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The Men Whom I Trust After My Past Trauma

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I just spent three days in an apartment with four guys.

Many would raise their eyebrows at this situation. Single gal just out of college spending the night in a bachelor pad? It seems additionally odd when you take into account that I have sexual manipulation and pain in my past. In my waking and sleeping thoughts, that past haunts me, weighs on me and has shaped how much I distrust men.

I’m lucky though. In college, I was able to find some healing and was in a community where I met men who were good. Truly good. They do still exist.

Of these men, there are six in particular who I trust. And here’s what “trust” means. I know:

— You are not going to take advantage of my emotions or body.

— You treat me as a friend, not as a possession, pet or burden.

— Your touch is safe, not invasive. Same with your thoughts.

— I feel safe around you. Safe enough to fall asleep, laugh and admit I’m struggling.

Of these six men, four were in that apartment the last few days. Three live there. One drove two hours to come get me, and then three hours to get to the others — a five-hour drive that could have been much shorter for him. But my car is old and unreliable, and I hate traveling alone anyway. He came all that way for me… and then drove me back.

Who am I to deserve a friend who does that?

Who am I to deserve friends whom I don’t feel like an “extra” or a “burden” around, even if I’m the only female in the group?

Who am I to be on the floor laughing with tears coming out of my eyes (that actually happens in real life?) multiple times in a span of 72 hours?

Why are they going to the extra effort of having the toilet seat down in a bachelor pad?

Who am I to get the front seat, even when three men in the back is uncomfortable?

Me coming was extra incentive for them to take the day off of work? Me? I was wanted here?

These are people who don’t look at me strangely when I need to sit with my back to the wall, or ask them to stop playing with the restaurant knives, or take my medicine, or randomly wake up with a shout. (OK, that last one did get a look of surprise).

They let me randomly hug them or put my head on their shoulders; we know it’s platonic in both directions, and sometimes I just need to know there’s a male touch that’s safe, even comforting.

They know I’m struggling; they even know some of the issues in my past, and they just roll with it.

My distrust of men and abusive past are not the sum of my problems. My anxiety has debilitated me to the point where I can only work part-time. My depression makes it hard to sleep, hard to wake up and hard to think of the future with anything other than an exhausted dread. It’s difficult to leave the house, to have the energy to carry on conversations, to have any sort of pressure put on me. Yet, these last few days, I did it all happily because I felt safe enough to stretch out of my comfort zone. I was less afraid of being wrong, being judged or being hurt.

I lay down on the couch at night, one of these men sleeping on the floor a few feet from me, and I wasn’t afraid. Not of him, not of nightmares, not of anything else. I just listened to his breathing and the snoring down the hall, and smiled to myself because I felt so lucky. They make me smile. They give me hope. They care.

I keep thanking and thanking the one for making the extra trip for me.

“Don’t worry about it, silly goose. It was worth it to have another adventure!”

“Well, it was an adventure I didn’t necessarily have to be a part of, but was wanted for anyway. That means so much.”

I wish words could convey how much. I wish he and the others could understand how special and amazing they are, simply by being good men, and good friends to me.

Thanks, guys. From the core of my being, thank you.

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

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Originally published: August 29, 2017
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