One Year of Love

I will just have to hope Queen doesn’t sue me for ripping off the title of one of their songs. (Hey Queen, it was the “first dance” at my wedding – does that make it better?)

So… April 9th

One year ago today I decided that the world would be better off without me. By tomorrow I would be sitting in the intake area of a psych hospital waiting to be admitted after a suicide attempt. I was embarrassed. I was disappointed. I was completely alone… and I felt I deserved it. How could I have allowed myself to suddenly be in this situation at almost 40 years old? How utterly pathetic and completely worthless I was? How could I ever expect to be forgiven for what I had done and who I was? Without the slightest hint of hyperbole – I was lost in the deepest, darkest pit of despair possible.

This past year has been so very, very hard. And humbling. But most of all, it has been full of love. Love of my amazing husband – who could not understand the horror that had unfolded, but still bewildered and terrified and overwhelmed himself, leapt heart and soul into being everything I needed. Love of those friends and family who never once made me feel judged, or broken, or anything but cared for and supported. Despite my fears, no one else ever felt there was anything I did that I needed to be forgiven for.was the only one who needed to be kind enough and gentle enough with me to forgive me. As important as every single drop of love I received this year has been, the most important love I’ve had to find to survive is my own.

And so sitting here today – what difference can one year of love make?

One year ago I was was sitting in a psych ward feeling like I had no value. I wasn’t even allowed to have a pencil, let alone considered capable of leading or managing anything. Today I’m at my huge annual professional conference just trying to keep up with all the things I’ve been asked to be a part of and to lead because of how capable, and useful, and valuable I am. Frankly, it all seems a bit unreal to me. And if I’m being honest, I still vacillate between being able to believe that the way things are today is the way they really are and thinking that the way I thought they were a year ago is more accurate. Today is teaching me that things can get better, but it is also showing me that it’s probably never possible for us to 100% ignore the lies that our brains tell us. I’m standing here in this moment full of good things, but there is still a part of my brain waiting for the other shoe to fall (or thinking it has but no one wants to tell me).

But still, in the midst of this busy & chaotic day which is for now full of purpose and accomplishment, I couldn’t help but step back and take a quiet moment to reflect and be grateful that, even if it’s not perfect, it barely resembles the life of the same person one year ago. Thank you to all those, include the mean girl in my own head, for loving me enough to make this journey possible.

Decisions, Decisions

I’m not someone who generally suffers from decision paralysis. Like, I never understood people who took forever to take a test – you either know the answer or you don’t, so answer it or just guess and move the hell on already.

But for the past month or so I’ve been waffling more than a box of Eggos.

I started the book a little less than a year ago. I’d decided to go with non-fiction (basically this blog, only funnier… I hope) because I felt my fiction writing was just nowhere near good enough to go that direction. And the first 20,000 words FLEW onto the page. The next 5,000 took twice as long as the first 20,000, but there I was about 1/3 it the way through in just 4 months. And I have outlines for about 3 more chapters, which sounds good, but that’s going to leave me about 40,000 words short and I CAN’T THINK OF ANYTHING ELSE TO ADD. I’m realizing there just isn’t enough about me that’s interesting to actually fill up a whole book.

To complicate matters I’ve gotten some feedback recently that suggests maybe the fiction thing isn’t as bad an idea as I thought. And I have not one, but two ideas for stories in that vein.

So now what?

Do I ignore the fiction idea and force myself to actually finish something I start, in this case the non-fiction book?

Put the current book aside and turn my attention to one of the fiction pieces for now, and come back to the non-fiction book later (when maybe more crazy-ass shit has happened to me that I can add)?

Or give up on the non-fiction stuff ever being a book and just use what I have for that as a series of posts here?





Don’t forget to check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes’ posts! Dozen and dozen of posts ranging from Christmas shopping violence to struggling with self-doubt to coping with sucky people to how I really feel about meatloaf. TTGV has it all! And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@tangentgirrl) and Facebook!

A Little Light Reading

Thought I’d share a little something I wrote a while back as a wedding gift. Hope you enjoy it!


The Briar and the Birch

written January, 2011

Once upon a time there was a Briar Vine and a Birch Tree who fell in love.

The Briar Vine wound its way gently up and around the sturdy trunk of the Birch Tree, and the Birch Tree held lacy tendrils of the Briar Vine supported in its branches. Sometimes the Briar Vine’s thorns would accidentally scratch the soft and smooth bark of the Birch Tree. Sometimes the Birch Tree’s lofty height allowed the frigid wind to blow through and make the thin and delicate Briar Vine cold. They did not want these things to happen, but it was just a part of the Briar Vine being a briar, and the Birch Tree being a birch.

All the other briars and birches scoffed at them. They said these things served as proof that the relationship between the Briar Vine and the Birch Tree was not right. Briars should be with other briars and birches should be with other birches. That was just how things were done. Nevertheless, the Briar Vine and the Birch Tree were in love, and determined to make it work.

The briars and the birches continued to mock and ridicule and put down the bond between the Birch Tree and the Briar Vine. When spring came, the rains came pouring down harder than normal and the ground became marshy and muddy and soaked. The Briar Vine, held aloft from the wet by the Birch Tree, stayed safe and dry and healthy, but the other briars, all twined together along the earth, drowned and rotted and became sick with damp.  The Birch Tree and the Briar Vine heard their jeers no more.

Still, the birches continued to deride and heckle and laugh at the bond between the Briar Vine and the Birch Tree. When summer came, a hoard of locusts descended and they ate their way through all the grasses and trees. The Birch Tree stayed leafy and whole because the locusts could not land with the Briar Vine’s prickly thorns wrapped all around, but the other birches became brown and stripped and nibbled to nothingness.  The Briar Vine and the Birch Tree heard their taunts no more.

So the Birch Tree got scratched sometimes, but it was nothing a kiss from the Briar Vine couldn’t mend, and the Briar Vine got cold sometimes, but it was nothing an embrace from the Birch Tree couldn’t warm. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked for them, and in the end that was the only thing that mattered.

And they lived contentedly ever after.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes’ posts! Dozen and dozen of posts ranging from Christmas shopping violence to struggling with self-doubt to coping with sucky people to how I really feel about meatloaf. TTGV has it all! And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@tangentgirrl) and Facebook!





Regression Towards the Mean

I haven’t been feeling very damned funny lately.

Between the shooting, and work stress, and this stupid screwed up shoulder, and a nice helping of depression with a side of exhaustion…. I am not a bucket of laughs right now. And that’s kept me from writing for almost a month now because I figure people want to come here to be entertained, not to be brought down.

But I guess we’re all just gonna have to suck it up and ride this one out, because I fear if I don’t write something now, I’ll never come back.

So what’s been on my mind lately… Well, one of the things that’s been bothering me the most is not really having someone I can talk to about some of the stuff that’s bothering me. My therapist, while very sweet, just hasn’t been giving me what I need and despite multiple calls to multiple other practices I haven’t even gotten so much as a call back, let alone been able to schedule something. So I haven’t had a professional to talk to in almost 3 months.

As far as non-professionals go, my husband is usually the one I talk to about everything, and he still is my go-to for most things, but it’s hard for him to be “the one” when there’s no way he can be objective about the some of the things I need to talk about.

And if any of my friends or other family are reading this, I’m sure at least a few of them might be hurt or possibly even offended by the fact that I don’t feel like I can talk to them either. The thing is, I’ve gotten burned a number of times in my life by sharing too much with someone. Just this past year I had a really horrible outcome when I confined in a very close friend, and now I’m completely neurotic (okay, MORE neurotic) about it. Again, I just feel like some of the things that are bothering me that I need to talk about aren’t things they can be objective about for various reasons. Plus I feel like I’d be a burden to them, and no amount of assuring me I’m not will help – I’m so uncomfortable that I just can’t. I started to cultivate a friendship with someone outside my circle where talking about these things seemed to be possiblity and more comfortable, but in the end that didn’t really work out to be what I was hoping for. (What, you don’t want to be buddies with the crazy, needy lady? Why not? It’s a total mystery.)

The thing is – I used to have someone I really did feel completely at ease talking to – a friendship I treasured. We went through a lot together, got each other through a lot of the shit that comes with being in your teens and twenties. Someone I could just sit with and we could both just BE. And I went and fucked it up. I spent years sliding into a deeper and deeper depression, pushing everyone away and not being there for them anymore than I would let them close to me. And hey – shocker – when I pulled my head out of my ass all these years later, they’d moved on. It’s not like they hate me or anything, or that we aren’t still friendly, but that closeness I took for granted is unrecoverable.

So I’ve been feeling pretty lonely and lost lately. The resolve I had, and the resolution I committed to, after I hit rock bottom last year was to NOT hide what I was feeling, to not just “suck it up,” to not just pretend that everything is fine. But I’m slipping back into those old habits. And honestly, I think that, more than anything, is what has kept me from posting lately. 

The irony is, I started this blog, and writing the book, as a place where I could put everything out there, where I could talk about whatever was going on with me at anytime, no matter what. It was supposed to be my outlet. But friends and family and people I know read it — so it’s become no different than telling them these things directly. And that’s exactly what I’m trying to avoid. So I don’t even have a cyber-outlet. Even writing this makes me desperately uncomfortable.

So yeah… Happy Monday.


Don’t forget to check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes’ posts! Dozen and dozen of posts ranging from Christmas shopping violence to struggling with self-doubt to coping with sucky people to how I really feel about meatloaf. TTGV has it all! And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@tangentgirrl) and Facebook!


In Memory

I very rarely post about anything political, here or anywhere else on social media. I very rarely even engage in discussions in person about such things. I have generally found that if someone disagrees with you, it’s rare to never that is going to change, so you’re just playing with pigs and pigeons. And the conversations between people who agree often seem most concerned with “the show” of people agreeing with them, a daisy-chain of self-congratulations and pretention.

I don’t have time for that nonsense; moreover I feel like I have little to add to the conversation. There is nothing in this world that my post or my tweet is going to add to the collective prattle of people who will have forgotten all about whatever the issue is within days, maybe a week if we’re lucky. My silence is not turning a blind eye or a deaf ear or burying my head in the sand; it’s simply a refusal to add to the meaningless noise. So I tend to only speak about these things when I have something personal to say about what is going on. When Trump was elected and I saw the danger his presidency represents to my queer husband and my black son, I talked about my feelings. When the travel ban threatened the lives and families of hundreds of people and their families who I know and love, I talked about my feelings.

These days when we can’t seem to go a week without another senseless shooting, having our loved ones harmed or killed by some psychotic asshole is one of our greatest fears. Every time there is a mass shooting, particularly a school shooting, I’m just as guilty as the next person of being terrified to let my loved ones out of my sight for a while, terrified they will be the next victims. But then life intrudes and marches on, and in the fray of work deadlines and karate practice and getting the tires changed and fixing the toilet – our fears fade. Because even as out of control and scary as the problem has become, the likelihood of it happening to OUR loved ones is still so small that our fear is an abstraction; a “what if” that is easily swept away by our day to day concerns.

That was me today; upset by another senseless loss of life, worried about the “what if next time?”…but already being distracted by other mundane concerns.

One phone call shattered that in seconds.

I listened in disbelief and shock and deepening devastation as I was told by my boss that a mutual professional associate of ours, and someone who has not just been my colleague but also a friend for more than 5 years, was grieving for the loss of his daughter who was killed in the school shooting in Florida yesterday.

It changes everything.

The abstraction is stripped away and it is no longer a “what if”, it is an “oh my god how can this be really happening?” There is no hiding, there is no more luxury of allowing yourself to be distracted by bullshit. It is no longer something you mourn indirectly from afar; the pain is now your own.

I’m absolutely not saying that I wish this upon anyone else  – no matter how much we disagree with them or how reprehensible we find their positions or words or actions – no one should ever have to go through this. But I do feel that if those people with the actual power to change things, who choose not to, could be on this side of the line, things would change. If this horrible pain was their own rather than just something they could “pray over” and move on –  maybe something would finally be done and maybe no more lives would end for no reason. Maybe we would stop arguing about “rights” and “fairness,” and decades-old documents that cannot be literally interpreted, and bigger issues such as mental healthcare which absolutely contributes and needs to be addressed but CANNOT be fixed fast enough to save the people that are dying RIGHT NOW… and a million other bullshit things and DO SOMETHING.

Maybe Alyssa would still be here.

In Memory of Alyssa Alhadeff

Zombie Sleepover

“Sleep like the dead”…

I’ve always thought this phrase sounded like the worst thing ever. Why would anyone want to sleep like the dead? I mean, the dead don’t wake up ever.

Me? Like it or not, I’m more of a “sleep like the undead” kind of gal. You know – shuffling around all uncoordinated, drooling on myself, moaning “sleeeeeep, SLEEEEEP…”, and desperately wanting to attack any chipper-ass person who’s clearly had a whole restful night of what I desperately want to have.

But people seem to frown upon zombies in the workplace, so figuring out the etymology and cure for this terrible plague it necessary.

Why you be hatin’, bro?

Enter “the sleep study.” My first problem with this concept is that in order to have a sleep study, it seems to me that you have to make sure you are doing a study of… sleep. And the only thing that I can think of that would make me less than lying in a hospital bed while people poke and prod and stare at me all night might be snorting coke while having my hair set ablaze.

Hi Ho Hi Ho It’s Off to The Sleep Center I Go

So inspite of my doubts, I dragged my undead ass into the sleep center at 9pm on a Saturday night (‘cuz no one knows how to party like a sleep-zombie!) As I am waiting in the lobby for someone to come bring me back, a man and who I think was his mom arrive together. The guy is on crutches so at first I figure she just staying to help him until he gets settled in. Then the tech comes to get us and:

Lady: How long does this test take?

Tech: He’ll be done around 6.

Lady: AM??? He has to stay all night??

Tech: (clearly a bit confused) Yes, the test runs all night.

I mean – WTF? Aside from the fact that they tell you all this all on the phone when they schedule the appointment, and then send you a 4 page document outlining it all again in writing… HOW DID YOU THINK THIS WAS GOING TO GO DOWN?? Did you think that they would be like “You need to fall asleep RIGHT NOW so we can test you for like 15 minutes and get you out of here”?  It’s already 9pm for heaven sakes – that’s a rather unusual time for a normal length doctor’s appointment, don’t you think?? So in addition to his mom and ride now being all pissed off out the timing – the guy brought nothing with him. No PJs, no toiletries, nothing. Dwiddle-dumb is gonna have to sleep in jeans and football jersey and can’t even brush his teeth.


So we get taken back and brought to our individual rooms. So I put on my PJs and start unpacking my bag – extra pillow and blanket, books to read, something to drink, and the stuffed animal I sleep with every night. The tech comes in to go over the paperwork with me.

Oh how cute. Is that your stuffed koala?

I’m just gonna leave that there….


I’m So Wired

Going through the paperwork reading about the fresh hell they are about to put me though, I make a comment to the effect of  – who is actually able to sleep in this situation – and the tech tells me:

Many people report sleeping better here than at home!

REALLY? Where do these people LIVE???? Prison? One of the observation tanks at the aquarium? The White House?

So I get hooked up to a bazillion wires from the top of my head on down to my legs and told – Sleep Well!!!

Sure, right. Doesn’t everyone who already doesn’t “sleep well” under the BEST of circumstances and WITH drugs, have a peaceful night of restful sleep like in THIS situation:

And this only shows my FACE. There was more, so much more… Sleep well my ass.



Don’t forget to check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes’ posts! Dozen and dozen of posts ranging from Christmas shopping violence to struggling with self-doubt to coping with sucky people to how I really feel about meatloaf. TTGV has it all! And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@tangentgirrl) and Facebook!

Why Is It So Hot, And Why Am I In This Basket?

I don’t remember doing it, but apparently I pissed in the Universe’s Cheerios. Or I was a very bad, BAD person in a former life. Or I broke a mirror. Or something… Because this week has freaking sucked.

I am utterly convinced that I am not allowed to have nice things. It seems like every single time I allow myself to do something nice for myself, or let down my guard and act more confidently or trustful, or I just relax and stop being stressed about everything for a little while, my life goes to hell in a hand-basket with purple cushions and a little ding-a-linging freaking bell.

So this weekend – my hubby’s birthday. My mom had the kid and we had 2 1/2 days to just enjoy. We ate good food. We pampered ourselves. We laid around for a whole day just chilling and reveling in each other’s company. We went to a cool show. We lounged about in a funky little coffee shop chatting…. It was lovely. I was soooooo relaxed and calm –  relaxed and calm in a way I have not been in a very, very, very long time.

Then Sunday night we go to pick the kid up and find out he’s been awful all weekend. And this is not the first time this has happened. We have this issue where, unlike every other child in the world who is the exact opposite – our kid is good for us and a little jerk for everyone else. My mom was exhausted and stressed and I was immediately frustrated and pissed off. So much for calm and peaceful.

Monday was crappy too. I was tired and stressed and had the typical emotionally let-down of having a great weekend but then having it be, well MONDAY. On top of that, the whole issue that I had managed to put out of my mind all weekend regarding a totally sanctimonious, patronizing, infuriating, bullshit email my husband received, on his birthday, hit like a ton of bricks now that we were back in the ‘real world.’ I still get so angry just thinking about it that my heart is racing and I feel flushed just typing this.

Then Tuesday night, I get a call and find out my bio-dad has cancer. Freaking cancer.

Wednesday: My doctor requested a sleep study for me back on Dec 1st. I have been calling at least every other week to get the damned thing scheduled, but I keep getting told the request hasn’t yet been reviewed and approved, so they cannot schedule me. But on Wednesday I get told – “Oh, you don’t need an approved request. Your doctor can just put an order directly into the system.” <insert COPIOUS curse words, hurled loudly at my phone after reading that email>

Today, I get a call from my kid’s school counselor because my son had (another) epic meltdown because he got called out in class for repeatedly not listening, and said some seriously inappropriate stuff, so now I have to deal with that.




Don’t forget to check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes’ posts! Dozen and dozen of posts ranging from Christmas shopping violence to struggling with self-doubt to coping with sucky people to how I really feel about meatloaf. TTGV has it all! And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@tangentgirrl) and Facebook!




Petting My Peeves 3: People Suck

So I’m back again to bitch about stuff that annoys me. Today:

Personality Traits That Piss Me Off

Mansplaining: Before a bunch of guys start jumping all over my shit for this, I get that women can do this too, and I get that not all guys do it. But there is DEFINETLY a population of guys out there who are so guilty of this they should be forced to wear a sign warning everyone. Just recently, TWO DAYS after getting back from my 8th trip to the Middle East, I had this pompous asshole trying to explain the Middle East to me because he’d traveled around there once and ‘knew” how it ‘was.’ Um, yeah. Piss off dude.


Asking/Not Asking for Advice: We all have those people who will come to us and pour out all of their troubles, ending with – “I don’t know what to do.” But no matter what ideas you offer up, they shoot every one down without even thinking about it because they don’t really want help, they want sympathy. If you just want to vent, I’m cool with that – but say, hey I’m just venting, I’m not looking for ideas. I am happy to get you a bottle of wine, a quart if ice cream, and nod and say “preach on, Brother/Sister!” Otherwise it just makes me have to ‘wash my cat’ every time you start talking about your problems because I don’t want to hear you bitch.

The Lord Helps Those…: Along that same line – the people who bitch about the same things over and over and over but never do anything to try and change things, even though they have options. You can tell they just want their problems to go away without any effort on their part. And hell, we’d all like that, but I would also like a Support Fox. We can’t always get what we want. Now suck it up and do something. I have no interest in hearing you bitch anymore.


And the all-time top of my “I want to punch people in the face” pet peeve: Passive Aggressive People. This can mean a lot of things, and I don’t particularly like any of it, but some versions are just annoying while others make me near-homicidal.

Mildly Annoying: That fact that some people will say things like, “Oh I’ve never been to Zombieland” when they hear you talking to someone else about Zombieland, when what they really mean is “Can I go to Zombieland with you, too?” Or they will say, “Wow those cookies look good” because they are hoping you will offer them one. I only find this annoying because I IGNORE THEM. If you can’t be a grown-up and actually ask me your question, I will not be bothered to acknowledge the unspoken question.

Fairly Damned Irritating: When someone tells you one thing, then turns around and says something completely different to someone else. Like, “No, no it’s totally fine, there is no rush at all. Just send me ‘X’ whenever you get a chance.” Then you’re talking to someone else and they’re like, “What’s up? Why don’t you like Jenny? She said she asked you for ‘X’ but you’ve been ignoring her….”   Not NEARLY as much as I am going to ignore you now, Jenny.

Full on someone-is-going-to-die-but-it-won’t-be-me Fury: When someone pulls out the thinly veiled, patronizing, ignorant-ass insults that they try and sell as “kindness” or “friendly advice” or any other BULLSHIT way of saying – “I am an asshole but I don’t want you to be able to PROVE that I am an asshole, so I will interact with you in a way you KNOW is me being an ASSHOLE, but that I can just explain to others as you ‘misunderstanding me’.”

Those g-damned people can go straight to hell.


Don’t forget to check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes’ posts! Dozen and dozen of posts ranging from Christmas shopping violence to struggling with self-doubt to coping with sucky people to how I really feel about meatloaf. TTGV has it all! And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@tangentgirrl) and Facebook!

Tell Me A Story

I’ve been reading a lot lately. I follow a lot of authors – known and less known – on Twitter, so I’ve been reading a lot of their stuff. And recently I picked up an old “best friend” that I haven’t read in years, Dreams Underfoot by Charles Delint. And that is when I really noticed – –

There is a huge difference between great writing and great storytelling.

Best case scenario, you get both, like with Delint’s books. The stories are interesting and by turns funny, uplifting, and heart-breaking. And the language is so rich and beautiful… I want to read it out loud so I can feel the shape of the words rolling around in my mouth like butter, and hear the cadence of them like water burbling in a sparkling brook.

But most stuff – like almost all of it I realize – is only one or the other, great writing or great storytelling. (Of course there is stuff that is NEITHER, but we don’t need to talk about that crap).

Take Lolita – it’s a freaking awful story about a pedophile. It’s creepy and weird – but the prose is hauntingly lovely.  Amazing writing, horrible storytelling.  Or Walden – have you tried to read it? Try if you are ever having trouble sleeping. But again, the language is bright and majestic.

And a lot of what I’ve been reading lately is really great storytelling – unique storylines and universes, compelling characters, exciting narratives. But the writing is not “great.” Please understand – this is NOT the same thing a saying the writing is bad. There is nothing wrong with the writing, it’s good writing. It just isn’t great writing. It doesn’t have the same sparkle and deliciousness that great writing does. It doesn’t make you thirst to read a paragraph or a page over again such to hear the words in your head once more.

So knowing that very few authors achieve both, what would I choose? Well, I would argue that I will continue to read both, but what I will read the most of, and enjoy the most, is the great storytelling. Every time. I want to be transported to another place; I can always go grab Walden if I need some word candy.



Don’t forget to check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes’ posts! Dozen and dozen of posts ranging from Christmas shopping violence to struggling with self-doubt to coping with sucky people to how I really feel about meatloaf. TTGV has it all! And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@tangentgirrl) and Facebook!

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

So I feel kind of bad… after leaving all of you high and dry for over a week with no new posts, now I’m not even going to give you a fun, light-hearted story about killer bunnies or mugger macaws. This one’s damn serious and dark, but I need to get it off my chest.

This post does contain “me too” triggers, so please bear that in mind before you proceed.  I won’t be offended if you don’t read further.

Also, there is strong language, just an FYI.


So yesterday someone I know and respect posted not one, but two “jokes” online referencing the recent coming forward of women who have been sexually harassed/assaulted. I’ve seen versions of these comments before and they never really phased me because the people saying them were assholes, and assholes are going to say asshole things; I don’t pay any attention to what those people say – because they are assholes.

But these comments – they struck me in a deep and personal way I wasn’t at all prepared for. To have someone I know and like say such tone-deaf things really shook me up. Not only did it upset me that a good person would make light of this topic, but it plunged me into a dark place regarding my own “me too”s. I mean, when the whole “me too” thing started, I posted my “me too” status, remembering what happened to me, but somehow that didn’t trigger any emotions related to those memories.

But this? This cocked the gun and blew my mind and heart into a million pieces.

To understand what happened, some background is required. In my junior year of high school my social circle shifted to a new group of friends outside of school. Having found these friends through the BBS world (blast from the past) and gaming, they were basically all guys. The few girls I knew in the ‘circle’ at that time were more peripheral friends of friends or were dating my actual friends, versus being the primary people I hung out with. About half the guys treated me like a kid sister they needed to protect (in addition to being the only girl I was also the youngest in the group), and the other half just treated me like they treated all the guy-friends in the circle. We would often jokingly flirt with each other, but we ALL knew it was just that – joking with each other. Physical contact was normal – hugs, back rubs, sitting on someone’s lap – but it wasn’t some innuendo of something more than friendship.  Hanging out until all hours of the morning and then literally sleeping together on the same couches, floors, etc. was a regular occurrence. And I never felt, or had reason to feel, uncomfortable or unsafe.

In many ways I think this, along with the fact that I wasn’t the type of girl that most guys found themselves physically attracted to, made me very naïve.

When I was about 20, my then-finance-now-husband and I went to a party at a friend’s house. In addition to ‘my circle’ of friends, there were a lot of other people there I either knew only in passing or had never met before. But these people were friends of MY friends, those guys I trusted and felt comfortable with, so it never crossed my mind that they would be or act any differently.

As was usually the case, there was no plan for the party to end before morning, and having consumed more than a reasonable amount of Goldschlager my husband crashed fairly early in the night in one of the upstairs bedrooms while I continued to hang out. I’d been chatting and doing the same innocent/ meaningless flirting with the people I just met as I did with my friends. I hung out a lot in particular with one of my friend’s friends who I’d never met before; funny guy and fun conversation. But eventually I started getting tired and needed to secure myself a corner and some random pillows and blankets to lay down and get some sleep. This was not easy – single guys living on their own are not known for their linen selection, and there were a lot of folks looking for places to sleep and things to sleep on/under. So when I managed to make myself a passable sleeping space, and the guy I’d been talking to asked if I minded if he shared a corner of it, I never thought anything of it. As I said, at one point or another I’d literally slept with about a quarter of the guys at that party, and this was a friend of those friends which meant he was a good guy and it was totally fine.

I’m sure it is no surprise reveal or suspenseful “what next?” to you that I was in fact devastatingly wrong in this assumption.

So it started with general “hey I really enjoyed talking with you tonight” and “I’m so glad we met” to “you’re pretty awesome.” Which just seemed flattering. Then it became a back rub. Now again – – my 40 year old self, and likely you reading this right now, are thinking “What the hell??? Why would you let some guy you just met touch you?” But remember, this was normal behavior between me and my friends, and furthermore it had been a completely safe type of interaction with those people for over four years; it just didn’t trigger warning bells.

But then the back rub started to wander to places it shouldn’t, subtlety then not so subtlety. I made light of it, kind of shrugging his hands away with a “hey thanks for the back rub but I’m gonna try and get some sleep now.”

Then laying side by side with inches of space between us became “wow this blanket is small! It’s cold in here! Hope you don’t mind my scooting over” which turned into him rolling on his side pressing the length of his body against me. I did think – this doesn’t seem right; but my next thought was “you’re kidding right? One, you aren’t the girl who guys try to put the moves on, and two he knows your fiancé is upstairs. It IS cold in here and the blanket IS too small for both of you. Stop overreacting.” So I just scooted myself over a little bit to give myself some space. He shifted and scooted closer again.

Then more talk of how sweet I was, and how lucky my fiancé was, how he hadn’t managed to find anyone to be in a relationship with, how lonely he was, how he wished he could find someone just like me.. all the while touching my arm or my hand or my shoulder…

At that point I was actually getting uncomfortable. But I was young, stupid and didn’t want to ’embarrass myself’ by making a scene, so I pretended to be asleep figuring he’d just stop. At least five minutes passed and I started to relax and drift to sleep. Then he spent about half a minute moving about and I thought “see – he’s shifting and getting comfortable so he can get some sleep too.” Until he reached over, took my hand and pressed it forcibly onto his now naked crotch, whispering in my ear that he knew I wanted to touch him and it was okay, he wanted me to.

I went from horizontal to vertical faster than I thought possible for my rotund self, ripping my hand out of this pretty firm grip in the process. I shot out the front door to where one of my close friends and several acquaintances were hanging out and talking outside. I clearly looked upset and having this guy hurrying after me apologizing and saying it was just a misunderstanding made it quickly obvious something had happened.  My friend placed himself in the doorway and in no uncertain terms told the guy to get the fuck away from me. After several attempts to come out anyway, the guy gave up and I crumpled into the corner of the porch, stunned and shaking.

So yeah, horrible. Really fucking awful actually. But like I said, I really hadn’t given it much thought in years, even when typing my “me too” into my Facebook status.

But then yesterday – those posts changed everything in a matter of just the few moments it took me to read them. I was back in that moment – stunned and shaking in the cold and dark, feeling lost.

And there’s a reason for that – because as bad as what happened that night was, what came next was worse.

One of the girls, who was dating one of my friends, said, “Oh man, that bastard. He did it to you, too?”

………… you TOO????

………… this was a fucking THING????

And it turns out she was not the only one who knew this about him. They sang me the little “theme song” they had for “Molesting <name redacted>“.

A. Fucking. Song.

They laughed it off. Oh he’s so desperate to get some, he pulls this on every girl he meets. Ha ha.

……………. ???

I mean, they did ask if I was okay. They did keep him away from me until my husband woke up and we could get the hell out of there. But these people, people I trusted, KNEW this guy had done this before; he had done it to some of THEM. And not only was he still at this party in the first place, but they didn’t bother to say something to me? To warn me?

It was clear that they didn’t think it was a big deal. It’s just a little harmless groping and he never actually ‘gets any.’ Ha ha, isn’t he so pathetic?

And so I laughed too ‘cuz what else could I do? Ha ha, yeah, so funny. What an amusing catchy song. Fucking hilarious.

And besides – maybe it was my fault. I had ‘flirted’ with the guy and how was he to know that wasn’t really ‘a thing.’ And I hadn’t actually ever said “please stop” so maybe he thought I was into it. And I didn’t ‘get hurt’ so clearly I was overreacting; these ‘were’ the reasons my friends didn’t think it was a big deal.

And I think it’s really, really important to say: in all fairness – we were ALL young and dumb; the oldest person there was probably only 23. I don’t think there’d been any malicious intent in not telling me about the guy, just carelessness. And I don’t think there’d been any malice in the laughing at it either, just the stupidity of youth.

But seeing those posts yesterday – seeing some one I like and think is a good person making jokes about this issue – it plunged me back into that moment 20 years ago, when people I knew and trusted turned what happened to me, what has happened and will continue to happen to thousands of women – into a joke.

To their credit, when I pointed out the wrongness of the jokes to them, the person really did listen to what I had to say and realized they’d been wrong. They apologized and immediately deleted the comments…

But even with that, I haven’t quite made it in from the cold yet….

Don’t forget to check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes’ posts! Dozen and dozen of posts ranging from Christmas shopping violence to struggling with self-doubt to coping with sucky people to how I really feel about meatloaf. TTGV has it all! And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@tangentgirrl) and Facebook!