There’s something about my experience here on earth that involves living out my worst fears. Not in the macro, nuclear, loved ones dying/world ending kind of way, but the micro, ‘I’m not worthy/deserving of love’ kind of way. Getting beat up in high school was something that terrified me from a super young age. I’d heard my older brother’s stories about the fights that happened at the high school, and maybe I already understood that girl on girl violence was a punchline, but these fears kept me up at night from about eight years old on.
My story is weird: I didn’t know the person who broke my face, the person that didn’t attend my high school who, when I was on the ground, kicked me in the ribs with all she had in her. I didn’t know the person who’s story I had to walk around with written on my body during the years when invisibility is the way to stay alive. I didn’t know what to do with people’s judgement, doubt, laughter, jokes — “Surely I must have done something. This doesn’t just happen,” is what their eyes said to me. And when some of them actually said it to me, I would think, “I know. I feel the same way.”
But I never knew what I had done. And because my fear was that I hadn’t done something but that I was something — something that deserved pain, embarrassment, shame — I never thought to investigate how and why this happened to me. I never thought to ask the police what explanation she gave, what her justification was, what role she believed I played in her story. Instead, I acted just as confused as everyone else,” how could this have happened?” I feigned. But deep down, in the place I couldn’t go, the thought was there, “I always knew this was coming.”
I went years without sleeping with anyone. Eventually, it went on so long that when I was ready again, I was scared of choosing wrong. I knew that I wasn’t interested in sex divorced from love and intimacy, and I was afraid I wouldn’t survive feeling less than loved when I finally went to that place with someone again. So, as you can imagine, it went super well when I finally got back on that horse.
Wouldn’t you know it, the dude, the guy, the one I chose
Hard. Emotionally, physically, geographically: he was gone.
Did he have his own stuff going on? Sure. Could that be my concern when the walls of my house were caving in? Nope. What I was most afraid of — having my value denied, love revoked, him fleeing after the act — happened.
These are all just words and this is just a story and the facts are hard to outline when a feeling is what I am trying to convey, but my Heart broke. Not because I was rejected by a person who claimed to love me after we had slept together in a manner that was essentially my attempt at a do-over at my first time, but because what I believed to be true deep, deep down was being confirmed: this was not happening because of something I had done, this was happening because of something that I was. I was not Good.
I had chosen right but I was wrong. His actions confirmed that to me. And deep down, in the place I couldn’t go, I thought, “I always knew this was coming.”
The universe gave me what I was most afraid of, and there’s a couple different ways to look at that. Maybe it’s the law of attraction: I’m attracting what I spend energy on, drawing to me what I deeply believe will happen. Maybe it’s confirmation bias: random events are happening and I’m applying meaning that I already believe to be true to unrelated occurrences, drawing conclusions based on false premises.
Or maybe it’s something else.
In high school I refused counselling. I refused to participate in any of the offered Victim’s Services by the RCMP. I refused to participate in my attacker’s ‘process.’ I refused to acknowledge by my words or actions that this had happened despite my broken and forever changed features. As a result, the beliefs the violence confirmed in me were never seen or addressed, never acknowledged or discredited. But this past year, being a much different person than I was then, this belief couldn’t go unaddressed. I couldn’t not see the thoughts and beliefs as they were coming up, I couldn’t not notice the profound pain of believing I deserve to be hurt, that I can’t expect anything else.
For the first time I could separate myself from the stories in my head. I’ve known for a long time that I am not my anger or my fear, that these are arrows pointing to a belief I am fighting to hold on to or running to avoid knowing. But this was the first time that I have seen that I am also not my shame. The deeply held beliefs about worth and value and lovability are not Me.
I have had my worst fears handed to me. Now, was it law of attraction, confirmation bias or, perhaps, could it be a tiny, turd-encrusted diamond left for me on my pillow by my room-mate’s asshole cat (AKA The Universe)? Little pains, small slights, gentle irritations are easy to ignore. The lessons are still there, the only difference is our world doesn’t implode with the little ones, we simply brush them off and keep moving. Sometimes it takes the big ones to really make us stop and pay attention and genuinely ask, “What is really going on here? Whose pain is this? Whose story is this?”
What I thought would kill me didn’t kill me. It turns out I’m other—stronger—than I thought. That is the diamond at the centre of all this shit, that is the opportunity I was handed, that is the point to the pain.