My cape was at the dry cleaners.

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. When last we left, our heroine was struggling with reacting to uncomfortable situations appropriately. Let’s review in a bit more detail, shall we?

I went on a date. On paper, everything was good. We had talked extensively beforehand, and there was much clicking to be had. But, trying to focus on reality and not get carried away, I needed the actual date to happen before any real decision making was to be done. Surface-wise, it was great. We talked, we laughed, we shared a basket of bar food. We decided to go watch a movie together, which seemed alright, given the clickiness.

First, he kissed me. Now, I’m no prude, I have kissed a gentleman before. Except this was not gentlemanly. In what I’m sure he thought of as a romantic gesture, he pounced (no really. There was jumping and everything) and attacked my face with a very intense barrage of liplockage. It was painful. Physically, as there was teeth involved (FYI – bad plan for a first kiss.) and somewhat mentally, as I have a personal space bubble, and it was popped quite forcefully. All I could think was, “I thought he claimed to be a feminist?”.

Then, some time later (because unbeknownst to me, the numbness that is my oldest and most hard-to-break coping mechanism was already taking over, and I was totally fine with still being there) we were getting cuddly and I said something sassy. I don’t remember what it was, some snarky comment that I make all the time, I’m sure. His response? A slap to the face, and flirtatious giggling. Again, I’m sure that in his mind, he thought he was ever so coy. I…. thought nothing. Other than “No sudden movements.”. So when he asked me if that was alright, I said “Yep.” and when he asked me if I wanted more, I said “Nope.”. That was it. That’s all I could do. Somewhere in my head, a little voice asked “What just happened? Are we really okay with this?” but it was immediately shushed, and silence resumed.

Upon later reflection in the safety of my once again intact personal bubble, I decided that no, I definitely was not okay with that. Aside from my hatred for domestic violence, WHO THE FUCK DOES THAT ON A FIRST FUCKING DATE?!? WHAT IN THE GREAT GREEN FUCK WAS THAT?? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Anger set in. At him, for being a tool, but mostly at myself, for doing nothing about it. In his head, that ended on a good note, and he chalked that up as a successful date, surely to be the first of many. Me? I just wanted to vomit. How could I just sit there? Why didn’t I say anything? What is wrong with me?

As it turns out, nothing. Every human has a flight, fight or freeze response to shock. More often than not, mine is freeze. That’s just how I’m programmed, it’s not a flaw or failure. I just need to allow myself to resume normal thinking, and reflect on the situation from a safe distance. When I do, if I’m not alright with it, that’s perfectly fine. That’s all the justification there needs to be for me to walk away from something.

So I did, and I feel much better. Yay me.

Then, yesterday, the inevitable happened. A friend informed me that my ex is dating someone new. There were even pictures accompanying this news. I looked at their happy faces, at her pretty hair, and I felt nothing.

This time, though, it was a different kind of nothing. It was a relieved emptiness, knowing that these people have no affect on my life. I don’t need him to be miserable, and I don’t care if he’s happy. I don’t despise this woman who took my place, nor do I feel like warning her of what could be in store.

I made my choice. I chose the life I now lead, in this little apartment with this adorable boy, the two of us making our own way in a crazy ass world. Sometimes we’re broke, and have to eat terrible concoctions of cheap food, because there’s only one person to pay all the bills. Sometimes we have no one to do the heavy lifting, or the nasty chores we don’t want to do. Sometimes, we feel a little alone. But there is not one day in the whole lot that I ever wish I had chosen differently.

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Nowhere Girl

I am not just who I am right now. I’m also the shy girl I was at 5, who dreamed of being a ballerina, but was too scared to dance in front of her own mother. I am the angsty 18 year old, who had dreams and plans and potential, that were all changed in an instant. I’m the brand new mom who is terrified and just discovering what true, unconditional love really means. Sometimes, I’m even a me that I haven’t met yet, who is older, wiser, and much calmer.

But there’s always one I forget. There was once a little girl who was so scared, so hurt, that she made herself invisible. She said everything was okay, she told everyone they were right, she never had an opinion that might oppose another, and she tried to be as small and as quiet as she could, hoping to disappear altogether. She didn’t know how to deal with the terrible things that happened, so she pretended they didn’t. She locked herself away, and dreamed of being someone else. Anyone else.

I’m an adult now, and though it’s been a process, I have better skills and tools for life’s difficulties. But, every once in a while, if something happens a certain way, if there are reminders I wasn’t expecting, I find myself reverting back to this. I say I’m alright with things I’m not. I agree with everything someone says. I roll with the punches, and I do what I’m told. I do anything I can to avoid any discomfort on their part, because I see it as them being angry with me. I want to please them, because I am afraid. It’s quite dangerous, and more than a little frightening. That at this point, a person, a situation, a random scent, can still pull me back there so quickly, and I don’t even notice right away.

Eventually, though, I catch on. Then I get angry. Not just about whatever incident caused this, but a protective anger, over my former self. If someone had just helped her, if they just listened… but the time for “what ifs” are over. Now, we pick ourselves up, and we deal with it face to face.

Maybe I’ll never be “fixed”. But I’ve always been whole. I just need to give space to all the pieces. Even the invisible one.