the rumor mill
i keep saying to myself, it’s just one more opportunity to be awesome.
i actually have a lot to process on here today, but this issue takes emotional precedence because, well, i just found out about it.
there is a young man who loves to stir the pot. unfortunately, i have been a target of his for a long time. he moved to another state for a job, and i thought the time and distance might permit us to have a cordial relationship.
as it turns out, i was wrong.
a bit of background. actually it’s not a bit, it’s a lot of stuff and there’s no minimizing it.
when i moved to this city for graduate school, it was the scariest thing i’d ever done. leaving friends, family, and everything i knew turned out to be even more difficult than i anticipated. before leaving, i thought it would be an opportunity for me to turn a new leaf, to become a new person, to grow and mature…well, i have but it has been a harrowing experience.
unfortunately, rather than finding a different niche, i fell right into one that matched my home niche in many respects. i got involved with someone who was not good for me, but who felt familiar. i think in large part, because i could never care about this person (the aforementioned “satan spawn”) the way he cared about me, it exacerbated his insecurities, leading him to act in absolutely horrific, unforgivable ways. his behavior dismantled me and left me such an anxious wreck that, as others have put it, ‘it was difficult even to watch me walk’.
just as a way to process this a bit more deeply, i want to describe some of my memories:
- on several occasions when i wanted to leave his house and go home, something bad would happen. once, he started shouting loud enough for his roommate to hear, “why are you doing this to me?!”. on at least two occasions, he would get into or remain in my car…for HOURS…when i wanted to drop him off and go home. he refused to get out because he either wanted me to come in, or decided he was coming with me. when asking or telling nicely failed, and i lost my cool and yelled at him to get out of my fucking car, he would give me this long stare that said, “look at you, look what a horrible person you are for yelling at me like that”.
- we were speaking on the phone once, and he said he wanted to come over. i said no, it’s late, i don’t want you to come over. he just hung up on me and didn’t answer any of my calls or texts. he showed up at my door and i told him to go home. when i closed the door, he started SCREAMING at me through the door, pounding on the screen, in my very quiet, very nice apartment complex. he continued to do this until i got on the phone with the police. when i opened the door after he’d run away, there was a big hole in my screen. which was made out of metal, by the way, not that flimsy mesh.
- he picked me up after i had been drinking once and took me to his place. i was ready to pass out, so i was lying on his bed. he climbed on top of me and tried to have sex. i didn’t respond, and pretended to be asleep. he continued to take my pants off and keep going, and then said “wow, you’re really out aren’t you”. he got up off of me, and i heard shuffling around the room. then silence. i opened my eyes, and he was standing there, with a camera, taking pictures of me. i rushed up toward him, hit him in the face, and tried to get the camera. we wrestled for it, he hurt me in the process, but i got the camera and ran out of the house with no pants on screaming. a jogger was going by, who stopped, and he came out of the house saying i asked him to take the pictures.
- when things were pretty much in the dust, and it was ending, we weren’t together at the time, but we were still talking. i met someone new, and told him that i was moving on and that i was going to date someone else. he came to my house with a letter and read it aloud. he indicated that i needed his permission to go on a date with someone else. he stated that if i go on that date, he will hate me, and more than that, that he would become my enemy. when i asked for the letter, he refused to give it to me. the next day, he showed up with a different letter that said how much he loved me. he gave me that one.
so, satan spawn indeed. this other guy, the one i started talking about, was another student in my lab. he and satan spawn were friends. when all of this was going on, he was there, stirring the pot to make it worse. he spread rumors, and gossiped at every chance. he told satan spawn i said he tried to rape me, among other things.
when he left for his new job, i breathed a sigh of relief because it meant his antagonizing would stop and i could move on without that in my life. i have barely had contact with him, and my intention was to have a polite acquaintanceship with him, nothing more.
well, he came to town over the holidays. i didn’t see him because i don’t like him as a person and i didn’t want to get involved in any drama that might possibly occur. as it turns out, i didn’t even need to be there. he was able to come up with something all on his own.
after today’s al-anon meeting, i was sitting with a close friend talking about life, updating each other and so on. she said she needed to talk to me about a few things. apparently, while in town, this guy told her that i was really drunk and trying to sleep with one of [that group’s] friends. yep, i was out there slutting it up, getting shitfaced, and acting a fool.
when i heard this, disappointment draped over me. i felt the potential for more drama, more stress, more anxiety. between him and satan spawn, that period of my life completely destroyed me. i explored possible explanations for this new story. i knew that if he had heard it from anyone, it would have been satan spawn. satan spawn is our only connection. i recalled going out a few times in december. i did indeed drink, but i didn’t act out of place. although i’ve had several offers to engage with male callers, i haven’t taken anybody up on it. i was attracted to one guy, but that barely got off the ground before it was over. so this story…that i was chasing some guy to sleep with him, that i was slutting it up and trying to get laid while being really shit-faced drunk…doesn’t have a lot of merit to it. so why…WHY is this happening?
this kid has invited me to his wedding. i had planned to go to be polite and not burn any bridges. besides, i’d enjoy knowing that he is making a mistake with this girl who he never even seemed that into, but who wants kids within two years. apparently, his friends concur with my assessment too, so that made the possibility even more amusing.
now, i don’t know if i will go. i also am not yet sure what to do with satan spawn. we have developed a “friendship”…although with different agendas. his agenda is to show me how different he is and how much he has grown, while he periodically tells me how important i am to him and our relationship was to him. mine? well you know the old saying, keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.
i’ve also mulled over the idea that satan spawn’s on-again-off-again, open relationship significant whatever she is might have something to do with this. although i don’t fully trust anything satan spawn says, he has told me that she is completely in love with him (of course) and that he doesn’t feel the same way. there may be something to this. at least a few times, she has brought up the fact that “he still has feelings for me” or that “he is still in love with me”. she may feel threatened.
ultimately, this is about my behavior. i can’t control all interpretations of it, clearly, and it seems the rumor mill will survive no matter what. but i can either fuel the fire, or not. i clearly let my guard down in even drinking with satan spawn and his woman. this is unfortunate because i often hang out with that group and we have a good time going out. i thought i was behaving honorably, to be honest, considering the number of proposals i’ve gotten and refused.
it’s so disappointing to have come so far out of that situation to see it rear its ugly head again. but then it occurred to me that i am not the same person i was before. i am happy and i am stronger. i do not have to react to this situation and i can focus on letting it go in one ear and out the other. i can become better at not feeding into this situation. it doesn’t have to hurt me and i can see it for what it is, and assess whether and how i am contributing to it.
that realization made me feel far better and far more proud of my growth. so while it’s difficult and disappointing, part of me is also glad for the opportunity to see the different person i have become. as hard as it is, we learn who we are through challenges, what we are made of when things go bad.
i’m ready to see who i’ve become, and where i still have to go.