Trauma Pt3 — Six Months
Bone chilling temperatures brought further down by the windchill, a subzero freeze in a relatively humid environment that will take the liquid around your bones and turn it into ice. I step outside, spread my arms, and wait for the cold to take me. If only.
Some preparations led up to the move in August, including buying some furniture. I went to get a mattress of a certain name and was suggested to get the last of the one that preceded it. This company has an ever-changing line of furniture that gets renamed slightly, keeping the first letter, so I assumed it was much the same. It’s possible it was, and that testing the M-named-mattress in question wasn’t done adequately enough, but it’s possible that I was handed some trash that someone I knew wanted to get out of his warehouse. It’s downstairs now, lined up with its box-spring and an old, worn-out mattress made of pokey coils. Instead, I sleep on a Purple. Best stupid amount of money I’ve ever wasted on a gimmicky product. Those little squares feel tremendous. I’m not saying you should buy a Purple, because I don’t work for them and I’m not interested in selling for them, I’m saying that it works for me. It does weigh most of what I do though.
It was hard to sleep. A stressful move. I don’t remember if this lines up around the time that Bill got his rx of escitalopram and I took it, or if that was before this, but I had access to it. And with living in his parent’s house, I had access to the stash of samplers his mom would steal from her work. It helped, I suppose.
Frustration was upon me pretty much instantaneously. While I was granted this generous space in the basement, I requested that the things that were not mine be moved as I did not want to move other peoples’ stuff. They were not, and I ended up doing most of the work myself. When Bill would help he just made more of a mess, not really stacking the boxes upon each other, whereas I am good at stacking things high so that they take up less floor space, and sensibly so that you don’t have light boxes on bottom getting crushed or heavy boxes on top falling and destroying a person. Not that I got out of that basement without destruction of my body anyway. Following moving of the things, which apparently spurred his mom into decluttering and getting rid of a great deal of stuff, I bought a number of chemicals to fully clean every surface in that basement. There had been a lot of cat activity there, and a lot of outside-the-litterbox poops. I was making items that people were putting into an orifice of their body, cleaning was essential.
Bill’s mom picked up pretty quickly that despite what he told them, we were not in a relationship. She tested this once by calling him my boyfriend and in a couple sentences in my response I referred to him as her son. A smart exchange. She seemed to enjoy me being around regardless, especially since I took it upon myself to clean up some of the dustier areas of their living spaces.
The room available to me had been one of Bill’s sisters. She took her cats with her, and one of the other sister’s cats had passed, leaving one cat and one dog in the house. While the dog and I did not really bond, he knew I was a person he could come to if he needed something like going out, or scratches, or whatever. The cat, on the other hand, was the first cat I’d lived with in over a decade and I made it a point to get to know him. He was an angry fellow, having his space occupied by other animals previously and not enjoying human company unless it was solely on his terms — and his terms were exclusive to wanting food. I approached him slowly, knowing that otherwise I would get the claws — and I certainly did get them when he wanted to give them — but he really warmed up to some affection, and moreso he thoroughly enjoyed playing with some toys. I realized we had something lovely when I was using my hand as a ‘spider’ one day and he pawed me to kill my spider but didn’t use his claws. Sometimes he would sit next to me and curl up, getting the skin contact he wanted. Eventually he let me hold his paw. He enjoyed some novel situations and fabric, like a blanket I put him on that was extremely soft. Getting to know who he was, what he liked, and earning his trust was the best part about that place. Downside was that he didn’t quite know what to do with his feelings at first and I can wholly admit that I never want an overstimulated happy cat to roll over and show me his penis again in my life. Ever. Nature was not kind to cats, that’s nasty stuff.
With everyone working out of the house I was left with a lot of time to myself and it was truly glorious. I worked hard, cleaned hard, and enjoyed my time until the family came home and after my working I would retire to my room.
Bill and I would still go get food or hang out, but I quickly found myself avoiding being with him in his room. He took it as an invitation to start touching me, rubbing my back and getting under my shirt to grope at me. If he was erect, he’d try to maneuver himself to push it against me, leaning in and leaving bruises just due to his weight. I was far harsher about contact in my room, so he kept finding excuses to say that he didn’t like it in there. He’d get all snuffly. He’s allergic to something. Come hang out in his room and play games instead.
I kept my phone and laptop out of his sight as much as possible. I was communicating with the one I’ve called My Love, and it was, frankly, none of Bill’s business as to what we were talking about. He would actively try to peep, and would otherwise find means to upset my heading out of the house to go spend time in person with My Love. Over time, this led to a series of escalating alarming behaviors.
I also had some indications that Bill was going into my room. I started paying attention to the closet door, as it seemed inexplicably less or more closed than I’d left it. Although he’d never fessed up to this, I had indications that he was stealing my underwear for masturbatory purposes. One night my laundry basket was on the central floor of the house and I noted that there were shirts folded nicely on it when I saw it prior to going into the bathroom to shower. After I came out, one pair of underwear was sitting on top of it, crumpled. Given how I exclusively showered after his parents had gone to bed, the only one to have fiddled with it would have been him.
While showering one night, I saw a flash of light. Paralyzed at the moment, I soon stepped out to look around and couldn’t find anything amiss, but it was distinctive of a camera flash. I believe that Bill snuck in to take a photo of me at this time. I started locking the door.
Bill continued to treat me like I was his partner as visibly as possible. I took a very brief job at the store he was working at as I missed merchandising and recovering. It lasted only a few days, as someone above him came in and told him to fire me after asking if I was his girlfriend. I was not. He lied and said I was. I was not contacted about this from anyone who mattered. It offends me to this day.
I can’t say much of this is chronological, but I’ll be damned if I can actually remember the chronology of anything. It was a fast six months, it was a terrifying six months, and its escalation has taken most of the timeline from me.
The mattress. It was too firm for me, and having slept on Bill’s before we decided to swap them. This was obviously a point of contention between me and My Love, and I understood, but I needed sleep. It is something I have a bad taste in my mouth about, especially since Bill opted to not use sheets and just slept and did whatever else on the bare mattress. The one downstairs. That I could not personally clean enough. I’m sure the mattresses will come up again later, and by later I mean in the next post.
Occasionally I would hang out in the basement even when not working. I felt somewhat safer there, away from everyone and everything. My area was only separated by a pet gate and a flag, but the seclusion felt good, and I could hear if anyone was coming down those stairs. Sometimes Bill would get drunk — he liked to use alcohol a lot as an excuse — and sit and bother me for a while. Except, of course, the time he ‘shaved and had to show me’ and flashed me, or the time he grabbed my work, suctioning the pieces together and suggesting we each use one.
I feel it necessary to say we’d broken up early in 2016, this was all sometime after August, when it was clear that not only were we not an item, but I was not doing a damn thing with him.
Bill invading my room became more and more of a noticeable feature. Things were just slightly amiss from time-to-time, aside from the closet door. One time he had knocked something over and left the mess there. When I approached him about this, he stated he was just looking for the popcorn I’d bought. Hm. There were a number of times that, looking back, I think he was searching for some of my devices.
My phone was password protected. My laptop not so much, but I would tend to leave it on if I stepped out of the room for a minute. So it was on when I had showered one night, and it was that night that he peeked at it, went through messages, went through my pictures, taking pictures himself of a photo of my breasts and then a photo of someone else’s genitalia. The invasions of my areas, and personal space, increased. I do not recall if I had learned from him that he was fucking around on my laptop or just went off a feeling when I put a password onto it for login, and regularly put it to sleep when I wasn’t around. This led to me leaving the house one night to visit My Love and setting a trap, leaving my laptop in my backpack with the zippers at such an angle that if they were bothered I would notice. I took a photo of it. Upon my return I saw that the zippers had been moved and confronted Bill about this. He claimed that he just wanted to see what I’d been up to as we hadn’t spoken, and he hadn’t tried getting into my laptop or anything. Sure.
Shortly after this I started getting random crashes, and upon opening the laptop I noticed screws missing from the SSD sled. Dad had installed it and set the thing up for me, and when Bill walked in on me tinkering around I made a remark about how it was Dad who misplaced a screw. Bill went white and got nervous. Now I don’t know what it was that Bill did, just that he clumsily took my SSD out and tried to access the information on it, and either actively or accidentally damaged it.
While short on cash, we went to Fry’s and I was checking around some computers within my price range. I’d asked Bill if he could help and he refused, so I was a bit limited in my choices. Thus, the out-of-box, bloatware-loaded ASUS. Asses, I call it lovingly. Of course he could help, he had purchased a tower some time back (and failed at putting it together because paying attention to the input and output cable is extremely difficult for someone who spent a ridiculous amount of time fiddling with gaming systems and his phone) and he had his old laptop that he didn’t use at all that I could use. I refused, feeling it a trap. I mentioned previously that he had a keylogger on it to steal my Facebook password, so it would have noted everything I did with it. While I didn’t know that at the time, it just felt suspicious.
Shortly after I set up my new bloatware-loaded ASUS and did whatever basic tinkering I know to reduce the significance of said bloatware, Bill wanted to show me his amazing new purchase. A giant TV, curved nicely for all the gaming pleasure. Let’s watch something on it! Come into my room and hang out!
Bill tried his hardest to get me to spend time with him in his room, or otherwise invade my space to get into mine so he could grope me and keep me from my communications with others. He was always there, always in my space. And so it was no surprise when I went out one night to spend time with My Love, that Bill followed. My Love and I sat in the back of my car — it is a coupe, so it is an effort to get back there — and just talked for a bit, as we had been. Some cuddling. Nothing particularly salacious. I got back to Bill’s parents’ house some time later and Bill was not there, but pulled in shortly after I did with McDonalds. I jokingly flipped him off through the window and he became bothered, his face falling and nervousness overtaking him. I had not realized he stalked me at the time.
Portraying everything as I have feels largely inadequate. I cannot place the fear into my words that was welling up in me, I cannot adequately express how upset I was at the intrusions, and how uncomfortable I was becoming at that time. Bill’s behavior was obsessive, and I was scared.
Some of my inability to portray this accurately is just due to not being well-versed enough. Some of it probably has to do with how I have been listening to soothing soundscapes. And some of it…the distance I’ve had to put myself from all of this. The lack of memory due to the traumatizing night, everything that followed. What I can say was that I noticed a steady escalation in Bill’s behavior for some time, and then it got erratic and concerning near the end, when he was doing his damnedest to really get at me. He owned me. I was his, everyone knew it. Everyone believed him.
And I suppose that’s a statement too. You can question my words — although I’d rather you didn’t as I am sensitive about this — or wonder if I am leaving details out of the painting I am putting onto canvas. When we are often the point of focus in our stories, the other side gets lost, we lack a nuance. I am no hero, I am not the hero of this story, I am a flawed human who has made very wrong decisions. Am I painting myself as a victim here? certainly, but given how I’ve felt since, I was. I was also a damaged person making poor choices. Trusting where I should not have. Putting myself through hell for the belief that it was somehow the better option.
I do not, however, believe that I am painting an inaccurate picture for the purpose of altering the reality to suit a narrative. I can say with certainty that that was Bill’s modus operandi, lying about our relationship when it ceased to exist to his family, his friends, our mutual friends. He painted a picture wherein I was using him and his family while I was off gallivanting with some other guy and cheating on Bill. He painted a picture of his own victimization while he tormented me by removing my safety and security, invading my space, trying to push himself onto me repeatedly, and ultimately traumatizing me. I don’t deny that some of what I did was hurtful to him, but it was not my place to deal with his emotion outside of the scope of our shaky friendship at that point.
I have omitted a great deal of information regarding individual relationships with most of his family, barring the pets, because it is ultimately not that important. They didn’t personally make me feel unwelcome or unsafe, except when he or his dad would leave the front door unlocked while I was alone sleeping. There were no real transgressions there. They did not abuse me. Even if the cat did scratch me it was my own damn fault. Perhaps he is the one who left this scar on my arm I was looking at and couldn’t place the other night? I genuinely do not remember.
I’m uncertain where to cut this part. The night itself I think deserves an entire post, but then I also wonder about the things leading up to it. Do I start with the night? do I delve directly into the trauma? It is hard to tell, and although I have had a headache throughout writing much of this, I would rather not address any of it in whole again.
A headache. How fitting.