I got a message from some rando saying, “I want to have sex with you. I’ll pay you lots of money. Sounds good, folks?”
Several things came up for me when reading this message.
First was, “What?” What? The second being Who is this folks? How many people are you propositioning, dude? What’s going on?
And then it was back to, “What?” Because it threw me back to this pattern I had when I was younger. Through high school and early college, police officers, random people on the street, my boyfriends would make fun of me and tell me I was a prostitute, or that I was behaving like a prostitute, or that I looked like a hooker.
Someone followed me down the street once, negotiating with himself on my price (his initial suggestion of $50 was too high in his estimation). It was a very strange interaction that really scared me.
Sex Work is a valuable service. Being a teenage girl not in the profession, I was scared and angry when these people, authority figures, would speak to me like this for wearing shorts and being myself.
I had no idea how to handle the energy in these situations. So my response was to shrink, make myself as small, as unnoticeable, and as unattractive as possible (a difficult task since I am none of those things).
The only thing I was doing by making myself smaller was creating space for more people who were drawn to my Negative Vulnerability.
In a Negative Vulnerability state, you are constantly afraid and completely at the mercy of other people's kindness to keep you safe. It is the least safe space you can be because (and we all instinctively know this) no one else exists to protect you.
That was a hard lesson for me to learn.
The first time I was raped, it threw my whole world out of whack, and upended my entire sense of what was “right,” how to protect myself, and what was required to be “in the right.” This person who was supposed to protect me, used me instead.
Cue mental implosion.
I thought that if anything bad ever happened to me it must be because I'm a terrible person, I've done something wrong, and I deserve the punishment. Believing I deserved punishment initiated and perpetuated the shrinking energy/Negative Vulnerability cycle.
If you think that whether or not bad things happen to you, whether or not good things happen to you, that your safety depends on other people’s kindness and perception of you, you’re screwed.
Safety does not manifest that way. Ever.
The only person who keeps you safe is You.
Learning this was terrifying. (There are other people in the world. I can’t control what they do. What do you mean it’s up to me to keep me safe?
And, as I sat with it and allowed myself to see the Truth of it, learning this became one of the most empowering things. If you are where your safety lies, you never have to wait for someone else to rescue and secure you. Your boyfriend doesn’t constantly need to be by your side. You don’t need to travel in packs of friends. You don’t need to do any of the condescending things society says you should. You are no longer restricted.
You will no longer blame yourself when something bad happens because you know you are always going to be there for yourself. You know you'll always have your back, that you’ll always be there for yourself. You'll know you aren’t going to leave yourself alone, berating yourself for having “done something wrong” and “being stupid” and “deserving this” because one you know it's not true.
And that's the thing you're really afraid of: the sadistic little voice in the back of your head that'll tell you, “It’s your fault.”
That little voice is a fucking lie, and when you release the past patterns keeping you thinking what is happening outside of you and to you is a punishment, when you know that you're the provider of your safety, your whole world changes, and interactions that would have upset and offended you become genuinely funny.