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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » Moving forward/Looking back

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Author Topic: Moving forward/Looking back
jazzberry
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I'm in the process of moving forward after an emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship that culminated in physical assault. The assault happened on the campus for the college we both attend, so I reported it to the head of student affairs. Their plan of action is to make him see an on-campus psychologist and get a report written up, and proceed from there.

They added that wouldn't be allowed to attend classes until he goes through with the session, but it took them 2 weeks to get contact with him--he stopped attending classes and avoided the campus entirely. He's been ordered not to come near me and not to speak about it to anyone, but part of me doubts that he will keep silent about a bitchy ex "getting back at him" for his abuse.

(Because they had gotten nowhere, I was starting to feel afraid on campus. I know he's avoiding me, but I still felt afraid. I have to use the stairwell I was assaulted in to get to classes every day, and now my ankle throbs in a psychosomatic pain-memory of the assault.)

I haven't spoken to any mutual friends who knew him since the assault--I'm afraid someone will try to speak to him and he'll place the blame on me, make me the villain, and the friends will believe it. He ordered me not to talk about him to anyone else...so I also fear someone else will violate my trust.

The school authorities dealing with my case want to focus on the assault (because that's what I reported in the first place), and I've inferred that they'd want me to step away and let them deal with the problem now.

The problem with that is that I don't trust that they will deal with it *enough*.

I also fear that there will be others after me and that there is nothing I can do to stop it. The feeling that he will prey on more victims and that I can't prevent or stop it from happening torments my psyche.
(I say this not only because he's planned to leave the city for next semester, but out of a deep ethical and moral outrage.)

I want to forward to the student services department an account of the emotional abuse I experienced, so they know EXACTLY what they are dealing with. It was so subtle and covert that nobody took notice of it--most people who know him still think he's a nice guy who's very stoic or a bit "troubled".

He's very glib and superficially charming, and I know he will try to use that to hoodwink student services and with the psychologist.

He's had no previous record for physical violence, there were no witnesses, and while the sprained ankle kept me from walking normally for well over a week, beyond a trip to emergency to get it checked out,there was no major bruising to prove any injury.

Even if he does get some kind of punishment short of or including expulsion, he can still go study elsewhere and it won't affect him or end up on his "permanent" record--there *will* be other victims emotionally flayed by him in the future; I can sense it, and it frightens me to the point that I will hold myself responsible for not preventing others from being abused if I don't publicize my account and raise the proverbial red flags.

Yes, the physical assault happened, but it was a one-off incident compared to the seductively mind-numbing trauma of the abuse. I want to send out my account of the abuse I want to be able to stop one abuser from potentially getting worse, or stop an abuser from manipulating and abusing more people, period.

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Heather
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It's good to see you, jazzberry.

I'm a little concerned, though, you're maybe taking on a bit too much here. You can't control what this person does in the future or protect anyone else from attacks from him save reporting the assault, which you did. That truly is all you can do, unless you also want to report to the police, which is an option. But then, that'd really be where what you can do ends.

The only person who will be at all responsible for him assaulting anyone in the future is HIM. That's it. Not you, no matter what you do or don't do, even if you had never reported this to anyone at all.

So, do you think we can maybe get you to get to that place, and then focus on taking care of yourself and what you need right now? because it sounds to me like you, yourself, are still in crisis and in need of some help.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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jazzberry
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Heather,
I'm still definitely in crisis about this, among other things. I need to move forward, and I want to, but I don't know what to do to start with helping myself.

I want to speak to somebody about the abuse because I'm having trouble dealing with its aftermath, but the on-campus counsellor I was sent to after reporting the assault didn't want to talk about it much--her main idea was "It happened. It's over. Move on." I respect that, but I haven't fully dealt with my own issues stemming from it.

I know I'm still clinging and that it's unhealthy, but to let go and move on would involve facing my current reality--that loneliness is all I have left to keep me company.

I've had several near-breakdowns in my life over being alienated and rejected from my peers, and fear another one is fast approaching. A therapist told me that based on my life experience (abusive father, dysfunctional extended family, severe bullying at school by classmates and teachers, an abusive ex-boyfriend, coupled with the label of "highly gifted" and the intellect and personality to match), I've had almost no positive interactions or close relationships, but I knew that already.

The fear has been taking over my work--I can't focus on anything, my sleep has been fitful, and one professor called me out in front of my class for "playing the victim" in refusing to critique someone's work (who is also bullying, so I fear antagonizing them).

I could speak about it, but at this point my instinct tells me I've overused what help I had--and the counsellor who's offered to help me has made me feel more bleak rather than optimistic (as others have before).

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Heather
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Is this something you feel you could talk about here, and would be helped by in talking more about here? If so, you certainly can.

Alternately, or in addition, do you want help finding someone in-person or by phone you could talk with? We can help you with that, too.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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jazzberry
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I could talk about my issue/s here, that's thankfully not an issue for me. (Start from the beginning, I suppose.) As for in-person, I've got another meeting with the counsellor in well over a week, and whatever support and advice I can work with both here and there would be appreciated. (I have some pressing issues I've tried to explain, but she wants to work with the basics...)

So from where do I start?

[ 10-15-2011, 05:45 PM: Message edited by: jazzberry ]

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Heather
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You got it.

I'm just heading out for the day myself, but you can write whenever you like and I'll read it in the next day or so, or talk about it with another user or volunteer here as you'd like, okay?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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jazzberry
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I took a few days to figure out where my main issues lie...and they're less focused on my previous relationship and more loosely focused on relationships in general.
(Worse comes to worse, I could move this post/topic to another part of the forum and rename it, if necessary.)

It's incredibly difficult for me to relate to my peers. I've had issues with it since I was young--adults and older people in general love me because I'm mature, knowledgeable, and worldly. Among my peers, those same traits translate to "know-it-all" or "pretentious b***h".

This can partly be explained by my placement in the range of "highly gifted" in multiple IQ tests (professional ones, not just the online tests), and I have the personality traits to match. This is not something I brag about, much less like talking about, but for the sake of explaining things, I'll put a list of personality traits here:

perfectionistic and sets high standards for self and others
has strong moral convictions
is highly sensitive, perceptive or insightful
fascinated by words or an avid reader
feels out-of-sync with others
is very curious
has an unusual sense of humour
a good problem solver
has a vivid and rich imagination
questions rules or authority
has unusual ideas or connects seemingly unrelated ideas
thrives on challenge
learns new things rapidly
has a good long-term memory
feels overwhelmed by many interests and abilities
is very compassionate
feels outrage at moral breaches that the rest of the world seems to take for granted
has passionate, intense feelings
has a great deal of energy
can't switch off thinking
feels driven by creativity
loves ideas and ardent discussion
needs periods of contemplation
searches for something intangible or deeper meaning in their life
feels a sense of alienation and loneliness
is very perceptive
feels out of step with others


I spent the bulk of my schooldays being either bullied or ignored by peers, and often put-down by teachers as well.

It's been suggested to me several times that I stop trying to connect with my peers, and stop looking at age to make friends with others, but I feel a deep need to be able to relate to people in my own age range rather than only out of it. I may not have the same interests or perspectives, but I'm in the same phase of life as they are--and if I want to get anywhere in my chosen field (performing arts), I need to be able to get along with all kinds of people. I like learning about other people, talking, sharing ideas, and the like. I'm happy to look at others' perspectives and respect them, but many of my collegiate peers still act like they're in high school, based on the drama, the gossip, and the parties I only find out about the day after.

I've always had issues with the teasing people often do to each other in jest--more often than not, it seems spiteful with a sugared coating rather than light-hearted and inoffensive. I take myself and others more seriously than most, but underneath it all I'm still someone who wants to laugh and enjoy spending time with others.

I've been living with the peer-created label of "the smart one" or "the walking dictionary/encyclopaedia" since I started school, but the issue I take to that is that it's become all that people see me for--I'm like a science fiction cliché of a brain in a jar. By that simile, I have no body, or so it seems. Intelligence is my primary virtue and calling-card, so much so that if I attempt to prove that I am not just a brain but a human with desires and passions, i.e., try flirting with someone I like or outright admit that I find them sexually attractive, I often get laughed off, treated as a joke or a creep, or shrugged off as "not their type" every damn time.
(Even the intellectual guys I get along well with outright reject me--but even before hormones were in the mix, the brainy guys I knew always rejected me as a friend for being a brainy girl. It's probably sexism and gender roles at work--because being the odd, smart girl out isn't enough to make boys run away, I'm fairly outspoken and "radically" feminist* compared to my peers, aside from the list above.)
I'm comfortable with myself as a sexual being, but experience has taught me that I am either unappealing to others, or that all people want to see me as is the aforementioned brain in a jar. I don't want to be alone, much less keep getting told that I'm unwanted or unapproachable. I want to pursue something on a physical level (safe, sane, and consensual), but I feel the odds are stacked against me.

Overall, I want to connect on a meaningful level with my peers, but I can't force myself to "sacrifice" who and what I am in order to fit in.


(*NOTE: My context of feminism is on equality for all--regardless of gender, orientation, race, ability, or any other divisive barriers. If I see or hear something prejudicial, I will get uncomfortable and politely point it out.)

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Heather
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You know, jazzberry, you sound an awful lot like me when I was young per the gifted stuff, save that I was much better supported by my teachers and didn't have issues around that with romantic/sexual connections. I'm so sorry it's been so hard for you to connect to other people and find support and connection.

I think the big difference was that I got lucky in being better able to find peers similar to me, something that was mostly just about the luck of the draw in a lot of ways and also about switching to a school where all of the students were artistically gifted.

I agree, you should not have to sacrifice who you are, and as you know, that'd kind of defeat the purpose anyway, since then no one would be connecting with you-you at all.

Like I said, in my case I think I just kind of got lucky: I didn't forsee the social benefits of switching to that school, they were just a lovely happenstance. And once I had that experience, I tended to find it a lot easier to find other people I connected with in life and to connect to people more easily. Mind, I do think there is something about learning to meet people where they are, so they can also meet you where you are, but I don't know where you are with that. For all I know, you're already there but still having a hard time.

Can I ask if you've kind of stayed in the same area or communities for most of your life?

Of course, if you don't want to try to problem solve with this and just want to talk and be heard, I can do that, too. [Smile]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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jazzberry
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Heather,

I'm working to problem-solve this as well as talk it out--and both are invaluable. I really appreciate it.

I was in one community for most of my childhood, but switched schools often in earlier years--it didn't help. I moved to a larger city several years ago before my last year of high school, and college has been my best academic experience so far. Great courses, great teachers, and more opportunities to speak up in class and be heard, even if the things I speak up for (feminist issues and politically correct language) are still controversial among my peers.

I can relate to most people on a certain extent, and if I pushed myself out of my "shell" more and stopped over-thinking things, I could probably do better. (I thank the recent episode of The Big Bang Theory for that; I loved Mayim Bialik's character before, but that episode was exactly what I needed to hear.) I can get along with most of my classmates when I stop stressing out over every little thing, but I often feel the stress of greater responsibilities at home when most of them head to someone's place to drink and "party" after classes--I usually head straight home to study and then spend the time regretting being alone. I see many of my peers use self-deprecating "humour" to get complimented, but it feels like my "jokes" in the same vein just get taken at face value, which makes me feel like it's not a joke at all and I really am awkward, or creepy, or plain. I rarely get invited or noticed when people break up into groups, which hurts, and often, it feels as if when I try to hang out with people, they're "tolerating" my existence, waiting to find a getaway or for me to leave.

I'm also dealing with a classmate who has treated me as a covert rival or just as slime on eir shoe for quite some time, and may be part of the reason why I'm having such a hard time with breaking into the group. Ey is a very charismatic figure and maintains a stance as a leader, the "fun" one, with a put-down-based sense of humour and superficiality in expression (ey always look like ey's pretending to be nice--I've never seen em with a genuine smile in person or photos) that everyone else is drawn to magnetically. Ey always can get a circle of people around em to talk and joke, or take cutting jabs at them in "jest", and is a constant culprit for the gossiping backstage or in class when a teacher is trying to speak--but if I speak, I get shushed and called out by the teacher.

Ey is wildly solicitous with everyone, and will make sure to compliment everyone else around--except me, save for the odd backhanded compliment or polite insult. (Example: ey raved about several classmate's photos as looking like works of art, and when I asked about my photo, said "oh, yeah. You look normal.") Around em, my chances at talking with the group, joking around, or joining when someone breaks into song is hushed and treated like I've "killed" the joke, conversation, or song by trying to take part in it. (My humour is non-offensive, but if I make a sarcastic joke, ey turns it around to make me look like the "mean" one, and I have a decent singing voice, but ey claims a stronghold as the "singer".)

Ey is also my main detractor when I agree with a professor and elaborate on gender inequality or inequality in general, and will go out of eir way to argue against it or claim that the media doesn't affect perceptions (when the effect of the media on perceptions was the professor's main point, but I'll skip that ey gets irritated whenever I speak up).

I know ey talks about me behind my back, and while people won't outright tell me what ey's said, I know the gist of it is the negative comments from my last post, or the rare moments where I can find a decent comeback to eir trying to run the show. It's making me self-conscious in classes with any kind of group performance, and I worry my work will falter for it. I've spoken to some professors about it, and they recognize ey's immaturity when dealing with others, but claim there's nothing they can do about it because it's a social rather than academic problem.

My program of study is one where they encourage everyone to get along and become friends, so the "drama" with em is complicated by that. I offered an olive branch of friendship last year, even saying "We can at least peacefully coexist--not necessarily friends, but accept that neither of us is going anywhere, so we might as well learn to work together." Ey instead fobbed me off, saying the problem was that we were both "high-maintenance" and we just need to deal with that. Ey can speak for emself on that, but the accusation was bothersome. I'll speak to someone on-campus about it as well, but the stress I feel around em is unnerving.

I know I haven't always come across as approachable--I have issues with joke nicknames and "mock" teasing that disrespects others, as well as being tapped on the shoulders or touched when I can't see who is touching me, and people have been irritated with me for those issues. Regardless, I don't want to be remembered as insufferable.

[ 10-23-2011, 08:43 PM: Message edited by: jazzberry ]

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Heather
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I totally understand. (And I, too, have never been okay with teasing, either, and also don't find it funny or friendly.)

It sounds like Ey remains a pretty big barrier for you in this community. And I agree, it does sound like you need to talk with someone else about that. It sounds to me like this person is still mistreating you and is also keeping you from being able to be a real part of the community.

In terms of some extra problem-solving, do you think you might, maybe a night or two a month, be able to not go home when people go out and go out with them? You certainly don't have to drink when out if that's not something you want to do.

And maybe, too, if and when you feel unwelcome even though you were asked to join, do you think you could try and bit to put those feelings in your pocket while you're out? I suggest that because I wonder if some of this isn't about your own feelings of not belonging rather than everyone earnestly feelings that way about you.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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jazzberry
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I spoke on-campus about it, and while there's not much other personnel can do, they added that by opting out of socializing when ey was around, I wasn't helping myself either--and I have been able of late to find well-phrased comebacks or to keep myself from crumbling and giving em a reason to point something out. I'm joining some classmates at a Halloween party in a few days, and will see how that goes. I don't mind drinking per se, but I still will keep things in moderation at the party.
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jazzberry
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Update: I didn't go to the party after all. I went there, and was too early by a couple hours. I didn't know I would be so early, and was so embarrassed that I turned around and went home. (From social lore, arriving too early can appear desperate or socially awkward, both characteristics I want to avoid being labelled as.)

I know I'm "socially challenged" in these situations, but when people split off into groups, unless I can tell that I'm being included or invited, I usually just go off on my own and either find something to do for myself or go home.

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Heather
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In case that happens again? You know, I HATE being late to anything, so I am often very early to things. What I tend to do when that happens is either a) take a walk or something where I am until it's about time, or b) just go in, find someone around, say, "Oy! I wound up getting here really early," and then offer to help out with something like setup, since I'm there anyway. Tends to work out just fine. I have no idea if anyone thinks I'm being socially awkward or desperate, since I don't tend to be very invested in what people think like that, but I do know people at events seem to have appreciated having an extra set of helpful hands around.

But it's okay. You took a step, you stepped back. That'll happen.

Something else? People tend to split into smaller groups or even dyads at big parties mostly because that's the only way anyone can hear anyone else talk. So something you can also perhaps do, if you like, is just keep your eyeballs peeled for who else is only or mostly by themselves, and then you start up a conversation and do that smaller-splitting on your own.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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jazzberry
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I heard about the party today from some people--a few people got too drunk and vomited on themselves, something I'm glad not to have seen. Other than that, I couldn't get anyone to talk. But still--I didn't go, and I know that most of the off-campus hanging out involves either heavy drinking or harder drugs (pot and/or sometimes ecstasy). While I'm comfortable and insistent with not doing any of that myself, I know it sounds sanctimonious, but I don't like being the only sober one watching as everyone else does drink heavily or take drugs and act foolish when under the influence.
quote:
I know I'm "socially challenged" in these situations, but when people split off into groups, unless I can tell that I'm being included or invited, I usually just go off on my own and either find something to do for myself or go home.
I should have explained that better--I meant that comment/observation in general, not just at parties.

[ 10-29-2011, 07:46 PM: Message edited by: jazzberry ]

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jazzberry
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It's been over a week, so I might as well update things.
I'm speaking with a counsellor again tomorrow, but dreading it. The last time I tried to explain my situation to her, much less my position and perspective, she claimed I was playing the victim and that my biggest problem was that I refused to listen to others or take suggestions. I left that session feeling like I needed a session with another counsellor or therapist to sort things out from that session.

I've heard and tried the suggestions she offered for branching out and making friends many times over, from myriad counsellors, teachers, and parents, and I've made earnest efforts with them. I've joined clubs, initiated conversations with people, and invited people to go for coffee or a bite to eat, but when the same methods keep on failing on people, I'm hard-pressed to know what else to do. I know it's not helpful, but sometimes it's easier to blame myself for being pretentious, pedantic, and taking everything more seriously than my peers.

I used to take part in some clubs on-campus, but refrained from meeting with the people there outside of the clubs and eventually faded away from the clubs altogether. I found I had little in common with the people there in both interests and perspective, and found that many people there were floundering in their courses and didn't care as much about their work--I like to strive for good grades and am very goal-and process-oriented in doing a job well. So in terms of a "fit", it didn't work for me--and I didn't want to be around people that would bring me down in my work. (My grades started slipping a bit when I was hanging around them--once I saw that, I bolted.)

I've been heralded by teachers for being mature and conscientious, but now it feels like a noose around my neck when I'm around my peers/classmates--ey's treatment of me has gone from coldly disdainful to covertly abusive. I spoke to one prof about ey (who had no idea anything was going on), planned to speak with that prof and others in more detail, and have documented the most recent barbs hurled my way, which I'll add here--starting with a couple weeks ago.

I responded to a joke and and playful banter with a few classmates, when ey interjected that "oh, it's because we're all so pathetic and lowly and not smart like you." That left me blinking back tears for a class--I stayed away from em and the rest of the class for a day and would have "re-integrated" with the class before, but it was a history class and I tend to get more interested and involved with the material than many of my classmates (it's a mandatory class, and most of them barely tolerate sitting through it). It was easier to go home instead of defending liking the reading material when they called it "boring" and "pointless".

In a class where ey arrived late and the only seat left was next to me, when the prof handed out papers to pass around, ey didn't hand them but thrust them over as if to discreetly get "garbage" out of eir hands. When I suggested to em that "you could try handing things over rather than shoving them at me", ey shut me down with a repeated, snapping refrain of "I don't care". Ey did later on whisper "I'm sorry", but it sounded sugary and insincere as all getout. Nobody else heard this whispered skirmish in the class, as far as I can tell, but I'm sure it was dissected and disparaged out of earshot or via text message. (I should explain at this moment that I don't own a cellphone for financial reasons, and am often puzzled by how my peers spend so much time on screens text-messaging the same insulting "jokes" instead of constructively talking on the phone. Because the text-message is my peers' main form of communication, if they all got together or if something was said against me, I probably wouldn't know about it unless someone told me in person.)

The next few days we were mostly out of each other's way, but on crew work backstage, while ey and I are on different assignments, ey has subtly been undermining my work when the supervisors aren't looking. On one hand, when the supervisor has explained some things over minor mistakes or jumped cues, I'm fine with that, but invariably ey's around to hear me being talked-to (and there's no down time at the moment to speak to that supervisor--it's made me stay that much more on my toes and I haven't missed a cue since). A couple days later, when running tests for the lights and speakers, I was asked to call cues, and ey was busy talking with the person running the cues--so I had to practically shout for several cues instead of calling out as usual. After that, I was asked to go and level a weight on the stage curtains, and was working just fine on it. A few other classmates were working nearby and kept their distance for safety reasons, not social ones; I was fine with that. Things were fine and then the weight slipped, a tiny bit that could easily be fixed in a few seconds, and it wasn't me. I look up to check the curtain, ey's standing a couple feet over by the other classmates that hadn't been bothering me at all, and calls out "Sorry."

(I also heard em lighting into the same classmates earlier on and then "jokingly" asked if they had an attitude problem because they wouldn't go along with eir teasing. I've noticed ey is often in public either "joke"-teasing and/or fawning over others, narrating when ey's getting something right, or warning about eir "minor" neuroses to get others' attention. It's immature, for sure, but everyone else seems to get along with em just fine for or in spite of it. Perhaps for the maturity difference, it's more a thorn in my side than others'.)

I'll see what tomorrow holds; until then, thanks at least for listening.

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Heather
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This counselor: is this someone who you feel is generally a good fit for you? I'm not sure what you were talking about to prompt her response of you "playing victim," but even that language coming from a counselor really, personally, is problematic for me.

I do hear that when it comes to connecting with other people socially, it sounds like you might need to be a bit more flexible when it comes to the ways some people, even many people, may be different fro you. None of this has anything to do with "playing the victim," mind. (Again, I don't even know what that was all about.) I am also not talking about tolerating any kind of abuse or harassment from people.

Rather I'm talking about things like perhaps being more accepting of people who aren't as high-achieving, and figuring out how to hang out with folks like that AND still be the way you are/want to be. It is doable, it just takes some learning, that's all. If it helps to know, my very closest friend and I are VERY different in that regard, but we can usually work that out just fine. By all means, it's awesome to be friends with people with whom we have many things in common, but we'll also have friends who we're really different from, too: a combo of both is often really ideal and also a lot more realistic.

This stuff with Ey is obviously -- I hope it's obvious, anyway -- something different altogether. It seems very clear you really need to do what you can to have some real distance from this person, not to be directly interacting like this, especially at this point. Obviously, what I can't know is what the options and limits with that are for you.

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jazzberry
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The visit with the counsellor lasted all of ten minutes at best--she said it seemed that I was in a place where I didn't want to change/kept making obstacles for myself, and that it wouldn't be right to continue if I wasn't going to follow through with it. Thankfully, I was planning to go in and respectfully quit seeing her, so it was a pleasant ending of things there. At this point, I feel I'd do a better job of working out some issues on my own--like what you said about friendships. It's something I know I need to work on, and it's difficult for me to take the first step, but I need to start somewhere.
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Heather
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A counselor making such big determinations after only one session and ten more minutes of speaking with you....well, that does not seem like someone doing their job well. Can I ask how you found this counselor and how you screened them?

I support your choices in the right path for you with this, but I do want to make sure you know one counselor doing a crap job shouldn't be assumed to be how all will handle it. based just on what you've said so far, this person just doesn't sound proficient to me. Unfortunately, just like there are crap chefs, crap teachers and crap bus drivers, the same goes for counselors. But there are also plenty who are far better, some who are fantastic, too.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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jazzberry
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The counsellor was someone I had seen several times and was referred to right after my ex assaulted me. At that time I had found them helpful--though I found the "devil's advocate" risk that if I charged assault, I also had a case to be charged with for not going away and instigating--seemed like victim-blaming.
The phrase of "playing the victim" was used instead by a prof at the same time (though I've cleared things up with said prof), and the counsellor agreed that I was "stuck in a rut" because I either didn't want to listen or would find obstacles to her suggestions.
Today I told her that I felt I couldn't articulate my reasons well enough before, said what I wasn't able to say before, and...by then I think the counsellor figured out this was going nowhere.

I've seen multiple counsellors/therapists over my childhood, and can't think of any that were genuinely helpful. I'd love to meet one who was a good fit and genuinely helpful, and I still have hope, but right now I'm more comfortable working things out by myself.

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Heather
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Ugh, I am so sorry. [Frown] If in the future you ever want some help seeing who else might be around, and screening them in advance, I'd be glad to help you out.

Can we help you navigate your DIY-path with this moving forward? If so, let me know how, and we can certainly do what's within our ability.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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jazzberry
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The DIY path is something I'm working on, but it's been difficult. I'll be ranting here and there, not only because I could use the feedback, but because it's nice to be heard; I appreciate that a great deal.

I got the peer-review results of a mock audition we had to do in class, and it turned out to be less professional and more of a popularity contest: I came in second to last. People saw me as fake and condescending, and I had tried throughout to be as genuine as possible, polite and nice so that would show through. At one point, I remember becoming deferential along with honest and kind, but I apparently came off as superficial.

Saying I'm bothered by it is an understatement, but I'm dealing with it. It's a great comfort that the semester ends in a few weeks; I can handle the depravity until then. In the meantime, I'll content myself to hanging out with some of the other outliers in the program, who I get along with better than the rest.

My classmates have created a new 'inside joke' of sorts, wherein they all stand up and applaud wildly when a character deeply insults another in a scene. I saw it when it first developed, and from the start found it cruel and pointless. It's one thing to laugh at a witty insult, something both well-thought-out and comical, but the insults they applaud are pure acid rather than zest. If things continue, I suspect that soon the group will devolve into verbal gladiator matches, with everyone watching with bated breath to see someone rip another apart.

I've spoken with a few profs regarding the social issues at hand--including warning one about the new 'inside joke'. Said prof has often in previous semesters spoken to the class against forming cliques and being accepting and inclusive of everyone. I hadn't spoken to this prof about my social issues before this semester, who was surprised by it, and might speak up on it again. Still, many profs have spoken to my class on the need to learn how to be human by being humane, and it hasn't stuck. Many of them openly love stories about characters who are the odd ones out: Stargirl, Wicked, etc., yet if they met any of those in real life, they would snub and mock them, treating them just like the fictional versions.

My profs seem to understand me better than my peers--as one said, I'm different from them, but in a good way. At least I'm an individual rather than anonymous in a crowd. I still wish I could get along with them like they get along with each other, though. One who was also raised by an abusive parent was relating how it's often difficult for survivors to relate in romantic/sexual situations, something I agree with completely. (I hide any and all attractions, because the idea that someone will be attracted to me as a human being rather than a 'doormat' to use or a 'hole' to fill is almost a pipe dream.)

Another prof said that what I seemed to need most was not a large group of friends, but even one strong connection--perhaps more along the lines of 'life partner' than friend--that would make me feel and appear less lonely and dependent on trying to get my peers' acceptance when I've received none. I respect that (and would love to love and be loved, as it were), but one connection would not be enough for me. I can agree with not needing a large group, but to have just one strong connection is as risky to me as having none at all.

I don't want to hang all my hopes, aspirations, and expectations on one person--it places too much responsibility on them to be the harbinger of my social happiness. I would feel 'dependent' on maintaining their affections on the fear that they could drop me at any moment, and would put myself through emotional torture trying to maintain an 'ideal' presentation of self and/or change to become someone they would like better. Finally, if the one connection doesn't work out, I would be alone again, devastated by the loss, adding yet another trauma to an already-fragile psyche.

It would be better for me to have a small network of several friends that I could relate to and/or confide in. If one connection doesn't work out, I would still have others--a web to 'catch' me, rather than falling completely when a single link is broken.

[ 11-24-2011, 08:08 PM: Message edited by: jazzberry ]

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Heather
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Perhaps you might be able to see advice about that one connection as being a place to start, not finish? In other words, you have to start somewhere, and starting with one person makes sense. Know what I mean?

I'm so sorry things have been going this way. I'd be bothered by the things you are, too: they sound really upsetting.

Do you get the sense at all that THIS school, in particular, and this community is a poor fit for you? I ask because I wonder if it's worth considering not staying in this place long-term.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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jazzberry
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Heather,

I understand what you mean by a starting point, but at the same time I crave being a part of a group rather than apart from everyone. At least I can say I get along well with some people in the program outside of my class.

The profs have often had to ask people in my class to quiet down and behave (and ey's constant whispering is a culprit), and sometimes I've noticed when in a class doing staged readings, other students would be quiet for someone else' monologues, but I could hear whispers throughout mine. At a student government meeting, one classmate asked if they could talk to them concerning someone else on the governing body. I felt sick to my stomach, because the other representatives in my year were all from the same clique, and I though that it was clearly about me. I'm making plans to speak to the head of the program, because the way things ratchet up day-to-day are making me feel like I'm either turning paranoid or hallucinating when I know I'm not. (The fear of hallucinations also reminds me of my ex, which is unnerving.)

The prof I'd spoken with (who was also an abuse survivor) had told me that in their years at theatre school they were ostracized to the point of receiving hate mail daily to drop out--said prof is talented as all getout and has a relatively successful career acting along with teaching on the side. So there's hope there, and as Anne Shirley put it, a "kindred spirit".

I like the school, profs, and classes, but I find that I've had the same social problems in other schools. I can't write off every school as a poor fit; eventually I've had to look inward. I love the program and the coursework, and I do pretty well in all of my classes--and the ones I'm not as great in I show enthusiasm and effort. It's not the program as much as it is some of the people in my class. In terms of logistics, I can't afford to transfer schools, much less move, and rationally, I know my issue is with a few people. I'm speaking to as many profs as I can on my issues, and hope that will help, but even if it doesn't, at least I can talk with them.

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Heather
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I just asked about the school because I wanted to make sure this wasn't situational, and about things you'd only dealt with in this place. Wanted to make sure to rule that out, or talk about it if it turned out it was about this particular school/community.

I hear you about the emotional safety of a larger group, versus one person. At the same time, the only way we can make real connections with people is pretty much one person at a time. In other words, to cultivate a group of friends, we need to be making friends pretty much one by one until they become a group. By all means, sometimes making one friend will mean a connection with another person or two through them more indirectly, but still. Know what I mean?

I'm really glad that at the very least, you have that one prof to talk to who clearly gets where you're at.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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