And we’re eating the soup
Last week I wrote a post about some raw emotions I was struggling to face. Well, the time came when the soup was getting cold and it was time to eat.
It was painful. But after the pain has come some long awaited peace.
I don’t know if it was a good or bad thing for me to avoid confronting my feelings for a time, however I do know that eventually confronting them was as terrible as I imagined, but also allowed me to let go of a lot of fear.
Although I was purposefully putting off sorting through the recent events and feelings I was experiencing, our minds often do this on their own too.
Over three years ago I was in a rather unhealthy relationship with a friendly acquaintance, briefly turned boyfriend. In this relationship I was manipulated, gaslighted, groomed, and verbally abused until he got bored of it and ended things with a big speech about how worthless and ugly I was, and how ashamed he was to be around me (being more than friends was his idea by the way…)
Anyway, the days following our short time together were rough, and school became rather difficult for awhile. But I was determined to not let him win, and I pulled myself out of the experience with confidence –or something close to it. It was very shortly thereafter that my best friend Max convinced me to date, and eventually marry him (with help from my family and roommates who had always been rooting for him.) So I didn’t dwell much on the negative relationship that preceded the one that truly mattered.
It wasn’t until this last fall that long forgotten memories began resurfacing. And by long forgotten, I mean had been wiped from my memory completely, not just pushed to the back.
I remembered something that had happened just two days before this manipulative quasi ex-boyfriend (let’s call him X) had given me his “I’m done pretending to like you” speech.
It was a Sunday. November 3rd. I don’t know how I can remember the exact date when I didn’t even remember the event for so long. X had been grooming and gaslighting me for a couple weeks, preparing for this moment. In the front room of my apartment he assaulted me, not violently, but sexually, touching me without consent. I froze in fear, unable to move or speak, completely helpless until a roommate entered the room and saved me from who knows what could have happened next.
After he promptly left, I stood in my roommate’s room and sobbed. Wondering aloud what was wrong with me and how I could be so weak when I was with him. Later when I confronted him about it he told me it was my fault because it was my job to stop him (because men don’t have enough control of their hormones to respect women…)
I know now I was silenced by his gaslighting, fear grooming, and careful manipulation that had led up to the event. Looking back, every word he said, every casual get together and touch was carefully calculated to lead me to that moment.
I don’t know exactly when I forgot what happened to me, but it wasn’t very long after. Perhaps the verbal abuse two days later wiped it out. But somehow my mind decided I wasn’t in a place in my life to handle what had happened, and protected me until I was ready to face it.
But forgetting didn’t delay the emotional and physical consequences. I never knew why I all of a sudden hated that dress I was wearing that Sunday, and why I got rid of it shortly after. I always wondered why I went from being an A and B student to failing classes, dropping out of other classes, and barely passing the rest. I didn’t know why in marriage I didn’t trust myself with my own body, and instead relied on my husband fully to protect it and treat it with dignity (what a patient man to have dealt with that these 3 years.)
And then 3 years later it was time to eat the soup.
Sometimes I think we need time to prepare to unpack difficult emotions. Sometimes we’re simply not ready. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t forgotten what X did, but I know I wouldn’t have gotten married when I did. There’s no way I would’ve been ok with dating for quite some time. And yet getting married to the most safe and gentle man in the world was the best decision I ever could have made for healing. He was and has been vital to my recovery, and I’m sure will continue to be.
Besides that I don’t want to speculate much about why it was necessary that I wait 3 whole years to face this, but I have faith that my body protected me for the length of time I needed that protection.
So let the soup cool off bit. Stick it in the fridge awhile, or even in the freezer. Or eat it hot if you feel ready. Just remember it does have to get eaten eventually. And it’s really nice when it’s gone.