Facing Catastrophe Pt 2: Personal Paths
I know many people are still reeling over what has been happening in the industry over the past couple of weeks. Many of you are exhausted, confused, hurt. Some are asking what they should do in regard to a person or people they once considered a good friend(s). I’m still deciding on a couple of people myself. That’s the thing; IT IS PERSONAL.
The truth is we are all capable of and have most likely hurt someone even abused them. Where we go from here is on us as individuals. Part two of this series will focus on what people can do on an individual level when faced with these situations. This is by no means what you should or shouldn’t do. These are my own personal thoughts and ways I’ve handled experiences.
So in part one of this series I wrote about an experience that affected me and my career for a long time, but like many women that isn’t the only story I have to tell.
Another story of mine is from a man that I still consider a friend, but our past is full of abuse and toxicity. We met back in early 2014 and quickly became friends. To be honest, it was a pretty instant crush. We did try to go home together on his birthday shortly after meeting, but we were both way too wasted. His roommate/friend had me sleep in the living room to keep us both safe (good looking out!). Not long after that, he moved into a new place and helped pack up the old one. We were close. So it was no problem when he asked for intros to others in the industry. I remember one time in particular that he asked to be my plus one to the Destructoid GDC party and an intro to former D-toid CEO, Nero. I also introduced him to a few content creators he still works with today. This should’ve been when I started recognizing behavior patterns as he left the party as soon as I had intro’d him.
Around this time, we started sleeping together. Admittedly, I did have feelings for him that he did not share for me, but that isn’t something I had a problem with. The problem I had was that he would tell me we were such close friends, but his actions never said that to me. I would think we were going to be hanging out as friends do and it would turn into sex. Okay, cool. I like sex, but then other people would be heading to the house and I would get asked to leave. I felt like he was hiding me away as some side-piece he didn’t want people to know about. I tried to voice my concerns several times, but every time I was told, “You’re just being crazy.” “It’s all in your head that isn’t how I feel.” “You’re just being paranoid.” “Quit being paranoid. You are one of my closest friends.”
I remember one time, it was Christmas Eve (maybe the day before). He had just broken up with his girlfriend at the time. He texted me if I wanted to come up hang out and sleepover, but promised no sex. We had been down that road a few times at this point of “just be friends”, but it has rarely stuck. Of course, it didn’t this time either. So the next day when he turned on Lord of the Rings for a marathon, I got excited. I thought we were going to actually do friend things, but I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at what happened next. He asked me to leave because the girl he just broke up was on her way to spend the day with him.
I’m not innocent in this though. My insecurities and feelings of being used came out in the worst ways possible. There are a number of times that I very publicly had violent bat-shit crazy outbursts on him or his friends. I don’t know all the details, but I know I ripped someone’s shirt that was trying to help on one occasion. The shame I carry with me from those nights still weighs on me heavily. He’s one of the first people that comes to my mind when these stories come up because of the way I treated him. We were both toxic and abusive to each other.
So when I saw his current girlfriend posting about an experience she had with a man calling him a manipulator, womanizer, and gaslighter, so many feelings came roaring back to me. In my head, I was shouting, “Do you even know who you’re with?!” With that, I realized I was still carrying around a ton of pain. Pain I never got closure from because he had always refused to speak to me about it. In struggling with what to do, I found that I wasn’t the only one that was feeling the same way. That gave me the courage to confront him directly.
For the first time in six years, he said he was sorry. We finally had a conversation I had needed for YEARS. That was enough for me.
I’m sharing this with you because how we handle those in our lives that have abused ur or others is completely personal. I believe that people change and when people have been seeking help before actions come to light holds merit.
Have I forgiven all that have abused me? No, some I never will. I take everything on a personal case by case basis. Do I expect others to forgive those that abuse them? NO. Do I expect people I’ve abused to forgive me? HELL NO.
On an individual level, here are some things I do to help the immediate situation around me or prevent abuse.
Look at my own behavior.
I feel by recognizing my own behavior I become more empathetic, recognize patterns in others, heal. It's important to understand we are all capable of these things and abuse isn't something in a land far away.
If in the position to, I step in.
I realize not everyone will safe with that and that's okay. If I see it, I try to step in.
In my own behavior, I ask friends to hold me accountable, seek counseling, etc. Betting oneself is important.
Educate others and me.
I started researching and writing papers on women's issues when I was 12. If I see someone misinformed, I will do my best to offer them knowledge.
Believe and support the people in my life.
Now, some of you may still be trying to decide whether to cut someone out of your life or not. Here are some of the questions I have asked myself about people in my life. Some I’ve cut out, others I have not.
Did I know about this behavior previously before it was made public?
Did I talk to this person about their behavior? Did I try to stop this behavior?
Did this person try to seek help?
Do I feel they’ve changed or are on the right path to change?
Now, you’ve been called for your abuse.
OWN IT. Your intentions in the situation do not matter. It is rare that people have truly ill intentions.
Do Not Expect Forgiveness. Get better for yourself and those that you meet in the future.
Be honest with yourself. Really get in there; ugly bits and all.
It is a long and hard process, but we can make a change on an individual level. Those changes will help inspire and create the change we need on an industry and societal level. Please feel free to share your own thoughts and ways you are moving forward.
Part three will be on actions companies and the industry can do to make a difference and end this madness. Thanks for reading.
I will continue to edit this as my thoughts and processes on how I handle this continue to evolve.