So, this is something my therapist suggested I do and I've decided to try it. Basically it's a letter to myself to try to process my anger at myself over the things I feel I did that contributed to what happened.
So how do you talk yourself in a letter? Starting it with "Dear Me," seems a little awkward, but who cares. Here goes. God, this feels weird...
What do I want to say to you? That you messed up in a lot of respects that night? Well, yeah, you did, but so what? Everyone does. People blow off their instincts and do and say stupid things all the time. This just happened to cost you what it did because of who you messed up with, not how you messed up. Can we cut the bullshit and just be honest with ourselves for a minute here? You feel guilty for the reasons you turned him down and for what you said that he might have overheard. You felt guilty then and you still feel guilty now., and if we're going to be really honest, that guilt was a large part of why you weren't more blunt about correcting your answer to H's question. When you realized what you said, it didn't seem fair to have appeared to be giving in and then yank it back, not given how you knew he felt about you. After all, you're the one who made the mistake and blurted that out. You felt like you slipped up and you wanted to correct it, but you didn't want to hurt him in the process so instead you hedged, only saying something about wanting to sleep and hoping that would be the end of it, that he'd take the hint and not put you in the position of having to decide to either go through with it or risk crushing him by backing out. You were counting on him being enough of a gentleman to not try to go ahead after you said that, that he'd chalk it up to you being drunk, bad luck, etc., and leave it at that. You're mad at yourself because you gambled with something so important and you lost.
The thing is, it didn't feel like a gamble at the time. You felt completely safe because he had spent weeks building up the idea that you could trust him completely, convincing you he cared about you, training you to hang onto the belief that he was a good guy in the face of any and all evidence to the contrary. Saying you wanted to sleep was a weak no, but it was still a no all the same. Just because it wasn't as direct as the apparent yes didn't mean it didn't carry the same weight and cancel out any perceived agreement, just as it was intended to do, and under normal circumstances it would have. Under normal circumstances that would have been enough to do it, or at the very least raise some questions, but the person you were dealing with wasn't playing by the same set of rules that people usually play by in situations like this. You had no reason to think you wouldn't be able to say no or stop him later if you needed to. You thought you had time and had no reason to believe it was about to run out, that the window to make sure nothing happened was closing. How were you supposed to know there was a chemical in your system that had you on a clock, a chemical that in the next few minutes was going to take away your ability to move and speak? You didn't know that, but he did. He was just waiting for the clock to run out on you. As far as you knew you were just very drunk and the worst that could happen would be you'd pass out, in which case he wouldn't try anything anyway. If he'd been who you believed he was, you'd have been right. You'd have been every bit as safe as you felt. Unfortunately, he wasn't who you thought he was. He had an agenda that he did a very good job of hiding until he was ready to act on it.
Where you really made your mistake was thinking that what you said or didn't say would have made any difference at all. That would imply you had some control over the situation. You didn't. You may have thought you did and desperately want to continue believing that you did now, but you didn't. It was an illusion. The reality is that you lost control the second you took that last drink because he had already decided what he was going to do to you. Nothing was going to change that short of him getting found out beforehand or someone else intervening. You seem to keep forgetting that that whole exchange was spontaneous-- it wasn't part of the plan at all. He didn't ask that question, she did. He had already drugged you with the intention of assaulting you, so even if that part of the conversation had never taken place he would not have done anything any differently. It changed absolutely nothing. At best, all it really did was provide him with a little unexpected legal protection, it gave him something he could point to in case you did try to report him.
He didn't give a damn about consent. He had a chance to try right then without it being forced and he didn't take it. Instead he ignored it and waited until he knew you were completely incapacitated. Why? Maybe he simply didn't want to push his luck and risk having you actually say no in front of a witness, but it's also possible it was because he didn't want you to do it willingly. That would have taken too much of his power and control away, and that's really what he was after-- absolute dominance, to make you do something he knew you didn't want to do. He wanted to hurt you and having sex voluntarily isn't hurtful. You were operating under the assumption that of course he'd prefer it to be consensual and that if he didn't take the opportunity when he had it then he must not have heard it as consent in the first place, not realizing that some guys don't want voluntary. You read about one just the other day who called normal, consensual sex boring, who was disappointed if he made his move and the girl was into it, who said that he liked knowing she didn't want it but that there was nothing she could do. He wanted to have to coerce and intimidate her. Having to use some form of force was the only way it was interesting for him. Actually that may have been why Lee looked so blank and bored through most of it. Maybe he didn't think it through and he lost some gratification from doing it because the drug prevented him from being able to see your reaction to what was happening, but by that time he'd taken it far enough that he figured he might as well go ahead anyway.
So why are you showing Lee more compassion than you're showing yourself? Because you didn't show him compassion before with that comment you made? Do you think you owe him for that? By that logic, he got you back so you're even, right? Please, you know it doesn't work that way. Ever hear of a proportional response? That's not what this was. Your comment was hurtful, yes, but he gave you a drug, too much of it, in fact, to the point that it endangered your life. He and H. told you your vitals crashed, remember? Your heart started beating like a jackhammer while your breathing slowed to next to nothing, to the point that you were going so long between inhales that they kept thinking it had stopped altogether. People have died or become comatose from combining ketamine and alcohol like that. Did he try to get you to a hospital? No. He got lucky and you pulled out of it, but even after that he didn't come off his plan. He waited until it paralyzed you and then used it to terrorize you. He went out of his way to hurt you as deeply as he could, apparently tailoring the way he did it based off of things you'd told him precisely because of the trust he had fostered. Here's the difference, though. You hurt him inadvertently. It wasn't your intention to do that, but you blurted out something in the moment that you really shouldn't have. While that was wrong and should have either never been said or should have been handled differently, do you really think it was bad enough to merit him nearly killing you with an overdose and then scaring you for life? Put the shoe on the other foot. If he had said something hurtful about you, said you were nice but he wouldn't touch you with a ten foot pole and you overheard him, would you ever think it was justified to retaliate by drugging him and making him live what you knew were some of his worst nightmares? No, of course not. That's deranged. That's sick, but that's the person you were dealing with. Mentally healthy people don't subject others to what amounts to carefully planned psychological torture simply because they got their feelings hurt.
And while we're on the subject of psychological torture, when are you going to accept that that bullshit about consent was just more gaslighting? He knew you weren't consenting. Him hurting you like that was just another version of him lashing out and then playing innocent, like it was you who misunderstood the situation, just like when he snapped at you and convinced you he didn't or told you you got mixed up about when he was working, only on a much larger scale. It was basically a very brutal form of passive aggression. Up until he said you consented and that it wasn't rape, there really wasn't a doubt in your mind that that's exactly what it was. Before that, you were so convinced of it that you were afraid he'd kill you to keep you quiet. Before that, you were seriously considering reporting it to the police as soon as you were safely away from him and that house. Get him and his poison out of your head, Lynn. All that turmoil and self blame? That came from him, not you. He triggered that. Why are you still letting him control the narrative? Why are you still letting him, of all people, be the one to define it for you, and in a way that's in his best interests rather than yours? I thought you felt he'd taken enough from you. Isn't that why there was never another suicide attempt after what happened, even though it was so horrible? Because after everything you did to make sure he didn't hurt you further, you were determined that he was not going to be what did you in, that you were not going to allow him to take your life too, even indirectly? So why are you still letting him take your peace? Why are you still letting him shake your trust in yourself? Why are you still letting him make you believe that your perception of what happened is wrong and that his version is right? You know he was a liar. He lied to you a dozen times before this and yet you're still letting his words influence your thinking. You're still letting him torture you and force you to constantly second guess yourself even now, all these years later.
What are you doing? It's time to remove those hooks he planted so long ago. You've been basing your thoughts and reactions on how you think other people will react, but you're not even basing them on the right people. You're basing them on him and what he said rather than what he did and how you experienced it, and the things you've been echoing in your head that are making you afraid to say it wasn't your fault at all are the comments and beliefs from some of the worst and harshest victim blamers and rape apologists out there, some of the least compassionate people in existence on the subject, the ones who will grab at any perceived misstep on the part of the victim and use it to excuse the perpetrator's behavior. That's the attitude you've absorbed and turned on yourself. You're so terrified of the pain of being picked apart and called a liar that you don't even need to hear it from someone else. You're so afraid of acknowledging that you were raped and then having someone tell you you weren't that you're tearing yourself apart for them. As long as you keep doing that and don't let yourself accept it then you never have to take the risk of someone else not accepting it because you'll never say to them that's what it was. That's why every time you start to accept it, every time your own judgement starts to overcome those fears and reassert itself, you back away from it, you start rethinking and reevaluating it all over again until you talk yourself out of it and go back into the safety of denial. Those awful standards are what you've been judging yourself against and holding yourself to, and those standards don't represent the majority of society by a long shot, at least not anymore. They don't even represent your own standards as long as the person in question isn't you.
So let's go back to how you felt after it happened but before you talked to him. Let's pretend for a second that that conversation never happened and his influence was never present. What do you think your narrative would have been and still would be if you remove that factor completely? I have to switch gears a little bit to answer, so I'm going to use "I" instead of "you" from here on out. The main thing it would have changed is that I don't think I would have ever questioned that what he did was assault, that he forced himself on me because he knew I couldn't stop him right then, especially not years later once I knew for certain that he really had drugged me, that he was what caused the paralysis. When we were first alone in that room, when he was undressing but before he touched me, when I thought he just didn't know yet that I couldn't move, I did give him the benefit of a doubt, assuming that he must be thinking I wanted to based on what I'd said before. It didn't seem unreasonable to me that he would draw that conclusion since I never really strongly took it back and I wasn't protesting now when it was obvious where this was going. I wanted to correct it then, to let him know something was wrong and I needed help, but of course that was impossible.
I was trying so hard not to panic, thinking that once he started trying to engage he'd get it and stop on his own, that as soon as he figured out that I was physically incapable of responding there wouldn't be anything on his mind but calling 911. I was counting on his care for me to be what would give me a chance at still being ok. Once he touched my face and he didn't seem confused or concerned when I didn't react, that's when I started to see him and the situation differently. I was still holding out hope that it would click any second, that he'd see that something was off, but he ignored it and just started calmly repositioning me like a ragdoll. As soon as he did that, I realized he already knew the condition I was in and that he had no intention of calling for help, that was going to take advantage of it instead. Right then I knew I'd been wrong, that he hadn't mistakenly thought I was consenting, that this was him exploiting the fact that he knew I literally wasn't capable of saying no. I figured he saw it as the perfect opportunity, probably the only one he'd ever get, and so he wasn't willing to let it go. I wouldn't give him a chance on my own and so this was his way of forcing me to. That's when it became rape in my mind. I'm sure it would have stayed that way, too, if not for the smokescreen he threw up and H. reinforced, clouding my vision and making it nearly impossible for me to see the situation the same way I had before.
If not for that, I wouldn't have felt compelled to re-categorize it as a "grey area", thinking that was the most honest label I could put on it. I still would have been terrified of him and I can't say for sure that I wouldn't still have decided not to go to the police for other reasons, but it damn sure wouldn't have been because I was thought it was my fault for not communicating clearly enough when I had the chance. As it stood, I was afraid that maybe while it was very much involuntary and terrifying from my point of view, maybe from his point of view he honestly believed that all he was doing was holding me to what I said. It didn't seem fair to blow up his life with a rape charge when there for a few minutes even I thought I may have led him to think he had permission. And is it even still rape if that wasn't how he thought of it, if that wasn't what it was from his vantage point? His intent, his mindset and perspective were vitally important to me in figuring out how to define it, and if something I did made him think it was ok then I didn't want to come after him for going ahead.
I can see now how twisted that logic really was, but at the time I was so unbelievably confused about the whole thing. Granted, I wasn't confused until after I talked to him, but after I did it it all suddenly seemed so complicated and I kept turning it over and over in my mind, trying to make sense of it. Looking at certain things from one perspective seemed so damning as far as he was concerned, but then I'd look at it from another and it would cast it in a completely different light. I couldn't seem to come to a way of seeing it that definitively answered the question of whether it was really rape or not. Everything I thought of that seemed to prove it one way or the other would always end up being contradicted by something else that seemed to point in the other direction. It would have helped if I'd actually been in possession of all the facts, but at the time I didn't know there were pieces I didn't have. I think I would have been a lot more forgiving of myself and lot harder on him about the whole thing, and I certainly wouldn't have been so careful what I said and how I said it. I don't think I would have protected his identity the way I did, or at least not out of anything but a fear of retaliation. I would have gotten the help I needed a lot sooner, I would not have felt guilty or fraudulent in accepting it, and I probably wouldn't still be struggling with it now. I think I would have dealt with it in a much healthier way.
So part of my "assignment" was to write this and then reread it after a few days, which I intend to do, but already I'm surprised at everything that came out. I may need to do a second one as I'm sure there's more stuck in there, waiting to surface and be sorted, but for now I feel I've run dry and so I'll log off. Thanks, R. You were right to have me do this.