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Excavating previous stuff....(18 Posts)
About 25 years ago (I know..) I got caught up in a strange situation with a guy who at the time was seeing my best friend. At the time, we all had great fun as part of a group of friends. She went to do her Masters in something in Ireland for a year. One night her bf rings me up, says lets go for a drink. I said yeah. I didn't fancy him I didn't think he fancied me, but as mutual friends of a friend a drink was not out of the question. I got pissed missed the last train home he offered me his bed....I am too ashamed and embarrassed to detail the rest of it.
However, despite his guilt and shame and mine ( I should have just cut him off) he invited me out a few more times, I said yes. I at this point thought myself madly in love. He asked me to share his flat with him, there was a spare room, so it was me and him in this basement flat.
My friend was aware of all this. Nothing occurred between us physically ever agin after the first night. I didn't hope for it as I felt horrified at what I had done. Meantime I wandered around after him, adoring him, grateful for any attention. Then he began belittling me in front of his friends, sneering at me, laughing when I said anything. When my friend (his girlfriend) came for visits, he would leave the door open as they had sex. Any time I tried to leave, find another place to live, he would insist I stay. I had a nervous breakdown, lost my job and took an overdose only to realize the next day I was still alive. Nothing had changed.
Eventually my brother helped me to move out to a place a friend had found for me. My brother stood in the doorway of the other fellas room. I heard the guy gabbling away at my brother, trying to strick up a blokey conversation, but seeing as my brother is quite likely a barely contained psychopath, the conversation sort of died on its arse.
Even after I moved out, he kept ringing me. Came to my new place with my friend (I invited her but he turned up too). At her sisters wedding he sidled up to me and said "You not talking to me" to which I answered, "Yes"
I went through this with therapist yesterday, still can't stop feeling ashamed and horrible. I understand if you all think I am a twat. I was. perhaps I still am....that's what I wonder.
I don't know how old you were 25 years ago but the way you write makes it sound as though you were quite young and unworldly.. naïve even. There seems to have been a horrible amount of shame on your part attached to what was essentially a ONS. Was your upbringing very repressed, religious or sheltered? I'm not quite sure if you were manipulated by him to move in to the basement or whether it was your initiative based on the crush/obsession that developed. Certainly the way you were subsequently treated sounds very contemptuous and manipulative. Cruel even. A very odd set-up all round.
Can you articulate what exactly it is you feel ashamed about?
In the nicest possible sense; I think you need to concentrate more on why you're still struggling with this 25 years on than the actual incident itself.
You had sex with her boyfriend, it's bad but it's not world shattering this long afterwards.
The hold he had over you is much more concerning along with why it's still so prominent for you.
I'm sorry for what you went to.
I shouldered all the guilt and shame. he seemed nonchalatnt, like nothing had happened. All my friends had gone back to our home town. I felt very alone and thought he was a friend really. I was very naïve. I wasn't exactly a virigin but had had very few encounters with sex, each time left me feeling terrible, ashamed etc.
I feel ashamed about letting my friend down and that there wasn't eough abasement available for me to absolve myself.
I also though that men detested women who they had slept with in uch a casua way and this was par for the course. I deserved it for the sex as well as my friend. I hated myself so much. As I Said the suicide attempt did not go as well as expected. I thought I would stop all the feelings and shame and hurt. I thought it was up to me to cancel myself out so others could go about their lives without knowing what I had done
I don't know how old you were 25 years ago but what happened was an error of judgement originally. Everyone makes mistakes when they're younger - that's how we learn and become rounded adults. The guilt usually subsides and what's left behind is resolution not to repeat the error.
Tell me, do you feel the same sense of shame about other mistakes you made as a younger woman? Do you feel you have to atone for them long after the event? You mention the word 'absolve' which has quite religious overtones and this idea that men detest women they have casual sex with sounds extraordinarily repressive.
Did you ever have the chance to express your anger at this man that seems to have caused you so much pain?
never got the chance to be angry with him. I saw him as the victim and myself as the interloper if that's the word. I was 22 when this happened, am Irish, Catholic, exposed to all the mythology about women and sex. To have sex was to be used goods. This particular event keeps coming round like a conveyor belt. I have not really examined it due to my sense of shame, that I should have known better and he didn't have to be so cruel.
He married my friend and proceeded to have numerous affairs and incidents with women, including her cousin. This information took a lot out of my own narrative about my shame, guilt complicity etc. The cousins husband took much exception to catching man and his wife on the couch and promptly rang my friend exposing his behavior. She didn't chuck him out and everythihng went along as usual. at the time I thought about telling her what had happened to me, but thought I might be targeting the wrong person, vengeful rather than helpful. It was a close thing thoug.
You weren't a bad girl.
You were a person who had a few drinks, had sex with an ill-chosen partner, then was preyed upon by the same.
He liked the power, the control.
It wasn't your fault.
You don't have to be ashamed about having sex. You don't have to be ashamed about drunkenly having sex with your friend's boyfriend - he was free to leave you unmolested, even if you shared a bed.
You don't need to tell the wife. She knows enough and accepts him as he is.
You do need to forgive yourself for being young and misled. That's all.
True about dthe unmolested. I was pissed with no intention of making a move on him. just wanted to sleep. I did not make the first move. though I didn't tell him to stop either.....just a big old ball of knotty wool. I don't understand his behavior after. the need to humiliate me which seemed to get bigger and more mortifying. like I said, I was such a mess I lost my job. a friend and my brother saved me or I don't know what would have happened. that scares me.
I thought Catholicism wasn't far from this story. It's a hugely misogynistic belief system. When the only female figure they tolerate is a mother who is supposed to be a virgin, how can any real woman hope to meet the ideal, eh?
If I was examining this event on your conveyor belt I would say that the man was a sleaze.... pure and simple. He uses women. His behaviour since (and probably before) is consistently selfish. If he's already been exposed to his wife as a cheat and she's decided to stand by him, I don't think anything you could say or not say would make much difference.
As regards the time you had sex with him however, I note you say you had too much to drink. Would you say it was an rash but voluntary thing on your part or is it possible you were unable to properly give consent because of the alcohol? If it's the latter, you see, that would constitute a sexual assault.
It happened very quickly, I was half asleep and the rest of me was drunk. As I said, I'd had no plan to have sex with him. I saw him as my friends boyfriend in which case there was no harm sharing a bed cos he was off limits. But then I thought, oh he likes me....duh. He asked me to share his flat with him...but that seemed only to create horrible living conditions where I was the butt of everything. With his friends, in private. I laughed as though it didn't hurt but I was scalded inside. One particular night, it got so bad I got a taxi home and was bawling so much the driver offered to go back and smash his face in for me!
Shortly after that my friend saw the state I was in, offered me somewhere to go and my brother created a cordon sanitare. He still rang me, came to my house with my friend...etc. Tore me to pieces it did. But I still feel guilty and ashamed/
The otter thing is...I never thought anyone would believe me. That I was the slut and that was all that mattered. Not the event and the conditions it occurred in. I could hear what people would say..."What were doing sharing a bed with a man who isyour BFs boyfriend"...I have no answer to that.
It doesn't really matter why you shared his bed although yes, that would have probably been the reaction you got in the late 80s It doesn't even matter if you fancied him or if you thought there was a future with him etc. He exploited a drunk young woman and that makes him, at best, ungentlemanly and, at worst, a rapist. As he subsequently went on to treat you in a very bizarrely cruel - although not overtly sexual - way, the pendulum swings more towards 'abusive'.
Abusive relationships can be extremely traumatising and cast very long shadows. Abusers can see vulnerability in others and will do their best to make it worse. A victim who already lacks confidence and self-esteem will think they are at fault. A victim who is already hamstrung with religiously-inspired guilt and self-hatred is very easily manipulated.
If you're looking back 25 years on I suspect one of the problems is that you now blame yourself for not walking away, saying no or rejecting this man. That would also be normal.
Do you know any young women in their late teens/early twenties? If they came to you with something like this story would you tell them they were terrible people who deserved punishment and condemnation?
I would find a huge handbag and administer a sound thump to his upper arms. I would go into a war zone for them, no questions. I would tell them "Don't mind that bastard" and advise to stay well away.
I continue to carry around this dark "secret" put band aids on the damage but it never lasts long enough.
I was vulnerable in a massive way. All my friends had returned to Ireland, my mother was being as abusive as ever. I was served up on a platter to someone like that. He wanted to be my savior but simply wanted someone to kick. Essentially.
He brought his friends home one night an asked could they use my bed and I slep on the floor. His Friend then went on to urinate on my mattress. No one bothered to help me sort it out. They all thought it was hilarious. No one noticed my irritation and humiliation. That girl in that picture I see in my head, so confused but not wanting to make a fuss....imagine that
That young woman isn't really you any more. She's 'Young Lola'. Someone who had a rough start & you want to figuratively thump right before you put your arm around her and then take a shotgun to the nasty bastard making her cry.
The past can't be changed, sadly. What happened can't be altered & you don't sound like you are seeking justice (correct me if I'm wrong) or reparation, just peace. Sometimes all you can usefully do to achieve peace is (with help) acknowledge & rationalise the trauma as fully as you can, figuratively place it in a box marked 'Young Lola's bad experience' and then learn to live with the box.
When you say you put band aids on the damage, what kind of things do you mean?
This is all very sad Iola. You were a vulnerable, lost and lonely young woman, looking for crumbs of affection. What you got was abuse and despicable behaviour from a shit. Your heart got tangled up with this man and you were practically powerless to extricate yourself. Your brother did well to help you get away.
All this was many years ago, but I imagine you feel guilty because now you see how mad it all was. But almost everyone (certainly me, I can truly state) has done things they regret, and feel ashamed about. You're wiser now and have learned about life. You must forgive yourself and be kind to that young, sad woman all those years ago.
As you have suffered abuse from your mother, and bullying from other people, perhaps you could concentrate on healing yourself from those experiences? I was abused and found therapy very helpful. Perhaps along the lines of assertiveness and self-confidence?
Stand tall and refuse to feel guilty any more.
This all came up unexcpectly in a session with my therapist. I was chatting away and then this literally spewed itself up out of the blue. She is good. I feel good for the therapy. I don't tell people about this but I want to now.
the band aids came in the form of trying to actually remove it from my memory. not ever speaking about it. flushing it down the emotional toilet. But it just keeps coming back but now I am with a therapist I am feeling able to tell the story unabridged so as not to be either victim or instigator or make it about someone else. To tell it at some remove from me. Let the guilt and shame get washed out.
We believe you. You're not a slut.
The guilt and the shame you feel are so heavy because he was such an unbelievable twat.
That was his betrayal...of his girlfriend. And it sounds planned.
And then, to treat anyone the way ,he treated you. That is abusive and vile.
We all have things in our past that we are far from proud of. One night stands happen, and sometimes with the wrong people. But, we're not normally emotionally abused and tormented by that person for years afterwards.
Start to get angry with that twat.
Your counselling sounds the right way to go. Start to tell people. You'll see that many people have a secret shame. We're not fecking perfect after all are we? We're just human.
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