It may be raining sideways but at least we know the earth won’t flood! (at Indian Shores)
A little too reckless with my heart. In the beginning he was so terrified to displease me, hurt me, move too fast, not cherish me in the way he wanted too. This waned. But there were always moments, and it was those moments I held on to. There was something off from date 2. Something disappointing- he asked me out for Valentines day dinner in an email by typing “wanna grab some food.” That was not how I imagined that one playing out. And he had been around a while (month or two) but didn’t seem to be making any friends. (maybe it was just men, they build relationships differently….). It was not just men. It was him. It turned out he was paranoid. Paranoid that people might discover something if he let them in (I still don’t know what that something was)- you know I can’t even put words to it but as the weeks passed he stopped being paranoid about other people and became solely paranoid about me. Paranoid that I wasn’t attracted to him. Paranoid that I didn’t love him and was faking it (I’m an actor after all). Paranoid that I lied to him about my beliefs, paranoid that everything I did and said wasn’t honest and real.
There is one moment when his paranoia seemed mildly justified although totally inapppropriate. We had literally discussed the night prior that we were dating exclusively (we’d been “dating” (I guess non-exclusively) for all of two weeks maybe) ANYWAY- I was working on set with a gentlemen. He was nice, he was attractive, he spoke 3 languages and played the drums and was a successful actor and had family in Europe. Dude. That was like all my dreams. But he wasn’t Ben, I didn’t feel comfortable around him, and he didn’t share my beliefs. This guy asked me (night after Ben and I have a giggle discussion about how we should be exclusive) this guy asked me to help him discern whether he should take an acting contract that was being offered him. Seemed innocent enough. I was not saying yes to a date… I was helping out a friend. Or so I thought. It became immediately clear when we met up that this was somewhere I shouldn’t be. I kept trying to convince myself I was reading the signals wrong, I couldn’t think of a polite way out, anyway the guy kissed me. And I didn’t stop him quickly enough to feel clean about it. I explained that I had a “boyfriend,” guy tried to convince me that wasn’t a problem, I shouldn’t be worried, or feel guilty- just keep kissing him.
Me: no thank you, I’m going to go now.
Me: ahh yes, thanks, good luck with your contract….. I stand up to walk.
Him: well let me walk with you at least
Me: ahh okay.
Him: come on… just kiss me again.
Me: umm no- can’t.
Him: he turns me to face him, holds my chin “kiss me”
Me: trying to gracefully loose my chin from his hand, laughing Noooo, I can’t.
Him: moving his hands to my shoulders, in to around my collar bone, gripping my neck, shaking me back and forth Kiss me. This is not a big deal. Just kiss me again. Your boyfriend doesn’t matter. I’m better than your boyfriend”
Me- Please stop. Please let go of me.
Him- Liss me. Shake. Kiss me. Now. Do it.
Me- Let go. I struggle to get loose- I’m not as strong as I think I am. I know if I can get across the street there’s a doorman I know that will see me.
Him- He stops. He seems to realize what he was doing. He lets go. I had a really good time, when your boyfriend doesn’t work out- give me a call.
-Don’t go on dates (accidental or not) with men that you or someone you love and respect doesn’t already know.
-And there’s a time for worrying about being polite and a time to not care anymore and get the hell out of there.
I told Ben this story. Fully. Ben’s take-away for the night: He got pissed because he felt I cheated on him. Okay. I can see this- I sure felt guilty enough to view the story that way but this man in front of me could have been more concerned- I think- about my well-being in regards to the second half of the experience. I was hugely shaken up. I had never felt that helpless.
This is the ONLY thing on my conscience that could have justified any paranoia for Ben. And I know it was an accident. I didn’t mean to be with that guy in that context. My response may not have been ideal when he kissed me, but it was damn good, and Ben’s response to my experience was wrong. All wrong.
But here’s the thing. He would always come around. I’m not a fighter. I don’t argue. I don’t raise my voice. So as this discussion with Matt played out I just shared my story. I apologized for that which I was responsible for. I shared from my heart. I cried. I listened. He just interrogated me until he was satisfied I was telling the truth.
Later that night, I was obviously not in a good place, he finally realized what had happened and how he had reacted and what that meant for me. He apologized. Profusely. With tears. It was a broken honest man that loved me again. And I of course forgave him.
This, unfortunately, became a cycle. First it happened here. Then it was a few weeks before it happened again but about something completely unfounded, then it was once a week, then finally in our last month- every day. In all the recantations of this cycle- I was absolutely, 100% without any doubt, not at fault. Not guilty. I would get berated with accusations of my false love, my attraction to other men, my talking behind his back, my “true” thoughts about him that I couldn’t tell him, how disappointed I was in him, by how he looked or acted or anything and everything. None of this was true. Not an ounce. I would listen to his accusations and then tell the truth. I would not get defensive, I would state the facts, eventually, I would start referencing prior occasions of this behavior. He would come round. I never walked away. I never gave up. I was patient, I was loving- I saw the battle he was fighting against his own insecurities, his own fear of being vulnerable. I saw it and I wanted to win with him. He started seeing a counselor- which can be helpful I think- if you talk to that person. He tried to make an effort to hang out with other men, or voice his fears to friends instead of me (we could usually acknowledge they were absolutely irrational). It didn’t help. Things only got worse. Each time he came round and he came back apologizing profusely, be gentle and loving and vowing to change, even taking steps immediately to change. But each time the pressure to not do it again grew. Each time he ripped at my heart and then realized what he’d done he knew he could never do it again. But he could. Because I never walked away. I believed he could change, I saw the monster this anxiety and insecurity was and I knew it could be beaten. I believe he, we, could beat it. So I stayed because I loved him and I was ready to go the lengths. I believed this man was my husband. I was committed. I was more committed than we were. We weren’t engaged. We weren’t married. He was not my husband. My heart was way ahead of me. I was treating him, protecting him, fighting for him like he was my husband and even then there are boundaries.
And I wasn’t telling anyone what was going on. Not a soul. Because this was my husband and I didn’t want to tarnish his reputation. Or what people thought of our relationship. But Jess caught on. She saw it. And this was where I stopped listening. And I stopped sharing because I didn’t want to listen. I didn’t want to walk away. I didn’t want to slow down. I wanted this cycle to disappear. I wanted it to be a thing of the past. I was in denial.
This is a cycle of abuse. Ben never hit me. Ben never touched me in any way out of anger. But I let Ben do serious emotional damage to me through this cycle. By not standing up for myself and instead letting this behavior repeat and repeat and repeat I was communicating exactly how much worth I thought I had emotionally. I know I’m great on paper. I didn’t know emotions have value too. I succumbed myself to this cycle for months and when I finally (during “break one”) opened up to my mentor about it and she consequently pointed out that it was an abuse cycle. I have never been more embarrassed. I’m a put together woman. I know character, personality, career wise- even physically - I’m a pretty good catch. I know I’m worth something. What I never factored in or bothered to consider was my emotional worth.
Signs of an abused woman: When friends and family express concern at her well being she responds in defense and protection of her man and his motives through the current “challenges.” A woman that’s not being honest with the people closest to her. A woman that stops talking about herself and whats happening in her life. A woman that has no boundaries. She will drop anything, and anyone at the beck and call of her man. Anything and anyone at anytime. A woman that is AFRAID to disappoint or do wrong.
There is help. There are people, friends or professionals that can help you. Wherever you are. It’s taken years of counseling for me to be able to own my history, own my story. Every story has a purpose (A founding principal of my company [Insert Name] Media). Your story, whatever it may contain, can help, save, inspire, encourage someone. Nothing is ever lost or wasted in this life.
Love and peace,