After the first event at college, my life fell apart. I ended up with people that allowed self-medication. (That is, I smoked a lot of weed.) I was too depressed to go to class. I stopped visiting friends and family. When my grandfather learned of all the classes I’d dropped (read: failed), he sternly asked me to move home. He had no idea what had happened, and I didn’t tell him.
(As a person who was raised to be ‘polite’, I also believed that ‘bringing up issues’ was rude. I didn’t tell my grandpa until a couple years ago, after I learned to be ‘rude’ for myself.)
I enrolled at the community college, and was actually starting to do a little better. I started dating a guy. I joined an online community full of people who played video games. It seemed alive and interesting. I started to open up to the idea that things might be okay. I started to sleep better. I became particularly obsessed with Planescape: Torment. A mundane door being a portal to elsewhere, given that you had the right combination of stuff with you? That was very appealing to me at the time!
I didn’t tell my new boyfriend about what happened in university. I lied about my past and, just like nearly every relationship after that, I lied about my sexual attraction.
One thing both my religion and the internet had taught me, no one likes a ‘used’ woman.
One weekend I was prepping for a LAN party when my grandparents said I couldn’t go, I hadn’t studied enough. I argued that my grades were fine. Grandpa gave me an ultimatum: if you leave, you will not be coming back. I said fine. Grandma was so sad and afraid for me, she cried the entire time I packed my car. I was sad and cried too, but I also felt somewhat relieved that I was leaving.
I think it was the feeling of running to which I eventually became addicted. I thought I was standing up for myself. I have not had many restful nights since.
I was living in my car for a while. Sometimes friends would let me use their shower or couch. I was very lucky to have a vehicle. I was very lucky to have friends, even if they were the same friends who gave me lots of weed.
Eventually, I half-moved in with the boyfriend. The relationship didn’t turn out well. This becomes a pattern.
Online, I became worse and worse. ‘Online me’ eventually becomes me.
When I look at how I used to be, the old me, tingles start to crawl all over my skin. She was awful, and seeing my old mannerisms and posts shows how much pain I was in then. Thinking about it right now makes me want to puke, honestly.
I was a pretty terrible person. I could be very mean. I reflected a lot of what happened to me onto other people. I used awful language to make myself feel better.
When people would call me names, threaten me, or yell at me, I continued to respond with the same vernacular that they used. It got results out of me, surely it would get results out of them? I treated other women like crap because I was ‘one of the guys’, and I had fought tooth and nail to get there. They should do their time, I already did mine. It never helped, and made everything else worse in the long-term.
Most times I invited abuse because I felt like I deserved it.
I stopped smoking weed. I was in relationships all the time, long-term ones that were usually abusive from one or both sides.
Then the second event happened.
I continued to move around. I picked up drinking, heavily. Eventually I put that down too, when I came into work drunk at noon.
Those ten years felt like one long endurance run, trying to escape everything and everyone. Running forward without looking, never stopping. I have left behind so many friends in my sprint to get away.
I was taught from a young age what ‘normal’ is, what ‘normal’ people do. When ‘normal’ didn’t happen, I didn’t fight. I picked flight every time, leaving these people and situations in my wake.
In the ten years, I moved eight+ times. Never for a job.
I ran without looking until about three years ago. It took about a year to turn me around, but by then that relationship had already failed. I did what I could – or at least tried my best, to keep everything together. Unfortunately, I failed at that too.
Here, have a cute puppy.