A few days ago I was listening to a podcast, as I am wont to do almost any moment during my free time these days, and the guest struck a particular cord with me this time.
She was a 90s girl at heart, she told Dax Shepard on his podcast “Armchair Expert” (August 12, 2019 episode.) She prefers to listen to her music in her car, she prefers to call her friends and family on the phone.
She was Busy Philipps.
Yes, the 90s girl statement I did identify with – but that was not what actually struck a cord with me. The conversation eventually made it around to her youth and the trauma that she experienced back then. It started when she was raped at 14, but for many years did not recognize it or believe it to be what it was. Even when she was a senior and she told her “losing her virginity” story and someone else told her that was rape, she refused to accept that then. She later started to suss out the fucked-uppedness of the situation through discussions with friends and really was able to unpack it through writing her memoirs. That was the catharsis… This all is much like how my story has gone.
She talked about how, in the 90s, we culturally allowed for certain behaviors in which boys will be boys – and our media made us believe that certain events, behaviors, etc were not abusive. We believed the girl was, for lack of a better word, a slut. No, you know what? That’s the perfect word. The girl was the slut. She was the slut. I was the slut.
“That’s culturally I think where we were at the time, like Monica Lewinsky was the slut. That was something our entire country laughed at. Those were the messages we were being given.”
She, just as I did, took pride in her promiscuity during her teens – we both had decided to own the title of slut. At the same time, we took on a lot of the responsibility and also actively pursued a relationship with our abuser. We didn’t want to be a victim.
In the end, she came to the reasoning that “his truth” was that they dated and he didn’t see the situation the same way she saw it. Again, based on what was considered acceptable for boys by much of our society back then. That has helped her let some of the baggage go. My chest got tight as she was speaking about this and the dream that precipitated her realization. This is where I, personally, am differing from her.
It made me think about excuses I’ve given for Wyatt – hell, even David – and how sometimes I still circle back to thinking maybe I exaggerated, maybe “he” wasn’t that bad. That he wasn’t wrong in the culture we were surrounded by, so how could he be expected to act differently… But when I remind myself that after I was like nah, this story is No Big Deal and J.R (John) flashed his scary eyes and so vehemently told me 18 odd years ago that guys “shouldn’t treat a bird that way” (and a little later out of nowhere told me and Maja he intended to protect us from any male that might do us harm,) well… it reminds me that it must have been that bad and I’m not fooling myself when I recognize it now for what it was and the effects it had on me since.
If a womanizer and, lets be honest, criminal youth like J.R thought it was bad, then it must have been. That’s the justification I give myself. It helps me to remind myself to not brush it off and excuse it all away again. Thinking about J.R helps me to remind myself that I am not required to share the fault or diminish “his” responsibility.
This, of course, doesn’t exclude being able to forgive. Sometimes I think perhaps I could forgive… but then again, I dunno if I’m entirely there yet. With either of them. Maybe, using Busy’s rationalization I might be closer to forgiving Wyatt… But I don’t think I am nearly close enough to consider it for David. The need for PTSD meds exclude him from consideration at this time.
All that being said, I think I’m going to have to read Busy’s book. That is, after I finish the other three books I just got in the mail LOL.
I hope you all are staying safe out there! Much Love,
P.S To avoid any confusion – the featured photo does not include either Wyatt or David – the guy with me was a good friend in High School in the 90s, we were 16 😉