Trauma Pt4 — ad solis ortem
February, 2017, cold. Wonderfully so. Even then, taking medication that was not prescribed to me, I was already sensitive to the heat. With stress, the sensitivity increased.
Shortly before the day of the trauma, I got a notification that someone had effectively logged into my Facebook account. I got an approximate idea of where they had logged in, and the device was an iPhone — something I did and do not have, but something Bill did. He went through my conversation with my, at the time, best friend and was aghast to learn about all of my activity with My Love. Although I could only go off what I knew, I assumed that he had logged in, but didn’t know what all he saw. I panicked.
The night of the trauma I was to meet with a friend, although she was out somewhere and my waiting on her messages to confirm when she would be around turned into an anxiety-filled mess before I called it. I recall having talked to My Love and telling him about this meeting, but I do not recall if we spoke in person or via text. I also do not remember what I was meeting with this friend about, although for some reason I think it had to do with glasses.
Glasses. Perpetually in need of a new pair, mine are no longer suitable for me. Were I more courageous I would get the exam done and get all of the information I need so that I could take it to an online place and get everything I want for less than half the cost of a new pair from any other place, but it seems some convenience from getting glasses at the same place where I get my eyes tested makes it too easy to go that route. Transitions are what push the price up significantly, but I do not think I can exist without them now. I am somewhat photosensitive and their changing helps me a lot.
So perhaps it was glasses. A new, special frame from someone she knew, talk about it, help to go get it done. I waited in a parking lot for a while and when I learned she was still quite some ways away at wherever she was, I called it done and went back to Bill’s parent’s house. I went downstairs to the basement, my little sanctuary, and did whatever I normally do.
It was a bit odd that one of their cars started and sat running for some time. Would think if someone had something to go do they’d go do it. As it turned out, Bill was telling his family everything about me. Supposedly. He was tormented by knowing I was seeing someone else, I was just using them, etc. I do not know who came up with the solution to this, but due to some of its content I assume it was Bill.
Eventually they all came inside, and Bill came down to the basement, sat down, told me everything he knew. Told me he’d looked through my laptop. Followed me out the one night and watched me get into the back seat of the car with My Love. Bill did not speak of the kiss that was shared that night, which led me to believe that he didn’t see it, and I certainly wasn’t going to admit to it either. He told me about all of the conversation he’d read when he logged into my Facebook account, claiming that I’d ‘saved the password’ on his old laptop when I know for a fact that I did not, hence the keylogger mentions in previous posts. He made such a big deal about how awful it felt to read the things he did…that he did not have any business reading in the first place.
Fight, flight, freeze?
We went back and forth for a while, and he told me to come up to his room so we could talk more, in a better place. I was busy, I needed the printer, it wasn’t working, so we got in the car and headed to Walmart. Much later than this night, I went back into that store and it seemed like a place I’d never been in before. It was odd. We got back, I did my printing, and he pulled me upstairs to his room at 2am. To his bed.
He wrapped himself around me. 6'5", 230lbs, all he needed to do was wrap himself around my 5'3" 150lbs frame, and I was trapped. Then he tore into me, altering between pleading for whatever he knew of me to come back, and telling me how terrible I was for actions I’d taken.
He would squeeze me tighter sometimes, would kiss me sometimes, then go right back to emotionally beating the absolute shit out of me. I was terrible, these were all of the ways I was terrible. I am sorry to say I don’t have much in the way of detail for this, it became such a blur, all I know is that he would continuously alter these actions and how he was talking to me.
I remember that he continuously claimed I was cheating on him. While I’d certainly been talking during our relationship to the person I got together with after, any action on our feelings did not happen until following the conclusion of the relationship. I also remember that he kept talking up everything he and his family had done for me, and how I was actively throwing it away. He brought up how terrible my home life was, and how much better it was in his house, in his space. It all came back to me being an awful, stupid person, using him, abusing him. And he tried to sow the seeds of doubt about my partner too, about how this one woman’s actions towards him showed that he would just be adding another notch on his belt with me. Bill insisted that all of this information was relevant to him as we had dated, but he couldn’t really explain why it mattered after our relationship was over. It showed the lie he’d been painting for what it was.
This went on for three hours. Three hours of sobbing while he tore me apart, and kept me trapped in his room with his size. Near the end of this three hours, Bill gave me the ultimatum: stop my relationship with this other person and never speak with him again, get back together with Bill, and stay living in his house, or leave and stay with my horrible partner.
There is something about my brain that clicks oddly at times. In black and white thinking, such as the ultimatum, I will immediately be struck by the shades of grey that exist. If you talk to me for any length of time you will notice a deviation from active thought while still keeping that thought. The mind travels in many places at once, and keeping on a singular path can be done with some focus but when I am free not to be contained by it, I will go onto those other paths. Something of an ADHD trait, although I am undiagnosed and currently ignoring the idea that that may be the case, since…honestly the depression and anxiety themselves already carry a lot of this sort of thing with them. Regardless, my mind went aboard one of these trains at this time.
And so I posited the idea that there are options aside from these two, I could, in fact, cease knowing Bill and my relationship and find somewhere else to be. He did not like this, and insisted it was one or the other.
I have no recollection of what happened between that space and the space wherein he tried to coerce me to have sex with him, shoving his erection against me again and stating we should have sex to “help make up (my) mind.” I told him no, and his body language changed. I was no longer safe in ‘freezing’ and needed to move. I don’t remember what I said, how I got up, any attempts to diffuse the situation, I just remember standing up in the corner of the room and stating something that soothed the emotion over.
It was 5am.
Bill had work in the morning, and it was late and I needed to “get to bed,” although my mind had moved past this entirely and was working on a proper flight plan. I went downstairs first, opened up the email on my phone and started writing out a message to My Love. He also had work in the morning, and I wanted to catch him on the way in to explain what had just happened. Bill also came downstairs and went to the bathroom while I tapped out my message. When he came out, he seemed smug, full of himself, as though he’d succeeded at his plan. He kissed me, was glad we talked, we’d figure things out again later. I had already figured them out.
He went back upstairs to bed, and I went downstairs into the basement. There was a light switch at the top of the stairs and nothing down in the basement, so I left it off and used my phone to light my path. As I’d left some of my things down there before getting dragged up to Bill’s room, I just gathered those. I sent my message, got a reply pretty quickly, and then started working on another message to the friend I was meant to meet the night before. After waiting for a few minutes for Bill to fall asleep, I took my things, left the basement from the door down there, locking it behind me, got into my car, and headed out. I hammered out a message to Dad at stoplights, saying we needed to talk in a bit, and got an okay. I was prepared to beg to come home. Skipping chronology a bit, I did not have to beg — the bed was made and waiting for me.
Meeting with my SO was easy enough. I told him what happened, and addressed the seed of doubt immediately. He confirmed what I already knew, but after such a time, I needed to hear it. I told him of my plan and he agreed to it. He was glad I was okay, he was sorry for what happened, and he was angry with Bill.
Went back to my town and met with the friend following that, I told her all of what went on. We talked about some other things, plans for creating a compound of artists, art shows, all sorts of things for a few hours and it was incredibly soothing, although my bowels were greatly distressed and with the traffic in this coffee shop, I did not feel safe to go to the bathroom. Although a great majority of these amazing things we talked about fell through, having her there to listen, talk, to just be her, that was amazing.
Following that I went home, sat down on the couch. It was nice, really, to be there. As stated, I was prepared to beg, but I did not have to. My grandma said that the bed was made, and it was suggested I go back and get anything important or information-sensitive while Bill was gone, which was certainly my plan. After unloading some of the things I’d already put into my car, I headed back out to get other things. Bill’s family was at work, he’d already gone to work. I believe there were messages exchanged, but I cannot tell you what they were, just that I kept things under wraps while I could. I do not remember how many trips I made that day, it could very well have just been the one to get important things.
The plan. I was welcome back home, so that would be where I went, but I had until the 15th to get my things out. Not the legal amount of time, but it was something I could manage with a little help. I talked to my ex, as his brother has a truck, and Dad enlisted the help of our cousin, who was ready to bust up some knees. I would not be there to pick up my things when Bill was there, but I was quickly limited to only being able to go get my stuff when his family was there. It seemed a bit inane and while I can understand the reasoning, I still disagree with it. Regardless, as long as he was at work and they were there, I went. I do not remember how many nights involved four of us, I believe it was just the one. Thought about taking the cat with me since he was hanging out on my furniture, but I’d conditioned him to know that my stuff was safe. Not my cat, couldn’t take him. Real shame, I miss him.
Of course Bill messaged me a great deal, especially when he was home and often inebriated. He’d threatened to bag up my stuff and throw it out, and one time I showed up he’d completely torn up my room and bed. He claimed he was just mad and throwing things around, but I knew he was looking for a little plush my SO had given me well before our relationship started. It was one of the items I brought home on day one. It was no surprise from all of this back and forth that his parents had messaged him the night I had everyone with me, and he demanded to know who everyone was. Completely lost it when I said that the ex was there. Conversely, my SO was okay with the action given its purpose, and how my ex and Dad are friends now anyway (age similarity). I write this bit while amused over the whole thing. What is your network if not a safety net? sometimes you can fall onto them, sometimes they fall onto you. As much as he would have liked to take it away from me, my net existed. It exists.
I remember dropping a gift to the family the last time I was there. The dad’s favorite beer, although he hadn’t spoken a word to me since the one night, and…probably wine for the mom. She cried, hugged me.
I do not remember when I blocked Bill from contacting me during all this and I am not interested in going back to look. He was threatening everything I had, and I’d had enough.
Although it was freeing to be away from it, I finally had time to sit down and process everything, everything I felt, had felt, the night itself, what I would do now. I hadn’t stopped working, and had focused on getting orders out, but then I was left with my day.
Bill contacted me. He would reach around my block and find another means to get at me. I think I responded a few times, telling him to leave me alone, not contact me again, but he would continue to do so. I would see his car sometimes, frequenting the places I would frequent. He started sending me things in the mail.
Him knowing where I lived, being able to peg my schedule, stalking social media where I could only do so much against him — work things mostly — stalking me in reality… I couldn’t leave the house. I was weighed down by this terror, this perpetual fear that he would be there, and I wouldn’t be able to defend myself. A couple times I took my ex with me as a deterrent. Picked up groceries, picked up ex on the way (he lives just down the street). It was helpful until the time I thanked and hugged him and he groaned at me. Ugh.
This anxiety about leaving the house existed throughout the duration of 2017 and most of 2018. It existed as a fear of any communication. Messages on any site alarmed me. Messages from people I didn’t know alarmed me, and given my work, that was a lot. I couldn’t answer the phone, even for family. And of course Bill reached out to them too. I don’t know what he wrote my mom, and she never opened it either. We talked about it and she just deleted it. At the time I was terrified he’d exposed my sexuality or my work to her, and I wasn’t open about either of those things. I was terrified I would lose her, and I couldn’t bear that. Ultimately I wouldn’t, and her respectful approach to being messaged still warms me. She is good that way.
The last thing Bill sent me in the mail was Xmas of 2017. It was a box he ‘learned to stain himself,’ something cheap you pick up from a craft store (no shame to them, love these boxes myself, they just need some work), filled with a pillow bag of what I can only describe as trash as it carried no value to me. Some video games, a Doom poster, a sketchbook that he wrecked by inscribing on the front cover. He also made a point to say he ‘learned to work with leather’ and sewed a custom cover for it, whereupon he ruined the leather by gluing a cut up piece of one of his shirts to it. Some of his letter was printed on the back of a printout of the Lusty Argonian Maid. The pillowcase disturbed me the most, however, as I understood it as the pillowcase he’d kept from his ex before me. They’d done anal for the first time (he claimed she wanted it, I don’t think she was ready and he goaded her into it) and she started crying immediately, her mascara running onto the pillowcase and staining it. It was like his little trophy that he kept, and then foisted onto me. I sold the games and bobbles, ripped up the Doom poster, tore the front out of the sketchbook and used the paper for literal trash projects, threw out the leather, pillowcase, and ended up burning the box pre-pandemic with some friends while we celebrated our having left a cult.
Bill’s letters are kept in one of two folders. I kept a lot of things for posterity, and his emails are all sitting in folders named things like “poop” due to his inherent interest in it and also he is just shit. I looked heavily into contacting the police, but it ultimately seemed like a lot of work for something I may not be believed on anyway. Funny how that is, the one cop in the ass-end of nowhere, WI, was so ready to throw a restraining order at the first toxic relationship I had, but here I’m not sure what I’ll get. I also did not want to see Bill in court. He never made explicit threats to my person either, and although I understand that IL has some pretty decent laws on harassment and stalking even through the internet, it seemed like a losing battle. I was too cowardly to pursue anything. In the end, I have no shortage of connections for safety. One of my friends even made custom for me a stabby, beaty, and punchy thing — all of which are arguably illegal according to IL laws, although I’m going to skirt by on them being wood and likely ineffective as actual weapons (sans the beaty thing), rather just hand-made works of art, also he sent me this amazing cocobolo skull so…you know, it could be a weapon but it’s an art. I cannot thank my safety net enough.
Most of this I did not recognize for what it was until I saw it written down on paper after a doctor appointment. While I don’t recall her stating so explicitly, my psychologist did mark down PTSD. I argued with myself about it for a while before accepting it.
This comes back to triggers. How I was triggered today by the presence of an unknown van with unknown people in it, well after it actually happened, when there are likelier explanations. Could have been someone’s Doordash and they were sitting there for convenience or at the wrong house. Could have been someone’s friend, same thing. It just set me off, and reminded me that while much of this is behind me and I have worked hard at working through it, it still exists and it still affects me.
Messages from unknown names were a big one back then, but admittedly that hasn’t all gone away. While checking the battery in a controller during gaming today, I noticed a popup mentioning I’d had a message on Xbox. Of course, I haven’t had my system on for nearly a year so I had no idea what this was. Later looked into it and it was some spam scam message from some supposed porn site that probably steals info. No idea.
For a while, height of a man set it off. Around and over 6' tended to freak me out a lot, and I recognized it as a problem when I was in a game store and a black fellow that was 6'something was walking in my direction from somewhat behind me. He was just going to look at something and it had nothing to do with me, but the motion and height freaked me out even though I’m certain I could still recognize that he is black, and Bill is white. A panic of sorts, and I realized it was a problem I’d have to work through. I think I mentioned previously that my first time seeing my doctor in late 2018 I also had a moment where I felt similarly.
After I sought help, I was able to start leaving the house again. I’ve changed, grown, healed. I do not live my life in fear most of the time, but every once in a while, a small thing will happen and I will be triggered. I do not know if this goes away or will stay with me forever and I just need to work on myself to lessen its effects. There are also likely some triggers I don’t yet know about, but will have to face them when they happen. Then I go over all this again. It is an enormous waste of my time and mental resources.
Some of my mental functions were diminishing prior to this point, but that night, the PTSD, it’s taken a lot from me. Antidepressants helped with some of the mental function, but I am still stuck with fuzzy memories. It is depressing.
What I can do is look at the time leading up to that night, things that happened then, and for some time after that, and compare to how I am generally now. How phenomenally built up my family relationships have become, and when I am lonely I still have them. I have friends, even those I have literally never talked to and who only show up as a recognizable name in my games. I have loved ones, ultimately. I have been significantly damaged, but there are things that are far better than they ever were, and I am thankful for that.
I will remember details I have missed later. They could show up in other posts, as everything essentially relates back to everything else, but I will not worry about it. For now, I will take the other fourth of this clonazepam, my usual diphenhydramine (yes, I still like that word), and pass out. Tonight should have involved some gecko care but they will be fine, and will get one of their favorite foods tomorrow while I continue to work on some features and details for this one enclosure.
Thank you, and goodnight.