Part 3 of… “Being vulnerable in the face of sexual assault (when you’re pretty sure it was your vulnerability that got you assaulted)”
This past Friday, I had what can only be described as a “beneficial panic attack.”
I had to flee a location. That alone was not unusual. Since I confronted the loser who sexually assaulted me this past May, I have fled more rooms than I have entered. Yes, it’s a paradox that violates all rules of space/time. I know that. I’m not here to explain quantum mechanics to anyone, but I live in a constant state of Schrödinger’s Panic Attack. Every room can contain a variable that will trigger me OR it may not. It’s completely random; I can never be sure until I open the box. And I never stop opening boxes.
PTSD messes with your sense of space and time. I’m told it’s the amygdala.
Entering new rooms has pretty much devolved into the same multi-point kabuki of driving around the block, breathing exercises, looking for exits, etc. Over and over again.
Once that is all done. I can how scan the horizon like a meerkat looking for that single point of information that I can extrapolate into a dire threat to my person.
Extrapolating from single points of information is what gives each panic attack it’s own nuances, it’s own notes. When you extrapolate from a single point, you can go anywhere. Literally. That’s how geometry works. Each panic is different, which is why each one imprints itself on the palimpsest of my PTSD brain. “Indelible on the hippocampus,” as the wise woman said. Continue reading
Part Two of series that’ll be as long as I need it to be:
“Being vulnerable in the face of sexual assault (when you’re pretty sure it was your vulnerability that got you assaulted)”
Now that I’ve moved past the etymological implications and diversions of the word “vulnerable,” I need to get busy being vulnerable. Seems like the best way to be vulnerable would be to interact with people.
Of course, it was a “people” that assaulted me. There will have to be some work to do before I can go back to feeling my standard annoyance in crowds rather than dread.
Fear has a way of flattening. Going to a bar or a party is like one of those tactical ranges you see in cop shows. Two-dimensional cut-outs pop into view, and you have to decide RIGHT THEN AND THERE whether or not the old lady with the grocery bags is packing heat. Except I have to peer into the cut-out’s mind and figure out whether or not they’re not going to listen to me if I say no —either that night, or a few months down the road. I shouldn’t have to go all Minority Report just to grab a beer and be around people.
But not all people are that smirking loser, although sometimes it seems all people are smirking-loser-adjacent. Since I confronted what happened, it’s been very easy, too easy, to recall all his behaviors as threatening. Then it’s a quick step to concluding that every action by every person is a threat.
But, there must be literally dozens of people in Greater Columbus who are not him. And nothing like him. If not, I’m screwed anyways. Continue reading
Part One of series that’ll be as long as I need it to be:
“Being vulnerable in the face of sexual assault (when you’re pretty sure it was your vulnerability that got you assaulted.”
The worst aspect of dealing with the PTSD caused that smirking bastard sexually assaulting me is that I’ve been closing myself off from others. It’s not just that I’m scared to step foot in a gay bar. That I can understand. Unfortunately, I’m also avoiding friends, family, and anyone who can help.
My therapist says I should be more vulnerable, more open to these interactions. I’m not going to get thru this alone.
But isn’t vulnerability what got me into this mess? I certainly was vulnerable when he assaulted me. Now I’m supposed to be some sort of therapeutically vulnerable?
Etymologies will help. Etymologies always help. They’re not just for SAT prep anymore.
As I tried to wrestle with the contradiction of being vulnerable when vulnerability got me in the situation where my therapist says I need to be vulnerable, I went down the etymology hole. I go there whenever my therapist introduces me to a concept I don’t quite grasp.
New concepts from the therapist’s office often land with a bit of a clunk with me. It’s not that they don’t make sense —the words are never “big” words —it’s more that they come into my brain thru the wrong door, too fast. Researching the etymology helps me guide them thru the proper door at a proper speed. Continue reading