The following is a large list of terrible, abhorrent, sad, and abusive things I have let people do to, tell me, or try to convince that it was ok for me, at various stages in my life. They are awful and painful. I am ashamed of so many of them. Sometimes, when I drive through a certain neighborhood or two in Los Angeles, I specifically drive in an inefficient manner, through a longer or more taxing route to get to my destination, because even driving past these the longer I keep it in, the more fermented the rot of this pain becomes, and the quicker it starts to poison so many areas of my life. This is not in order chronologically, nor is it comprehensive. I am already stalling in trying to share this. Because maybe if I keep typing, I can avoid it just a bit longer. Just one more minute. Deep breath.
When I was 16, a group of rich kids at my private school all got stoned and hopped up on cocaine (at the same time!) at a house in the Palisades. I did not do any of these things. I was going to let them drive me home, but then they realized they didn’t have enough room for me, so I told them it was ok to let me take the bus home, and I walked to the bus stop at 3am, and waited until 5am for the bus to come, freezing cold, too ashamed to tell my mom what had happened. They sped off and drove right past me, waiting there, for the bus that wasn’t going to come for two hours. At least twenty cars drove by me that night.
When I was in elementary school, a prestigious expensive Catholic school on the westside, we were very poor, and scholarship kids. We would go to Sue Mills on Sawtelle, and get used uniforms, often donated by the local private schools from the piles of stuff that kids would leave in the yard, lunch area, etc. I remember that one time, we were very excited because there was a whole newish looking set of uniforms in my size, that had maybe been worn only for one or two grades. They had labels sewn in them with the surname of a very famous family (who are still very famous). We bought them all. One day while waiting in line in recess (I fucking hate waiting in line so much, and I feel like going to school at St. Paul the Apostle with all of their fucking queueing has exponentially increased that hatred.) the label was sticking out of the polo shirt, and one of the family members whose donated uniform I was wearing and said “ew!!! you took that out of the garbage didn’t you?” I was mortified. She then told the whole group around her, how we were a family of dumpster divers, and how she could prove it by showing them my shirt. She told me to show the other kids, who laughed and pointed, and I didn’t fight back because I knew the clothes were used, but I was so ashamed that we only shopped at the goodwill and thrift stores, that I didn’t fight back. Also, I didn’t know what that meant. I thought maybe it had to do with the ocean, and I loved to swim, so I said yes, we were dumpster divers. When I finally realized It was better to be a family of poor dumpster divers than a family who shopped at thrift stores. My mother is still very good friends with the mother of one of these children who would tease and bully me until I was in high school. I was seven years old when this happened.
Toward the end of my marriage, my ex-husband started spending all day, each day of the weekend, with his “sailing friends.” I am afraid of being out in the open ocean on a tiny 1-2 person vessel, very much so in fact, but I told him it was ok that he was spending 12-15 hours each day, of each weekend, away from me. Because wasn’t it normal to need space away from your partner? More time away than not? Not much after the height of this, I finally left, and found out a few weeks later, after a routine Well Woman Exam, that I had contracted chlamydia, and he had been my only partner for the entirety of our 10+ year relationship. I was 29 years old when this happened.
My ex-husband would text me 10-15 times, any time I was at a concert (that he would refuse to go to each and any time), telling me how he couldn’t sleep unless I came home, how it was rude of me to stay out so late, how he had to stay up just in case I was going to fuck up again (sorry that my car was broken into that one time), so he had to come rescue me. This happened between ages 19-30.
Every single partner I have had has cheated on me, or has willingly foregone a specific sexual boundary that we have established, and I have tried to convince them that it was my fault, that I deserved it, even. One time, before a long journey to see a partner, they disclosed to me that they had gotten to live out one of their most wild sexual fantasies, but they had broken our most important rule by doing so.I told him I was happy for him, that he had gotten to live out this fantasy, and I got on the plane anyway. This was more recent than I care to think about, but not as recent as you might think.
My ex-husband used to tell me, frequently, that my family was always a disaster waiting to happen, and that we were lucky he came along. I agreed with him, and started to repeat this same thing to my family. This started a few days before my wedding to him, and would continue well after our separation.
Another ex-partner of mine, would leave me 2-3000 worded text messages, that were scathing and abusive, and had convinced me, very near the end of our relationship, that I was a terrible person for not responding, or responding with a word or two, after he would literally tell me, that I was the worst thing to ever happen to him, that he hoped hell existed so that he could visit me there from heaven and watch me rot in my own flesh and bile, and that the only reason he didn’t kill himself, or me, was because he wanted to be around to watch me fuck up my life. This happened off and on from ages 31-34.
I used to let men sleep with me who had told me that I was too ugly, fat, thin _____ to date, but that I was lucky because they’d let me suck their cocks. Often in my car, sometimes in theirs. This happened way too many times than I feel comfortable admitting, but from ages 32-35.
I let my former boss at a large prestigious university, get me fired from my own job. She gas lit me, and would tell me that the only thing I did right at the job, was to show up “not looking like a homeless person.” And if I could just build on that, maybe I could be a really good secretary at a law firm one day. She was not able to keep an assistant after that. This happened when I was 32.
I am going to stop here because this is really, really hard, but it’s a good start. Thank you for being here with me.