One thing I've learned about myself in the last nearly 48 hours, after the whole FB message opening the door to memories I'd buried a very long time ago, is I truly haven't dealt with what happened. My way of dealing with it was to bury it, pretend it didn't happen. I never told anyone about the situation. Not one single person. If I didn't acknowledge it and no one else knew what had gone down, then it didn't really happen, right?
Wrong. It happened. And it still has the power to make me feel like crap.
Yesterday, all day, piece after piece of the then revealed itself. When I was walking down the hall to spend time in the Writing Center, one particular moment surfaced. Along with the moment came the feeling I'd experienced then: fear. Before I reached the Writing Center I was doing all I could to keep myself together. And so went most of the day, me trying to keep myself together.
Since seeing the FB message, I've thought about what I should have done then. I should have reported this co-worker after the first time I heard a knock on my door at 10 pm, this co-worker suggesting we hang out. I should have reported this co-worker after attending a conference together, this co-worker showing up at my soon-to-be sister-in-law's apartment where I was staying (the co-worker was staying at the hotel) just after my soon-to-be sister-in-law left for work and I was there alone, just getting out of the shower. I heard very loud knocking on the door, so loud I was afraid to open the door. When I saw who it was, I did open the door to avoid creating a scene. I should have reported this co-worker after the comment made about a certain part of my anatomy. But I didn't.
I was 23. I was fresh out of college. I was working a job I really wanted. I was living alone in my first apartment. I thought if I ignored all of these warning signs the problem would just go away. I thought if I just did my job, went back to my apartment, did all the things I liked to do to keep myself busy, the problem would get the message and leave me alone. I was so completely naive. The problem didn't go away. The problem wouldn't leave me alone. Rather, the more I tried to dodge the problem, the more intense it became. Then, the problem tried another tactic. The problem took action to ensure my boss went after me. I became the bad guy.
Which was easy for my co-worker to do. My boss and the co-worker were married. My boss pulled me into the office and let me know in no uncertain terms I was the one on trial. I remember sitting there thinking, "This really isn't happening." I remember leaving that office in a daze. I remember the next few weeks of just going through the motions, doing what needed to be done, then returning to my apartment and finding things to keep me busy. I still had my Thoroughbred mare and had her stabled not far from my apartment, so I was at the stable every evening, riding, cleaning stalls, and feeding all the horses. The horses gave me some peace.
Work did not give me any peace. Every day was a struggle. I couldn't fight. Who was going to believe me? So I wrote up my resignation letter and turned it in. When I handed it to my boss, the smirk I received in return made me feel two inches tall. I was completely humiliated. I still feel that humiliation.
Now, after thinking back over this time in my life, I'm still finding myself shouldering the blame for what happened. I know I'm not to blame. I know this. I know it's way past time to pull the demons out and send them on their way. They've had way too much power over me for far too long, power they don't deserve.