Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Sophomore dorm, abdomen surgery, theme songs, and David Bowie

3 short David Bowie anecdotes

I never fell deeply in love with David Bowie, like I fell in love with Storm Large or Of Monsters and Men or Joni Mitchell.

But I love David Bowie. His music is amazing, definitely a part of my life, and I mostly love him because he was weird and quirky and awesome.

Anecdote #1
During my sophomore year of high school, I moved in to the Alpha dorms at Western Washington University in Bellingham. My roommate had already secured on the wall a huge painting that she had done; it was David Bowie's face. He had red hair, and his head was probably 4 feet tall, almost the entire size of the canvas.

At the time, I had heard of David Bowie, liked his music, but had no idea the music I liked was David Bowie's. This is so typical of the music in my life; I listen to the radio, listen to Pandora, go to bars and clubs, and have my favorite songs. But it is not often that I know who the musicians are that sing my favorite songs. So was the case with Bowie; I love his music, but only recently discovered that it was his music.

All during my sophomore year of college, David Bowie's face looked down over my roommate and me as we studied, watched movies, slept... He was like a 3rd roommate, a constant presence, a work of beauty that I both loved and was in awe of, a painting that could have been sold for hundreds of dollars and was just sitting in a college dorm room by an undiscovered artist, my roommate Nina. That year with Bowie gave me a greater appreciation for the man, and formed a connection that I wouldn't have had with him otherwise.

Anecdote #2
Several years ago, I had a minor abdomen surgery. It was only about 45 minutes, and when I awoke in my hospital room, everything was foggy. I barely remember what the nurse said to me. But I do remember one thing she said:

"And if it feels like it's under pressure, let the doctor know."

Without skipping a beat, and while I was still coming out of anesthesia, I said, "Under pressure. David Bowie." It was like I was answering a trivia question. I'm pretty sure I fell back asleep afterwards, thinking my work there was done. Even under anesthesia, I know who is responsible for "Under Pressure."

Anecdote #3
Some of us have theme songs. Little tunes we hum to ourselves, full songs that we sing over and over again in the shower, things that rattle around in our head. My theme song, the one I find myself humming during my week, prompting me through my day, is a Bowie song. I'm not sure why it's my theme song; I don't know why those 7 notes of the chorus resonate with me, run through my head when I run or do housework. But they do. His songs are very catchy, and for years, maybe decades, one of his songs has been a part of me.

That's the funny thing, though. Even though I wouldn't have said I was a die-hard fan of Bowie's, even though I never saw him perform live or never met him or even gave much thought to him on a day to day basis, he still was a presence in my life, and will continue to be so. He is still my theme song, I talked about him while still under anesthesia, and he watched over me my entire sophomore year of college. Somehow, we are all connected on this earth, we reach people and touch people without ever knowing it, we impact each other in interesting and amazing ways on a daily basis. And each of us, rock stars and fans and family members and managers and teachers and students and neighbors, is a valuable part of this world, a world that is all about connection and relationships. And with the loss of Bowie, I was reminded of how each of us is so valuable and important, more than we will ever know.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Dream Visits

Do you ever dream about those who have passed away? I love seeing my loved ones again, and somehow, when I wake up, I feel like some healing has taken place with my grief.

Ever since Ati passed away in 2008, I have dreamt about her probably at least a dozen times. The tone and the content of the dreams have varied over the years, but in every single dream, she has always been so warm and affectionate, just like she was before she passed away.

While she has remained unchanged between the two locations, life and after-life, I have changed. When she was here, I joked with her, thought up ways to make her laugh, learned funny words and songs in Farsi to surprise her with, tickled her, teased her, and generally acted like a kid who was learning what it was like to be loved by someone so loving, so maternal, and so affectionate, and not only loved but loved unconditionally. I was giddy with her; I was silly and innocent and child-like, just like a little kid is who knows she is loved always. And then we would have these wonderful, mature, adult conversations, and I loved those just as much, because it meant that Ati saw me as an adult and a peer and her equal, someone she could trust with stories of her life, with her hopes for the
future, and with struggles in her life. We had a great relationship and understanding of the importance we had in each other's lives.

But now, in my dreams, I am different. As much as I love seeing her, I am usually heartbroken. I go from crying to hugging her to asking her, "But why aren't you here anymore?" I have such a longing within me for her to be with me, not just in my dreams but physically present in my life. I see her in my dreams and I immediately burst into tears, just because I have missed her so much these past 7 years. She was someone I had waited for my whole life; she filled something in my life that I had lacked since I was a young kid, before I even started going to school. And our time together was so brief.

Last night, I dreamt her as she would be in 2015 were she still here. At this time, she would have been 64 years old, instead of the 57 years old when she passed away. I dreamt that her hair had turned gray, and it was this soft, fluffy gray that suited her very well. Her face had a few more wrinkles, and she looked like a grandmother, which, in a matter of days, she would have been as her daughter is currently 8 months pregnant. This is the first time in my dreams that she has appeared as she would have been at age 64; usually, she visits me in her 50's, the last time I saw her.

When I awoke, I was sobbing. My dog Vinnie was lying next to me, maybe there to comfort me or
maybe just used to me crying and vocalizing during my dream state. And as I tried so desperately to return to the dream, or at least to let it linger in my thoughts instead of drifting away like morning clouds, I realized that in a way, Ati had moved on. Wherever she is, whatever she is doing, she is not the 57-year old woman who passed away from cancer. She is doing what she is doing, visiting people in dreams and loving me and preparing to be a grandmother, although a bit more distant than we would prefer. It is 2015, and as much as I would like it to be 2008 to be able to see her again, or for there to be a cure for cancer that would save her, it is 2015. And as the years go by, as I process my life around me, I heal a little bit more from the grief of losing her.

A couple years after she passed away, she visited me in a dream, and all she wanted to do was talk about Alfred Hitchcock's movies. This is something we did when she was alive; Ati went to college in Los Angeles in the 1970's, and loved the Hollywood scene. She got 2 master's degrees in the arts (graphic design and photography), and loved anything that had to do with art and movies and music. And she was particularly fascinated by Alfred Hitchcock. She didn't necessarily think he was a good guy, but was intrigued by the stories of his directing style. Tippy Hendron was of particular interest to her, and how her career was affected by Hitchcock. In this dream, I was again heartbroken, but Ati just hugged me and chatted about Hitchcock. She was not there bemoan why she passed away; she just wanted to have a conversation with me like we used to have in Canada, sitting on her couch and discussing everything Hollywood. That dream affected me too; she had moved on, and was continuing the relationship where we left off. Why couldn't I?

I wish that I could just enjoy the dreams, talk with her, maybe ask her how she is doing in the after-life rather than crying every time I see her. I would like to tell her that I am gay, although she must already know. I would like to tell her about her soon-to-be grandson, and tell her about the baby shower that we had a couple months ago. I would like to ask her what she thinks for a name for her grandson. I would like to say, "Hey, thanks for visiting me. It is so good to see you." Because that's all it is; I am so happy to see her each time because I have really missed her. And instead of sobbing each and every time, maybe it is time to move on and just enjoy these visits with my very good friend.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Childhood dreams

When I was a young child, I had 3 main dreams, or goals:

1. I wanted to live to be 100 years old. That seemed like success to me. 
2. I wanted to live in a mansion and invite my grandparents to move in. Living in a mansion seemed like success, and of course I wanted my grandparents to be there!
3. I wanted to go to Africa. The details around this dream are a little fuzzy, but it was something I needed to do.

Then life happens, and we grow up, and we lose some of our naivete. We still want to be able to dream as children do, but some things may not seem as important, or as attainable, as they were in our early youth.

My current goals:
1. I want to be closer to God.
2. I clearly do NOT want to live in a mansion; rather, get rid of almost all my "stuff" and live as sparsely as possible.
3. To keep going to Africa.

I think it's okay for our childhood dreams to change. It doesn't mean that we are giving up, or that we are resigning ourselves to something else. Conditions change, we get a different view of the world, and many times, it is a smarter, more mature view of what is really going on.

Jesus does ask us to enter into the kingdom of heaven as a little child. And if we can keep that mindset, even as our childhood goals change, that is the important part. To be open and accepting, easy to mold and to change, we are like children even in our adulthood.

When God doesn't return your calls

God is my best friend. He's my buddy, my Father, my Mother, my family, my Soul, my Life... He's everything. And right now we're not talking. Or, rather, I'm not talking to Him. I'm sure He's still trying to talk to me. Which would make it appear that the title of this blog is all wrong. But I beg to differ. While God may be trying to talk to me, He is not talking in a language that I can understand. I feel that I have been calling Him for months, wanting an answer, and He is not giving me an answer. I don't even care if the answer is "No," although a "Yes" would be much more favorable. He is just not giving me an answer at all. He is flat-out ignoring the question, and running me around on a wild goose chase. So in that sense, He is not answering my calls. And so we're not talking at the moment.

It's not a conscious decision to not talk to God. I just feel frustrated at the moment, and not willing to put everything down and go to Him. I'm tired. I'm sad. I'm angry. And while I know that God is the best decision, the best choice, the best of everything, I find it difficult to even think about Him right now.

I've never ever ever before in my life not talked to God. He's always been there for me, ever since I was 5 years old. That's the first time I remember having an independent relationship with Him, apart from going to Sunday School with my family when I was much younger. In Sunday School, it was more of a group thing, a social thing, than a relationship that I could foster and develop on my own time. And the first time I started an independent connection with Him was the single greatest day of my life. He knew I needed Him, even when I didn't, but as soon as the relationship started, I knew that it was important, and I knew that I was happy. It was like there was this friend, this "guy," that I could talk to anytime I wanted, night or day, 3pm or 3am, and He was always there. And there was a promise there, a promise that He would always take care of me and protect me and listen to me.

I DO remember being angry with God before. I was 8 or 9 years old, and I was having an especially difficult time with a person in my life. The relationship between this person and myself was starting to take its toll. The difficult times were lingering, and I was young and innocent and scared. And angry. I remember that one day, while sitting by myself, I started talking to God. Or yelling at God, but I prefer to use the verb "talking." :) "What is going on?" I said. "This is ridiculous. Why does this keep happening?" I started to cry, not tears of sadness but tears of anger. I was so angry with God. Not with the person that seemed to be causing some strife in my life, but with God. Why was He letting this happen? He was supposed to be protecting me, caring for me, acting like my best friend. Where was He? What was He thinking? Well, the tough times continued for a bit longer, but after that one outburst, I don't ever remember being angry at God again. Until now, of course.

I am so grateful to God for everything He has done for me. I'm so grateful for the gifts in my life, the blessings, the love, the joy, the happiness, the rainbows and balloons... I'm sooo grateful. And on a daily basis, I really DO feel grateful. I feel that I am so incredibly blessed, and that my cup runneth over. Many days, I feel like there's been some sort of mistake. I feel that I have won the lottery on friends, or on family, or on the number of gifts in my life, and I didn't even buy a ticket... I feel that somehow, through some oversight by an angel or by God Himself, I have been given far more than I deserve. These are the days I post ridiculously sweet, sacharin, sentimental posts on Facebook. But I can't help it. I know that I have been blessed, and I'm bursting with so much love and joy and positive energy that I can't seem to contain it. I have to express my gratitude or I will explode.

And then there's now. I AM grateful for what is in my life. The gifts, most definitely the people, the joy. But I am also pretty upset. Why? you ask. Well, I would need another 20 pages to explain why. But the intricate yet boring details of the "why" don't really matter. What matters is that I'm struggling right now and I don't feel that God is hearing me. I don't feel like God is really giving it His all... I feel like saying, "You are 'the Great I Am,' for Pete's sake. Put some effort into this!" Well, that's probably disrespectful, blasphemous, sacreligious, but there you have it.

And for the first time ever, not only are we not talking, but I'm starting to doubt that there is a God. Does he indeed exist? He's always been there for me, I know this. But I really don't feel Him right now. And I feel that a lot of things that happen, in my life and in other people's lives, are just examples of senseless suffering. What is the purpose here? What is going on? I'm really trying to sift out my thoughts, trying to figure out why things happened in my life the way they happened, and why things are happening now. I know this post must sound ridiculous without details of what's happening, but let's just focus on the overarching theme right now (Hint: It's "God"), and then I can post this post without exposing too much for the moment. I can give 1 personal story, though.

I'm pretty sensitive. I've recently been aware of how sensitive I am, through a series of recent events. One evening, I stepped on a snail. When I realized what I had done, I was crushed... almost as much as the snail (that's a joke, a play on words... nevermind). I knelt down next to him, and when I realized it was too late, I considered what I might do next. I saw his snail friend next to him, and I debated, for a good 60 seconds or so, whether I should move his friend to the side of the walkway to protect him, or whether he could figure it out on his own and I should leave him next to his friend so he could grieve. Finally I came to my senses and moved the little alive guy over. Another example: I was swimming a few days earlier, and kept seeing bees in the water. One bee seemed to still be alive, and so I scooped him out of the water and tossed him up onto the ledge of the pool. He still seemed to be struggling, so I blew a steady stream of air over his back and wings to get rid of some of the water. After a few seconds, he seemed okay and he flew away. I'm sure tons of people do things like this. I just feel that for me, I have way to much emotional capital invested in these little guys. If the bee had drowned, if someone had walked by and stepped on the snail as I was deciding what to do with him, I would have felt so guilty. I would be disproportionately affected by these things. So... here comes the tie-in with God. Knowing what kind of a person I am, as He made me, why would He place me in an abrasive, rough situation as a young child? I don't understand why God would put me in such a situation. He knows me, my soul and my heart and my tenderness and my sensitivity. He knows that I love people and animals and everything on this earth, and that I grieve over any loss, whether it's a person or an animal or a flower. It's not like the abrasive situation I was in when I was younger made me tough or insensitive or strong against these things. I'm still tender to a fault, affected by things that have nothing to do with me and nothing to do with my life.
In the book The Secret Life of Bees, there is a character named May who feels everything so strongly. She can't listen to the news anymore, she can't be in the same room if her family members are arguing with one another, she can't handle the stress or the emotional effects of experiencing anything sad or tense in her life. I feel like that sometimes; I feel like I can't handle some types of loss. Yesterday I was crying over a news story I read, about an Ethiopian couple that passed away in Dallas on Wednesday. I didn't know these people, I had no connection to them, but I couldn't stop crying. And it just seemed so unfair... This couple had just returned home from working a 16-hour shift at their restaurant, only to pass away later that night. They have this 1-year-old child who is fine, but who now doesn't have parents. This couple came from Ethiopia to America to improve their quality of life, to give their children better opportunities, a better life. As I was reading this story, I couldn't help but think, "They would have been better off if they'd stayed in Ethiopia." I don't understand stuff like this. Why did it happen? These people were working hard, they were feeding people which is a total language of love... I don't get it. And I don't understand why God would allow that to happen. There have been many instances, thousands probably, where a gun didn't go off. Where a tire blew out and the car never made it to its destination. Where a killer had a change of heart halfway to his victims' house. Why not in this instance? Why was the gun allowed to fire, the car to continue running, the suspect to stay focused on his goal?

2015: I still don't understand why things happen. But I realize that it is not from God, that He is not the creator of anything negative or bad. He is all good, and is only the cause of good.

Grief - 1 year later

In the year since I found out a dear friend passed away, I have written probably a dozen blog posts about her. In that year, I feel that I have gained a lot of insights into life and death, grieving and loss, and the love and gratitude that continues after someone passes on. To mark the year, here is one more post, with even more of the seemingly endless revelations that we have when we seek the Truth, when we ask for guidance and comfort, and when we are so full of love for someone that we realize that our grief is just unexpressed love, desperate to make that connection with those we've lost.

A year ago I called a friend overseas, and found out that she had unexpectedly passed away. What happened over the next few months was somewhat normal in our society but very strange to me as I had never experienced anything like it before. I began having physical, visceral reactions to the loss, time after time after time, long after I thought the initial shock and intensity of the grief should have worn off. I would be walking home, or cooking dinner, or in the middle of church, and would suddenly start crying. Many times I had to sit down because my legs felt weak and apt to collapse under me. Over these few months since the news, I talked with a friend who was with me at the time I found out. And each time I talked with her, I said, "I feel like I should be healed of this grief by now, but I'm not. I am having such a hard time." She always responded so lovingly, patiently, and reminded me that we never really stopped missing that person. The grief would become easier to manage, it wouldn't physically knock us down forever, but that we would always miss those who went on before us. Because of course we would always miss them; our love for them didn't stop just because they passed away, and, as mentioned above, the grief is just the inability to express love, or to receive love, in the way that we did when they were still here on Earth with us.

Another dear friend said to me, "Your good is not all wrapped up in that person." This was so helpful for me to hear, as I realized that I felt something essential to my identity was lost when they passed away. They saw my good, they validated my worthiness, they listened as I shared my pain. Because they were one of only a very small number of people who saw the most vulnerable sides of me, when they passed away, I suddenly didn't feel validated anymore. The inner circle, my village, shrank by 1 person. I felt debilitated. But when I came to realize that I was still the same person, still worthy, and that my goodness didn't die, I felt a bit more like I was standing on my own 2 feet.

Just because, I am going to use an analogy here. Let's say I am given a beautiful painting, or even that I painted it myself. The painting is full of vibrant colors, textures, tones... There is a richness, a beauty that is indescribable. And then let's say the painting is destroyed in a fire. I remember what the painting looked like, I can talk about the painting to friends and family, but the painting is not there anymore. The physical proof of its existence, the actual manifestation of everything involved in the painting, is gone. It's maddening to want to see the painting again, to want to show someone how amazingly beautiful the depth of it is, and to not be able to. And no amount of wanting or grieving is going to bring the painting back.

I know that the grief lessens, either through time, or through moments of healing, or a little bit of both. Sometimes it lessens because we realize that even after the person is physically gone, we can still feel their love or their presence in our lives. Last year, the night before I found out my friend had passed, I was having a hard time sleeping. I was feeling panicky for some reason, not able to relax. Suddenly, I remembered a conversation that she and I had had a few months earlier when I was again feeling anxious. During the earlier conversation, she talked me through some breathing exercises, keeping a firm but kind tone of voice. As I was remembering this past conversation, I started breathing more evenly, I remembered all of the love that was in that conversation, and I felt her presence right then. Of course, at the time of my remembering, she had passed on, but I didn't know that yet. A wonderful example of feeling someone's love whether they are still here with us or not.

One thing that has been amazingly helpful has been the opportunity to talk with my friends about her. It allows me to share a part of that relationship, that connection that I feel I have lost in some way. When we share our feelings or stories with another person, it  keeps that love that was present in the relationship still so present in our lives, and somehow seems to expand the love beyond the original relationship.

But still, there are so many moments where I think, "Is this grief ever going to lessen? Will I ever be able to hear "King and Lionheart" again without feeling like someone is ripping my heart out? More importantly, will I ever be able to speak Persian again?"

The Problem With Perfectionism

I have thought so much about this topic that I'm sure I've blogged about it before. And if you Google "The Problem With Perfection," you get 62 million results. So obviously, this is not a new concept. Perfectionism seems like such a lovely thing, something to strive for, yet 62 million links on Google paint a different picture. Huh.

At any given point, on any given day, I can rattle off at least 107 things that I've done in the past 24 hours that I'm not happy with. Conversations I've messed up, people I've offended, ways I've acted that eat away at me, messages I've sent that I now regret... I have a meticulous, detail-oriented process in place every second of my life that collects and catalogs every single one of my mistakes, all to be used against me at a later date when I'm feeling a little too confident about my self-worth or lovability.

But all of this is just not true: we are all worthy and lovable, despite making millions of mistakes in this lifetime. And this cataloging process is such a waste of time and energy. And it's incredibly self-centered. I think about all the other things I could be thinking about, OTHER PEOPLE for example, and wonder why I spend so much irreplaceable time focusing on my shortcomings.

Part of that, of course, is to try to improve myself, to prevent myself from making mistakes and falling short of my expectations of myself. But part of it is ignorance, thinking that I have to do something, be someone, to be worthy, and that if I make 1 mistake, I've ruined it all. Typing this out, I can see how ridiculous this sounds. But honestly, this is how my brain worked for decades.

Many of you know that I went on a transformative retreat for 27 days. It was an amazing experience, and definitely one of the most life-changing things I have ever done. During this time, I learned to love myself. I learned to embrace myself, shortcomings and all. And I learned techniques that will help me make less of the mistakes I used to make that I agonized over.

However, since coming back from the retreat, I have made some mistakes. Big, huge mistakes, things I did even during the first week I got back. The fact that I messed up so enormously almost knocked me off my feet; I was a changed person, I was new and improved! What was going on?

And then I realized, once again, that I wasn't perfect. I was still going to make mistakes, I was still human, and it was still all okay. At the retreat, the people there warned us that this was a process, a journey. It didn't mean that because we were there for 27 days, we would miraculously live out the rest of our days without problems or strife. We just had a better handle on things that came our way, and ways in which to reduce the problems that we ourselves created. They also warned us that people may have expectations of how we were going to be once we got home. They may have their own expectations of our newfound "perfection." The people I worked with at the retreat reiterated the fact that, yes, a lot of good work had been done, but that this was a starting point for continued work into the future. And they also said that it may require some conversations with people in our lives, whether they be spouses, children, parents, friends, or coworkers, to let them know what we had experienced, and their role in this. Sometimes, when we've had people in our lives who are so used to us talking and acting and being 1 way, it is hard to imagine a great change to take place. We tend to see our friends and family through filters of our past experiences with them. This is how we form relationships and become close with people: if every day was like the first day you met someone, you would never feel that sense of familiarity and closeness with them. However, it also makes it hard to accept changes in people, and sometimes it can prevent the changed person from embracing the changes if they constantly have to swim upstream against past-existing elements of their character.

We are human, and we all make mistakes. We hope that the mistakes we make don't do too much damage, and don't hurt the people around us, or ourselves. But sometimes, unfortunately, we do hurt the people around us. I know I've hurt people, and I know that in my life I will continue to make mistakes. Hopefully I won't make the same ones. And through it all, I will always seek and strive to be better.

Necessary Goodbyes

This past summer I said goodbye, purposefully, to 2 friends - to 2 friendships that I'd thought
I'd have for life.

I have never willingly said goodbye to a friend or a relationship in its entirety;  I've broken up with romantic partners before, but we have always remained friends if they have been willing to. Part of the reason for that is that generally the break ups are amicable; another reason for that is that even if something uncomfortable happened, if I've felt wronged in some way, I am generally a pretty forgiving person. I believe people get 2nd, 3rd, 4th chances, and even if we have been unable to continue the relationship in the same form, I don't give up on them as people. One of my favorite quotes comes from Audrey Hepburn:

"People have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone."

I have been incredibly blessed to have great friends and a supportive  network of people in my life. However, there have been several relationships over the course of my life that have been harmful to me, and even those I've kept. Again, Audrey Hepburn.

But something happened this summer. I reached the tipping point, the moment where something all too familiar occured and I said, "Enough." I think this has been the result of the years, the decades,
of "living while female," a dangerous sport that I know at least half of my friends are familiar with;
the concept of living in a world where rape culture and objectification are just par for the course.
This "living while female" is a lifestyle, not an anomalous occurence that a few unlucky women have to experience. And even though I'm writing about a couple of experiences that happened this summer and have somehow come to the decision to end these friendships, it has not been isolated to this summer. As a female, this experience is a daily reality and has been for me for decades. I don't expect it to change, but somehow the way I respond to it did; my response this summer has been unlike any response previously in my life.

The first friendship I closed the door on was with a man my age, someone I met randomnly but with whom I had a lot in common with. We spent tons of time together, in person and in communication through phone and through social media. For my own personal reasons, including the fact that I suspected this person may be somewhat homophobic, I did not disclose my sexuality to him.

However, from the first week we met, it became clear that he wanted more out of the relationship than I did, and I repeatedly told him that I was not nterested in dating him, and really no one for that matter. I explained that I was single and I loved being single, and we could remain friends but it would not go further than that. I was encouraged to give it a shot, to give him a shot, to give dating a shot. I declined, repeatedly. There was no question about my interest; I made it very clear that I was interested in being friends, but that's all I could offer.

Many people are probably wondering why I continued being this person's friend. At this point in the friendship, he wasn't doing anything inappropriate. Sure, he sent me an article about women who enjoy being single and how they found a partner when they least expected it. I thanked him for sending it to me and said that I was not going to be dating anyone anytime soon. It crossed my mind a few times to just tell him that I am gay, but it wasn't really his business anyway; my intentions were clear, and I had no need or obligation to expand on them if I didn't want to. Besides, for reasons I will not go into here, I didn't feel comfortable coming out to him as gay. He was still a relatively new friend, and I hadn't built up enough trust yet for that kind of disclosure. (Nevermind the fact that it was all over Facebook 2 years ago, so he could have discovered it himself if he scrolled back far enough.) But I didn't end the friendship because we both enjoyed each other's company, and I wasn't doing anything to lead him on, and if he wanted to hang out with me knowing that I was not going to date him, then that was his choice. He is a 33-year-old adult and can make that decision on his own, just as I can make the same decision about whom to hang out with. I just made sure I was clear about my intentions, and the rest was on him.

Then came the night that ended it for me. We'd made plans to hang out, and 2 hours after we were supposed to get together, he showed up at my house. He said he'd had to pick someone up at the airport and got delayed. That was fine; it was a Friday night, my birthday weekend, and I was pretty relaxed.

He also brought an entire bottle of vodka. I gave him a cup and he poured himself about half a shot, took 1 sip, and said that was enough. Then I noticed that he appeared already drunk. That was confirmed when he said he'd had a couple drinks with the person he picked up at the airport. He also said he didn't drink much and was already pretty wasted.

He started talking about how much he liked me, and how he wished we could date. I again told him that that was not an option, and that this conversation was getting boring for me; we'd had it over and over again for months. I explained he was a good friend, and that was all.

My friend appeared to become frustrated, and grabbed his keys to leave. I suggested he wait until he seemed less drunk and able to drive home safely, as he lived over 10 miles away. He insisted that he was fine, and I repeated that it might be better to wait. I told him that I had a guest room with a large bed, blankets, and pillows if he would like. I knew at this point that if he got into his car, he would most likely get into an accident, or quite possibly get a DUI. I didn't want him to be on the road and potentially kill himself or others because he was intoxicated.

After some back and forth, my friend decided to spend the night. And then a couple hours later, after I had gone to bed and had fallen asleep, he sexually assaulted me. It was not rape, but I am sure that if I hadn't woken up when I did, that would have occurred. I woke up to something so inappropriate and uncomfortable, and was partly shocked and partly angry. In my sleepy state, it was hard to fully understand what was happening, but then it became clear and I was so upset. My friend eventually left, having sobered up by that point, which made me even angrier as he wasn't even able to blame his actions on being drunk. He was well aware of what he was doing.

The next day, he texted. No apology, no explanation. Just an inquiry on how I was doing. Just a casual hello. And a question about getting together for my birthday.

I responded with 2 words: "No thanks." And then I repeated the word "No" several times in response to his repeated messages. Maybe he hadn't taken my previous "No's" seriously when I told him I didn't want to date him, when I told him I didn't want to sleep with him, and when I told him that I didn't want to marry him. So I kept saying, "No" and nothing else. I thought about calling the police, but did not. I thought about calling the person he is staying with, rent-free, and decided against it. I just needed to think about what to do. All I decided on was that I could not hang out with this person again. This was a very new idea for me; I have been mistreated in the past by a few different people in my life, and never before have I decided that the relationship was over. I don't know if I just didn't think I was good enough, or that I didn't deserve to be treated well, but for some reason I had never before walked out of a relationship. I felt so used and degraded, and like an object that he had wanted that was not available, and so he decided to take it anyway. What started as a night where I probably saved his life and maybe the lives of others, and probably saved him from a DUI and a fine and potential jail time, ended with him thanking me by sexually assaulting me. I was so angry.

A few days later, after many more messages and attempts to contact me, I told him why I was upset. Maybe he didn't remember? Maybe he was still drunk when it happened, even hours after drinking, and really had no idea what he'd done?

So I told him. And his response was, "I'm sorry that you're upset. We all do things in life, we make mistakes, and we forgive each other. That's life."

This made me so angry as well. This was not an apology! It was an explanation of why his behavior was okay and why I needed to forgive him. Why was it my job to forgive him for this? And if I did forgive him, which at this point I think I have, why did I need to interact with him, talk with him, be continually bothered with messages and attempts at conversation? He crossed the line, and broke that trust, and there should have been no doubt in his mind from my repeated declarations that I did not want to date him.

A couple weeks later, I received yet more messages from him. And I just told him that I was not able to talk with him anymore. That we wanted different things, that he had hurt me. I didn't want to talk with him anymore.

He still sends me messages from time to time. I ignore them, and will continue to do so, until I figure out what I am going to do next, whether it is go to the police or just again ask him to not talk to me again. Every time I get his messages, I feel irritated, like he hasn't listened to me, that he still hasn't listened to what I want or need or don't want or need. I want him to listen to me without me having to go to the police, and I don't understand why he doesn't comprehend that I don't want him in my life anymore.