Pastiche Foundation

Gender Variance made Simple

Violence and cross-responsibility: A Personal story

Recently, I have had stories of violence and violation shared with me by others, including Gadfly‘s “My Rape Story“. I thought I’d share mine.

A year ago (end of April 2008), my life was pretty rough. I had been ignoring my need for Treatment since 2002 and it had broken me in every possible way. My physical health had progressively degraded to the point that I couldn’t hold a job, finances were mad and I was beginning a dependence on alcohol. Between these and my angst over my body, I was in a baaad place.

We were kicked out of our apartment due to the poverty my health had caused, and lived for a month with some friends which Did Not Work Out. Found a new place with a member of one of the communities in which we participated (not queer).

I was juggling parenting, partnership, school and student senate during all this, and dropping the ball on a lot of things.  I didn’t want to deal with the social aspects of treatment but it was becoming more and more clear to me that I had to face it or there would be nothing left. Parts of me were leaking out that i was struggling to contain.

I was in the closet to our roommate, and thus I have empathy for her rage on the hot, summery day I walked around our house in an open dress shirt in front of her son. I agree, retroactively, that my choice was inappropriate in the context of the way that I represented myself (I was closeted like whoa at the time).

However, the way she handled things was uncool. As adults, we must handle disagreements and misunderstandings with a certain level of calm panache, a choice she did not make. She started off by screaming and it got worse from there.

Keep in mind, I was not completely reckless–I may not have acknowledged why I was doing what I was doing, but I did check for decency. The shirt was large, and no more than 1” of my skin was exposed. I walked carefully, so the motion would not disturb that balance. However, this act was not interpreted that way. I was codified as female and thus, to her, my chest should not have been exposed.

I had mentioned my health before–I’ll be more specific. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at the beginning of 2007, and had been taking medicine and attending physical therapy. For all that, I was constantly dizzy. I lost my balance every time I took the stairs, and couldn’t stand upright for more than a minute, let alone carry a bag of groceries. Bad thing worse, Fibro destroys the immune system and a simple cold had turned into double pneumonia during our stay with our friends. THEN I caught strep from my roommate’s son. After this and all the moving, I was little more than a zombie.

My roommate was a cancer survivor, strongly on the mend. She couldn’t work yet either, but was doing 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of weight lifting every day.

I was terrified by her anger and the way she went straight to blasting me. I tried to talk to her calmly but that didn’t take. As her son watched, she was in my face, screaming, and I started to panic. David took our little one downstairs, a wise choice in my estimation. My roommate demanded I go to our room downstairs, and I asked her to step away so I could do so. I was afraid of stairs as it was, and in her state, I thought she might push me.

But she wouldn’t back off, she instead started slamming the door into me. I blocked it as best I could, and I think it bounced back and hit her, too, which sucked. This amplified things to the point that I ran the other way toward the phone and dialed 911. The phone was removed from my hand and hung up–then her fist came toward me and I pushed her away with the palm of my hand. I don’t know how, but suddenly I was on the floor with a bruised back, a broken finger and a very angry, very strong woman over me.

As she advanced down toward me, I did the only thing I could think of to protect myself–I raised my leg, trying to get some distance between us. Maybe I could get away. Maybe I could stop this and get the safety to go downstairs where i belonged. Later papers claim I struck her in the one place I’m loathe to strike anyone, ever, but I wasn’t thinking at this point, only reacting, only trying to get away.

I don’t remember clearly what happened next… I know this ended somehow, and that I wound up downstairs, shaking and in pain. The police came eventually and gave us a choice: they could walk away, or we’d both go to jail (no adult witnesses not involved in the altercation).

The terror didn’t end there, but to shorten things, I’ll simply say the next day we began packing to move. We sold off or donated 90% of our possessions, shipped the books that were left, and overpacked our car for the drive to WA. We had been planning to move here anyway–David goes to school here, and I will be transferring to his college in the Fall.

Things are better now. All three of us are doing well in school. I’m getting Treatment, and I have moved beyond the PTSD this incident invoked. I feel for my former roommate. I don’t know why she was out of her own control, but I wish her and her son the best and occasionally, in my dreams, I make peace with her.

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April 17, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Pastiche,

    there is nothing optional about your journey. Nevertheless, I honor your choosing to be present and honest about your experiences as they happen and as you reflect upon their impact on yourself & others.

    It may be that the only thing we can control is whether or not we pay attention to life as it happens. Even if there is more, I think that most of the good things happen to us when we are aware of ourselves and the people, places and things in front of us.

    -gadfly

    Comment by thenationalgadfly | April 17, 2009 | Reply

    • Gadfly,

      Thank you for this. It was easy earlier on to say “OMG teh meen lady” but as I processed it, I saw I was partly responsible for the situation. Any telling of this story has to acknowledge that or it’s fiction.

      I don’t typically write fiction. 🙂

      Pastiche

      Comment by projectpastiche | April 17, 2009 | Reply


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