“You have my permission to consider all men as bastards until they individually prove otherwise.”
That sentence shook me awake from my mental flight. It came from the lips of a man I was struggling, but trying, to trust and had just insulted.
As I sat on the couch in Sam’s office that day, fear had taken hold. The door was closed. We were alone and I realized I was afraid of Sam. The community sees Sam as a good man, a man of high moral character. He is respected and sought after as a therapist, he has a 6 month waiting list. He is a man of power and “men of power-that are loved are dangerous” my brain kept reminding me. As we talked I found myself pressing hard against the cushions of the couch. Shrinking into the corner, holding a pillow in my arms.
“If I just push hard enough into the corner, he will not hurt me. I will be invisible to him.”
Sam was asking me questions but my brain had gone into auto-pilot. I was not really thinking about my answers. All I could think about was how to escape. The back of my neck started getting hot and my head began tingling. My body was screaming “Alert-Alert, run!!” I tried to take a deep breath and focus. “This is Sam, he is ok, stop being so ridiculous!” I tried to tell myself but panic would not release me.
I started mentally analyzing my outfit. It was more feminine and cute than I usually would wear and I worried it would arouse his senses. If I had only worn jeans, a t-shirt and a leather cuff on my wrist, then I would at least feel safer. Sam knew I was a victim of past sexual abuse; that I had been preyed upon by not just one man but 6 men before the age of 23. In my mind, my past abuse could instigate Sam into thinking he could attack me. Fear overtook me to the point that I could no longer continue the conversation we were having. I knew I had to prove myself tough and strong, so he understood I would not allow him to hurt me. I was not ‘that’ woman any more.
“You could abuse me right now and not only would no one know but they probably wouldn’t believe me either.” I tried to be tough as I spoke so he knew I was onto him but tears betrayed me and I blinked quickly to try and hide them. The fear behind that statement was dangerously close to the surface. I was losing control. I had to let him know that I was one smart bitch, not to be messed with.
His response took me back a step…wait, I can think you are a bastard? Really? He then went on to say, “You have my permission to vet me out and ask about me. You have every right to not trust me yet.”
What? My body relaxed a bit and my grip on the pillow loosened. Sam was sitting in front of me, relaxed. He hadn’t moved since I got there. He didn’t look like a man about to pounce in lust or anger. And his eyes seemed to speak compassion…maybe he wasn’t a monster.
I have spent my life dealing with men of ‘high moral character’. Men respected in their communities. Men with power because of who they were and how they presented themselves. The couple times I tried to tell what happened, expose them, I was called many names.
LIAR RACIST BITCH OVERDRAMATIC SEDUCER
My dad even spanked me as a four year old when he found out about an older boy in the neighborhood who took advantage of me. He didn’t go after the boy and confront his bad behavior. It was all my fault. “All my fault” became my mental mantra.
So, I learned to be quiet. I learned that revealing secrets led to intense shame and ridicule. So I locked my secrets up and went on with my life. I felt I could just move on.
How is it that 15 years after I locked my hearts door, I am sitting in a man’s office, opening the door to these secrets? Wasn’t this supposed to be off limits forever, case closed!?
What I have learned is you can only hide for so long.
Your body can only store trauma for so long before it starts screaming for help.
Life had begun to unravel and I had no choice but to seek help. God made it so clear I was to see Sam. I had the choice to trust God, who I view as male. Walking into Sam’s office was the first step in learning to trust a God I had spent most of my life fearing.
What has happened since I started this new journey is I have begun to extend kindness to myself. Instead of criticizing and self-berating myself for being afraid, I have started to find ways to take care of myself. I say no to situations that scare me. No the installers cannot come when my husband is not home. The truth is, those men may hurt me or they may not, but I am not emotionally ready to test that out.
The truth is: All men are bastards until they prove otherwise.
And if you are wondering about my feelings on Sam?
Well let’s just say he has fallen out of the “bastard” category and into the “he has potential” category.
Christy Barber lives in Monument, Colorado with her adventuresome husband and two children. She pursues her heart by writing music, poems and creating whenever time allows. She wants to inspire hope through her own stories of struggle and journey with Jesus.