So...today I wanted to write about how the csa affected my relationships with others. Essentially, how it warped my view of other people.
I mentioned in a previous blog about how "J" used to torment me emotionally by constantly lying to the point where I never knew if anything he said was true or not. This is essentially how I started navigating my life. I never knew whether to believe people or not. Are they joking? Are they lying? Was that sarcasm or are they being serious? As a kid this hindered my ability to make friends and generally talk to people. I was nice and that was my default persona. People seemed to like me enough and so I just went with that. If they liked me, they'd be less likely to mess with me or do something to me or try to confuse me. That was my logic anyway. This was to the point where I'd go out of my way to do something nice for someone I really didn't even like or didn't seem to like me. Actually I'd especially go out of my way to do something nice if it seemed like the person didn't like me. Either that or avoid them all together like a cowering mess. Of course there are times, especially as a child where your friends are going to tease you or mess with you. I did not handle this aspect of friendship very well. I took things seriously all the time, though I would pretend to laugh with the others, so that they wouldn't hate me. In a way, this kind of made it easier for them to mess with me cause they knew I wouldn't get mad >_<. I had no idea what a "normal" boundary was and I didn't want them to be mad at me for being mad at them so I just said go for it. I was also super sensitive and HATED this aspect of myself. I would cry for the stupidest things and then hate myself for hours for crying. I was like 8 and hating myself because I cried and allowed others to see that weakness. There was no in-between with me. Either I was strong or weak. Or in "J" words I was either mature or a p*ssy.
By middle school, I had a reputation for being the nicest, sweetest girl you'd ever meet. I'd help anyone with anything they needed and rarely said no to anything. I never really learned the proper usage of that word anyway. I had two best friends that had broken me down and had gotten to see the "core" of the person that was me. However, to anyone else, I was a walking smile ready to help with anything. There were few flaws in my armor and for the most part, having a problem with me was almost seen as taboo. I had accomplished my task and everyone like me. At the same time I had kept most at a considerable distance. I solidified my safety by making sure everyone liked me, but kept my bubble intact by making sure it was all superficial. It worked on both students and teachers alike or so I thought. There was this one boy, who I can only assume saw through my facade and saw me for what I was - a vulnerable little girl who couldn't stand up or herself. He was always pretty nice to me, until a point were we had to do a group project together. Somehow, I ended up in a group of all guys (and the underachievers at that). This boy who we will call "P" established himself as the leader of our group. He gave out jobs and ensured that I had the most menial job. I did try to protest and started saying that I could contribute a lot more than that. He laughed and said that there was nothing I could do right and that they wouldn't have me ruin this for them. With that, I shut up and set out to do the task assigned to me. I did discreetly help out here and there just to make sure that our grade didn't suffer as again - these were the underachievers- and I was a straight A student. They ended up fooling around and I had to pick up a lot of their work. At one point when the teacher wasn't there, "P" asked me to hit him as hard as I could. I said no of course and thought he was insane. Eventually, he kept touching me and saying I had to. I got annoyed and hit him (though it was half-assed). He then went ahead and gave me a smack in the face as hard as he could. He smiled and said I shouldn't have hit him if I didn't want him to hit me back. At this point, I was pretty scared of "P". He was like my abuser 2.0 without the sexual part. He used the same head games and knew where to jab to hurt me the most. He saw through everything I tried to portray and reminded me that I was never safe. He even got the others in our group to cheer him on and agree with his weird reasoning. When the project was over, he tried to tell the teacher that I had done less and therefore deserved a worse grade. The teacher knew my work ethic and disagreed, luckily. The crazy part is it never even occurred to me to tell the teacher about him. We had a good rapport and I trusted her, but the thought never crossed my mind that he's being a jerk and I could tell someone. Just like with "J".
By high school, I still had the same two best friends. Freshman year, I had told them about the csa and they understood me somewhat better. However, I also started to get really bad anxiety and depression. I knew I had to hide that too and so I did. I smothered it all down and put on a smile as usual. The difference was that now, just being "nice" wasn't doing much. Everyone was trying things out and experimenting (as high schoolers do) and I was still the same vulnerable little girl with a plastic smile who wouldn't let anyone get too close. I was still considered a good person, but now people saw that I wanted to be left alone. I became an ice queen, albeit a nice one. I was approachable, but no one invited me anywhere. I would talk to tons of people at school, but would be alone come the weekend. I wanted nothing to do with them and they were happy to oblige. I wasn't like them and didn't know how to be. I wanted to be more open, but had no idea how to do that. My best friends tried. They would invite me out with them and their friends and again I would do well and say the expected things and then never talk to that person again. I was polite, but nothing more. I had locked myself away so tight, I couldn't even find the key anymore. I started to SI and panicked around people I didn't know, especially guys. All the while keeping up this happy, nice persona. I hated everyone, but still laughed along. I wanted to have more friends, but kept myself locked away.
Luckily in college, I was able to figure myself out. I made my own friends and had a blast. I opened up more and showed myself to more and more people. I'm still not entirely sure of myself and can still be pretty awkward, but I'm getting better.