Saturday, May 05, 2012
Warning: may be long, emotional, and incoherent. I just had a moment and I need to get it out of my system.
At the gym today, my trainer suggested that I hop in the hot tub after my session and stretch, instead of stretching in the cold pool. I told him I had tried that a couple times, but people start talking to me. He was surprised that I didn't want to talk to people because I seemed very sociable. I explained that sometimes it's just a time issue - I have somewhere to go and don't want to get stuck (I am not skilled at exiting conversations). But other times there are men in the hot tub who start asking questions, like "are you married?" or "how old are you?" and I get nervous.
I'm also getting down far enough in weight that men are starting to look at me again. This also makes me nervous.
A long time ago, I was raped. And then I got a reputation for being a slut. And then I suddenly had lots of male friends. I was too young and naive to realize that these "friends" were just trying to get a piece. I was 12. I found myself in many awkward situations with pushy boys and men (yes, even men) who felt they had the right to do what they wanted.
I realized today that, although I don't think that will ever happen again, those experiences have turned me into a very paranoid person. I watch my back all the time. I took Tae Kwon Do so I could defend myself. I carry pepper spray. I am always on high alert in public settings.
And I don't go in hot tubs. The last time I was in the pool, and older man started talking to me from the next lane. We talked about music, and how my sister was a musician and music teacher. He was a music teacher and now worked with disabled men to improve their quality of life. I had no reason to believe this man was a closet rapist, but as I headed in to the locker room, I kept watch out of the corner of my eye to be sure he wasn't following me. I showered with the curtain open so no one could sneak up on me. (I don't normally do that...it just happens after a man talks to me.) I kept my back to the wall so I always knew who was in the room with me. My stress levels went up - I could hear my heart beating and every muscle was tense. I didn't calm down until I was dressed and near my locker.
It didn't occur to me until today that this was an unusual response. And now I'm mad. Circumstances that I had no control over have shaped my life and made me a fearful person.
How many times have I avoided a situation because I was afraid of running into a man who wants to talk to me? How many events were clouded by fear? How many places have I avoided going because it looked like someone could be hiding around a corner? More than I can count, and I finally realize it.
I've been obese for 22 years, and every time I get close to overcoming it, I freak out. I start having nightmares. I get even more paranoid. I've found that life is calmer and easier when I'm so overweight that no one finds me attractive. I may have ruined my own health and life span, inadvertently removed possibilities for happiness in my life, and segregated myself from others simply as a paranoid reaction to things that other people have done to me.
You hear that, brain? It's because of things that have been done TO me. It's not because I'm shy, or hopeless, or socially inept. It's because I'm afraid. It's because other people have taken advantage of me. How could they? How DARE they?
I didn't deserve that. I didn't ask for it. I didn't encourage it. I endured it. I suffered it. And now I'm done.
I am strong.
I am capable of defending myself.
I know right from wrong.
I can stand up to people who try to take advantage of me.
The only person who has control over me is me.
I'm tired of being afraid.
I'm angry about losing myself. About losing my life. About losing my innocence.
Well, no more.
They had no right to touch me, to push me, to shame me. It wasn't my fault. It was theirs.
I'm done taking the blame for other people's actions. I've wasted so much of my life, but I'm not wasting any more. I'm taking my life back. I'm kicking my fear out. It has no place here.
I will stretch in the hot tub.
I will talk to people.
I will go to concerts, bars, and night clubs.
And if someone thinks they can force me into a dark corner and have their way with me, they're going to be sorry.