicitly to lighten the mood, I'm absolutely up for that. Or whatever I can do to support you such that you do not feel the need to walk away from the internet.

*insert silly distracting comment here*

Stephanie Zvan said...

Jason, I didn't need to go digging. I was there when it happened and spent some not insignificant time commiserating with a friend who was hurt by the "death."

Will, it is indeed. In fact, I don't engage as often as I might because I know how hard it can be to disengage.

Dan, thank you.

Becca, even knowing that you have the capacity to insert those silly comments in the middle of something you're discussing very seriously helps.

D. C. said...

I owe D.C., Ambivalent Academic, Will, Becca, DuWayne and Jason for that in ways I can't quite express.

(Looks at feet, shuffles them)

Glad to be of service, Ma'am -- but all in all I'd druther you paid it forward if you don't mind.

Stephanie Zvan said...

I think I can do that, D.C. Of course, I also think you already knew that. :)

DuWayne Brayton said...

I'm glad I could help, though I am not entirely sure how I did...Now if only I could find the fucking cavemen!!!

Stephanie Zvan said...

Sorry, DuWayne. Haven't seen the cavemen. Did you ask the mice?

DuWayne Brayton said...

Found them actually...No thanks to the damned mice...Brainless damned things mice...

Blake Stacey said...

One of the names in this story sounds familiar (read the comment thread for details).

Stephanie Zvan said...

Ah, thanks, Blake. I'd missed this recent post. It's nice to know the Skepchicks themselves didn't get themselves too entwined and hurt.

Juniper Shoemaker said...

I resolved to remain silent throughout this series, but the revelation contained in Blake Stacey's link is really the last straw. "Pseudo-cide"? Seriously? People do this? And think they're adding value to interactions that are naturally risky on multiple levels by doing so?

What is it that leaves people so willing to violate the trust of others? This is one of those questions I'm not supposed to ask because it sounds posturing, but I can't help doing it anyway.

I feel as if my own personal experiences leave me too far removed from the topics of this series to express this meaningfully at all. But I am still very glad you didn't quit your blog and delete it. I am very glad your need to protect your voice did not wind up having to entail your absence. Your blog is comforting to me.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie, your comparison is flawed. I have no regrets over anything I said over the last few weeks, and I certainly haven't done anything like what I did last year since then, and if you think arguing with people who say wrong things is a big idea... well, I have nothing but pity for you on that front.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Thanks, Juniper. In the end, I really think it all comes down to empathy. It's not the kind of thing that forces itself on a person, so if we don't stop and listen and pay attention, it's all too easy to treat other people as not fully human.