“Shrinking” myself.

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I had a wee confrontation via text with some guy from OKCupid earlier. Basically, we started out talking about music and everything was going well, but then he started saying that he wanted to hang out and cuddle, etc. The conversation sort of devolved into total douchebaggery from there, so I’ll leave the rest of the physical thoughts to your imagination, dear readers.

I told him I have a hard time being touched because hey, rape trauma! He was persistent, saying things like (and I quote, grammatical flaws and all), “Aww babe ill love you sweet and heal you, nice and easy and melt your protective shell away.”

Gag.

I tried to explain him a thing about how recovery works but he wasn’t getting it, so I finally just told him that he was making me really uncomfortable. In retrospect, I probably should’ve done it sooner, but I tend to err on the side of politeness (and am therefore prone to being nice to people who don’t deserve it).

These are a few of the “highlights” that followed.

“Well i think you should just take a deep breath and start healing and get some good lovin”

“Well you can have a fun time being my music buddy and getting frisky on me im empathetic to your trauma so just let it go humans have fucked up lives you might as well enjoy it while you can”

So I totally called him on it and tried to shut that down, at which point he went:

“Ok i can see you have no business dating you clearly have massive issues to work through and im not going to play along with your self pity and have you take your man hate out on me”

I felt really bad about myself for a few minutes—after all, what if he was right? What if my “baggage” is so insurmountable that I’ll never be able to make a relationship work? Who would want to put up with me?

Then I had a revelation. I decided to reframe the conversation and look at it from a different perspective. Since I’m currently applying to grad school (for counseling and psychotherapy), I decided to pretend that I was the therapist and my client was the one having the negative thoughts. It went a little something like this:

Therapist!Me: What would you do if someone came up to you on the street and said those things?

Patient!Me: I’d probably tell them to go to hell.

Therapist!Me: Good. Now why are you letting this person you barely know make you feel bad about yourself?

Patient!Me: I don’t know…I’m afraid that he’s right. What if I’m too damaged? What if I’m not ready for a relationship? What if I’m never ready?

Therapist!Me: Well, you’re not in a relationship now, and you’re clearly going places and doing constructive things. You’re trying to heal and improve yourself. You’re focusing on you for the first time in your life, and that’s a very good, positive thing. When you’re ready, you’ll find someone who deserves you and loves you not in spite of your “damage,” but because the things that have happened to you have made you a stronger person.

Positive self-talk doesn’t usually work for me, but trying this tactic really helped me step back from what happened and view it in a more analytical, solution-focused way. I’m slowly learning that the way I see myself is frequently incongruent with how others see me, and that insight has been very helpful. Integrating these two drastically different views is going to be tough, but I think if anyone’s up to the challenge, it’s me. I’ve also managed to set up weekly appointments with my therapist, since I have all the insights I need to start healing but am not quite sure what to do with them yet.

What helps you distance yourself from your emotions and untangle the messes in your life? Any tips on stopping automatic negative thoughts?

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