Dear Boss, today was different.

I’m just as confused as you are. I know you’re dying to ask how one day I can be the gal with the haunted vacant look, moving robotically in the office, steadily working, but trying to stay hidden from the world. And then, the very next day, I can interrogate someone for an hour and a half, and get a couple of admissions in the process. Trust me, I’m never sure if the magic will show up when I need it. The magic in this case was Sabrina. She’s the calm, cool, collected interrogator that looks like a sweet librarian with her cardigan and pulled up hair, but make no mistake, she is waiting for the target to slip up with his words.

Me? Hell, Sabrina got me into this profession. If it was up to me I would have been a writer in a cave somewhere far away from the populace. Sabrina is handy because she can bring the intensity that’s necessary for this job. She can write, analyze and look for patterns. Oh, yes, and she can argue. But, she’s no diplomat. You would never want to send her to the U.N. That’s where we get into trouble, along with the fact that she has a temper.

I listened to the audio file of the interrogation after it was over, and it still stuns me to not quite recognize myself when I hear my voice. It’s my voice, and it isn’t. It has a self-confidence I do not normally possess. It excites me and terrifies me to hear such quick thinking, yet have little recollection of it.

Unfortunately, once the interesting part of the job is over for the day, Sabrina disappears as well. I wish that weren’t the case, but I don’t seem to have control over that at the moment. I’m left with a moving carousel of parts, which is why you see confusing and differing parts of me. You see uber confident Sabrina during interrogations; vacant, depressed Belle when triggered; at lunch time, Letty jonesing for a sandwich if we’re running late to eat; and me when there’s a heavy writing assignment that allows me to close the door to my office.

I’m sitting in your office chatting with you when one of the gals pops her head in and says that the number 2 guy in the agency wants to speak with me on the phone. Usually, it is not good news to get a phone call from this guy, especially at my level. I’m not exactly one of the big dogs. You and I exchange terrified looks, and we head to my office together. I answer the phone with my heart in my throat, and I hear, “Beatriz, what did you do? The interrogation must have gone well! Did you Perry Mason him? This is great! Good job! He’s spinning out. You must have really hit a nerve.” I couldn’t find my words for a bit, likely because it wasn’t Sabrina on the phone with him. I looked over at you, and smiled. You could tell that it was okay.

Spectacular Failure

I failed at something I loved, spectacularly failed. I never thought the end would be like this, but, alas, it is. I now question myself constantly. What else could I have done?¬† Could the outcome have been different if I had never said anything? But now it is known, even if I’m not believed the secret is out. It is no longer a secret that this person gaslights, and makes you doubt your sanity by denying the truth of what you experienced. The denial of that experience is far more destructive than the original inappropriate behavior. It makes for more interesting reading if I put forth examples of this crazy-making behavior. However, in the interest of discretion, I should not, though I ache to convey the insanity.

There’s an interesting phenomenon I’ve experienced where as the complainant I became persona non grata when I was previously well-received by the same people who now will not even say “good morning.” Some of these people I adored, and had respected greatly. When you originally assess that a person is credible, lovely and a good judge of character, it can be a jolt to your system when that same person no longer speaks to you with no explanation. I’ve cried over it, theorized about it. And now I have to move on, and accept that it will forever be one of the mysteries of my life. I have to work to make this experience not define me, though it is hard to stay out of that tendency.

It’s hard to go back to my okayish self. I’m out of that job with a new one, but the scars remain. I get freaked out easily, and still question my reality and my sanity. I want it to be behind me, but there it is, like a March mud season that does not relent.

I tell myself that it’s okay to come out to the living again. But the fear is right there beneath the surface, ready to bloom to defense or flight at a moment’s notice.

I tell myself that I am more than just a job. I am more than a document I produce. I need to not leave this earth of my accord, despite the nightmares and the flashes of visions where I go into oblivion.

I drive very little these days because I get in that floaty cloudy state far too often. I’m on the bus a lot, and it seems I’ve found my people. The woman who speaks to herself at the bus stop is my sister, my sister in confusion and trying to make a life with a brain that works differently from the rest of the world. The homeless guy on the bus is all of us trying to make it in this life. The mom with 3 kids on the way to the mall is going to give her kids a fun Friday night, just like other moms all over the country endeavor to do on a Friday night. On the bus I can sit there and silently cry about the job I no longer have, and the people I no longer see. There’s a quiet acceptance of each other on this bus-the homeless guy that needs a shower, the woman that talks to herself, the mom with 3 kids that are full of noise and laughter, and me with my head against the window with a broken heart, but a hope for all of us on that bus.

upon reflection …

I’ve had second thoughts since my last post. You’ll notice I altered the original post a bit. It was presumptuous of me to paint a brush and declare that reporting sexual assault is the best thing a person can do. It was the best thing I could do for myself, and the prime reason it was the best thing for me was the fact that I had an impartial investigator, and an employer that was committed to doing the right thing. Without those elements, a person can find themselves in a precarious situation. By no means am I saying that a person should not report in the face of a less than ethical employer, just that I understand when the situation is too difficult or too risky to one’s life or livelihood to report.

In the early days after the assault I spent a great amount of time vowing to the few people around me that I let in on my secret that I was never going to report what happened. My therapist was slowly trying to convey to me that even if I decided not to report what happened that there were other ways I could speak my truth. I think she was actually close to mentioning the possibility of confronting my director with the truth. She never said this, but I had a strong instinct she was headed in this direction.

It’s hard for me to opine on what would have happened to me had I not reported it. Three weeks after the assault I reported it, though it was not planned, even in that instant of reporting. I was found out, and outed. My Assistant Director announced to me that he would not be able to accompany me on the upcoming business trip, and that the Director was going to accompany me instead. I started shaking, and walked away from him in that instant. He then followed me into my office, closed the door, and said, “What the hell is going on?”

“I’m just over reacting, ” I said to him as I tried to pay attention to the nothingness on my computer screen.

“Bullshit. I’ve seen you overreact, and that was the real thing. What the hell is going on? Don’t think I don’t know that something is going on. You have not been yourself for weeks. You’re making mistakes that you would never make. What the hell is going on?”

Through my tears I said to him, “Please just give me half an hour. In half an hour I will do the right thing. Until then please leave me be.” We both looked at each other, and I knew he knew by the look on his face. With that moment the entire trajectory changed in that instant. My world was forever altered the very moment I filed my report. A domino effect was put in motion that’s still going to this very day. Sometimes I can see the division in the universe between today and what would have been had I not reported it. Then there’s another universe that exists in the neverlands if this thing had never happened in the first place. But then I get annoyed at myself when I start thinking about these alternate universes because in many ways I’m better off than I was then. The person I am today is more authentic, less of a bullshitter to myself, and more accepting of others.

Still though, there’s part of me that pines for that time when I was the noncontroversial gal in the workplace, the new promising recruit with nothing but a stellar reputation. We have such a new recruit in our current ranks, and she reminds me of the me back then in a number of ways. She’s well-liked, has a lot of promise, and possesses oodles of self-confidence. Unlike me, she likely does not have an underlying problem with alcohol, co-dependency, PTSD, DID, and sex and love addiction.¬†Something¬†bad was bound to happen in my life with that combination of struggles I brought to the table. I did not start working on any of these issues until the sexual assault. Strangely enough, it seems I have my assault to thank for the progress I’ve made thus far because I’m certain I would not have stopped my addictive behavior without something big and awful happening.

Bottom lining it: I’m glad I’m working on my shit, but I still wish it never happened. Sometimes, as shallow as this sounds, I wish I could just be the pretty popular girl I was back then. Not so much for the popularity, but for the ability have plans any day of the week I wanted. I miss having people in my life on a regular basis. Truly, that’s been the biggest casualty of this whole thing. That day in 2008 unmoored me to such an extent that my friendships suffered or just ghosted out for a handful of different reasons.

This post certainly went in a different direction from what I intended. Another abrupt ending, I can’t write any further on this tonight.