I’ve been mulling over this for a few days. Do I ignore it? Address it? Go to the police? The first one hasn’t worked. If anything, it’s only encouraged you to continue calling him, sending me messages and seeing what more you can get away with. Going through my employer’s Facebook page and liking the photos that I’m in – what makes you think that’s rational? What is your end game here?
If you’re looking to air out some dirty laundry, it’s your own prerogative. But you’re inviting me to the clothesline and I doubt you’d be happy with what I choose to wash and hang up to dry.
The fact that you and my boyfriend were involved in a polyamorous relationship last fall/winter over the course of a handful of months is something most everyone knows but no one talks about. It was an experience that tested my resilience and trust. I handled it well some days. Other days, I did not. My boyfriend and I came out of it with an ultimately stronger bond but there is still healing to do and, yes, it’s an awkward thing for me to talk about. But I know you’re banking on that to strengthen your case.
So let’s talk. Let’s talk about how you assumed how I felt instead of asking me if I was okay with what you were doing. Let’s talk about your assurances to me that “it’s not serious” and that there was nothing to worry about. Let’s talk about how, even now, you’re telling me that you’re “here for” me while your actions continue to prove otherwise.
Let’s also talk about how, despite my own emotional turmoil, I continued to work through the situation with as much positivity as possible in an effort to understand. I found a local polyamory group and went to meetings with my boyfriend – and sometimes you came along, too! I asked questions. I read books. I talked about it with my psychiatrist. I blogged. I cried. And while I didn’t know what the end result would be, I was at least comforted by knowing that if my relationship with my boyfriend failed, it wasn’t because I didn’t try.
For a while, I sincerely didn’t think he and I would make it. You and your own boyfriend were constantly on the rocks. He had finally gotten sober and it turns out that didn’t solve as many problems as you had anticipated. I realize now why it was a perfect opportunity for you to explore an open relationship but at the time all I could think about was you leaving him and my boyfriend leaving me. I had started budgeting my money and making a checklist of things I could do without so I could afford rent and other bills on my own.
It’s actually amusing to me how everything came to an end. I was up against the wall and days away from calling it quits with my boyfriend. He was talking with you one night and you told him you weren’t comfortable with him being with “other women.” The irony of that statement. You, in an open relationship with your own boyfriend and another man who had been dating someone else for over three years, were uncomfortable with my boyfriend having open relationships. And when he told you that wasn’t something you had control over, you ended it. Apparently you were expecting him to give in and come crawling back. And when he didn’t, that’s when shit began unraveling.
By this point, you had already alienated me by suggesting I wasn’t “trying hard enough” and not putting as much energy into making this situation work. Never mind the aforementioned efforts with learning about polyamory and trying to support my partner in something that meant a lot to him. And apparently your qualm stemmed from how more often than not, you were the one buying food when we went out to eat or when you brought food over to our apartment. Never mind that it was always our apartment and not yours. Never mind that I’m not a sous chef at a trendy restaurant and do not have the salary you have. Never mind that you were bringing over fast food and gas station snacks. Because I wasn’t putting down as much money as you, I wasn’t trying hard enough. Actions like giving you full access to my most expensive art supplies when you were making your Halloween costume at our place or making sure you felt included when you participated in a large scale moped ride with us seem to not have even registered with you. Goddamnit, I tried. More than you would ever know. Things I did or didn’t do were often calculated on how they would make you feel. A positive outcome of this entire thing was that my boyfriend and I talk more. Like, really talk. You should know that some of those first conversations were about what I could do to make you more at ease – even at my own expense. And that was a mutual thing for us. There were already a plethora of uncomfortable feelings arising from this. My boyfriend and I both worked to keep them at a minimum for all three of us. He cared about you and therefore I cared about you. I don’t know that you ever understood that.
My boyfriend made mistakes during this open relationship experiment and he’s the first one to stand up and say so. Some of his actions were downright thoughtless but never with malicious intent. I’d watch him cry because he did or said something that hurt me. I’d watch him cry because he did or said something that hurt you. While he made decisions that can only be categorized as selfish, I have come to appreciate that a lot of what he did, he thought was right at the time. I realize other people will be quick to judge me for staying with him while he explored polyamory with as much fervor as they have while judging him. That’s fine. Stones are free and I won’t have to sweep up after them when they shatter their glass houses.
Here are some facts about my boyfriend: He has never hit me. He has never called me names or talked down to me. He has never made me feel unsafe or unloved. He has never threatened me. And he has never raped me.
Of course, that’s not to say he’s incapable of doing something just because he’s never done it to me. Brock Turner has never raped me and look how things are going for him. But two days ago, you sent me this unsolicited message on Twitter:
“Seriously tho @becklo no hard feelings towards you and the past. We women need to stand together. If you need out of it, I’m here.”
And if all the emotions I felt when reading this had one common theme to tie them all together, it would be “what the fuck?”
No hard feelings? Fine. I’m not looking for a fight. I never was! But the other two things, oh boy.
You see, something that’s slightly less common knowledge is that you and my boyfriend work together. You’re his manager. Before, during and after all of this went down, the two of you have worked in the same place. For a while after you two ended your open relationship, you were able to remain friends. You still talked, you still hung out. My boyfriend was a giant help to you when you held a pop up this spring. He waited tables and helped in the kitchen. He accompanied you to meetings at the venue and helped you secure the spot. He helped generate interest in the community by spreading the word. In fact, his original position in this venture was equal to yours. Until he told you he had a job interview to work in another kitchen and you flipped your shit and told him how ungrateful he was. Never mind that it had nothing to do with your pop up and that he didn’t even end up taking the job. You took it as a personal affront and blocked him, me and any of our mutual friends on social media. You two eventually worked it out and my boyfriend agreed to help you in a smaller capacity but even on the day of the pop up, he would’ve been okay if you had changed your mind again and told him you didn’t want his help.
It wasn’t long after this that you told him you didn’t want to talk to him outside of work.
It wasn’t long after that that he was pulled into an HR meeting at work to address claims that he raped you.
There was another HR meeting last week where they concluded that regardless of whether or not the incident happened, it didn’t happen at work so there was nothing they could/would do about it.
And since then, your Twitter feed (“Un-privatized cause Twitter is no fun if people can’t read your tweets!”) and probably other forms of social media have been innundated with pro-women, anti-rape rhetoric. Sprinkled throughout that are the occassional threats about how “the police know where you live” and retweets from your boyfriend about doing bodily harm. In fact, I perused his Twitter feed this morning and found multiple instances where he posted images with captions about killing. One of them is a clip from the movie “Kill Bill” of Beatrix Kiddo saying, “I am gonna kill Bill” with the comment, “Cosby-acting-motherfucker.”
Maybe your boyfriend genuinely believes you were raped. Maybe he’s bent on getting revenge. After all, you assurred us he was okay with your open relationship arrangement. We didn’t discover that was not true until my boyfriend sent yours a link to something he might be interested in and your boyfriend replied by saying, “Don’t ever fucking text me again.”
There were so many signs that are glaringly obvious now but I was too distracted by trying to get by day to day to put much thought into them at the time. Telling me little secrets that you asked me not to tell my boyfriend? On the surface they seemed harmless and I thought it was just that you trusted me and we were bonding as women. It took an embarassingly long time for me to connect the dots and see the whole picture. Between the lies of ommission and the flat out untruths, it was like my boyfriend and I were playing a game of telephone with a class of kindergarteners when we finally sat down and compared the things you told each of us.
“We women need to stand together. If you need out of it, I’m here.” Those two sentences rub me the wrong way. So badly. Because it simultaneously paints you as a victim while elevating you to a status of power over me. You’re going to rescue me from this terrible situation you assume I’m in. And if I reject your help, I’m either a poor, lost soul who has fallen victim to domestic abuse or I’m some kind of anti-feminist rape apologist. I am neither of those. Please do not think for a second that my love for my boyfriend would prevent me from leaving him if he ever laid a hand on me or assaulted me. If he were to ever to do that, I’d say I’d kick his ass but after his mom and sisters got done with him, I’m not sure there would be anything left for me. There are reasons why some women stay and I will not invalidate them. I can only speak for myself when I say I know I wouldn’t stay in an abusive relationship.
Besides, what good is telling me you’re here for me now? You’ve been telling everyone that my boyfriend raped you in January. If that’s true and you were even half as concerned about me as you say, why did you wait five months to warn me about him? If my boyfriend raped you, why wouldn’t you come to me with that? I think I present myself as a person who would take that seriously.
I won’t tell people you’re lying about my boyfriend raping you and to not believe you. That would only be a slap in the face to any woman who has ever feared coming public about her rape and I don’t want to discourage anyone from standing up for herself (or himself, because men can be raped too). It’s up to each individual to decide what they think. But I’ll stand my ground and say I personally don’t believe you are telling the truth. The facts don’t add up and, after my experiences with you, you could tell me the sky is blue and I’d have to look up and check for myself. Each person reacts to sexual assault differently and there’s no right or wrong way to cope with it. “We women need to stand together.” I agree. That starts with supporting each other and being true to ourselves and others. Spreading false allegations goes against all of that and ultimately tears us down. And falsely accusing someone of a vicious crime like rape is a betrayal of human decency. It does nothing to strengthen women.
I’m in no way letting my boyfriend off the hook for the emotional turmoil I endured while he had an open relationship with you. The dynamics of our relationship have forever changed and even though I now believe we will come out stronger than ever because of this, it hasn’t been easy and I still have my own episodes of trauma that are triggered by everyday things. I can’t walk into my bathroom without seeing the plexiglass that replaces the window you shattered. There are places I avoid going to, songs I can’t listen to, shows I can’t watch. My boyfriend is responsible for a lot of this. You are responsible for a lot of this. I’ve been working to heal myself and do what’s right for me. What my boyfriend and I do is our business. You get no say in that. When you regurgitate cliches about taking back what’s yours and getting closure, you are oblivious to the fact that other people feel that way and you are a reason why.
Even in the midst of me writing this letter, you’ve yet again reached out to me. You texted me just now to tell me your story of what happened. And you started by conceeding that “I know what I did was wrong.” But you follow it up with how terrible it was to explain to your boyfriend that you cheated on him. That’s where your remorse is. The only apology you offer me is, “I’m sorry that you have to go through this. You’re a good person and don’t deserve to be treated like dirt by this cheating rapist asshole.” That’s as good as saying, “This guy is bad for you because he’s a cheater who cheated on you. With me. But HE CHEATED ON YOU.”
You also say this:
“I warned him to stay away at first. Then I gave him a chance to talk to me in hopes of at least an apology. But he won’t give me one, or acknowledge me.”
You told him to leave you alone, and then got mad that he won’t talk to you or acknowledge that you’re telling everyone you work with that he’s a rapist?
What if he had apologized? Would you have been as concerned about my safety and well-being then? Or would an apology make you change your mind about his character and determine that I’d be fine?
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that you’re antagonizing us. You began putting ambiguous tweets on Twitter but we didn’t react (we weren’t following you because you “unfriended” us, remember?). You tried adding me back on social media but we didn’t react. You called my boyfriend repeatedly at all hours of the day and night but we didn’t react. You tweeted at me but we didn’t react.
Yesterday you tweeted, “I refused to be silenced. He gets to do this to at least two people and walks around with no consequences. That’s fucked.” So now you’re claiming my boyfriend has raped TWO people. This is new information. Is it because, perhaps, we didn’t react?
The icing on the cake is that you made it a point to tweet a picture from your otherwise private Instagram account of the moped you just bought. I’m sure it’s just coincidence that my boyfriend and I are moped riders and I work in a moped shop. It has nothing to do with trying to get under our skin, I bet.
I had come so close to forgetting about you and putting this chapter of my life behind me. I have other things to worry about in my life and I go out of my way to avoid confrontation in an effort to eliminate this kind of high school gossip fodder. I want to make it clear that I’m not wishing you ill will. For all I know, you could truly believe you’re in the right. And I know that some of your actions are fueled by having bipolar disorder. As someone diagnosed with major depression, anxiety, ADHD and OCD, I know how challenging it is to manage mental illness and that symptoms rear their ugly heads in ways we don’t expect. You told my boyfriend you’re in therapy and taking medication now. You said it’s because of him. I’m not being snide when I say I hope it helps you. It took me many years of different doctors and medication combinations to find the one that works for me.
I’m not going to tell you I’m here for you. If I never see or hear from you again, I won’t be upset. But I hope you’re able to move past whatever it is you’re going through. No one deserves to be miserable. I didn’t write this to be a jerk, nor was I put up to it by my boyfriend or anyone else. I bit my tongue for as long as I could but you persisted and this is the result. I’m not great with social situations and I can be a bitchy, negative person but in my heart, I don’t wish bad things on anyone. Even you. I can at least look back on and remember times when I enjoyed your company. I sincerely wish things hadn’t degenerated to this level. But there are some things we can’t change and in this instance, too much damage has been done. You mentioned you were getting the police involved. So be it. The last time I was involved in a legal battle, the plaintiff submitted evidence against me by screenshotting Facebook posts about me taking shits and not flushing and leaving used tampons laying around. This is permanent public record in Oakland County. I have no shame. You can try bringing up photographs or other alleged stuff to try to intimidate or embarass me but, aside from possibly answering some awkward questions from my parents, it’s not going to do anything to me. I was bullied for the first half of my life. There’s nothing you can do to me that hasn’t already been done. So don’t try to use me as a pawn in a fight against my boyfriend.
In the immortal words of your boyfriend, “Don’t ever fucking text me again.”
P.S. – the next closest shop dedicated to moped repair from Detroit is Chicago. If something happens to your Puch Maxi, the Moped Army website has resources to help you fix it yourself.