I got blindsided today.
On Sunday mornings I go to a freestyle, family-oriented dance jam. I have been going for several years now, and I enjoy dancing to the wide variety of music (which is deejayed) and connecting with people of all ages. It’s a wonderful community and has been a lifesaver to me during my recovery.
So, this morning I was there, as usual, dancing away and in walks in S. (Okay, yes, initials are weird, but aren’t they better than picking some random name?)
S is a lovely person. She has also been friends with Dr. T for quite some time. Dr. T introduced me to her in 2001, right around the time he started having sex with me. S was in the healing arts, and Dr. T referred me to her for bodywork. S and I used to trade sessions and even went to a weekend workshop together. I liked her a lot and hoped we could develop a friendship. But since I was having this secret sexual involvement with Dr. T, that made things a bit tricky. Especially since S was also the bodyworker—and friend—of Dr. T’s then wife.
(You might think a smart man would have made sure to keep the patient he was sexually abusing as far away from his wife and friends as possible. Dr. T played things a bit differently. Of course, before he had sex with me he assured me that he and his wife hadn’t had sex in a couple of years and that they had some kind of open “arrangement.” Though I bought into this story easily—why would I doubt him?—I suspect this “arrangement” would have been news to the wife…)
So, I didn’t pursue a friendship with S. You can’t really be friends with people that you have to lie to on a regular basis. The last time I saw her was at a benefit in 2005 where Dr. T was deejaying. (Yes, he does that, too.) Two years ago, I tried contacting her. I had no idea if she knew anything about the lawsuit, the licensing complaint, or my situation with Dr. T. I doubted that he had told her anything and wasn’t even sure whether they were still friends. I left her a phone message saying that I’d love to be back in touch but that there were problems between me and Dr. T, so I’d understand if that were a conflict for her. She declined to pursue contact with me, and I dropped it.
And then she walks into my dance sanctuary this morning.
As soon as I saw her I started to panic and shake. Was it S?? It sure looked like her! Oh my God, what was I going to do?! Did she know anything? What would I say?! My heart was pounding and I started to have trouble breathing. There was no way to separate S from Dr. T. In my mind, they were inextricably linked.
We made eye contact and she recognized me. I walked over to greet her and we hugged and said hi. Then she looked at me and said, “Are you okay? You’re shaking.” Well, what the heck was I supposed to say to that?? I was having a freaking PTSD reaction and I couldn’t stop it. So I said, “I have PTSD.” I told her that seeing her was a little weird, because of the [Dr. T] stuff, that it wasn’t personal, but that because of the association with him I was having a reaction. She asked if there was anything she could do, and I said no, I probably just needed to keep moving. I knew if I sat down or went off by myself that I would start to bawl, and I just didn’t want to do that. I wanted to dance. I needed to dance. So that’s what I did.
I’m not sure how long it took for me to stop shaking and settle down. Even with the exertion from dancing, it was probably a good half hour before I felt reasonably normal. It helped that I had friends there and could get hugs and support, but man it was weird having S there the whole time. I had no idea whether she knew anything or if she was going to say something to me. (She didn’t.) My head kept spinning thoughts of Dr. T. Was she still friends with him? Was she on “his side”? Would she call him later and ask him what the heck had happened with me? I mean, it must have been weird for her—me standing there shaking and saying I had PTSD that was somehow linked to Dr. T!
I spent the rest of the dance trying to focus on dancing. I didn’t want to interact with S, but I also didn’t want her to feel like I was avoiding her. (Ah, those co-dependent habits die hard…) Really, Dr. T was the problem, not her. Except…
Well, of course I wanted her support. I wanted her on my side, not his. But it’s like I’ve said before—people believe what they want to believe and once they’ve chosen a story, they tend to stick with it. Not everyone is open to hearing someone else’s truth. And trying to change their minds can be a futile battle. I’m learning to pick my fights. This wasn’t one of them.
She stayed to the end of the dance and we parted with a simple goodbye. Nothing else was asked or said.
For me, well, I still have PTSD apparently. But I’ve cleared another hurdle. And that’s a good thing. I also know that I have friends and support and that people care about me.
Things are getting better.