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My third Chinese cigarette

I had four cigarettes from Beijing left. They are as awful as six year old cheap Chinese cigarettes who have travelled through three continents in a backpack can be. I did not want to throw them out, I did not just want to smoke them, so I attached a task to each of them. Every task involved something I was nervous about. One was about trying to integrate myself again in the group of my Icelandic acquaintances. Another was my celebration of finding a job after two years of rambling through the Americas. The third came with an epiphany:

Confronting someone who abused you is useless. In most ways at least. I probably would not have subjected myself to the whole experience had I not been subjected to his presence too much for comfort due to Iceland being tiny.
Here is what to expect when one finds oneself in this situation:

  • Denial

  • It simply did not happen. The time you were stuck in a car with him having a go at you for forgetting the keys while you just kept repeating "but I could have just stayed with my friend": a figment of your imagination, just like all the similar encounters you remember clearly and which caused you to tiptoe around him never knowing what would set him off next.

    I actually believe him. It wasn't memorable to him, he just needed an outlet for his anger and there I was. It just goes to show that abuse is not about any actions of the abusee, but emotional issues the abuser transfers to his/her victim.

    The important thing to remember is that your abuser does not get to decide on the importance of these events. But more on this in the next point.

  • Reframing / Downplaying

  • The constant hurtful comments were only a joke.
    Your possessions were kept hostage because he did not know you needed them back urgently (despite the emails clearly stating that you did).

    You misunderstood the situation and him loudly and angrily telling you that you are trying to manipulate people after seeing one (1) histogram when you were in the middle of exploratory data analysis was actually a discussion about statistics.

    It happened only one time (though it didn't).

    I was just worried about you (anger equals caring in an abusive persons mind) and therefore I tried to keep you from doing things / was angry at you for doing what you wanted to do.

    It is simple. If you feel unsafe and threatened no "explanation" can justify that. Which leads us to the next point.

  • The responsibility for the experienced abuse is firmly placed on oneself

  • The pinnacle of not taking responsibility for ones actions. The famous "you made me angry". Or in my case "I thought I would have to hurt you because...". This seems ridiculously obvious, but the sad truth is that it is common for abused people to believe this kind of reasoning. I remember wondering what was it about me that provoked all this anger.

    Which was the only positive result of this conversation. I finally saw through the bullshit. I decided to break off the conversation and to keep this person out of my life, however inconvenient it might be in Iceland.

So what now? I asked myself smoking my awful, awful cigarette. I decided to take the advice from a presentation about being a female content creator on the internet:

1. Your health and safety are important
2. Find a good places.

It might be heartbreaking and terribly unfair to be the one who has to leave. There are experiences and activities I miss doing with our common friends. Friends being nonchalant about the fact that I did not feel safe was hurtful.

I have found some of these good places now. Some with old friends who were extremely supportive and some with new, who did not know what was going on, but are incredibly nonjudgmental about me being twitchy sometimes. I like not stressing out and being able to sleep.

And I have one more cigarette left, though no idea which task to assign to it. Maybe I smoke it when I move out of this closet and finally found a flat with a shower.

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