Boxing Memories

Had a bit of a nightmare last night. Or, not exactly that, but a highly unpleasant dream. Not frightening in any way, really, but definitely left me feeling heavy after; a feeling which won’t be departing any time soon. The details aren’t important, and while the content of the dream I had after I went back to sleep was much more enjoyable, even that added to the heaviness when I awoke this morning. Just in a different way.

I’m resigned to this feeling now, I think. At least to sit with it for a time, and see how things go.

I’m not up to fighting it anymore right now.

I wish I could write more truth. And write it better than anything I am able to write now. The book I am reading currently is filled with snippets of truth laid out so simply before the reader that one could easily look right past it without pausing to take it in and realize what it actually is. I started taking pictures of certain passages with my phone; moments that ring true to me and that I want to remember beyond the pages of the book itself.

I considered finishing the book last night before bed, but I’m not quite ready to be done with it yet. I also haven’t decided what I’m reading next. So I dawdle.

There was a line about catching a brief glimpse of the contents of a box, and while not able to list off each individual item, seeing enough to realize that it’s all “the things a person in love collects when she’s not loved in return”. I read that line and my mind immediately went to all the little boxes of random items collected during past relationships of my own. At the time, they were mementos, which turned into painful reminders of what was lost after the relationship ended. And yet kept in a box at the back of my closet…or wherever…I think there are a few of them, but all scattered about and buried under other possessions. For what reason would I, or anyone else, keep such things?

I mean, definitely a large part of it is my irrational fear of forgetting my life. Even though I know I won’t likely forget any of those people (they are part of who I am now, and most of them are still in my life, to some degree or other), and even though I could look at many of those random items now and have no idea what the fuck they are supposed to be reminding me of, or what memory they are tied to – even though I logically know all this, there is still a feeling of comfort in having those things around. In knowing that I could look at them if I wanted to, and that at least some memories are still in there.

I imagine there is also some sort of therapeutic value in tucking everything about a person from your past away into a box and putting it out of sight, but still within reach. Not burning the bridge, but not using it anymore, either. I’ve never been the sort to try and forget a person, especially not if their only crime was in not loving me back the same way I loved them. It’s not usually an anger-inducing feeling, on my end; more resignation, and a sense of “well of course not – why would someone like you love someone like me this same way” sort of thing. Which isn’t meant to come across as mopey as it no doubt sounds. I tend to view it more as a confirmation of something I already know, or at least suspect. I have a hard time holding it against other people, when it’s something I already feel myself.

I realize there is the whole self-fulfilling prophecy argument to be made, too, but again – logic doesn’t really dictate feeling, at least not in my experience. So I get it – but I don’t feel it, so save your breath on that one!

Anyway, the thing which struck me more about the whole sentence in the book and how it relates to my life is in the idea that one can know they are not loved in return, and yet choose to love, anyway. Choose to allow themselves to love. It wouldn’t just be a risk, then, but a foregone conclusion that the relationship – friendship – whatever it is, will come to an end. Not necessarily in a permanent, no contact ever again kind of way, but that whatever it is for each person will change, and not be the same again for either of them. Maybe they grow apart, maybe they betray one another in some way, maybe they have an explosive break-up and really do never see one another again. Maybe they grow to hate the one they once loved. There are all kinds of ways that love dies; and all manner of reasons. But choosing to love, anyway, even when you already know you’re not loved back the same way – it could be a bit noble, or needy, or outright dumb – but the fact is that someone chose love, and maybe the box of random memories serves as more a reminder of having made that choice, rather than of the specific circumstances themselves.

Or I could just be trying to make myself feel better about saving so much crap, and justifying that to no one who asked. Well, except myself.

It’s funny, too, how much space is taken up with mementos of relationships past. One of my best and arguably healthiest relationships – which I don’t really talk about because it’s hard to make someone who wasn’t there understand – is pretty much relegated to the pages of a journal I kept at the time, and a framed photograph that hangs on the wall. I don’t think she got a box, and yet the few physical items I do have are some of the most personal and…intimate, but not in the way you’re thinking…items I’ve kept from pretty much any other relationship I’ve had. It’s not much, but it’s some of the most powerful.

My last relationship is literally everywhere. There is a bin in my closet of things, but that’s mostly because there’s just not space to put everything where it can be visible. Believe me, plenty of the memories we created together are visible. From a hanging over my bed, to some of the clothes that I wear, to a ring on my finger – moments of ours are all around me, and very much a part of me, even now.

Maybe more now than then, in many ways.

One ex is kept almost entirely in a shoebox – but a nice one. It’s decorated.

My first actual relationship is I believe in an empty Kleenex box. Or two. That plastic window with the slit makes it easy to add small objects and paper notes. Like a piggy bank but not. I think there are photos and letters in one of the folders or envelopes on my bookshelf, too, but it’s been so long since I even looked at them that I am not exactly sure where they are now, or if I even still have them.

Friendship stuff is even more scattered, but just as important, and just as much a part of who I am now. All through school I boxed everything up together by year. After graduating with my first undergrad degree is where things get a little sketchy; strewn about and less organized.

I’m pretty certain I still have a pop cap that a boy I liked gave me (as a joke) in first year university, though. It meant nothing, and yet still something, somehow.

My most recent best friend has finally found herself a nice new one with a penis, which is amazing for her, as it’s what she’s been wanting for a very long time. I’m honoured to have been chosen as the one to hold his place for him until he could get there, though a little sad for myself now. Haha The important thing is that she’s finally happy, and I am better at intermittent friendshipping, anyway, so I don’t have to worry about failing nearly so often now. That’s definitely a good thing. It was making me sad to constantly come up short, so while I’ll definitely miss our time together, I know that everything is much better for her now. She’s finally in the kind of good place she deserves, and that makes me happy. 🙂

I meant to write more about truth than I have, but I got distracted by boxes of memories and why I would still keep them. I am not even sure I’ve completely delved as far into those reasons as I could or should, but this post somehow got long again. I will say that I’ve been struggling much more lately about how much truth to reveal to those who know me, as well as which specific details should be shared. I don’t think I understand, like, normal human interactions. Haha

I often try to mimic or match what I see from others – like if someone tells me something personal, I try to return that by sharing something equally personal about myself. If I can determine a proper scale of personal-ness, of course. It seems more difficult to me lately, though. I don’t know if that’s because I have more things that I could speak openly about that are different from before – like current events instead of just the past – or if I’m getting less from those around me so I’m not sure when I’ve crossed the TMI line, and thus stay silent more often due to more uncertainty. I don’t know. I don’t know.

For some reason, so much feels new to me now. It’s not like I’ve never had friends or relationships before, but either I’m different or they’re different or, more likely, both. I haven’t figured out how to navigate the world, I guess. The way I used to doesn’t work for me anymore, and I have yet to discover a way that does.

I’d probably have more luck if I spent less time talking to a dog and three cats, huh?

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Change Seems To Be A Theme Lately

Did anyone else ever panic about not having a chimney available for Santa to come down on Christmas eve? I mean, not everyone grew up with a fireplace handy! The only one I had regular access to at Christmas was fake. No chimney – what if that meant no Santa?!

Thank goodness it didn’t, but still. A big cause of stress and anxiety for a time there.

As I lay in bed last night, I asked the full moon and summer solstice and fairy magic and anything else who might be listening for something – but I can’t exactly remember what. That’s probably not a good sign. I think peace was involved, and contentment; to realize what I would need in order to find such things. I don’t remember. Guess it wasn’t that important, really. Another wasted wish. Dreamed later of something going on in my childhood home, and how the trees weren’t the same anymore. I don’t think in reality that the trees are even still there, so yeah. They definitely aren’t the same. I can’t remember what was going on in the dream, either, but missing the trees I loved didn’t stop me from being in a good mood, at least.

So there was that.

I approached someone yesterday with an idea as to how I might be able to do more; be of more use. It was turned down, no discussion required. Wasn’t a very good idea, I guess, but was worth a shot. Always worth a shot, even if it means stepping into yet another insurmountable wall.

If love is love is love, then shouldn’t I be able to have sex with as many guys as I want and still be just as gay as always? Is it about sex or love? Because the two are not mutually exclusive – at all. And sex is sex. You can’t choose who you love, but who you have sex with is usually more of a choice, I think. Maybe our labels need to be more clearly defined. Either that, or people need to stop getting so caught up in them.

I keep running into situations wherein someone doesn’t believe me. With most people it doesn’t matter, but when it’s someone close to me…I’m not sure what I’ve done or haven’t done to warrant not at least giving me the benefit of the doubt. Am I that much of a liar or attention-seeking drama queen or disappointment to the rest of the human race that others are easier to believe – to have faith in – than I am? So weird. I mean, I get not listening to me. As I’ve said, I bore myself more often than not. But that’s different from just not believing I’ll do what I say I intend to do. I feel like I am let down on a regular basis, too, yet I still believe most of what people say; naively so, in most cases. And considering I was in a serious relationship with a chronic liar, that’s still pretty hard for me to do; to not assume everyone is misleading me. Sometimes I wonder if I should even bother making the effort, when it’s clearly not reciprocated from multiple others. Tit for tat, right?

I said ‘tit’.

I’ve learned how crazy lucky I was to get my apartment when I did, and for the rent I did. Even though it has gone up a little each year, I am paying far less than the move-in rent if I were to become a new tenant now. Far less. It’s more than a full paycheque to move in now. I wouldn’t even be able to afford to look at the place, and compared to most buildings, the size of my unit is huge.

I said ‘my unit is huge’.

Was just chatting about TV shows we used to watch as kids, and one guy was adamant about not having watched Wonder Woman when he was growing up. Which is too bad for him, because Wonder Woman is hot! What is it about guys – of pretty much any age – preferring to watch other guys doing things, instead of hot women? Guys would rather watch other guys play sports, solve mysteries, drive cars and motorcycles, save lives using their superpowers – even when they’re wearing tights and silly costumes. Seriously – what is up with that? At what point in our evolution did we decide it was more manly and preferable for guys to enjoy looking at and up to other guys instead of women? Especially strong, independent women. Women who didn’t need saving, and who could think for themselves. How did we become a society that prefers Superman – who gets weak in his tight-ed knees for a woman – over Wonder Woman – who does her own thing and keeps her head on her shoulders rather than becoming hysterical with emotion at every turn? That women are pinups and yet gay is still not okay? Mixed message much?

Speaking of guys, I fully eavesdropped on a couple of young fellas on the subway yesterday after work. One caught my attention because he announced that he was 20, and that college was hard for him. When I turned to look at him (in part to see why he was so loud about his age and such on public transit), I saw this beautiful young thing with dark wavy hair, dressed in a white t-shirt that set off his tan nicely, and sunglasses perched casually atop his head. The friend he was talking to was more plain looking, maybe more shy, but definitely stood out less. I listened to how they spoke to one another, and it wasn’t long before I realized that the beautiful one was on the spectrum somewhere, and that they hadn’t seen one another since they were in elementary school together. I don’t think they even went to high school together, though they both seemed to still be in touch with other people they knew from back in the day, so maybe it hadn’t been as long as it seemed since they’d last seen one another. For certain they’d both changed in the duration.

The beautiful one wanted to be assured that he was cool (the way he adjusted his shirt and sunglasses as he asked the question was adorable, too), but it was much more important that he know he was a good person. He brought that up a lot, and the plain one confirmed it for him each and every time.

You’re a good person – trust me!”

The plain one was obviously a bit uncomfortable with some of the conversation, but he was also extremely patient and didn’t appear to do or say anything to make the beautiful one feel like he was anything less than an appreciated old friend. He mentioned once about how they’d all been stupid kids back then, and that other people had probably changed, too. I got the feeling that not everyone had been as patient with the beautiful one’s social differences as the plain one was being now. Maybe not even the plain one himself. But now, they spoke of what college was like for the plain one, how it was a great experience, and where he lived now versus where he attended school. The conversation actually flowed pretty easily between them, for the most part, and by the time the plain one was preparing to get off the subway (at the same stop as me), he discovered that the beautiful one was supposed to have gotten off two stops prior, but he didn’t even mention it because “I was talking to you”! It struck me as this really kind of sweet interaction between two guys – there was even hugging before they got off the train – that demonstrated how much more of a good man this 20-year-old kid already is, as compared to many people twice his age. He didn’t belittle the beautiful one, he didn’t talk down to him, or make fun of him or hate on him in any way – like how so many of us treat those who are different. Maybe things would have gone another way had the plain one been with a group of buddies, or something, but on his own – totally stand up guy that most of us could take lessons from. I was happy to witness it, myself, and wondered how many others took a moment from their self-absorbed commute thoughts to pay attention to something good happening right next to them, too.

Not that they were right next to me. They were just louder than my thoughts, for a change.

And that one kid was really beautiful. I couldn’t stop glancing over at him. Ridiculous.

Ghomeshi Verdict

Well, turns out that, no matter what else I was thinking of talking about today, there is now only one subject that’s worth my voice. Yet I am so angered and ashamed and sitting here in frustrated, impotent disbelief that I can’t even think of words. So bear with me.

Back in 1988 (nearly 30 years ago now) powerful film called The Accused was released. Starring my love, Jodie Foster, it told the tale of a woman who had been publicly gang raped, and the struggle she went through in both the court of law, and the court of public opinion, to bring her attackers to justice. It was a very tough but very necessary watch.

Today, we’ve been shown that our justice system – and indeed much of our society as a whole – have not come nearly as far as we pretend we have in those 30 years. I want to say today’s verdict hurts my heart (which it does), and that I’d hoped for a different outcome but am not surprised by the actual one (because that’s also true). I also want to say again how angry and disheartened and frustrated I am by the result – because I do feel all of those things.

But mostly what I want to try and express is the very physical effect it’s having on my body now. I feel sick. I can’t focus on my work. I am shaking and every muscle in my body is tense like a wire pulled too tight. I am damn near crippled by it, and I don’t even know any of the people involved personally. Yet there are no words for the effect this verdict has had on me, and from what I can tell, that’s a large part of the problem in situations like this as a whole. There aren’t words to express it. There are just emotional, mental and physical reactions, all happening on the inside, out of sight (except for all the trouble I am having typing this…the amount of backspacing and correcting I have to do is obscene). In cases where there is physical evidence, it’s much easier to prove a point to an outsider. In cases where the loss of a loved one is involved, it’s easier for someone else to have some sort of sense of what that means, having also lost loved ones themselves, but to varying degrees.

But in cases of rape and sexual assault – you just can’t. If you’ve had no personal experience with it at all, you just can’t imagine. And to those who can imagine, there are no fucking words. None that come close to expressing their experience, nor the effect it has had on them forever. Forever, guys. It’s not something you get over, or forget, or have any control over. You can go years without thinking about it, and then something random happens and you’re right back there in it again, experiencing it all again, on the inside, just like you did the first time. It’s a wound that never truly heals. It’s cut that does not scar. It just breaks open again from time to time. For the rest of your life.

And whether it happened yesterday, or 30 years ago, some details you never forget. Everything that happened during the assault remains fresh as a daisy (whatever that means – never mind – it stays crystal fucking clear). Yet everything before and after is gone. A blur at best. Your body and mind don’t consider those details to be important, so they are let go, and 100% of your focus is on what happened to you. Maybe you have even thought before about what you would do should you ever find yourself in such a situation, but guess what? You almost never do what you think you’d do. You can’t plan a reaction to something like that. When it happens, some other subconscious part of you takes over. Self preservation – of your whole self, not just your body – takes over, and when all is said and done, the very first person to judge you is you. You go over it and over it in your head, and imagine other outcomes, and things you could have done or should have done – you envision every possible scenario, including whether or not someone else could have helped, or something you might have said instead that would give your attacker pause.

Because most of the time, it’s someone you know. Maybe even someone you love. Someone you trust. Someone you wojuldn’t have suspected was even capable of such a thing. Someone in a position of power or authority. An employer. A healer. Every single time, it’s someone who should have known better. And then when they treat you like nothing happened, like they did nothing wrong, and that you should know better than to think them capable of such a thing, that’s when the fun self-doubt game sets in! You can’t remember what led up to the assault, so maybe you did do something to encourage it. Maybe it was a huge misunderstanding. He did say he likes it rough (though to my mind, that means he likes rough stuff done to him, not the other way around), and you consented, so maybe you just were too embarrassingly naïve to understand what he meant. He’s just so logical and likeable and no one will believe you when you’re not even sure you believe yourself. So yeah, forget it…you misunderstood and blew everything way out of proportion. Give him another chance, and you’ll see how wrong you were about him. Or he’s your husband…for better or for worse, right? You promised him that. Or you’ve slept together before and this was maybe just a one time thing…just a mood, or whatever (though even a one time thing is one time too many…I tell myself and then don’t listen when it pertains to me). Or you work together and still have to see each other at a time. No sense in rocking the boat over a simple misunderstanding. Be nice. You weren’t raised to be rude, and you’d like to keep your job, so just forget it and move on already.

These women – “the complaintants” (dumbest name ever for what they actually are – heroes, champions, survivors, not-taking-any-bullshit-igans) – they stood up. They gave a voice to the only words they were able to find along the way. They spoke out, for themselves, and for everyone else who has suffered through a similar life-altering event. They said no, I will not let you do this to anyone else. Not one more.

Because one was one too many.

And their reward for taking that impossibly difficult step? To be put on trial themselves, instead. To be the most recent victims of an ancient system of “justice” that still favours the perpetrator. The accused didn’t even have to take the stand in his own defence. He didn’t even really say he didn’t do what he was accused of – he simply said it was consensual. Which…isn’t that speaking FOR the women? However. His actions were never really put on trial. The actions of the women were, instead. Oh, they didn’t tell the whole truth in their original statements? Maybe because they weren’t the ones on trial. Maybe because their actions before and after the assaults had zero to do with his actions during the assault.

Then, to add insult to injury (and more insult), the judge basically accuses the women of lying under oath, says we have to put a stop to women submitting false claims of assault (because apparently that happens all the time, even though the vast majority of such crimes go un-fucking-reported), and then throws out some statement about how his verdict isn’t the same as saying that the events didn’t happen, just that there’s reasonable doubt that they didn’t happen.

Um, Judge Super-Genius, sir? That’s actually exactly what you’re saying.

He’s not only dismissed the women’s claims as invalid, but he’s also sent a very clear message out to anyone else who suffers a similar fate and has dillusions about stepping forward to accuse their attacker. This verdict has basically silenced every other survivor – not just in this city, but everywhere. Canada’s women lie about being raped. And if the oh-so-polite Canadians can do it, then surely every other country’s women are liars, too.

Does anyone even know what a struggle it is to come to terms with the notion that what happened to you is assault? That it’s a crime? Just to get your own self to understand it is a huge inner battle, and you are your own worst critic. Guaranteed, every single thing said to those women during the trial has already been gone over by them themselves. They have already torn themselves apart and then pulled themselves back together enough to take the enormous step of speaking up. At the risk of not being believed, of not getting justice, of not getting some sort of closure.

And thanks Canadian Justice System! That’s exactly what’s happened today.

You know Ghomeshi is going to get laid again. And you know it’s only a matter of time before some woman gives him the benefit of the doubt and it happens again to someone else. Will that woman step forward? Or will she think about herself what so many others will think – that she was warned, and that she should have known better. That it would in fact be her own stupid fault.

To that woman – or women – whoever you are, and to the women who left the courthouse after the battle of their lives today, I will say right now that I believe you. I stand by you. And I will vent my impotent yet righteous rage online for all the world to see or not see because I believe you. I believe in you.

And it’s not your fault.

Everything Nice

The movie Room was easily one of my favourite films of 2015.  The range of emotions that it puts the viewer through, and the way it’s filmed almost completely from young Jack’s point-of-view.  The whole thing is just so well done, it’s the kind of film that stays with you long after the final credits roll.

There was a line in it which suggested that the character of Ma was in the predicament she’s in at the start of the movie was because she’d been raised to “be nice”.  That perhaps she might have protected herself better if she’d been less concerned with how she might be viewed by others.

In the moment the line was uttered, my first reaction was of how mean and hurtful it was.  My second reaction, right on its tail, was that it felt true.

It’s kind of a contradictory message we send, especially to girls and women.  Despite the fact that there have always been predators waiting in the shadows to exploit it, we are raised to be nice.  To be polite.  To not be combative.  To be agreeable and not make a scene.

Yet it’s pretty much impossible to protect yourself without appearing rude.

On top of that, we are made to feel guilty if we don’t trust someone enough to assume they won’t take advantage of that trust.  We get accused of not understanding that someone is a “nice guy”.  We have to provide evidence for why we don’t trust, as opposed to them having to provide evidence of why we should.  But it only takes one time – one lapse of judgement, one wrong choice of throwing caution to the wind – to potentially ruin or end your life.

And usually if a guy has to insist that he’s nice – he’s not.  Just sayin’.

Conventions of society, of a civilized world, teachnus that girls and women are either kind, malleable and easy to manipulate, or they are loud, abrasive, headstrong bitches who will never know love.  That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially if you think the only way to earn affection and acceptance in the world is to be the behavioural equivalent of sugar, spice and everything nice.

Everything nice.

That doesn’t describe someone who would cause a scene, who would say no, who would fight back, or keep walking if approached by a stranger asking for help.

I mean, until quite recently (and still now if we’re being honest), a husband could not be said to have raped or assaulted his wife.  She married him, and apparently marriage means consent at any time forever.  What kind of shrew would withold sex from her husband?

It’s completely ridiculous to say, or type, and yet it’s still there, even now, in our public consciousness.  The way women – any woman – who does step forward to accuse her attacker is treated and viewed is…abhorrent.  It’s a wonder anyone speaks up at all.

When I was little people used to like to pin me down and tickle me sometimes.  It made me laugh, but I hated it.  I even had at least one nightmare wherein I saw someone else getting tickled and knew I was next so I tried to run but I could hear the footsteps in pursuit, right behind me.  I learned that the easiest way to stop the tickling was to not react.  To freeze and wait for whoever was doing it to stop because my non-reaction was boring.  It wasn’t the laughter they were looking for.

That’s my first instinct to this day – avoid conflict, freeze, don’t react, wait for it to stop.  And try not to draw attention to yourself in the first place, if it can be helped.  Not because I’d deserve what I got, but because it’s way easier than fighting back.

Because after all, it’s impossible to fight back and protect yourself while still being nice.

 

Note:  I have more to say in this vein but I need to go to sleep.  To be continued some other time perhaps!