I have had several men ask me in the past day if they would be on the list of people I pulled into a room to "have a talking to".
I can't answer and that is really intense feeling. I want to answer. I desperately want to. I want to be able to absolve of guilt. I want to be able to hand down sentencing.
These aren't my secrets. If I go about telling men, "You but not you" then I risk revealing what has been told to me in confidence. The women who have confided in me did so with the rock solid belief that I would never betray them. I have to continue to earn that trust even though it is driving me insane.
I can't answer any of you. I can't say, "Oh of course I haven't heard anything about you!" because even if that is true--that just means I haven't heard anything. I can't give anyone a gold star that says, "Certifiably not a rapist" unless I go talk to every partner you have ever had.
Unfortunately in my little world the burden of proof isn't that I haven't yet heard anything. I have to know it is true or I won't say it is true. The emotional burden of guilt from being wrong is simply too high. The absolutely strongest recommendation I can give is, "I haven't been told anything about you."
And even that reveals the fuzzy outsides of what I have been told. It starts to narrow the field. What if guys start comparing notes to see what I said to whom? That's completely conceivable. How can I maintain confidentiality that way?
I just can't respond about this topic. Not really. I will respond to each of you individually (probably after finishing this blog--I haven't been at a computer since I hit post yesterday) because I appreciate that you are someone who cares about my opinion. But I can't answer this question. I just can't.
My honor doesn't look like the honor everyone else carries around but I will defend it tooth and nail. I gave my word that I was a safe space for these women. I can't dishonor that.
Even though I want to go beat some people over the head with big sticks because of what I know. I have to keep my fucking mouth shut. I have to smile and give that asshole a hug when he comes up to me at a party because if my behavior radically changes towards him he will probably figure it out.
I can't out people.
I can tell my secrets. I can tell my secrets all day and all night. I can write or scream them as much as I want. I can't tell other peoples secrets. That is an individual journey. If someone is forcibly outed that becomes a new trauma. It can't be a healing process. I don't get to hurt people like that.
The shape of this community role was actually discussed in my last therapy appointment. She asked me what I take pride in. I told her that I take a lot of pride in the fact that traumatized women find me and feel comforted by me. I wanted and needed someone to go to. I had no one. I have become what I needed. I work very hard at it.
Maintaining confidentiality is part of that. I cannot be trusted if I cannot keep my fucking mouth shut.
Have you noticed how hard it is for me to keep my fucking mouth shut? Oh man.
I was asked several specific questions by a good friend that he felt self-conscious leaving in comments here (totally ok!) about how consent works. He has had a very different set of life experiences than me (women don't tear my clothes off much--at one point in time I was very upset about that) and he has to cope with things I haven't imagined yet.
I think it is going to take a couple of days before I can fully answer the questions. I don't want to give a half-assed reply. I think it deserves serious thought. When men I already love bring me questions about how they can better understand consent in their life I feel a great responsibility to answer in a way that is a)useful b)non-harmful to the man (they do matter too) and c) something that has an actual set of logic behind it.
Thank you for caring about my opinion of consent. I am going to think very carefully and answer you fully. I don't want to be unclear or unable to explain my thinking. I hate it when I do that.
I have a ridiculously busy day off-line ahead of me. It is going to be a day that combines a wide variety of different high anxiety situations for me. But a kind of anxiety that centers around am I really good enough to be the person in this position in this interaction?
Today I have the opportunity to have a sit down with an eighteen year old girl with borderline personality disorder who is getting into drugs and casual sex via the internet. When she leaves me she is going to stay with her Master overnight.
I can barely stop myself from rubbing my hands together with glee. I have trained for this. I can't control her. I can't decide how her life goes. But what I wouldn't give to have had someone like me when I was that age.
Then I get to go to Dickens Fair and apologize to the friend who kind of catalyzed my leaving Facebook because I deeply value the relationship and I don't want their to be hurt feelings over my deleting the stupid account. If I can't keep my emotions in check it is my responsibility to deal with the kinds of input I allow into my life. Facebook, for a variety of reasons, makes me significantly more unstable. I need to eliminate it from my life. I'm sorry she was the one standing closest when I noticed but it is really not her fault.
And she is one of the fucking coolest people I have ever met in my whole life and I don't want to drive her away because I am crazy and unstable and dramatic. How about if we just have those in person interactions that make us both feel good about ourselves. Facebook is not good for me. It's not about her. I have those kinds of issues with lots of people online. I don't read tone well. I hear it with the voices in my head.
Pretty much all the voices in my head hate my guts. Everything I read comes through that filter. It's very hard to circumvent.
I like in-person interactions. They are real. They aren't about me fighting with my ghosts while someone else is trying to have a conversation.
I don't want to detonate that relationship for a laundry list of reasons. In person I don't freak out about what she says to me because I can hear her voice. I hope that it will be ok that I can't handle facebook.
Sometimes it feels very humiliating dealing with the limitations of my brain. That is what this is. I have to accommodate what I need even though I am having a completely irrational reaction. Whatever. I can't rational my way out of it. It happens over and over uncontrollably. The only thing I can do is remove the stimulus.
And then enjoy people in person instead of clinging to facebook as a way of holding on to a thread of contact. I can't weave a tapestry out of those threads. I need the in person. I need to change what I have been doing. I hope this turns out to be a positive step.
And even if that friend decides she can't handle my drama (reasonable) I will still be at Dickens with someone who has a current higher thresh hold for my shit. I will accept the grace while I receive it. She knows she is chaperoning me so that I feel safe.
That's a pretty big gift. I need to walk through the day feeling that gift. When I feel really scared I know that I was given a participant pass by one friend and another friend is keeping the dark at bay. I am not the untouchable I believe I am.
These lies will pass.