I was an akward and shy kid growing up. I still am in many ways, though I’ve done a fair bit of self work to be more outgoing, engaging, ect. I had and have trouble expressing feelings a lot of the time. My therapist and I think I might be on the autism spectrum, but see little use in evaluating for a dianosis at this stage in life.
At 20, I had never dated before and decided make an account on Plenty of Fish. Within a few weeks I was talking to a woman and we decided to meet. She pressured me for sex almost immidately and I declined much to her amazement and confusion. What 20-year-old guy doesn’t want to have sex? She seemed understanding after some explanation and the next couple months were amazing. I had emotional intimacy for the the first time in my life I trusted someone completely for the first in my life and although there was plenty of cuddles and kissing and heavy petting we remained sexually inactive. My first girlfriend. I was in love, for the first and only time.
And then she raped me.
My consent was violated in the worst way imaginable and the event caused a spiral down in every aspect of my life. My productivity at work plmmeted. My grades dropped to academic probation levels and I was all but forced out of my engineering program. My depression as at an all time high, and I had my first of many ER visits for suicidal ideations. I started self harming for the first time since middle school. My body went from football and rugby player to chips and energy drinks.
I didn’t trust my own thoughts. I hated myself for letting it happen. Any self-confidence I had was gone. Any trust I had was gone. I was utterly broken. My life became skipping classes, World of Warcraft, and a social life entirely around online communities. My rationale was that no one could hurt me again if I stayed behind a keyboard. And it was the last place I had any level of from myself or the outside world. I was really good at killing dragons. I may have failed a class or two every semester and barely pulled passing grades in others, but gods be damned, I could main tank for a progression raiding guild get that sweet, sweet, loot.
For two years I had no interest in dating, in forming relationships in the real world of any sort, and just continued to hate myself and the world.
I tried some therapy with a couple different therapists that I didn’t click with, but never uttering a word to anyone what I went though. Surely I’d be laughed at, ridiculed, or simply igorned.
Eventually, I knew I had to make a change. I had to do something, anything, to get out of the house. I recalled one of my former gamer friends telling me about FetLife. She was a ProDomme, though at the time had no reference for what that was. But from our late night talks on Ventrilo, she knew I had at least a cursory interest in BDSM and suggested I take a look. It was over a year later that I took her advice and made in account.
I sit here now over 3 years later a completely changed man. The BDSM and Leather communities have had such an incredibly positive impact in my life. This community and the friends I’ve made are largely responsible for my success in other areas of life: being able to finally graduate college, and starting an exciting and challenging career. Although indirect, the ability to be accepted for who I am, flaws and all, allowed me the growth and healing I needed to bring my life back into order.
When living with mental illness, there are always rollercoasters. It’s a fact of life, something I’ve learned to live with and have it about as managed as I feel I can. And, like the stock market, the general trend is up. In fact, things have been pretty great recently. I have a partner who cares for me and with whom I’m excited to grow with. I work at a great company and have been able to continously earn the respect of my peers and managers. I have a great relationship with my parents. I have an inner circle of friends and a wider net of people I enjoy spending time with on a nearly weekly basis.
I still struggle with trusting people completely. I remain a romantic at heart but find emotional intimacy both my great need and greatest fear. I continue to have a complicated relationship with sex, never pursing it when I want it and instinctively throwing up walls when others show interest. But I’ve been working on it. I’m getting better at communicating my feelings and emotions even when it is scary to do so.
Tonight, all of that work, all the therapy, all the positive self-talk, all the trust came crashing down.
And then I saw her.
A face I will never forget but had for years now kept locked away was in line ahead of me at the con I was at. I just had to go. Get out. Leave. Run. As I type this her face is back a the front of mind and my heart rate is increasing.
A cigarette and an elvator ride later I was in the hotel room. I didn’t want to leave. I could have just stayed and drank the weekend away given the amount of booze we brought. But I didn’t want let her affect me. I’m better than that, right? All that work, right?
A xanax and several drinks later I’m back on the elevator for another smoke. It stops and fucking of course, there she is again, getting on the elevator. My rapist a yard away from me.
More drinks and another xanax didn’t help. Twice more I saw her so I left. A friend drove me home and I lie here now at a loss for what to do. I’m ready to throw eveything out the window. Delete everything and hermit up again. Why can she still affect me like this again? Can’t I just have a weekend of fun and ignore her? Forget her? It’s not fair. Just fucking not fair. I want to throw it all away, everything. Delete my profiles and fuck off to hermitville again. I’m trying so hard here. Razors at hand but yet untouched. Chain smoking still I run out. Will I ever trust again? Love again? I don’t see it. It’s not fair.