I said there were two things. This is the second one.

C’s phone is switched off. I don’t think I mentioned that. This has been the fourth day now. She does not respond to me, but I still call her. Sometimes I text, but mostly I call. I don’t know that she really notices this. Lots of people call her and she doesn’t respond to them. Her history of missed calls is sometimes quite lengthy. Then TW, her teammate, tells me she is in what we can call Football Town. It’s possible I was supposed to know this, and did not quite understand my jumbled exchanges with both C and with C’s mom. It means I don’t really know where C is. TW says C is not in Y-Town, as was the original plan. They are neighbours, and C’s family needs to move their things out of their old house still, so probably TW would know if C had come.

It freaks me out not to know where she is. That sense of no “there there” is intensely triggering for me. The night before, I had a terrible nightmare that she was going to live with her parents next year instead of studying here and it was really awful. I could not calm down for a long time. It was like she was going to die.

This morning, I woke up anxious in the small hours again—2 or 3. My brain did anxious-y things. It tried to reason in this clunky, detail-oriented way that’s kind of maddening in the middle of the night when you want to sleep. In the end, I did sleep, but when I woke up after daylight, I still felt anxious. All flat and dissociated and anxious. Not nice.

No “there there” has to do with my dad and murders and dead bodies. I know this, but it doesn’t always help to know it. Sometimes it makes no difference in the calming down process to be more self-aware. I still refuse to calm down. I still don’t know how to calm down.

But I worked at it and maybe in the end got there.

The thing I hadn’t realized was it is everything together. It is the absence of my friends—their sense of being “missing” because I cannot find all their body parts. It is the horror of being surrounded by bits of a human being. And it is my dad’s sexual abuse.

He took girls to his workshop, did terrible things to their bodies, and then sexually abused me their among their body parts. It’s shattering. Completely shattering.

What is even more shattering for me to realize is that he created sexual pleasure for me. I had to be an enthusiastic partner—my life clearly depended on it. I mean, these girls were murdered. It wasn’t a stretch to think that he could do that to me. But he also made an effort at it. I wasn’t just faking it.

The horrible thing about it is that it suggests he had some capacity to care. He cared how my body felt to me. He cared enough to note my sexual response to him, to adjust what he did to create a stronger response in me, but he did not care beyond that. It was this very narrow stripe of paying attention to me and responding to me. My general emotional state—horrified, afraid, disgusted, grief-stricken—was not of interest. Nor was my overall, long-term well-being.

It’s devastating. He could care. But he didn’t. He cared when it allowed him to pursue his own desires, but not in other contexts. To explain that better, it’s like I had assumed he was simply missing some capacity to care, like having no electricity. But he was not entirely without it. It’s more like he flipped a switch off.


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