“If you’re willing.” This is how my neighbor, who assaulted me in September, began his email to me saying he is interested in doing snow removal for me this winter. Just the fact that he sent the email in the first place set my teeth on edge but the way he began it just pushed me over the edge. It made me think he was implying that I had caused the trouble between us and not his never-ending unwanted advances towards me. It’s been two months since I had any contact with him and this missive from him just showed how much he didn’t understand what he had done to me. The extra anxiety I’ve felt at night when everything is dark and my dog is barking as if he’s seen or heard something. The going over everything time and again to make sure I didn’t send any mixed signals to him. I didn’t; by the way, I was always set in my stance on not wanting anything romantic from him. I took a night to decide what to say in response and decided upon this opening sentence.
“What I’m not willing to do is allow the man who assaulted me back into my life in any capacity.”
I thought it was succinct and very to the point. I sent it and haven’t heard anything back, so maybe my neighbor has crawled back under his rock again. I hope this is the end of this nightmare but somehow I feel like that as long as we live across from each other, I will always have to stay on my toes.
I’ve been trying to write this post for about a week now. I feel like it is vital for me to talk about and yet I feel like what happened to me isn’t as horrible as what many other women have experienced. On the other hand, I think it’s important not to downplay what happened either. A couple of weeks ago I had to cut all ties with the neighbor who helped my mom and me out so much for past four years. I had been riding a merry-go-round with him for the past several years of turning down his advances towards me. He’s married to his third wife and would often express his desires to be more than friends, and I would always tell him, “No.” He would try to rationalize it by saying things to me like, “You know, you wouldn’t be the first woman to be someone’s mistress.” Or “I’m not going another year without sex.” Or the day he brought me his copy of “The Joy of Sex” which I promptly handed back to him. My stance on the subject never wavered for a moment, and it frustrated him. One day he told me how once he wanted something he never stopped until he got his way. Maybe I should have cut ties with him then, but he helped us. And I was so burnt out taking care of my mom by myself; I let him help. I was grateful for the help. Grateful to have someone who understood my point of view and was willing to be there for us at the drop of a hat. But even silver linings cast shadows. And I was willing to ignore the shadowy side of our relationship until what I’m not very creatively calling “The Incident.” He had come over to help me with something, and before he left, he decided that it was ok to pull me to him and forcibly kiss me. I posted a poem about the incident a few days after it happened. It was shocking and as I struggled against him and kept saying, “No!” it didn’t matter. But that wasn’t the worst part. Before he left, he turned back around to me and looked me dead in the eye and just said, “Yes.” Then he turned and left. At that moment, I knew I had to cut ties. But going about life alone scared me to no end. I felt so overwhelmed by the idea since I’ve always had some kind of help to get me through tough times. I didn’t sleep for days weighing the situation. But it always kept going back to having to protect me from him. That kiss shattered all the illusions I had been wearing like blinders. I had talked myself into the idea that if I told him “No” enough times, he would stop. If I reasoned with him enough, he would see the situation from my side. But there is no reasoning with him. He wants what he wants, and I know now that how I feel about it and how it would affect his wife, should she find out about it, didn’t mean anything to him. Fast forward six days when he came over to weed the garden as nothing had ever happened. I went out onto the porch and told him that I had found someone to do that. He simply said, “Very well.” and left. I haven’t seen him since, and that was almost two weeks ago.
Facing the world alone for the first time in 46 years has, as I said before, overwhelming. I’ve been waking up early in the morning having anxiety attacks over this. But I’ve also made great strides in finding the help I need around the house which has bolstered my confidence. But dealing with my neighbor’s assault while continuing to mourn my mom and deal with the loneliness I’ve been feeling has left me emotionally drained. Throw in the failing health of my older cat, and it has me just wanting to pull the covers over my head and hide. Hide from the suffocating weight of everything that is going on. It’s just too much for my heart and my spirit to take. I’m trying to move forward with what I want to do with my life, but it’s hard doing that while dragging around all this emotional baggage. That’s why my posting of original content has kind of slowed down, I’ve been dealing with all this other stuff in my life, and it’s sapped my creativity. There have been days over the past couple of weeks where it’s all I can do just to take care of my pets and myself. But I’m working through it, and I just have to be patient with myself and listen to what my heart needs and continue to work on what I need to get past all the recent trauma I’ve experienced.
You swore you’d never hurt me
Until you did.
Today your control snapped
Like an overstretched rubber band.
Your rough hands holding me.
Lips smashed against mine
As I scream “No!” over and over.
My hands feebly trying to push you
That wasn’t the worst part
That came as you were leaving
I was still feebly saying, “No.”
In shock and mindlessness.
You turned back to me and
Emphatically said, “Yes.”
Like there was no arguing the point.
I was yours to do
With as you wished.
Then the door closed
And you were gone.
And I was left
To pick up the pieces
Of my shattered reality.